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Grace… heap it on yourself

Parents have a lot on their plates. Even when everything is normal — the daily routine hums steadily with cleaning, cooking, running errands, kissing owies, and paying bills — I wouldn’t be surprised if your default mode is exhaustion by the end of the day. I know it is with me.

But take the daily load and add some unusual circumstance, an unexpected kink in the routine, or a family crisis of some sort, and you can easily add emotional weariness to that physical exhaustion.

In moments like those, you have only one key that opens the door to your sanity: grace. Heaps of it. For yourself, and for those around you.

Are you in one of those unique moments in life?

I am.

Perhaps you’re in the throes of parenting a newborn.

Maybe you’re a first-time mama.

The typical breadwinner in your family is still looking for work.

One of your children is going through a physically debilitating circumstance.

Maybe your entire family structure is rearranging, and not in a good way.

Or it could be a simple walk in the valley called depression.

If you’ve got stress of any type in your life, it affects your physical well being. This basic inventory by psychologists Thomas Holmes and Richard Rahe lists the most common stressful events relating to life change.

Note which of these you’ve experienced in the past year, and total the number. If your total is over 300, you have a high stress level, and an over 80 percent chance of physical illness because of it.

Personally, my total right now is 484. Guess that means I’m stressed.

We’re in the process of relocating to the States for one year, which means my husband is currently in our host country packing up our home, and I’m in the U.S. unpacking our new home. All of this has been a complete surprise to us in the past month. I’m also parenting our two littles. And oh yes, I’m pregnant with minor complications.

We all have these seasons in life. They ebb and flow as the wind changes. And when you’re in one of these unique circumstances that will inevitably end (even if that end is unseen at the moment), grace is the only way you’ll plow through.

Photo by D. Sharon Pruitt

Grace means knowing where you stand in life. Whose you are.

It also means making sure you get enough sleep, sunshine, and exercise. It’s spending lots of quality time with your spouse and children, and it’s getting enough intentional downtime.

In short — it’s taking care of yourself.

Are you in one of those challenging seasons of life? If so, are you giving yourself grace? I hope so.

Take care of yourself, mama.

And also… Because of this unique time in my life, I wasn’t able to load the questions for this week’s Book Club discussion yesterday (like how I tied all this in?). They’re up today, so if you’re reading The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families, join us! Or even if you’re not, please pop over and throw in your two cents as well.

If you take that inventory, are you up for sharing the stress level in your life? If you’re in a stressful season, in what ways are you showing yourself (and others) grace?

Reading Time:

2 minutes





  1. Maryann @ Raise Healthy Eaters

    I didn’t take the inventory (need to go to bed ; ). But this past year has been the most stressful of my life. My husband was laid off for a year, we had a new baby, my father-in-law died, I started working again and I created my blog to do on the side. My husband is finally back at work but I feel like I’m going every minute.

    I do try to show myself grace by exercising and slipping in some “me” time. But I know this is temporary and things will eventually get easier.

    Thanks for the great post!
    .-= Maryann @ Raise Healthy Eaters´s last blog ..Family Dinners: Slow Cooker White Bean Chicken Chili =-.

  2. Kylie

    Beautifully written. And this couldn’t have come at a better time – literally. I just wrote about life turning upside down on my blog this morning.

    I took that stress assessment too, and I’m right up there with ya. Life sure knows how to pile it on all at once, doesn’t it? Like the universe is saying, “Oh, while you’re up..”
    .-= Kylie´s last blog ..Without Warning =-.

  3. Anki

    Great post and just what I needed to read. Things are a bit tough right now and I need very much need to focus on grace.

  4. Lisa @ WellGrounded Life

    Oh Yes!
    Tsh, you could have written this just for me 🙂

    I’m actually putting together a post on what’s worked for me in getting healthy nourishment in when you are in one of those “unique” times in life…which for me translates into very little time left on the plate for preparation of healthy meals, although it is exactly the times we need them most!

    I wrote about my “skeleton” self care thoughts here too:

    Wishing floodgates of grace upon you!!
    .-= Lisa @ WellGrounded Life´s last blog ..Becoming a Mother, Again and Again =-.

  5. Simple Homeschool~Jamie

    This is a beautiful post, Tsh, and such a great reminder.

    I think when we model grace, it’s a wonderful example to our children as well. They need to see us being kind to ourselves so they can learn to be kind in the challenging moments of their lives as well.
    .-= Simple Homeschool~Jamie´s last blog ..The Family that Plays Together =-.

  6. Aimee

    Not bad, 234…although most of that stress (all?) has happened in the last 6 months, so it’s compounded.

    Looking forward to 2010 and a less stressful year.

    Tsh, I pray the same for you. Your boat is being seriously rocked right now and I hope peace from the storm comes soon.

    Thank you for this post.
    .-= Aimee´s last blog ..How To Help Your Child Embrace Food =-.

  7. Christy

    Heaping lots of grace upon you! I wish I was close to you so I could come help. Why these employers see the need to heap this stuff on us is beyond me! I’ve done that type of move twice in the last 5 years, but never pregnant. Hang in there and may your joy shine this morning. (at least you can go to Target!)

  8. canuck_grad

    I didn’t take the inventory, but being a psychology grad student I’m familiar with it – I’d probably score moderately high but not super high. BUT – being a psychology grad student I also know one of the most stressful things in life is uncertainty. There was a study done with chimps at one point, where they had 3 groups: one always had plentiful food, one always had a foot shortage and had to scavenge for food, and one switched back and forth between the two conditions. The switching group actually experienced more signs of stress than the one that always had a food shortage! Anyway, all that is to say I have a lot of uncertainty coming up in the next few months – not sure whether I’ll be working, in school ft or pt, need to get substantial loans to be able to afford to eat while I finish school, whether my son will be in daycare or not… so I’m very stressed about what’s coming up right now.

  9. Nora

    Thank you so much for this post!
    .-= Nora´s last blog ..…Adventsschmuck =-.

  10. Kristen

    Well, mine was 326… It is such a challenge to parent small children through grief and complete change of life circumstances. Thanks for the timely post. I’ll be thinking and praying for you!

  11. Laura

    I didn’t take the inventory, but I’m sure it’s high…have had lots of extended family issues…really too many to list. But, with that said, I have given myself grace by staying in close contact with my Christian friends; consciously NOT doing work till the moment I lay my head down on my pillow at night & instead getting in bed early; I have turned off the tv for the most part at night and am finally getting to my “can’t wait to read” list; I go to the gym 3 times a week (not always easy, especially because I have to go before my husband leaves for work at 7am ); and am taking a 30+ week Bible study which requires daily reading. All of these things keep me centered & allow me to rest in God’s grace. I loved this post by the way:)!!!!

  12. Becky

    Great post, Tsh! Very timely and appreciated. May you be blessed during this time of change.

  13. Katie

    My score is in the upper 200s, but there are things that aren’t on the list that are stressing me out majorly, so I’m sure I’d actually be over 300… I have such a hard time relaxing when I’m stressed, even if I’m doing something that’s supposed to be relaxing, all the worrying is still going on in the back of my head. The hardest thing for me is to just remember to slow my breathing down so I don’t hyperventilate on top of it.

  14. Carole

    Thanks for the reminder to be gentle with ourselves.
    Praying grace and peace and rest for you.
    And a ‘congratulations,’ too, with prayers for all complications to go away.
    .-= Carole´s last blog ..bowling =-.

  15. Jessica

    My score was higher than I expected 337. The trend in items affecting me are work situations, money, and changing social networks. I’m a little surprised by the score, but I believe this is probably my least stressful year in the past 5 years! I’m slowly learning! At the end of 2009 I was able to make a very positive work change that has significantly reduced my overall stress. Finiances continue to be a tough point for us. I have, slowly, begun to realize that nothing is fixed over night and it takes practice everyday. Thanks for the reminders Tsh! Now off to take a little time-out for mommy….
    .-= Jessica´s last blog ..Salmon Patties that are Actually Delicious =-.

  16. Shannon

    Thank you for this post – it actually rought me to tears because you are “so right.” I would say my stress levels are also up there. My husband was laid off earlier this year, my job is taking a lot out of me, my Grandpa is dying, we’ve been trying to sell our townhome for what seems like forever, and we have a crazy (adorable of course) little two year. I also have a rare brain condidion that I manage everyday, and keeping myself balanced with exercise, sleep, and downtime is always a priority for me, but isnt always as easy. I keep this in mind…always. I try to always keep my head up, remember we have a roof overour heads, a healthy beautiful son, I have a good job while my husband is out of work, and everyday that I wake up feeling good, I feel incredibly blessed. Thank you for this much needed reminder to walk our life with grace. Sometime stress can become such a cloud that takes over you, but putting into perspective the things you are thankful for always helps me put things in perspective.
    .-= Shannon´s last blog ..Restaurants + two year old = not relaxing =-.

  17. Shauntelle

    I didn’t even bother to take the stress test since my past two years have been nothing but one big rollercoaster ride that I didn’t sign up for! (And I DON’T like rollercoasters!)

    The funny thing is, at this point, I feel a lot less stress than I did earlier, even though not so much of my exterior circumstances has changed. What has changed is how I view everything. First of all, I’ve stopped thinking that life is SUPPOSED to be different than it is right now. Like you said, every person goes through different seasons in life and so many of my friends and family are having a hard time right now that I can’t keep the “woe is me, things are supposed to be different outlook.” I guess I could and I did for a while, but it didn’t make anything better and just made me feel more uptight.

    Second, I am learning to do what you recommended… give myself some grace. For me, that always means making sure that I make meeting my needs a priority… whether that’s the need for a little rest, or a fun day out, or just for vitamins so I can have more energy… in the past, when life was stressful, I felt like I didn’t “deserve” to care for myself… that all my energies had to go toward fixing and smoothing things for everyone else. I know that’s not true anymore. And when I make myself a priority, I find I use my energies more wisely…
    .-= Shauntelle´s last blog ..You made it to the other side… =-.

  18. Emily

    I read your post and felt a flood of emotions come over me. I have been completely overwhelmed (way over 300) and there are things that aren’t on that list that don’t even compare! Being a military wife should be worth 50. Moving to/from overseas should be 100. Spouse going to school and working full time should be 75. Having two little boys should be listed at 50. Knowing that your husband could be told to pack up and leave in the next 48 hours should be the humdinger. This is the life that God gave me. Without His grace I’d be in a mental institution. I have to remember that my family is healthy, we have a safe, warm home and a steady paycheck. And I have my craft closet! Praise God for babysitters (I really need to find one in our new town!) and for gates that hold the little ones in their toy rooms.
    Anyway, thanks for reminding me. Great post!
    .-= Emily´s last blog ..Have you ever… =-.

  19. Emily

    my email was wrong in the last one…
    .-= Emily´s last blog ..Have you ever… =-.

  20. Intentionally Katie

    You always seem to have it so together – thanks for getting real during times of stress! And I’m so sorry to hear your having complications with your pregnancy. You’re in my prayers and CONGRATULATIONS on the new baby!

    Also, decided to join in a little late with 7 Habits of Highly Affective Families and am so glad I did. My husband and I are reading it together. I got it as an engagement gift 11 years ago and it’s been collecting dust every since. I’m SO glad I finally pulled it off the shelf. Thanks for the push! 🙂
    .-= Intentionally Katie´s last blog ..Crock Pot Bean Soup with Tortilla Chips =-.

  21. therese

    Thanks so much for that great post and I am so impressed that you are pregnant and still in good spirits. I have had 4 kids in the last 6 years and it was tough staying positive when I was so busy with my kids and trying to take care of myself. You sound so strong – hopefully things will get easier for you!

  22. Sofia's Ideas

    Its funny that I should read this after sending my friend a long email about these stressors from the basic inventory; very timely! My score was 340. I loved this post, and actually my entire blog was born out of a 9 month “gestation period” where I did exactly this – gave myself some much needed grace.

    We had a very stressful event in our extended family which ultimately forced me into dealing with some emotions I had been postponing for a long time. I was always waiting for the “perfect time” to address these issues such as “when the youngest one is off to pre-school so they wont see me cry…when they are off for he summer so I can be supermom during the school year…when the last one leaves the nest”. But it doesn’t really work that way, does it? I was delaying the inevitable, because no matter how long we suppress the emotions that come with those stressors, they ultimately do catch up.

    I made a decision, with the support of my husband, to invest time in myself without having the parental guilt that usually follows. It was difficult but I am proud of myself for the results of that “gestation period”. And out of that gestation period, came the birth of my blog – Sofia’s Ideas. My hope is that my journey will inspire others as yours inspires me. (Please know that all of the writers at Simple Living media are a continual source of inspiration for me. Thank you for that.)

    I hope that you will heed your own advice, give yourself some grace, take good care of yourself & that baby (Congrats, btw!). My thoughts are with you and your family during this time in your life…


  23. Sharee

    Thanks for the the great article and the link to the assessment. It helped me to see that I have every right to feel stressed a lot has happened. I often think I should be able to handle what ever comes and not let it phase me. I also appreciate the reminder that I need to take care of myself. I’m sure that will go a long way towards easing the stress I’m under.

  24. Sarah Clachar

    Tsh and all,
    Hearing the stories here puts any of my stressors in perspective. Like quite a few of you, I rely on exercise for a good refresher – not just for me – but for the whole family. It helps smooth out lots of ripples of frustration and anger that can come up during these times and bring some good vibes back in. Even a quick set of pushups or jumping jacks, a few tunes on the boom box and it gets us all feeling better.

    Wishing you all well on moving through all this,


  25. Catherine S.

    Thank you, Tsh, for this beautiful post. While my stress level is fairly low right now (2009 was our year of stress – the addition of baby #4; a physical injury that left me with a lot of questions, a lot of pain and a lot of appointments; difficulty with our financial situation) this post is still an important reminder. I need to focus more on living with daily grace – I feel like I can often rise to the occasion when the really bad times hit, but I have trouble remembering to do so on the average days. I will be folding the laundry and making dinner with grace tonight!

  26. from the desk of

    i haven’t taken the inventory yet because i wanted to leave a post and knew i would get distracted. i can so appreciate your post on Grace. it’s so true. when the seasons of our lives seem to be overwhelming it’s always good to remind ourselves that God’s plan is in effect and we really can handle it and will get through it. hopefully, giving birth (no pun intended) to a better version of ourselves.

  27. jodi @ back40life

    we’re trying so hard right now to de-stress our lives by simplifying but sometimes that is definitely easier said than done! it definitely helps to just roll with the punches! will be saying an extra prayer of grace for you in your transition! 🙂

  28. Karissa

    My score didn’t come out as high as I thought it would! This post is a great reminder to go easy on yourself. Recognizing the amount of work and juggling we do as mothers, wives, daughters, employees, etc, etc, is important. We write about balance and how true balance is kind of a myth over at MomBlogWork the other day. I think it’s along the same lines as your “take care of yourself” reminder. We’re usually the last on our to-do lists and once we’re running on fumes we’ll never get to the end of the list! Here’s to Grace!
    .-= Karissa´s last blog ..links we love – 20100312 =-.

  29. Beth

    Oh, wow. Timely. Thank you!!

  30. Rana

    My number is 263. I’m working on changing some habits right now and keeping grace in the forefront of my life along with my word for the year “Simplicity”. Great post Tsh!
    .-= Rana´s last blog ..First signs of Spring!!! =-.

  31. Jill

    My number is 239. I was surprised it wasn’t higher with all that is going on right now. One thing I am doing for myself is getting out and exercising in some form every day. This has been a life saver! I am going to work on being more gracious with my family as they get the brunt of my pent up frustrations when I am stressed. Thanks, Tsh, for a great post. So glad to know I am not alone!

  32. MB Squared

    Great post, it seems to be custom made for me. Interesting though, the stress test did not mention adoption which has been an emotional roller coaster for my family for the past 13 months and is still no finalized

  33. jaime

    Beautiful post! Thanks so much.

  34. Joyagg

    My thoughts and prayers are with you and all that is going on in your life. May God richly and abundantly bless you with strength, rest and peace. Thank you for all you do and all you share.
    .-= Joyagg´s last blog ..My hope is in Jesus. =-.

  35. Deon

    Wonderful post! It was so personal and so touching. My score is high, and I know exactly why. Thanks for the gentle reminder. We can take a deep breath and find peace in our unique moment in life. Beautiful.
    .-= Deon´s last blog ..Weekly Wrap-Up March 12, 2010 =-.

  36. Dawn


    What a lovely post! Like the others that have posted here this could not have come at a better time. Please take the time to take care of yourself and your new baby. You and your family are always in our prayers. I am thankful you are back in the states during your pregnancy and I hope you are able to be near friends and family. Lean on them for support during this time.

  37. Lori Lowe

    The concept of grace is an important one. One aspect of grace that I think is critical, particularly when we are under stress (and what mom isn’t?) is cutting ourselves some slack and cutting others some slack. That means not being overly judgemental, not trying to be/do everything, and having realistic expectations. Few moms are truly “grace-filled” with spouses, children, or even friends. But the person we are often hardest on is in the mirror. Good insights in your post. Best to you,
    Lori Lowe

  38. Meredith

    It is always easier to give others the grace that we probably need ourselves.

    Thinking of you, Tsh, and praying that this move sends a little more light your way.

  39. Erin

    Thank you so very much for this. At this season of life I definitely needed to be reminded to give myself (and my family) some grace. Thanks for the reminder to cut myself and my kids some slack.

    Hope your move goes well and that you can all settle in to a less stressful time of life.

  40. bluecottonmemory

    Let’s see: my oldest son married in June; we moved out of state in August; my FIL died in January, on top of new jobs, and a host of other stressers. I’ve started exercising, resigned from my too time-consuming job, found time to pray and laugh with my sons again. Grace? Being merciful when it’s un-deserved – and that’s when we need it most:)
    .-= bluecottonmemory´s last blog ..Divine Re-Design on My Heart =-.

  41. Christi

    Great post – I think most moms can relate! I once felt really capable and was able to multitask with the best of ’em, but now there are so many balls to attempt to juggle I don’t have the energy to try to get everything done! Then, if I prioritize, I obviously put my family ahead of work. But I can’t slack at work, so therein lies the stress. Finding even tiny moments for “me” time makes a huge difference, and I have learned to not be so hard on myself to get everything done. Some things CAN wait.
    .-= Christi´s last blog ..Sweet Treat – Eggless Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies =-.

  42. grace

    The life we lead here is prone to lots of stress. And we’ve had to learn–and stick to–when our whole team needs a break. Today in fact, we were supposed to head to a friends house for dinner, but we’ve had a crazy weekend–it started wednesday–and my littles need a rest, and my pregnant belly is sore, and the hubs is exhausted. So we had to reschedule. Because sometimes that is the best thing we can do.
    .-= grace´s last blog ..Always An Adventure–Livid Angry =-.

  43. Christine

    Thank you so very much for this post. Like many others have stated this came at a most timely moment for me. You have reminded me that I too need to take care of myself and heap on the grace. I do believe you have inspired this week’s Thankful Thursday post for my blog, so for that I also thank you. Sending prayers your way for a less complicated pregnancy. You definitely have shown how to handle life gracefully. I am grateful for having found your site. You do a great job!
    .-= Christine´s last blog ..Cheap Family Fun =-.

  44. Denise C.

    I didn’t take the inventory test, but can tell you my stress level is off the charts. I try not to worry so much, but that is just not possible. I took up running about 3 weeks ago and it’s helped, though when I get back home, I tend to go back into worry mode, which stresses me out. =(

  45. Katie

    So my score is 419. My husband is currently deployed on his 3rd tour overseas for over a year. We have a 15 month old son. I’ve moved myself and our son away from our house in NC (where we are stationed) to stay with family in WY. My husband gets out (finally! a husband that’s actually home!) after this deployment and will go to school. Our whole future depends on me finding a teaching position here… which has still not happened (STRESS!), and we don’t have our own home space anymore. Everything is in transition; our whole life is changing. It all feels like it’s crashing down, but that one line brings it all into perspective, “Grace means knowing where you stand in life. WHOSE YOU ARE.”

    Thanks for reminding me that all this isn’t resting on my shoulders. We belong to God. He has been incredibly faithful to us thus far; I know He’s not going to stop now.

  46. Tina @ Ride On Toys

    Very well said! Women are so known for giving and giving until we can’t give any more. Not only do we continually give but we don’t let on to others how much stress we may be under. I know that I have to purposely schedule some time for myself during the week or I get lost in the shuffle of things. It’s something that some of us must condition ourselves to do. I think it’s just a part of our nature!
    .-= Tina @ Ride On Toys´s last blog ..The Classic Red Radio Flyer Scooter =-.

  47. Cori Padgett

    Great post, thanks so much. I especially love the part about intentional downtime. I need to do more of that myself, I tend to get caught up and work much too much. 🙂

  48. KDL

    LOL that vacation adds a dozen or so stress points. I’ve always said that vacations are no longer restful for me and here is proof! I guess I’m borderline high-stress if you look at the “events” of the last year. I’m surprised there isn’t something in there for more chronic issues – like in my case parenting a special needs kid, or caretaking of an elder. When I take that as my baseline and add in the “events” I wonder where I’d end up…and how much more careful I need to be to take care of myself with grace. Thanks for the thought-provoking and practical post. Best wishes as you navigate all of your stressors.
    .-= KDL´s last blog ..Time to Rest =-.

  49. Crackersandanimals

    This was the most profound lesson that I learned last year when at 39, I found out I had colon cancer.
    Grace is what we are given freely by God who loves us, and if He gives it, shouldn’t I give it to myself ,as well as to others?(I am so much better at forgiving others than myself)
    So many of the things I worry about are truly small things. I learned to say to myself, will this matter in 30 years? If not, I don’t worry about it. I forgive myself and I give myself grace because I am not perfect.
    Thanks for the beautiful article…

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