This book releases today. You can win your very own copy! Find details below…
I had the privilege to serve on the book launch team for Jessica Turner’s book, The Fringe Hours. The subtitle is “Making Time for You.” Before I even opened it, I had this idea that I might not gain much from reading it. I did not see the need–much less have the time–for me to do something for me.
I am so glad I was so wrong.
Reading this book challenged one of my tightly held beliefs. I am an all work, no play girl. Since high school, I put an emphasis on a job well done at the expense of enjoyment. Case in point, I graduated from college with a 4.0 GPA and 4.0 friends (a bit of a stretch, but not by much).
As a wife and mother, I continued that trend. I faced housework and parenting with a work first, play later (or never) mentality. I sat in judgment over my husband for being the fun one in the relationship. He always found time for hobbies and I resented him for it.
Enter The Fringe Hours. My highlighter glided across the pages as I argued in my head with some of the things Jessica wrote. But, deep down, I knew she was right. If she was right, then I had been wrong all of these years.
After reading The Fringe Hours and allowing the ideas and concepts to marinate in my mind and soul, I made the conscious decision to take some time for myself every day. Since starting the discipline of capturing my Fringe Hours, I discovered four ways this book has changed my life.
The first thing that had to go was guilt. I remember taking a run a few months before I read this book. My husband had the kids and told me to go enjoy my time. I must have burned double the calories on that run because I drug my guilt around for three miles! I felt like I needed to be home helping, cleaning, giving my husband a break. This all-to-familiar guilt nagged at me anytime I tried to take time for myself.
I made an idol out of my importance and tasks. I felt my presence was needed in order for my family’s world to spin. I had become a slave to the list hanging on the fridge. Martyr was my favorite name tag; I wore it proudly. This idolatry led to bitterness and resentment, not to mention fatigue and emptiness.
Letting go of the guilt associated with taking care of myself helped me let go of bitterness. It allowed me to engage in things that filled my soul without the weight of “should” hanging on my shoulders.
After dealing with the guilt of making time for me, I had to find the courage to do it! I recently started blogging and I knew this was the first thing I wanted to spend my “me” time doing. Saying “yes” to writing meant saying “no” to some other things. It means having the courage to say “no” to some of the social and self-imposed standards I have place on myself.
It means saying no to the pursuit of a perfectly clean house. It means saying no to volunteering at the kids’ school. It means saying no to senseless scanning on social media. (Side note: one of the best things I did after reading this book was take Facebook off my phone. It cut down on wasted time and status envy.)
With all of those no’s comes some big yeses. Yes to doing the thing I feel called to do. Yes to being more patient with my kids because I took 20 minutes to read before they came home. Yes to being energized to face the sometimes menial tasks on my to do list because my soul is full. Yes to deepening relationships with women who push me to be a better me. Yes to loving my husband without the undertones of bitterness.
It would be overly dramatic to say my marriage was saved by this book. It is not, however, overly dramatic to say this book helped heal wounds and lay a foundation for a better understanding between my husband and me.
My husband lives for Fringe Hours. He works for the weekend. When the weekend gets here he squeezes it for every fun minute he can. I have resented this over the years, allowing bitterness to grow as I played the martyr while he played tennis.
We had a heart-to-heart conversation after I read this book. I humbly apologized for the years of being bitter because he made time for things he enjoyed. He expressed concern that I might “lose it” one day because I did not take time to do things I enjoy. He was genuinely concerned that I might snap and leave; not because I had given him cause to think this, but because he saw several friends lose their wives to a self-centered binge.
This talk did two things. First, it gave him permission to pursue his hobbies guilt-free (without neglecting his other roles). Second, it gave me permission to ask for the time I needed to pursue my soul food. It tore down a wall of bitterness and guilt that we built stone-by-stone over the last 17 years.
The small changes I made after reading this book have enhanced my family life. I make a point to enjoy my children without worrying about what is undone. I can be mentally present in conversations with my husband and children because I have cut some of the clutter rolling around up there in my brain. I am a little easier to live with, I think, because I am mothering and loving from a full soul, not one that is empty and tired and bitter. I feel more whole, more peace, more myself than I have in . . . ever.
My kids have taken to this Fringe Hour thing, too. I usually wake around 4:00 am; this gives me time to pray, read, and write before the whole house wakes up. Much to my dismay, I found my entire family rising early to capture a Fringe Hour before work and school. For a few weeks, my girls set their alarm early to read and play on their Kindle. Dad is up early exercising. And the baby, not willing to be left out, is up early to cuddle with mom (his activity of choice). I had to laugh at our collective pursuit to find time for ourselves.
And I had to find another Fringe Hour. I am not giving mine up. Ever.
I am giving a hot-off-the-press copy of The Fringe Hours: Making Time for You to one of you! To enter, answer this question in the comments below: If there were 25 hours in a day, what would you do with that extra hour? Entries close 11:59 p.m. Sunday, February 22. This giveaway is sponsored by MrsDisciple.com.
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