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The Beauty of Margin

September 28, 2019
On Saturdays we talk about Inner beauty

Happy weekend, gals! I’m so delighted that you have joined me for today’s conversation about inner beauty. I can’t tell you how glad I am that I began this series and that you gals have embraced it. The topic has challenged and convicted me and caused me to think more and more about what makes a woman beautiful from the inside out. And this week I’ve found myself thinking a lot about the beauty of margin in our lives.

The Beauty of Margin and how to build more of it into your life

What is Margin?

Margin is the blank spaces on our calendars, the empty lines on our to-do list, the moments we determine “everything will keep until later.” Let me ask you something. Do you have any of those in your life?

I intentionally have a Bible with very wide margins so that I can fill those margins with notes. Sometimes I take notes from sermons or studies there. Other times I jot down names of people for whom I want to pray those particular scriptures. While my Bible is most precious to me because it is the Word of God, my particular Bible has become a valuable treasure chest because of what I’ve written in the margins over the course of 26 years.

My Bible is significant and meaningful because it is God’s Word, but it’s unique and beautiful to me because of what’s in the margins.

Likewise, what we do in the margins of our lives also gives value and added meaning to our days. When we have margin in our lives we can spend a few extra minutes with a friend in need. We can pause longer to enjoy the breeze through the trees, the robin’s song and the hum of the neighbor’s lawn mower while sitting on the back patio. We can slow down (see last week’s post!) and move more gracefully. We can lean in and listen. We can take our time with the tasks at hand and do them with more love, intentionality, detail and grace.

Margin, intentionally built into our days and weeks, gives us breathing room. It gives us time and space to…

  • reflect
  • converse
  • connect
  • rest
  • appreciate
  • remember
  • dream
  • evaluate
  • pray
  • read the Bible
  • just be…

How can you build margin into your life?

Look, many of us have busy lives. And there’s certainly nothing wrong with a full life. Full is good…as long as there is margin with which to frame it! So how, practically, can we frame our very full lives with white space? Here are a few tips. Maybe pick one or two to incorporate into your life.

  • De-clutter – The less stuff you have to clean or care for, the more time you’ll have. Plus, when we create a little white space in our living space we are more prone to value a little white space in our schedules, too.
  • Take a Sabbath – Christ is our Sabbath. We don’t live under a law that says we must rest every 7th day. But God, in His wisdom, has declared a day of rest is best. It doesn’t have to be Saturday or Sunday if those are busy days for you. But take a day once a week to shift into a lower gear.
  • Just say, “no” – “No,” is a complete sentence. If you are overextended, it’s time to practice saying no. You’ll find that you actually have more to give if you focus on the one or two or three things you’re really “called” to and gifted for rather than trying to do it all out of guilt or obligation.
  • Keep a calendar – I tend to overbook if I don’t book at all. Know what I mean? Plus, when my paper calendar begins to look crammed full it’s a visual indicator it’s time to regain some white space.
  • Budget for it – Sometimes we can’t enjoy any extra time because we don’t have any extra money. Ha! I suggest you create some margin in your budget, too, so that you have a little extra to give or share. Use the “margin money” to treat a friend to coffee, take a family a pizza or deliver flowers to a new mom.
  • Schedule it – If extra time just never seems to fall into your lap, you may have to put it on your calendar or daily schedule. Carve out an evening for “nothing.” Keep a weekend completely clear here and there. Take time for tea each afternoon.
  • Cook a little extra – If you’re an emptynester, go ahead and cook for a full family. You can freeze the other half for a busy day or you can bless someone else with the overflow. Yes, that’s margin, too.
  • Clean out your car – Keep your car clean and cleaned out so that you can offer a friend a ride at a momen’t notice. Yes, even that empty seat or two in your car can be considered margin!
  • Practice flexibility – Some people need to learn to say “no,” but others need to practice saying “yes.” If you’re prone to sticking to your schedule to the point that you’re never available at the spur of the moment, you’re scribbling in your white space! That white space is there for a reason. Use it to meet up for coffee with a friend, drop everything for a long distance call or play with your grandchild.
  • Prioritize people over projects – Maybe you’re more of a Martha than a Mary (Luke 10:38-42) and that’s fine. We certainly need people who get things done! But if you want to feel like your life has more white space, learn the beauty of prioritizing people over those projects.

Do you have other suggestions for building the beauty of margin into your life? I’d love for you to share them with me and my other readers in the comments section.

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Blessed for My Day

Really, creating white space or margin in our lives boils down to prioritizing. If it’s important to us to keep aside time for quiet reflection, relationships, rest and rejuvenation, we will.

But even if you don’t think it’s all that important, Jesus reminds us in Luke 10:41-42 that prioritized, focused living is indeed beneficial. And He even seems to offer a blessing for the woman who chooses it. If we make room for Him or time to honor Him, He’ll protect that time for us.

But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things,  but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” ~ Luke 10:41-42

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xoxo, Kay
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8 thoughts on “The Beauty of Margin

  1. This is excellent! I feel I do most of these things and do have margin in my life, but I’m saving this to remind myself of the importance of continuing to make sure this practice continues. I never thought of it as “margin” time, but certainly will now! Your mention of the Sabbath especially impacted me. I hear people saying Sunday is the intended Sabbath, but as you point out, we are no longer under the Law. How freeing to think the Sabbath can be another day! I’m thankful I live in the time “since Jesus,” rather than under the Law. The relationship with Him is what it’s truly all about!

  2. I LOVE this! At my age, I have a LOT of “margin” time and sometimes have trouble filling it. You have reminded me that there are SO many things I could be doing to fill that time! Granted, I don’t have to fill every minute and don’t but I could certainly be more productive. Never thought of it as “margin time” before and I love this. Thanks again Kay!

  3. Love my ruts & love my margins…God can use us in these times…times of rest He speaks to us, times of being a Martha we can serve Him by ministering to others,…I used to never say ‘no’, but have learned it’s ok to say no. We just need to be sensitive to the Lord’s leading. Thanks for sharing a timely message!

  4. Wonderful words! I have worked on being intentionally about having ‘margin time’ in my schedule this past year! It’s been refreshing to have more time for others, but also more time for me! Great reminders!

  5. So spot-on, as always!! “No” is a complete sentence…WOAH! I always feel I have to explain when I say no…to think of it that way is freeing! Thank you for these awesome reminders!