lead a double life. By day, I’m your typical home-schooling mom who
makes sure my three kids do their homework, eat enough vegetables, and
still have time to hang out with their friends.
By night, though, I exchange my
stack of tests and red pens to forge the jungles of Africa, risking my
life as I take on the world in the pursuit of justice.
Well, at least in my
Such is the life of a suspense
writer. In the current suspense series I’ve written for Zondervan, each
story is set against the backdrop of current issues facing the
continent of Africa. Blood Ransom is a
cross-country race against time to save a young boy’s family who is
caught up in the modern-day slave trade. Book two, Blood
Covenant, follows the same fast-pasted pattern, but takes
place primarily in a refugee camp where hundreds of people have
recently fled because of political upheaval in the country.
As a writer, I love to transport
the reader to a unique setting and then thrust them into a story that
keeps their hearts pumping. I love to create characters who face
grueling odds and yet triumph over the bad guys in the end.
But there’s another aspect of a
writer’s life that’s almost just as grueling as reworking and scripting
the perfect scene. I will be the first to admit that trying to keep
peace between life’s responsibilities and writing deadlines can be an
Of course, even as a regular
home-schooling mom by day and writer by night, my life probably isn’t
quite as typical as most. Seven years ago we sold our house and
exchanged American suburbia for the mission field in Africa. Living on
the other side of the world has made me look at life differently. I
enjoy the slower pace, less commercialism, and emphasis on
relationships over being a slave to the clock. It’s has also made me
more appreciative of the opportunities and freedoms I have because I am
Traveling and living in
different countries (I have lived in six) has also widened my worldview
and given me a greater understanding into the lives and perspectives of
other people. After being back in the States on furlough the last few
months, I’ve noticed that while my life in Africa is very
full—especially when I add writing to the mix—the overall pace in
Africa is much slower than in America. And though I miss many stateside
conveniences, the slower pace of life is definitely a benefit of living
But matter where we live in the
world, many of us spend our days running from one activity to the next,
wondering if we’re ever going to catch up. We have dreams (like writing
that next best seller) but always search for how to find time to write
when the “urgent” is always demanding our full attention. There just
doesn’t seem time to do everything we need to, let alone everything we
want to do.
I’ve struggled with this as I
tackle the never ending to-do list. I believe the key to winning this
battle is both a lot of prayer and a proper alignment of priorities.
Here are ten principles that I am trying to incorporate into my life to
maintain that balance. Hopefully, they will help you.
1. Focus on your
relationship with God: God’s Word is clear that our
relationship with Him needs to come first. Mathew 6:33 tells us to “. .
. seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things
will be added to you” (NASB). This is an incredible reminder to me,
especially when I realize that we were created in God’s image for His
glory, called by name, and those who follow Him are His.
2. Focus on your
relationships with others: In our society, evenings around
the family dinner table have been replaced by the drive-through of the
nearest fast food restaurant as everyone scatters in different
directions. Therefore, it shouldn’t be hard to understand why it’s
difficult to invest in and develop deep relationships with friends and
family. But building these relationships are important, which leads
rinto number three.
Ecclesiastes says that there is “a time for everything, and a season
for every activity under the heavens” (3:1 NIV). That includes a
biblical principle of rest. The world tells us that we need to do more
to succeed in life so we can gain everything it has to offer, but at
what cost? Finding balance requires finding time for rest and renewal
in your life.
care of yourself: I recently read a fantastic post on Michael
Hyatt’s blog where he said that if we don’t take care of ourselves,
then we can’t take care of anyone else. He’s right. Finding balance in
life means that we need energy both physically and mentally. There are
no shortcuts, so it means eating right, exercising regularly, and
ensuring we are growing spiritually and mentally.
5. Engage in life:
How many of us find ourselves at the end of another day only to realize
that we’ve done everything on autopilot? Life is for living and
enjoying the world. So while it might be a cliché, stop and take time
to smell the flowers, watch the sun set, and connect with those around
you. You might even find the descriptions in your writing become more
6. Learn to say no:
We have dozens of choices to make every day, and if you’re like me,
saying no (especially to good things) is a struggle; however, sometimes
that’s exactly what we have to do—say no. It’s better to do a few
things well than to overextend ourselves with too many commitments,
which destroys the balance in our lives faster than anything.
7. Find a core of
supporters: How many of us are constantly surrounded by
people, but we still feel alone? Find a small group of people outside
your immediate family—like a writer’s group or a life group at
church—who uplift and encourage you, positive thinkers who will
encourage you to become a better person.
8. Impact those around
you: I’ve been amazed to discover that when I give to others,
I’m often the one who is changed the most. Not only does it expand my
world, but I end up forgetting about many of the problems in my own
life. What seemed insurmountable in my life at that moment quickly
diminishes when I compare them to someone else’s challenges. Plus
simply put, you feel good when you give to someone else.
9. Don’t just talk
about what you want to do, do it: What do you want out of
life? Whether it is finishing a novel, losing weight, or climbing Mt.
Everest, set reasonable goals, balance your expectations, and go for
10. Enjoy the journey:
Life is more than just the destination. It’s a collection of
experiences, laughs, and even tears that help to mold us into the
person we are. Slow down enough to enjoy life to the fullest with those
you love. You’ll have more energy, more creativity, and more to give to