Welcome to the blog of author Tricia Goyer!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Meet Mary Beth Whalen!

Thanks for joining me today, Mary Beth! I'm anxious to here how you do it all! You know ALL of it...balancing motherhood (and wifehood) and writing!

Interview with Mary Beth Whalen!

Marybeth, please tell me a little about yourself:

I have been married for 16 years and have six children ranging in age from teen to toddler. We have homeschooled up until this year and for the first time this year I am experiencing what it is like to have kids in school. It has been an interesting but good transition. I absolutely love to write-- and have written since I first learned to form the words. I majored in it in college and feel very blessed to be using writing to minister to others.

How do you balance being a mom, writer, AND speaker?

Hmmm, some days are better than others! I have something I call AIM-- which stands for Aware, Intentional, Methods.

1. You have to be aware of your limits, your commitments, and your situation as a whole. This means saying no to extras that don't match your priorities-- even when you feel guilty for saying it! With practice, it gets easier to say no.

2. You have to be intentional about making a plan and then working towards it. This is true of every aspect of your life-- from keeping your home to raising your kids, to making your marriage a priority above all else, to your "professional" pursuits. One of the mantras I adopted years ago was from Elizabeth Elliot-- Do the next thing. This simple phrase keeps me from feeling overwhelmed when there is a lot on my plate. I simply do the next thing, then the next, and so on. It is very freeing!

3. Determine some methods that will work for you. I have had to learn to be organized so that I don't drop too many balls. My systems/methods are very unique to me. They are solutions I have stumbled upon through trial and error. Mostly I took the suggestions of others and adapted them for my situation. Reading books on organization is helpful if this is something you struggle with. I have read my share, that is for sure! I am not naturally organized-- but my life requires it!

What insight can you offer to moms who think they have to "wait until the kids get older" to follow their dreams?

Wow-- that is a great question! I WAS that mom-- I always told myself I was being a good mom because I was waiting til "someday" to pursue my dreams. The trouble was, I realized, I got to a point where I was hiding behind "someday" because it was safe and I didn't have to step out and DO anything-- I could just wish and dream without taking any risks.

I think that moms can pursue their dreams-- more than that I think they should pursue their dreams. However, I am also very quick to say that they should not abdicate their God-given roles as wives and moms. That is where the balance comes in-- and where you have to find your sweet spot. That place will look different for everybody, as we all have such vastly different situations.

For me, my husband is a great accountability person in my life. He is not shy about telling me if he sees me going too far off the deeep end and reigning me back in! But he is also so encouraging and affirming of my dreams. So I trust him to tell me the truth and hold me accountable. We talk about everything I say yes to before I say yes-- looking at both our calendars and taking into account his work, our time limits, our church, and the kids' situations. He has been a great accountability person in that he supports me, but also tells me the truth. I would urge a mom to find that person in her life.

I also get advice from other women who have been doing this longer than me and seek to learn from their successes and mistakes. Their wisdom is valuable!

Finish this sentence, "I know it's been a good day when ...."

I spent time with the Lord, got a run in, made something yummy for dinner, the house is neat (notice I didn't say clean), the kids have been loved on and tended to, my husband and I have had a conversation where we finished at least one sentence, I got something written, and there is a great book waiting for me on my nightstand when I fall into bed exhausted! (And yes, these days do happen from time to time!)

What is the biggest challenge you face? How do you overcome it?

Right now, I would say discouragement-- letting my emotions determine my actions. When I get a rejection for something I wrote or another speaker gets chosen for an event, it is so easy to say, "I just wasn't meant to do this!" or "It's no use even trying!"

As far as overcoming it-- I have found that it's best to wait til the feelings pass without making any decisions. I have to lay down whatever situation is bothering me, and pray and ask God whether these feelings are just feelings or something He truly wants from me. Time usually helps my perspective, I have found. Usually after taking a break, I come back with fresh wind in my sails ready to charge forward again!
But it isn't easy when those times come.

In what ways does God strengthen you on your journey?

Through His word, His presence and His people. With my Abba Father, I am never alone on this journey-- and that strengthens me immensely!

Thanks so much Mary Beth...what great answers!

For more information check out Mary Beth's website!

For more information check out Mary Beth's website!

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