A different kind of balancing it all

IMG_6876For decades I’ve read articles about finding balance in life. From Seventeen to Redbook. From Women’s Day to Family Circle.

I’ve talked about it with friends, with sisters, with bosses. And then finally I met a woman who showed me a new way to look at balance.

Her mother brought her in to a photo shoot I was helping with. We were waiting on her husband, who was just a few minutes out, so we talked a bit to better understand her story – to better portray her in pixels.

I know you ride at the stables, I said. To help you with your balance after the car accident, right?

She smiled and nodded.

And I heard that our husband surprised you on Valentine’s Day, that he took off work and showed up to watch you ride?

Another nod and a bigger smile.

Well, we thought maybe we’d photograph both of you, I said about the time he walked in.

The biggest smile of all for him.

“Do you want to sit in the wheelchair or stand for the picture?” her mother asked.


So, with Mom on her left and husband on her right, she slowly made her way around the cords and beneath the lights. She turned to face the camera and she stood, leaning on her husband’s shoulder. Then, there were smiles after in-love smiles from both of them.

And in the end, we had a beautiful picture of a rare kind of balance – balance that wasn’t about squeezing more in or deciding what to let go of. We had a picture of steadiness, of taking the time to walk alongside those we love, of allowing ourselves to lean in order to stand.

In those few minutes, I saw balance not as one person struggling with weights on both outstretched hands but as something that is more about all of us, together.



Day 1 of Hope — and a free journal page

IMG_1407Benjamin loves a good party, and he had been planning one for Valentine’s Day since before we put away the Christmas tree. In January, he dictated his guest list: Grandma, Grandpa, Uncle Jay… and soon after we discussed the importance of having Tootsie Roll Pops and red velvet cake.

IMG_1404The day of the party there were red streamers to hang and balloons to tape in place. Dishes to wash. A toilet to clean. Crowds at the store and crankiness among the boys at home — so much that I felt foolish for celebrating. How could I put the l-o-v-e banner on the China cabinet and invite people in when I felt my life was such a mess? How did my gift for my 5-year-old turn into a stressful burden?


So, I did what any reasonable mom would do. I put myself in time out. I snuck to the top of the stairs and sat there until I decided that I could celebrate even if things weren’t perfect, that things like love and hope and joy were meant to stand in the midst of the mess. That they aren’t a magical place that we arrive at but a choice we make all along the way. And if I couldn’t choose hope and celebration over squabbling brothers and cobwebs, how would I ever choose hope when the real struggles hit? How could my feeble hope possibly anchor my soul?

I got downstairs in time to watch Benjamin arrange Little Hug Fruit Barrels in a circle around our heart candle and put the Swedish Fish in a dainty dish.

And smile.

And laugh.

And have a great party.


Thank you, all of you, for joining us for the 40 Days of Hope project. Each day during Lent, we’ll share something about hope here — something that we pray inspires you or encourages you. We’re also planning to share free journal pages for you to download, We don’t quite have 40 yet, so if you’d like more information on submitting one, please click here.

Marketta and Tanya

Marketta and Tanya

Today’s journal page was designed by Tanya Herrold, whom you may remember from an article she wrote on having a peaceful dwelling. Her father has been waiting for a liver transplant for more than four years, and frankly, his health is declining. He has been in the hospital for the last three weeks and the family would greatly appreciate your prayers. “My hope comes from God,” she said. “The only option I have is to put my trust in Him.”

To download today’s journal page and write your own thoughts, please click here.

Here’s a glimpse…