Thursday, January 15, 2015

The Soul's Oxygen {{& a list of space-guards}}

That space between what we have to invest and what we've committed to investing; 
between what we are actually able to accomplish, and what we, or others, expect to be accomplished. 

If you take the sum of your limited {yes, limited} energies:

  • physical
  • mental
  • financial
  • emotional
  • spiritual

and then subtract the sum of your investments:
  • commitments
  • plans
  • responsibilities
  • roles
  • relationships
what you have left over is your margin....
that is, IF you have anything left over. 

Margin; it is what creates space for movement, for new, for simple and for slow.
The whole walking-with-God-in-the-garden-pre-the-fruit-nabbing sets it clear from the start; 
we were created to need it, guard it. and utilize it!
Post-the-fall, God's spoken law, which included detailed non-negotiables over the keeping of sabbath, revealed His holiness, humanity's need, and a restored relationship defined and fed on this margin.

God intends for His people to maintain this white space 
where their energies are unspoken for but by the things of rest, worship, renewal, and communion which unfold in it. 

You will see it in scripture, if you look for it....

In the Psalmist's repeated proclamations of a tended and restored soul.
In the prophets' many declarations of a thirst-quenching water and hunger-satisfying Messiah to come.
In the healing invitations that Jesus, Himself, offers for a co-laboring under His easy yoke.
In the Epistles' frequent promise of an illogical peace that guards the soul.
In His great Revelation at the close of our Bibles which foretells vanquished tears, sighing, suffering ... all of it gone. 

Margin here, in this place, is but a foretaste of the blissful fulfillment we will know then, 
but it is one that we desperately need and have been given, if we will but steward it!

The soul's oxygen is in communion; knowing and being known by it's Maker...
It requires a cross-cultural solidarity of focus to carve out and guard this margin.

I lived for years without margin, 
and not due to innocent over-extension or busyness.
My warped theology of performing for grace {in which grace ceases to be grace}
didn't allow for margin. 

How could it? 
If I were to rest from the doing... how would the favor come? 
Wasn't it selfish, humanistic, a veritable sin, to "take care of oneself"?
That phrase itself grated with the stench of worldly wisdom.... 
That is, it did back when I was blind, dry, rote, and fairly joyless; lacking a true understanding of scripture's teaching on the care of one's soul that is indeed, selfless.

Then came grace. 
Not all at once, 
but in His gentle igniting of my heart to beat in rythm with His...
it came; 
continues to come.
And I learned it, am learning it, in pieces like the savored bites of a favorite pastry.

This freedom to create, maintain, and guard margin in my life.
To make place for rest and creativity that seamlessly flows into and out of communion with Him.

Yes. On paper, or rather on the screen app tagged "calendar",  I do less.
I am so very much okay with that. 
I am not always at everything. I graciously say no even though this at times, disappoints me or others with me. 

But, oh the freedom.... the radical depth of this confident knowing His favor and delight....
The way it has me all joy-filled, and happy, and rested, and able to give.... like never before.

I do so much less and have so very much more to give. 

If it were mathematics, it wouldn't add up. 

You see, margin is an unexplainable multiplier.... 
Like the five loaves and two fish, it fluffs and strengthens and stretches the layers of one's soul .  
It takes whatever you carve out; a little space of time, a simple activity, a small two-lettered word of decline, turning this little into big refreshing life-giving food...
And a soul that is fed can stretch far in the feeding of others.

I don't know where you're at with margin in your life....
Got it? 
Don't want it?
Got too much?
Most American Christians need more of it, or just need it period. 

I recently compiled a list of the ways I've been taught { by Abba and by my Favorite }
to create and maintain rhythms of margin in my life.
These are the space-guards, if you will, that well.... they guard the space.

1)Read. every. day. Doesn't have to be deep or long. MUST be real paper and ink pages though.

2)Choose one day a week as "renewal day". Keep it free of obligations. I linger in the word on this day, shower when in the mood, only clean as motivation strikes {the house, not the body}, and possibly nap. For those in ministry/ lay ministry, this has to be a day other than Sunday.

3)Follow at least 1 "frivolous" blog/FB page/website for the sole purpose of sparking creativity in living. Whatever that is for artist, photographer, chef, philosopher, decorator, fashionista, politician, etc...

4)Choose cute house clothes and wear them often. 
Fleece lined leggings, knee-socks, long chunky sweaters.  Maybe for you, it's athletic pants and a hoodie, but make choices to feel cute not frumpy in your comfy....then wear your comfy.

5)Drink tea, coffee....alternate if desired. Research new brews or blends. Make it an art.

6)Sit at your window and watch your view....whatever it is. Notice things you never knew.

7)Say No, Yes, Maybe, Nevermind, and interchange them freely as needed.  NO. Shame.

8)Daily chose something on your to-do list that can be put off if needed.  Label it as such. 

9) Find a funny youtube and send it to someone who will share your laugh... 
or, if your people provide the material, make your own.

10)Get rid of clothes.  The ones you love but never wear along with the ones you wear but don't love.... they need to go.  Wear what remains. 

11)Find something that intrigues you however trivial it may seem, and study it.  
Order a book or start online-research. Learn...always be learning. 

12)Cook really great meals. Great-tasting, maybe healthy. Try one new recipe per week, and YES, include dessert.

13)Sit or kneel or stand to be on eye-level during conversation with your people. Touch through a hug while they talk. Make sure you do this with each one, each day. 

14)Explore music; different genres and artists.  Find a new favorite.

15)Write your own words every day.  Journal, blog, sitck-it-notes. They all count, just write something down every day. If it's good, share it with someone else.

16)Stare at the sky for longer than you thought you would.  Talk with your people about the horizon. Describe creation in words together. 

17)Stop counting workouts, miles, reps, steps.... just. stop. counting. 
I know a woman at the gym who intentionally uses a magazine to cover the screen on her elliptical.  
She just turns up the music and goes for it.  I find her to be genius. Get moving but stop counting.

18)Collect something...anything. Teacups, quotes, essential oils, scarves, ideas, rocks - anything but then freely give each item away whenever the Spirit prompts, and He will.

19)Allow regular pampering....whatever that is for you?  Is it hot baths, working out, trips to the manicurist, kid-free shopping, coffee with a girlfriend? When discussed with your people and planned for, these things are far from selfish.  People love a soul-rested wife/momma/friend.

20) Go on dates with Abba like Jesus did. Draw away alone...
Mix it up by finding new places to to do this; a cafe, park, museum, hiking -trail, library...
Only take the items that will forge a quieted soul and communing heart.
Break with the "study mode" or "check list approach" and allow the Spirit to guide your worship. 

I would love for you to try some of these safe-guards.... or compile your own list. 
Build and guard your margin.  
It's where the soul-tending happens, and you will have more to give from a place of far deeper joy, if you do.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name's sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord


Friday, January 9, 2015

The Whole Beautiful Thing of Oneness {{ a post about him }}

There are these moments of clarity..

His text this morning-
"Don't make the bed."
{there was more; a context}

Childcare and laundry, that was all he wanted, all that he was allowing.
Oh and words...he wanted me to do my consuming and constructing of words strung out...

His care for me - for the all of me. 
Washing, renewing, nurturing, refreshing, growing, wooing, meeting....
really a full tending.
It's like Jesus. 

And here in my thinking, my tapping out words; 
they all seem to circle back to him, begging me to give them voice.
If there was a mountain top nearby - from there.

The clarity hits....

Today, like yesterday and tomorrow, 
Today is the day that I fall in love with him again.
It's a deeper and not yet all at once; arrival and anticipation all tangled in happiness.

And I think that's the whole beautiful thing of oneness. 

I don't write songs, and I am even further from performing one. 
Others do both well, and so I send him one.
One that is true.

Monday, January 5, 2015

The Answer of a Continued-Asking {{a soul's communing}}

They were so hopeful-
hearing of just how low the wind was going to plunge our temps this 

"can you check again, Mom?"
"We'll have a snow day, I just know it," 
"Another day off school would be so epic" 
{ "epic" the word of the month with one of our people.  
It weaves itself into literally any conversation and is used generously. 
Could he be my child? 
His fascination with these letter-groupings which make up our language; 
welcoming each new one as a well-studied friend, 
bringing it out into use with the flourish of a treasure displayed?  
yes. this small amazing person is mine.}

The temps dropped far, but not far enough, 
and we all bundled into this morning {early ....very early}, backpacks and lunch bags in tow. 

We took the plunge back into routine with all of these happy memories floating fresh. 
Perhaps it is in the very crook of recent rest and rythms resumed that the answers flash, 
and light shines into new places. My Father works that way.... He does.

I've been praying, asking, softly repeating my query... 
"What am I to ask You for?"
"How do you want me to pray?"
"I want to be in the place of your will with the bend of my heart, and the pulse of my soul....
Show me?"


His voice always comes, 
but I find He often first gives me room to simply know His presence.
He desires my communion with Him far above my doing for Him. 
Communion is conversational, a lingering. 
I know this....
I am learning this...
{Like the surprise of vibrant jungle flowers blooming under a glass roof here in frozen Milwaukee.}


Its is both preparatory and expectant.  

Anticipation is often the missed and hidden blessing when we clamor for answers. 

I will not hide myself behind the words typed here in this place.
I will be real with you.
I am a clamor-er.  
A veritable expert in the non-waiting posture and all associated attitudes and activities. 
I like to know where I'm headed, when and with what. 


It is a swim up against the strong currents of what comes easy to me, 
but who ever said easy is happy or good or best?  
Who said we were even created for easy?
Was it some slimy voice back there in the garden? - 

with a message now clinging to every human heart like an old skin that needs shedding...

And shed it does when touched by His life-giving Light.

Explore this with me for a moment:

Can you imagine that exhilarating feel of water rushing past your legs as you wade into a stream, or running through your fingers as you lean over the boat's edge? 
My daughter loves for her daddy to hold her in place 
at the bottom of our gym's water slide, "just so I can feel the waves on me"....
Imagine that.... 
or what about wind in your hair? 
 {Let's all have a Titanic movie moment here?}

Can we not learn from our own thrill-seeking selves to free fall into trust? 

This is the feel of the Holy Spirit moving us up and out and against the current of easy.
Intimidating at first, and sometimes hard, but oh always the thrill as we allow our Father to move us cross-current where all of the easy, normal, grace-missing stuff rushes past and our souls are filled, happy, ecstatic with knowing Him. 

And so I've waited against my urges to have something written in my journal. 
The birth of January 2015 came and passed smoothly.  
I asked and I waited.  
Was I listening close enough?
What was He going to lead me to?
Something solid that I could articulate to another....
The focus for this year? A scripture? A word?
{Double points for one of each corresponding to the other right? }

This morning, His answer came....
...or began to come. 

As I formed playdoh-snowballs and counted out numbers with my favorite K4 Class; Shining eyes and smiles over new knowledge grasped. Such little tiny hands....

As I picked my way over brightly crystallized rural roads, stopping at home for yoga pants and to start another load of laundry.
{It's a plunge back into routine remember...}

There were the songs in my earbuds at the gym followed by the smiles shared with strangers over fresh produce and meats at the grocery.
 {I am predictably post-Christmas-inspired towards clean eating. Can I get an Amen?}

In all of these places: these moments strung out because time envelopes me....
The One who is outside of time, but Who willingly came into time, and Who ultimately uses time for His glory...
He began to speak. 
A gentle, surprising answer to my questioning over a New Year's focus. 

He told me...
There wouldn't be one scripture, or one word. 
There will be many.  
Many words of His and from Him that will interweave the tapestry of my year. 

This year it's not about the words themselves, but about Him as The WORD, 
And about my hearing.... simply. to . hear.

That I receive, and that I record His speaking faithfulness. 
This is what He has begun to spell out in my soul.
This is His invitation into a newness of relationship with Himself where former methods of spiritual focus are no longer needed.  He is teaching me to BE with HIM.
He is that loving and good!

I have been asking, and the answer is that I will continue asking 
like a breathing in and out; 
bending my heart as the pulse of my soul presses hard into hearing. 

This is what I long for.
With all of it's messy realness, up-stream swimming, clamoring-prohibited-waiting...

This is what I long for....with a certainty as crystallized as the ice covering our road.
This is what I long for.... with the pounding beat of a great work-out tune.
This is what I long for.... with unfading inspiration towards clean-eating for the soul. 

And in the very asking for it; pressing after it; leaning into it...
I hear Him.

He is giving it to's right here, in the asking.

"Let us know; let us press on to know the LORD; his going out is sure as the dawn; he will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth.”
Hosea 6:3

Friday, January 2, 2015

Musings on a Peculiar View {{a new year's post}}

It's a peculiar view for this New Year's start.
We welcome January from a particularly wonderful place of certain-uncertainty 
{or uncertain-certain?}. 

To stand here holding clear sight into a mist of unknown...
To feel strongly aware of what waits for us and where, but without a how, or when...
To be so unified on a particular hope {he & I} with so little "real information",
humanly speaking, but THAT'S JUST IT! 

We aren't speaking of a human call, and in that, 

we have everything firm and concrete to anchor our sights on,
and every reason not to be surprised by it all.

For it is God; THE GOD of  all things, always and everywhere, 
who has spoken this call into our walk. 
 {it's details currently kept between He and us}
Over the past 10 months,
{though He was preparing us long before that}, 
He has repeated it, affirmed it, and refined it from a vague wondering to a precise purpose, 
and at every juncture given such a tight unity { he & I}
that it has often left us speechless and wonder-giggling at the Spirit's power.

His call has come clear. 
Not as one we would not have thought to ask for, and though it still lacks a time-table, it unfurls strong before us.
Stretching out into these next 12 months like a lush green pathway running ahead into a soft and bright mist.

With just enough glory pouring out to fill our hearts in rays of anticipation and eagerness, and yet enough left hidden that we might remain expectant and trained by the Shepherd of our wait and wonder, the pathway ahead smacks of grace!

His call has come clear.
Years of faith-stretched and strengthened muscles now to move.
Seasons of equipping and tending to be launched on.

He has given us a purpose to press towards, 
yet we know that the fruit lies not in an "arrival", 
but in the very pressing-on-process itself. 

So we will press into each step of this pathway where there is beauty to gather all along the way. 
We do not seek to reach a destination 
{we are pilgrims in this place afterall}
but to know our Shepherd Guide all the more.  

Never before has a new year given this particular view, 
and yet always has each new year proved His faithfulness.... 
SO GOOD GRIEF- are we ever excited to mark and marvel at the start of 2015!!!

What about you? 
What does your New Year view hold? 

What is He speaking to you? 
Are you listening?
Are you starting out so that you will know Him more at the end?
Are you marking His hand enough to trace out the BIG grace and HUGE joy of it all???

"Let us know; let us press on to know the LORD.
His going out is as sure as the dawn.
He will come to us as the showers, as the Spring rains, that water the earth,"
Hosea 6:3