Quiet Time

Creating Margin When Life Overwhelms

Creating Margin When Life Overwhelms // by Leslie Ann Jones

Life has been busy lately. So. Busy.

Between teaching two Bible studies at church, helping plan the annual preschool fundraiser, battling strep throat in the house, washing (but not folding) the laundry, selling and delivering Girl Scout cookies, doing all. the. things. for Dr. Seuss' birthday week, sorting old clothes for consignment, acquiring new clothes in the appropriate sizes, and juggling soccer practice, softball practice, birthday parties, church, and school, all while keeping us fed and alive, I'm spent. 

There's just not much of me left to go around these days.

I'm telling you all of this so you'll know why things have been quiet around here lately. There's so much I want to share with you about what God is teaching me, but I simply haven't had time to sit down and let it all spill out.

There was a time when I would have run myself into the ground posting new content here each week while also trying to do everything else, but I've learned that I create my best work when there's a bit of margin in my life. I need time and space to breathe freely and listen closely before I can write words that convict and compel. I'm currently overwhelmed by life, and, at this moment in time, margin is hard to find. So, I've created some by giving myself permission to take a little blogging break. 

I think sometimes we women like to act like we have everything together, but behind the scenes we're falling apart. God forbid anyone find out that we're imperfect people. I don't want to be like that. I want you to know that I'm a real person with real struggles. My life isn't insta-perfect all the time—it's messy and rough around the edges and more than a little crazy.

I know I'm not alone in this. Nearly every mama I talk to struggles with The Overwhelm from time to time. It's normal and even necessary every now and then, but I think it's important to fight for the things that your soul needs. Even during busy seasons. For me, it's margin—empty space in my planner and quiet moments alone to simply be. No striving, no doing. Just me and God and a bit of stillness...and maybe a cup of coffee too.

What is it that your soul needs? What do you crave when life overwhelms? How do you create margin when things get crazy? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below.

And in case you were wondering, I'll be spending the time I usually spend writing preparing my heart and mind for teaching Known, an in-depth Bible study on the gospel of John to a group of local women.

Both the workbook and our weekly sessions are available online, and we would love for you to join us. You can access the Known workbook and weekly podcast at leslieannjones.com/known.

Thanks for bearing with me during this busy season! Hopefully I'll be back to posting regularly again soon...just not yet.

Until next time, grace and peace.


How Coffee Makes Me a Better Christian

On Coffee and Quiet Times. How preparing a cup of coffee each morning keeps my quiet times on track. (from Leslie Ann Jones)

When I discovered that the elementary school in our town starts at 7:30 a.m., I died a little on the inside. The early school day means that I have to rise before 6 a.m. to get our daughter up, dressed, fed, and ready by the time the bus comes by. 

Y'all. I just can't even describe how devastating this knowledge was to me. It's no secret that I'm not a morning person. Over the years, I've tried to get up "an hour earlier" than my kids, and I've failed every. single. time. I'm just not wired that way.

I immediately decided that if I had to get up before the sun, I needed a ritual—something to look forward to every morning. And I also needed some caffeine. In large doses. Which led me to the conclusion that I needed learn how to like coffee.

Dennis laughed at me and rolled his eyes when I told him my plan. He thought I was being a little ridiculous, but he supported my quest to find a brand of coffee that didn't make me gag (Lavazza, for the win, by the way), and he faithfully washes my little espresso maker when I leave it sitting in the sink. Because apparently I can't do regular coffee. Nope. That would be too easy. It's a homemade mocha latte for me every single morning.

Anyway. Back to the point. I knew that if I didn't have a tangible, physical reason to stay awake after the bus rolled away, I would make a beeline back to bed as soon as possible. But if I could manage to make the coffee before the bus came, then after it left, I would settle down in my chair with my coffee (usually in a Dwell mug), my Bible, and my journal to enjoy some quiet time alone with the Lord before I had to wake up the youngest for preschool.

I mean, I'm not going to waste the coffee. I just made it, for crying out loud. I'm 100 percent serious when I tell you that making a cup of coffee every morning has done more for my spiritual life than I ever imagined possible.

I feel a little silly telling you this because I'm a writer of Bible studies. I'm supposed to have this quiet time thing down by now. But the reality of my life as a stay-at-home mom sometimes runs me ragged, and the truth is that I like to sleep. A lot. And sometimes I want to sleep more than I want to spend time in the Word. The struggle is real. Am I right?

But y'all, here's the lesson I've been learning: Sometimes the spark we need to get us going is as simple as a cup of coffee, a pretty journal, or a friend to hold us accountable. There's nothing magical about the coffee, but the physical act of preparing it helps keep my quiet times on track. Maybe it could help you too. 

Until next time, grace and peace.


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Introducing Limitless: A Study on Ephesians

For a long time now, years even, I have felt the Lord calling me to a writing and teaching ministry. And although I've been actively teaching in church and writing curriculum here and there, I've never actually sat down and written a Bible study to teach in church.

Until  now.

Months ago, I began planning a women's Bible study for the summer. It would be an in-depth study of a book of the Bible that would equip women to study the Word and think through it critically. After much prayer and consideration, I chose Ephesians for the study.

Limitless is the result.

Monday night, I gathered with a great group of women from different churches and backgrounds, and we opened up the Word to read it together. It was such a sweet time of study and fellowship, and I felt incredibly blessed to be a part of it.

 

As I've prepared for this study, I've been completely overwhelmed by the limitless God we serve. He's so big, and his mercy, love, grace, power, and compassion are endless. The way he has lavished his riches on us amazes me, and I can't wait to see him more clearly as we go through Limitless this summer.

Because it's a summer Bible study, and because women will be in and out throughout the duration, I started a podcast of the audio teaching. That way everyone can keep up and stay in the loop even if they have to miss a group meeting.

And then I thought that maybe some of you would like to follow along with us, so I'm providing the workbook as a free download. Study and listen at your own pace, or follow along with us as we read the Word this summer. Click through the links below to access the podcast and workbook. I'd love for you to join us!