Discover The Beauty of Margin

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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.

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Need more convincing of the power of margin? Here are 50 more reasons to invest in it. When you have margin you can…

1. Relax
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
19. Play
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
40. Reflect
41. Dream
42. Hope
43. Belive
44. Create
45. Accomplish
46. Plan
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?

Sweet Surrender

Surrender

post by Katie Sadler

There is freedom in surrender. Give me faith give me strength enough to wait,
to stand in faith and listen for your melody…your songs have never stopped. Kari Jobe

Today I sit as the beauty, majesty, grace and Love of Jesus overwhelms my soul.

As I lay all I am at His feet, He restores me. He renews my spirit, He breathes life into my very being… and I surrender.

I am overwhelmed as His goodness and mercy floods over me. I am overwhelmed at His great, unchanging, undying love for me…for you.

Jesus loves me, and you, so deeply that He left his rightful throne to live as a man, though without sin as to be the example set before us and to pay the steep price for my sin…for your sin. He gave himself for me…for you. His cross was marked with the all the transgressions of humanity and He choose to endure its shame in order to give me freedom and life. He paid my debt…willingly. He loved me so much that he stretched out his arms and with His last breath spoke of forgiveness. He gave His LIFE that I may have Life. He took the keys of death and Hell so that we may live victoriously here and in eternity. Praise the Lord! Alive and seated in the Heavens above at the right hand of the Father, He sings over me.

His love song flows like warm oil over my soul, and I allow it to reach into the deep crevices I keep concealed. His song is beauty for ashes, strength for fear, gladness for morning, and peace for despair. His song brings joy and healing!

His songs of redemption, love, healing, and grace fill my heart. I hear the ballots in the breeze. I see the music in the flurry of snow and the drops of rain that quench a dry summer day. His song quenches my dry soul.

Be quiet my soul. Be still my restless mind. For it is in those quiet moments that I hear His song the loudest. It’s in those moments that I am filled to overflowing. It’s there, in the quiet, I drink deep of His mercies and love.

We have a Loving Father that is waiting, with arms open wide to heal us, love us and renew us. He longs to hear our triumphs, to wipe the tears and to carry us when we can no longer walk.  His light illuminates the darkness, and with His tender hand he wipes away the stains. He polishes away the tarnish to reveal the shimmer beneath. Gentle are His hands.

No matter where you are…He sees you. No matter what you’ve done or how you live, He longs to save you, to show you His love, to rescue and restore you to the Life He has planned for you to live. For His love is deeper and truer than any man’s love. It is eternal, unmerited, forgiving and unconditional.

He loves you.

Today…this moment…won’t you be still and allow Him to write upon your heart His love for you. Be still and let Him speak to you what beauty he beholds in you. Let the bridegroom whisper His unending love for you, His beautiful bride.

Surrender is beautiful. There is true freedom in surrender.

“Here before your alter I am letting go of all I’ve built. Of every motive, every burden everything that’s in myself. In your presence I am not afraid of Brokenness. To wash your feet with humble tears, oh I would be poured out till nothings left. I just want to wait on you my God I just want to dwell on who you are.

Beautiful, Beautiful, Oh I am lost for more to say. Beautiful, Beautiful, Oh Lord, your beautiful to me.”

-Kari Jobe

Lord, in this moment show us the reality of who you are. Let us see your love for us, your majesty, your tender mercies. Help us to know your gentle and loving touch. May we be renewed in you this very moment and overwhelmed with your presence. May we share your mercies with others. May the hope and freedom we experience be a catalyst to share with others you put in our path. May your love spread like wildfire from the moments we spend in the quiet as you sing over us.

Sweetly Broken, Wholly Surrendered

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The Ministry of the Ordinary Life

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There is much beauty to ponder at Christmas. The beauty of the Christ Child coming to earth to save the souls of men–His name shall be called Immanuel, God with us.

As the holiday season comes to a close, it is so wonderful to remember that Jesus is with us every day of our lives. He is in the warp and woof of the everyday life; He is the fabric of our essential being. This is one of my favorite parts of Christianity, the fact the we have the Holy Spirit who dwells in each of us and helps us to walk out the Christian life. We are never alone; Christ makes His home in our hearts.

As I reflect on the New Year, I find myself thinking about the days to come and wondering what my heart desires to fill each of them with this coming year. At the core of my thoughts and dreams is a desire to make a difference for the Lord.  I think that, as Christians, most of us would say this is our desire, but for the most part our daily lives get in the way of what we think holiness and serving the Lord should look like.

So much of the time, our hearts want to minister, to make a difference for the Lord, but we find ourselves knee-deep in the music of the everyday life: laundry, cleaning, meals, sibling squabbles, sick children, discipling our children, listening to our children, helping in-laws to feel connected to the children, meals needed for friends, and making time for our sweet husbands… just to name a few.

My desire is to challenge each of us to readjust our thinking, to realize that these things, the seemingly insignificant things of life, are the notes that make the music of our ministry. This is the time in our life where we are creating our greatest symphony of ministry, our grand Opus.

What if we all looked at our lives differently? What if we all could be like Brother Lawrence, a monk who live 300 years ago and taught about the presence of God being in the ordinary life and said “The time of work,”  he said, “does not with me differ from the time of prayer.  In the noise and clatter of my kitchen, while several persons are at the same time calling for different things, I possess God in as great a tranquility as if I were upon my knees at the Blessed Supper.” Brother Lawrence had the uncanny ability to look at each activity or chore he did as worship unto the Lord, as his ministry of the everyday life.

Scripture says this perfectly in Colossians 3:17: “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

And Jesus simplified this concept of the ministry of the everyday life when he said, “This is My command: Love one another as I have loved you.”  John 15:12

Beloved, may I suggest that we all look at our lives differently this year? May I suggest that we walk with Jesus, one day at a time, and pray for God to give us a heart for everyday, ordinary ministry? We could all pray at the beginning of each day for the Lord to help us to be others-centered, humble, and aware of the needs of those around us, to see the hearts of the people God has placed us with, and to know how to minister to them in a way they feel loved.

Here are some simple ways I have found to truly bless the people God has placed in our lives:

1. Hug your children and tell them each something you love about them. Look them in the eyes when you talk to or listen to them. Make time in your day to just be available for your children. A good saying is “Put down the work and pick up the child.”

2. Text your husband at work and tell him that you are so proud of him and some of the reasons why. Better yet, make known the fact that you are very attracted to him.

3. Take your teenager out for lunch or coffee and ask them how their heart is doing. (Ask God ahead of time for the ability to see your child’s heart and what they might be struggling with or concerned about)

4. Try to get in the habit while your children are young of asking them to sit with you at the end of each day to tell you all about how they are doing, and what’s on their minds, even if it’s trivial or silly. This habit comes in handy when your children are old enough to drive, and will automatically know that when they get home you will want to sit with them and hear all about their day. It’s important to know the details of your children’s lives and how their friendships are doing and how their hearts are.

5. Call a friend or family member to pray, even if it’s just a quick 5 minute prayer. Let them know that you will be keeping them in your prayers that day.

6. Send a note to a friend telling her what you love about her and how she has blessed your life.

7. Double one of your meals to keep in the freezer to take to a friend when she is having a bad day.

8. Pray a silent prayer for people you see when you are out and about during your day- the cashier at the store the next time you buy groceries, the mom of the child that is throwing a fit at the mall, the homeless man on the street corner, or anyone the Holy Spirit brings to mind to pray for. Ask God to give you a heart of compassion for the people around you so you will know how to pray.

9. Have the children make a card for their Grandparents. Also, Skype can help them to feel connected to their grandchildren if they are far away.

10. Make time for your friends. Pray for your friendships; for God to strengthen and protect them. Ask God to heal the ones that are strained or broken. Have a friend over for a quick cup of tea. Light a candle, put on some beautiful music, and have a cookie or simply a piece of delicious chocolate. God-ordained friendships are worth the effort, and close, lifelong friendships are a blessing.

These things may seem small and insignificant, but they make up a beautiful life and encouraging ministry to those the Lord has entrusted you with.

What are some small  ways you create beautiful and minister to those in your life? 

Keeping Sabbath Rest in our Daily Lives

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For a long time in my life, I neglected things that made me happy. Not by choice, but by neglect. My life was all about denying myself and pushing my own needs aside for others. Feeling tired and burnt-out, but still pushing on. I never stopped to think I was unhappy and unhealthy or suppressing who God made me to be. There is nothing in the world wrong with denying yourself, or even pushing your own needs aside for others; This is the life of a mother. This should be the life of a Christian. In fact, it should just be a natural way of life. It is a life that the Lord calls us to.

But the Lord did not give weeds for the work. He has given us many many pleasures along the path, and we should enjoy them for the glory of Him. When we are off-balance–not taking the time to care for ourselves, to do things for ourselves, then we will burn-out. We will die, we will shrivel into martyrdom and perhaps depression.

Think about who God made you to be. Are you starving for a break? Some people need more breaks than others. Our personalities are not all the same. But I do believe God made us ”for His own glory.”  If we, as mothers, are living a life tired, depressed, angry, burnt-out, unhappy, grouchy, guilty, ad nauseum, then are we truly glorifying Him?

It might take some time to refocus; to refocus your purpose in life and embrace joy. It truly is ok to take some time out to do things that make you happy. Stumped on what to do?

 1. Sleep. Make sleep a priority in your life. You are more productive and bring more quality to your work when you are well rested.

2. Schedule a two-minute break 2-3 times a day to spend time alone and just “be”.

3. Schedule time to exercise.

4. Do something “just for you”. This is not selfish, this is restorative. And again, ask yourself who God made you to be. Some people are fine without time alone. Some people need it more than others–(that is me!) I like to find that balance. If my life is full of “must-do’s and busyness, then I get burnt-out easily. I am sensitive that way. Making time to sit and breathe and do nothing is restorative for me.

5. Eliminate energy drainers in your life: energy-sapping relationships, unfinished projects, paperwork, clutter, negative images and information, news, depressing movies and books…

6. Dream. Take time out to dream. It’s healthy and restorative! It forces us to look inside and see what desires the Lord has put in us so we can give them to Him to do what He wills with them.

I pray that if you are struggling with burn out, that you will ultimately find rest in Him.

“God isn’t calling you to be exhausted, He’s calling you to rest.” ~Sally Clarkson

 

artist: Sybil Barham 

Hands to the Plow, Eyes Full of Wonder

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Today’s post is written by Mom Heart writer, Katy Rose. 

A very thoughtful friend sent me a small print of The Angelus she found in an antique store, which now sits framed on my night stand.

The original meaning behind this painting is debated, but when I lie down at night and rise in the morning I’m reminded of an exhortation I heard from a pastor a while ago. As we faithfully fulfill our everyday duties and are able to recognize God in the “mundane,” we mirror the vision that the pastor cast when he said,

“Hands to the plow, eyes full of wonder.”

When I see the peasant farmers bowing in prayer over their crops, I’m reminded to work at whatever the Lord places in my day with diligence and perseverance, no matter how trivial or insignificant it may seem. Hands to the plow.

And at the same time, I’m instructed to keep my eyes fixed on the Lord, praying always to know him more fully, to understand his character and feel his magnificent, life-changing love, to glimpse his glory in the way he uses the small and humble to accomplish his work.  I can trust Him. Eyes full of wonder.

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Elisabeth Elliot writes in Keep a Quiet Heart about the everyday “drudgery” of motherhood. She reminds us to cast our burdens upon the Lord, for his yoke is easy and his burden is light.  She shares about seeing this principle in practice during her visit to the Dohnavur Fellowship in India, the orphanage founded by Amy Carmichael.  She says, “Day after day, year in and year out, Indian women (most of them single) care for little children . . . They don’t go anywhere. They have none of our usual forms of amusement and diversion.  They work with extremely primitive equipment – there is no running water, for example, no stoves but wood-burning ones, no washing machines.  In one building I saw the text: 

‘There they dwelt with the King for His work.’ ”

And the same can be true for us. We have the choice to go about our daily work begrudgingly, or to instead work for Him. Grateful hearts fixed on Him: our hands to the plow, but our eyes looking towards Him, full of wonder.

(First image source)

Katy Rose, an artist at heart, is married to her high-school prom date and mama to two smiley and non-stop little boys. A life-long journaler, her blogging adventures began in 2005 while documenting life as a newlywed in Maui, continued as she settled down in New York City for several years, and then took a new turn with babies arriving and a relocation to Oklahoma for her husband’s legal education. While living in NYC, she was employed as a project manager by a foundation that worked with domestic violence victims, and spent some time outside of work serving pregnant women short on resources and support. She and her husband also work to raise awareness about the issue of human trafficking. Katy is passionate about adoption, mercy, and her family, as well as cooking, chocolate, coffee, creating, all things European, and would never pass up a real-life, inspirational story.

Marriage and motherhood have been major tools for refinement. She’s currently clinging to God’s promise that his grace is sufficient and his power is made perfect in her weakness. You can find her writing at her blog: Embrace and Let Go

 

The Discipleship & Discipline Webinar

Over 1,000 moms joined us on the Discipleship & Discipline Webinar! If you weren’t able to attend the live course, now you can get it on-demand. If you would like to get access to the Webinar, simply click here. It was so much fun, and we are so excited to share this with you.

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