4 Gifts: 4 Ways to Boost Your Self-Care Quotient

4 Ways to Boost Your Self-Care Quotient

“What would you like to do?” he asked.
My good and faithful husband had hired a babysitter for our four sons (Combat pay!), and we were driving away from the house, the cavernous mini-van feeling empty and oddly quiet.

“Good question,” I thought, “What would I like to do?” As a homeschooling mum, church woman, maker of beds and of sandwiches, I had just about lost touch with what grown ups do when they are assigned the task of having fun or the responsibility of relaxing.

In Four Gifts: Seeking Self-care for Heart, Soul, Mind, and Strength, April Yamasaki opens her own life to self-care scrutiny and examines Scripture’s claims about the abundant life alongside biblical promises of God’s care for those who believingly follow Him.  To my great relief, Yamasaki frames self-care with a bigger vision than manicures and a daily green smoothie, as she encourages readers to receive the gifts that flow from the first great commandment:

“And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”  (Mark 12:30)

Caring for You. Caring for Others.

The busy-ness of life in all its demanding seasons can lead to habits that could best be described as self-neglect. Conversely, culture screams messages that make a virtue of self-indulgence:  “I deserve this.” I have had a tendency to read messages about self-care as burdensome checklists, one more item on an already too-full list of things to do.

The abundant life involves caring for your own needs, caring for others, and surrendering to the call of God. There is freedom to be found in the “healthy tension” (188) between loving ourselves well and also being fully available to our neighbor. In Four Gifts, April invites readers into a purposeful pursuit of healthy living according to God’s design in ways that are both challenging and realistic:

1. Self-Care Leaves Space to Honor Your Core Commitments

Just as the heart “represents the center of our physical, mental, and spiritual being,” (221) each of us has “core commitments” that direct our daily actions. Mine are shaped around marriage, mothering and grandmothering, homeschooling, writing, and church ministries. Because your commitments are different from mine, the parameters of  our self-care regimens will look very different.

“Self-care that honors core commitments might be delayed or postponed or after the fact, but it’s still self-care even if it sometimes seems to come in second.” (234)

2.  Self-Care Begins with Learning How to Stop

For me, self-care is mostly about knowing when to stop, and this came into sharp focus as I was reminded of New Testament directives to the early church that clearly distinguish “between being weighed down and being focused on following Jesus.” The Hebrews 12 “weight” that interferes with the believer’s race can often be the tasks we take on that are not really ours to do.

3.  Self-Care Leaves Room for a Listening Life

In the rush of life, I often catch myself half-listening to people, tuning out details to conserve mental energy, or failing to set aside the task at hand in order to meet the eyes of my dearest people while they speak. When Jesus was being quizzed by the religious elite, pressed into choosing the most important commandment of all, His answer began with the word Listen!

“The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The Lord our God is the one and only Lord. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’No other commandment is greater than these.”  (Mark 12:28-31)

Taking time to listen to God, to hear the words of Scripture from a thoughtful stance, to listen to my own aging body in its need for rest, and to slow down and hear the messages coming through the words of the people I love are all forms of self-care that minister to the whole person and also spread ripples of health into a family or a community.

4.  Self-Care Frees the Soul for Sabbath Rest

April Yamasaki is a ministry professional, and she manages a website called When You Work for the Church. Her perspective on Sabbath rest includes first-hand knowledge that Sunday is often the busiest and most stressful day of the week. It turns out that most of us have a much too narrow definition of Sabbath-keeping. The rest and rejuvenation that come with it are “sometimes a by-product but not the primary purpose. The primary biblical purpose . . . is to put away the idol of control and power.” (766) If I can address this issue at its core, suddenly other pieces of the puzzle fall into place. Turning off my phone or taking a nap or postponing an errand to another day can become an offering in which I kick myself out of the center of the universe, a fruit of self-discipline in which I say no to the habit of accomplishment and yes to the habit of quiet or rest.

At its core, then, self-care may be uncomfortable. It may push me to honor limits I’ve become accustomed to pushing through, to utter a few well-placed “nos” that feel as if I’m squandering opportunities, to admit that I need help rather than forging ahead on my own. God’s four gifts of heart, soul, mind, and strength come with the expectation of a graceful stewarding of those gifts, a responsibility that takes practice–and a privilege that comes with the following life as we lean on Jesus for each step in the right direction.

Many thanks to Herald Press for providing a copy of this book to facilitate my review, which, of course, is offered freely and with honesty.

I  am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. If you should decide to purchase Four Gifts: Seeking Self-care for Heart, Soul, Mind, and Strength simply click on the title (or the image) within the text, and you’ll be taken directly to Amazon. If you decide to buy, I’ll make a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Leaning on Jesus,

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47 thoughts on “4 Ways to Boost Your Self-Care Quotient”

  1. Like you, I am guilty of sometimes half-listening and multi-tasking. I agree that we often need to slow down and be quiet.
    I want to know what you and your hubby wound up doing on your fun evening alone! 🙂


    1. Well, since we needed a baby sitter, that evening was a long time ago, but I remember that we took some kind of food to the ocean and ate together in our lawn chairs on a quiet beach. (What a great idea that was–I want to do it again!)

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Yes, please, to this deeper life of self-care. Not just body, but the soul, the mind, the very essence of who we are.

    And let’s go there and often. Before we begin to get crispy around the edges.


  3. I can identify with so much of this – not liking the “manicure and smoothie” concept of self-care, feeling like most self-care articles are either too self-focused or too burdensome, with yet another checklist to do it “right,” tuning out or half-listening to others, etc. (I try not to disturb other people when they are concentrating at the computer, as opposed to scrolling through Facebook. Yet when I am at the computer, it seems like an open invitation to come and talk. Why is that?!! I try to remind myself that being available to my loved ones is a gift and a ministry, but too often I have to set aside chafing over being interrupted first.) I love the idea of Sabbath rest as both a stewardship plus a reminder that my universe will not implode if I take some time off. Sounds like there are lots of good things in this book!


  4. For years I thought self care was bubbles baths and manicures, neither which appealed to me. But lately I am beginning to realize it is so much more. You laid out some great ideas here. Taking care of our self is not all indulgent, it is also listening to our self, God, and telling our self no. It is having enough energy to help our neighbor and live in the present. You have given me more to think about. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I really like her self-care list. I am going into a more focused and self-disciplined time right now. I think I was getting a bit overwhelmed and that is why I recently got so sick. I will re-read this list and possibly pick up the book as I plan out my Autumn rhythms.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Amen! Amen! I think it can look different at different seasons for all of us, but I also know that busyness is creeping and does so at every season and always needs to be something we note. My hubby is excellent at helping me to be aware of that. My doing can never exceed my being where He is concerned or the wheels come off my apple cart!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Looking back over the years, I am often amazed at how loving the Lord even though I wasn’t as ardent of a follower as I should have been, he has blessed me with care in many ways I wasn’t even aware of even if I wasn’t doing self care. With jobs, family, and life, he has kept me sane in sometimes insane moments of my life. Great reminder of ways we can self care. Have a great week ahead.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Michele, I so appreciated this review. Sometimes I find myself going & going & tending to those around me. This was a timely reminder to keep my commitments to tend to myself – my heart and soul and mind – with the Lord. For only then will I truly be able to pour out anything of worth.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I found these points very interesting and they really resonated with me even though I do have a different perspective on Sabbath, coming from a more Messianic mindset. Thanks for linking up at Booknificent Thursday on Mommynificent.com!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Hey Michelle, I’m back from my summer blogging break and delighted to be on your web page. I smiled when I realized that I clicked on your link from the Recharge Wednesday blog hop. As always I appreciate your thoughts and your writing. In particular, I love what you shared about the sabbath, about ultimately it’s about not making ourselves the center of the universe. Thank you for that gentle reminder.


    Liked by 1 person

  11. Oh, yes, yes, yes! Self-care has become a pop-culture buzz term that is just one more thing I should be doing (on the surface). Go get that massage. Read a book. Go on that girlfriend getaway. But if that’s not really for our soul-self, it is all just something else to do. Thank you for reminding me that self-care is really about soul care. Amen!


  12. Michele, what a wonderful topic that is so often misdirected toward splurging and instant gratification instead of true and intentional self-care. Honoring our core commitments struck me, and I’ve often looked at blogging as self-care because it honors my core commitment to ministry and making a difference. No pressure, but when are you going to write your own book??!! Hugs, Crystal

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, writing is that for me as well. And I really appreciated the way April helps readers to think about their core commitments when determining what self-care looks like for them. And thank you for inquiring, Crystal, about a future book. I’ve got a lot of work to do . . .


    1. I will share a very non-judgmental delivery of a favorite quote by Elisabeth Elliot, and understand that I say it to myself very often: “The Bible is God’s message to everybody. We deceive ourselves if we claim to want to hear His voice but neglect the primary channel through which it comes.”


  13. This afternoon all the children were at school and I had an hour’s lay down on the bed, letting my mind go blank. It was the recharge I needed but I felt guilty to begin with, thinking of the laundry, cooking and cleaning that all needed doing (not to mention the blogging!) Sometimes we need to put ourselves first. Thanks for linking up with #globalblogging

    Liked by 1 person

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