Discover The Beauty of Margin


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…

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?

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  1. Amy says

    Thank you so much for this post!! Several years ago my husband and I began to intentionally create “margin” again in our life. We were inspired by the book “Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives” by Richard Swenson . I will say that it was not easy to say no, or systematically evaluate and remove unnecessary activities, and we fell under much scrutiny, even in our church, but we found God blessing our family abundantly for following His leading in our lives. We wanted to create margin so we could be available to be used by God, to minister to our children, and to reach out to others. Our culture, including the Christian community, is one that expects us to go-go-go, but God showed us that He did not intend for our lives to “run off the page”. Thank you for the encouraging reminders to plan to do the hard work ahead of time. I definitely fall short in the organizational part of this. :) Thanks again! May you see God’s blessing on your life as you find ways to create more “margin” in your life.

    • says

      I’ll have to check out that book. Margin is something I really am interested in right now and even just a few weeks into pursuing this goal I’m already seeing such lovely rewards.

      I pray margin is something that defines and blesses your family and your community. Thanks for sharing, Amy!

  2. Terry says

    Terrific exhortation Kat!
    Your list of 50 serves to remind me the value of striving for more margin…on a daily basis.
    I appreciate your sharing.
    Many blessings, Terry

  3. Lauren says

    Thank you! You expressed beautifully what has been stirring in my mind. I struggle with wanting to “have it all together” for my own sake… pride, pride, pride. But lately. I have been praying to have my own stuff together just enough so that I am able to be a blessing to others! Still trying to find a balance. Thank you for your words!

    • says

      That’s a great point! It’s so easy to want to create margin for the wrong reasons and often that ends up sabotaging the whole process. I hadn’t even thought of it that way. Creating margin for the benefit of others is so much more inspiring. Thanks so much for sharing that insight!

  4. says

    Thank you Kat. I read a book on margin 10 years ago and I have ever been in the process of developing it. But just this year, my desire was to be more there, in life, available for those who may have need. I actually, said aloud, “Oh. My. Stars.” when I read your year’s word and vision or mission.

    Maybe with margin I will actually be able to faithfully blog at some point this year.

    Praying that all continues beautifully in grace and margin for you and your family.

  5. says

    You’ve convinced me. :) What a blessing that must have been to your friend! Striving to have margin in your life is such a wonderful thing to do, thanks for sharing!

  6. says

    Aaahhh, margin! What a beautiful and empowering post! To cut through the clutter and discipline our lives to live intentionally takes just that — discipline and intention. Thanks for this excellent call of clarity, Kat!

  7. says

    I love this post! This topic has been on my heart a lot lately.

    I’m in an extremely busy season of life, and sometimes it just feels overwhelming to try and do it all. I’ve been asking the Lord to help me cut back in the areas He wants me to. Not always easy, but very freeing.

    Thank you for this encouragement!

  8. says

    Love this, Kat! “Margin” was my original “one word”–but I decided I needed to work on “boundaries” first. I don’t think I can get the margin I need in my life until I learn to set some real boundaries around my time and relationships! Love this post! What an encouragement! :)

  9. says

    Thanks for this uplifting and inspiring post. I love your list of “50 things” and the reminder that we have more (and better) to give to others when we are full ourselves. I need to remember this and incorporate it into my life. Great wisdom in His perfect timing! :)


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