Thursday, February 18, 2010

Margin (Come to find out, it's not just for newsletters!)

16 Feb 2010

Nearly every time I create a newsletter for all of you, my “checker” sends it back with the phrase, “you need more margin (aka ‘white-space’) in your newsletter.” I dread this. I know it’s coming, because I extended my text and pictures further off the page than last time I submitted a newsletter format. And I've come to expect it. Ultimately, I just have too much good stuff to share with you and I try to fit it all onto one page! I can't imagine doing without any of it. But in the end, I have to admit that most of you would probably lay down my first draft newsletters without reading them, simply because you’d be too overwhelmed to know where to start.

It seems the same is true with life.
I’ve been reading a book called “Margin,” by Richard A. Swenson, for a few weeks now (thanks, Mom, for sending it!). As my kids in grade 3 got sick one after another, and as I realized the need to slow down (and make sure I didn’t become one of them), I used this book to convince myself it was ok to take time for myself. (Sad, I know… but true). Anyway, it’s been a good way of gaining perspective… and a good reminder for the good of saying “no.” And through it all, (though I’m now getting a lovely cold – hopefully not flu!), I’m realizing that slowing down also affords a unique opportunity to “lay down” - the stresses, burdens, worries, “failures,” and fears we pick up throughout the day - at the feet of Jesus.
Here are a couple of great quotes:

“We do not rest because our work is done; we rest because God commanded it and created us to have a need for it.” – Gordon McDonald

"Contentment is not only a good idea, it is our duty. If God recommends something, we ought to do it. If God requires something, we must do it. As J. I. Packer has emphasized, contentment is both commended (“Godliness with contentment is great gain” – 1 Tim 6:6) and commanded (“Be content with what you have” – Heb 13:5)… Godliness is an attitude whereby we what we want is to please God. Contentment, explains J.I. Packer, “is essentially a matter of accepting from God’s hand what He sends because we know that He is good and therefore it is good.” Contentment is the freedom that comes when prosperity or poverty do not matter; to accept what we have and “to want but little,” as Thoreau advised. The more we choose contentment, the more God sets us free. The more He sets us free, the more we choose contentment." – Margin, by Richard A. Swenson, M.D.

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