After my last post featured unicycling, I felt that this was a brilliant point at which to publish my book review on Balance by Jennifer Flanders. It has absolutely nothing to do with unicycling, but rather addressing the need for balance in life in general. I have been trying to make some changes in my life over the last year and a half, to try and find a better balance, so I was very excited to read the wisdom of mother of 12 – Jennifer Flanders’ in her latest book – Balance: The Art of Minding What Matters Most (with a foreword by her husband Doug Flanders). Ironically, the week that I began reading the book there were 2 children’s birthdays within 3 days, the tumble dryer broke down and couldn’t be fixed for a week and we all came down with a horrible cold/ flu bug, which funnily enough, demonstrated one of the principles of the book – that no matter how well you have things planned out, life doesn’t always go according to plan!
What I love about the Flanders’ books is that both Doug and Jennifer are great and engaging story tellers and from Doug’s foreword to the book, until the end, entertaining and interesting narrative relate the book to life in a way we can all connect with. I guess if we were going to go with hash tags, I would add #KeepingItReal.
The book was packed with lots of great information and inspiration, including loads of encouraging and challenging quotes and there was so much there, I know that I am going to be going back and rereading this book in a while and getting some more learning. However, these were the learning points for me this time round:
- Balance is more about mind-set that it is about schedules: as Jennifer says, “It is as much about focus and perspective and attitude as it is about juggling work, rest and play.” One of my favourite parts of the book was where Jennifer described our ultimate goal – to flourish as a flower whose fragrant life draws others to God. What is not to love about that?!
- Waiting on God: Another favourite quote from the book, “It is only by waiting on the Lord, co-operating with His design and by living in harmony with His plan and utilising His strength we can achieve balance”. I just love this idea that balance is going to look different for all of us and that it is about working within the not only the limits we have in our lives, but also the unique personalities and gifts that God has given to each one of us are going to determine how we achieve balance and what it looks like in our own lives. This is not a book that tells you how to think or tells you what to do – it is like having a coach to ask you questions and help you find what is going to work for you and your own unique situation.
- We are all works in progress and change takes time: I love how this experienced mother of 12 writes from a position of humility and grace of beginning the book by describing herself as a work in progress and of working alongside me – not pretending to have it all together and all sorted. As Jennifer tells us, achieving balance is not just a one off – tick, “I’m balanced, let’s move on now…” but that it takes work, maintenance and is an on-going process through the seasons of life. Another quote from Jennifer that I loved, “The bigger the change, the larger the adjustments to accommodate it so allow sufficient grace and time to make necessary adjustments.”
To be honest, for me at this point in my life, just that last quote was all I needed to read! We have had some pretty epic changes in our lives over the last two years, which remain unresolved to a large extent, and it was important to me to be reminded that it all takes time and waiting on God and His timing.
Have you read Jennifer’s book? What learning did you take from it? If you haven’t read it, I would recommend you do! I think there is something for everyone in Jennifer’s entertaining, engaging and easy to read book.
Be encouraged 🙂
P.S. It is now actually 6 months since I wrote this book review, I don’t know why I didn’t publish it sooner. It was kind of lost in my files.
I thought it might be useful to include an update of how I have actually gotten on with the principles in my life. Keeping them in mind has really helped us. I have managed to get to a point where the house is relatively orderly and clean most of the time. I have also begun to find a good balance for me health wise – I have some chronic health issues and if I don’t keep a good balance of rest and work, I burn out and get ill. I have also improved on our home ed organisation and found a position where we are better organised and achieve more of what I want for us to, but I don’t have to feel like a sergeant major. We are still works in progress, but I have found the principles from Jennifer’s book to be really helpful and will be continuing to use them in going forward. 🙂