finding balance {mary's story}...


my friend, mary, is sharing her finding balance story today.
mary can be found on instagram at @snailsandponytails.
i originally found mary while looking through IG for recipe inspiration.
more than just an incredible cook, mary's authentic way of life
 encourages me to be the best "me" that i can be. 
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Balance. What is it and how do we apply it to this thing we call life? Is it possible? What are we striving for? Perfection? Oh, dear. Ever since Erin asked me to write this post, I have been sort of nervous on the inside, questioning my ability to be clear on this very important subject. To be honest, my life is quite chaotic at times and far from perfect, although, I struggle with perfectionism...okay, see...there you have it, I am probably the most unqualified person, EVER, to write this, but for the love of my fellow sisters in Christ and in the name of womanhood...drum roll please, there will be drama to follow...I am willing to be a little vulnerable. 
So, let's see...a little about me. I'm a wife and mom. We have five children; ages 11  to 1. We homeschool. My husband travels for work. We have a daughter with diabetes {type 1 and not to be confused with type II}. She was {I mean, we were } newly diagnosed 18 months ago. She requires shots of insulin and frequent blood sugar tests on the daily. She is 8 years old. I cook. A lot. We live on a whole foods diet, which means everything is prepared fresh and at home, three times a day. We do not eat out, with the exception of very rare occasions and when we do, there are limitations.  We also deal with food allergies, including the increasingly popular, Celiac. Food is kind of a big deal. We frequent the farmers markets and are currently attempting to grow our own. It's a learning process , which is perfect for homeschooling. Yes. And No, I don't have a nanny or many resources when it comes to outside help. I scrub my own toilets. Not that any of this really matters, because, we are all different, with different stories, backgrounds, struggles and abilities, but I do get an awful lot of "How do you do its?" , " I could nevers" ,  and most recently, "Just how do you hold yourself together?!" Most of my responses have had to do with positivity or just a simple smile, but my most recent response was, "Prayers, lots of prayers, smiles, hugs and a whole lot of letting go."  Sometimes you just have to go with the flow, you know? Control is a big issue with a lot of 'Type A' personalities, like mine, and having children has taught me that if I want to live until tomorrow, I am going to have to let some of that go. Through many unplanned events I have recognized that I am not the author of my life, I have learned to laugh in the midst of craziness and try my very hardest to let Him drive, and when I do, I feel the biggest sense of freedom and peace. Just to be clear, I don't think this means we should never do anything, or never take anything seriously, definitely not. Being a wife, raising the future and caring for a home comes with a hefty load of responsibility and a lot of hard work but hey, no one ever said it would be easy.  So we might as well do it with a smile and a laugh here and there. 
With that said, I must also say, I do not thrive in negativity and I do not like pity. I believe God put us all here for a purpose and He doesn't give us anything we can't handle. Each day we wake up to a new beginning, another chance to be the best version of ourselves, to do better than the day before or simply leave the past behind and just do. With love and in love, because God is love and all things are possible with Him.
Love is at the root of all things;  if we could just uncover it, we will find our burdens lighter and our paths brighter. Beginning with ourselves; if we can get up in the morning and just be happy with who we are and find peace in our current chapter and place in life, we can more easily be at ease with our husbands, children, other family members and even friends. Amen? And if we are at peace with ourselves and the people around us, we can better love them and serve them. Comparing to other people and what's going on in their lives can be used as a learning tool if used as a means of inspiration or bonding, i.e. " Oh, I have a three year old son too! " ...Us women, we do that, it's how we relate to one another. It opens doors for communication and it's how we can inspire and be inspired. But, if we aren't careful, it can set us up for judgment. To judge and be judged, and that will get us nothing and no where, besides disappointment and distraction from the things that matter most. In order to avoid this game of comparison in my own life, I choose to  unplug as much as possible. I don't do Facebook , I don't watch television {when we cut cable five years ago and eventually Netflix, it did wonders for our family in terms of quality time and focus. Less TV with the exception of movie time on the weekends, has been such a blessing for us. } When it comes to people in the world, I try to focus on who is in my life currently and that focus is usually centered on my husband and children, for now, that is where I am being called. Right in the center of these 6 souls. And that. Is more than enough for me.
Having a large, homeschooling family, not only accounts for most of my attentions, but it has drawn me close to the terms of intentional living and simplicity. To me, they mean to declutter the heart and home and they are definitely my goals in our every day. Less is more, so much more. Last year, I was overwhelmed with an abundance of 'to do lists'. First, trying to figure out diabetes and other auto immune and food related issues. We completely switched our diet to gluten free and 99 % unprocessed food. I found myself in the kitchen more than I'd ever been before, good thing I love food and cooking, or I probably would have broken into a million pieces and even though I didn't, not completely, I was definitely at the breaking point in this area of life we call 'busy'. I was trying to balance a new disease, a new baby {who was only two weeks old at our daughters diagnosis} , homeschooling, gardening, housework, husband, piano lessons, and 3 children who danced 4 days a week. I literally never had a day off, I lived at the dance studio, farmers market and church and even though those aren't necessarily bad places to 'live' I felt like I wasn't able to focus on what truly mattered. So, this summer and this coming school year, we are taking a break from extra curricular activity. We will focus on academics and all things having to do with this, including fun field trips. Food. Faith. Health. Garden. And home. I know this is where I need to be right now if I want to remove myself from this rushy, seemingly competitive routine and refocus my energies on the fruitful things. I am so looking forward to a slower year. 
Now, I am not saying these things are wrong or right for you. I do not believe there is a one size fits all remedy for life. We are all unique and have been given different gifts and abilities, what I may be able or unable to handle may vary greatly from one woman to the next.  And that is okay. We are all on a journey and we're all in this together. So, let us love and help each other to grow with encouragement and positivity. I just love virtuous friendships, don't you?
Oh and one more thing: Expectations. Having a grateful attitude for each day and expecting nothing from no one, helps to keep grace flowing. I think. Grace gives us a little wiggle room for failure, which strengthens the resilience factor. Being able to forgive ourselves and others for shortcomings and trusting in the One who IS and always will be there guiding us in the direction we were meant to go. That's what life is all about, and that is how you really get it all done. Because at the end of the day, if you have prayed hard, loved hard...laughed at the broken dish, endless dirty diapers and vicious cycle of laundry and given your very best, even though you have aching feet and tired eyes, what could make you feel more accomplished or more complete? 

Finally, It is my prayer that all women will be strong in their faith; in who they are and in all that they do. Because, We are fearfully and wonderfully made. Psalm 139:14

Much Love & Big Hugs,
Mary


{the other posts in this series can be found here.}

3 comments:

  1. Thank you....thank you for this series that you post. I am gathering so much inspiration from all of them.
    This was a beautiful post about balancing all that life seems to confront us with and then how to release it to our Lord. I am going to reread this.....and be thankful for virtuous "friends." :)
    This is my first year of homeschooling my two kids 11 and 14. We have "quieted down " in the past two months more than ever before......no extra-curricular activities at this time. We are reconnecting as a family and learning to really listen and discern what the Lord is telling us. So grateful for the blogging/IG support, as I transition from an "on the go" mama to one who is simplifying life through our Savior. God Bless.

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  2. What a beautifully written post. "Love is at the root of all things; if we could just uncover it, we would find our burdens lighter and our paths brighter." Yes. So true. Thank you so much for this!

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