Kristi and I have been friends since our youth group days in New Jersey. When my family moved to Florida soon after I (Suzette) graduated college, we lost touch with each other. After my mother passed away, Kristi and I reconnected and found that over the course of ten years we had lived somewhat identical lives, which caused us to begin referring to each other as “twin” or “my twin.”
Kristi is now a full-time working mom (principal of a private, Christian elementary school) while juggling a beautiful marriage and four gorgeous children. I am so excited to share this post with you as she shares what God has had to teach this very Type-A mom about trust and balance.
God has taught me some important things this past year.
First, He is always in control. There have been many days in the past four months where I felt completely overwhelmed or at my wits end with four kids and a brand new job and all the same duties at home. God taught me that His peace is not the “calm after the storm, it’s the steadfastness during it.”
Second, He always has a plan. My favorite part about the past year is that I have been able to look back and see exactly how God made all the puzzle pieces fit together and make sense. He worked things out that I had wondered about for a long time. Questions like: Why did I even get my Masters Degree if I was just going to keep having babies? Will I have a chance to pursue my dreams? After 9 years as a stay at home mom I was starting to feel a little lost and ready for a change. However, God is always working, and I have learned that I can fully rest in Him knowing that He is in complete control and He will guide my steps.
Labor Day was pretty exciting for us. We were about to spend a leisurely day in Peddler’s Village, PA eating ice cream, shopping the small mom and pop shops, and spending some much need family time together before our homeschool year began.
God had other plans.
Twenty minutes into our car ride I got a call from Dr. Hartzler that drastically changed our lives…for the good! My husband is a financial advisor at Morgan Stanley in NYC. He and I are the type of couple that constantly have a 5 year plan…we pray, we prepare, and we plan. I was going to homeschool one more year and then start applying to Christian private schools to teach again. Little did I know that God was working out all the details for me to end up back at Timothy Christian School where I had taught before I became a mom… and as Principal!
I am extremely thankful for that call on Labor Day even though at the time I was thinking: I haven’t had any time to plan for this! How will this work out? How will I prep dinner? How will we get four kids and ourselves ready and out the door by 6:20 am? In fact, we had invested time and money into homeschool co-ops and classes for the kids well in advance. Now that time and money would be wasted. Could God in fact work out all those details?
He did and He will.
God knew that what we needed most was a summer filled with fond memories and quality family time. It was filled with me giving every waking moment to my family…we went on weekly trips to the beach, Liberty Science Center, Turtle Back Zoo, Philadelphia Zoo, the park, and endless back yard fun days with the pool and slip and slide.
Looking back, if I had known about my new job to come, I never would have spent so much time at the beach or doing fun day trips. I wouldn’t have read as many books to my kids. I wouldn’t have gone to the library. We wouldn’t have spent time with our friends. I would’ve planned and prepped for the school year ahead, and I would have missed out on playing with my kids.
God knew that once I had this role I would have to learn how to balance mom-life and work-life. I am thankful that God continues to show all of us just what we need to learn at exactly the right moment. Whether it’s learning to be patient with our children, learning to be a better listener, learning to lean in at work and striving for excellence, enjoying the blessings of a snow day, hosting a holiday event He has given us, or keeping short accounts and just being broken over our sin to Him, God is in control. He will guide our steps.
And He always has a plan.
This past year I have had to let some things go. I have had to say no to things that I love like MOPS, teaching Sunday School, and gourmet dinners. I have had to be ok with messy hair in the morning, cranky kids waking up super early, eating breakfast on the go, and getting home later than normal and ordering a pizza. God has taught me to trust Him, ask for help, and rely on my team mate and amazing husband John, who has turned into a rock star for me each morning.
We work together. We divide and conquer. We take turns taking showers and each dressing 2 kids (I get to be in charge of the girls who are VERY cooperative…and he takes care of Mark and Micah who are rather slow and sleepy). We have come up with our own system, and we make it work. It took me four months to finally feel settled and confident at work. And I am proud of that. I am proud of my team, my family, and so thankful for the Lord’s hand in my life. I never would have imagined going back to work after 9 1/2 years at home as a stay at home mom, but I am loving it.
If I could pass on any advice or encouragement to anyone out there struggling to find a good balance between work and family, this is what has kept me sane these past few months.
First of all, I had to remind myself and my kids that Mommy is not a superhero. Mommy is a person, and it is okay for me to slow down and take a breather. Kids really do think we are magical creatures that can do it all, even after a full day of waking up at 5 am, working all day and coming home to cook, clean, and be a taxi driver.
I had to stop, have a family meeting with my kids, tell them how hard all of this was for me, and ask for their help and understanding. I had to get my team working together as a unit and set healthy boundaries about how we use our family time.
Secondly, we had to let some good things go. Not forever but for a season. I used to host friends and family all the time for every occasion and holiday. But this past Thanksgiving we told everyone we were taking a much needed break and just using those few days to get away with our family, reconnect and recharge, and not host.
Surprisingly, the world did not fall apart.
What did happen was that we created some awesome family memories. I had to realize that when a huge change like this comes our way we all have to make sacrifices, and we might have to let things go that we love doing just for a while until life gets a bit easier and we can start adding things back in.
Through it all I have learned that my physical health is not worth sacrificing to “do it all”. In October/November I developed a horrible eye twitch. It was actually kind of funny. I was getting so worried about it. My whole eye would shake and tremor and people could actually see it happening. When I finally asked a family doctor about it he said, “Kristi it is because of three things- 1. Stress 2. Lack of Sleep 3. Extra caffeine.” He was right about all three of those things. After getting some much needed sleep the twitch went away.
On the last Tuesday of winter break, I took the kids to Liberty Science Center, our absolute favorite family place. After going on each of the four floors of science fun, we ate lunch and saw a 3D movie about Hurricanes. I am a firm believer that all things happen for a reason, and as we watched this 20 minute movie, I started to hear exactly what God wanted me to hear. Even though hurricanes are absolutely devastating and fierce, after the storm passes it actually allows new life to burst through. In the ocean new coral starts to grow adding food for the fish. In the rain forests new seedlings are able to sprout through and get the sunlight they need. What seems like an actual nightmare during the process, with the winds, rains, and devastation, new life bursts through. I felt like God was talking right to me. He was assuring me that, yes, the past few months were difficult and challenging, but it was all part of the process of growth for me and for us as a family.
God makes all things new. He is constantly shaking up our world and our lives to push us forward, grow us, and change us. While it is happening, sometimes it hurts. Sometimes it’s overwhelming. Sometimes it feels impossible. But with God all things are possible, and God is the ultimate balance Sustainer.
You can read more about Kristi and her beautiful family at her blog Keeping Up With Kristi.