linkups · Margin Mom · monday

What Weekends are Really For

It’s Monday morning and my to-do list looks the same as it did Friday afternoon.  We’re still in the midst of this project, just today did I rescue the hall from the overflowing hamper, and I really should bake some bread for these carb-ivore kids who are always, always hungry.  I suppose I could have gotten ahead of the game this weekend.  We could have hung that next closet shelf and organized the craft supplies and rolled the dough for the best cinnamon bread ever.

But we didn’t.  We played bananagrams and had a sleepover and snuggled under blankets on the couch while the fake fireplace tried in vain to warm the house in this arctic weather that Southerners don’t have the bones for. I fell asleep watching Avatar and read the January and February issues of Southern Living which inspired me to fall in love with my beloved casseroles all over again.  The kids made big messes I complained about and on Saturday night we scrapped the menu plans and got Chinese takeout.

Amelia told me how good she was at Candy Crush while I tried to take a nap with her tucked in next to  me on Sunday afternoon after I took the big girls to the annual GA Tea at church and ate way more finger sandwiches and tiny cookies than can possibly be good for my waistline. I tried to think about all the things I should have been doing but gave up and gave in to the simpleness of quiet rest.

There’s always a list.  We never get to the end of it.

But sometimes weekends aren’t for crossing off the to-do’s but for embracing the to-don’ts. Sometimes I get driven by that little voice that tells me I could be working more and accomplishing much and living well but enjoying less. Sometimes that voice is good motivation, reminding me that I shouldn’t always just waste this precious time, but more often, it’s a distraction that keeps me from just becoming quiet and seeking fulfillment in the life that’s pulsing all around me.

We have to be full before we can pour out.  So maybe weekends, often, are for that.  For sitting still and filling up and resting well before Monday comes around again.

So, maybe, next weekend, you let go of the guilt that list brings and instead do something you don’t think you should.  Hike instead of organize.  Watch a movie instead of folding laundry.  Eat takeout instead of making a meal. Give yourself a respite and let the goodness of grace fill you back up.

What did your weekend look like? 

Sharing with the Multitudes on Monday community at A Holy Experience. 

Margin Mom · reflections · writing

So Where Do I Go From Here?

{reflections on Allume, MomCon, and 31 Days}
It was the most jam-packed, kid-juggling, carry-on hauling, coffee-chugging month of the year. Seriously, December’s going to have nothing on October.  At least we’ll all be in the same state the whole month.
In the 31 days of October, I wrote 31 posts about embracing the idea of Living Local.  Confession: eight of those days were spent pretty far from my local. 
I went with my amazing leadership team for my local MOPS group to MomCon 2013 in Kansas City from October 17-20.  Then I turned right around and repacked my suitcase and headed up I-85 to spend four days in a hotel with women I only know online.  From October 24-27 I attended the Allume Conference
But just prior to my leaving for two back-to-back weekends without my family, my husband flew to Philadelphia to spend a week at a national conference for CDFI companies. (Don’t know what that is? Read this post.)
And while all this was going on, we found ourselves heavily involved in the production of The Masquerade, a walk-through drama, that took place at our church last week and involved very late nights and a lot of bacon. (We were going for realism in the morning scene.)
I don’t tell you all this to make myself sound like superwoman because I most definitely am not. I tell you this because I’ve learned a lot of hard lessons in the last month about my honest capacity as a 
My resounding takeaway from all that I’ve experienced sitting at the feet of amazing Christian women and sitting on my own bathroom floor streaming tears?
I have to create more space in my life.
I need space to listen.
I need space to create.
I need space to enjoy.
When I am running from one good thing to the next I’m getting filled, but I’m maxing out my capacity to use that good to encourage others. 
And that’s what I most want to do. I want to encourage moms to believe what they do matters. I want to encourage women to believe they are enough because Jesus believed them to be so. I want to encourage girls to evade the trap of comparison that will rob life of its joy. 
I want to be right here at this time and in this space for a purpose that is greater than me.  I want to love my neighbor despite the dirty laundry and social divide. 
I believe these two things are what God is calling me to beyond my first call as wife and mother. So over the next several weeks, I’ll be wrapping a few projects and turning my focus toward this.

It’s something I tried to do over the summer when I wrote about my search for margin, but it wasn’t time.  I still had commitments that I wanted to honor and that God is blessing.

But, now, I’m turning a corner.

I might be pretty quiet in this space from time to time while I finish some other work I’ve started, but it’s a rest that is long overdue. 
If you’d like to leave me a comment and tell me what’s filled you beyond capacity, I’d love to know I’m not the only one learning to stand strong and say “no.” 
For a list of influencers who’ve impacted my life in the past month click here
linkups · Margin Mom · summer

When Overwhelmed, Just Jump in the Lake {My Search for Margin: Part 6}

It was just for a few hours, but it felt like more.  The water was cold, but the day was hot and the sun was glorious.  Waves rocked that old dock and the best way to the water will always be a flying leap.  
We loaded down that speed boat with children and lifejackets and squeals of summer.  Always, on the water, wind and sun in my face and white churned waves underfoot, can I find my space.
Now I just have to keep that feeling of lightness tucked away for those margin-less days when all I want to do is jump in the lake.
For all my other posts in this possibly never-ending series on how I’m aiming for more white space and less smudges in my life, click here.
I love what Kayse says about how she feels less overwhelmed when she’s said yes to the many things God’s called her to, rather than yes to the many things she thinks she’s supposed to do.  I’m mulling over that idea for fall when I have so many tasks on my plate that, truly, have all come to me at this time for this purpose.
Linking up with these lovely ladies…
GraceLaced Mondays
linkups · Margin Mom · motherhood

On Being Intentional {My Search for Margin: Part 5}

For all my other posts in this possibly never-ending series on how I’m aiming for more white space and less smudges in my life, click here.

I have the best intentions.  I really do.  I love a list.  A plan.  A box that can be neatly checked off or better yet a strong black line through a finished task.

It’s just that I’m really so very bad at finishing.

I’m great at starting.  Enthusiasm, energy, get ‘er done and all that.  It’s why the start of a new school year was always my favorite time to be a teacher.  It’s new, exciting, so many possibilities.

Kind of like my head full of blog and novel and ebook ideas that aren’t going anywhere because I can get started, but I can’t seem to get finished.

I like to blame all this on lack of time.  Except I know incredibly successful bloggers and writers who also work full-time jobs or have more kids than I.

So then I like to blame my unfinished tasks on principles.  As in, I’m investing in my kids right now so I don’t really have time to invest in anything else.  

Yeah, that would work if I believed it.  Truth is, I am investing in my kids and in being there and available to them.  But I also quit a job that gave us another income and health insurance so that I could pursue the hearts of my children and the heart of my scariest God-sized dreams.

So, I’ve begun making one small change to how I approach my issue with time since that’s my go-to excuse.

It’s not about how much time I have; it’s about how I choose to spend it.

Time’s a currency.  I can choose to spend it wisely on something that will set me up and get me ahead and make me feel that I have accomplished more in my day than just sweeping the floor ten times before dinner. Or I can choose to spend it on something that will give me a few fleeting moments of pleasure but leave me frustrated and guilty in the end.

So for the past couple of weeks, when I sit down to write, I have begun treating it like work.  I make a list of what I need to accomplish and I finish it.  Or I at least try really hard and make myself be intentional about trying to finish.

A couple Saturdays ago, Joshua stayed home and supervised room cleaning and I went to the library and worked intently for two solid hours.  I actually set the alarm on my phone and allotted myself a set amount of time to finish my different tasks from compiling the posts I want to turn into an ebook on Embracing Motherhood to breaking down the play I’m directing this Christmas by scenes and characters.  I felt so much better when I left simply because I had paid attention and been intentional about using my time wisely.  I had finished what I had started.

So that’s my (not so) new revelation: to be conscious of the time I have available and to be intentional about what I want to use it for.

After all, nap time can be about more than folding another load of laundry.

Linking up with these lovely ladies.  Check it out.

GraceLaced Mondays
Margin Mom · marriage

Taking Time To Be: My Search for Margin {Part 4}

For all my earlier reflections on finding margin, go here.

This past weekend marked eleven years of marriage for my recovering husband and I.  Last year for our tenth, we had a new baby and an overnight at a fancy (and local) bed&breakfast.  I spent a week reflecting on how quickly ten years had passed and how different real marriage is from the expectations we have that day at the alter.

This year, so far, there’s been nothing.  No sweet post from me.  No big surprise gift from him.  In fact, we’ve barely had a moment alone to reflect on the past eleven years.  What we’ve had instead was a day of gardening and preserving, a recurring bout of the stomach bug, and too much busyness for one summer.

Which is why, even though our motivation for our upcoming getaway was to celebrate our anniversary, at this moment, my only motivation is just to have some time away.

Away from the laundry room that smells like wet beach towels and old sunscreen.

Away from the dishes that are crusty with ketchup and sticky with Lucky Charms.

Away from the sagging couch with its nail polish stains and flattened cushions.

Away from the bedroom with its piles of to-do and boxes of old we can’t let go of.

Away from the bathroom that needs a new shower curtain and a better system for hair ties.

Away from the never-ending list of responsibilities and the constant connection to everyone.

Away from the four most precious gifts so we can remember that loving each other first helps us love them best later.

This week we’re getting some white space in our marriage.  A few simple days alone.

I only hope the house doesn’t cave in from all I will probably leave undone in the interest of getting my priorities in order.

But marriage trumps laundry.  Every time.

How’s the margin in your marriage?  Are you like me and could desperately use some time to reconnect?

Linking up with these lovely ladies.  Check it out.

GraceLaced Mondays