How wide are your margins?

margin_around_text
When Morgan visits for the weekend, we often give her cash on the way out to fill up her truck with gas. (We encourage visits home!)

So as she was leaving yesterday, I asked Jeff if he’d given her gas money.
He said no, with no further explanation.

Because her truck was already full.

He had filled it up the night before. She would discover on her drive out that he’d left her tank on “full.”

Like gas tanks, there are some things you’d like to keep on “full.”
Bank account. Refrigerator. Spiritual contentment.

But your schedule?

Not.


If we were equipped with a flashing light
to indicate “100 percent full,”
we could better gauge our capacities.

But we don't have such an indicator light,
and we don't know when we have overextended
until we feel the pain.

~ RICHARD SWENSON, Margin


How do you know when you’ve reached your limit?

An unexpected outburst over something small?
Less energy to do once-fun things?
Perhaps tears are involved?

I’ve been exceptionally tired lately. Not particularly from overscheduling on the outside, but perhaps from trying to keep too much order inside.

So this week I want to unplug a little.

Leave a little more room in the margins.


Many people commit to a 120 percent life
and wonder why the burden feels so heavy.

It is rare to see a life prescheduled to only 80 percent,
leaving a margin for responding
to the unexpected that God sends our way.


I already had a few plans this week. I’ll keep those. But I’ll try not to add anything new. I want to leave some holes in my schedule.

For a long, deep breath before the rest of the summer pushes me full-steam ahead.

And for unplanned things from God.

Otherwise I might be feeling marginless by August. An overseas mission trip immediately followed by a vacation with the in-laws followed two weeks later by my daughter’s wedding might do that.

Can you build up a reserve margin for later use?

I don’t know.
But this week, I’ll be talking to God about it.

So in my grace count this week, I’m thanking the Lord for little things that I can cut out or reduce for a few days while Jenna is away at camp:

# 257....265
- less school planning
- less Google Reader
- less housework
- less e-mail
- less organizing
- less blog commenting
- less Facebook
- less cooking (possibly?)
- less laundry (definitely!)

to leave room for more of these things:

# 266....273
- more reading 
- more Bible study
- more writing
- more praying
- more music
- more Jeff
- more sleeping (hopefully) 
- more nothing (maybe???)

Until Saturday morning anyway.

Morgan has her first bridal shower (# 274) Saturday afternoon and her second one (# 275) on Sunday and life will keep on picking up speed again faster and faster...

...but hopefully with a more rested me,
from stretching out my margins this week.

* * *

Do you live with a tightly packed schedule?

Or with wide margins? And if so, what’s your secret?

11 comments:

Rebecca said...

"Leave a little more room in the margins.'Many people commit to a 120 percent life and wonder why the burden feels so heavy. It is rare to see a life prescheduled to only 80 percent, leaving a margin for responding to the unexpected that God sends our way.'"

Amen! God moved my heart in this direction a couple of years ago, and I've started leaving about 90 minutes of unplanned time per day and asking Him to fill it or leave it as He sees fit in my morning time. It's amazing how many people drop in for coffee or call to chat, but never more than one a day....He knows just what we need!
A life change several months ago left me with too much margin and consequently battling acedia/ennui.
God has chosen through my husband's prompting to give me a few hours a week to pursue a long-time passion of mine that will also provide a bit of income for our family.

God bless your full summer, and give you the margin you so beautifully wrote about in this article.

Lisa notes... said...

Rebecca,
How blessed I am to read your comment. Your experience on both sides of this is encouraging to me and gives me additional hope for my summer ahead. (And I’ll look forward to hearing more about your long-time passion as you choose to share.)

May God continue to bless you too as you share out of your margin with me and others!

tinuviel said...

"I’ve been exceptionally tired lately. Not particularly from overscheduling on the outside, but perhaps from trying to keep too much order inside." Ouch!

I'm feeling the same tug this week. May God guide and grant grace for both of us to follow His lead in this.

Enjoy your week!

Barbara H. said...

Such wise advice. When I contracted TM several years ago and the slightest efforts sent me back to bed exhausted, I had no choice during recovery except to set wide margins. That lesson still keeps me in good stead but I do still need to remind myself -- as the first quote said, sometimes we don't know we're overdoing until we've already overdone.

I wish we could build up a reserve margin for the future but I don't know if it is possible. But your plan sounds good to leave margins now when you can so at least you'll be as rested as possible when there's not much room for margins. I think God gives grace for those ultra-busy times we can't do anything about -- I remember wondering ahead of time how I was going to get through my son's wedding with all the emotion and pressure as well as the travel (I don't travel well generally) and meeting a whole houseful of new people (not my best thing) from another culture (with all its unexpectedness). But He gave grace moment by moment as needed. I trust He will for you through the coming events as well.

Melissa @ Breath of Life said...

We've intentionally made few plans for the summer, so that we can enjoy family time & work in the garden to preserve a lot of wonderful things for the winter.

Enjoy your "unplugged" time this week.

Julie said...

LOVED this, and so timely...I am taking and making margin, at least for today!!! Food for thought the rest of the week. Hugs to you Lisa. I have read his book..(long long ago) must need to read it again!
xo

Bobbi said...

Not to unnecessarily connect the two (my quote on comparing and yours' on margin) but have you ever noticed that creating margin (saying no, etc.) is often accompanied with guilt and much difficulty...and that feeling that you're being unfavorably compared and then before you know it you're comparing yourself to those who do way more...or WAY less. Hope that was clearer than mud. Thanks for letting me share! HA!

Daily Grace said...

Simply wonderful!

Kris said...

I must have needed to read this today, as I am praying about making one more time commitment as we speak... finding the balance is always a challenge... I am going to think about this more. Thank you for this.

bekahcubed said...

Margin is something I have difficulty finding. I tend to fill the pages of my life straight from left to right--and then wonder why I get exhausted reading it. In fact, not only do I miss the margins on the outside of the page, I write in my tiniest script with barely any spaces between words and multiple lines of text per pre-printed line.

I've been learning, though, since finding myself in a job that takes more than I originally anticipated, to leave myself a little extra room-more grace with extracurriculars and household goals and crafty desires. Now the struggle is to push the "work life" into its proper margins so I can have time to do those extracurriculars and household goals and crafty desires every so often.

Cherry said...

Thank you, Lisa ... I needed to read these words this morning. Life has been exceptionally full recently, and this was a good reminder to leave margin. I especially liked these words: "It is rare to see a life prescheduled to only 80 percent, leaving a margin for responding
to the unexpected that God sends our way."

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