It made me feel rich. I was so pleased and thankful I could be a blessing….and all it took was a bowl of chicken tortilla soup.
My sweet friend Patricia is a teacher, and a wonderful one at that. She also has three lovely daughters and a husband who is a principal and a doctoral student. Her life is busy, so when she texted that she was at school and feeling sick, I knew I wanted to help.
It was a simple thing, really. I had some chicken tortilla soup cooking and I told her to come pick it up on her way home so that she didn’t have to worry about dinner for her family. She could just go home and rest and enjoy some nice hot soup.
After school, she did stop by and pick up the dinner. Later, she said it made her feel so cared for.
You might say, “It was just a meal.” But I think it was more than that. The food was a blessing but the real gift was the margin.
I’d made meals for friends many times before, but I’d never been prepared to give even before the need arose. It was without any hesitation that I offered. I didn’t need to go to the store or come up with a plan. I was just able to give.
My word for 2014 is Margin. I want to be available. Available for God, my family and my friends.
More specifically, I wanted to create more margin in my afternoons with the children. Since cooking took up much of my after school time, I decided to cook most of our meals on the weekend. That way, I’d be more available to help with my children’s homework after school and have more time and energy to listen and play.
So when Patricia texted, I realized that a lovely by-product of creating margin for my children was that I could also make an ill friend’s day a little brighter too.
I had done the hard work ahead of time so that when the need arose, not only could I meet that need, but I was able to do so without stress or taking away from my family time. And the margin I’d created in my own life flowed over into Patricia’s because she had one less thing on her to do list that night.
Margin isn’t normally one of my strengths. I lean more towards overcommitment than I do towards margin.
But I think that one of the most beautiful gifts we can give to our friends and family is that of margin. To be women who do the hard work ahead of time, so that when others carry a heavy burden, we have strength to spare. It requires hard decisions. It requires saying no even when it doesn’t seem to make sense. It requires self discipline.
But the rewards are rich. We can offer rest and peace and comfort. We can offer a listening ear to our husbands, we can offer patient words to our children or a helping hand to our friends.
There is no glory or wealth in margin, but when we choose to treat it like something real and valuable, treasures begin to pour into it’s walls.
Need more convincing of the power of margin? Here are 50 more reasons to invest in it. When you have margin you can…
2. Cook healthier meals
3. Find time to exercise
4. Help others
5. Make better decisions
6. Be calm when things don’t go as planned
7. Have a tidier home
8. Be more patient with your husband
9. Be more patient with yourself
10. Be more patient with your children
11. Be more patient with your loved ones
12. Have time to pray
13. Have time to read the bible
14. Have time to read.
15. Get more rest
16. Get more sleep
17. Eat slower
18. Eat better
20. Discover new passions
21. Have the grace to fail
22. Give grace to others when they fail
23. Be present
24. Listen to God
25. Listen to others
26. Notice the details
27. Be thankful for the details
28. Develop a habit of gratitude
29. Try new things
30. Finish old things
31. Stop worrying because you now have time to act
32. Stop worrying because the things that worried you… you eliminated when you created that margin
33. Breathe deeply
34. Live fully
35. Live life instead of just responding to it
36. Be available to help others who haven’t discovered the power of margin
37. Read books to learn how to maximize the time you do have
38. Read books to learn how to be a better wife, mom, friend, believer
39. Read biographies to learn what made great people great
47. Nurture life – gardening, animals, nature
48. Invest in relationships
49. Be excellent
50. Thrive instead of survive
Action Step – So what can you say no to today? what can you take off your plate? What responsibility or activity can you trade in for margin?