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Book Jacket

Trade Paperback
Jul 2006
Harvest House Publishers

The Bathtub Is Overflowing but I Feel Drained: How to Defeat Mommy Stress

by Lysa TerKeurst

Review  |   Author Bio  |  Read an Excerpt




I’m the Worst Mom Ever

Write injuries in dust, benefits in marble.


I was supposed to be going on a fun scrapbooking retreat the weekend. My friends left on Thursday and called to what a great time they were having. How I wanted to be with them! But Art had to be out of town and the kids me at home. I felt pulled in a thousand directions. Ashley wanted me to watch her at gymnastics. Hope wanted to be dropped at a friend’s house. Brooke wanted a friend to come over, the boys had to be taken to soccer practice.

It’s not that I didn’t want to be with the kids. I love my children and love spending time with them. It’s just that I was tired. I was serving from the dregs of my bucket rather overflow. I had looked forward to the weekend with my friends laughing, eating out, and catching up on putting the family pictures in albums.

On a scale from one to ten, my stress level hovered a seven. I wanted to take time to be with the Lord and allow his word to bathe my parched soul and bring my stress back manageable level, but constant time crunches kept me distracted. Feeling tired and underappreciated, I should have known I was setting myself up for failure.

On Saturday morning I got up at 5:00 to take the boys and several of their friends to an out of town soccer game. I wouldn’t be able to stay at the game because I had to rush back to get Ashley to the gym and then run home to clean the house. Art would be home that night by dinnertime, and the house needed some serious attention before his arrival.

I was out the door by 5:45 with four boys and Ashley in tow. About halfway to the soccer game, the kids brought it to attention that nobody had eaten breakfast. My stress level jumped to a nine and voices of accusation started dancing in my head.  What kind of mom sends her kids to play soccer with no food in their bellies? What would the boys’ friends tell their parents? I could have played really well today, except Mrs. TerKeurst didn’t feed us.”

We didn’t have time to stop before dropping the boys off at the field, but they would have a warm-up time before the game started, which would give me time to zip through a drive-through and bring food back to them. Maybe they could down a few bites of a biscuit between the end of warm-ups and the start of game. So I dropped the boys off and then Ashley and I find biscuits.

When I got to the window to pick up my food, I was surprised by the enormous size of our drinks. The cups were so large wouldn’t fit in my car’s cup holders. However, there was no to switch them out for a smaller size, so I paid for our order and drove off. I told Ashley to please hold on to the drinks as they would tip easily if we weren’t careful.

I had no sooner turned out of the parking lot when I pothole, and what seemed like gallons of tea dumped onto floor of my car. In a frustrated huff I raised my voice.  I told you to hold on to those drinks!” My stress level jumped past a ten when Ashley snapped back at me, “Mom, YOU made me spill the drinks!”

I don’t know from what dark, unbridled corner of my my next response came. It must have been lurking there while just waiting to pop out and horrify me. Me, the mom had taken such pride that she’d never cussed at her kids.  Me the Proverbs 31 woman with a ministry teaching women importance of using kind words to correct her children. Me, the woman who writes books and speaks to thousands and can heard on the radio teaching about godliness. Me, the woman who teaches Bible studies whipped my head around to my daughter and yelled, “Shut up and eat your d*** biscuit.” And I talking about the little houses beavers make. No, there it was in broad daylight.…a cuss word that spilled from my lips.

The same lips that read bedtime stories, say nighttime prayers, and tenderly kiss my children good night. The same lips that others about Jesus. The same lips that sing God’s praises. Oh, horror I felt. I think Ashley was more shocked that I said “shut up” as she’d never heard the other word before. But I like the worst mom in the world.

After a few moments of silence, I apologized. We drove soccer game, and while Ashley delivered her brothers’ biscuits I called a friend. With tears in my eyes, I recounted the morning’s events. Then, before I told her the dreaded sentence, I her, “You are going to think I’m the worst mom ever. You’re not going to believe what I did!” I repeated this warning statement several times just to make sure she was prepared for the  horror that was coming.

Then I whispered what I’d yelled at Ashley…beaver home and all.

“That’s it? That’s it? That’s what you are so upset about? Apologize to her, ask God for forgiveness, and get over it. So you had a hard morning. Stop letting Satan get the best of you God to give you a new attitude.”

What? She didn’t condemn me? She didn’t agree that I’m worst mom ever? She didn’t hop in her van, speed my way, and stone me? What freedom. What a gift of grace. What a friend!

I bowed my head and asked God to protect Ashley’s heart from the dart I shot at her, and I asked Him to wipe this event from her mind. I asked God to forgive me, not just for my ugly words, but most of all for getting too busy to spend with Him.

As I mopped up my van overflowing with tea, I realized I’d been living life backward that week. I was letting my to-do list overflow while withholding my time with the Lord. When what I should have done is let my time with the Lord overflow while withholding my to-do list.

It’s a mistake I think a lot of us moms make. We’re a slave to the tyranny of the urgent. But how can we continue to pour out if we aren’t being filled back up on a daily basis? The flood of demands will consume us if we don’t take the time to let God right our perspective, reduce our stress level, and whisper His tender truths of love in our ear.

Have you ever had a “worst mom ever” day? Take heart, so have we all. Take my friend’s advice. Apologize to your children. Ask God for forgiveness. Get over it and stop letting Satan drag you down. Spend time with the Lord getting a new attitude, He’ll help you leave the dams to the beavers!



 Refresh My Soul

        Read Psalm 103:1-4.

Before stating that God forgives his sins, David (the author of psalm), praises God first. Write some praises for God here.


In verse 2, what does David mean by “forget not all his benefits”?



List the verbs that are found in verses 3-5.



What does God forgive?



What does God heal?



What does God redeem?



What does God crown you with?



What does God satisfy your desires with?



When He does all of this, verse 5 ends by saying that your “youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” In other words, life, energy, and vitality return to your spirit.



Read Psalm 103:8-13.

How is God’s love for you described?


What does God do with our sins?







If God removes our sins, then why do we allow Satan to beat us up for them? Let God remove your sin and leave it with Him.  Satan can’t beat us up with sin that we’ve let God truly have. Only when we hold on to it can Satan use it against us. Learn what God wants to teach you about this sin in your heart then let it go.



Does fearing God mean an “afraid of Him” fear? No, fearing God is a healthy respect and reverence of Him. How do show this to the Lord?








We often think of God as big and powerful and mighty. But this psalm it is very clear that His tender compassion is there us as well. How do you show your own children compassion?





Read back through what you’ve written about your compassion for your children and write how God is compassionate with you.






Verses 17-18 tell us the Lord’s love is with whom?



Does the word “perfect” ever appear in those verses?



Whose righteousness will be with your children and your children’s children?



Righteousness is a big religious word that can be broken down in a simple form by substituting “right choices that honor God.” God will give you the ability to make right choices that honor Him if you will ask Him for that. He will do the same for your children. Because our children will model our behavior, we want to make right choices that honor God. But even when we mess up, we can model right behavior to our children by pointing to God’s forgiveness, healing, and restoration.



Just as this psalm started out with praise, it ends with praise well. Praise God for how He has touched your heart today.