How to Care for Yourself without Being Selfish

{When we’re busy every second and continually running on fumes, then our homes, our children, our relationships, and our jobs suffer. So we need to refuel. This is the final article of a 4-part series about how to do just that – read part 1 here, part 2 here, and part 3 here.}


A few weeks ago, I shared about when I became so sick that my world stopped while I spent 5 days on the couch, in fevered pain. And those 5 days felt like a gift. Because, finally, I had a reason to rest.

I bet some of you can relate – we don’t rest until someone gets sick or breaks a bone. And sometimes, not even then.

Being a life-giver started with God, when he breathed life into Adam’s nostrils (Genesis 2:7). And now giving life to others continues through you and me. Starting at home. Let’s fill our cups in a healthy, non-selfish manner so we can flourish as we become the women God created us to be, blossoming exactly where He has planted us.


But nobody else is going to force us to refuel. Nobody is going to shove a book in our hands and say, “Sit! Read this now, and don’t get up until you feel refreshed!”

Filling our cups is up to us. But we need to be careful.

We are absolutely better wives, mothers, employees, friends, and homemakers when we take time to refresh and uplift our spirits. But, while rest isn’t something we should suffer without, it’s also not something we’re entitled to.

Because when we fill our cups to the detriment of our homes or our families, we’ve lost perspective and have put ourselves on a stolen pedestal.

Do you see how either extreme can be damaging? When we’re running on empty, we’re often shorter tempered, tired, and worn down. But when we only concern ourselves with “me time” to the point of regularly neglecting everything else, we can easily slide into selfish attitudes that demand more and more time off.

Let’s seek the balance. And when we swing too much to one extreme or the other, let’s repent.

Now is the time to turn the TV off, set our phones down, and spend 15 – 30 minutes doing something that renews the spirit. This isn’t time to photograph our Instagram-worthy resting activity or to share updates on Facebook. This is time to be alone, refreshing, without feeling a need to justify or explain our rest.

How to Prepare for Rest:

When we’re in the daily grind of life, sometimes we get so busy doing things for others that we start to lose ourselves. We forget to rest. We don’t think we have enough time.

But everyone can find 15 minutes in their day.

Filling our own cup needs to be on the priority list, but it doesn’t have to be an elaborate time-consuming affair. It can be simple. Obtainable.

I encourage you to prepare yourself in advance for rest, so that it’s more likely to actually happen. You can do this by making a list of simple things that refresh you. Keep your list somewhere you won’t lose it, like your bathroom mirror or taped to the inside of your closet door.

I’m showing you my list to give you some ideas. Use this as a springboard when you’re thinking about simple ways you can fill your own cup.

9 Ways I Fill My Cup in 15 Minutes or Less:

  • Read a chapter in a good book (See the books I’ve read so far in 2016 here)
  • Ride my bike
  • Play the piano
  • Bake muffins or a cake (See my favorite chocolate cake recipe here)
  • Write (hand-written note to a loved one, rough draft of blog article, or journal entry)
  • Sip a cup of tea
  • Watch the sunset
  • Sit on the porch and listen to nature
  • Lay in a dark, quiet room to think, pray, or nap

Tips for Your Own 15 Minutes:

1) Don’t worry about relaxing perfectly.

For a long time, I wouldn’t play the piano at all because my skill level had dropped so much since high school. I was discouraged because I felt like I needed to play the hardest songs I’d ever learned in order for it to count.

But, really, I just needed to play.

Not to be great. Not to impress anybody. But because my soul is filled when my fingers glide across the keys. So I pulled out easier pieces and felt the tension release from my body as I created music.

It doesn’t matter that we no longer do something at our greatest potential. What matters is that we’re doing something we love, just because we love it.

2) Think about what you loved as a child.

If you don’t know what will refresh you, think about what you enjoyed doing as a kid – did you love reading? Maybe digging in dirt or taking walks was your thing. Maybe you loved playing an instrument or singing. Whatever it was, write it on your list and try it out!


3) Be realistic about what you can do in 15 minutes.

Scrapbooking or crafting may refresh you, but can you really pull out the supplies, make progress, and put everything back away in just 15 minutes? Me either!

Let’s save those projects for when we can carve out an hour or more, and focus on the 15-minute items for now so we’re not left with a huge energy-draining mess when our time is up.

4) Set up a Relaxation Basket

Did knitting or crocheting land on your list? Or hand-lettering? Gather all of the supplies you need to do that activity and place them in a pretty basket. So the next time you have 15 minutes, you can spend all of that time actually working on the activity instead of setting up or cleaning up!

5) Don’t touch that phone! (And pay attention to how you feel after you relax.)

How many times have we had a few minutes to spare while dinner simmers or we’re waiting in the car-pool line? And then used those minutes to scroll through Facebook or Instagram, browse the Internet, or play games on our phones?

But let’s start paying attention to how we feel after – are we really charged up and feeling awesome after we spend 15 minutes looking at everyone else’s highlight reel on Facebook? Or are we more refreshed if we take that time to write a letter to an elderly relative or read the next chapter in a book, instead?

Really paying attention to how we feel after – not just during – an activity will give us a lot of insight to the items that should, and should not, be on our 15-minute list.

Related Articles

Friend, I have enjoyed this series so much – writing it and preparing photos has filled my own cup, and I hope you’ve been blessed by it as well! If you’ve missed the other three articles in this series, definitely check them out by clicking the links below:

Part 1 (Introduction): Fill Your Cup: Resting When the To-Do List Isn’t Complete
Part 2 (For the Homeschool Moms): 5 Books that Will Help You Slow Down, Savor Your Kids, and Rediscover Your Love of Homeschooling
Part 3 (For Every Woman): 8 Books that Will Help You Break Free from a Too-Busy Schedule
Part 4 (Today’s Article): How to Care for Yourself Without Being Selfish

And don’t forget to check out my favorite recipe for an 8-ingredient, incredibly moist chocolate cake that tastes amazing, won’t mess up your kitchen, and will turn you away from box mixes forever!

Share in the comments: What revives your spirit? How can you find time in your day to nurture your soul?

8 Books That Will Help You Break Free From A Too-Busy Schedule

{Special Note: This is part 3 of a 4-part series about filling our cups – read part 1 here and part 2 here.}

For nearly two years, crazy busy was my pace. I moved so quickly that it was difficult to really enjoy any moment, because my mind was always rushing ahead to the next thing on the to-do list.

But life isn’t meant to be lived frantically. While there are God-ordained seasons of busyness that we need to work through and embrace, those extremely busy days shouldn’t be the constant and continual long-term beat of our lives.

We need to trust that we’ll have enough time to do the work we were meant to complete.

During my own quest to create more peace and margin in my home, I read several books that helped me tremendously. Please note, this is not a to-do or must-read list. This is simply a list of books I personally found encouraging so I want to share them with you. Choose one or two and skip the rest. Or do what I did and read a couple now then pick up a few more later, when you need solid reminders and fresh tips.

“The Best Yes: Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demands” by Lysa TerKeurst of Proverbs 31 Ministries


I’ve been a fan of Lysa since her Unglued days, and I’m telling you, this girl knows her stuff. In The Best Yes, she not only talks about being too busy and offers inspiration for wanting to slow down, but she also gives incredible guidance for helping the reader figure out specific ways we can say no.

Lysa tells her readers, “Whenever you say yes to something, there is less of you for something else. Make sure your yes is worth the less.”

The Best Yes is especially for readers who want to slow down but feel pulled in a dozen different directions and don’t always know which option to choose.

“Hands Free Mama: A Guide to Putting Down the Phone, Burning the To-Do List, and Letting Go of Perfection to Grasp What Really Matters!” by Rachel Macy Stafford


We check our email while cooking dinner, send a text while bathing the kids, and spend more time looking into electronic screens than into the eyes of our loved ones. With our never-ending to-do lists and jam-packed schedules, it’s no wonder we’re distracted.

But this isn’t the way it has to be

Rachel removes the shame that comes from parenting guilt as she offers hope to the mama who’s struggling. This is a must-read for any mother who spends a lot of time on technology or who thinks she’s too busy to spend quality time with her kids.


“Hands Free Life: 9 Habits for Overcoming Distraction, Living Better & Loving More” by Rachel Macy Stafford


I wasn’t sure if Hands Free Life would benefit me very much since I’d already read Hands Free Mama, but I absolutely loved this book just as much as the first! The fresh content was all-new and Rachel encourages readers to live hands free in a way that is so compelling it draws even the most reluctant reader into her story.

Hands Free Life is for the person who wants to reevaluate priorities while receiving genuine hope and gentle guidance about how to be an encouragement to others.


“Rest Assured: A Recovery Plan for Weary Souls” by Vicki Courtney


I picked up a copy of Rest Assured during a time when I felt overwhelmed and too-busy, and I’m so glad I did! I felt great relief in my soul from the first page and immediately began implementing Vicki’s simple tips. With the author’s help, I’m learning to stop feeling guilty for allowing my soul time to breathe, and instead view rest as a vital part of my routine.

I highly recommend this for anyone who’s too busy, running on empty, or feels guilty for resting when the to-do list isn’t complete.


“Undone: A Story of Making Peace with an Unexpected Life” by Michele Cushatt


Michele Cushatt has mastered the art form of weaving story telling with authenticity in a way that captivates her readers. Some of her doctrinal beliefs are not based in scripture, which is the only thing that holds me back from giving her a five-star review.

Overall, this is a motivating, inspiring read that I recommend to anyone who struggles with battling through fear or health problems.


“Breaking Busy: How to Find Peace and Purpose in a World of Crazy” by Alli Worthington


Breaking Busy was nothing I expected it to be but everything I needed it to be. Full of relate-able stories, wise advice, and practical how-to’s, Breaking Busy is a fabulous read for the one who is thirsty for rest and longs to slow down so they can savor life.


“The Time Keeper” by Mitch Albom


The only fiction novel to make the list, and one of my favorite fiction novels of all time, The Time Keeper is a compelling fable about the first man on Earth to count the hours – the man who became Father Time.

Told in Albom’s signature spare, evocative prose, this remarkably original tale will inspire readers everywhere to reconsider their own notions of time, how they spend it, and how precious it truly is.


“Tuesdays with Morrie” by Mitch Albom


A book that will stay with you long after the final page is turned, Tuesdays with Morrie will move you deeply in a way that makes you contemplate time, and how you’re spending yours.

Tuesdays with Morrie was birthed through one-on-one lessons with Mitch’s former college professor, Morrie, as Morrie grew weaker and weaker during his final months.

In this compelling non-fiction work, Mitch reflects on the meaning of Morrie’s life lessons and the gentle, irrevocable impact of their Tuesday sessions all those years ago.


BONUS BOOK! “Real-Life Devotional Bible for Women: Insights for Everyday Life” by the Women at Proverbs 31 Ministries


This is the only book on the list I haven’t personally read, but I love my Homeschool Mom’s Bible so much that I wanted to find one in a similar format for every woman.

The Real-Life Devotional Bible is currently available in Raspberry, Sea Glass, and Hardback.

learn more

{NOTE: When you’re looking for a new Bible, please be aware of some of the pros and cons of various versions.}

Other Great Reads

More In This Series

Part 1 (Introduction): Fill Your Cup: Resting When the To-Do List Isn’t Complete
Part 2 (For the Homeschool Moms): 5 Books that Will Help You Slow Down, Savor Your Kids, and Rediscover Your Love of Homeschooling
Part 3 (Today’s Post): 8 Books that Will Help You Break Free from a Too-Busy Schedule
Part 4 (Now Live!): How to Care for Yourself Without Being Selfish

What would you add to this list? What books have helped you slow down and refresh your soul?

5 Homeschool Mom Books that Will Help You Slow Down, Savor Your Kids, and Rediscover Your Love of Homeschooling

Friends, I am currently writing a series about filling our cups. Because when we run on fumes, then our homes, our children, our relationships, our jobs… they all suffer. And today’s post is especially for helping the homeschool mamas fill their cups; I created a list of books that I personally have read and found very encouraging in my own homeschool walk.

So whether you are a homeschool mom, you know a homeschool mom, or you’re just curious about what homeschool moms like to read, take a look at this list and choose one that seems like it will meet you where you currently are.

If you’re not a homeschool mom, your turn is coming – I created a book list that will knock your socks off. It’s all about filling your cup so you can nurture your soul, and it’s coming next Monday! I am so excited to share it with you!

5 Homeschool Mom Books that Will Help You Slow Down, Savor Your Kids, and Rediscover Your Love of Homeschooling:

Teaching from Rest: A Homeschooler’s Guide to Unshakable Peace by Sarah Mackenzie


When I was first introduced to the concept of teaching from rest, I literally laughed out loud and exclaimed, “Teaching from rest?! What does that even mean?!” The book sounded too good to be true – like one of those get rich quick schemes or a fad diet that’s guaranteed to give you abs of steel in 14 days or less. But I was intrigued, so I snagged a copy anyways, thinking it couldn’t hurt.

I am so glad I gave Sarah Mackenzie a chance to explain herself! Never before have I been so blown away and challenged by a book that isn’t pure gospel. Teaching from Rest is absolutely transforming my homeschool in huge ways.

From considering whose “well done” we’re working for, to making sure our curriculum serves us (instead of the other way around), to bringing our own skills and interests to the table, I’m so challenged by the eye-opening concepts offered in this book that I am currently hosting a Teaching from Rest summer book club on my back porch.

I wish I could get a copy into the hands of every homeschool mom out there because I believe we would all benefit from absorbing the life-giving truths that Sarah Mackenzie offers in this highly-influential must-read homeschool book of the year.

You can purchase the eBook, buy a complete bundle, or watch Sarah’s FREE online book club videos. I’ve gained so much insight from working through the companion journal so I recommend treating yourself to a bundle. {Bonus: The bundle is on sale for a limited time!}

learn more

Go Fly a Kite: Ten Simple Strategies for Success in Your Homeschool by Karen Costello


This book may be the best kept secret in the homeschool circuit. But it’s time to let the cat out of the bag, because this is a goodie that you’ll want to highlight and refer to over and over again on your homeschool journey. Because while there is no “one size fits all” formula to guarantee success, there are certain elements which should be included in every home education process.

Incorporating the ten simple strategies discussed in Go Fly a Kite will enable you to reach heights you can only imagine-these ten verbs will challenge you to venture into the not-so-scary unknown and propel you forward into God’s great plan so you can soar like a kite!


Called Home: Finding Joy in Letting God Lead Your Homeschool by Karen DeBeus

Maybe you are just starting out, or maybe you have been doing this awhile. Either way, there is most likely some amount of fear. Fear of the major responsibility that homeschooling is, or fear that you aren’t doing it “right.”

Perhaps you are tired. Burnt out. Running on empty. Maybe you are up to your eyeballs in curriculum catalogs, reviews, planners, highlighters, label makers, and resources. Meanwhile the laundry calls, the dishes pile up, and the kids are tired. You are tired. You are trying to decide how on earth you are going to do it all. Or maybe you just are ready to throw in the towel altogether.

Well, take a deep breath. Relax. The One who created the universe in a breath, the One who called you to this journey, is in control.


Lies Homeschooling Moms Believe by Todd Wilson


Parts of this book are laugh-out-loud hilarious as we’re forced to notice the absurdity of our own inner crazy-talk when we see ourselves through a man’s eyes. If you want a lighter, quick read that will help you to be kind to yourself, this is definitely the book for you.


The Homeschool Mom’s Bible with Daily Devotionals written by Janet Tatman (Available in NIV & KJV)

homeschoolmombiblePut this one on your wish list because it is the absolute perfect daily reading Bible. Here’s how it works: There are 365 Daily Devotions directly in this Bible, one every few pages. Start on whatever date you receive your copy, read that day’s devotional, then read about 1-3 Bible pages leading up to the next devotional and mark your spot with the included ribbon.

After a year, you will have read through the entire Bible! I love that you don’t have to spend your Bible time thinking about what to read next – just open and immediately delve into God’s Word.

My own copy was gifted to me by a friend (two friends actually, so I have both versions!), and I’m currently reading through the NIV Bible at a rapid pace, devouring God’s word in a way that I simply didn’t have time for when my schedule was overflowing.

There are some inaccuracies in the NIV (read about them here) so I can’t fully endorse the version, especially as a study Bible, but for now this easy-to-read NIV, paired with this new FREE Bible Reading Sheet, is exactly what my soul needs.

While I do wish this Bible came in my favorite NASB version, I am so looking forward to breaking out my KJV Homeschool Mom’s Bible in 2017 and inhaling the rich prose and language on those pages as well.

PS These Bibles normally retail for $49.99 each but I just noticed they’re on sale for $14.99 and $19.99!

learn more

Coming up next Monday is a post about books that helped me break away from a crazy busy lifestyle. It’s the perfect book list for all women, not just moms, so you’ll definitely want to sign up so you don’t miss it! Also be sure to read part 1 about filling your cup even when the to-do list isn’t complete. And on August 8th there will be a post all about how to care for yourself without being selfish.

Homeschool Moms, I’d love to hear – what books have filled your cup?

Fill Your Cup: Resting When the To-Do List Isn’t Complete

{Special Note: This is part 1 of a 4-part series about filling our cups – sneak peeks of the upcoming topics are at the end of this article!}

I tend to go, go, go, always productive, rarely stopping long enough to take a breath. But a few months ago, I got sick. My body was ridden with flu, and miserable aches shot through every inch of me. Showering became so strenuous that I napped for hours after. Fitful sleep overtook me as my body tried to shiver the fever away. For five solid days, I was down, my mind too exhausted to read, write, or speak. Silence filled my time, causing me to live inside my mind.

Then, my fever broke. Chills slowly subsided. And I noticed. The birds chirping. The glorious orange sky as the sun sank lower and lower, bidding us goodnight. Dishes clanking in the kitchen while I lay quietly.


As my strength renewed, my children’s faltered. They took their days on the porch, sleeping and laying.

Friends and relatives sent their love, telling us how sorry they were that we were so sick.

But I wasn’t sorry. Not one tiny bit.

I never would have given myself five days off, but those five days were the best kind of gift.

Snuggles, soup, coloring books, stillness, tea… they filled our alert moments. And our physical strength wasn’t the only thing being renewed. Our spirits were restored as well.

The sick days reminded me that, even when I’m not the one doing, life goes on. The 5 days made me realize that slow, savoring, is the way I want to go through life.

So this summer, I’ve been slowing enough to catch fireflies and chase sunsets. The neighborhood kids hop on their bikes to join my daughters and me as we ride together, determined to discover the best vantage point for witnessing the brilliance. We find a grassy spot and watch, the ants crawling onto our legs. Cold water from a public faucet drips down our faces and quenches our thirst. The wild berries we’d never noticed before stain our hands purple.


There are still chores. The laundry doesn’t stop piling up. The business finances don’t take care of themselves. Kids bicker, the schedule overflows, I have a long way to go. We all do.

And when I became sick, my to-do list was still a mile long. But it was there – in the midst of the undone – that rest occurred.

Because if we wait until every item on the to-do list is crossed off, the kitchen sparkling clean, and every sock matched neatly in the drawer – if we wait for life to be perfect and neat before we rest and embrace the moment, we’ll spend our entire life waiting. Never embracing. Always rushing, exhausted, on fumes.

And friend, my house is not perfect. But cleaning it up doesn’t feel like such a terrible chore when I know that a good sunset-chasing bike ride is waiting as soon as I’m finished even if I’m not finished.

I’d love to hear: What fills your cup?


Tidy Up Friends, learning to live in a state of rest has been a challenge for me. I’m very task-oriented so I’ve needed to spend time contemplating how to incorporate rest into my home. I’ve also read books that have helped me tremendously.

This topic deserves some time so I’m writing a 4-part series about filling our cups. I’ve been mulling over these ideas for months now and I can hardly wait to share with you what I’m learning! I pray you will be blessed and filled up by implementing the words you read.

Here’s a sneak peak of topics that I’ll be sharing each Monday morning for the next few weeks (I’ll add links once the posts are live, so pin this article for future reference!):

Part 1 (Today’s Post): Fill Your Cup: Resting When the To-Do List Isn’t Complete
Part 2 (For the Homeschool Moms): 5 Books that Will Help You Slow Down, Savor Your Kids, and Rediscover Your Love of Homeschooling
Part 3 (For Every Woman): 8 Books that Will Help You Break Free from a Too-Busy Schedule
Part 4 (Now Live!): How to Care for Yourself Without Being Selfish

Don’t forget to share in the comments about what fills your cup – let’s all encourage & inspire each other!