2 years later…

i think its been 2 years since i last blogged — not really sure if i will keep it up, but its New Years and I have some things on my mind! I think I type them out for my own sake…because really…what I am about to type is of little importance to anyone else!

I was trying to decide about some “resolutions” for 2014 and while I would LOVE to declare some big and exciting changes that are going to take place in the year to come I had to come to terms with a Truth I learned about myself in 2013… Ironically, its a result of the 2012 November Sermon Series about Money. I find that ironic because my last post from 2 years ago was about the 2011 November sermon series about money.

I have discovered a pattern about myself — i like to make All-Or-Nothing Commitments. Meaning…my commitment after the Nov/2012 Stewardship Series was that from November 2012 – November 2013 I was going to purchase no new clothing (UNLESS it was absolutely NEEDED and agreed upon by my hubby). I like clothes and I like to shop so this was a big commitment. Turned out that the whole family liked that commitment so we all decided that there would be NO new clothing that entire year.

We did pretty good…really. I learned a few interesting (and sad) things about myself…but ultimately it was not a big deal at all. I will confess that the commitment came to an end about a month early because a Mission Trip to India required some attire that I didn’t have in my closet and when I went shopping after a 10 month fast, I came home with a few items that I could not justify as “India Attire” 🙂 Oh Well…

All that to say…I am good at a fast. I am good at complete abstaining…at eliminating things from my life completely for long periods of time. What I am NOT good at is MODERATION! Allowing small amounts of indulgence without going overboard.

So, when thinking about “resolutions” of course I immediately went to “Sugar Fast” (of course because all of December was Sugar Indulgence) — then I went to “Organize My Entire House” then on to “Drink only water” “Eat only raw/real/Daniel Plan/Unprocessed Foods” etc etc etc…we all get the picture. I like BIG challenges.

After thinking it through…I have decided that the BIGGEST challenge I can give myself is to live in consistent moderation throughout 2014. There are some things I have committed to…but none are over-the-top. Each of them, however, will add up to change over the long-haul. Here is what I am challenging myself with:

1) MEMORIZE ONE SCRIPTURE per week…this began post Katie’s hospitalization this past summer, but now a memorization group was established in November (for accountability).

2) READ OR LISTEN TO THE BOOK OF ACTS EACH MONTH…a commitment I made in India.


4) CLEAN ONE NEW THING (BIG OR SMALL) IN MY HOUSE EACH WEEK…this popped into my head after I was taking down Christmas Decorations and noticed the chandelier over my dining room table…in 6 years I have never cleaned it…EVER…its nasty (and to confess further…Its still nasty, didn’t clean it when I noticed it)

5) ORGANIZE ONE THING IN MY HOUSE PER WEEK (AGAIN…BIG OR SMALL) this needs to be done spending little-to-no money (good thing for all those Pins I have never tried) because we are saving for a debt-free remodel in our house this year.  So, no running out to the Container Store (what a store!) to purchase all the perfect organizing do-dads and gadgets.

I realize that there will be weeks that go by that I don’t get these things all done…and I have already decided to be OK with that — I am going to do my best to remain consistent — and not go over the top.

So, for me…among other things…I am proclaiming 2014 to be The Year of Moderation.

Maybe I will blog my process…i hope to…we shall see!

I will end with my Week 1 verse:

Isaiah 54:17: “No weapon that is used against you will defeat you.  You will show that those who speak against you are wrong.  These are the good things my servants receive.  Their victory comes from me,” says the Lord.

The Curry Family Experiment

If you are a “Park Chapeler” you are probably well aware that the month of November is always “money month” — or in more spiritual terms, “Stewardship” — if you pay attention at all then it should come as no surprise that EVERY November, our teaching from the front is going to be about God’s take on money.  Right?  If you are not a “Park Chapeler” then you you are up to speed!  To understand this post all you needed to know was that in November at Park Chapel, the topic of discussion is money.

Some people go on an extended vacation during that month — WOW…do they miss out.  i LOVE money month at Park Chapel.  I think there is almost nothing more challenging than God’s take on money, and I love to be challenged (usually.)  I know so many lives and families are changed when they surrender God’s money back to him, take control of their spending and begin to give…and not only give, but give generously! 

Our Experiment…

Danny and I were both blessed to be raised in homes where giving a tithe was never brought into question.  Ever.  From the first day I brought home a paycheck, I knew that 10% of that paycheck was going in the offering plate…no questions asked, and for the most part — I didn’t have any!  Its just what was modeled for me, so its what I did.  I also knew from the first moment I had a joint credit card with my parents, that you pay the FULL amount on the statement when it comes in the mail.  Truly, I don’t even think that I knew paying less was an option!  As I have now spent almost 1/2 of my life NOT living with my parents…I become more and more grateful for the legacy of first fruits that was passed on to me–and to Danny.

So, every November at the end of the stewardship series we make a renewed commitment to give generously.  And we do…all year long.  And God blesses and meets our needs.

This year, however…something shifted and God led me to make an additional commitment.  I made it after the first week of November and our family kept it through the end of the month.  And God knew what he was up to because it has REVOLUTIONIZED our family life.  

Growing up, I remember that going out to eat was “special” — it was something rare…and a big deal.  As I have talked to people, I am pretty sure that lots of people my age and older had that same experience.  It was rare…and super exciting to eat at a restaurant.  My family ate almost every supper eating at home.  My dad ( a teacher ) — brought his lunch to school everyday.  When we vacationed…we packed our food…in a cooler.

Danny and I have become aware in the last few years as our children have gotten older that their life experience has been much different than ours.  Our parents may have passed on important principles about tithing and credit cards — and we took those things and transferred them into our family unit, but one thing that didn’t naturally transfer into our family — the rarity of eating out! 

I began to notice this when my life significantly slowed down (see blog post #1!!) — as I became more engaged in family life I started recognizing that my children have an entitelement issue — they felt entitled to eat out.  And…um… in case you don’t realize, but if your children have an issue with feeling entitled…about anything…its not their fault, not when they are still living under your roof!  My kids ROCK…they like to help people, they like to give toys to kids who need them, they have big hearts…but when kids with big hearts turn ugly when they don’t get the resaurant of their choice, or get upset when on a rare occassion I tell them “no…we are going to eat lunch at home today” or mope because we went to Restaurant A instead of Restaurant B — THERE IS A PROBLEM!!

One Decision.  Its all it took.  A decision to be accountable…a decision to admit that while we may be generous, we may tithe and then some, we may not struggle to give first— God wanted MORE from us.  He wanted us to quit “Nickel and Diming” our money away (or “Dollaring and Five Dollaring” — cuz really…you can’t get much for a nickel at a restaurant) and He gave us the responsibility to teach our kids that being a good steward is more than tithing and helping under-priviledged people.  Its making wise decisions with the money that God entrusted us with.  OUCH.

So…we decided that for 2 weeks…we were not spending our money on eating out.  It sounds like SUCH a ridiculous decision…easy for some…but you must understand, we were REALLY GOOD at eating out!  2 Weeks without spending ANY money on food–except for groceries needed to cook and pack lunches–no coffee runs, no Polar Pops, no drive-thrus when driving to Tennessee for Thanksgiving…no convenience store candy or snacks for the car on trips — none of it.

More than that…part of the decision was we were going to track DAILY what we WOULD have spent that day on eating out.  So…I put a big ugly white sheet of paper right on my kitchen wall–not 8 1/2 by 11– i mean a BIG sheet of paper and every day for 2 weeks we tracked in big writing with a bold marker what we WERE NOT spending. 

I am going to spare you (and our pride!!) the total at the end of 2 weeks — but I will just say…it was EMBARASSING– ridiculous really.  Sad.  But SUPER EYE OPENING — and those 2 weeks have literally transformed our family life.

Do you know, that if you don’t eat at a restaurant — you still have to eat?  And you have to do it at home! (Ha!) — And, do you know that the table in your kitchen or dining room that is piled with paper, mail, school work, JUNK — is a great surface on which to eat?  Do you also know that just because you have an island with barstools– doesn’t mean you have to eat EVERY meal there?  Do you know that your kids get EXCITED about eating as a family…at home?  Do you know that one small decision like we made– opens the door for NUMEROUS conversations as a family about WHY that decision was made?  Do you also know that lunches can still be packed…kids don’t HAVE to eat school lunch?  Do you know that fast food restaurants won’t go out of business if you or your spouse don’t spend your money at them at lunchtime?  And that a sandwich made at home– can actually be consumed a few hours later and be quite satisfying??

These are things that I knew…but obviously didn’t REALLY KNOW.  Now I do.  And so do my kids.  We eat at home now.  We survived our 2 weeks…then set a limit (aka BUDGET) for eating out.  I am proud to say that since the 1st week of November we have NEVER gone over this budget…And have come in significantly under several times.  Our Secret?  The BIG piece of paper on the kitchen wall.  Its still there…and I think as much of an eyesore that it may be…it will be there for the rest of our lives!  It works for us — every penny that is spent eating out or at a drive-thru, or at a convenience store is written down.  Ask our small group– they see it every week. 

So…at the end of Money Month…I made another commitment — a TERRIFYING one.  A NEW category on the paper on the wall — my personal “random spending” is now being written down.  THIS is hard…i like to spend–on generally stupid, unnecessary things…I am a spender!  Its amazing how much less you spend…and how much more you think about random purchases before you make them when you have to write it on the wall for the world to see…when you have to total it at the end of the month!  This new commitment is a work in progress…Those Kohl’s 30% Coupons…may be the end of me!!! 

So…the Curry’s are eating at home now.  We are taking our lunches to school and work on most days.  When we travel…we are packing food and snacks.  Our kids get EXCITED when we go to a restaurant now…and expect to eat most meals at home.  When given the choice they have been known to choose packing food to eat in the car rather than a drive-thru.  We have WAY more margin in our life because we spend a lot less time waiting for food…or driving to and from restaurants.  This ONE decision has changed our family life…we have slowed down significantly, we eat healthier because we actually know what is in the food we are eating, we have more time in the evening before kids go to bed.  We do have an ugly large piece of paper on our wall…but it has kind of become a part of our family now–and we like it.


A quick hello ~ its been almost 6 weeks since i last wrote…and much has happened in the Curry home since then.  Amazing how 1 seemingly small decision can transform your entire family life…however, today I am not writing about that.  I will write about “The Curry Family Experiment” in the days to come!

Today I just want to post that I felt a tug to connect although this of ALL weeks is the week I have NO white space!!!  I am having LOTS of Moms in my home tomorrow evening for the annual MOPS Christmas Cookie Exchange–and while maybe I shouldn’t care that my house is a mess–I do.  Funny thing about the cookie exchange is that I have never been to one so I am not sure what is supposed to happen–or if I am supposed to be figuring out some agenda!  Since I don’t know those things I will at least clean my house so that when these 20-30 women are in my home its at least kind of clean for them.  With these women…I am quite positive that the actual exchanging of cookies will happen whether I have a plan or not.

So…thats all I have today, just a word of hello because I have 33 hours to whip this house into shape!  Sounds like a lot of time, but as we all know its really not.

Until I sit down to write about “The Curry Family Experiment” ~

Grace and Peace to you and yours.

Isaiah 9:6

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 26:3

You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.

Isaiah 26:12

LORD, you establish peace for us; all that we have accomplished you have done for us.

John 14:27

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

Psalm 29:11

The LORD gives strength to his people; the LORD blesses his people with peace.

Romans 15:13

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Good Already

So…truth be told, I wrote this over a month ago — but wasn’t ready to post it.  Why?  Well…words are powerful and once we write them and post them — they are out there!  My thoughts, my opinions, my viewpoints— out there for the world to misinterpret!!  I am not a professional writer — I am not a theologian — I don’t have the exact correct way to say the things I am trying to say.  I just know that I express my life lessons, my life challenges, my life experiences best through writing.  So…I wrote.  And now, before I post that writing — a Disclaimer — I, Jen Curry, believe in right & wrong, I believe that my actions can break God’s heart…even cause a chasm between Him and I…I care about people and I believe I have a responsibility not to be wreckless.  So, let me just say that the heart of this blog is not about wreckless “not caring”…so, if you read it and that what you take away — then come back and re-read this disclaimer!  I care about people, I am just done being more concerned about people’s opinions than I am about my Father’s opinion. 

“It doesn’t matter if others approve of me.  My task is to be true, not popular.”  Luke 6:26

I’m good already.

For just about as long as Caleb has been able to talk with us, he has been teaching us lessons – sometimes simple lessons…sometimes lifechanging lessons.  Caleb, of course, is completely oblivious to this – that is the beauty of being 5-for the most part
you have the freedom to live in complete oblivion.

From about age 3, whenever Caleb was told to “be good” or if he was enticed (AKA…bribed or threatened) with a reward for good behavior  (Ex: “Caleb, if you are good you can have…”) his response was ALWAYS – “Mama, I’m good already!”  CUTE?
Yes.  Frustrating? Sometimes.  TRUE? Not usually, but…then again, maybe it

Over the past year I have been deeply challenged to begin viewing myself, and as a result, living with the idea that in the eyes of God – “I’m good already.”

For some reason, I have lived most of my life thinking that I am not enough…not smart enough, not funny enough, not talented enough, not pretty enough, not appealing enough, not successful enough, not effective enough…not GOOD enough.  For who?
GREAT question.  Did I walk around repeating these things to myself?  No.  Did I realize I was believing these things about myself?  No…not usually.  That’s the scary thing about our core beliefs/internal messaging—more often than not we believe them without even realizing it.  We believe these subconscious thoughts without knowing
why.  We believe them blindly – they affect our everyday lives…the decisions we make, why we do what we do, why we say what we say, how we relate with those around us, how we interpret what others say to us.  For better or worse, what we believe about ourselves—dictates just about everything we do in this life.

I am living proof that even a God-follower can read God’s Word, even kind of know what it says – but not internalize it so that it affects change in life.  I am also living proof that at any point in life we are able to begin to understand that God’s Word has the power to RADICALLY affect life!!!  It’s never too late.

“I’m good already.”  Am I?  Do I believe that?  Is it even healthy to believe that?  If I believe that in God’s eyes I am already good, won’t that make me lazy?  Won’t
that keep me from striving to be a better person?  Shouldn’t “good Christians” always strive to be better?  If I am good already, won’t that prevent me from going after that elusive “spiritual growth” that all “good Christians” are supposed to be striving after?
If I am already good…doesn’t that mean that I have already arrived and can then just sit back and float through life?

These are the questions that I initially wrestled with as I was challenged with the idea that God’s view of me is that I am good already.  For me, it seems to go against everything that I was ever taught about God’ view of his people – we aren’t
good enough!  That’s why we need Him?  Right?  Even as I write that—there is something in my mind that says “YES!  That’s right – I need God because I’m not Good Enough.”
AHHH!!!  It is a mind bender even now and I am not truly sure that I can straighten out these thoughts on this virtual paper…but I will make a humble attempt!

I am listening to a song right now on my ipod and it is blaring into my ears “you stay the same through the ages, your love never changes…and when the oceans the rage, I don’t have to be afraid because I know that you love me.”

His love NEVER changes.

I am not sure that I used to know that God REALLY loved me – I mean
REALLY loved me for exactly who I am right nowtodayno matter what I dono
matter what I say— no matter what I do well, don’t do well, who I tick off, who I make happy, what I believe, what I don’t believe, what decision I make—or don’t make.  God loves me…right now, today—just like he did yesterday.  Just like he did before I realized that He did.

I can only speak from personal experience—but I am going to make a bold blanket statement.  I have talked with enough people in my life—people who are going through great times and horrible times…so I think I can say this with confidence— Most
people—definitely me included, spend a lot of their life making decisions (big
decisions and little teeny tiny mindless daily decisions) based on what they
think other people are going to think about them…or what they think others want
them to do, or think they should do.  We do this consciously…but probably more often unconsciously.

Then, to compound the problem, not only do we make decisions based on other people’s opinions…we take it a step further.  We give those opinions the power to define us. 

I have spent most of my life doing this…not even realizing that I was doing it…probably even consciously thinking that I wasn’t making decisions this way.  But, you know
what?  There was one piece missing to my conscious decision to not live my life based on what others were thinking about me.  And that was this: “What does God think
about me?”

My unchallenged assumption was that If I make “this decision” or “that decision” then that will please God—it’s the RIGHT decision to make—its the thing to do or the decision to make because that’s what God wants Christians to do.  This decision will make Him happy—I mean it will “please” Him. (that’s a more Christian word, right?)

REALLY?  Before 1 of the 5 people who might read this starts getting ticked off because I am alluding to an idea that there isn’t right and wrong—let me ease your mind.
That is not at all what I am alluding to.  I know that there is Truth—there is Right and Wrong.  I believe that.  BUT…you know what?  A super important and overlooked truth that I have been ignoring most of my life is this: Aside from Right and Wrong — I am
Good in God’s eyes.  I am good already.  No matter what anyone thinks, no matter what decision I make, no matter what mistake I make, no matter what great things I do — or don’t do…God looks at me with love, with admiration, with passion for ME.  Not for what I do, for what I accomplish, for my title—NONE OF THAT MATTERS TO HIM.   TRULY…NONE OF THAT MATTERS TO HIM.  He is into ME.  Period…just because I exist.  AND—despite what I may have thought in the past—He won’t be MORE into me if I do something really GREAT for Him or His Kingdom.  I am good already.

He looks at you the same way…no matter what.  NO MATTER WHAT.

Talk about Freedom. 

When I started believing that—I mean BELIEVING it—internalizing it so
that it penetrated my mind and then my heart and then my soul—I began to
experience FREEDOM, and FREEDOM does a pretty cool thing— it sets you
FREE!  Sounds obvious, I know.  But in the words of my dad— “Knowing and
Doing are 2 different things.”  True…and another true statement that has the power to CHANGE YOUR LIFE— Knowing and BELIEVING are 2 different things.

Believing CHANGES you.  BELIEVING that I am good in the eyes of my Father—no matter what—no matter what the world around me thinks, no matter what the well-meaning Christian community thinks, no matter what my closest friends and family think, no matter what anyone could ever find out about my past or what people will think of me in the future…God’s opinion of me is that I am good and ultimately, His opinion of me is all that matters.

God’s view of me defines WHO I am as a person.  I have been set free knowing that His opinion of me probably sounds a bit more like this: “Stop striving Jen, stop trying to please me…you are Good already”  than this: “Do this for me, Jen, and I will be more pleased with you.” Believing that God is saying “Stop striving, its not about what you do…you are good already and I love you perfectly, unconditionally!” is powerful beyond words.

 FREEDOM.  It’s a lot easier to follow Jesus when you realize that He doesn’t think less of you if you aren’t following Him.  He’s not mad at you if you aren’t following Him.  It may break His heart, but…He doesn’t look at people who don’t know Him and say “You are Bad!  You are worthless!  You have no value!”  He looks at them with unconditional goodness and love – the same way He looks at me.
“Jen…You are good!  You are full of worth!  You are valuable!  AND, wow!!… I am so glad you are believing that now…rather than just saying you believe it!”

The idea of freedom is EVERYWHERE—scripture, songs, books.  I see and hear it everywhere now—and for the first time in my life, I am getting it.  God’s REAL opinion of me has set me completely FREE.  I love being set free.  Love it.  Love, Love, Love it.  Freedom brings Peace.  Freedom brings relief.  Freedom makes me happy.

There is nothing in this world that I can do…or not do…that will make God’s opinion of me change. He loves me perfectly…unconditionally…He loves me the same yesterday, today and forever.
THAT is mind blowing.

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for me who is in Christ Jesus.”  Romans 8:1

“I identified myself completely with Him.  Indeed, I have been crucified with Christ.  My ego is no longer central.  It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God.  Christ lives in me.” Galatians 2:20-21

“I’m just glad those days are over”

I was in the post office yesterday with one of my favorite companions — Caleb.  I had a few packages to get ready to mail and Caleb decided to take advantage of the down time and the open floor space.  What looks like a lobby to most can quickly be transformed into the perfect setting for fighting “bad guys” when you are a 5 year old boy.  Before I knew it, and really without me even noticing because I am so used to this common behavior– my red headed, 5 year old boy companion turned into Anakin Skywalker (or it could have been the Kung-Fu Panda…) either way — he was fighting the “dark side” that was obviously lurking there in the post office lobby.

Right about then, a “middle aged man” walked by and I reminded Caleb to be careful because there were people around who didn’t necessarily want to be struck with Anakin’s light saber or the Kung Fu Panda’s martial art moves.  Out of politeness, I apologized to the man just in case my “Anakin-Kung Fu Panda” got in his way.  He accepted nicely and then, almost as an after thought said “I’m just glad those days are over.”

This poor man.  He had no idea that his innocent comment would be food for my thoughts over the next 24 hours…and that his off handed comment would turn into a blog post!  But I can’t help it.  I need to explore the statement.

Sadly, I could identify far too much with his words.

Caleb is 5, but to me it feels like he was born YESTERDAY.  While its true that time flies, and as so many seasoned parents like to remind young parents: “cherish the time because they grow up so fast” — these are not the reasons that I can identify with the man’s words.  I will confess that I can identify because I have spent a large portion of my kid’s lives thus far waiting for the stage they are in to be over.  Why?  Because I have stuff to do!  I have things to get done, people to talk to, places to go, a house to keep clean, a job to perform, an image to uphold… And when I am being honest, my perspective more often than not has been “I want these days to be over.” 

Ironically, it was the time leading up to Caleb’s 5th birthday that I started to rethink my life.  My youngest turning 5 was just one of the ways God chose to get my attention — but it was definitely a significant one.  FIVE. Where on earth did the last 5 years go?  I don’t even remember him being 3.  I started to realize and became more and more convicted that my very own son doesn’t get the best parts of me.  Why?  Because I just feel to busy…I literally feel like I don’t have time to give him.

As I pondered that for several weeks/months I became less and less Okay with it.  I do not want to be the kind of person that pats herself on the back because she scheduled in “quality time” with her child.  And that is who I was.  My ego was stroked when I would take time to spend with my kids.  Did I just write that?  Yep…I did.  Its the truth.  Does this mean I didn’t love them?  Of course not!  I love love love my kids.  I just didn’t give them the time and attention they need and deserve from me.  And I do believe they deserve my time and attention.  Afterall, they were not the ones who chose to be born into this world — that decision was made for them.  It seems to me then, that I owe it to them to do EVERYTHING I can to prepare them for this world!  And…I was definitely convicted that I had not shouldered my part of that responsibility.

I am not opposed to working-moms.  I’m not at all.  I know women who have fabulous careers, great marriages and great kids…I guess I just felt like I wasn’t one of them.  Could I have figured it out?  Probably.  If I wanted to…if I truly sensed God leading me to create margin in my life by letting go of something else–I would have done that.  But, He wasn’t.  My life was full…way too full.  And while I could have claimed all day long that my relationship with God and my family were my top priorities– once I started questioning the truth of that statement…there was no turning back.

You know what I ABSOLUTELY LOVE?  When we have the courage to obey God, He blesses us in ways that we were never even able to dream up before we take the scary step of obedience.  My quest to “live in the white space” is early on its journey, but from day 1 God chose to respond to my obedience with small confirmations…small gifts…blessings.  Almost immediately, he placed people in my life who desparately needed my encouragement as they faced crisis.  Sadly, in the past I would have attempted to be there when they needed me–but it would have been half-hearted…maybe would have felt like an inconvenience and I would have berated myself for having my priorities so out of whack that I felt “inconvenienced” for spending time with someone who truly needed me.  Now, however, I count it a blessing to have been there in those moments and as a result, I have created new and lifelong bonds with some women who I should have been creating those bonds with anyway.  Thank You Lord!  That is one way I am living with margin — giving of myself because I have time to do so not because I found a place in my busy schedule to squeeze somebody in.

More than that, as I have created white space…I have rediscovered my passion for reading, for writing, for walking — and taking the time to do these things without guilt!  Doing these things because they bring me pleasure — I enjoy them — they fill me up, they challenge me.  Its amazing to me how even when I was so busy going and doing…I still managed to be lazy.  Lazy with my health, lazy with my relationships, lazy with my finances, lazy with God…white space allows me to take time to invest in myself with things that I enjoy…to discover new things that I enjoy…so that in return I can nurture my relationships with my husband, my kids, my family, friends and with the Lord.

I haven’t read any books about margin (yet) — but my guess is that as my life changes, as my kids get older and older and older, and I transition into different seasons of life, then “life in the white space” will look different too.  The thing is, I want to remember my life right now!  I don’t want Caleb to turn 10 and have to look back and wonder what I did over the last 10 years.  I want to be intentional…with him, with Katie, with my marriage, with Jesus.  I am not naive, I know that the days blend together…life does go by fast and that before I know it, I will be at high school graduations.  But I also know that there is a whole bunch of living to do between now and then!  LIVING…not doing.   There are places to visit, conversations to have, lessons to learn, people to spend time with, books to read, hands to hold, walks to take, kisses to give, kisses to receive, funny stories to tell, hard lessons to learn, tears to cry, music to enjoy, outdoors to explore…and a God to worship through it all.  My kids are watching how I live.  They are learning from every decision that I make; right now they are forming their life values, their world-view…they are deciding what the definition of “success” is — they are learning from me how to live and I pray that during this season of life they are beginning to learn that its their LIFE that matters.  Its not their title, its not their abilities, its not their size or shape, the position they play, the grades they make — the clothes they wear or the way they style their hair.  They have value because they are ALIVE!  I know as they get older there will be more influences…they will struggle through these issues and/or others.  But I also know that ultimately, I have a responsibility to help them define value.  Without margin, without taking the time and putting forth the effort to understand true value myself, I would be completely ill-equipped to pass that on to my kids.

So…how do I get from “I’m just glad those days are over” to my kids future definition of their “value”?  Who knows…your guess is as good as mine!!  I do know that I am so glad these days of my 5 year old turning post office lobbies into battle fields aren’t over…for Caleb or for me!  I take pure pleasure in watching him play.  And I believe that in a way…that’s what God thinks when he watches me “play.”  He takes great pleasure in a life that is lived well.

“The Lord takes pleasure in his people.”  Psalm 149:4


I made a life changing decision recently.  The kind that you don’t make everyday, and that when they are made truly can change the entire course of your life.  As is generally the case, I found that the process in making the decision was difficult…a journey, a scary journey.  Sometimes there are endings in life that are necessary.  These endings are not always the result of something bad happening, but because of something inside prompting the decision.  In my case– that prompting was purely and simply from God.

MARGIN.  Do you ever find that when God is trying to get your attention he will do it subtly?  In this case, I caught the subtle hints.  Perhaps if I hadn’t, He would have gotten “less subtle” — who knows.  Goodness knows He has had to get way less subtle in the past!  But in this instance I listened to the the subtle voice.  I didn’t have the word at first.  It wasn’t neatly presented to me.  I didn’t hear an audible voice.  I didn’t read one verse and know that God was speaking.  It started with a feeling and when I allowed myself to explore the feeling a theme came to surface.  The feeling of discontent.  A lack of peace.  A sense that in my rush to do life, to get things checked off my list…I was, in fact, missing LIFE.

MARGIN.  I stepped down from my career.  A career I worked hard to get to.  A career that has been an amazing opportunity for me.  A career for a company I deeply admire and was proud to be a part of.  A career that if I worked hard at…the sky was the limit!  The process in making the decision?  HARD.

I have a husband whom I adore.  God knew that I needed someone like him in my life.  Danny doesn’t let me off the hook.  There are probably lots of guys out there who if there wife came to them and expressed her desire to “be done” with her career…after hearing her out and if it was financially feasible, he would say “OK.”  Not mine.  I have the priviledge of being married to a man that rarely just says “OK.”  Instead, he feels a great need to make sure that the decision I am making is based on healthy, Truth-filled thinking.  This process is not pretty…not for me.  I am always grateful for the end result because if there is one thing I know about myself its that ultimately…when its all said and done…I know that the BEST place to live is exactly where God wants me to live and with the FREEDOM that is mine because of my relationship with Him.  More than anything I want to live with God’s Best.  But, lining my thinking up with His Truth can be a long and tedious process — not pleasant and not pretty.  Lots of tears.  Lots of frustration.  In this case, I needed the assistance of my husband…challenging my statements, my thoughts…and in that process I realized how many decisions I make based on fear, based on what I think I am “supposed” to do, based on beliefs that I have thought were “spriritual” but were in fact lies wrapped up in wrapping paper that looked and sounded like Truth.  The beautiful thing is that once you know the Truth…the TRUTH WILL SET YOU FREE!

“If you stick with this, living out what I tell you, you are my disciples for sure.  Then you will experience for yourselves the truth, and the truth will free you.” John 8: 31-32 (MSG)

MARGIN.  The first time this word jumped out at me, was once again, because of my husband.  After stepping down from my career I defaulted into “lets fill that new space back up with something” mode.  In this instance — a BABY.  Yes! Thats it…I need one more baby.  Mind you…ME + BIRTHING A BABY = POST PARDUM DEPRESSION…and even though its been 5 years since my list birthing experience, I am still on the drugs to prove the above equation.  AND…we are now Post-diapers, Post-buckling them in their carseats, Post-Terrible Twos and we like life right here…in the “Post-helpless baby” period.  Suddenly, none of that mattered!  I needed a baby to fill up this new-found time.  Well, Danny was not at all on that page.  His response:  “I’m not feeling that way at all…we need some MARGIN in our lives.”

From then on out…MARGIN kept popping up.  In books, in conversation, at conferences…the word, the phrase, the idea.  And I have become passionate about it.

MARGIN: “The blank space bordering the written or printed area on a page.”  The margin on any written page is what allows you to read the words on the page.  Without the margin nothing makes sense; its impossible to read.  And what I found…without a MARGIN in my life, in my family’s life…my life didn’t make a lot of sense.

In most books, the margin is white and the print is black.  Using that as a symbol for life…I am beginning to understand that life happens when you have plenty of “white.”  The print is necessary, but without the margin the print makes no sense.  So, I am now on a journey…a mission.  I am learning to live my with MARGIN…to live in the white space.