What is it about your life that causes you to stop and take notice?
Is it a pretty envelope in an otherwise stack of boring mail?
Is it a cleared-off bathroom counter? Perhaps it’s the mess on the counter that you notice?
The chaotic pile of shoes at the front door…
Could it be your husband who sneaks up behind to squeeze you as though saying, “hello, I see you, and I love you!” ?
Blooms on the lilac bushes…
Mirroring blooms in your neighbor’s yard?
Starting a book? Finishing a book? Thoroughly enjoying a book?
Is it your journal entries which gently, but very explicitly, record the growth experienced just this year?
The familiarity of your favorite outfit?
Could it be this, that you know what you’re serving for dinner this week?
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When I take time to reflect what causes me to notice the goodness around me, even if I do this while drinking a cup of coffee, my days and weeks flow easily.
For me, it’s called margin, and I need it badly, because margin nourishes me.
It’s not that I need an easy life (I mean, I selfishly do), but rather it’s that I need to have control over myself so I can encourage others and live peaceably.
When all of the plates I’m washing are up in the air, my life is a complete mess. There is a better way.
The tiny people at home with us, their mothers, need us all the time. I mean, allllll the time. The other night, between my husband and I, we were up six times caring for our four young children. This doesn’t happen often, but last night was one of those special nights. Wink.
It’s hard to care for our little ones, to care for our homes, to care for the world, when we live a reactionary life.
You know the joke: mom gets in the driver’s seat and immediately turns the radio OFF. I think I can relate to her? Yes, definitely.
In fact, it’s in the silence where I do my best thinking. Gardening. Tending my houseplants. Taking a shower. Walking the dog. Hands deep in the basin of suds.
How about you? Where do you do your best thinking?
How do you process overwhelming feelings? What is your go-to technique for your inconsolable baby while simultaneously caring for other children & home? How do you separate fighting children, manage household disasters, connect with your husband?
Tell me how you practice self-care in the absence of “a village”?
I’ll tell you mine: margin.
Margin is planned time of unplanned activity. It’s white space in your day for deep, slow breathing; margin provides opportunity. Margin is the delight experienced when the unexpected knocks and you realize, Yes, I have room for this today.
Wholesome meals. Fresh air on the swing set. Early dinner, early baths, early books, early to bed. And in that order.
A moment alone. A moment with Him. More moments with Him.
And then you notice: another pretty envelope in today’s mail, the lilac bushes are bursting with blooms, you smile in response to another squeeze, another journal entry, another book finished.
You have stopped, and you have noticed. You are experiencing the good life. The freedom resulting from margin is life giving, and it provides a burst during midday.
So, how do you find margin in your day? It’s simple, though not always easy (if I’m honest). First, we must stop over-committing, staying up too late, feeding ourselves mediocre meals. Then, take stock of what exhausts you, what provides empty energy, or what continually feels frustrating.
Having margin in our day, a pause, means we confidently schedule in time for “nothing”. And we hold this “nothing” as sacred. When midday hits and you’re feeling quite worn out, you look to the margin in your day as an opportunity of restoration; a burst in energy to help you finish the day well.
Margin is necessary even if you have others living with you at home; especially if you have others living with you at home.