Monday, February 7, 2011

Finding Margin

This photo doesn't really have anything to do with my topic but I love it.  Josiah has read his Bible before work almost every single morning since we've been married.  It is my suspicion that his devotion to God is the reason he is such an amazingly wonderful husband.

You know how you have to learn some lessons over...and over....and over again?  I wish I could just "get it" the first time, but I don't.  Finding margin in my life is one of those things that I have to keep re-learning.  And according to older, wiser women I admire, it's something we have to continue to learn throughout our lives.
The other day I went to bed crying and screaming inside, "I hate my life!"  Now, a major contributing factor to my discouragement was that my neck was severely out of place and had been giving me excruciating pain for a week.  I should have just gone to the chiropractor but I absolutely hate to because it costs money and we don't have an abundance of that just lying around. 
So, my neck was hurting and I was majorly stressed.  Too much on my plate, too little sleep from a baby who has been waking up several times a night with a minor cold (after a month of sleeping-through-the-night), unbearable pain, and overwhelming chores.  As I stopped to consider why I was feeling this way, I realized, again, that it is mostly my own fault.  I was falling back into that same old trap that gets me every time. 
You know the one. 
You've probably been there too.
Someone at church asks for a little favor.
You feel like, Sure, I can do that little thing to benefit my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.  Especially since my kids are in the children's programs.
Your parents ask for a few little favors.
We need to honor our parents and help them where we can.  Besides, it's just something small.
A friend asks for a favor.
She's desperate.  My life is about a million times easier than hers right now.  How can I turn her down?  She has no one else.
Someone offers you a money-making opportunity.
Hmmm, I really wouldn't mind some extra cash.  Especially since I'm saving for my first DSLR camera.

Look at these people that need ministered to.  I have so much I can offer them.  I need to make time to reach out.

And the favors, tasks, invitations, opportunities, and duties pile up and pile up until I feel utterly crushed underneath them.  Of course I can do these little things.  They are small, they are fairly simple.  But I cannot do them all simultaneously, and that's where I go wrong.

I continually underestimate how difficult it is to be a mother of four.
I continually over-estimate how much I can get done, because I am a firstborn, was raised to be fiercely independent and have always had to be "the strong one."
I fall prey to the deception of comparison and start telling myself, "Well, goodness, of course I can do that because I have 'all the time in the world' like people seem to think.  So-and-so did this and 10 more things.  My friend so-and-so works full-time and keeps a tidy home, bakes bread from scratch, and stays fit-as-a-fiddle and must think I'm the laziest thing ever.  So-and-so has 4 kids and gets twice as much done as I do, I need to be more like her."

What brings me back to reality?

Knowing that I'm not super-woman and I don't have to try to be super-woman.

Knowing that God wants me to serve Him, my husband, and my kids first.

Thinking about my personal goals and how each activity that I take on meets those
 (some people call these priorities, others call them a Family Mission Statement, etc.)

Reminding myself it is okay to say "no" and saying it.

Remembering that being an "abiding Mom" is more important than being a "doing Mom."

Realizing that my challenges are different than other womens' and thus I need to stop comparing.  Many friends don't homeschool or have half as many children, or have kids in preschool, or get help from the grandparents.  My kids are still very little, very needy, and I have lots of them!
After I take a breather, preach to myself, and realize the world isn't going to fall apart if I don't run myself ragged and work until I can't even walk by the end of the night, then I start jotting down practical ideas for making my life easier.
As much as I would have loved the extra money, I turned down 2 offers for extra cleaning jobs this week.  I love my 2-hour a week cleaning job but I don't need more on top of that, even if it does pay $15 an hour.

I'm going to stick with babysitting my friend's daughter, who is a very good girl and easy to babysit, one time a week instead of taking on an extra day and doing two.

I'm going to continue watching the 3 children of a friend who is in crisis but it's only an hour a week and should only be for another 10 weeks.

I'm eliminating any and all clutter from the house and paring down toys and clothes dramatically so it's easier to stay on top of the household chores.

I'm considering Once-a-Month shopping to save time and energy.

I've stopped asking tons of company over for meals until life slows down a bit more.  I love having folks over for meals, but find it immensely difficult to do with a breastfeeding baby, so I'm going to be very cautious about whom I invite and it won't be frequently.

I'm serving very simple, stand-by meals like tacos, pizza, spaghetti, and sandwiches.

I'm continuing to make school a priority--even though this means I sometimes feel out-of-the-loop with friends who hang out more, socialize more, and go to more events, while we stay home to get schoolwork done.

I'm not throwing birthday parties for friends and am letting others "step-up" to plan baby showers for friends instead of heading them up.  I've had 3 close-calls in February alone and it's very hard not to do birthday stuff when you know the person would be totally blessed by it.....but I am getting better in this area.

I'm making Date Nights and time with my hubby each day my top priority after time with God and memorizing Colossians.  Seeing a few couples' marriages implode in devastation has caused us to cling tighter to our vows, and I am really motivated to plan some fun, creative times with my incredible husband.

I'm seeking to adopt Crystal's phrase "Commit to Undercommit" this year as a way of reminding myself to carve out margin in a life that can get wound too tight very quickly.  My brother tells me all about the relationship-oriented lifestyle that people have in other countries and I want to live like that here, amongst the over-scheduled and frazzled, work-a-holic Americans. 

What are some ways that you are trying to find margin in your life? 


Josiah said...'ve always had to be the strong one, eh? Just how wimpy do you think your hubby is ;)

Feliz4life said...

Wow you hit the nail on the head! And I only have 2 boys!

Heather said...

I read your post about margin again today and it really resonates with me! I've really had to take it easy lately to get enough pregnancy rest :) and things are definitely falling by the wayside--cooking, cleaning, etc. Praise God for frozen waffles and chicken nuggets some days! It's good during certain times in our lives to let ourselves relax and buy bread instead of making it, use paper plates, etc.

Since I had energy today I've been decluttering like you--mostly the girls' stuff. And putting some large toys in the garage. It's worth it to make life simpler!

I hope you have a good day today, get lots of rest, and know I'm thinking of you!!

Lots of hugs,

Amanda said...

I have been really busy lately as well. Mostly it has to do with my husband's busy schedule and unrealistic expectations I have for myself. I worked myself into the ground. I have a heart condition that normally doesn't bother me but when I don't get enough rest and I have too much stress it starts to act up. Recently it was bothering me. I husband encouraged me to take a few days "off" (you don't really have a day off when you are a mom but I just took care of the kids and didn't do anything else) and then the house blew up. It was hard to get motivated to clean again because I was so overwhelmed with the mess. How I got over it is I told myself I didn't have to fix it all in one day. I told myself for this hour I am going to clean. Whatever I get done I get done. I have done that with other things. Set time limits and do what I can and be okay with that. I am also considering asking for help to watch the boys so I can get taxes done. (Other people are always asking me for help so I figure I should be able to ask in my time of need).
Also, writing down my priorities is good. It gives me guidelines on how to spend my time.

stamplady said...

moving to a new town away from an overscheduled life has given me a good hard look at where my priorities should be, we are far less "busy" and spending much more time together as a family, even making friday nights a no exceptions family night. Our family is closer and our marriage has grown even though I've mourned the loss of friends and socializing so much, I know its part of Gods plan to strengthen our family and for that I am greatful- he's once again providing ministry opportunities and new friends, and I'm approaching each request with a new perspective!

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