Finding and Embracing Margin in Motherhood



This chapter is speaking to my heart, deeply.  I am such a control freak and realize that perhaps God’s way of getting in under my skin and helping to refine me is giving me the gift of mothering this sweet 4 year old little boy whom we’ve adopted and who has totally SHAKEN up my life!!!  {Yes, even after 3 years it is still shaking me up!!}

I realize that I often miss so many chances to just be in the moment because I am set on keeping things going and having a routine.  Don’t get me wrong, routine is good, great actually, but not allowing yourself to break from it can be a really bad thing.

I need to allow myself to be more in the moment, and break from my “schedule” of what I think needs to get done, be done or wish I had done.

“We need the perspective that the moment we are in is just as important as the moment we planned on that didn’t happen the way we thought it would.  Think about that for a moment.”

Those moments which comes into play that we can miss if we are too busy and overwhelmed, I admit….I often miss them and shoo them away because of my effort to accomplish more.

I think it is my DNA, as Jill shares – that tasks actually take priority over people and that is so backwards!  I need to keep focused on it being the other way around, where people always take priority over tasks.

Building Margin

I am working toward the sifting out of unneeded tasks and duties which can clutter my calendar.  I tend to have a list that is too long and truly unrealistic to complete.  Then I can get pretty darn negative on myself about not completing the list, but if someone else looked at the list, they would understand that it is highly unlikely anyone could get all those things done. 

I have unrealistic expectations on many levels.  I need margin.  I need space in my day to be able to feel good about taking a break and walking outside to look at the ducks with my little one, or to break away for an hour lunch date with my hubby, even when I feel so overwhelmed with tasks that I see it as a frivolous activity because of the other seemingly “more important” tasks.

But is is people over tasks, I must remember that as often as I can.

As I venture off for a few days to the Hearts at Home Conference, I am taking a look at the book Jill mentions in the chapter, Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives, by Dr. Richard Swenson.  I will have some “margin” time on the airplane and this will be a good place for me to start.

“Most importantly for an imperfect mom living out her imperfect days, margin is essential in handling the twists of everyday family life.”

I love the reminders given:

Trust Experience – being realistic with the time is actually takes to do tasks and/or arrive at destinations, always allowing for the unexpected.

Set Boundaries – having a set criteria around your time and what you will commit to and what you will not.  What adds value to your day and what takes away from your day.

Say No – this is always a big one for us mom, we want to please everyone and we are often the ones that feel like we suffer, but in fact I think it is often our families.  We just cannot do everything and the sooner we realize that the better it is for everyone.

Increase Time – so true!!  Whenever you have something to complete always estimate it will take longer than you think, always!  When you finish early you will be rewarded with a bit of extra time.  Love that.

Decrease Activities – this is my favorite and one that I have held dear for many years.  I love allowing my kids to have fun and do activities, but too many and it can ruin family life.  We can be a family so much on the ‘go’ that we are never home to enjoy our home.

Out of the questions near the end of the chapter, which spoke most to you?  For me, it was pondering, “What is I learned to accept the world as it is, rather than being frustrated with it, stressed by it, mad at it, or trying to change it into what I want it to be.”

I am writing that down to help remind me – Lord help me.

Next week we are doing two chapters in one week, so you will surely want to begin reading chapter 8, as we will discuss that on Tuesday and discuss chapter 9 on Thursday.  Have a great weekend!

The Cure for Judgment = Grace



This quote literally struck me right between the eyes:

“Judging is the brick, and pride is the mortar holding the judging attitudes in place.”

As I read the chapter, I realized that even though I didn’t see myself as a prideful person, that in fact…… Pride is an issue for me.  I can easily come to conclusions without even considering anyone’s unique situation, somewhat like the story of Emily.  I can see myself being guilty of the same exact stance she took when seeing the mother sitting inside her car.

I have grown in this area as my years increase, meaning….I have learned to give grace more often when looking at others, but I still have a long way to go.  

What I struggle with most

It is hard for me to be authentic here, as I am sure I will take some of you by surprise, but I have to be genuine and tell it like it is.  I pray my offering of my own faults and weaknesses will somehow be used by God to help another mom along in her journey.  That is what I pray.   Because honestly, it is embarrassing and even a bit disgusting to have to share some of these areas with you all, and admit it.

I impose my “perfect” expectations on others – all the time.  Just like Jill suggests, I can mark all the boxes – my kids, my husband, my friends (not quite to the degree that I do close family) and sometimes even complete strangers.  I can pick someone apart without even consciously realizing it – that is the shameful part.

“Judging is ugly.  It demands.  It criticizes.  It divides.  It destroys. It blinds us to our own faults.  Judging imposes our opinions on other people.  It leaves little room for others to be different from us because it sees those differences as wrong.” 

Why do we – or more importantly – why do I,  jump to judgment instead of giving one grace.   As I do a self-examination of myself and my normal mode of operation, I honestly do not feel I come from a natural place of offering grace to those around me.  I judge and inflict a sense of perfection.  I am always wanting to help solve a problem, rather than let someone else come to a conclusion on their own, or even maybe not solving the problem all together, just allowing it to be.

It is all about Grace

I have ben convicted in this week’s chapter.  Severely!  My heart was hurt a bit and then I was encouraged with this quote:

“Conviction is a good thing because it holds us accountable and motivates us to change.”

I love that, motivates us to change!  You know, God nudges us – all too well.  He knows our hearts and knows what we can handle – how to “give us His opinion” and how to continue to mold us into who He wants us to be.  I may be an older mom, but I am certainly not done growing, learning and changing.

My assignment is to offer Grace more -everyday.  Even to myself, which as a perfectionist is very hard to do.  I’ve struggled with emotional issues all my life that stem from many things, but have a lot to do with this ugly perfectionist portion of my nature.  Thank goodness God has led me along the way to a solution where I can continue to push forward past the depression that use to suffocate me.  He is so good and He is always near.

“In human relationships, grace is allowing others to be human, to make mistakes and not get criticized for every little thing they do wrong or differently form the way we do it.”

I will keep this quote handy as I go through my days, caring for my home and cleaning up yet one more BIG mess from someone who didn’t take my suggestion and listen to me  {You know, because I do know everything – yeah, right!}

Jill makes a statement about starting with ourselves on offering Grace, and I couldn’t agree more.  I am not sure what that looks like for you, but we all need to give ourselves Grace.  I need to work on my expectations with myself, the mom guilt I often carry for days and also watch my words – those are key areas for me.

What area is being brought to your attention to change?

Can you take a minute and pray this prayer with me:

God, we know that we’re not perfect, but we do want to allow you to perfect us and make us more like you.  Show us what antidotes need to be applied to eradicate the Perfection Infection from our lives.  Thank you for leading and guiding us.  Thank you for the Bible that shows us the way.  Help us to re-engage with our family with grace for their imperfections.  In Jesus Name.  Amen.

Begin reading Chapter 3 – see you next week!

Common Mom Mistakes


Not considering her priorities

When you know what your top priorities are in your life you are able to make daily decisions with those key areas in the forefront of your mind.  If you are not considering your priorities before making decisions or you do not know what your priorities are, something will always end up suffering. Most often you will lead a life feeling overwhelmed, exhausted and frustrated due to feeling overstretched.

Living up to the expectations of others

Constantly trying to meet the expectations of others is exhausting!  The pressure of trying to meet what others think you should be, could be or would have been is very damaging to your self-esteem.  Mom’s today face an incredible feeling of ‘peer’ pressure like at no other time – find ways to be comfortable with where you are and what you are doing. [Read more…]