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.

Sharing Love & Sending Joy the Old-Fashioned Way

A few years ago, an acquaintance's husband suddenly died in the night. My heart broke for her, but since we weren't very close, I didn't know what to do. I wanted to express my condolences, but I felt totally awkward calling or texting her to say something, so I did the only other thing I could think of.

I wrote her a note.

In August, I ran into her for the first time since her husband's death, and she told me that the simple little note I had written meant the world to her in the days after he died. She told me how much the prayer I included had encouraged her, and then she thanked me for taking the time to let her know that I was thinking of her.

I was shocked. It's been three years since I wrote that note, but she still remembers it. It took five minutes of my time, but it became a bright spot to remember in an otherwise dark and dreary time.

That experience served as the inspiration for a new line of stationery in the LAJ Shop. Sometimes God uses something as simple as a handwritten note to encourage and uplift us, and these notes were designed specifically with that purpose in mind.

Do you know someone who could use a little extra encouraging? What better way to share a little love and send a bit of joy than to mail a handwritten note? I don't know anyone who doesn't like getting mail. It's easy to send a text these days, but a card delivered the old-fashioned way speaks volumes. When we take the time to sit down and pen a heartfelt message, we become avenues through which God blesses others. Who wouldn't want that?

I'm celebrating the launch of these pretty little cards with a sale! Use code SENDJOY to receive 30 percent off all stationery in the shop and get busy sharing love and sending joy. Code expires November 7, 2016 at 11:59 pm CST. 

The End of an Era: Felicity Paper is Closing

The End of an Era via leslieannjones.com

Hello, dear friends! I'm writing today with some shocking news. Brace yourselves. Are you ready for it? OK, here goes. I'll be closing Felicity Paper at the end of the month. But here's some more news to help soften the blow: At the end of the summer, I'm launching a new store. It will be hosted right here on LAJ.com and will be filled with all sorts of products to encourage and inspire you in your relationship with God. Art prints, mugs, journals, t-shirts, and all sorts of goodness are headed your way.

This change has been a long time coming. For several years I've felt as if I've had a split personality. Some of you may remember that before I became a stationery designer, I was a seminary student with a heart for writing, but I had a baby shortly after graduation, and she changed everything. Though I had started regularly writing curriculum for a couple of different Christian publishing houses, I found myself lacking the time and attention to write curriculum anymore. So I put all of that on hold to return to later, at some point in the future when my babies didn't require so much of my attention.

In the meantime, I launched Felicity Paper. I've always had a thing for pretty paper and design, and designing didn't require as much of me as writing, so I went with it for the time being. I thought I would have a little business on the side...I had no idea that Felicity Paper would grow and prosper and turn into such a success. As the business (and my children) grew, I was caught in a quandary: Do I keep doing this? Or do I return to my first love?

I've hemmed and hawed around the issue for months. There was a part of me that wanted to give up design and focus on writing, because I have a calling, and I've been waiting for a long time to do something about it. But there was another part of me that wanted to keep designing, because good design makes my heart sing just as much as writing does. And so I've dragged my feet, unsure of where to go next.

I won't bore you with the details of all that has led to this point, but I finally came to the conclusion that God has made me both a writer and a designer. More and more lately, I feel God leading me to marry my two halves together. To bring my love for design and my love for the Word together. And so that's what I'm going to do.

Felicity Paper is closing. There won't be any more invitations or announcements or stamps. But there will be journals specifically designed to lead you in your Bible study. There will be cards for you to send encouraging notes to friends. There will be Scripture cards to help you tuck the word of God in your heart. And eventually, there will be Bible studies. The shop will be a companion to my writing, and I'm really, really excited about it.

I'm spending the next few months developing new products and getting everything set up with the new shop. Stick around with me, and let's see where God takes us. It's my prayer this this shop and this blog will bring honor and glory to God. That through it, women will come to know and experience God more deeply. That they will develop a passion and hunger for His Word. That this will be a place where truth is spoken and hearts are encouraged. Will you pray that with me?

Until next time, grace and peace.