Thursday, July 31, 2014

Dreaming and Dabbling and Diving into Margin

As August approaches, our family is beginning a sabbatical which will allow for my Man to rest a bit and read a lot and, Lord willing, be able to reflect and relax as he embarks on his third decade of ministry and his second decade with our local church family.

The kids and I are planning our activities as well and will hopefully serve to prepare us for another year of learning whether it be in our school setting, within our church family, or out in the great big world. We hope, while on our break, to read a bit, play a lot, and dream and dabble a fair amount too.

One of the most intimidating challenges facing me as I prepare for time away is what books to pack. Our space is ever limited and it is frowned upon by the establishment when I attempt to carry three overstuffed books along with me on our travels. I'm grateful for my iPad in these situations because it allows me bring along many books within it's digital circuitry, but just now I find myself in a phase in which I desperately desire to hold the actual book that I am reading in my hands and turn the physical pages and feel the weight of the finished pages accumulating in my left hand as the bundle of pages yet to be read in my right hand dwindles. So, there's the rub. As we prepare to head for our destination, I've considered mailing a box of books ahead so that space will be saved in the family van...

It's been fun to look forward to what we pray will be a healthy time of soul-feeding and family focus within and a time of preparing and recharging our hearts and minds for the outward-facing calling that the Lord has placed within each of our hearts. We speak of activities which we might undertake by saying "that might be beneficial to do on sabbatical." When a certain type of resource crosses our path someone might say, "Hey, let's listen to that on sabbatical." You'd certainly imagine that there are books arriving in our mailbox and making their way onto lists which we've determined would be "good sabbatical reading."

This will be our second sabbatical while serving and worshiping amongst our church family and we are so blessed and thankful to God that He has chosen to place us in this particular body of believers. To be loved and cared for in such a way that we are able to both look forward to partake of such a respite is a meaningful gift from God and from our church family. Thom Rainer has written an excellent and very short article {click HERE to read it} entitled Five Reasons Your Pastor Should Take a Sabbatical and every single reason received a hearty AMEN from this pastor's wife.

I used to dread the thought of our family on sabbatical because I felt it implied emergency first aid to the exhausted and beleaguered pastor's family who were teetering on the edge of disaster and we are, by the grace of God, not that. We are weary at times, yes, but so is the coal miner's family, the kindergarden teacher's and the grocer's. We are tugged apart toward a myriad of obligations and endeavors and come home fairly tuckered, late at night after ministering to those in need or after exciting activities, but so do deacons, and children's workers, and the ladies of the social committee.

We are not exhausted beyond measure but this pace for this family both in life and in service is best not maintained long-term without the provision ahead for sabbatical. Sabbatical, which I learned after the experience of our first one years ago, is not an ER visit after an explosion of life has occurred, but instead is like the administration of vitamins and immunizations which serve both to maintain and enrich the health and vitality of this ordinary ministry family in which we live and breathe.

In his book Margin, Dr. Richard Swenson writes,
Margin is the space between our load and our limits. It is the amount allowed beyond that which is needed. It is something held in reserve for contingencies or unanticipated situations. Margin is the gap between rest and exhaustion, the space between breathing freely and suffocating.
So...we are headed toward the margin for the next 30 days or so. While we abide in this place between our load and our limits, we'll plaster the cracks that are sneaking up the walls there and patch the holes in the roof lest our margin begin to leak and by God's great grace we'll return as we did last time with fresh hearts and rested hands and heads ready encounter all that is to follow.

{Please continue to check back in here as the weeks pass as I'm eager to share what I'll be reading  and learning and laughing about because surely as we pull the laces more snugly around ourselves things worth relating are bound to be squeezed out!}

With love and appreciation for your stopping by this space...

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