My big red truck was parked at the end of my driveway again this afternoon. It’s an odd place to park and one of my sweet neighbors had already called to check on me to make sure I was ok and remind me that they were available if I needed help. Don’t you just love great neighbors?! I am surrounded by them. What a blessing!

They make life lighter.

I’m finally home from Bible study and, although I am in need of some solitude (an introvert’s retreat) I am also exhilarated by the gift of the Word and the gift of these amazing women in their search for the deeper things of God. They are constantly uplifting and encouraging to me.

They make life lighter.

I spent about an hour yesterday talking on the phone with one of my dearest prayer partners. God has allowed us not to simply remain friends, but to actually GROW our  friendship even though we’ve only seen each other in person about 3-4 times in the last 20 years or so. She’s someone I can go to for prayer on any subject. She won’t always automatically “take my side,” but I know she’ll always have my back. Her counsel is always Biblical and straight to the point. There’s little we hold back from one another after all this time. She pushes me to be better tomorrow than I am today. I need that.

Knowing I can count on her (and others) makes life lighter.

Last week, a cousin and I were messaging back and forth as we caught up on family details and celebrated the blessing of being raised in our particular extended family. We’ve never known what it’s like to be unloved. We’ve always had people who encouraged us and insisted that we were more than capable of whatever stood in front of us. We spoke of how we wished that same blessing for others that we know.

Family like that makes life lighter.

IMG_20180210_172302534Sometimes we let things weigh us down. It can be people, memories, emotions, or “stuff”…like all of the pounds and pounds of paperwork in boxes that filled the back of my truck just a few minutes ago. Over the past several weeks, my husband and I have sifted and sorted through all kinds of “life detritus” that has accumulated and followed us over our past 25+ years together. Some of it we brought to the marriage and more than a little has been added since. In our search for peace and margin, we’re making room for more joy…even if joy simply comes in the form of empty closet floors or extra room in a filing drawer or two.

About an hour ago, I got a phone call from the shredding company to say they’d roll up in with their big mobile shredder and slowly, but surely, my truck would be emptied. They will decimate and remove all of this extra “stuff” we’ve been holding on to for so long. We won’t miss any of it. To be honest, there are some boxes that only received a cursory glance-through before they were added to the pile. We haven’t needed the contents in over 25 years, so we’re pretty confident we’ll manage through the next 25 without them.

We’re tired of paying for real estate that we can’t use or access due to the things we’ve held on to simply because we didn’t make time to clear them out. That stops this year. We’re making room for more creativity in our lives…and in our shop, and in our closets, and more rest in our minds, as well. There’s a significant value to knowing these things no longer need to be done. Completion of a task is its own gift.

Our margins are increasing–in a lot of areas, not just this one. I’ve been surprised at how excited I’ve been about getting this all sorted and scheduled, and now, finally…shredded. More exciting than a few extra square feet of space is the feeling of freedom that getting rid of this excess “bounty” of uselessness gives us. I think we’ll actually breathe better just knowing it’s done. It would be easy to say, “If only we had done this sooner…” but we’re not holding on to any regrets around here, either. They’ll weigh you down faster than anything!

We’re celebrating the feeling of being lighter over here today and “that’s a good thing.” I’m sure Martha would agree! (grin) Wouldn’t it be great if every area of our lives could be cleaned up and cleared out so easily? While it takes time to sort through paper boxes and file cabinets, closets, and attics, you can take a big step forward toward creating spiritual margin without ever leaving your present position. Just ask God to help you with that right where you are. He’s ready and willing to hear from you at any time and the changes He can make in your life are both instantaneous and eternal.

What kinds of “stuff” (emotions, regrets, or physical items all count!) do you need to clear out and release in order to increase YOUR margins? Make or schedule some time to do that today!

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.”  Psalm 51:10 (ESV)

Grace and Peace! (and lots and lots of margin)


Make a good day!

Earlier today I chose brightly colored vegetables to the tune of “Your Mama Don’t Dance and Your Daddy Don’t Rock and Roll.” Bible study was over for the day and I had been privileged to spend some time afterward in a discussion about theology, doctrine, and obedience. I was ready to get home and fix a sandwich for lunch.

As I unloaded my items onto the moving conveyor belt, my checkout lady commented on my necklace. I told her I had made it and she and another checker who was acting as a bagger began asking questions about how I did it.

As she handed me my receipt, my cheerful checker said, “Make a nice day!” We all chuckled as she laughingly stammered out her explanation that she was still thinking about me making jewelry out of broken china while still trying to wish me a nice day.

Wouldn’t it be nice if all our verbal blunders still held such profound truth?

Make a nice day. Yes, we can choose to do just that. I pondered it again as I drove home and waited for the men who were cleaning up the debris from a recent power company cleanup to allow me into my driveway. I set about putting up my groceries and making my peanut butter and banana sandwich.

Home at last. Simple goodness. On to the next thing.

Minutes ago I headed out to check the mail and view the freshly cleaned area…and actually teared up a bit to see only a small twisted stump where a favorite young tree once stood. It had survived a transplanting from MS in 2014, multiple hot summer suns, several winter storms, and the whirring blade of two previous cleanups only to fall pray to an apparently overzealous cleanup crew.

IMG_20180206_173549941I wrestled the remaining portion from the ground and carried it behind the house where I re-potted it in a large vacant planter. I went inside to do some research and, based on what I found, I am hopeful for an eventual recovery. It will take time to replace the nearly 4′ of growth, but maybe, with care, it can be done.

I could choose to be angry and call to make a fuss. Who knows? They might even try to do something about it, but I’ve decided to apply some margin for others here, as well. Although I’m definitely annoyed, I’m working hard to apply the truth that I can MAKE a good day even when frustrated by what feels like a thoughtless and unnecessary act. Better yet, I’m bolstered by the hope that I can live up to the name given to this particular type of tree, a smoke tree called, believe it or not…”Grace”…because I’m also called to live up to what Jesus did for me a long, long time ago…on a tree.

(Insert very wry grin here.)

God surely does use the strangest things to teach us, doesn’t He? ( FYI: I may still need another Grace-tree…just saying…I’m officially on the lookout…)

 “Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.” 2 Peter 1:2 (NIV)

GRACE and Peace, every one! Grace and Peace!


Change of plans

Earlier this week I scheduled an outing with friends as a way to introduce a little Sabbath margin in the middle of our week for all of us. It was great! I had a wonderful time thinking about it beforehand and an even better time doing it. Those involved seemed pleased and happy to be along for the fun. “The food was good and the company was even better,” said one reviewer, so a good time was had by all, I think. It didn’t take more than a few hours and then we all headed home to our regular schedules.

Nothing wrong with that at all.

I thought about it later and decided that I would probably create another weekend challenge for the blog like I used to and encourage all of us to do more of that kind of thing…you know, where our own margin helps create some for someone else…

It was going to be fun.

And then…some someone asked me to do something for them that wasn’t what I would have chosen to do.

My first response wasn’t pretty–or even very nice, so I’m really glad that only God and my cat saw it.

I’m putting it out here, though, because maybe that’s what the challenge should have been all along: create some margin for someone else this weekend…even if it stretches us a bit.

This isn’t the same thing as becoming a pretzel person just to make some unreasonable person happy. THIS is about believing that we all deserve a little more margin…and doing our part to make that happen.

I hope your weekend is wonderful and that everyone you know is healthy and happy and has just the right amount of margin to have to some fun…but don’t be afraid or automatically back away if creating some margin for someone else looks a little bit more like something you wouldn’t have chosen. After all, you can still choose to serve with a good attitude…even if you need time to adjust yours. (Grin)

Grace and peace!

The missing piece

My maternal grandmother loved birds. Actually, I think she just loved LIFE, but she had a special fondness for the birds. She watched them, fed them, and fussed when the “mean old blue jays” swooped in and frightened off the other ones. She couldn’t stand birds who “acted ugly.”

I still remember the rows of Audubon Society bird prints in their matching  thin black frames that hung over the sofa in the front room. I spent a good deal of time looking at those prints (kneeling because you weren’t supposed to put your shoes on the furniture! remember rules as a child? grin.) and trying to remember the different kinds of birds so I could ask her about them later, because there were always a lot of us around and it was rarely quiet. (At her passing, she had 13 granddaughters and 13 grandsons…and that number has expanded a bit since then. Yes, there were a LOT of us, so conversation with her one-on-one was something to be prized. Still, I think most of us would say that we got our share of her attention and bloomed because of it. She made quite a deep impression on each of us mainly because of the way she loved us.)

Grandmother’s Audubon bird prints were beautiful in a formal mass-produced sort of way which always seemed a stark contrast to the bedlam often happening around them and I think, even then, my internal color sense was a bit offended by the added contrast of the late 60’s-early 70’s upholstery beneath them. I kept trying to figure out why these things didn’t seem to go together…for at least a few seconds before joining in the fray.

IMG_20170125_110849382The sofa had a matching chair and that chair was always referred to as “Grandmother’s chair.” It was where she held court at Christmas when the whole family gathered around and waited to see her reaction to whatever gift she happened to be opening at the time. We all measured our growth a bit by how many of us it took to fill the seat when she wasn’t in it. I know my Cousin Bobby and I did, anyway.

After Grandmother passed, the chair ended up at my mother’s house and it sat in the back hall for a long time before I got up the nerve to ask for it. It didn’t go with anything I owned, but I had coveted it for years.  I didn’t have the money for getting it reupholstered, so I threw a favorite old bedcover across it and declared it “good enough.” Once I decided to make that project a priority, I took my time thinking about the fabric I wanted. (That chair got it’s own Pinterest board for awhile!) I settled on something traditional, pretty, mostly pink (because it was one of her favorite colors), and spiced up with a few threads of red and green and gold thrown in to deepen the elegance factor. I think I may have been trying to get it to finally live up to those Audubon bird prints. (grin)

My friend Cyndi did the job of chair transformation about a year ago and I love it! I had her marry a spare ottoman I found to the chair and threw in a little contrast fabric just on it just for fun. I have loved it, but I still felt like there was something missing.

Yesterday, I found the missing piece.

IMG_20180126_101051123It’s a crazy-patterned pillow…with some very silly-looking birds on it. It made me laugh right there in the store and I knew it had to go home with me even though it doesn’t match anything else in my house except that chair…and my amazing childhood memories. The fact that the chair is now more elegantly attired and the birds look wildly silly is a bonus for me. It seems things have come full circle. Better yet, it was on sale for $10, and my thrifty grandmother would definitely approve…and you can tell that Smokey isn’t bothered, either.

I’ve smiled or laughed every time I’ve entered the room since I put it in place, so I’d say that’s a double bargain.

Who knew I’d find margin in a silly ten-dollar bird-pillow and childhood memories about a woman who was never famous, but had so much influence on the people around her? God did…and I think He’s still chuckling with me.

Grace and peace.

Snow day

The sun is shining here and the ground is resuming it’s more familiar leaf covered appearance as the snow continues a strategic retreat.

Despite the laughter I know is erupting from my northern friends and family, we had ourselves a “snow day” yesterday.

We know it doesn’t compare in volume to what so many experience with that term. In fact, I had a pretty good chuckle myself as I looked at the photo of a cousin’s young daughter waiting for the bus in WAY more snow than we have in the ground. That chuckle turned into full-blown laughter as I read the newspaper article that said their town had officially received over 100 inches of the cold white stuff already this season.

We. Would. Have. DIED!

First, from horror, and then because we’re absolutely clueless about how to function in that kind of frozen precipitation. Give us a 100 degree heat wave ANY time over the cold. THAT, we’re good at down here.

My husband attempted to get to work once we had light enough to see the roads. He left tracks in the snow on his way to the truck and I braved the cold on our back porch long enough to stick my hand out and snap a couple of photos. Over two hours later, he returned home and set up shop on our dining room table. He spent most of the day on the phone and his computer while I alternated between household chores and some business paperwork.

Lunch was a sandwich of freshly made chicken salad and then we went back to our respective chores. He mentioned that those earlier tracks were now mostly ice.

A few hours of productive work later, I made a deliberate choice to include some margin in our day: it was time for a break and a pan full of hot homemade cookies. Dessert BEFORE supper! (A childhood dream!) While they baked, I headed out to clear off the porch and the walkway…and catch a glimpse of the sunlight peeking through the trees. As I swept the snow away, my husband’s footprints remained visible…just as if in a reverse negative photo. (Extra points for those of us who remember using actual film in a camera!)

I posted the two photos elsewhere on social media and thought I’d do it here, too.



Well, Becky, what’s the point of all this? It’s pretty simple, actually: sometimes God goes to a lot of trouble to give you unexpected time with people you love. It’s up to us to take full advantage of it and it’s a good idea to not lose sight of the footprints whether they guide you to where you want to go or just warn you where not to slip and slide.

“You enlarge my steps under me, And my feet have not slipped.” Psalm 18:36

Margin for a snow day…

Changing lists

When I decided that “margin” would be my word for the year, I was all about building some room in my schedule to add some actual life to my living. That sounds a bit strange–and maybe a bit overdramatic (grin)–but there it is. My goal was to make time to add in some of those things many of us THINK about doing, but so often put off because we’re too busy…or too tired from all of our too busy. My list add-ins are probably different from yours, of course, but you know what I mean. (By the way, what IS on your list? You’ve got one, too, right?)

I’m a long-term list-maker and I used to think that simply putting an item on the list would be enough to make it happen. After all, I also have that check-it-off syndrome that often accompanies chronic list-making.

My problem came when my to-do lists started getting longer than the time allotted to accomplish them. My husband has seen my impossibly long lists and he has laughed and teased me about it for years…and now…I’ve realized that I should have been listening instead of laughing.

Maybe it’s a sign of getting older, although I’d rather call it a sign of maturity (because, well, you know…Illusions!), but realizing God was talking to ME in John 10:10 (AMPC), was a big wake-up call.

The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows).

I want that enjoyable life, in abundance, to the full, till it overflows thing.

I’ve always wanted that–who wouldn’t?! I just lost sight of how to get it for awhile. Somewhere in the midst of all my lists, I forgot to add: “enjoy life to the fullest, till it overflows.”

There’s a certain satisfaction that comes from doing lots and lots of good things, from accomplishing everything on an extensive list (even your own!), and for being recognized or celebrated for doing it. It’s nice to be valued and applauded, but we don’t need to forget that our true value comes from the God Who created us and not what we’ve managed to get done in any given time period.

Eternal God’s applause might not be audible, but I’d argue that you can still hear it in your heart. I think that’s one of the reasons Psalm 46:10 tells us,

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

Typically, our lists are about us. They often include good things and even God-things, but most of the applause things are in there for us and not Him. Most of all, our lists are RARELY about being still and getting to know God better. That’s an important distinction. God has been clear that we’re to make time to be still and know that HE is God. If we’re always on the move, could it be because we’re more interested in exalting US and proving OUR worth instead of acknowledging HIS?

What if we became known more for knowing God than “doing” God? What if our mission became acknowledging Him instead of fighting to be acknowledged? What if we actually had time to share Him with others around us because we had some built-in on-purpose stillness in our lives instead of the endless rounds of activity that so many of us have perpetuated for years?

Think about it. Do you need a change?

I do. So… I’ve started a new list.

My new list is one I’m using to jot down the deliberately chosen God-moments of my life and the times when I choose to acknowledge Him as the source of all my blessings. Maybe one day I’ll share some of the items on it, but for now, I’m just enjoying the new list…

…and I’m enjoying God more, as well.

Grace and peace!


What does “margin” look like?

Last evening I received a sweet email from my friend, the amazing Althea. She’s an encourager of the first order and her simple message said, “See you in the morning. Sleep good tonight in the margin.” Isn’t she precious?! I do love a friend who tries to help you achieve your goals! I quickly responded, however, that I’d be surprised if I slept much at all since Bama was playing for the national championship and I intended to see the entire game. (RTR! Y’all HAD to know that was coming, but I won’t belabor the point right now! I’ll just leave a lot of new tags on this post…grin)

As I thought about her comment a little bit later, I did a mental checklist on all the reasons it made sense to follow her suggestion and get some sleep: early morning on Tuesday, the start of another semester of Bible study, I was scheduled to teach, first days are always a little squirrely so you need to be ready and able to be flexible, and…I really wanted to see that game, so…I stayed up REALLY late and got up REALLY early…and survived just fine, thank you very much!

I made the decision to make “margin” look like what works best for me based on whatever I’m facing at any given moment. Sounds simple doesn’t it? For someone who thrives on her OCD planning skills, it was downright revolutionary. (grin)


As we began our study this morning–on the practice of Sabbath in our lives, no less! (Don’t tell me God isn’t on the ball, since both the study and the timing were decided last summer!!)–I reminded the gathered women that we’re not allowed to just hear God’s truth and move on without becoming responsible for it. Decisions will be made one way or the other about what we do with that truth, but the responsibility for follow-through remains intact and squarely on our shoulders!

Since, as a teacher/leader, I’m required to be especially responsible for the way I handle God’s truth, I decided to put a little Sabbath rest and margin into my afternoon. My practice of it may not look anything like yours–and that’s ok! God made us different on purpose! The main thing is that we make the effort so we’re rested and ready for the next assignments God chooses to hand us.


In an effort to clarify how my practice of adding a little Sabbath rest to my life got implemented today, “margin” currently sounds a lot like Earl Scruggs and Vince Gill making a little bluegrass heaven along with the hum of the washing machine for some added rhythm. It smells like a crock-pot full of hot vegetable-beef soup to go with the leftover cornbread. It was seeking out a birthday card for someone I love, paying bills with a smile on my face for God’s provision, having a snack lunch and then roaming in the woods for awhile since the temperature was finally up in the 40s today. (Major praise!!) It included lots of little stray pines being pulled up from where I don’t want those eventually-towering giants to be, picking up fallen limbs from the last storm, and seeking out some wild grapevine treasure from the woods for a more beautiful “later” and being in curled up and blogging in comfortable pajamas even before I eat supper.

In short, it was a pretty great day, so thanks, Althea, for reminding me to rest in the margin! It didn’t look like a full night’s sleep last night, but I had a ball!

Grace and Peace!