I was enamored by the recent January issue of Real Simple; in fact, I can’t remember the last time a particular magazine issue struck me and left me feeling so thoughtful. The focus was on balance, which Kristin van Ogtrop, Managing Editor, acknowledged has never been the selected theme of the magazine before–quite interesting since Real Simple weaves the idea of balance through almost every article they publish. However, this particular issue put balance front and center.
And isn’t it timely? Work/Life balance is all over the place these days. How can I fit in grad school, exercise, a full-time job, volunteering, church, time with friends, and date night with my husband into life… and still get eight hours of sleep? Perhaps an even more specific question on women’s hearts, and on headlines everywhere, is how to fit together career aspirations with raising a family. I wish I knew.
I thoroughly enjoyed, “Why We Shouldn’t Sweat the Small Stuff” in Real Simple. The article went through some great tips for how to stay cool in stressful situations. Breathing techniques, naming your emotions, responding positively to someone who is angry with you, keeping your long-term goals in mind and regularly visualizing where you want to be in ten years to maintain perspective… this is all great advice! For example, “a soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” (Proverbs 15:1, ESV) Moreover, keeping our eternal destination in mind and regularly reminding ourselves of the grace we have received in Christ can bring great perspective to the little stresses we meet each day. I think I also appreciated this article because the advice was backed by research on the brain… I’ve been learning recently about the field of neuroscience and how it impacts counseling/our well-being. This is all neat to consider since God designed our brains and works in these ways to change us!
I did want to share two balanced meals that I tried recently. First, this Lemony Baked Salmon with Asparagus and Bulgur. A one dish entree! I used a rice medley instead, but it didn’t cook all the way through unfortunately (as you can see in the photo–all that vegetable broth!). I recommend trying this recipe using a quick-cooking grain. I’m sure if you get the grain-liquid ratio right, it will be a fabulous meal.
Second, a more successful endeavor was Black Bean and Feta Stuff Burritos. I replaced cucumbers with red peppers, used quinoa instead of brown rice, and spinach instead of cabbage. Delicious!
In some ways, I don’t know about all of this balance talk. God cares about the details of our lives, that we stay sane and don’t take on too much… but I also think it is such a privilege that we are even able to worry about our lives like this. The majority of people in the world simply can’t spend their time considering how to balance everything going on. They are just doing their best to get by with what they have and with what they must do to survive. I can be such a “navel-gazer” — a term that one of my favorite pastors likes to use. “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33, ESV) Perhaps I should instead spend more time and energy trying to think about what I can give up in order to better serve those around me…