Life in the Margins

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Life can feel hectic, especially this time of the year. With the Christmas season winding to a close and New Year’s around the corner, it’s the time of year we think about change.

What are we going to add to our lives to make it better? A new diet, a new exercise program? Better organization skills?

Instead, I want to challenge you to think about doing less so that you have time to do more.


Less is More

Many of us are familiar with the classic Bible story of the sisters Mary and Martha.

“As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him.  She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said.  But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:38-42).

Martha, not Mary, was the one who invited Jesus in, but then she didn’t have time for Him. Did you catch that word… distracted?

How many of us are distracted by everyday things? Things that aren’t really what God has for us right now, no matter how good they may seem. When we get to heaven, I’m pretty sure no one will be getting the busiest person award.


Intentional Space

It’s important to leave enough room in our schedules and lives so we can take the opportunities God calls us too. Jesus took intentional time to pray and minister to people by spending time with them at gatherings and parties. When we pack our schedules so full of activities and to-do lists, we can easily miss out on the passing opportunities in life.

When was the last time you had time to have coffee with a struggling homeschool mom and encourage each other?

How many times have you said, “Oh we need to have so and so over, but life is just too busy right now”?

It’s not that soccer practice, homeschool co-op, and piano lessons are bad, but they can become a distraction.

When we leave enough margin in our lives, we have the freedom to say yes to that last minute dinner invitation, helping out on a mission trip, or an impromptu cookie baking to bless the neighbors with.


Making it Happen

We may realize that our lives are stuffed too full, but how do we give ourselves some breathing space? Do we let go of math lessons? Do we skip Bible study? Should we order takeout every night to shave off dinner time prep?

There are (obviously) some things that really can’t be thrown out the window or chaos will ensue. We also need to make sure we’re including what will nourish ourselves and family both mentally, physically, and spiritually.

The first step is to take a hard look at where we spend our time. Not just where we think we spend our time, but where we actually do.


The Time Journal

Some people do a 15 minute time journal. For an entire week, you write down what you did in the last 15 minute segment. It may sound exhausting, but it’s very revealing!

What if 15 minutes of your morning devotion time is actually spent browsing through social media before you focus on opening your Bible? What if you’re spending 2 hours a day just doing laundry? Or what if you’re constantly spending time breaking up sibling squabbles?

Some of these things may seem inevitable, but sometimes they’re not. What if we kept our phones off in the morning so we can truly focus on God’s word? What if we downsized our closets and got rid of the clothes our family doesn’t really need (therefore cutting the laundry load in half). And what if we focused on training our little ones so they had better habits and less fighting?

The point is to figure out what is taking up too much of our time and how can we fix that?


Not Just About the Small Things

When we put our life under a microscope, it’s easier to see the little things that eat at our time. But what about the bigger things? What weekly activities, appointments, and obligations do we have that just aren’t serving us well right now?


Embracing the Season

That said, there are different seasons of life where time will be fuller than others, like having a new baby while still trying to homeschool. Our purpose as moms is to serve our family, but that includes making sure our time is well spent. Sometimes, this means focusing most of our attention on pressing issues, like changing diapers and getting dinner on the table.

As believers, we’re given Christ as our example of whom to follow and imitate. When the people came to Him for healing, His response wasn’t… I’m booked right now but make an appointment with Peter for next Thursday…

He wasn’t too busy to go to Zacchaeus’ house for lunch or bless the little children. Instead, He served the people as their needs arose.

“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore, do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is” (Ephesians 5:15-17 ESV).


Jamie is a homeschool mama to two littles. She was an education and journalism major, private tutor and art teacher, and now teaches early elementary classes at local co-ops. Her family uses the Charlotte Mason method and she founded and leads a Charlotte Mason co-op in her hometown. You can find more inspiration for busy Charlotte Mason moms at her site Pine Cones and Primers. Or find her on Pinterest and Facebook.

As a trained herbalist and avid health researcher she contributes healthy recipes and home remedies to a variety of natural health websites.  You can find some of her work at her other home on the web, The Herbal Spoon.
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"Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it" (Proverbs 22:6).