In a discussion with dear friends, margin was the topic. Margin is the difference between load and power; where Power is energy, skills, time, training, emotional and physical strength, faith, finances and relational support and load is represented by work, problems, obligations, commitments, debt, deadlines, interpersonal conflict, etc. Margin is the amount allowed beyond that which is needed. "Marginless is not having time to finish the book you’re reading on stress; margin is having the time to read it twice.” (Richard A. Swenson, The Overload Syndrome, 1998 and Margin, 2004.) Marginless is is wondering if anyone has seems a robin. Margin is listening and seeing the spring birds migrate north.
Contemplating, discussing and analyzing margin, I begin to think different people are wired to need different amounts of margin. I think my body needs more margin than most.
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ...Titus 2:11-13

Maintaining margin seems to be an example of living the self-controlled, upright and godly life that Paul instructs Titus. Dr. Richard Swenson shares some steps to attaining margin in your life:

  1. Save the spaces in life for what really matters
  2. Plan for the unexpected
  3. Be intentional
  4. Say no to non-priorities
  5. Tame TV and technology
  6. Periodically disconnect; control interruptions
  7. Nourish relationships
  8. Stop the hustle, slow the pace
  9. Use the gift God gives for enjoyment (free time)
  10. Define and defend your boundaries
My week reiterated this discussion with friends. My load was fruit basket upset. No school Monday, therefore fun times but my load was increased without an increase in power supply (time). However, so reassured, our family Tuesday morning devotion reassured me that God always directs our steps. My "hiccups" or surprises are never a surprise to Him, they are part of His plan to transform me and use me. This same morning was full of meetings and commitments followed by a call from the school nurse. Wednesday was a high fever and numerous plan Bs curtailing un"necessary" trips to the grocery store and errands. Thursday was having a day of well-children, away from home all day and envisioning the catch-up that would have to wait until Friday. And Friday morning longing for some rest and reprieve (margin), God stopped me in the creation story. Every day God used to create earth is summed up, "And there was evening and there was morning, the ___ day." Evening comes first. The dark. The time of rest and replenishment. Then comes the day. Again, I hear God telling me His rest comes before the activity. This is when I resolve to spend the beginning of my Friday resting in Him. Not running the errands that have been waiting since Tuesday. Not going on a run. Not cleaning the house. But curling up for at least an hour with my coffee, Bible and maybe my writing to rest in Him. Then the day will come and make time enough for all the items that need me.
Not thirty-minutes later, "My head hurts and my tummy hurts." Oh, those viruses are contagious? Of course, sisters share everything. So again, God directs my day and I believe He directs me to trust in His provision, His timing and His rest. Yes, there will be items I can't check off my list (anything having to do with leaving the house) but there will be margin, time. And that's when my ailing little golden head says, "Mom come quick, look at that bird." Two red-necked male finch perch on the deck railing. In His time, in His way, He's teaching me margin and rest.
How much margin do you need? How much rest do you need? How is God methodically arranging your day to create both rest and margin? Will you choose to trust His perfect timing?

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