Margin. What is it and How do we get it?

What is margin?

mar·gin – noun
     1.  the edge or border of something.
     2. an amount by which a thing is won or falls short.

When I think of margin, I think of notebook paper.  What purpose do the margins on the notebook paper serve?  The margins serve as guides for placing our words.  They give our eyes white space on which to rest.  Can you imagine reading a notebook page where the words went from one edge of the paper to the other with no white space to be seen?  I think I’d get a headache trying to read it.



Margin does the same for our life.  It serves as a guide for our activity, for our busyness.  It serves as a boundary so we have some place of rest for our souls.

In his book Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives Richard Swenson, M.D., has this to say about margin:

Margin is the opposite of overload. If we are overloaded we have no margin. Most people are not quite sure when they pass from margin to overload. Threshold points are not easily measurable and are also different for different people in different circumstances. We don’t want to be under-achievers (heaven forbid!), so we fill our schedules uncritically. Options are as attractive as they are numerous, and we overbook.

Does this sound familiar?  It is all too common, and easy, to over schedule and overbook our lives.  What happens when we don’t have enough, or any, margin in our life?  We can find ourselves stressed, angry, depressed, and possibly even sick.  It effects everything from our health, to our ability to work, to our relationships.  We may even feel like Job.

“I don’t have any peace and quiet. I can’t find any rest. All I have is trouble.” – Job 3:26 (New International Reader’s Version)

We need margin!  To quote Michael Hyatt, “Margin is not something that just happens. You have to fight for it.” So when we realize we need margin in our lives, how do we put it there? We are unique individuals created by God and as such, have unique needs, likes and dislikes.  So that answer is going to be different for everyone.

Here are some suggestions for adding margin to your life, ways that I am currently working to add margin to my life.  As unique individuals these are not one size fits all answers.  If these don’t fit you, find what does.

  • Create a quiet space to go to relax and spend time by yourself.  This is an ideal place to spend time in the Word of God.
Quiet Space

My Quiet Space

I created a sitting area in my bedroom by placing a cedar chest in the corner and adding an upcycled pad on top, some pillows which have special meaning to me and a soft, snuggly blanket.  I added these comforts so that I am drawn to this space.  If I had not added these little bits of comfort, I would not break away from all of my daily responsibilities and take the time to be there to relax, to find the margin so desperately needed.

  • Set aside a specific time, daily if possible, to spend in your quiet space.

I make sure that my family knows my specific time and that I am not to be interrupted (unless it is an emergency, of course) and that the phone, dogs, etc. are their responsibility for the time I have set aside.

  • Don’t let everyday situations keep you from spending your specific time there. Keep that “date” with yourself!

I touched on this one above when I shared how I made my space comfy so that I “want” to be there.  If I “want” to be there, I am more likely to keep that “date” with myself.

  • Set aside a time once a week to have a relaxing bath or do another activity that relaxes you.

For me, that time is when my boys go to Boy Scouts.  I run a hot bath, put in some stress relieving sea salt mix, turn down the lights, turn on relaxing music and just sit and listen. My bath ends with rubbing on some coconut oil, putting on comfy pj’s and rejoining my family for much enjoyed family time.

  • Spend time periodically doing something you enjoy, with friends who enjoy the same thing. For example, tonight is “craft night” with several ladies from church. Sometimes the kids are there and sometimes it’s just “girls night”.  Either way it is something we place a priority on doing together and look forward to it once a month!

Maybe the most important thing is, write these things down.  Put them on your schedule just like you would your gym workout, haircut or work.  If you don’t schedule margin, you are likely to find that it slips away.  Again, margin doesn’t just happen, it’s something you have to fight for.

You need margin in your life.  When you’re not hurrying and worrying, you allow yourself time to relax, to think, to enjoy your life.  You may find that you are able to live abundantly and boldly for your God!  That sounds exceedingly better than the alternative!  It is a process.  A one day at a time, baby steps, intentional process. It is something that I am willing to fight for!   Are you?

Do you have enough margin in your life?  Do you need to add some?  What things have you done, do you do (or plan to do) that add margin in your life?  How important do you think it is to “schedule” activities that provide margin in your life?





Faith, Intentional Living, Marriage, Parenting , , , , , , ,

You are Created by God to be Uniquely You

Snow!  Snow! And more snow!  We had over 7 inches here yesterday.  I wrote this post on The Longest Winter just a few short weeks ago sharing my longing to see the green of spring and we got A LOT MORE snow yesterday.  It was actually the largest accumulation in our area in one storm so far this year.  And I must add, hopefully the last!

snow 3 4 2015

March 2015 Snowstorm

Naturally, our thoughts were on snow. Many posted their thoughts on the snow on Facebook.  “This is so beautiful but, how much more snow are we going to get?  Can you believe this?  Really, more snow?”

I spent time praying for everyone who had to be traveling and those whose job it is to keep our roads as snow free as possible.  I spent time busying myself with things inside in order to avoid going outside.  I even spent a few moments in between busyness inside watching a live stream video cam of the Bald Eagle parents that are sitting on two eggs in Codorus State Park.  I watched them as they were covered in snow.

missy with icicles

Highland cow with icicles

My mind was focused on “physical” snow. I was focused on my physical comfort and safety due to the snow, on how the snow was going to effect my plans; for the night, for the next day and quite realistically my longing for the green of Spring.  I worried about our animals that are out in the snow.

Today however, God brought the snow to mind again but, in a completely different way.

I’m sure we all know that each individual snowflake is different, unique.  Think about that! We have over 7 inches of individual , unique, not one is like any other, flakes!  That’s awesome and amazing!  Only The Creator God could make that possible.

But, the point that he really wanted me, and wants you to get, is that “we”, each and everyone of us, are unique.  He created, and sees, each and everyone of us as one of a kind, individual, and different from the rest.  You are uniquely you!

It is so easy to feel “alone”, “not seen”, “lost in the crowd”.  Like just any other “snowflake” in 7 inches of snow.  Do you see what I’m saying?  When we think of the white stuff outside (ourselves) as just “snow”, we don’t notice the uniqueness, the individual beauty of each flake (us).  We just see the snow.

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, And before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.” Jeremiah 1:5

God created you to be uniquely you.  He created me to be uniquely me.  He created your best friend, your neighbor, your sister, your brother to be uniquely him/her.  He “sees” you!  You may not be appointed a prophet to the nations, but he “knows” you.  Oh the joy and the freedom that come with being “known”!  And the love that He lavishes on us as the result is comparable to nothing in this world!   You are God’s handiwork by Lynnae McCoy is another great post on this subject.

“What’s the price of two or three pet canaries? Some loose change, right? But God never overlooks a single one. And he pays even greater attention to you, down to the last detail—even numbering the hairs on your head! – Luke 12:6 -7 (The Message)

You are valuable to him!  You are loved!  JUST AS YOU ARE!  Forgive me for “yelling”, but this is important to know.  It’s important to Him that you know.  There is nothing that you need to “do” to be worthy of His love.  Actually, there is nothing that you can “do” to be worthy of His love.  You just are.  You are inherently LOVED by God.  He created you to be loved by Him.  Yes, you read that right!  He created you to be loved by Him!

Do you get it?  Do you know you are “special”, that you are “seen”, “known”?  Do you know God loves you?  I pray you do.  Even Christians who have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ struggle with this at times.  If you are struggling, get into the Word and read what it says about God’s love for you.

What marvelous love the Father has extended to us! Just look at it—we’re called children of God! That’s who we really are.
– John 1:3 (The Message)

If you don’t know Christ and you want to, visit Peace With God.  It will help you make that first important step into a personal relationship with God.  Then find a Christian to talk to. It could be a pastor, friend or someone you know who is a Christian.  Initiate that conversation. Don’t put it off!   Find a church with Biblical preaching and start attending. Most importantly, get a Bible and read it!  Visit   You will find an abundance of information and support there.  I have also found that Lynnae McCoy has written a great series on  knowing your identity in Christ.

Do you have a personal relationship with God?  If not, do you want to?  If so, please don’t put it off.  If you do have a relationship with Jesus Christ, what is something that you can do to help someone else understand that God loves them?

“Count on it—there’s more joy in heaven over one sinner’s rescued life than over ninety-nine good people in no need of rescue. –  Luke 15:7 (The Message)




Faith, Intentional Living , , ,

Major Mom Fail

If you are reading this, may I ask you to consider a few things?  This post is a raw, authentic, from the heart post.  All that I write is from the heart, but this is a topic that is very personal for me.  One that is “heavy” on my heart and has been for a long time.  I am not a person who shares her personal struggles easily.  I keep things “close to the chest”.  I tend to do this because I have had experiences where I have been judged when I have shared my personal struggles.  And that judgement hurts my heart.

So, if you choose to continue reading this post, I want to ask that you please be kind.  If you leave a comment, please choose your words carefully.  My purpose is to authentically share “real” things that are going on in my life…in my home that those who visit and read my thoughts can see, NOT ME, but The Christ in whom I find my hope.  So, if you choose to read on, please keep these thoughts in mind and I thank you for it.  Here goes!

You can google “homeschooling” and visit any number of pages declaring” “This is how we homeschool”, “this is what we did today”, “My kids are angels.  They never misbehave and fight about doing school.  I never have any problems with them”.

Okay, I have never actually read that last comment in those exact words but, have you ever read a post that divulged that “dirty little secret” that every homeschooling day is NOT perfect?  You can easily be lead to believe that nobody “who writes about their homeschool experience online” ever has a bad day(s)!

Boy, is that sooooo not true in this house!  I want to write honestly about how difficult homeschooling can be.  At least for me.  At least for our house.

Medieval battle show Voinovo Pole (Warriors' Field)/Major Mom FailToday was another difficult day on the homeschooling front.  I use the word “Front” because many times doing this homeschooling thing is a “battle”,  “a war”.  Homeschooling pushes me to the bring of my insanity most days.  Many times it tests my true reliance on my Lord and Savior, my hope which is in Christ Jesus.

We’ve been homeschooling for the last 7 years, the boys and I.  (I have 2, ages almost 16 and 13.)  There have been good days and bad days, days that we muddle through, days that seem to never end.  Today was one of those days that I would rather not repeat, but seem to be repeating in an infinite loop.

I have two boys.  One is Dyslexic.  One is Defiant.  It is difficult to know how to school either of them.  I am not a expert on teaching either one.  Their needs (and behaviors) are vastly different yet they need so much of me.  They both need the same things, my time, my instruction, my heart and so much more.

Here comes the reason that I wrote the above paragraphs so, please be kind.   I’m laying my heart on the line here.  My raw, authentic, broken wide open heart.

Oh, so many times it is oh, so hard to give of these things.

Honestly, I find it easier to give of my time, my instruction, and my heart to my compliant, eager to please Dyslexic son.  I struggle to give of these things to my Defiant son.  When he fights and pushes.  When he blames and pouts.  When he wants to do what he wants to do yet again I find myself short tempered and I yell.  There, I said it. I yell.  It sickens me.  It saddens me.  I am ashamed.  You could call it a Major Mom Fail!  I do!

Yet, many times he seems to be the one who needs these my time, my instruction and my heart the most.

It is at times like this, in situations like this that God says “Are you looking in the mirror? Do you see any resemblance of this in yourself?”  And I humbly cry with tears streaming down my cheeks “of course, I do.”  And it is at these times that I so desperately need God’s time, his instruction and his heart.

I am so thankful and full of appreciation that God does not “yell” at me in my sinfulness. He does not withhold his time, his instruction and most importantly his heart!   In my fighting and pushing, blaming and pouting and downright defiance he gently disciplines me through the power of the Holy Spirit.  He convicts my soul.  Then he envelops me in his arms, whispers his love for me, extends grace and showers me with mercy.  Praise the Lord!

Grace/Major Mom Fail

Oh, how I long to be like Christ!  How I long to respond with grace and mercy!

There is hope!  There is help through this loving God!

My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness” 2 Corinthians 12: 9

Have you ever had a Major Mom Fail that God has used to discipline you and to show you his love?  What verses do you cling to that give you hope?  How has God worked in your life to bring you to a new place through the hope he has given you?



Homeschooling, Intentional Living, Parenting , , , ,