on finding balance {jen's story}...


my friend, jen, is sharing her "finding balance" story today.
jen can be found on instagram at @jackollienhenrysmommy.
jen and i have known each other since childhood, attended the same church and christian school.
jen is one of my dearest, closest friends and is probably the one person most responsible 
for prompting me to develop the close daily walk that i have with Jesus.

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Why hello friend…it’s me Jen. I am so excited to get together and chit-chat. So why don’t you come over to my place, I’ll make you up some fresh loose leaf tea or a French press style coffee (the best way to drink coffee) and we will curl up on the couch and have deep meaningful conversations.

I have an amazing husband who loves God, me, and our children with absolutely everything in him. We met in college and have been in love ever since. We have four children. Jack (4 ½), Oliver (3), Hope (1), and Henry (2 months). Our third baby, Hope, was born too early and went on to heaven. We can’t wait to meet her someday. 

God has allowed me to lead a wonderful life, truly wonderful. I reside in Madrid, Spain, where I live on the second floor of a six level apartment building. My home is 92m sq. (don’t feel bad…I had no idea what a meter looked like either, till I moved to Europe) All of our laundry is dried outside on a line using a pulley system from window to window, all year round. Why, because one does not typically have a dryer here. We eat 5 meals a day, desayuno, almuerzo, comida, medienda, and cena. Our “lunch” is typically served around 15:00 (military time used here) and is the main meal; while our last meal of the day is generally served around 22:00.  I walk to my fresh fruit and vegetable market, my pharmacy, the grocery store, post office, photo shop, and daily pick up a baguette of “still-warm-from-the-bakery” bread. Life is definitely different than what I had been accustomed to for 25+ years.
Have you ever had life throw something at you that you fully thought you could handle, because you’re superwoman after all, right?! Then, come to find out, you are absolutely horrible at DOing whatever it is.

In the US, I could literally DO whatever, whenever, however, with whomever…I felt invincible. My family and I traveled to over 30 states in a matter of 2½ years. We traveled to over 200 churches trying to raise financial support and awareness to the need to spread the gospel to the people of Spain. We moved out of our home and lived on the road…driving our Toyota Sienna…as a family…living from hotel to hotel, friend’s house to friend’s house, parsonage to parsonage. We made more friends and created more memories than you could possibly imagine. Then came the time for us to move overseas. I thought, “I can do this, I can do anything.”

To sum it all up…DROWNING.

I was put in a position where I could not communicate, drive, understand, participate…nothing, I could do nothing without help. I would be in language school for hours and then had hours of homework. I practiced driving stick for hours all while trying to get out of a rotunda, understand what 120 kilometers felt like, and realize that pedestrians got the right of way. My kids go to all Spanish-speaking public school where they are the only ones that speak English. I had to learn to use public transportation. Stores are closed from 14:30-17:00 due to siesta. Deliver our 3rd son, via c-section, in a foreign country. And the list could go on.

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One day, while doing my homework, I announced to my husband I couldn’t remember the last time I read a book to the boys. I began to cry. What happened to being superwoman? I longed to just be a mommy and a wife. It was then that I realized that I wasn’t BEing. I was so caught up in the DOing. I needed to take a brief break and regroup. I took 3 months off language school so that I could take care of my family. Ok, so I couldn’t speak well, still stalled the car at times, and couldn’t teach a child’s Sunday School class if my life depended on it, but I needed to learn to BE…to find balance. God was teaching me that I could never be used for Him or DO anything here in Spain, if I first wasn’t BEing. I was, and still am, learning to BE in the present. I realized quickly that I would never be successful at anything if I wasn’t balanced. In my attempts to do something great (ie speak Spanish, prepare to start a church with my husband, etc) I was failing at BEing. My kids need me, my husband needs me, and most of all, I needed God.
Since that  day of profound revelation, I have not mastered BEing, but I am living life day to day now… Imagining the future, but focusing on today. A few extra minutes tickling my baby, holding my sweetheart’s hand in the car, getting up early to walk with God, making crafts and learning new songs with the older boys…that is pure joy. Being balanced is about taking what needs to be done, should be done, and a few desires…shaking them all together, pouring them out, and telling God “What ever happens today happens. I give today to You.”

The definition of balance is “the ability to move or to remain in a position without losing control or falling.” Make a plan, set some goals, but at the end of the day don’t be mad if you didn’t get it all done. Be happy you built a fort with your kids, you sat down and watched a movie with your husband, or whatever it is that needs your attention right away…the dishes can wait.

If I drop my phone, I don’t say “Oh well, it’s already on the ground I’ll just smash it.” No, that would be crazy. I would pick it up, brush it off, and be more careful with it. So, if you feel as though you have already been struggling today with balance… pray, take a moment and focus on BEing, and finish the day out strong.

Ok, so I may not be fluent in Spanish yet, and I still get frustrated on occasion when things don’t go the way I had planned, but you know what, I can do…BE, BE present, BE balanced.

Love Love,
Jen 


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

2 comments:

  1. Wonderful testimony! I could totally relate, even though we came to Spain thirty years ago. I also had a baby here. My doctor would say each sentence to me twice to make sure I got what he was saying. It was a circus, but God got us through. Thank you for sharing about BEing and not necessarily DOing in our superwoman selves. Good stuff!

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