I was not going to share this on my blog because I share some personal stuff in this post…then I thought about it and realize that’s just prideful. I don’t want to hide mistakes when there’s a chance I can be open and help others to find ways to increase their faith, emotional capacity, and not be burnt out so quickly. That said…here are the notes from our Bible study this week. Instead of having it at my house, we decided to go to a favorite Mexican restaurant to enjoy a meal and then share. It was different, but fun :-).
Monday night we talked about having appropriate boundaries in our lives. I had a different topic planned but the message at our church Sunday really resonated with me so I shared some notes and added thoughts from that message that our Pastor called “Margin.”
In a nut shell, it is important that we have margin in our lives so that we can effectively deal with the unexpected that comes up. Such occurrences are inevitable but if we haven’t prepared ourselves with adequate margin (resources) then we can’t weather the storm when situations arise.
Three examples of where God has pointed out to me over recent months about “margin needs” in my life are: balancing work/school, not over-exhausting myself (taking a break to recharge during the day), and making appropriate financial decisions.
Example 1: if I do not focus on my work and use my time wisely at work I may fall behind, which will make me feel stressed. Therefore I stay focused with important tasks to prevent that unnecessary added stress. The same goes for my schoolwork. If I do not study effectively, then I take longer to accomplish my work and I get frustrated and stressed. If I manage my time and approach these tasks responsibly then I know from experience that the outcome is so much better: it starts with me.
Example 2: I am often guilty of not taking a lunch or break during the day at work, so by the time I get home I am spent and snappy. That is not fair to my family to get my worst. They should always get my best! So, I’m doing better about taking at least a lunch break during the day so that I can recharge my batteries mid-day and feel less stressed. It is so helpful and I feel so refreshed! 🙂
Example 3: I pride myself on being practical and responsible but sometimes I make rash decisions and beat myself up for them later: <enter the mountain bike purchase of last Summer.> I don’t have time right now to go out mountain biking and I should take into account that with all the traveling Justin does lately, the vehicle with the bike rack isn’t home. It was not a good time to buy the bike but I ran out and bought it anyway. It was not a responsible financial decision. When I make better financial decisions, then when things come up like my crazy dental stuff or my “fun” illness last week – I’m not as stretched because my reserves (my margin) is prepared to handle the unexpected.
On Monday night we talked about a big point made by my pastor about simplicity in the sermon the day before and it was really something that seems to resonate with me. God never intended for us to live so stretched and in such chaos. If we are honest with ourselves, often our stress is self-created. It is decisions we have made that has placed us into the positions that stress us.
It’s time to make decisions to prevent those moments. No matter how small, let’s challenge each other to make small changes to simplify our lives. Perhaps it’s taking a lunch break every day to rest or read. Maybe it’s not making an irrational 850.00 mountain bike purchase :-/. :-). Maybe it’s taking control over how we manage our time throughout the day. Whatever your step to simplicity is – be intentional about it and make that small change.
And most importantly, remember to take time to be alone with God in prayer and in His Word. All too often I bring my requests to Him like a shopping list or news update and then I say amen and don’t listen for what He has to say. Let’s slow down and cut out the noise and listen for His voice. What is He telling you to do to simplify? And hey you: don’t forget to rest! You can’t do it all, and you certainly cannot give what you do not have: you must rest! If God rested, then it’s obviously important for us to :). Did I mention you should rest? 🙂
When I think of God’s Word today, I think of my medicine last week when I was SO sick. I was given LOTS of meds to get me healthy but they could do nothing for me if I didn’t put them into my body. Likewise, if I do not put God’s Word into my mind and heart, then it doesn’t have the opportunity to minister to me, guide me, and change me.
Speaking of getting into the Word: here are some scriptures from the message Sunday at church: Isaiah 58:11, Luke 38 –> (the story of Martha choosing a good thing but missing out on the better thing because she was distracted), Romans 12:2, Psalm 46:10, Matthew 6:6, and Matthew 11:28.
I hope this is an encouragement to you all as much as it was to me.
Hope and Peace in Christ,
(Special thanks to Shannon Chapman for the inspiring message at City Church of Chattanooga – love my church! And, a continued special thanks to Lysa TerKeurst and her book The Best Yes, which continues to inspire me.)