"Just Too Busy" by Joanne Kraft {a book review}

The first time I saw Joanne Kraft, she was sitting on a chair near the big windows outside the conference session we’d both just attended—a session geared toward having an “effective fifteen-minute publisher meeting” at the P31’s She Speak, She Writes annual conference. I noticed Joanne for two reasons: 1) her yellow blouse, and 2) her obvious tears.

I thought, perhaps, she’d just received some bad news from home; what I later would find out is that her bad news wasn’t attached to her home life; rather, to her dream for writing the book, Just Too Busy: Taking Your Family on a Radical Sabbatical. Her hopes had been momentarily crushed by a professional who told her that the idea was best suited for a magazine article, not a full manuscript. This may seem like a small thing to most people, but for writers it’s a very tender, big thing. Dreams (whether you’re a writer or not) are just that important.

Normally, I would have immediately gone over to tend to Joanne’s tears; it’s in my nature to do so… to give hugs, ask what’s wrong, especially if it looks someone could use a tissue, even if that someone is a stranger. But I didn’t this time around because of my up-and-coming scheduled “effective fifteen-minute publisher meeting” with a publisher. Thus, our introduction would have to wait, and although I would see her throughout the remainder of the weekend, I never took the time to officially connect with Joanne. A few weeks later, we somehow managed to slip into each others’ lives through our blogs. Three years have passed since that time; we’ve had numerous chats and e-mail exchanges that have allowed us to grow a friendship—one of the best benefits that comes with having an on-line presence.

Neither one of us left that conference with a book contract that year. However, because of Joanne’s dogged determination and willingness not to cede her dream to one person’s opinion, she can add the title of “published author” to her list of accomplishments. I couldn’t be more thrilled for Joanne. Her pen via her heart is a special gift to her readers. Whether it’s a blog post, an e-mail, or the 187 pages I’ve just finished reading, Joanne’s words have a way of lightening my load and cheering my heart.

Joanne writes like she talks. What you’ll read on the pages of Just Too Busy, is exactly how she “reads” in her every day life. She’s kind, bold, generous with her encouragement, and her comedic timing goes a long way toward making a bad day into one that can be celebrated. We are like-minded in many ways, and I appreciate her willing candor on a variety of topics. You will see a lot these qualities throughout Joanne’s book.

Just Too Busy, Taking Your Family on a Radical Sabbatical is a road map to aid readers in their examining of family life—in particular, calculating the stresses, strains, and conflicts that can often result from the self-imposed busyness that is crammed into a day’s existence. Sensing the strain from busyness in her own family, Joanne and her husband decided to take a radical sabbatical from the chaos of their lives. Radical, because that meant cutting out many of the extra-curricular activities for their four children (i.e. sports, music lessons) and to, instead, trade them in for more family time. Sabbatical, because they made this commitment for an entire year.

Their choice wasn’t based on worldly preferences; their choice was based on godly ones. Joanne and her husband weren’t giving up on developing the lives of their children. Instead, they were reclaiming them… the lives of their children. “No” to the outside world; “Yes” to the family being built within the four walls of their home. Sounds pretty radical to me! Sounds pretty darn smart as well.

Here’s what I love most about Just Too Busy. It’s not another checklist for making readers feel guilty about all the things they’re doing right and wrong as parents. Instead, this book gives readers a window-peek into the lives of six people who are surviving and thriving as a family unit. Why? Because of their willingness to draw some boundary lines regarding the outside influences that daily present themselves as necessities rather than possibilities. Joanne is the first to tell readers that her parenting isn’t perfect. I would also add to that disclosure by telling you that Joanne is an example of a parent who is perfectly willing to make a radical change so that her family might live more peacefully.

Some things you can look forward to finding out about in Just Too Busy include (but are not limited to):

  • The true definition of A.D.D.
  • The ten telltale signs of busyness
  • Keeping your hand at your side when all it really wants to do is fly high and say “yes!”
  • Joanne’s penchant for school field trips
  • The importance of Sabbath rest
  • Why singing “Jesus Take the Wheel” doesn’t count as morning devotional time
  • The traditional Thanksgiving table cloth
  • Where Amelia Earhart is currently residing
  • How to know if you’re “munning” correctly
  • Ditch days
  • Scrapbooking for the creatively challenged
  • Television rehab
  • Choosing the right “hills” to die upon

Just a few of the “gifts” from Joanne’s pen; some serious, some light-hearted, but all of them connected to one central theme—

Celebrating and capturing the beauty of a family.

In closing, I have a final confession to make. My family isn’t necessarily a good candidate for a radical sabbatical from our busyness, because quite honestly, we’re not that busy. We used to be when our older boys were small. The memories of the season have shaped the way I approach my parenting with this second generation of kids. Accordingly, I do far less (in terms of activity) with our younger children. Reading Joanne’s book has brought this reality to the forefront of my heart and has challenged me to make some radical changes in another direction. Not a change for busyness, but rather a change for family togetherness. Joanne’s words remind me, again, to take hold of these moments, to invest some personal energy into them, so that when my children have grown into adults, sweet remembrance regarding their childhood days will be their portion.

Just Too Busy is so much more than an examination of busyness. Just Too Busy raises the flag on behalf of families everywhere and gives them the permission to say “no” to outside distraction and “yes” to the inward cultivation of strong, healthy, family relationships. I’m so blessed and privileged to share this book with you, friends. It’s an easy read that will make you laugh, cry, think, and arrive at some conclusions about your own family’s busyness.

It seems like a lifetime ago when I first witnessed Joanne’s tears and her deflation regarding her idea for a book. Today I imagine her tears spring forth for different reasons. For a dream realized and for the tenacity and courage it took to make it happen. Today, I raise a flag in her honor and celebrate this milestone in her earthly tenure. I join her in making some radical decisions that will forever change the futures of the generation that sleeps beneath my roof this night.

Thank you, Joanne, for your radical heart of faith that was willing to stay the course despite the odds. I love you friend!


{video trailer for Just Too Busy}


  • To sign-up for an opportunity to win one of three copies that I am giving away, leave a comment with this post. For an extra entry, link to this post in your facebook or twitter accounts and make sure to let me know in the comment section. I will announce the winners with my next post.

21 Responses to "Just Too Busy" by Joanne Kraft {a book review}

  1. Sounds like a good book. Perhaps more of us should consider a "radical sabbatical."

    Good book review, too.
    blessings to you – Marsha

  2. Our children are now raising children of their own. From your description of this book, I believe this is a message that needs to be communicated
    LOUDLY and clearly!

    I was shouting "Amen" to the list of "things covered" that you included.

    Sure wish I had written that book! It is sure to be a blessing to many.

  3. This sounds like a GREAT book. Wish I'd read it when I was raising my kids. I look back now (as I imagine all women do eventually) I wish I'd done many things differently. But right at the top of the list is just what you have spoken about here….ALWAYS soo busy. I do try now to communicate this to my young daughter in laws. This would be a wonderful book for all of them. Thanks for the heads up. Have a good day! HUGS

  4. Can I just say that I wish I had a month or so to just read your blog entries. Since I just discovered you recently I realize that I've been missing out! Thanks for the tip on Just Too Busy. Seems the message is one that is also very near and dear to my heart so can't wait to get a hold of a copy. May God bless this day of your journey!

  5. Hi Elaine,
    I met Joanne at the same conference. In fact, we sat together in the same meeting you mention and have shared the journey toward publication ever since.

    After that session, Joanne was ready to give her publisher appt to me, but I wouldn't let her. And her husband asked her – "Who told you to write this book? That speaker — or GOD?" Wise man!!

    Now three years later, Joanne has accomplished her goal and is on the journey to share more encouragement to busy families. What a blessing for all of us!

    You are a master encourager as well, and I'm thankful to Joanne for leading me your way. I don't comment often, but always check in with you for a little peace for my journey.

    Blessings to you,

  6. Elaine, I saw your link on Facebook and immediately came over, because the title intrigued me.

    Now I am even more sure that I want this book after reading your post!

    I shared the link to your post on my Facebook page as well.

    As an aside, it is always so refreshing to me to come to your blog and read your writings. I may not comment that often, but you are a great encouragement to me and God uses your words often to refresh me, or challenge me, depending on the day!

    Love and God bless,

  7. Thank you, Elaine, for posting your heartfelt meeting with Joanne and this review. I post mine tomorrow and I get the blessing of meeting you in July. I can't wait! You are an inspiration to me. xoxo

  8. This sounds very much like some conversations my wife and I have had over the years Elaine.

    At one point, we found ourselves running ragged trying to keep up with work, home, kids activities, music lessons, bowling, and a seemingly never-ending list of other distractions as well. We made conscious decisions to start saying "no" more often to those intrusions, and spending more time doing things together as a family instead. While we still have our share of outside involvement, it's nothing like where we came from, and we've found ourselves a much tighter family because of it.

    Sounds like a great book… Thank you for sharing!

    Have a Blessed Day!

  9. "Why singing 'Jesus Take the Wheel' doesn’t count as morning devotional time"

    Okay…that one really made me laugh!

    Sounds like a wonderful book…

  10. Sounds like a wonderful book for the young family! What a commitment they have made to better raise positive, respectful and engaged young adults!!
    Thanks for the opportunity to win a copy!!

  11. wifeforthejourney:

    I know Joanne appreciates the time you've put in on reviewing her book. Is there any one of us that don't feel like we are "Just Too Busy?" Christians seem to have huge issues with being able to say "NO" and even with our compulsive volunteering we regularly say things like "I think I should be doing more."

    Bravo Joanne, for tackling the spiritual virtues of the sabbath!
    Guess it would be unfair for me to win a book, wouldn't want there to be any charges of favortism,

    love you,


  12. I'm putting this one on my summer list of "must reads"! Thanks for the book review …I love hearing about good books out there …now if I just wasn't too busy to read them! (kiddin)

  13. I feel so bummed reading you all were at She Speaks the year I was and I didn't KNOW you then… :O

    I want to get a copy for all the busy families I know… 🙂

    God bless you!

  14. It's always exciting to see the birth of someone's dream! I can think of several women in my life who would benefit from this book.

  15. I believe I need to read this book….the list is so compelling. As a pastor, I often feel conflicted between what is necessary and what is really a distraction. Thanks for posting!

  16. Elaine,

    Thank you for such a tender, loving, honest, God-honoring review.

    From my heart to yours sweet friend. I thank God for you.

    (By the way, guess what I hung up in my closet this afternoon? My yellow blouse. I think I may have to squeeze into it and snap a photo for ya!)

  17. …one last thing.

    To all of you who encouraged with such kind words in your comments, thank you!

    Keep my book close at hand, I look forward to signing it in person one day!

  18. What a wonderful book!
    Thank you for promoting these timely message and I pray many blessings for Joanne and family.
    Hope I win!!! ~Jess

  19. It takes a lot of thought, planning and determination to reign in your family and shut out the noise and extra activities. No wonder Joanne was successful getting it published. It sounds like it's a desperately needed role model in this hustle, bustle world gone crazy. Strong families make for a strong country.

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