on having margin.

I had a great talk the other week with my dear friend about our busy lives. We live similarly - she has a few things on her plate that I don't and I have a few things on my plate that she doesn't, but we're both busy. And really, isn't everyone busy? I hear that EVERYWHERE. That busy is great and busy is terrible and busy is fun and busy is hard, but everyone sure is. Busy.

We walked and talked and decided that busy was, indeed, fine. But that it needed to be planned for. Margin needed to exist. And I've read bloggers write on this topic, but then I continue to read weeks or months later and Lo and Behold, Busy again! I think 2012 was the year of busyness (good, fun, bad, and ugly) for most bloggers I read/follow. Anyone else notice that trend? Did you see it in me and my blog? You may have, and I'm not proud of it if you did.

My friend was explaining a week that she just passed with her husband that was busy (the bad kind). As we walked and I listened it seemed obvious to me (isn't it often when you're not the one living it?) that they had taken on WAY too much. A few things added to the heap that they couldn't control but originally, it still looked like too much (though maybe just slightly). As we fleshed it out and I looked at my own life (where B and I have seen victory in the tyranny of Busy in our lives, and where we're still trudging through it at times), the answer seemed simple to both of us.

You've got to plan FOR the uncontrolable things.

How? Margin.

You can't know that someone from church will go into labour and suddenly need last minute childcare, or that a neighbour that you're trying to build a relationship with will suddenly drop by for coffee, or that a family member will take ill or worse, or that your children might need a doctor's visit or play date that is out of the ordinary. You can't know these things, but you can leave room for the what-ifs by leaving room for margin. And oh, look, busy becomes manageable, thriving life because margin exists.


So how to you plan? And where do you find the time? I was hoping you'd ask. Not because me and my walking buddy are margin gurus, but because we did think and talk and pray long and hard about it and I think we found some wisdom in that walk.

First, assume and plan for community. For B and I that means we set aside 2-3 evenings per week for community. It may not happen, but in our minds and hearts, we don't get 7 nights a week to eat as a family of four, so when dinner plans come up or an opportunity to fellowship presents itself, we're not taken aback or surprised or burdened. We're expectant and joyful.

Second, cut back and cut out. You're probably doing things you don't have time for that aren't necessary. I'm probably doing things I don't have time for and aren't necessary. Let's just stop. I'm in a season that is fairly manageable right now (even with the church plant and all the added hospitality there). But I have goals and desires for 2013 that can't just be added to the grind. For instance, if I want to finally start my vintage & baby Etsy shop, I need to cut some things out. Noted. So, I've cut back on TV (I now only watch The Mindy Project and Modern Family totaling 1 hour per week, and only if I have time) and cut out one hobby that was a lot of work and effort and not super encouraging for me: sewing. I plan to cut back and out much more, but that's just an example.

Third, don't plan until your day/week/schedule is packed to the brim. If your days are like that for more than a very short season, I'd humbly submit that you need to take some things out. Remember when I wanted to start the Etsy shop while we were living abroad and about to begin a church plant? Yeah. That was silly. My plate was too full then. Now my plate is lessening - the church plant has begun meeting, we're anchored in Montreal, and Lily is about to start daycare a few days a week.

In the case of my walking pal, they had taken on a few very big things, but they were handling it. We've all been there. Handling it. But everything was so tightly packed that when the unpredictable happened, things fell apart. They couldn't have planed for the unpredictable, but they could have planned for margin.

When we were living out of suitcases in Louisville this summer and both babies were very dependent on Mama, and we were in the very beginning phases of planting a church, and I was contemplating opening an Etsy shop we were handling it. But there was no margin. And I don't want to live like that. I want margin. Margin is the goal and the method. Do you have any?

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