I Miss My Actual Life
by Jen Hatmaker on January 20th, 2014


The other day, discussing a man friend who travels all over the world for some sort of fancy business job, I told my girlfriend: “Why do these companies fly someone in to do all this work? Surely there is someone right there who can do what he does. It seems dumb to have to ‘fly in an expert.’”
 
She deadpanned, “Do you not understand the details of your own life?”
 
I fly places. A lot. Apparently no one has figured out that local teachers and leaders right under everyone’s noses can do a better job than I can. This is not false humility, trust me. Your Aunt Louise can teach the Bible better than me. Your neighbor is funnier. Your pastor is wiser. Seriously, I have no idea why this is my life.
 
But it is, and as I type, I’m grateful I’ve deleted all completed events off my website so you cannot evaluate my travel schedule last fall. Let’s just say that as I wrote that sentence, tears slowly started leaking out of my eyes. I have never allowed such a grueling schedule. With a handful of poor boundaries and some late adds, last fall become a marathon, and I am weary beyond belief. My family has paid the price as families do, and we are all a little shaky, battle worn.
 
I miss my actual life.
 

In my actual life, there are friends who know your middle name and easy, lazy afternoons watching football. There are kids everywhere; mine, some extras, some ne’er-do-wells, clamoring and hollering and eating all our food, which I am cooking because, well, I’m there and that is what I do in my actual life. There is tons of community stuff, because our people are the best, my favorites, but I have no time for them because I am always in someone else’s community. I adore my city and my heart is to serve in it, to love people here, but I’m gone too much for consistency. I pulled out of mentoring through Young Lives this year because I would miss half the meetings. And hey? Do you remember when I used to write? Me neither.
 
Actual life is where it is at. I’ve decided. I love the same people in my face every single week. I crave deep roots, longevity with people, home. I love to live in my real life, with my real neighbors and real friends and real church. These are my people. This is my place. I actually love shooting the HGTV show right now, because every second of it is at my house (with its rats and gas leaks and I DON’T EVEN CARE BECAUSE I AM HOME).
 
So. With excellent counsel and sound advisors, I’ve made a two-year plan to land my feet back into my life. My travel schedule is totally closed. I am going to catch up to my calendar (because only the most insane lunatic books events two years from now…hi), and then we are gearing this baby down. I plan to cut my travel in half, and I am officially saying ‘no’ to the seventy billion small things that consume the rest of my life away.
 
I’m like you; the things we want to do are all good things. There is no end of good things. I want to endorse books and write forwards and pop into your Bible study and have coffee with everyone and meet you while you’re in my city and write guest articles and do all the interviews and Skype into your thing. But none of those positions me in my actual life; they just take me further away from it. I can splinter my time and energy away until there is nothing left for the people I live with, live by, live for.
 

That is exactly what I’ve done, and I have to deboard this train.
 
Is there anyone out there who gets this? Your life may play out differently than mine, but even social media can take us out of our actual lives and into some consuming cyber existence where everyone is an avatar when what we need is flesh and blood. Any number of good things can pull us away from real people and community, and after awhile, we feel starved, malnourished, lonely.

It has never been easier to be non-present in real life.
 
To the men and women I travel to, to those at my conferences and events: I sincerely love you. My fatigue is not your fault and I hope you don’t hear resentment in my tone. You are real people too, and through the marvel of the printed word, I have maybe played a bit part in your actual lives, and I’ll never stop being grateful and stunned by that. You matter, and a part of my calling will always include teaching in your context, in your community. It is with gratitude I receive that mantle. You are precious to me.
 
It’s just that the scales have tipped, and they need to tip back. I am less present in my own life than ever, and I can’t live that way. I feel like I’ve let my friends and family down; I am absent from my church and community and that is actually where I matter most.
 
It will take awhile to unravel what I’ve constructed; there are many commitments to see through, and I will, with joy and diligence. But I need to land the plane in my real life, literally. To my friends and family and church and community and kids and husband: I’m coming home, yall.


Does anyone get this? This fragmented, absent feeling? Like Oswald Chambers said: "The good is always the enemy of the best." Do you need to set some boundaries? If so, I'm with you today. Let's land our feet back into our actual lives.
 


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325 Comments

martie byrd - January 20th, 2014 at 10:36 AM
I am so proud of you, Jen! And I know Someone Else who is, too!
Emily Fridenmaker - January 20th, 2014 at 10:39 AM
So good, Jen! We can only wring ourselves out so far. Eventually there's nothing left to give to those whom God has explicitly given us to care for and invest in. Hope you get some good, real life moments in this week!
Audra - January 20th, 2014 at 10:39 AM
Oh my goodness. Amen a million times over. This is where I am and I want out of it! Praying and meditating on Phillipians 4:6-7.
Jen - January 20th, 2014 at 10:39 AM
So. Well. Said. Congrats Jen! You've made a great choice. One you will never regret.
Janiene - January 20th, 2014 at 10:39 AM
Amen! May the Lord bless you as you rest fully in the calling He has for you.
Janiene
Sara - January 20th, 2014 at 10:40 AM
I hear you, lady. While my travel isn't for work, it is for visiting people who matter a whole lot to me (I moved away from where I grew up) and visiting them, but I can only do that so much before life here in TX gets neglected and isn't thriving, thus I'm not thriving. I hear ya loud and clear.
Julie Barnill - January 20th, 2014 at 10:41 AM
Welcome back, Jen. :)

Most of us who are like us have to figure you out just as you have. Just as you are. No shame in that, my friend, no shame at all.

Much love as you continue to figure it out.
Kelli @ eat pray read love - January 20th, 2014 at 10:41 AM
Oh friend I am praying for you as you begin this journey. As a fellow church planting wife, (though not near as cool as you!) it is so tempting to take part in all. The. Things. I am just finishing up Crystal Paine's book about this very matter- you can read it on your plane trip to your last speaking engagement. :) It's called Say Goodbye to Survival Mode.
Tess - January 20th, 2014 at 10:42 AM
Good for you Jen! We love you!
Alysa - January 20th, 2014 at 10:42 AM
Yes absolutely, I totally get this. Over the past 2 years I have re-evaluated everything. I am saying "no" much more than I used to so that I can say "yes" to the things that matter most. I am finally back to a place where I have more margins in my life. Time to spend with community, time to chill with my family, time to read a book. It feels good, it feels right.

I'm so glad you're doing this. It's easy to get swept up in it all and just accept the new busyness of life. Good for you for not being swept away.
Casey - January 20th, 2014 at 10:42 AM
This post brought tears to my eyes. And this quote hit me like a Mack truck: " ...even social media can take us out of our actual lives and into some consuming cyber existence where everyone is an avatar when what we need is flesh and blood." We just moved 2000 miles to a new community after 18 years of living in one place. And I have just spent 3 hours wasting time on Facebook and email doing this very thing. Instead, I need to be making this new place--our home. These new people--our people. This new church--our worship place. Good for you and for your family! And thanks for your transparency. It is a true blessing to many.
Colleen - January 20th, 2014 at 10:42 AM
As a missionary trying to manage a bunch of things, I feel like this all the time. Last week, I declared the hours of 8am to 3pm, our school time, sacred space for us, for home, for my people. If Daddy has ministry work to do, that is fine. But we will live mindful, meaningful days, together, present to each other, without distraction. Whether we add, subtract, multiply and divide or clean bathrooms or head to the city, it is our space. I get you, sister. I am coming home even as I stay the course in the field. Me too.
Danielle - January 20th, 2014 at 10:42 AM
I get this....I SOOOOOO terribly, painfully get this. God smacked me with a 2 x 4 until I fully comprehended the moldy crumbs I might fling at my family, and at God, when I was all too consumed with everything but them. And yes, what I was consumed with was good...feeding families battling cancer, loving on survivors, and sharing my messy story...but God asked why I was loving on all these families when the one right under my own roof was feeling a bit beyond neglected. It meant a lot more no's, a much smaller salary, and hard boundaries that sometimes meant a lot less "friends"...but it also meant feeling the sun on my face and hearing my rough & tumbly giggling as I pushed him on the swing, and snuggling with my mini me as she devours another book, and being my husband's biggest fan because I was no longer sucked dry of all mental and emotional fumes. He redeems it and makes the moldy crumbs into beautiful belly laughs and tight neck hugs.
Pamela Graham - January 20th, 2014 at 11:02 AM
That is wonderfully written.

I'm glad for you :) My own kids are 10 and 14 and growing up and away from me, and I wish I had more rough and tumbly giggling memories.
Osheta Moore - January 20th, 2014 at 10:43 AM
Praying for you, Jen! This is huge and beautiful and wise and I'm so grateful for your courage.
Denise Franklyn - January 20th, 2014 at 10:43 AM
We all get it. Even if we don't travel in a plane, we over do ourselves as moms/parents. The best thing you have done is recognize it. Slow done, regroup, love that family more (if that's possible). The road will always be there, your family is growing up. Proud of your choice.
gretchen - January 20th, 2014 at 10:43 AM
Rock on with your going for best, rather than just good, self. Clapping for you. I know there are seasons of busyness, and seasons of less, but when busyness becomes the norm and takes you away from what you actually know you're called to do/where you are called to be, then re-grouping, and re-calibrating is mos' def the order of the day. Sending lots of love your way, Jen.
Laura - January 20th, 2014 at 10:43 AM
Amen sister! While I would love to see you at an event, I totally get this. Hubby and I have been working on this very thing (have to revisit it EVERY morning and be intentional).
Keely - January 20th, 2014 at 10:43 AM
So true! My friend and I were just having a discussion similar to this. We keep ourselves SO busy! We have a very active group of friends, and thus a VERY full calendar. Lots of group activities, which leaves little time for some one-on-one time. Little time for coffee dates, for lunch together, grabbing a quick dinner to check in on each other. And we keep making it busier. We have girls prayer, guys prayer, an hour in the morning at a coffee shop before work, church, weekly beers together, brunch twice a month. Although we spend so much time with the same people, it's easy to feel fragmented and separate from ourselves and from God. It's hard to know yourself when you're never alone and it's hard to know God when you never speak to Him.

I wish you best in regain your actual life! Thank you for sharing!
Chantal - January 20th, 2014 at 10:44 AM
Bless you. Immensely. This Screams at me right now, as I'm wrestling with stepping into a less-personal role in church, but adoring & lavishing time spent in my life, in Church.
Thank you. Your perspective is sooo refreshing. :)
Jill - January 20th, 2014 at 10:44 AM
I get it and I admire your courage to make these choices to live life and the mission in your most immediate sphere of influence! I've wondered how you do it all...and quite honestly I'm glad to hear that "all of it" is too much. Appreciate your deliberate simplicity being a matter of focus.
Rachel - January 20th, 2014 at 10:45 AM
Love this and I totally get it. I started saying no to a lot of "good" things in 2013 because I realized all those good things were sucking my time and joy, making me tired, unorganized and short-tempered with my family. It was the best thing I ever did! Good luck to you!!!
Lindsay - January 20th, 2014 at 10:45 AM
Totally get it!! This is why I love you. There's sooo much pressure to DO ALL THE THINGS! But what really matters most to you is what needs to take priority. You think you are letting people down, but actually you are doing what you do best- inspiring others! We "doers" all needed this reminder!!
Jennifer, TX - January 20th, 2014 at 10:45 AM
Well said. As a mom, foster mom, on the board of a homeless ministry, wife, and more....I hear you. There is always a need reevaluate and keep the priorities in line. Blessings.

Jill - January 20th, 2014 at 10:45 AM
Yes! Amen! As I published and spoken different places I have come to the same realization... Partly by watching you, Jen, and reading your words. I realized that Home is where it's at. The rest is a lie, to some degree... The world may want us to believe that in order for our life to count we need more, bigger, better, but that's the lie. And it's so easy to get caught in it. I'm with you. I choose home.
Ellyn - January 20th, 2014 at 10:46 AM
You go girl! Your family is your first mission field. I heard you speak in VA. and I was thinking, "Lord, her heart for your people is great and if she is gone all the time, she can't be your heart to those people." Don't get me wrong, God totally wrecked me through your words and it was a blessing to hear you speak. Make sure you don't miss this season of your family. It will be gone before you know it. (I'm an empty nester--livin' it first hand) Thank you for listening to God's call for you life. I will pray for you because God's warriors need to be surrounded by prayer for protection from the evil one. Now go be with your family!
Kaci - January 20th, 2014 at 10:46 AM
Amen...and amen. Once again it's like you are in my head...except I don't travel...I just over commit here in my actual life that I find myself hardly able to connect with these folks I'm doing life with. Thank you once again for your honesty and transparency.
Katrina - January 20th, 2014 at 10:46 AM
Good for you! You matter most to that man and those young people who populate your crazy, awesome home and life - show them how important they are to you by being present for them as your heart is calling you to be.
Erika L - January 20th, 2014 at 10:47 AM
Hi Jen,

My husband is a pastor too and he is not the spouse with good boundaries. Having felt like we have lost our own life and family, God decided (thank Him!) that my family and I are now in a season of NO. It is hard to say no at first, but when you tell them it is because God says, they find it difficult to argue! So freeing, especially when you are in ministry because so much is expected of you! Good luck!!!
Ashley - January 20th, 2014 at 10:47 AM
The more I found myself surrounded by all my 'friends who live in my laptop', the less I saw my 'real life' friends. Bringing it back in '14...it's My Year of Simplicity.
Where is my community? Outside my window, and not in a new Tab at the top of the browser window.
Amen to this!

Andrea - January 20th, 2014 at 10:47 AM
Jen-
I totally hear you and applaud your bravery. It's often too hard and scary to step back and take a hard look at ourselves and our lives, especially when things are going so incredibly well. But, had you not, the price you and those you might have paid could have been far greater. Prayers for continued wisdom and courage as you scale back. That God will lead you and guide your decisions on choosing those things that will ultimately bring the most to his kingdom. He needs you and he needs all of us to maintain those healthy boundaries that do just that, keep us healthy and in focus to do his work. Grace and peace be with you. Praying for Purposeful peace for you .
Trish - January 20th, 2014 at 10:48 AM
Jen: I barely have time to read blogs anymore but this one jumped out at me for a reason I suppose. As the founder of a women's organization, I have been going through this exact same thing. Not to the extent that I am gone to other states and long travel schedules, but to cities in Texas and really, I'm just not present with my family when I am here. I have decided that this is my year to reevaluate. I am doing what I'm doing because I wanted to be with my family and friends and every bit of my energy goes away from that right now. It's the exact opposite of my original intention. My conference is this weekend. After this, I will be reorganizing and prioritizing and figuring out what I need and what my family needs. Thanks for this little kick in the pants as a reminder that I'm doing the right thing.
cathy - January 20th, 2014 at 10:48 AM
Real wisdom here. God bless you and your family Jen!
Christina - January 20th, 2014 at 10:48 AM
I completely get this. I was too busy doing good things, instead of being in the here and now with those that He has entrusted to me. My first step was to slow down...then figure out what my priorities are (what good things did I want to be purposeful to be busy doing), then I began saying no to the things that did not align with those priorities....that was hard because I love God's people, and some of those no's where good things...just not my good things....but slowly, I am living in the now, and focusing on this sphere of people God has given me---more real time with my kids and hubby, more real time in God's word, more real time in relationships with other women...and it is good....it is so good....and in the end...it has become less about me and more about Him.
Xamayta Graver - January 20th, 2014 at 10:48 AM
I read your posts all the time and at times have wondered how you manage to balance it all...very chaotic. Your chaos however has provided great laughs and insight to important topics. I am so happy that you are taking time to refuel and balance so that you can give from abundance to yourself, family and the world.
Sarah @ An Inviting Home - January 20th, 2014 at 10:49 AM
I hear every word and applaud you for writing this. Such important decisions for this life that we live and remembering that the dear, precious people in our stories (and that we love the most) truly are the place where the most meaningful moments in life come from.

~Sarah
Sara - January 20th, 2014 at 10:49 AM
plus, this way someone else might actually step up and do some work where *they* are! there are a LOT of us believers who are letting other people do all the work. that needs to change. thanks for being my imaginary BFF Jen Hatmaker!
Betsy Maddox - January 20th, 2014 at 10:49 AM
Yes. I totally get it even though my life and schedule is nothing like yours. It's just that you can get spread too thin and become too exhausted and then you aren't any good to anyone. It is going to feel so good to simplify and rest your heart and your mind! Yay to scaling it all back and hopefully a much slower, relaxed new year!
Andi - January 20th, 2014 at 10:50 AM
Yes, yes, yes. THIS is exactly what the Lord has been speaking to me for a year now. Last spring, I drastically pulled out of EVERYTHING. All ministries, all bible studies, all committments, and I focused on my marriage and two small children. And the clear message I received when He instructed me to do this was "to do it without shame or guilt". While I finished one of my commitments to it's completion (school year), I was obedient and my family is better for it. My prayer-life, my quiet-time, my marriage, my relationships with my kids...we ALL were blessed by my actual, physical, emotional and mental presence. I'm glad you're doing it! If we cannot minister to those in our own home (and allow them to minister to US), then how on earth can ANYBODY minister effectively to the surrounding community?

Thank you for blessing ME personally over the last few years with your writings and speaking engagements. You have a gift and I'm so glad to have been a receiver of it! May God bless your focus on your home and household! And may God bless my education from you and put it to the intended use: serving those around me.
Bekah - January 20th, 2014 at 10:50 AM
Jen, I think many people can relate to what you've said here. We've all had times where we committed ourselves to so many good things, and yet those things are what keeps us from life. I pray that this transition works smoothly for you. And that you are given more time with your family and friends. There will be good, wise, funny people who will step into the roles you are stepping out of...as you started your post with :) Those folks are there waiting for an opportunity to serve, and this will be your chance to focus on your life.
Typhanie Mahlstadt - January 20th, 2014 at 10:51 AM
Thank you. Your words and choices for your own life have confirmed and reiterated what I am seeking as I look to what should be a more relaxed fall. I have heard the warnings from the Spirit..."When you ask to be free of commitments that pull you from me, do not fill that time back up." It takes courage to say no. Thanks for the affirmation.
rebecca - January 20th, 2014 at 10:51 AM
Yes - we all must focus on what God blessed us with first and use the rest of the time He blesses us with to share His word. So blessed by your post and this is the reason I have quit so many things over the past year and quit trying to climb the writing/blogging ladder.
Kiersten - January 20th, 2014 at 10:51 AM
This warms my heart. Yes - I get it. I'm going through this right now with a 1-yr-old and a 3-yr-old. It's not plane travel, but it's commitments here, there, and everywhere. All good things, but if we had unlimited time, we would never have to prioritize between all of the wonderful opportunities that Jesus himself showers us with. But we don't; so we do. Thanks for posting about your re-calibration. I think it will bless you, your family, and the communities that you leave "hanging" might actually come to see the resources that God has placed in their own backyard. Not against you personally, but I've often wondered about this impulse in our culture (or humanity?) to prefer the words and attention of a stranger, whom you are paying, rather than your own, personally known, group of people that love you. Great post.
Amanda - January 20th, 2014 at 10:51 AM
Precious lady, once again thank you for keeping it real. I sat with you in silence this weekend in the prayer room as you shuffled your notes & prepared your heart to speak. As I was praying for our artisans and writing cards, I found myself praying for none other than REST for you... Absolutly crazy how God's discernment works isn't it. I hope you find just that, rest... In Him, in your home, among your barefoot people ;) much love and many sweet moments to you sister... Thanks for being the catalyst for many, you have opened a door of authenticity that so many are now empowered to walk through, find peace there and get back to it. You are loved and it's a privilege to run this race with you through noonday, brokenness, kindred spirits and words.. Celebrating for you! Enjoy!!!
Deanna Matthis Mandish - January 20th, 2014 at 10:52 AM
Congrat's on recognizing that not all of the good is the best. We have to say "no" to a lot of good in order to say "yes" to God's finest and best. Press on.
Say - January 20th, 2014 at 10:53 AM
Totally understand.. I think we all feel a little sense of this somewhere in our life. I will say.. You spoke at the adopted conference in Tulsa and those words were necessary, your words were necessary that day and season. We are now foster parents and you are a piece to that. That season was a crazy one for you, but we appreciate your time! Now it's time for the next season at home- they all have purpose. You are smart to watch boundaries and lead by example. Thank you for putting thought into your commitments and following the season you're called too- we your readers are grateful for the lesson! :)
RaeAnne Hsu - January 20th, 2014 at 10:53 AM
I am so very proud of you for this! Too quickly we can serve our ministry instead of Jesus. We also lose sight of the most treasure instilled to us here on earth, our families! God will so honor your heart in this and He will help you with balance! And as much as I like you're writing and speaking, you are right, God has stirred up a huge group of women who want to change the world and we each CAN do it in our communities. Thank you for being a voice to stir that up in our communities! I don't know you personally, but I am so thankful for the ways God has used your words to speak into my life. Keep going for it sister!
Sherri Farrell - January 20th, 2014 at 10:53 AM
I was in a meeting yesterday where we talking about why we do or do not put ourselves in relationship with others. Someone said time constraints kept them from making numerous friends. The group leader brought up this, and it hit me hard....even Jesus had only 12 disciples, not 120!!! We can stretch ourselves so thin, we don't have anything left to give and the relationships we make are shallow.
I've never heard you speak, but you speak volumes through your words.
Lisa G. - January 20th, 2014 at 10:54 AM
The greatest weapon of Satan, next fear and guilt, is busyness. What better way to crumble our foundation, faith in God and our effectiveness in being the hands and feet than to have us doing so many things that our family falls, our faith is diminished through weariness and our effectiveness is dampened by non-excellence! God gives us a purpose, which usually includes one or two things, and we cannot even see what that purpose is through our busyness. Our Saviour also gives us a way out of temptations, and I am so glad you have found that door leading out of busy town! Focus on what gifts God gave you and see yourself Thrive! Love you, and so grateful for your heart. %uD83D%uDE0A
Jamie Wright - January 20th, 2014 at 10:54 AM
I stand and applaud this bravery!!! It was a pleasure working with you in our community last January and have to say I'm sorry if we wore you out. We thank you for impacting our lives and blessing it so richly! You will never know how grateful we are that God connected us. But I too hear you and back your decision. I to have stepped back and am bringing it all back to reality and what is important. Love you so much my dear sister and look forward to seeing what God is going to do in you and to you through this new season. So much love~ xoxo
Polly - January 20th, 2014 at 10:55 AM
Decades before social media, many moons ago, 37 years of them to be exact, my soon-to-be pediatrician said to me in our pre-birth interview, that we should save our best for the ones we love most, and not give it only to the ladies of the bridge club (colleagues at work, customers in the field, etc., etc.). This, from a man in his seventies at the time, has been a watchword for my life, even though I have never been within ten miles of a bridge club!
Rainbow Motel - January 20th, 2014 at 10:55 AM
This teacher hears you. Your life is not mine, but I can say that spending 9-10 hours a day in a classroom thinking about kids who are not mine--while my husband attends the one who has shoulder surgery and the one in the car accident and comforts the one who didn't get the job he wanted. I text, but it is not the same. Those in my life must fall ill or need me within the confines of the paltry sick/personsl days the state gives me. To have a day to shred un-needed paper and pay bills and clean a closet it the most wonderful thing. It makes my head clear just writing about it. Peace to you.
Rachel - January 20th, 2014 at 10:56 AM
You Go Mama!! I totally get this... I "ministry" my time right away from my family... Can't do that anymore!
betsy - January 20th, 2014 at 10:57 AM
Bless you sister! I can only imagine how they've missed you, and we will too! 7 changed my walk with Christ in the most amazing way. I went to Africa short-term, am adopting a school-aged child from Uganda, meeting with friends to do your book studies, digging into God's word to be more like Him! Even if you never write another book, I'll just keep shuffling through your old stuff gleaning what I can in hopes that I reflect what I believe. Blessings from a huge fan.
Kaylan L. - January 20th, 2014 at 10:57 AM
Completely with you Jen!! The hubs and I have had a lot of late night chats the last month deciding where we need to cut back when it comes to over-giving our time, and figuring out how to gently say "No" to the wonderful opportunities that may be stealing too much time away from our growing family (3.5 yo son, 18mo daughter & another little girl coming in May!). Stepping back is never easy, but allowing more timeto pour into your family and your heart is what God does desire for us. We are at our best when we know we've sought after God's heart first! Please don't stop blogging through!!!!

P.S. Are you still planning to write your next boo that you mentioned?!?!?
KariAnn Lessner - January 20th, 2014 at 11:08 AM
Why I needed you to admit it first is beyond me - but I too have said yes to so much that in turn I have said no to what matters most to me.
This about sums it up for me...
%u201CI feel thin, sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread.%u201D J.R.R. Tolkien (Fellowship of the Rings)
I'm digging out the Nutella - because life is too sweet to miss!
Heather - January 20th, 2014 at 11:01 AM
Thank you so much for your wise and even more truthful words. I'm co-leading a small group based around "The Hurried Family" and have been searching for influence (as if my own busy life isn't enough). As I prayed for leadership and guidance last night to guide the members of my church looking for advice on how to slow down their busy lives, I felt a calming presence as if the Lord was telling me to RELAX, He's got it - and then this awesome blog pops up in my news feed today. I hope you don't mind if I share some of your thoughts at this weeks meeting.
Susan Tuma - January 20th, 2014 at 11:01 AM
You are NOT the only one who feels this. Unfortunately I think many, many women feel this way and never get to the point you are at now of recognizing it and doing something about it. I think of all the things we (I am included in this too!) miss because we are too busy. We miss so much of what is going right in our own home, neighborhood, church, city, etc. Then starts the regret and "if only I had's". We could all take a lesson from this - just slow down enjoy each day as it comes at us, take it in and thank God for the blessings he has given us.
Tammy Whitehurst - January 20th, 2014 at 11:03 AM
I am a women's speaker also, Jen. I read this entire post and had tears running down my cheeks. You did too, I am sure.There must have been many nights you cried in a pillow in a fabulous hotel alone as you ate takeout and longed for your husband and children to be with you. I thought I wanted all those bookings when I had children at home, but God never allowed my traveling ministry to flourish until I was at empty nest. I never had to miss the ballgames, the recitals, the vacations, the birthday parties. God knew I could never have found balance back then. Raise your children. Love your husband. Give huge hugs to your friends. Take time to laugh and love again. In God's perfect timing He will light your path. Run hard and fast back to the place you call HOME! (Tipping my coffee cup at you now.)
Jessica - January 20th, 2014 at 11:04 AM
I totally get this and I love your honesty! xo and prayers!
Sarah Bessey - January 20th, 2014 at 11:05 AM
With you and I can't believe you haven't had a nervous breakdown yet. Love you.
Brooke - January 20th, 2014 at 11:06 AM
Awe Jen, I so get this! I actually bought tickets and planned to come see you in Charleston, SC at Seacoast Church in the next two weeks and had to bow out because of all of the above. I travel for my job and I too struggle with boundaries, commitments and real life! I have a Remy too and as much as I just can't deal with the songs blaring from her mouth every.single.day, I know in my heart of hearts all too soon, there will be no singing and age will take over her. I must focus, as you said, on those faces nearest and dearest. Even if it means missing a chance to see your precious face! Thank you for your beautiful words (they are always great and spot on)! We all truly have to come to the Savior and ask Him to define our lives and help up stay in our path. Thankful for peeps like you that keep it real! March on Warrior!
Shelly - January 20th, 2014 at 11:06 AM
Well done! When we moved home after living overseas for a decade we made a conscious decision to say NO to any event that involved flying or did not involve family. We knew that we would not transition well if we were not living in each others back pockets. We cut close boundaries and erected high walls around them. We have disappointed many people, made a few mad, but are grateful for those who understand. Next year, after we have settled, transitioned, and found our feet, we may take a peek over the hedge and see what is out there. Until then it's our little tribe around the table playing Catan and poker!
Char - January 20th, 2014 at 11:06 AM
I'm only half way through your post, but I couldn't wait to finish it to say, that while you don't know me personally, this is an answer to what I've been praying for you. Because this other person you've become, isn't really the "you" I became so fond of while reading "7"....
Char - January 20th, 2014 at 11:15 AM
I'm only half way through your post, but I couldn't wait to finish it to say, that while you don't know me personally, this is an answer to what I've been praying for you. Because this other person you've become, isn't really the "you" I became so fond of while reading "7". Again I'll quote from your words, (page 67) A well-known ministry leader pulled me aside after I received my first multibook contract and said: "Jen, stay especially connected to Jesus from here on out. With your age and persona, they will try to make a starlet out of you." I've been watching it happen from afar, and I'm so blessed to read your words that you're taking some steps back. ~thankful~
Lynn - January 20th, 2014 at 11:08 AM
The last of my four children will be in school full time this Fall - I've been home raising children for 14 years and am excited to get back into the business world. As I was feeling overwhelmed with all of the demands on my life and building my business foundation - God spoke to my heart with this message, "As long as I keep it in balance, I can be as successful as I want to be". Before I had a family, success would have been measured quite differently. Now, I measure Success through the quality of my relationships. Welcome Home, I loved your post - It reminded me to keep it all in balance.
Mary Beth - January 20th, 2014 at 11:09 AM
So well said... I think your words will strike a chord with anyone who has ever tried to reach out beyond our own insular worlds - which is most of us. Whether we've become too entrenched in our children's schools or in our place of work or in serving communities well outside our own, there comes a tipping point when your own community/family/relationship suffer. Taking action to restore balance is a brave and wise act!
Stacey - January 20th, 2014 at 11:13 AM
I lost a loved one last April and that event consumed me for 8 months because he was the father of my child. I work FT and have my kids in activities. I was losing it or more realistically lost it. I ended up having surgery and being home for six weeks. It's was lonely and honest. I have since decided to slow down and laugh more particularly at myself more! You made the right decision.
Lisa - January 20th, 2014 at 11:13 AM
Couldn't have read this at a better moment, thank you for your honesty and yes, its time to land the plane, going home feels GOOD. Blessings to you on your winding down journey, stay true to the commitment of family and community and it will, in a short time, settle down and you can settle in.
Kaleo - January 20th, 2014 at 11:13 AM
She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future. When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness. (Proverbs 31:25, 26 NLT). God uses you in mighty ways. He will continue to do so as you walk so close to him. Thanks for sharing it with all of us.
Ronne - January 20th, 2014 at 11:14 AM
Dang it. Dang you. Dang this.

This speaks volumes to me right now.
Stacey - January 20th, 2014 at 11:14 AM
Yes. I totally get it. And I think you are on the right track. Come home.
Heather Nelson - January 20th, 2014 at 11:17 AM
I get you. I hear you. I am someone who is thrilled that I will have the opportunity to meet you and listen to you in person when you are in Little Rock next month, BUT....but I understand. I am proud that you are learning the delicate art of saying no...of swimming in lake you, etc. You can live your life as a canal or a reservoir. You can either operate from your excess or from the bottom of the barrel. I am learning this important lesson myself...love you and sending prayers. :))))
Meighan - January 20th, 2014 at 11:18 AM
Thank you lady for this real post. I honestly have NO IDEA WHO YOU ARE. I randomly came across your post because someone shared it on Facebook. But you just confirmed in the Spirit a choice I just made in past two weeks. So thanks for that blessing, mystery gal!

I just decided not to pursue a "dream job" for these very reasons, working for a very influential, high-level person. Their team was disorganized, wanting to have calls at 10pm, would be traveling all the time. It took a lot to walk away from it and believe God has something for me that will help me be more present in my everyday life, church and community-- and most of all, as single mom of a four year old. I work in an international field full of people "advocating" for those in need, and frequently totally neglecting what God has given them personally in their own families and communities. This is glamorized: 'Where did I see you last? Was it London at the G8? Or at the World Cup in South Africa? Will I see you at Davos? I'm just so tired, but you know how it is".

I struggle to balance the dreams I know are of God about my vocation with the constraints I have every day. I know His promises are true, it's just TIMING. This is not the season to go big or go home. It's the season to GO HOME! I have to remind myself He's more than able to take my real effort and multiply that through His favor to put me where I wanted to go with all my exhausted effort with much more ease and sanity. I have to remind myself a very small hinge can open a massive door, instead of always wanting to roll up my sleeves and get my crowbar! Best to you momma as you do this. God's got it, best is yet to come.
Cecelia Lane - January 20th, 2014 at 11:19 AM
Thank you Jen. I used to be so busy with working, volunteering at the school I work at, at church, etc., that I felt like I didn't know me anymore. I have always been a people pleaser so it was natural to be busy trying to make everyone happy. Twenty-one years ago I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, and I vowed it wouldn't slow me down. It didn't, but my health suffered and I lost touch with me, the wonderful person God made me into. I have since stepped back, taking better care of my health, and as a result, I am present in my life, in my husband's life, and I have been able to hear God's still small voice within me. Thank you again!
Jennings - January 20th, 2014 at 11:20 AM
I had this moment in December. I was planning a monthly event in another country, thinking (sincerely) that I would need to go at least quarterly. On top of my regular two three-and-a-half-week trips to Uganda to work. My ministry, my people... They need me! The whole thing has been built on God's directive - it's all about relationships. In December, God rapped my knuckles a bit. Yes, it's all about relationships, and going back and back and not abandoning the people we work with. Knowing them. But it doesn't mean that I am the only one who can have those relationships! (duh) So I talked to a friend who went on our first youth camp trip to Andros and handed her the reins. I told my son that, since he'll be in UG for several months this spring/summer, he's our representative there. He already knows everyone AND actually speaks several of their languages (which I don't). Another duh. It was really hard to do; it's really hard to think that I might not go to Uganda at all this year. It's hard to give up control and to wipe my eyes enough to see GOD'S vision and not what has clearly become mine. But like you, I know it's time. Maybe past time. I know God is pleased, and I find I'm getting pretty used to the idea! We just moved to a new town three hours away (what a coincidence)... Now I will be here to find our new community. 2014 is going to be amazing!
Carolyn - January 20th, 2014 at 11:21 AM
Bravo! You seem to provide the right message for me at the right time. I am feeling the same way. Thanks for having the courage to say it out loud and to take action.
Lauren - January 20th, 2014 at 11:22 AM
Girl, have you been in my head and heart this past weekend?! Months and months of travel and a filled-to-the-brim calendar - for both work and pleasure - have made me painfully weary. I have too often justified it with not having a husband or children and that my job is my mission field. However, all of this business and bustling to-and-fro has left me a skeleton of myself - less available for the incredible friends and family that I have, less able to pour out to the students and families that I serve, and less in love with the God who I had set out to serve in the first place. Today starts the practice of intentionally slowin' my roll - making sure that I'm being a good steward of the incredible blessings I do have. Linking arms with you!
Amy G - January 20th, 2014 at 11:23 AM
I am so thankful to read this! I admire all of your acts of love and all of the time you have spent in letting the masses hear and see you in person! I however love that you are stepping back into why I first became a fan!
Michele - January 20th, 2014 at 11:24 AM
Balance is key. I've had to do the opposite. My family has demanded so much time from me, I have put things on the back burner that I believe God wants me to do and have had to stress out over deadlines, or miss deadlines because I constantly say yes to others without thinking about what I have been commissioned to do. Thanks to a friend that knows my middle name, I recently started saying no.
No, I cannot schedule for your truck to be taken in right this minute (because I did other things for you, so now I only have a day left to finish writing this 12 page paper). No, I cannot be with you every day for two weeks straight after your foot surgery (just because I took vacation time for a week and flew to another city to be with you for a week the last time you had knee surgery-and now you have a spouse). No, I cannot take care of your newborn when you go back to work, until you decide to quit or find someone else (just because I agreed to do that with your last child and a 3 month agreement turned into 10 months). No, I cannot drop what I am doing to come and type the minutes for your last church leadership meeting (just because I've done so in the past and enabled your computer illiteracy - even though you're the church secretary).
I may not have a clue about the stresses of keeping the grueling schedule that keeps you away from your family and friends but I can appreciate your need for balance and normalcy. We ALL need to ask God to show us how to balance EVERY aspect of our lives.
amanda - January 20th, 2014 at 11:25 AM
OMG...have you wiretapped my brain? You and I share in this QUEST!!! Thank you so much for articulating it so well, I may have to call on your words when the feeling of drowning gets the jump on me! Good luck to you...our families, communities and sanity deserve to be the priorities, AGAIN!
LA - January 20th, 2014 at 11:26 AM
Hi, Jen.
There are two places I won't meet you because of this post...IF and in Savannah in March. I am 100% with you, and while it is all good, what I need and what my family needs is time together. Not in a vehicle. Not between my ministry appointments and conferences and Bible studies. I am so 'studied' and filled up, yet I have no time for it to spill over. Bless it.
I am taking back my family time and saying no to traveling to conferences and more weekly Bible studies and travel soccer and all the things that take away from the reason we do things in the first place. Kudos, and praying we continue to see what matters.
Lestra - January 20th, 2014 at 11:28 AM
A long time ago I heard Jackie Kennedy say "if your kids don't turn out ok bcs you were there for them, the rest of the good stuff you did dsnt really matter." ( not exact quote, used to be able to quote it better!). That set me free.
Karen Yates - January 20th, 2014 at 11:28 AM
Three thoughts. First, I love you. I mean, really, really, love you. {muuuuuuwwwa}. Second, this is yet another way you are 'leading' us. Part of learning not to overcommit your congregation and the people in it with things 'in the church' is your showing us how you do not overcommit yourself to the many beautiful, wonderful opportunities that are before you as someone God has given a platform in the Church. It's learning to say no. I need to learn how to say no. Teach me, Jen. We are running so hard over here, and we are tired, and we loooove Jesus, and we long to make an impact, but we our cup does not runneth over, and it's not a matter of a little weekend away. It's a matter of saying no so others can say yes. And drawing boundaries. And trusting that people will be gentle with us, and they will still embrace us, and they will still know we are HERE for them, even though we say no sometimes. And lastly, the spiritual formation side of me thinks this is SOOOO good for YOU and YOUR heart and YOUR ministry and your marriage and your walk with God and all that jazz. This is a good exercise for the mama bear nurturer Jen that cares so much about the growth of those around her -- to release the people back to Jesus and let God nurture YOU. {hug}
Courtney DeFeo - January 20th, 2014 at 11:29 AM
hey jen. so applaud your decision. i JUST WATCHED the best sermon by andy stanley last night - you must watch. just the final part (4) of the BREATHING ROOM series. He said "categorically i'm saying no - how about that? just no. to all of it. dinners? speaking? traveling? i'm saying no - yep, i sure am. until those kids are graduated. and had to settle it with God. trust he could grow a church of any size he wanted in my 45 hours per week." paraphrased. this will be GREAT encouragement to you. he will bless you even more for this great decision.
mariah - January 20th, 2014 at 11:29 AM
Oh heck yes. You are brave, girl, to take all of this stuff back, and it is all true. Proud of you!
Beth - January 20th, 2014 at 11:30 AM
When I quit work to become a stay at home mom I commented that my life had grown so small (feed, burp, change, repeat). My wise sister corrected me %u2013 my life had become focused on a small and very important task. I get what you are saying.
Sara - January 20th, 2014 at 11:32 AM
Wow! What a timely post. As a fellow member of the "Tyranny of the Urgent" club, it is a constant struggle to mindfully slow down the pace of your life and your families. I will be praying for you as you establish those boundaries that will bring the most peace and contentment for you and your family>

Esther - January 20th, 2014 at 11:33 AM
I was thinking about this very topic yesterday. About how we can begin to idolize speakers, thus find it necessary to bring them in rather then see the person waiting to use the gifts God has given them right in front of us.
Bravo for reclaiming your life!!
That being said, I am still looking forward to seeing you in Minnesota this April :-)
sheryl t - January 20th, 2014 at 11:33 AM
I completely relate. Thank you for your honest evaluation of your schedule. So many of us have benefited from your candor. Your first ministry is in your home atmosphere. Have a blessed break from the nonsense and plugging in closely with your first love (s).
Kathy - January 20th, 2014 at 11:34 AM
Yes, I get it and I applaud you. Lucky for me I've heard you speak in person once, and though I didn't wait in line to meet you, I appreciated your words and your presence to encourage us. I am finishing a book study on facebook, and then signing off for an extended break, which is easy for little me who doesn't have book contracts and speaking engagements to manage and publicize. I can do that to be present in the life of the family I love and treasure, but who might wonder because they see me behind a computer screen far too often!
Evelyn - January 20th, 2014 at 11:42 AM
Good for you! Blessings on you and your family as you fold back into lovely, messy everyday life. :)
Bonnie - January 20th, 2014 at 11:42 AM
Salute! The years pass so quickly, and you cannot reclaim them. You are a wise woman.
Alicia McCullar - January 20th, 2014 at 11:47 AM
Thank you Jen.... I am working on this too. Mine is not as complex, but I really like my people and I need to be with them completely.
michelle Gomez - January 20th, 2014 at 11:48 AM
I spent all of 2012 refueling. One regular morning when I was leaving to teach bible study all 3....... ALL 3 of my kids where crying. Then I started crying.
How did I get here? I am doing Gods work? Everything in my "real life" was falling apart.
There were tough choices that had to be made. I had to let some great things go. It was the BEST mature decision I made.
Michele - January 20th, 2014 at 11:52 AM
Way to go! Your family is first! Great choice! Thanks for your honesty!
Tsh Oxenreider - January 20th, 2014 at 11:52 AM
Yep. Me too. My mantra these days is, "I need to make soup." Meaning, all the on-stage, book-foreward-writing, online stuff needs to be second these days to me in front of the stove, stirring in my own kitchen with my own people around me.

I get this.
Jennifer - January 20th, 2014 at 11:53 AM
I'm always impressed with you! Life circumstances have prevented me from hearing you speak a few times, and I am still holding out hope for that! It's got to be humbling to hear of the impact you've had on people. I am one of those people, and God has indeed used you to grow me. I am seriously praying that I get to talk with you when I travel to Austin for IF. Can't wait for your show!
Lorraine - January 20th, 2014 at 11:54 AM
You are a smart girl to realize that your first ministry is to your hubby, kids and who is your "Jerusalem" (nearby ministries of friends, church, etc).

You will still be able to get to those "Judeas", "Samarias" and "outermost ends of the earth" when God calls...:) Effective women always reevaluate things!

YOU GO GIRL! One request, keep up your blog!
Michelle - January 20th, 2014 at 11:56 AM
Oh here is my new prayer :)
I pray for a day when more people stop trying beat everyone else in their sport, job, music career, whatever & end up finding themselves spread out thiner than a pizza crust that can not even hold the pizza sauce let alone yummy toppings
shellie - January 20th, 2014 at 12:01 PM
I totally get it. My husband and I travel full time (or as much as possible) going to churches, colleges, coffee shops, youth groups, etc. playing music. We moved to Nashville (it was going to be Austin) in January of 2011 to be more centrally located to where we tour and to, well, be close to the music business movers and shakers. (Did I just say movers and shakers? Forgive me.) Anyway, we have about 2 more friends than when we moved here%u2026that totals about 5. You see, we do people for a living. We do church for a living and when we get home, we are hermits. We don't feel like socializing. As much as we crave local community, we have to stay as busy as possible right now because that's how we pay bills and eat. Now, we'll be traveling with our first child! He'll be 7 weeks when we hit the road again in February. All that to say, good for you for knowing when to take a breath. Have fun with your family =)
Heather - January 20th, 2014 at 12:04 PM
That's so completely awesome, Jen. Seriously. It's easy to get so busy and wrapped up in TALKING about what we are passionate about that we don't have time to actually DO what we are talking about (reaching the lost, living in community with neighbors, etc). So, way to go!
Whitney - January 20th, 2014 at 12:09 PM
Jen. This is a sweet reminder to all of us fellow ministers who "wish I had" everybody else's opportunities. We, who covet impact and neglect the eternal value of our own small moments and ministries. Thanks for slapping us back to reality-and leading the way.
Christine Hritz - January 20th, 2014 at 12:09 PM
I was remembering just two days ago our time with you in November in Midland, MI. I am....fill in the blank...because God is and he created me in his image! Thank you! And may I say...yeah for you!
Carey Ann - January 20th, 2014 at 12:13 PM
We did this when we realized my husband was working 120 hours a week PLUS working at four volunteer positions all for other peoples kids. I was raising our one year old by myself. He quit all of it in one weekend and the word NO became a primary part of our vocabulary. Now the one year old is 15 and we still say no - often. Our favorite phrase: "Here's my list. Tell me what you are going to do so I can do your thing for you."
Sarah - January 20th, 2014 at 12:16 PM
Good job! My one word this year is Present. I was feeling like even though I was here...I wasn't really here. Anyway. Being fully present in my life, in the moment...is a gift. Enjoy this gift of living your own life present.
Janae - January 20th, 2014 at 12:18 PM
Beautiful!
Melissa - January 20th, 2014 at 12:23 PM
What can we expect of ourselves with all the "Crazy, Irresistible, Radical, All-In, Not Fans" messages guilting us to ensure that every minute of every blessed day we are "Searching for Significance, Multiplying, Following, Desiring, and Not Wasting our Life". Can the Church just EASE UP a bit?!!! Can I love my kid, my husband, my friends, my neighbors, my co-workers and my fellow volunteers and call that GOOD ENOUGH?! Please?! If it was good enough for the Proverbs 31 woman...it's good enough for me! (And you too!)
laura - January 20th, 2014 at 9:24 PM
Amen.
michelle - January 20th, 2014 at 9:39 PM
Yes.
And at a certain point I realized no one was going to stand up at the pulpit and give me the permission to do what I needed to do. So I just gave myself permission. I am wired to be "all in" but all in was "all consuming." Now I'm balancing the scales back and am making peace with being all in in my life but more sane about how that looks on my calendar.
Alex - January 20th, 2014 at 12:24 PM
So happy for you, Jen!!! Another adoptive mom friend and I were talking about you the other day and all I could say was, "She does so much!!!" Given how much you do (and the fact your family still seems so much more normal than mine- from here of course), I sometimes wonder what in the world is wrong with me??? I can't even find matching socks, let alone pack every weekend (clothes that are clean and match) and speak in front of a bunch of people. Seriously, three years into adopting two kids, I can barely connect with real people in my own neighborhood. All this is to say, I'm so glad you're giving yourself a break and a time to connect with loved ones. You have an amazing capacity!!! It will be great to see how the next two years unfold for you, your family, and your community.
Robin - January 20th, 2014 at 12:26 PM
You had me when at "Your Aunt Louise can teach the Bible better than me. Your neighbor is funnier. Your pastor is wiser."

I don't have anywhere near the travel schedule that you have, but the good things about work and ministry have been pulling me away from the best things about my life: My four kids, fiance, and soon-to-be three step-kids.

I'm reigning things in. Purposely getting about my real life, with my people and in my community.

I get it!
Elizabeth Braswell - January 20th, 2014 at 12:26 PM
Jen%u2026I have never written a comment here but feel compelled to do so now..so%u2026I will. Bravo and yay. From a self proclaimed over achiever with a heart for others and a life that has reflected that%u2026The Lord said several things to me at the end of 2014 that I believe are for women everywhere. #1. He talked to me A LOT about divine order and getting my house in order and that means Him fully first (not just in going out and ministering FOR Him), my family%u2026fully to get my best%u2026and to love the ones in my midst%u2026my community%u2026the ones that He has put in our lives for us to walk thru life with. #2. He talked to me about going deeper with few instead of wider with many. I heard Him say "concentrate on cores"%u2026 your cores%u2026Your community. Those in the inner circle of life. Go deep. He showed me that in our heart to reach the regions, the nations, etc%u2026 that often we do this as an inability to go DEEP with those in our midst and to really learn what LOVE looks like. Community is stirring so much where I am and I want to be a full part of that. (by the way, I leave in a community FULL of itinerant ministries where people have always traveled in and out%u2026and they are ALL feeling this call to stop and go deep %u2026 HERE). I had a dream the other night that I won't go in to%u2026but basically it reinforced this message. That when we get in divine order, and go deep with those among us%u2026walk in love together%u2026live our lives FULLY right where we are%u2026that from that place crazy change and reach to others will come%u2026.in such a restful and easy and light way. Loved your post. Loved that the Lord is really sounding this alarm to women and setting us in place so that we can flourish in the midst of where we are. Just this post alone will be used powerfully%u2026and so%u2026rest:) He's got this and you!!
Sheila - January 20th, 2014 at 12:31 PM
adopted four kids and have two bio in China as teachers. All i have done for 7years is teach school, grade papers, and manage the kids under our roof. The hubs has been out doing all kinds of things to help others in legal trouble or personal problems. We have decided it is time to parent together and let go of some of the other things. It is a trap that is played by the enemy to help us feel important and can become self serving because others appreciate us so much. Time to slow down, Sheila Temple author if "Chinese Take Out: An Adoption Memoir" Tate 2014
Carrie - January 20th, 2014 at 12:32 PM
Just what I needed to hear! I basically never, ever leave my home and my 5 kids. And yet I am often far from them in my heart. Thank you!!!
Jana - January 20th, 2014 at 12:34 PM
I love this. Most of us aren't as in-demand as you are, but yes, we all have things distracting us from Home. So many of us busy ourselves with "all those good things" that we barely have a moment in the day to sit down and enjoy our work/partners/food/drink (like King Sol suggests).

I feel like I learned this lesson early in life, fortunately. I've ventured there with a few friends...wondering aloud if they might be too busy...but based on their bristle-y reactions, I've decided this is one of those life epiphanies a person has to come to on their own.
Carrie C - January 20th, 2014 at 12:35 PM
I believe Ann Voscamp recently wrote that "every no is a greater yes to other things." That is what I am currently basing my red prioritization of life upon. Time is really all we have. Stewarding it well means not wasting it or overbooking. Learning to be present IN the present is a worthwhile challenge. Blessings to you as you renew and recharge.
Brenda - January 20th, 2014 at 10:01 PM
Ann Voscamp was the first person I thought of as I read Jen's thoughts. I remember hearing her say that for every time you say "yes" to something, you say "no" to something else.

Sometimes we have to learn to say no. Sometimes we have yo say no when we want to say yes. When you have a home full of kids, you have to learn to say no because those kids need you. Plus, they grow up so fast.
Take it easy on yourself Jen. But remember, every time you say yes, you're saying no to something else.
Megan - January 20th, 2014 at 12:43 PM
We all long for "hard and holy things", the discernment comes in when we are talking about timing... Where does God want me to be right now, exactly at this hour? It is the faith of a child tht will enter the kingdom of heaven. A child does not plan, a child consults their father even about what is for dinner. It is so hard to long for God's heart while harboring our own will. That daily bread that we pray for, is just that DAILY bread, daily surrender. God bless you as you pursue God's priorities and do the hard and holy things for your God, yourself and your family!
Katie Knight - January 20th, 2014 at 12:45 PM
Do it! I am proud of you!
Molly - January 20th, 2014 at 12:47 PM
I've missed you.
Nancy G - January 20th, 2014 at 12:50 PM
Sad for me because I think meeting you in person would be inspiring, I am so happy for your kids. Brandon, too, because, well, he's your guy, but I'm a kids person and I applaud you for showing your kids how important they are to you. I'm not saying that you didn't while you were on the crazy travel thing, but in all the little moments you'll get to share with them. Well, it just makes my heart happy. I am so proud of you for choosing them over us. They are worth it!!!

Heather from CT - January 20th, 2014 at 12:55 PM
YES! This. I quit a 15 year career because I'd lived in a community for 3 years and didn't know anyone, but that TSA lady at the airport... she knew me. Good for you.
Jennifer - January 20th, 2014 at 12:56 PM
You won't regret it on second! I did this two years ago and it took about a year to tie "things" up but I'm so glad I did it! Raising my family and being home is the most important thing for me.
~Karrilee~ - January 20th, 2014 at 12:56 PM
One of the reasons we love you is this right here... you're honesty and passion to live life out loud - real and in person! While I was blessed to attend a Women of Faith and hear you preach... I so honor and love this post and your acknowledgement of the need to re-establish boundaries and re-order priorities! Who among us hasn't needed to re-evaluate our lives and get back to center!
Sherry Napier - January 20th, 2014 at 1:08 PM
This is excellent advice! Please be aware that busyness puts those we cherish on hold & sometimes it can completely break apart a family. This happened to me in 2008, when my family was shattered beyond repair ~ social media was not the issue & may have actually helped us feel more connected, yet it is one of many time consuming choices we make. We were so busy with obligations that took our family away from home that when I went to dinner with my husband to plan our 25th Anniversary, he said he'd rather spend $ on a divorce. We lost everything we'd worked 30 years to build & our children (2 bio, 6 adopted) have struggled to accept where we've gone... Sometimes people break, even those we love! In my case, a man who'd waited patiently for years found someone who would pay immediate attention to him & made the decision to live in the now, regardless of the costs. I admire him for having the strength to make that choice almost as much as I mourn the loss of what was & what could be when we were that loving, busy family! Yes, I will always wish we'd communicated with each other better, yet I'm able to see the beauty that has resulted from broken dreams & my heart trusts that everything will be ok in the end...
Susan - January 20th, 2014 at 1:10 PM
I have an apology, Jen. There was a time late fall when I had seen one post of yours after another, and I thought, "What about 7?! What is she doing? Why on earth is she filling her life with all of this stuff?" Now, if I had thought those things and prayed for you, no apology needed. But honestly, I was judging you. I didn't trust God's voice that said, "You know, she could really use some encouragement." Of course, I heard him say loud and clear, "Take note, because, Susan, you have done this very thing." Yep. I have. So, I suppose it's better late than never, but I just prayed for you and will continue to do so as God brings you to mind. Do life as he says. He actually knows what he's doing. :-)
Beth Trax - January 20th, 2014 at 1:12 PM
I found you via Facebook months ago and have latched on to everything I can from you; your blog, your books, IF:Gathering... God has most certainly used you very personally in my life, to keep me moving forward, eyes wide open. I didn't even realize how hungry I was for new ways to look at my life, ways to reach deeper and really commit myself to Jesus and his teachings. It seems God has called you to voice what's inside my (and so many women's) heads and hearts and spirits. I am so grateful for that. When you show where you are at, it feels like it lights a way for me, showing me possibilities I might not have thought of, or given myself permission for. This new direction HOME is just one more lesson I will take to heart. I am so grateful for you hearing God and listening to Him and sharing so much, so honestly and earnestly. I have full faith that wherever God leads you you will continue to do that. Thank you for all that you've given:)
Jenn Peterson - January 20th, 2014 at 1:12 PM
Oh Jen- I so get this. My husband travel a lot for work. I guess you would say he is an expert. He just told me, I am so sick of this. I hate it. He is too working on his planning. Praying for you and your family. And good for you to take a step back and look at your life!!
Amy - January 20th, 2014 at 1:18 PM
Good for you. Way to take a stand. Thanks for the encouragement to do the same.
Lora - January 20th, 2014 at 1:21 PM
Good.for.you!!!!
Grace - January 20th, 2014 at 1:30 PM
I think it's profound that your post came on the day we remember Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. "To take the first step in faith, you don't have to see the whole staircase: just take the first step". You go girl!!!
Sheri - January 20th, 2014 at 1:33 PM
You are courageous and I commend you for stepping out on that shaky limb of being vulnerable and real. . . to the point of raw. I too, have been missing my life and am making small steps to return to it. Life is just too short to live "other life." Thank you for sharing your decision, and I look forward to watching you get your hands get a firm grip on the relaxed Sunday afternoons again! Blessings to you as you transition!
Kim - January 20th, 2014 at 1:34 PM
Ab-so-posilutely! I don't travel a lot but we have a ton of things going on in our family, including an interstate move happening in a few months. We've bought a house in our new town but otherwise have done virtually nothing to prepare. Meanwhile my husband is working 6 hours away during the week and driving home every Friday, only to drive back bright and early Monday morning, and I try to handle the kids on my own while he's gone AND work a part-time job. Whew! So yeah, I totally get it. Our first obligation is to our own households yet it's so hard to say "no" sometimes.

And please, get busy writing. While I'd love to hang out with you over coffee, I can settle for reading your blog. You do whatever you need to do for your family. :-)
Jo - January 20th, 2014 at 1:37 PM
Your OWN family is your first mission field. How easily we let our passions jump in front of our mandate to purposely all consumingly raise Godly children and grow strong faith at home.

Jana - January 20th, 2014 at 1:39 PM
Just came across this quote by ol' Clive Staples. Fitting, eh?
"I think each village was meant to feel pity for its own sick and poor whom it can help and I doubt if it is the duty of any private person to fix his mind on ills which he cannot help. This may even become an escape from the works of charity we really can do to those we know. God may call any one of us to respond to some far away problem or support those who have been so called. But we are finite and he will not call us everywhere or to support every worthy cause. And real needs are not far from us."
Julie Blauwkamp - January 20th, 2014 at 1:46 PM
Thank you for this post and for the methods you are taking to establish boundaries and rhythm. As much as we all adore you- Brandon only has one wife and your gang of five one mother - and your tribe only has one Jen- by hunkering down you are allowing yourself to be fully present there which will reap benefits in your public sphere as well.

Good is the enemy of great. May we allow The Lord to teach us to number our days and rest in the boundary lines He has established for us.

Blessings, friend!
Name - January 20th, 2014 at 1:50 PM
As someone who tends to volunteer first and try and schedule it all later...I came up with a way to determine if an activity, no matter how good or holy, is one I can commit to. I ask myself if this is something God really wants me to do or is it something only I can do (or can a thousand other people pour juice), or is this something I want to do (as opposed to something I feel obligated to do). At the end of the day my son only has one mom and if I have spread myseld too thin, I cheat him and I believe God called me to be a christian mother first and foremost.

Jennifer Walker - January 20th, 2014 at 1:57 PM
My only child died 10 years ago, he was 30. You are doing the right thing for you and for your family and community. Everyone wants a piece of you, but what are they giving up. You go to them, they don't have to stay one night away from their home and family. The Lord has the plan, just be still...
Sara - January 20th, 2014 at 1:59 PM
So sweet of you to share...I just spotted a pic of you on Facebook this week with some of my fav bloggers-Glennon, Kristen, and Tara (who I secretly claim as a friend after she rescued me following a fainting episode at Port au Prince Fellowship)...and honestly I was envious of all of you and your creative, inspiring minds in one place! And then realized that I have my own creative, inspiring chicas right here...in MY actual life! Thanks for always keeping it real! Best wishes settling back into your own actual life...and thanks for speaking the thoughts that many of us think!
Suzanne Jones - January 20th, 2014 at 2:05 PM
I love this. I hope the "Be Still" cuff I made for you is a good reminder. I love seeing it on your wrist in the bottom pic :). Blessings.
Kris - January 20th, 2014 at 2:17 PM
*clapping* Thank you for this. You're real, and this right here is why we appreciate you--Enjoy living your REAL life.
Tiff - January 20th, 2014 at 2:38 PM
Amen. God bless you, girl.
Leigh - January 20th, 2014 at 2:40 PM
Your readers are so eloquent! Have enjoyed the comments just as much as the piece. :) Kudos for promoting such thoughtful responses. You clearly resonate.
Lisa-Jo - January 20th, 2014 at 2:46 PM
This is beautiful and brave. Cheering you home.
Flower Patch Farmgirl - January 20th, 2014 at 2:49 PM
Cheering you on as you careen your off the rails of Crazy and land softly back where you belong.
I LOVE you, is that okay?
Joe Bryant - January 20th, 2014 at 2:50 PM
Preach. Love this. Hats off to you for being self aware and in tune enough to see the reality. As one of the folks that you visited last Fall, don't worry one bit. Zero resentment sensed in this. If anything, it makes me appreciate you even more as you're walking your talk. Rock on.
Jen - January 20th, 2014 at 2:54 PM
GOOD FOR YOU!!!! I am praying for you! With much love!
Kim - January 20th, 2014 at 3:02 PM
You are setting the best example for your family by making such wise decisions. Every day is a gift and it's not too late to recognize where you need to be. :) There should be more "real" women like you. Also.. your post made me think of a book I read, Left Neglected. Very impacting.

JennyBC - January 20th, 2014 at 3:02 PM
Beautifully stated. I find that we can be "busy" away from home or right int he middle of it all and either way, we are all of the sudden ineffective at anything. So as one who hopes to see you in a few weeks, if I don't know you have my prayers and understanding that your life is so much more important. If I do, yippee for me and the other ladies. Balance is so important and your calling to your home, family, church and community trumps us all ~ without shame or guilt ~ only support and joy.

Hannah Thompson - January 20th, 2014 at 3:05 PM
I've been blessed by a lot of your books, but I have to say, this is the best thing I have every read by you -- you have never been more of a role model.

Off to get connected in my own "real life." God bless you, Jen!
Tracy - January 20th, 2014 at 3:05 PM
This is exactly why I sent an email yesterday to say "sorry I can't do your very important thing just because you asked me and it sounds like a great idea".

I love Nehemiah's response when some weighty influential people tried to get him to come and meet with them so he would be distracted from his purpose:

I am doing a great work; I cannot come down. Why should the work come to a standstill just so I can come down to see you? (Message version)

Oh yes - I am doing a great work. I am being a wife and raising children and ONLY doing the work God has given me to do. When I step beyond my family and my work my life falls apart at the seams!
Melissa Irwin - January 20th, 2014 at 3:09 PM
The incomparable Mr. Chambers also said "The greatest competitor of devotion to Jesus is service for Him." which by the way, hit me below the belt this week and I still have cramps from it. But this that you share is precisely why we want more of you in OUR lives%u2026. your humility and genuine honesty speaks to us in a way that few others do. Wishing you the very very greatest blessings in returning to your actual life!
Debbi - January 20th, 2014 at 3:16 PM
Truth
Susan H. - January 20th, 2014 at 3:25 PM
Amen Sister! As much as I would love to see you at an event- your family and community need you more. You are a tremendous blessing. THANK YOU for being a voice for what is right in this crazy, over-committed world.
Katie May - January 20th, 2014 at 3:42 PM
Totally get it. And am in the same boat. Not with the same things to pull back from so that I can be in "my life," but with the same feel as what you have expressed. December was a reflective time, as I reached a weary point that I am not familiar with. As a result, I've begun praying about what to say "no" to so that I can be present in my life. There are many, many good things I can be doing, but they may not be the best things I can be doing. You're post totally resonates.
Heather - January 20th, 2014 at 3:46 PM
Just one more reason to admire you. Balance can be the hardest thing to attain and yet it often comes down to being able to say just that one little word..."No". All my best wishes to you for the road that lies ahead.
Tisha - January 20th, 2014 at 3:59 PM
Jen, I'm so proud of you for recognizing that you and your family needs to come first. That is such a hard thing to do today. My husband just went through this same thing. He worked for a company that he traveled about 80% and we have four kids 6, 8, 11, and 18. Our oldest is a senior, our last year with her:(. As much as he loved his job, it was killing him to be missing so much of his family growing up. God blessed his with a new job and very minimal travel. I pray that you have friends and family that can help you stay accountable to a new less demanding schedule.
Joanne - January 20th, 2014 at 4:10 PM
You said it perfectly. I've written one book. Said no to a second book contract and three agents who want to represent me. Um,well, it's not that I don't aspire to be all God wants me to be, I just know the enemy wants to distract right alongside the "doing" and "being" and I won't have it.

There are many more gifted than me. I know the Lord will open doors whenever He desires it. And, I'm finally beginning to be okay with that.

Jen, you are real and that's why you're so loved. May God bless your home and your new boundaries. Remember, you're fighting for His best every time you choose your husband and your children first.
Lola - January 20th, 2014 at 4:24 PM
Hallelujar. Now. Lets get that damn garden in order%u2026.
Jacqueline - January 20th, 2014 at 4:25 PM
Loved your words and your heart. And it makes me re-evaluate my time. Because if I'm working hard to establish a ministry and reach, to build a platform to help others, and yet when I get there just need to stop and say no, it makes me wonder if I should even try at all. Maybe I'm an Aunt Louise that just feels overlooked by the need to bring the well-known already-established platforms to town. Thank you for sharing from your heart, and letting us in to see the hard calls, and how you are making them. Beautiful. And I'm cheering you on with love, thank you.
Kim - January 20th, 2014 at 4:29 PM
You are precious and mostly I was selfishly sad as I read this because I actually wish you would move into the house next to me so that I could be your best friend. HOWEVER I'm so happy for you, your family, your church, your friends and your community. With kids as adorable as yours how could you not want to be home! So excited for the HGTV show b/c it will feel as if we have you back for awhile! Yeah! Thank you for everything - your books, for coming to Oklahoma to teach us and challenge us, your realness, your deepness and most of all that you love our Jesus and lift him high. It makes us want to do the same! Enjoy your home!!
Jenn - January 20th, 2014 at 5:09 PM
This post reeks with wisdom. Good job self-evaluating!
Leanne Penny - January 20th, 2014 at 5:24 PM
Yes and as much as I would love to meet you in real life I get it. I actually work from Young Life now, out of my home and we're planting a church and I'm writing a book proposal and it feel like everything is sort of "I should be" all the time and there is so little margin for "imma just gonna do nothing"

Anyway, grace, peace... Space and time... less rats though, yes?
Lori - January 20th, 2014 at 5:38 PM
Oh yes, yes, yes. I get it! Same thing happened in my life. But God started working on my heart with a series of teachings on addictions. Seems I was addicted to work. Like you said it takes time to unravel that behavior, making conscience decisions about my time and of all things - God moved us from Indiana to Alabama to get away from the craziness of it all. Oh yes, I so get it!
Tracy - January 20th, 2014 at 5:42 PM
Praise to God for giving you the courage to do the hard things. Making more time for your family and your people is something you will never regret. Eshet chayil!
Maria - January 20th, 2014 at 6:21 PM
Holy cow, yes! I am such a "yes" person and really thrive on serving others, in creating new relationships and let's face it, being liked. But I too have found this desperate need for rebalance. Thanks so much for this post. It really validates my feelings to draw my circle in and not feel like a total failure for not being able to juggle it all/parcel off even more of me.

Good luck, it will be hard but you can do it!
Chandra - January 20th, 2014 at 6:48 PM
Ah, I so get this. My life is not filled with constant traveling, but I have been so pre-occupied for so long with social media and building my blog. I get it. I love that you are being drawn to live YOUR life with YOUR people. I participate in One Word, and the only word I got for this year was "live". Get out and live, and I have been doing that. This only encourages me to press on and continue to live outside of social media! Loved this, Jen!
Suzanne - January 20th, 2014 at 6:49 PM
Same thing happened with me. Stepping off the crazy was terrifying and amazing. Look at everything you think you still have to do and drop some more. You can. Honest. Will people be inconvenienced? Yes. Unhappy with you? Yes. Not "like" you. Yes. Will they die? Will blood be shed? If the answers to those are No - you can let it go. Really. Thoughts and prayers for you.
Cindie - January 20th, 2014 at 7:20 PM
Yay for "Actual Living", messy but real.
Kristi - January 20th, 2014 at 7:26 PM
I often feel like I get sucked into social media..blogs, facebook, twitter, all of those wonderufl things that just take up a little of your time. All that little time though when you think of each thing, makes up a lot of time. Then to be a mother, a full time employee, a friend, a child of God. There just is not enough time, and to be able to pull yourself away is an accomplishment all in itself.
Cory - January 20th, 2014 at 8:01 PM
This is such a struggle for Christians. And exactly why the Apostle Paul says that it is "better for you not to marry"...not because he's against marriage - but because when you join with another person, when you make a family, when you put down roots - you begin to feel conflicted in your service. The disciples had to leave everything to follow Jesus. They left their people. They left their lives. And sometimes as Christians, we have to do the same. So the only way to navigate this conflict is to consistently be in prayer about God's will for our lives. We have to pray daily that we set aside our own desires so that we can pursue what He desires for us. For some - that means pulling out of too many activities to focus on home. For others it might mean sacrificing family time to reach outward to those in need. God has different plans for us all. We just have to be careful not to confuse our own desires with His. This life is meant to be one of sacrifice because the next one will be filled with "our people" :) You are such an encouragement. God has blessed your life abundantly and you have reached so many. I pray your journey back to your "real life" is full of grace and mercy by those who will miss you, and I know it will be such a tremendous joy for those who have been missing you, to have you back.
Jenny - January 20th, 2014 at 8:20 PM
I wish I could reach through this computer screen, give you a big hug and say good for you...and THANK YOU FOR sharing this with vulnerability!!!! So many of us need to STOP and actually be present in our lives!
Bethany - January 20th, 2014 at 8:21 PM
Those of us who love you well (even if we've not met you in person) will feel nothing but solidarity and joy for you - and dare I also say, hopefully without patronizing you, proud of you. May the Lord give you a safe landing without too many bumps.

Diana - January 20th, 2014 at 8:23 PM
I SO get this. I'm getting ready to pull a similar "scaling back" move in my own life right now. No details available for sharing right now, but trust me, they'll be coming as soon as I can pull it together for public consumption.
Jesus didn't ask us to be superhuman like this. He just called us to be who He made us. And so.....I'm going back to being me. Thanks for sharing your story - I can use the encouragement, as I find taking a big step like this a tad unnerving :-)
Alissa - January 20th, 2014 at 8:23 PM
I can't even imagine how you keep up. I reached a confusion/saturation/redirection point last summer. Stay strong, breathe deep, and retract until you can see with fresh eyes. http://sahmmelier.wordpress.com/2013/06/05/transitions-part-2-2/
Dolly Mink - January 20th, 2014 at 8:24 PM
I am so thankful that you are doing this. I was on your site not long ago to look at your schedule and to see when we could try to book you to come be with us. What I took away was despair for your life and what it must be like to be you. Often I feel like I am you but I am home. (and short and older, but that is beside the point) Blessings on blessings, my dear Other Self, and enjoy your home and the mess and the kids and the joy of serving exactly where He wants you. Welcome Home.
Casey - January 20th, 2014 at 8:27 PM
Amen! I know what you mean. At times I feel like I'm doing much "nothing" but then I realize that pesky phrase of "my family is my ministry." It seems so much more fun when you are away solving other people's problems. But in the end...my family is well...MINE
Kat - January 20th, 2014 at 8:27 PM
You go girl!!!! Do what only you can do and leave what someone else can do for someone else to do. God will surely bless you, your family, your local church, and your community because of your decision.
Kristen - January 20th, 2014 at 8:27 PM
Since the first of the year, I have shed so many tears over something that has been whittling away at my time (for myself and for my family) since June. It's been a long time coming but I really cracked just a few weeks ago. I'm spending time in prayer to figure out if God wants me to just hang in there for a while, or he is telling me I need to leave that space. So yeah, I totally get it. And it gives me hope to see how a sister in Christ has taken REAL steps to take back her REAL life!
Donna G - January 20th, 2014 at 8:28 PM
Good for you Jen. In thrilled I got to be present at your appearance at our church PTCC in Frisco. But it was a presence I can live without when the cost is YOUR family, friends and congregation.
I say do what right for you now and just throw us all a home now and then. Good luck. Xx
Brooke - January 20th, 2014 at 8:29 PM
As one of your biggest fans, I get you and I support you. This makes total sense. I read your devotional yesterday about Today being tomorrow's yesterday....remember you wrote that. Cherish every moment and don't let it pass you by. Love your heart!!!!
Lois - January 20th, 2014 at 8:32 PM
Good for you! You're doing the right thing!
Christine - January 20th, 2014 at 8:33 PM
You are a wise woman.
Mary - January 20th, 2014 at 8:34 PM
My diamond fell out of my engagement ring today (after 12 yrs of marriage) and is gone because I am so far from my life that although I knew it needed to be fixed I didn't have the time to do it. These are wake up calls. Thank you for your words.
Melissa Adams - January 20th, 2014 at 8:35 PM
One of the best quotes I ever heard on this topic ~

The light that shines the furthest? It shines the brightest at home.

Let your light shine, Chica! Prouda you!!
Amy - January 20th, 2014 at 8:46 PM
This is a recurring theme in my life, and in so many others around me... I experienced the same feeling this fall, and just needed to reclaim my life and focus my energy to the things most important to me. North point just did a series on this, and my church, Liquid Church, is doing a series called 24/6. Everyone struggles with this, it seems. Thanks for stepping up and doing what you felt yourself called to do, and especially for doing it so publicly! It's brave and honest, and obedient.
Caroline - January 20th, 2014 at 8:49 PM
Sola Deo Gloria, friend. This very well may be the best way u can serve Jesus right now is by being brave enough to model to us 'busy Christians' how to slow-the-heck-down and take a flipping step back, inJesusName. Be still. Breathe. Sit in His Presence for the sheer beauty of it. I believe God is the only one who had to sacrifice His Son for His mission - your family does not have to be sacrificed. He will get His thing done. And when u keep your priorities as 1)God 2)Spouse 3)UT football, um, wait, Kids :) 4) Work 5) Church then He will honor that. I was flat on my couch for the better part of four years with spinal fluid leaks. (Kids were 6,4,2) I know I have a story to tell. I know He has work for me to do as a result of that time. But my babies are still little. I'm the only Mama they got and I've already missed plenty. He has given me, what I call a Sovereign Pause about it. (Hard for me cause I'm like u, I do 'Play' well and 'Fast Forward' really well...Pause, Notsomuch.)
But, In that horrible, beautiful, emotional, spiritual time, He gave me the most precious gift ever -- perspective. People go their whole lives not getting it. Some meet Jesus face to face without it. I am forever grateful. May He shower this gift all over u, friend. Respect and love - Crazy Caroline ;)
Dana - January 20th, 2014 at 8:50 PM
Amen sister. We are all called to a "home" - and the pull of it is strong and so important to heed. Thank you for your honesty.
Lorie - January 20th, 2014 at 8:52 PM
Sabbaticals are good....they force you to slow down and re-evaluate. As my very wise pastor told me this year...focus on pleasing Jesus, not on people; and things will work out just fine. She is currently on sabbatical....I told you she was wise!
Maria McGuire - January 20th, 2014 at 8:56 PM
What a great blog post! I can so relate :)
Cathy - January 20th, 2014 at 8:56 PM
I totally get what you are doing and I am so proud of you for doing it! Your family should be the ones that get all of that teaching, so that they can become the adults you hope for them to be. God Bless You!!!!
Lucy - January 20th, 2014 at 8:56 PM
Thank you!
Missy - January 20th, 2014 at 8:59 PM
From someone who has given much of my life, time, resources etc to ministry, I can so relate to your blog. My kids are raised, married and onto their own lives and ministries and I can tell you from this end of it, you will not look back and regret one minute that you say yes to your kids, your family, your actual life. Proud of you.
Stacy - January 20th, 2014 at 9:03 PM
Yes, I need an Internet sabbatical for this reason. Too many good things--save money on groceries, email the teacher, manage the accounts, research this parenting decision, find the best deal on this purchase, find a gluten free recipe, sell our clutter, join a good cause, stay in touch, stay in touch, stay in touch while my littles clamor at my feet for a book to be read and game to be played and my house becomes a bomb scene.
Claire - January 20th, 2014 at 9:07 PM
So, so good. These are relevant words/thoughts/revelations for EVERYONE. Thank you for the reminder of the small ways I can be better at being HERE. :)
Kim - January 20th, 2014 at 9:09 PM
You can never get the time back with your kids! Soak it up, love them, be with them%u2026its what we are supposed to do! You are making a great choice! You will NEVER regret time spent with your kids! Cant wait to read more of your stories, they always make me laugh!
Kathy Norman - January 20th, 2014 at 9:15 PM
Learning that I have the power to say no to good things to leave space and time for the better things has been a gift and a blessing. Thank you for sharing your heart and time with people you don't know, for encouraging me with your words. Blessings to you and your family as you find your way back to your real life
Angie - January 20th, 2014 at 9:15 PM
Go home, baby girl. We GET it. We live it, to an extent, too. We all need to go home.
Angela - January 20th, 2014 at 9:16 PM
Amen sister friend!! Go ahead!!
Liz - January 20th, 2014 at 9:17 PM
didn't think i could love you more!! :) :) you are right... and i love that you are fighting for your life and for what's truly important. thanks for "splintering yourself" for us... and we will be praying for a time of healing and renewing for you and your family in the future!! :) :)
Karen Spears Zacharias - January 20th, 2014 at 9:17 PM
I made the exact same decision after my last book tour ended, also this past fall, Jen. I absolutely get it.
Jenny - January 20th, 2014 at 9:18 PM
GUUUUUURL! Just do it. Say No,say no 1,000 times because we only get this one shot down here and then we are back home dancing with Jesus and he's gonna say, "Jen! Earth, how was it?!"

Hang with your peeps and don't give it another thought.
Gracelyn - January 20th, 2014 at 9:19 PM
Right on. I started my own business when I had a 4-year-old and twin 2-year-olds. It was a "if you work like you've never worked for one year, you will never have to work like that again" kind of job. It grew and prospered and was amazing...and super hard to slow my pace. But, two years later, as I sat at my children's combined 6 and 4-year-old birthday party (I was too busy traveling to plan two different parties), I realized I hadn't spent significant time with anyone there in almost two years. It was heartbreaking and exhausting and liberating to realize how much I missed my actual life.

It is 7 years later, we've added another human and a half to our family (I'm 5 months preg. now). Our finances are tighter...but so are we. I wouldn't change a thing.

You go for it! Get all messy in the kitchen with kiddos everywhere (yours and others) - feed them food, feed them the Word, love them, discipline them and love them some more. I pray you enjoy every minute of it!!
Marcy - January 21st, 2014 at 7:01 AM
My favorite comment of the day -

"our finances are tighter....but so are we."

As a prior 10 year consecutive gold medallion frequent flier, I feel the tug of going back to work pulling me so strongly right now. I left work 3 years ago after missing 4 years of my kids life from a grueling (but extremely rewarding) job - I can so relate to your post. Thank you for this - I couldn't agree more - "our finances are tighter... but so are we." Your words (and Jen's!) ministered to me today!
Melanie - January 21st, 2014 at 11:30 PM
Amen...after 4 long and hard years of medical school, 5 years of residency and fellowship training with 100 hour weeks and overnight call every 4th night, all the while missing my 2 oldest kids first rolling, steps, words, first everything, and after 14 years of medicine, I left my practice to slow down and refocus my energy. So I could raise them up in the way they should go, but also because I was emptied and needed a reboot. I needed to be still with my peeps surrounding me and let God work in and through me. We are tighter too (both ways) and sometimes that's hard, but almost always good. Funny, P31 ministries talked about this today also--being a Martha vs a Mary...God, are you trying to tell me something???
PS-- you will be at my church's women's retreat this weekend, can't wait to meet you in person, Jen.
Shundria - January 20th, 2014 at 9:21 PM
Good for you! Goodness! I love your writing. It literally makes my blog look like it's for two year olds! Lol But Guuurll...I'm going to keep on pushing. Blessings to you.
Robin - January 20th, 2014 at 9:22 PM
Great choice!!
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