Writing in the Margins

I slept through my alarm every day last week. A couple of times, I didn’t even hear my alarm until it had been going off for at least a half an hour. I was immediately frightened by the realization–I had become my husband.

In the midst of the exhaustion and frazzled days of the last two weeks, I look fondly on the kindness God showed me. I had already had the conversation with my husband–I’ve taken on too much; I need to figure out what I’m going to let go–when I saw a trend I didn’t like. Each night I hit the sack a little later trying to finish that ‘just one more’ task, and each morning I woke with the need for an IV drip of coffee–and I’m not even a coffee drinker. I hadn’t spent any time in serious prayer or reading my Bible because I kept waking up late, and I was yearning for that time to focus my mind on the spiritual and not just the earthly tasks.

It all started innocently, with the best of intentions. I so looked forward to Chloe starting preschool, giving me two days a week with a few hours child-free. I made plans to volunteer in the kids’ schools, something that proved difficult previously with a baby in tow; to work out more consistently, to improve my writing with regular practice; to keep a cleaner house. As I looked at my cluttered countertops, a blog with the last entry almost a week ago, and a gym bag that hasn’t left it’s spot in a few days, I found out that by pursuing one of those items on the list, the rest quickly deteriorated.

I was so excited to co-chair the missions committee at Caleb’s school, but as 10:00 rolled around each night, it was just one more thing I hadn’t finished. I remember telling Matt, “The other chair seems to have taken over, but, honestly, that’s okay with me right now.” He laughed, and I laughed at the words coming out of my mouth. My had I changed if I was okay relinquishing control!

And that is how God showed His kindness. As I was coming to my own realization as to what I could handle, the co-chair of the missions organization called me: I don’t want you to think I’ve taken over; I just remember how hard it was for me when I had little kids. Mine are older now, and it’s really not a problem to get some of these things done.

The timing of her phone call, not even 12 hours after Matt and I spoke, was confirmation for me. I unburdened my heart, telling this lady how much I want to help, but, at the same time, I appreciate her understanding. I do need to watch to what I commit and maybe let her take a greater amount of the tasks for now. She laughed a knowing laugh and reminded me that my ministry right now, especially during this season of life, is my family. And she went on to warn that, in her own life, she saw Satan use busyness, busyness in good things, to distract her from better things.

I’m pretty sure I’ve written about this topic before. I want my family to be my priority, my ministry, yet I find that line can get fuzzy. After all, I volunteer in the kids’ schools for them, I volunteer at church for God and as an example to my children. I’m the secretary of our homeowner’s association for…well…that’s not a good example. And writing is for me, and working out is for me, and quiet time in the morning is for me–and I find it easier to push aside those ‘me’ activities instead of those for others. However, I’m also learning that if I don’t find those moments for me, most importantly those moments between God and me, I won’t have anything to give to them.

I’m not complaining about being busy. I’m blessed to feel busy doing things I love. But I also know that just because something is good doesn’t mean it’s good for me now, especially if I’ve used up all my margin to do those good things.

One of the hardest struggles for me as a wife and a mother has been to figure out this whole margin thing, to figure out my priorities and how those priorities translate. I want my children to know I love them and the Lord and that I want to serve the Lord with my life. And it’s going to take me a while, but I think God may be showing me that one of the best ways to start serving Him is to play a game of ‘Toy Story Connect 4″ with the kids, get in bed early, read a book, and then wake up rested.

There are too many beautiful moments, fleeting moments, and I don’t want to need caffeine in order to enjoy them.

Do you struggle with busyness and saying ‘no’ to good things? How do you achieve the proper balance in your life?

Linking up with Michelle and Jen today!

18 thoughts on “Writing in the Margins

  1. Hello, friend,

    What a post.

    And something I've really been thinking about a lot lately. I used to say no to everything. No, no, no. Easy, easy, easy. But then, as our family has started to seek out ways to serve, I found myself saying yes to everything. Um, which in my eyes is equally as bad as saying no to everything. Right now, I'm working on learning to balance. It's a tough lesson to learn.

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    1. I guess you can figure that since I'm just now responding, I haven't figured out the balance thing, yet! It's somewhat easy to say 'no' to things that I don't want to do; it's saying 'no' to those activities that I love that is proving the hardest lesson to learn. I hope you have a great week and find rest in the midst of it!

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  2. First of all, I love the pictures – beautiful family! I think you've hit upon something a lot of us struggle with. But I think you got it right when you said the best way to serve God right now may be to play and rest more, and focus on the blessings He's given you right inside your home. Many blessings!

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  3. "Lets all welcome the newest member to our group and ask him to tell us about himself"! – "Hi"… "My name is Floyd…. and… I. I'm a workaholic"…

    I always bite off more than I can chew, then sacrifice everything to make sure I get it done. Sacrificing everything and everyone in my life, including my loved ones.

    Good for you for recognizing it early…

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  4. There must be an epidemic among moms of little kids on this. You are the third blogger I've read this week writing on this same issue and my friends and I seem to always be discussing this. In fact, I'm forwarding this to one friend I have who has a particularly difficult time saying no to thinks.
    This is one my favorite posts of yours.

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    1. Thank you for the compliment, Gaby. It's always encouraging to hear that my honest struggles are somehow helping someone else. And if I can figure this struggle out, I'd like to spend more time reading your blog soon!

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  5. The comment about your husband sleeping through his alarm (and you turning into your husband!) made me laugh out loud.

    You know I can relate to this one, Jennifer (she says, as the clock clicks toward 10 and she hasn't gotten up once in the last 7 days for Bible reading or morning God time!).

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    1. You are one of the busiest ladies I know, and I often wonder how you do as much as you do. I feel like a slacker compared to you–where do you find your energy?! 🙂

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  6. Thank you for another amazingly wonderful post! You always challenge me with your posts at just the right time!!! May God continue to bless you and your family as you minister to us!!!

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    1. It's so hard to say 'no' to church commitments, isn't it? (Especially when the same group of volunteers are the ones who volunteer for everything)

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  7. I am coming off a very intense two week of family, friends and really good things but draining things. I laughed because I overslept this am too. I guess we need to be gentle with ourselves too. Good post. Yes it is hard to find and keep those margins/boundaries. I find it is always a balancing act.

    visiting from Michele's site. Glad to connect with you.

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  8. I struggle with this every single day. I keep telling myself that I'll get to it "someday" and just attempt to survive the busyness. Then I have to remind myself that "life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans" and I can usually remember to check those priorities.

    Wonderful post, my friend.

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