The Laundry Moms Welcome Actress, Author & Speaker
~ Lisa Whelchel ~
as our featured guest writer for our
“31 Days of Grace” Series!
Wouldn’t you love to have an hour to spend time with the Lord, play a game with your kids, talk to your husband, or hang out with a girlfriend?
As moms, we get so busy doing and giving that we often don’t take time to rest and receive. We’ve bought into the worldview that we can have it all and then believed the self-talk that insists, “If I don’t do it, it won’t get done.” Isn’t it ironic that at the same time we are feeling more and more driven, we are usually running on empty or, at the very least, on exhaust fumes? (You know what I mean: we’re either “exhausted” or “fuming.”) We are worn out trying to do it all. No wonder there is such an epidemic of mom burnout!
Trust me, I’m writing from personal experience here. I was recently reading through some of my old journals from when my children were smaller and came across the following paragraphs I thought you might appreciate…
I’m very sleepy, I’m tired of taking care of sick kids, and Tucker seems out of control. All boundaries and rules have disintegrated because he’s sick. I have no idea when Steve will be home. And there are 4 hours and 15 minutes before I can put the first one to bed. There’s a sneak preview of a movie tonight that I’ve wanted to see. But I can’t go. Tucker just informed me that his ear hurts really badly. The doctor’s office is closed. I feel fat and unmotivated. And there’s nothing good to eat in this house. Other than that it’s been a great day. Except for the big argument Steve and I had before he left this morning.
And . . .
I’m sooooo tired. Not really physically, although that, too. Mostly, emotionally stressed. Just in case 5 years from now I forget, let me just now state for the record. Raising three preschoolers is exhausting! I decided this morning not to count on doing anything for myself. That means no treadmill, no bath, no cleaning, no computer, etc.
Yes, I, too, thought the answer was doing less for me and more for them. I just ended up unhealthy, stinky, messy, and out of touch with the world beyond my little house of munchkins. I understand there are seasons in a mother’s life, and some ages require more self-sacrifice than others. By all means, lay down your life for your children, especially when they are small and are dependent on you for just about everything. I can just tell you from firsthand knowledge, whenever I did take a bit of time for myself, whether it was coffee with my mom, a women’s luncheon at church, or my annual spring pedicure, I always came home more in love with my family than when I left. Maybe it is the adage, Absence makes the heart grow fonder. I don’t know.
I think it has more to do with the fact that we do love our families so desperately, but occasionally the exhaustion and busyness overwhelms us and we lose sight of this truth. When we pull away from the mayhem, regroup, and refresh, we come back with more to give than if we stayed in the rut, running around in circles, being the “good mom.” Moms give and give. But if you never learn to receive, then you have nothing left to give. If you won’t take time for yourself, then take time for yourself for your family. By filling up your tank regularly, you will have the energy to drive your children to all their activities, drive your husband wild with desire, drive back the enemy in prayer, and drive a hard bargain at the latest clearance sale.
You can’t do any of these things if you are broken down and out of gas on the side of the road. It is time to recharge and refuel. The first thing to do is plug into the Power Source and jump-start your day. Jesus says, “Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). If we don’t want to spend our days running around in circles, feeling like we’re heading nowhere and accomplishing nothing, then we need to stay connected to Jesus.
In John 15, after Jesus instructs us to abide in Him, He tells us why: “that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full” (v. 11). Jesus is the genesis of joy. He loves it when we laugh. It makes Him happy to see us happy. He doesn’t want us running on empty; He wants our joy to be full. So what fills you up? What do you enjoy doing? Does a hot bubble bath with candles sound heavenly to you? Do you desire a quiet dinner out with your husband? Or perhaps you’d love to have a whole day to wait on the Lord, linger in the Word, and tarry in prayer.
Is your idea of a good time snuggling up with a book and some hot tea? Then do it. Receive it! Then return refueled and ready to give to your family out of the overflow. I know what you’re saying: “That sounds great, but where am I going to find the time?” By pulling over to the side of the road—this time on purpose. At the end of each brief chapter in this book, there will be a Rest Stop. This is the point in the journey when you can relax, replenish, refresh, receive, reorganize, rekindle, renew, and any other “re-” word you can think of. Every part of you—body, soul, and spirit—needs nourishment, and I have packed a whole picnic basket full of realistic tips and ideas that I can’t wait to open up and share with you.
To me, the Rest Stops are the heart of this book. If you discover and apply even a couple of practical ideas that change your life and, subsequently, your family’s lives, then I will be happy. I’ll teach you how to “Scripture primp,” worship while vacuuming, journal to your mother-in-law, and memorize Scripture every time you grab a drink out of the fridge. I’ll show you how to find lost time with easy housecleaning tips and simple organizational skills. I’ll share time-saving cooking plans and money-saving budget suggestions.
Now the question is, what are you going to do with all of this extra time on your hands? You are going to start by taking care of the “me” in mommy. That’s right: you are going to invest it in yourself. I can’t stress this enough—it is not selfish, wrong, or unworthy to take care of yourself, so you can better take care of your family. As moms and Christians, we usually feel guilty about thinking of our-selves. Our instinct as mothers is to give without expectation of receiving, and we are wisely taught as Christians that the best way to look out for our-selves is not to. So, as a Christian mom, you probably are feeling guilty for even picking this book up, much less, reading this far into the Introduction.
Remember, conviction is healthy; guilt is not. Allow me to share some truth from God’s Word, and hopefully it will set you free from unhealthy guilt. This book is not about “looking out for number one.” It is about making Jesus number one in your life and believing Him when He says, “Seek first [God’s] kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33 NIV). “All these things” aren’t bad desires; they are good things like food and clothing. What would make them bad is if we seek the gifts rather than the Giver.
What’s so cool is the fact that God loves to give good gifts. “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:11). So in the end, we get both: the Giver and His gifts. In his book Desiring God, pastor John Piper writes, “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him. This is the best news in the world! God’s passion to be glorified and my passion to be satisfied are not at odds.”1 I think we can all agree on the high priority of doing “spiritual” things like Bible study and prayer. And yes, God is glorified when we serve Him by taking care of our children and ministering to others. Yet God is no less glorified when we enjoy a good meal, read an interesting book, or indulge in stimulating conversation. There are a lot of right and good and necessary books written about the importance of nourishing our spirits to receive the strength we need for the tasks of the day. But God created us spirit, body, and soul. As the apostle Paul says, “May your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:23; emphasis added).
I’ve organized the book into three sections with this scripture in mind: spirit, body, and soul. For easy reference, I’ll use the following definitions from the original Greek language, written by much more worthy resources than myself: Spirit (pneuma)—Man’s immaterial nature, which enables him to communicate with God, who is also spirit.2 Body (soma)— the living body.3 Soul (psuche)—The part of man that knows, reasons, wills, desires, and feels. It refers to the will, the emotions, and the reason.With the physical body, man has world-consciousness, with the soul he has self-consciousness, and with the spirit he has God-consciousness.4 The following chapters will be full of encouragement and realistic ways for you, as a busy mom, to find time to sit at the feet of Jesus and receive the strength to continue pouring out your life for your family.
There will also be tons of tips on ways to nurture your body and nourish your soul. I have an idea. Why don’t you read the next chapter while soaking in a hot bath? I’m serious. Run a hot bubble bath, gather some candles, and place them all around the rim. Maybe even bring a boom box into the bathroom and play some soothing music. If you can’t take a bath right this minute, then think ahead and plan a time in the near future when you can.
Start taking care of the “me” in mommy right away. Trust me, you’ll be a better mommy after a relaxing bath. That may sound crazy, but it is true. We really can take better care of our families when we start taking better care of ourselves. Start running that bathwater now!
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“Taking Care of the Me in Mommy” Excerpt Printed with Permission!
Lisa Whelchel was born on May 29 in Littlefield, Texas. At age 13, her first professional acting experience was as a Mouseketeer for Walt Disney’s “The New Mickey Mouse Club.” Ms. Whelchel is perhaps best known for her starring role as Blair Warner on NBC’s “The Facts of Life” for nine years.
Her first book, “Creative Correction” released October 2000 and has sold over 200,000 copies. She went on to write over a dozen more books including, “The Facts of Life and Other Lessons My Father Taught Me,” “The ADVENTure of Christmas,” “The Busy Mom’s Guide” Series, and her most recent, “Friendship For Grownups.” With a goal to refresh and equip other mothers, she is the founder of MomTime Ministries and “Personal Mom Coaching.”
Ms. Whelchel is also an international speaker and has toured with “Women of Faith,” “Extraordinary Women” and “Women of Joy.”
Lisa’s latest adventure was participating on Season 25 of CBS’s “Survivor: Philippines.” She tied for second place and won the Sprint “Player of the Season” as awarded by the fans of the show.