Thursday, April 16, 2009

What is margin?

The past six to nine months have been one of soul-searching for me. I am forming new paradigms in my mind, but most importantly, I am seeking for more true and clear ways to help me have the Abundant Life that Jesus spoke of.
One of the ways I am seeing (for me personally) how to do this is to create margins in my life. By margin, I mean I am cutting out information overload in my mind, making sure it is filled with Scripture, cutting out unnecessary burdens on my time and energy, and giving all stress and anxiety to the Lord by turning it all to Him in prayer. 
A helpful book I have been skimming is Richard Swenson's book Margin
This is what the site says about margin:
Margin is the space between our load and our limits and is related to our reserves and resilience. It is a buffer, a leeway, a gap; the place we go to heal, to relate, to reflect, to recharge our batteries, to focus on the things that matter most.

Margin offers seventy-five practical prescriptions for restoring margin in the essential areas of emotional energy, physical energy, time, and finances. Margin restores what culture has taken away: time to listen, strength to care, space to love.


Everyone finds margin in different ways. What works for me, may not work for you, and vice versa. I want to say it's "ok" for a mother to care for herself. It is *needed* in order to be the mother God created us to be, also in order to live the abundant life He promised us as believers.

Margin, for me, is creating space in my life, and in my days to do things that recharge me. It is creating time for:

1. Rest
2. Prayer
3. Relationships

These three things I believe are what God has meant for me in order to live a life more abundant. He is going to give me strength to do the things He has called *me* to do, not what He has called others to do. We have to be Focused and Restful in spirit and mind to see what He is calling us to do.

Stressed out, frazzled, busy, unfocused, moms are no good for their husbands, children, or others that we could be ministering to in the Body. These three qualities are not always linked. I know mothers who are unfocused, yet calm. That doesn't do us any good to minister to others. I know mothers who are stressed and frazzled, yet focused. Again, not a good combination.
Trust me, I am still on this journey. The Lord is peeling back layers in me that I never knew were there. Changing paradigms is hard. But in the end, it will be worth doing for the glory of realizing Abundant Life.

What are ways that you have learned to live an Abundant Life? What does "margin" mean to you? Please share!!

Related: 
Making margins
A quote and a question
Of playdates and peace
Taking care of mama
(there are more posts in this series)

6 comments:

Aimee said...

I can't wait to take the time to read your links and the weekend reads...I read the "fearless parenting" one a few weeks ago and LOVED LOVED it!

Margin for me is not having much on my schedule...big white spaces so that I have time to love on my home and children and time to sew and create. I never realized how much incorporating DAILY creativity would heal me and give me emotional margin. It was HUGE for me to not view that as selfish or a time-waster or whatever. I keep my days leisurely and outside activities to a minimum so that I have time and energy to invite others IN and not be OUT in my van.

Anonymous said...

Andrea, I would love to hear more from you (and any commenters) about how this works for you. Not for a formula, but just to learn from others! I agree with Aimee above. At this precious stage of life, it is necessary for me to be home alot. We have a few fun outings and have time with friends, family and our Church. Now that my babies are 6 months old, I would really like to add some hospitality to our days. It is great fun to have over a whole family (believers and non believers).

The bottom line is I really need to be home a lot to keep things going and to spend time with each child. I notice the mothers ahead of me all tell me to just relax and enjoy these years. At the same time, it can be isolating so I am always interested to hear about how it works for others.

Maybe I need more balance, but it feels pretty good. I enjoy walking and doing things together as a family. My husband and I like going on dates, but we don't do it much. A netflix date is a lot of fun for us.

Another thing is that I want to be able to serve others and love my neighbor and not just run around in activity for ourselves.

Mary Brooke

Amy T. said...

Andrea, I recently found your blog and I love it!

I have found that as a mommy, no one ever GIVES you time, so if you want it, you have to take it. For example, this Sunday we have church in the morning, and I have to be back at church for VBS training in the afternoon. At the last minute our small group is trying to put together a fellowship for lunch. My well-meaning husband volunteered me to make white chili for the fellowship. (He didn't realize I had to be back at 3:00.) Since it was important to me not to be frazzled at the VBS training, where I will be presenting, and I also wanted to get our kids home for afternoon naps, I had to tell everyone I wouldn't be coming to the fellowship with chili. I simply need the down time between the two events. Nobody is offended, and our family life will be much more peaceful that day.

Thanks for your wise thoughts, and keep them coming!

Rachel Anne said...

Andrea, Thank you for your kind link to Fearless Parenting. I appreciate your sweet words and sending your nice readers my way today. Made my day.

I did not realize that you are expecting! Congratulations! I know your family will be blessed once again. :) What an adventure.

You've got such a wealth of wisdom here...love this post about margin, one of our very favorite topics. You gotta fight for it, but what a difference it makes! I'm glad you reminded me of this today, it was perfect.

Lisa said...

Awe - that was so sweet of you to link to my post about "Taking care of mama". I almost jumped out of my seat from surprise when I saw it! I will have to take a look at the rest of the links - I'm sure there is lots of great mama advice/support happening! I am too learning to live with margins and to just say no. It may mean cutting back or out something that means a lot to me, but to have the time to slow down means more. In five short years, my oldest will be her way out the door and I want to cherish each and every moment. Time goes by way too fast and we much enjoy the time we have with our littles.

Have a wonderful weekend!

tonia said...

ooohhh....one of my favorite words: margins.

i am going to check out that book.

you are so right that stressed-out moms are no good for anyone. it's worth it to stay within the bounds.

good post, andrea.