www.istockphoto.com

I posted some thoughts from Richard Swenson’s book Margin last week. Here’s another simple statement that has ruminated from that book: “Only a body that is well rested, properly exercised, and correctly fed will be able to maintain its energy reserves in the face of serious stress” (Swenson, 125).
a
Simple statement, right? Sounds so easy, right? Yet, it seems to be an elusive goal for me. I find these simple steps to be the most challenging assignments at this point in my life. Swenson provides some practical suggestions that I see as a need. The question remains, how do I get them off this page and into my life?

a

If writing these steps on this blog will make me more accountable, here goes. In order to improve my physical health I will:
1) Exercise for sounder sleep
2) Decrease intake of fat
3) Decrease intake of sugars
4) Replace processed snacks with fruit
5) Eat a balanced diet
6) Drink a lot of water

a

Swenson’s proposed outcome from making such changes is appealing: “If we perform our assignment well, we will find energy we never knew we had. We will work better, run better, feel better, heal better, and live better” (Swenson,142). May it indeed get off this page and into my life!
Am I the only one who finds this challenging? How do you make important things like this a part of your life?
©Brenda Pace, 2010
Since writing about it a few days ago, I’ve been doing some more contemplation on the idea of margin and how I spend my time. Thomas Merton urged Christians to recover a “simple and wholesome life, lived at a moderate and humanly agreeable tempo.” I think that succinctly describes a life with margin.
a
William D. Longstaff wrote a poem in the early 1880’s that has become a classic hymn. It describes a life I feel confident would result in the correct amount of margin. I’m singing it this morning as a personal challenge and prayer. Will you join me?

aa

a

a


Take time to be holy, speak oft with thy Lord;
Abide in Him always, and feed on His Word.
Make friends of God’s children, help those who are weak,
Forgetting in nothing His blessing to seek.

a

Take time to be holy, the world rushes on;
Spend much time in secret, with Jesus alone.
By looking to Jesus, like Him thou shalt be;
Thy friends in thy conduct His likeness shall see.

a

Take time to be holy, let Him be thy Guide;
And run not before Him, whatever betide.
In joy or in sorrow, still follow the Lord,
And, looking to Jesus, still trust in His Word.

a

Take time to be holy, be calm in thy soul,
Each thought and each motive beneath His control.
Thus led by His Spirit to fountains of love,
Thou soon shalt be fitted for service above.
©Brenda Pace, 2010
Enough Hours in a Day
I’ve been looking at my calendar for fall and thinking about the events that will command my focus over the next few months. My issues with time do not center on hours in a day. While my life is full, it is a season when I can concentrate on things and accomplish the tasks presented in a normal 24 hour period. I’m not consistently late for appointments or frustrated because I don’t have the time to get done the things I need to do. My issue with time is what Richard Swenson in his book Margin, describes as “calendar congestion.” Calendar congestion is something that robs us of the pleasure of anticipation. Without warning, an activity is upon us. We rush to meet it; then we rush to the next. In the same way, we lack the joy of reminiscing. On we fly to the next activity (Swenson, 158).

a

The ‘Pleasure of Anticipation’
My husband and I are preparing to build a house. When I share this information with others I’m usually met with the response, “how exciting!” Well, yes…and no. It is exciting when I think about the house being completed and we are moved in and settled;  but the actual process of picking out materials and making decisions sounds quite daunting! When I think of the ‘pleasure of anticipation’ I’m thinking more in the realm of planning a trip to Italy for my husband and me to enjoy together! (Could this be a good use of frequent flier miles before I lose them or my airline goes bankrupt?!) The contemplation, planning and anticipation of such a trip could be a healthy experience for us to enjoy, don’t you think?

a

Some Practical Steps
I’m actually very serious about the vacation plan, but I also am very serious about not wanting to live with calendar congestion.  As I look at the events in my calendar I want to anticipate them and make the time to reminisce when they are complete. Swenson provides some suggestions that I plan to adopt to help with this process over the next year:

a

1) Expect the unexpected

a

2) Learn to say no

a

3) Turn off the television

a

4) Practice simplicity and contentment

a

5) Enjoy anticipation and relish the memories

a

In the meantime I’m checking when those FF miles expire! I’ve got a trip to plan!
©Brenda Pace, 2010