Exhausted, hurried, angry? Do these words best describe you? You’re moving at such a fast pace, you high-five yourself on the interstate. You’re behind the eight ball at every turn with no end in sight. You’re late to work, late to carpool and you remember in Costco that your kids had early release. Oh for the love. Anyone? No matter the pace, you’re never enough. You’ve said yes to every classroom party, PTA and work project, perhaps out of fear. Fear of missing out, fear of disappointing. Or we play the guilt game. That’s a fun one. Our days feel like a pressure cooker about to explode, where the only thing that will survive are the cockroaches. You are house poor, time poor, emotionally drained. 

Your life is so packed, pushed and condensed, you’ve become a prisoner to your own self. 

Sadly, you’re perfectly normal, but there’s hope. You can create breathing room, that small little glorious space between margin and maximum capacity. That little bubble of peace that gives you room for options, plans b’s, a place to inhale and exhale without rush. That space to sit in your happy place and notice the details of life, the brilliant colors, the light breeze, to actually listen without thinking of what you’ll say next. To feel the warmth of sunshine on your face, to peacefully walk with a friend, without feeling hurried. There are seasons of life that require you to gear up and run the race in a full sprint, like the holidays, graduations, taking care of parents, sending the kids off to college. But when you begin to string together all the events, that’s when the brakes start smoking and your red engine light turns on. If you don’t listen to the still small voice that tells you to slow down, your health will begin to suffer. You don’t want your overworked adrenal glands to be the only inertia that sputters you to the finish line. Let’s constitute guardrails that keep us from driving off the cliff of life.

7 Ways to Create Margin:

1. Establish Boundaries

2. Learn to Say, No

3. Find a Rest Stop: Meditate

4. Prepare the Night Before

5. Schedule Extra Time

6. Save Extra Money

7. Organize, be Efficient

If you drove from the East Coast to the West Coast without a break, what would happen? You would be hungry, mad and out of fuel somewhere around Ohio. It’s time to find a rest stop and re-evaluate your life plan. Establish boundaries. What scenarios are you willing to negotiate and which ones are deal breakers? Learn to say no, it’s a complete sentence. Schedule extra time in your calendar for heavy traffic, a night away. Throw a few extra dollars toward an emergency fund or save a couple by not eating out one week. Make lunches and lay out clothes the night before. In doing so, you’re creating margin, peace instead of chaos for you and your family. Let’s turn those Costco runs into a peaceful trip with few surprises. You’ve lived the hurried life. Which scenario feels better? Tell us your story.

I don’t have time to hold your guinea pig. Are you ever in the middle of a text, a deadline, the end of a compelling movie or on the back deck eating the last chocolate cookie and here they come: Hey mom, what are you doing?

Check out my new skateboard trick outside.
Can you really dig to China from the back yard?
Can we buy a dog?
I didn’t want a brother, can we send baby Liam back?

On average, moms are asked approximately 300 questions a day by their young children. It’s madness.

Our brains are like rogue GPS systems that are constantly recalculating.

Instead of trucking down the highway to our destination, our GPS (kid’s questions) are recalculating us down bumpy dirt roads, weird side streets and behind an iffy 711. All these questions are enough to make a grown man cry, and yet here we are, standing in front of  humans under 3 ft 2 with endless energy and questions for days.

We can choose to swoosh them away, while reading a compelling news story, as they offer you the first guinea pig hug of the day. Instead, you never look up, just mumbling: uh huh, ok, see you later and then, just like that, they’re gone.

You just turned down the first guinea pig hug of the day. What’s wrong with you?
I get it. You need to work, cook dinner, do laundry, meet deadlines. Your list is long, as you try to out race the clock.

But what are your actions telling the kids? What or who is more important? The end of a movie, a funny meme to a friend?

That’s what the pause button on the remote is for. The social media story is not going anywhere and like death and taxes, dishes will be with you always. The kids will not. Let that sink in. The jelly print on the window will fade away, the need for Cheerios that seemed to fill every crevice in the mini van, gone. You won’t always be their go-to person, so embrace the moments.

3 Ways to Treasure the Now (WUG)

1. Write it Down
Document moments on the computer or in a journal. Record their little voices. Savor all the curious questions, the funny way they said certain words. Keep their hand written notes or at least scan them digitally for posterity’s sake. It’s said that we remember 20% of our stories. Memories create Legacy. Write it down, mama.

2. Unplug the Gadgets
Look into their little eyeballs and be attentive. Listen to their little voice. Embrace the inquisitiveness. Give Oreo, the Guinea Pig your attention. In doing so, you’re telling little Jack and Isabell they matter, they’re important, they’re priority.

3. Get Your Hands Dirty
Do all the things. Kids want to go biking, hiking, swinging, swimming, eating, talking. Jump in there and do the ING’s. Be active! These are the moments, the ooey gooey goodness of life. They’ll remember the time you spent with them. So get in there and get those hands dirty and make those memories.

Seize the moments, make the memories and do all the things. Life is fleeting. What examples can you share with us, that made an impact on how you dealt with Treasuring the Now?

Battle Ready Book Review

Want to train your mind to conquer challenges, defeat doubt and live victoriously? Yes, Please! I interviewed the author, Kelly Balarie to find out why she wrote Battle Ready.

First of all, this book is such an easy read, chock full of relatable girlfriend, growing up stories that take you back to a place of connection, vulnerability, struggle and celebration. The theme that runs through the book is a yoga, meditation vibe of battling through life’s struggles with a warrior mind. This book offers practical tools to bridge the gap between finding your purpose and the struggles that keep you from fulfilling your destiny. It inspires us to take notice of life’s patterns, how we deal with struggle, react to opposition, offering techniques to leverage your mindset and bring clarity and purpose. Each chapter delivers biblical back up to transform your heart by the renewing of your mind. Battle Ready prepares you for life’s struggles, providing a self assessment to determine how you struggle, how to find peace, the importance of risk, and how to combat the enemy’s attack through easy to remember Acronyms. Imagine IF, all the lies you tell yourself, you actually stop believing, living a life fully prepared, geared up to fight the good fight, Battle Ready.

Q&A with Kellie Balarie:

Q. What became the crossroads moment, your ‘Why’ for writing the book?

A. I realized my thoughts of defeat, discouragement and despair were ruling me more than Christ was ruling them. It was time for a change. I wanted to discover the truth, the insights, the love and the ways to help my mind dwell on truth, rather than lies.

Q. While many run from failure and tend to guard themselves from risk, in your opinion, why is failure imperative?

A. Failure means you tried. God loves it when we go out on a limb in the name of love. If we haven’t failed, I fret to say we haven’t tried hard enough. Of course, it is not our effort that we do things, we want to be inspired by God. Yet, at the same time, we step out on the raging waters, keep our eyes on Jesus – and go!!!

Q. In the book, you describe your dog Argus. We tend to run like it’s our last days or our glory days. Why is perspective so important and how do we transform it? How do we become like Argus?

A. Argus never gave up. He saw the prize and kept running. But most of all, he saw me and loved me. It didn’t matter that he had a horrible cancer of the face, or that he was on his last leg – he had joy in running next to me. He kept going. Why? Because love pushed him on, compelled him and encouraged his heart. We can be like Argus next to God. We can gain strength by being near Him. We can gain hope by hoping in Him. He is our way.

Q. What are subtle ways we allow the world to enter our lives; what is the importance of guarding our hearts and minds?

A. If we don’t have our eyes on Jesus, we probably have them roaming elsewhere. The world is a slow-draw away from God. Before we know it, we’re off on some other track. It is imperative that we simplify our lives so we can simply pursue what matters most. The book, Battle Ready, has all the how-to ways we can do this included in it. It helps us to pursue a life that matters.

Q. Reminding ourselves that our days are numbered, we have a curtain that will close, what would you tell your reader about living in the now?

A. Now is the only moment you’ve got. Make it count. Hint: Love prevails. It never fails and always endures.

Q. If you could give any advice to a person who isn’t living their full potential, what would it be?

A. How is living half-in working for you? Do you feel joyful? Peace-filled? Why not try something new?

This book is available on Amazon.com. For more tips and tools to help you discover your story, your purpose, go to iambattleready.com and take the battle ready quiz. Here’s to discovering your purpose.

About the Author: Kelly Balarie is the author of Fear Fighting and is a featured blogger at Crosswalk.com and iBelieve.com. A passionate national speaker, she has spent a decade leading groups of women in spiritual growth, marriage building, and Bible studies across the nation. Balarie lives with her husband and two small children near the sun-soaked shores of the East Coast.

By Stephanie Pletka

I’m a destination addict. I love to experience adventure. The adrenal rush of new places, people, cultures, and ideas excites me. And boy, do I love change. Well at least the good kind. For three years we educated our four kids while we worked and traveled. Planes, trains, and Airbnbs, in 45 states and 9 countries. It had its ups and downs, but was fun and exhilarating. Every coffee shop, park bench, and Co-share facility became our temporary office. All we needed was a laptop and wifi, and we could submit projects and presentations five days a week.

Along the way, we lost – then found – our children on the Golden Gate Bridge, ran out of gas somewhere in South Dakota, took Spanish lessons in Barcelona (though no one can remember anything more than Hola!), and rode Segways through Europe (nearly losing one in a canal). We drove through Manhattan in a 36-ft. motor home during rush hour (I do not recommend this) and found out the hard way that propane tanks are not allowed in the Holland Tunnel. I bet we hold the record for the most horns blown in a 10-minute period while we made an 18-point turnaround.

Guess what? Despite all the adventure, change, and new destinations, we still had to pay bills, do laundry, take baths, cut our hair and fuel the car. Our family laughed, cried, . . . and fought. Remember the Holland Tunnel? When you think you’re going to die, all sorts of crazy flies out of your mouth. I was praying to Jesus, Joseph, and Mary, all the while hollering at my husband and threatening the kids to quit talking or this would surely be their last day.

Even though we loved our nomadic lifestyle, we still got mad at each other and still struggled with bouts of insecurity. Though we had strict rules for packing light, it became obvious that we each had brought along our usual heavy load of emotional baggage.

It’s tempting to think that traveling for pleasure or making a move across the country will clean the slate and rid us of the circumstances that hold us down. A new environment will save us, free us, relieve us from the pain, the grief, the suffering, the heartache we try to elude. Nope. You’re just giving those problems a new view. Giving them a new place to lay their weary head.

Baggage shows up as lies we tell ourselves:

  1. I don’t have what it takes to make it.
  2. If I can start a new job (move to a new state, find a new guy) I’ll be happy.
  3. I’ll enjoy life when we have more money.
  4. Others have it together more than I do.
  5. I’ll wait until my circumstances are perfect.
  6. Others don’t struggle in their marriage like I do.

Until our contentment meter is repaired, until the lies we tell ourselves are resolved, we will remain off kilter, no matter the new city, partner or job.

It’s time to let go of the labels and lies we tell ourselves. It’s time to drop the luggage and walk a lighter path. It’s time to live in the freedom God created for us. He’s a God of redemption and grace. Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28

As Susan Miller, author of After the Boxes are Unpacked says: “You can’t move forward if you’re always looking back.”

You can’t move forward if you’re always carrying luggage not meant for you to bear.

Because of the Lord’s great love, we are not consumed, we are not overwhelmed, devoured or monopolized. For His mercies never fail. They are new every morning. Great is God’s faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23 I love how God invests in our spirit. He cares about our emotional psyche. He created us to soar, to succeed.

Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, and admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think on such things. Philippians 4:8 He didn’t say to focus on whether your butt is too big or your house is too dirty. Stop. He said to focus on anything praiseworthy.

So how do we free ourselves of the lies? Read the Word.

The Word that goes out from My mouth, will not return to Me empty. But will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. Isaiah 55:11
Girl, God is for you and not against you. His Word does not go out and come back void. No ma’am. It goes out and does the work He has commanded it.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Romans 12:2 Transformed, revamped, reconstructed. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is. His good, pleasing, and perfect will.

Join the N.F.L.
3 Steps to Creating the New Perspective

1. Name all those lies and insecurities (expectations, loss, fear, your past) one by one and begin to pray the above scriptures over your life. Pray for a new mindset. Exchange guilt for grace, perfection for progress. Pray for God to change your heart and your perspective – exchanging the scratched lens for a clear one.

2. Find a picture of your younger self. Look at this little girl. Meditate on her sweet innocence before life had a chance to create the rough edges. Could you tell her that she doesn’t have what it takes to make it? Could you tell her that she’s ugly, undeserving, alone, won’t measure up? I don’t think so. Frame this picture. Encourage that little girl that she will make it. That she is everything God planned for her life. That she is redeemed, good, and deserving. That she is perfect and pleasing in His sight.

3. List what makes you happy. What gets you excited to wake up each morning? What are your hopes, talents, and dreams? What did you love doing as a kid? Perhaps it was climbing trees or swinging at the park. Go do it. Indulge yourself. You’re worth it.

Wherever your travels take you, don’t allow the unwanted baggage to hold you back, to weigh you down. It will cost you more than you’re willing to pay. God came to give you life and life more abundantly. Live in His fullness with a new you and a different view. Now go enjoy the journey.


SWIM, BIKE, RUN! I hadn’t raced in a triathlon since I was in my mid-20’s. That was 20 years ago. My SWIM BIKE RUN had become, COOK, CLEAN and Wipe little butts. A few things have changed over the years: my weight, my fitness level and like most, I’ve had kids, lots of them.

My attention, for years, has been placed on them. This year, I decided to reverse the trend and focus on me, while maintaining all the “plate juggling” that comes with raising a family.

I didn’t want to sign up for this event. I gave all the excuses in the world. But ultimately, my husband “double dog dared me” and if you’re Southern, well . . . You don’t take that lightly.

The first step, join a gym. Check! My ultimate goal was to complete 14 laps, down and back. That didn’t seem difficult until I began swimming. 4 laps into it, I felt like I couldn’t catch my breath.

My heart felt like it was about to burst and my body didn’t seem to be gliding through the water, as it once did. I saw a lifeguard in the corner of my eye, standing over me, waving her arms. Alarmed, I stopped to see what was going on. Was someone hurt? Was I in the wrong lane?

She said: Are you ok? You seem to have difficulty swimming. If you need assistance, there are floaties in the closet.

What? I said: Are You talking to me? What could I have possibility looked like to have had a lifeguard rush down from her Stand to offer me FLOATIES- how embarrassing. I never took my goggles off until I hit the locker room, to keep from being identified on my next trip, if there was EVER a NEXT trip.

The morning of the race, everyone had State of the Art equipment, fast, light-weight bikes: Cannondale, GIANTS. You’re judged by the type of bike you ride. It sort of separates the “Men from the Boys.” My husband had one of those bikes. You can pick it up with your pinky – Sleek, fast. Not me, I had a mountain bike: fat tires, takes 2 people to lift it. In an effort to ease the humiliation, my young sons were trying to find examples of other racers with mountain bikes. “Look Mom, see there’s another mountain bike.” Uh, yes son, he’s 13. Ok, just forget it.

Reflecting on my 20’s, it was a different experience back then. No kids, no schedules; freedom was at my fingertips. We could eat Nachos with a glass of wine, after a long work week and not gain an ounce. Nowadays, it’s baked chicken and steamed broccoli just to maintain. I remember my “Swim Cap” color; It was yellow, a megaphone to the world that I was STILL young.

This time, when the Race Official wrote my age with a permanent marker, on the back of my leg, it said: 41.

I wanted to explain, that I actually felt younger than this. Can you write that underneath 41?

I was no longer a yellow cap, but a purple one; I was now 2 swim cap colors behind, with a chasm of 50 pink-headed caps, separating me from my beloved Youth.

To makes matters worse, we were Almost the last group to enter the water. The only people behind us were the blue caps. These were the ones to FEAR!

They were the 12-18 YEAR OLDS! As if I had a ton of self-esteem, being placed virtually last in a line, behind 1000 racers, now we’ve got the “quick as lightning” group behind us; teens with endless energy, who will pass you on the swim, upping the probability that you may, in fact, be the last person to make it to the finish line. My goal: to see as few “blue caps” as possible. My Prayer: Please http://bible.comGod, let me finish before the banner was taken down!

As if training for the SWIM, BIKE, RUN wasn’t enough, there were the Transitions. They added 2-3 minutes, (ok 6, because I couldn’t find my bike), then another 3 to put on my shoes, switch from helmet to cap, put on lip gloss. Hey, you feel good, if you look good!

In the scheme of life, it’s important to note: you’re really only competing against yourself, not the yellow caps, screaming “YOUTH.” You’ll never be younger than you are today. Oprah said: Remind yourself – this VERY moment is the ONLY one you know you have FOR SURE.

Embrace the power, the wisdom, the knowledge and influence you’ve gained in the years you’ve lived.

Wave your Purple Swim Cap proudly. Like the markings on your leg, all things mature, and with development comes freedom and adventure! While the main event is SWIM, BIKE, RUN, learning to successfully navigate Life’s Transitions is a major part of the process. There are many ups and downs, changes we don’t expect. Just like coal to a Diamond, the adversities and pressures of life – allow us the experiences to grow and walk through the Door of Greatness.

Life is What You Make It! Cheers to Purple Power, Lip Gloss and 40-plus ladies signing up for their next Race.

Here’s to Living the Best Version of You!