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Entries in Schedule (2)

Tuesday
Jan302018

Create More Opportunities for Margin - Part 1

More and more, people are talking about “margin.” Dawn Wilson tackles this topic in a Self-Care UPGRADE in a two-part post to encourage those who find themselves stressed and over-committed, exhausted and near burnout.

Marginless living is the story of millions of Americans today. That’s part of my story too. I desperately needed more margin.

In his book, Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives (NavPress, 2014), Richard A. Swenson, a medical doctor, points out the lack of margin in American society in spite of all the “progress” we have made.

“The disease of marginless living is insidious, widespread and virulent,” Dr. Swenson said. “We live with unprecedented wealth and all it brings. We have leisure, entertainment, convenience and comfort…. Yet stress, frustration and oftentimes even despair unexpectedly accompany our unrivaled prosperity.”

His book is an excellent study of the reasons for marginless living, and he offers wisdom for every area of life. (I recommend it to stretch your thinking.)

But even before I read his book, I was thinking about the reasons for my own stress. Here’s what I discovered.

When some people think about margin, they envision the word “boundaries”—the need to not let others overrun the priorities in their lives.

I totally understand that. It’s important to have biblical priorities and values for our lives and families. We have to learn to say no to others’ expectations when they don’t understand, or when they either intentionally or unintentionally try to push past our boundaries.

But I think that’s only one side of margin.

My version of margin includes freedom. It focuses on space and freed-up time.

I like to describe margin as “spacious opportunities.”

In other words, yes, we need to establish firm boundaries so people will not take advantage of our kindness and desire to serve. That’s a necessary part of healthy relationships.

We want to live in a sacrificial way, but the Lord still may direct us to say “no” to some intrusive or unnecessary things so we can say “yes” to other things that fit our calling and biblical priorities (Colossians 4:1-2).

But we have to be sure we’re creating space for those “yeses.”

If we don’t, we’ll simply be piling good things onto other good things and causing over-commitment and stress.

We all need positive space to think, create, and breathe. But our lives are so busy, we won’t have wonderful, spacious opportunities unless we're purposeful in making room for them.

There are some things we can’t (and shouldn’t change)—the priority of a relationship with God and the priority of our key relationships (Matthew 6:33; Mark 12:30-31).

But beyond that, we need to see and embrace opportunities for margin throughout our lives. It’s a wonderfully positive approach.

There are at least SEVEN WAYS to create more opportunities for margin—for what really matters.

1. Create more empty space in your HOME. We don’t have to stuff every closet and fill every shelf. It’s OK to leave some empty space. Even healthy and freeing.

Part of the Titus 2:4-5 mandate for women, even those who have careers, is to work at home—to manage the home well. It doesn’t have to be a duty or drudgery. Make it fun. Create a freeing space to minister to people in your family and neighborhood.

Join me in creating that freedom! Evaluate your “stuff.” Go through one room per week with a big box or bag. What can you find to give away? Ask yourself:

  • How many of these do I have?” (Why do you need 12 pair of scissors—and they aren’t even crafting scissors? Learn to practice contentment: Hebrews 13:5a)
  • Why am I keeping this?” (An out-of-date college textbook. A 10-year-old jar of face cream, probably rancid.)
  • “Do I really need to have this object to keep a memory alive?” (A photo might suffice.)
  • “Is this a legacy item—and does my family want it?” (And usually, our millennial kids don’t.)
  • “Do I really need this?” or “Might someone else need this more than me? (Consider a homeless person, a struggling single mom, a low-paid teacher, etc.)

I have often used some of the home and office organizing techniques I've learned from "Organizing Pro" Marcia Ramsland in her book Simplify Your Life.

2. Create more space in your CALENDAR. Just as our homes can be cluttered with stuff we don’t need, sometimes our lives are cluttered with activity and our schedules need some paring down.

We need to plan “down time” as carefully—and with as much joyful anticipation and dedication—as work, event and activity times. Part of making “the best use of your time” (Ephesians 5:15-17) is understanding the Lord wants us to know when to stop working, to stop pushing… to just stop!

Plan breaks and times of refreshing on a regular basis: daily, weekly, monthly, yearly. God wants His loved ones to get “proper rest” (Psalm 127:2).

Again, Marcia Ramsland can help with her book, Simplify Your Time.

3. Create more space in your BUDGET. Rather than thinking, “How much do I have left to spend?” think, “How much can I save?” or “How much can I invest?” Thinking we have money to indulge our every whim is seldom wise.

Rather than letting covetousness rule, give money its proper place and think in terms of faithful and wise stewardship.

When we plan wisely, we will feel more secure (Ecclesiastes 7:12); but remember the true Source of your security. Even so, it’s still smart to create sufficient financial margin—sometimes called a “cushion of funds”—to carry you over in times of stress or crisis. Financial experts may not agree on the exact amount, but they all agree on the necessity!

For financial wisdom beyond the scriptures, I seek out people like "America's Family Financial Expert," Ellie Kay and The 60-Minute Money Workout. I also learned so much from Ron Blue and Jeremy White's Faith-based Family Finances, Dave Ramsey's The Total Money Makeover and Randy Alcorn's Managing God's Money.

How can you create more spacious opportunities in these three areas: Home, Calendar and Budget?

Part 2 of this post will appear on January 31st,  with four more areas needing margin.

Dawn Wilson, founder and President of Heart Choices Today, is a speaker and author, and the creator of three blogs: Heart Choices TodayLOL with God (with Pam Farrel), and Upgrade with Dawn. She is a contracted researcher/reviewer for Revive Our Hearts and a writer at Crosswalk.com. She and her husband Bob live in Southern California and have two grown, married sons, three granddaughters and a rascally maltipoo, Roscoe.

Thursday
May262016

I Did Not Plan for This

Kaley Rhea co-hosts a TV show with her comedian mom, but that doesn't mean Kaley lacks depth! In this encouraging "UPLIFT," she shares how the Lord taught her to hold her plans loosely.

"Tell me if I’m the only one," Kaley says. "But sometimes I get an idea in my head about how my day is going to go. I’m not even a to-do list kind of person or a details kind of person or an itinerary kind of person.

"Yet somehow I’ll have these moments where someone calls or something pops up that throws my preconceived idea of today, of right now, off by a few millimeters, and all my brain alarms go wild and my insides announce, loud-speaker style, 'Error, error. Please return to regularly scheduled life-having.'"

Yeah, you're the only one, Kaley.

No, seriously, I (Dawn) am such a planner, that almost never happens to me. But when it does, I get the same blaring alarms. Sort of a "Danger, Will Robinson!" thing. (But Kaley's probably too young to know about young Will.)

So let's let Kaley continue . . .

To be clear, this is a ridiculous phenomenon I’m talking about.

  • “I didn’t realize the trashcan was full, and now I have to take the trash out, and I wasn’t planning on taking the trash out right now. Ugh, worst.”
  • And “Oh, my friend is calling, and I love talking to her, but wait, we didn’t plan on talking right now; what is she thinking?”
  • And “Child, why have you vomited on the carpet? We are on our way out the door; I’m not prepared for this!”

That moment of internal, irrational pushback I feel when something has intruded into my schedule, into my plans, and something—even something small—is required of me.

I’m confessing here. Sometimes I live my life with a perspective set about two inches from the end of my nose.

I guard my time, my words, my efforts with a sharp eye, unknowingly fixed on only spending them where I see fit.

And I’ve met me. So believe me, I know exactly how insane that is.

Of course, while ruminating on these things, I thought of Jeremiah 29:11:

“‘I know the plans I have for you,’ says the LORD. ‘Plans for welfare and not for evil. To give you a future and a hope.’”

I feel like we pass this verse out like candy, and I’m glad we do because these words are sweet and so important.

Any moment spent remembering that my God knows infinitely more than I do and has made infinitely better plans is a good and necessary moment.

But I also couldn’t get the Gerasene demoniac out of my mind.

Of all the people in the Bible, he’s where I landed. Luke 8:26-39 talks about this man who had been possessed by an entire legion of demons and was living this absolutely wrecked life. Jesus cast them out of him. Healed him.

So the man made this plan to go with Jesus. It seems like a perfectly legitimate reaction to what had happened. A good, appropriate response. So he asked, but Jesus told him to stay. To proclaim the name of Jesus where he was. And the man did.

It’s a convicting thought for me. Jesus has done a miracle in my life, rescued me from my sin.

I think sometimes I have this attitude like, “No, no, Jesus, I’m going to serve you this way and in this place and on this timetable."

And I miss out on opportunities He lays right in front of me to serve Him and glorify His name.

In ways that are simple. In ways that walk right up to me. And instead of thanking Him for these opportunities, in my heart I’m selfishly thinking,“Could you please step aside, opportunity? I’ve already scheduled my God-glorifying for 2 p.m., and it’s only half past ten now.”

Lord Jesus, wake up my heart. Help me see the things I miss when I focus on my own plans and my own understanding.

Holy Spirit, give me kindness. Help me see people the way You see them because I love You.

Defeat the selfishness inside of me and replace it with Your love.

Help me hold my plans loosely and always ask You to shape them into whatever You will. I trust You with my time and my desires.

Are you trying to put God in a box? How might you be making your plans without His wisdom and missing out on what He might have planned? For you!

Kaley Faith Rhea is the co-author of Turtles in the Road, releasing soon, with two more novels in the works. Along with writing and teaching at writers’ conferences, she co-hosts the TV show, That’s My Mom, for Christian Television Network’s KNLJ in mid-Missouri. Check out a sample here! Kaley lives in the St. Louis area.

Graphics adapted, courtesty of Pixabay.com.