Dena Johnson Martin Christian Blog and Commentary

Support Foster Kids with a Suitcase


Have you ever noticed that balance is absolutely essential in life and yet so difficult to attain?

The last two years have been indescribable. Wonderful. Hard. Emotional. Chaotic. And very, very busy.

My life was going well. I was a very busy single mom, working full-time, building a ministry. Now take that incredibly busy life and throw in a husband and two more kids and an entire world of trials thrown at us as we learn to build a home together.

I can’t even begin to tell you how crazy our lives are.

My life consists of getting up, taking my kids to school (my son has to be there early to feed his sheep), working, coming home to fix dinner, going back to school to feed the sheep, and getting ready for bed. We get up the next morning…and repeat. There’s no time for anything extra.

And right now, there’s not even time for the essentials.

I swore that I would never again give up my dreams, my passions, for a man. But do you know how many times in the last six months I’ve contemplated quitting writing? It’s not because of Roy. He would fight me if I tried to quit. But it’s because I can barely find the time to sit down and write…or have the creative energy to find something to write about.

So many things clamor for my attention, and so many people deserve my attention. I desperately want time with my kids, with my husband. I long for quiet time with my Savior (difficult in a home with seven people, three dogs, and a cat). I need to get my exercise routine back on track. I dream of writing another book…and publishing the one I have. I long to answer the hundreds of unanswered emails. I want to get my life coaching certification so I can pour myself into others.

Yet, much of these things go undone, neglected, and I wonder how I will ever move forward in what God has called me to do.

I long for balance in my life.

I am one person with many responsibilities…many more responsibilities than one person can handle on her own.

This weekend I was hit right between the eyes with just how depleted I am. My younger son and I spent some time together Saturday morning. He shared that my attitude toward his sheep had really impacted him negatively. You see, as we get ready to go feed sheep every night, I utter the words, “I hate sheep.”

I don’t really hate his sheep. I love that he has found an activity he is passionate about, one that has given him strong friendships and leadership opportunities. It’s an outlet that has the potential to provide a lot of college scholarship money for him.

But I am so exhausted the last thing I want to do every single night is drive into town to feed the sheep. I want to sit down, put my feet up, pick up my computer, write. Or I want to steal a few minutes with my husband. Or I want to sit down with my kids and enjoy a few minutes of family time. Instead, every single night, we spend our evening feeding his sheep.

Later in the day, I was talking to my oldest son. He told me he could sense my misery, how much I despise what I’m doing. Again, it’s not that I despise what I’m doing. It’s the sense of sheer exhaustion. It’s the lack of balance in my life.

As life has become so incredibly hectic, I’ve realized I’ve lost balance.

I’m not exercising the way I should.

Stress eating sabotages my health.

My quiet times are stale.

I’m neglecting my kids.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31

I’m not loving myself well so there’s nothing left to love others.

Strangely, I’ve been having this conversation with one of my kids, reminding him that we can’t love others the way they deserve to be loved unless we are loving ourselves first and loving ourselves well. We’ve talked about the importance of taking care of our physical bodies—getting enough sleep and exercise and eating the right foods in the right quantities. We’ve talked about taking care of our spiritual lives—having time to get alone with God and truly connect with Him. We’ve talked about caring for ourselves socially—spending time with friends that encourage and build us up.

As I’ve talked to him about caring for himself, I’ve totally neglected myself, my own needs.

And I am drained. Exhausted. Depleted. Worn out.

I’ve lost the balance.

So where do we go from here? How do we regain balance when our lives are off-kilter? How do we renew ourselves—or let God renew our strength?

I know what scripture says: but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:31

Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:29-30

I’ll be honest: I don’t have answers. I wish I could take about six weeks off work just to rest, get my life back in order, spend some time focusing on those I love the most. But that’s not an option right now. I wish I had the financial ability to step away from work altogether (if only for a season) so I could focus my time and energy on my relationship with God. I wish I could add about 10 hours to each day so I could accomplish everything I need to accomplish—whether it’s exercise or sleep or time with God or cleaning my house.

But those aren’t options.

So what do I do?

Admit I can’t do it alone. I need help. I need family to pitch in and help keep the house clean, to fix dinner on occasion. Maybe I need to pay someone to come in and clean my house. Maybe I need to simply let some things go. Do you realize even the Proverbs 31 woman had help? Check out Proverbs 31:15: …She provides food for her family and portions for her female servants.

Prioritize. Some seasons are simply too busy to accomplish everything. Maybe sometimes we just need to figure out exactly what is important. In this season, my kids and my husband are my priority. God is always my priority. Maybe I don’t have time to train for a marathon in this season of my life and I need to focus on shorter work outs to maintain my health.

Rest. We were recently at the hospital with my step-daughter when the floor’s clinical director came in the room. As we talked, she looked me straight in the eye and asked, “Are you sleeping?” As Roy and I talked about the encounter later on, I mentioned that I must look exhausted. “She isn’t the only one to call me out for looking tired, run-down.” Somehow, I must make rest a priority.

Give yourself permission. It’s ok to not be perfect. It’s ok to pick up a pizza weekly or serve your kids popcorn and ice cream for dinner. It’s not only ok but essential to do nice things for yourself—whether it’s getting your nails done or buying yourself a new outfit or simply treating yourself to a night out alone. It’s ok to take a day off by yourself just to renew your strength.

I don’t know where you are, but I know I’m trying to regain balance. It’s a work in progress because I certainly haven’t achieved all of this. What I do know is that I’m not going to feel guilty for taking a week off work and going on a business trip with my husband in February. I’m going to use the time to rest, to pray, to connect with God. I’m going to take advantage of an opportunity to spend uninterrupted time with my husband. I will miss my children immensely, but this is a time for me to recuperate.

It’s a time for me to regain #balance in my life.