Tag Archives: Mark Buchanan

Come With Me to Jamaica, Mon…(Why We Should Rejoice with God Over His Creation) Another Glimpse of Love in February

“Ladies and Gentleman, this is your Captain from the flight deck. We’ve just been cleared for landing in Montego Bay. Current weather reports sunny skies, a light breeze, and a temperature of eighty-three degrees.” Outside window Oohs and aahhs erupted from the airplane. Views of the Caribbean blue sea, in multiple, heavenly hues-of-blue were spectacular.

Dearest Hubster and I ran away recently for a romantic week-long respite from winter. Come with me and I’ll take you there….

This week I pray you’ll be blessed by our Lord’s creation with scenes from the lovely island of Jamaica! Overlooking Montego Bay is one of the finest views of the Caribbean I can remember. View of water Even the view from our room was spectacular: view from room Not only were the flowers, plants, and palm trees lush and beautiful… Water with flowering plants Peacocks were everywhere!!! peacock The guys kept showing off….posing for pictures: Elizabeth's Peacock And when was the last time you could walk behind one? Can you see all the down from his feathers? Fascinating. back of peacock Smart too, as they knew which street they lived on: peacocks on their street Two brightly colored parrots, otherwise known as Bob and Rita, lived in a cage near the restaurant where we had breakfast every day. pair of parrots One of their handlers often let them out and treated any brave soul with a few moments of “parrot perching” on one’s shoulder. (Notice who the brave one was of us…) Bob on Johns shoulder The handler reported that Bob was much friendlier than Rita. Go figure. Bob is munching on an almond seed.

A favorite activity of ours during any vacation is reading. John dove into a novel and quickly couldn’t put it down. He’s a big fan of author Robert Whitlow’s. He read his latest: The Confession and loved it. Confession2.indd I took three books with me and a novel (or two or ten) on my Kindle. (!!!) You can bet I’ll be sharing tidbits from them soon:

Mastering Life Before It’s Too Late: 10 Biblical Strategies for a Lifetime of Purpose by Robert J. Morgan. You will be hearing from Rob in person sometime this year on this blog. I’m currently highlighting and earmarking this book like a crazy person. Mastering Life Finding Spiritual Whitespace: Awakening Your Soul to Rest by Bonnie Gray. I figured where else but a vacation does one have spiritual whitespace? Spiritual whitespace Spiritual Rhythm: Being with Jesus Every Season of Your Soul by Mark Buchanan. I’ll be speaking on “Savoring Your Season” in April–speaking of prayer requests! (Info to follow soon on the event.) Mark is an amazingly insightful writer. Spiritual Rhythm The week flew while we parked in chairs by the pool, or under a tiki hut on the beach, books in tow. Tiki Huts Boasting eight restaurants, our favorites in the hotel were the Italian, French, Mexican and Asian ones. Their cuisine kept us more than full, most nights under a starlit sky–purely paradise. To enhance our meals, we discovered a hidden soft-serve ice cream machine with cones-a-plenty. Hey, we’re on vacation, right??? Vanilla and chocolat ice cream cone While there was a fitness center, I only darkened its’ door once. John was a regular there, while I chose to hoof it outside. There was a one-mile path, largely by the water, which kept me going…My soul must’ve enlarged as the Grinch’s heart did purely from breathing in the salty air and soaking in the view. Water with draping curtains One of five principles about joy, from Rob Morgan’s book Mastering Life suggests “we should pay attention to the JOY God has woven into all His creation.” He continues, “According to Job 38:7, the angels sang together and shouted for JOY as God created the world. Earth planet viewed from space Psalm 19:5 pictures the sun as rising each day like a champion REJOICING to run his course through the sky.” Sunrise over beach in Cancun

Shortly after our arrival, new friends from England snapped this sunset picture. What a way to begin our vacation!!!

Shortly after our arrival, new friends from England snapped this sunset picture. What a way to begin our vacation!!!

While we all cannot hang around a Caribbean island forever, (oh, that we could!!!) we can ask the Lord to open our eyes to His creation that’s all around us, wherever we are. The view from my office today is mostly leafless trees spread out among some really brown grass (!!!), however the sky is blue and the sun is shining. Ahhhh, spring time’s a comin’….

I Chronicles 16:33 says, “Let the trees of the forest sing, let them sing for JOY before the Lord.” May we all savor our surroundings, daily, and praise God for His awesome Creation. This glimpse of love in February honors God’s Creation.

‘Til next time!

(Stay tuned as next week includes a not-so-romantic snaffoo on our return trip.)

Happy Valentine’s Day Weekend!!!



Filed under Family, Travel

What You Miss When You’re in a Hurry…

“Ok, let’s go for it!” I shouted above the roar of cars. Hubster John, wild-child-dog Gracie, and I dashed across the huge intersection of traffic. (If you live in Louisville, you know where Brownsboro Road and Rudy Lane intersect. It’s always busy.)

We’d just had a delicious breakfast outside at Panera.


Yes, to the horror of most veterinarians, Gracie managed to con us out of a few scraps. Smart girl, she knows when to play her terrier card.

2014-08-21 08.48.33

Several years ago, the City of Windy Hills commissioned a chain saw artist to carve a very tall bear out of a very tall tree stump—as in twenty-five feet tall. This bear, better known as “my bear” (wonder who else calls him that?!!) has been standing guard over a lovely park at this very same intersection.

Some clever soul adorns “my bear” each Christmas Season with a very svelte red bow. While he’s been affectionately known as “my bear” for years, and we drive past him numerous times daily, we’ve never stopped long enough to become acquainted….until today.


Bear on Rudy and Elizabeth


This park offers loads of benches where one can sit and read, or picnic, or simply rest and soak in the environment. Even tho’ it’s on a busy street, there’s a meandering path of mulch to walk on and you’ll find yourself quite a distance from the traffic.

Onward we proceeded down the sidewalks of Rudy Lane. We walked down two streets we’d never been on before. This area is very close to where our first home is located. Why, you ask, hadn’t we explored here before? Sad answer is that four-letter word we try to gain more of: TIME.

One more four-letter word strongly related to TIME seems to be everyone’s universal excuse: We’re sooooo BUSY. Sigh…

Our eyes were opened to several new discoveries once we slowed down…..We happened to stop for a minute to look across the street at some large front yards on Rudy Lane. To our complete astonishment, there before our very eyes, was another carved bear!!!

Are you kidding me??? He can be found right around the corner from “my bear” in the park. He is equally adorable and sports a pinwheel to bedazzle onlookers on a windy day.

IMG_1416 JPG

I remain clueless as to how long that bear has been there. And just wait for this: we found one more carved animal from a tree stump, not even a mile from these bears. It’s either a coyote or a wolf…and he lives off of Hubbards Lane on Pin Oak Lane.

carved fox

If only we’d all just slow down and open our eyes. Author Mark Buchanan really brings this point home in his book, The Rest of God: Restoring Your Soul by Restoring Sabbath. For more information, please click on “Wander with Wonder”)

John and I are blessed to have become acquainted with an amazing couple in Lexington. They’re the type the more you’re with them, the more you want to be with them. You know the type?

I s’pose one reason we’re so fascinated by them is we desire to emulate they’re lifestyle. Their names? Matthew and Nancy Sleeth.

blessedearth_port_426 (800x533)

They’re the co-founders of an amazing educational non-profit called Blessed Earth. (www.blessedearth.org) Creation care, as in becoming better stewards of the earth, is their mantra.

They also happen to each have written phenomenal books that are perpetual resources. Matthew wrote 24/6: A Prescription for a Healthier, Happier Life.

24-6 Sleeth 

Nancy wrote Almost Amish: One Woman’s Quest for a Slower, Simpler, More Sustainable Life. Nancy tells us, “The Almost Amish life is a conscious life. Though the choices we make may vary, it is a journey that we can take together—and above all with God

The busyness of modern life has a way of thwarting even the best of intentions…Yet each time we seek out an Almost Amish path, we move one step nearer to the Kingdom of God.

Every time we choose the Almost Amish way, we come one breath closer to a slower, simpler, more sustainable life.”

Almost Amish Sleeth

Nancy and Matthew are proficient at slowing down. They faithfully honor God’s weekly gift to us:  the Sabbath. Matthew says they find themselves “wealthy with time” when they observe the Sabbath.

When was the last time you found yourself “wealthy with time”???

Clock and Bible on Wood

My prayer for us all is to slow down and discover what the Lord is trying to open our eyes to. May you find some carved animals (!!!) or other “treasures” to discover…

Let’s close with a poem which later became a hymn by William D. Longstaff.  He hailed from England and used his wealth to bless many others, including Dwight Moody and Ira Sankey.

Please be sure to take note of each line as they are all packed with lessons for us:

Take Time to Be Holy:

“Take time to be holy, speak oft with they Lord;

Abide in Him always, and feed on His Word.

Make friend of God’s children; help those who are weak,

Forgetting in nothing His blessing to seek.


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.


Take time to be holy; let Him be thy guide;

And run not before Him whatever betide.

In joy or in sorrow still follow thy Lord.

And, looking to Jesus, still trust in His Word.


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.”


If you’re more of a visual than a text person, please stay seated for just three more minutes and watch Jamie Grace’s song, It’s a Beautiful Day. Her photographs are exactly what I’ve been trying to articulate about keeping our eyes open. Let’s “get our worship on”!!! Praise and Glory be to God.

‘Til next time!

P.S. Last week, over at the girls with In Courage, Lysa TerKeurst posted an excellent blog where we’re basically pleading for the same thing. Check it out:

www.incourage.me (post from 8/18/14)

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Filed under Book Reviews, Family, Friends, Life Lessons

When You Hear a Dolphin Take a Breath…(Managing Your Margin: Part 4 of 4)

Parked poolside, in Naples, Florida, in January, John and I were some-kind-of-happy. We’d just received reports of snow at home and here we were in bathing suits! Armed with sunscreen, sunglasses and books, we plunked down for a moment of margin before lunch.

Since we were early, not too many people were by the pool yet. Palm trees waving overhead, I thought to myself, “It just doesn’t get much better than this.”

palm trees

We dove into our books and all was well….Pretty quickly I heard a very strange sound. Akin to an ultrasound swoosh (Which one would not normally encounter outside…), I thought, “What in the world is that?”

I listened intently again as the noise repeated itself. Looking over to John and across the pool, nothing seemed amiss. Looking over my other shoulder, out toward the bay, I spotted them. Two dolphins, playfully swimming, were a stone’s throw from our chairs!

The swooshing sound was the two of them taking a breath here and there out of their blowholes. Amazing. How did we hear them? Watch this: we were very still, all ears, and could’ve heard a pin drop.

Jumping Dolphins.

Two weeks ago we discussed at length Psalm 46:10 which says, “Be still and know that I am God.” (See: A Croissant A Day…) We discussed WHY we need to be still, to cease striving in order to manage our margin and the Sabbath.

This week we’ll address listening…because we must be still in order to listen. Mark Buchanan’s book we’ve been highlighting, The Rest of God: Restoring Your Soul by Restoring Sabbath, opens our eyes to elements of listening.

The Rest of God

Mark poses this step-on-your-toes question: “If people stop to listen to you, fill-your-name-in-the-blank, to whom are YOU stopping to listen?” Oh dear…

He adds, “Our speaking comes out of our listening. What we say comes out of what we hear. We have to be people who listen, day and night, to God.”

Author Wendell Berry (from our own state of Kentucky!) says in his poem A Purification,

I confess my sins…

That I have not been happy enough,

Considering my good luck;

Have listened to too much noise;

Have been inattentive to wonders”; (for more on wonders, please see Wander in the Wonder…)


John and I happened upon this leaf, heart-shaped no less, along a walk over the weekend. I brought it home to show you this wonder from our wandering…

And the last sentence of Wendell Berry’s poem further confesses, “Have lusted after praise.”

Mark says after the poem, “I confess my sins; I have done these things also.” To which I add, “Yessirree, me too…again and again and again.”

While we’re basking in confession (!), let’s look at another helpful Scripture: Ephesians 4:29 says we should “not let any unwholesome talk come out of our mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”


One more amazing verse is James 1:19 which tell us to be “slow to speak, quick to listen and slow to become angry.” Bet you’ve heard the saying that it’s no coincidence God gave us two ears and one mouth.

I am so busted on the topic of listening. Inevitably, the wheels in my brain are turning while someone is talking, telling me something, while I’m already formulating my response. Truth is, I’m only half-listening. Anyone else do this???

Businessman Multitasking

Mark Buchanan diagnoses this as a control issue. (This just keeps getting better, doesn’t it??!!!) He claims he meddles in too many things. (One-two punch!)

He says, “Part of Jesus’ regimen for me…is holding my tongue.  So I hold my tongue and realize how the world hums right along without my commentary on it.”

Mark adds, “There is a deeper lesson here. God is teaching me quietness of heart…

Plate, Fork, Knife And Red Heart

Quietness allows room for God to speak or to be silent.

Both are gifts.

Cropped view image of a woman holding three colourful Christmas

Quietness stops crowding the Holy Spirit, elbowing aside God’s gentle presence.

The end of striving makes room for dwelling.”

Proverbs 1:5a adds a benefit to listening: “Let the wise listen and add to their learning.”

As we wrap up our time on margin and The Sabbath, let’s look at the Ten Commandments. They are found in Exodus Chapter 20. The fourth commandment, all about Sabbath, begins with a frequently used word in the Bible: Remember…

Exodus 20:8 says, “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in yourtowns. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.”

It’s my prayer we may all be more conscience of managing our margin which will hopefully translate into observing the Sabbath. Remember we talked about how margin helps your health and well-being? (See Come With Me to France…Part 1 of 4)

I pray we may remember to:

Be still,


Wander with wonder …

as God so desires for us.


One last shot of a picture of margin…the beach! This was taken in Fort Lauderdale, FL this past March. Enjoy…

I’ve only shared a handful of a multitude of helpful thoughts by Mark Buchanan in his beautiful book, The Rest of God. I recommend you perhaps have some moments of margin reading a chapter here and there in his book. You will be blessed!

If you’d like more information on margin, I wrote another series about beating busyness, which dealt a great deal about margin last year. Here are the links:

Get Over the Guilt: Grab a Nap!

Help! My Calendar’s Controlling Me!

But, I Don’t Have time to Pray!

But I Don’t Have Time for a Bible Study!

Remember, all this is a process, not a quick fix.

Do not be discouraged.

Please be enthused to challenge yourself to find the time to manage your margin.

‘Til next time!


Filed under Book Reviews, Margin, Travel

Wander with Wonder…(Managing your Margin: Part 3 of 4)

Close your eyes….

Now open them.

Wide Eye See anything different?

“Are you crazy?” you may be asking…Please hang with me for a minute…

This week we’ll focus on another element of margin:

The spiritual discipline of simply opening your eyes afresh, looking for a miracle or blessing, every day. Dr. Matthew Sleeth says, “I can tell you from experience that if you don’t look, you will not find them. And if you don’t jot them down, you will forget them.”

In Blessed Earth’s most recent newsletter (www.blessedearth.org ), Matthew discusses Spring’s arrival, bringing with it “dogwoods singing out with their living Celtic crosses, all served up on a plate of viridian green. It’s easy to spot miracles when the entire hemisphere comes to life—but really they are everywhere, and all the time.”

gardens at Chateau Kierwan

This beautiful “window” into a garden was a surprise find to us one night at Chateau Kierwan, near Pauillac, France where we had dinner. Magnificent discovery!

Matthew recommends an experiment to try for just one month: “Every day take note of (or a photo of) just one miracle. On Sunday, spend a little time reviewing the list. Then thank God…We do not need more wonders—just a greater sense of wonderment.” Wander with Wonder.

Matthew is an expert on Sabbath keeping, learning about it the hard way just as Mark Buchanan did. His book, 24/6: A Prescription for a Healthier, Happier Life is a must-read. (I wrote about it last year: Get Over the Guilt and Grab a Nap—Beating Busyness: Part 4 of 4)

24-6 Sleeth

Ann Voskamp is another advocate of looking for blessings and writing them down. Her book is also a must-read: One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are. She maintains writing down your blessings, small or large, creates contentment many times we’d otherwise forget.

One Thousand Gifts

Gratitude, giving thanks, along with a vocabulary “full of grace” fulfills our soul and multiplies joy. John Piper offers, “There are eyes in pencils and in pens.” Friends, let’s open our eyes! Wander with wonder!

My favorite quote from Ann addresses “the cure against thanklessness’s bite: The remedy is in the retina. How we behold determines if we hold joy. Behold glory and be held by God.”

William Shakespeare said, “Thou art alive still—While thy booke doth live and we have wits to read and praise to give.”

Quote and pic of Shakespear

Walking across a bridge over the Seine River in Paris, near the magnificent Notre Dame, John and I happily landed in front of Shakespeare and Company Bookstore. Now that would go down in one’s gratitude journal if one were a book lover like yours truly! Books are in every nook and cranny in this charming bookstore. Wander with wonder.

umbrella in front of shakespear

Note the brand-new umbrella adorned with Eiffel Towers (Can you say, “tourist”???) we snagged for a mere seven Euros. Ah, but it kept us dry and better able to keep our eyes ready for more wonderment.

Let’s return to Mark Buchanan’s book The Rest of God: Restoring Your Soul by Restoring Sabbath. Mark touches on our subject of wandering with wonder when he says, “I don’t want to just carry on. I want to learn more and more to practice, here, now, always, the quality of awareness that I knew…I want to learn to pass through a day without passing it by.”

The Rest of God

Mark says, “The essence of Sabbath is paying attention. It is being fully present, wholly awake, in each moment. “

You won’t believe this from Chapter 3: “Louis Aggasiz, Harvard’s renowned biologist, returned one September to his classroom and announced to his students that he had spent the summer traveling. He had managed, he said, to get halfway across his backyard. To those with eyes to see, that’s enough. Everywhere we turn, wonders never cease.” Wander with wonder.

field of rapeseed

Aboard the fast TGV enroute to Paris from Bordeaux, John and I saw field, after field, after field of rapeseed. While this was a cloudy day and we took this picture thru’ the window of the train, you can get an idea of the brilliant yellow hues that stood out like sunshine in the countryside.

Mark gives an analogy, that, while laugh-out-loud funny, slightly stings: “One day is as good as another for practicing this kind of attentiveness. We all know people so self-absorbed and obtuse that they would miss the apocalypse if it happened in their living rooms.” Been there. Sigh…

And, here are just a few of Mark’s killer questions I promised you last week:

“Does the path I’m walking lead to a place I want to go?

If I keep heading this way, will I like where I arrive?

How much do I care about the things I care about?

And how have I grown content…?”

May we do as 2 Corinthians 10:5 which says, “Take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” Watching for miracles, blessings, and wandering with wonder is the best way to do that.

Mark recommends, “Consider your ways. That’s a wise Sabbath Liturgy. And let me make it more specific: consider your thoughts and attitudes.” 

Mark shares a wonderful scene from The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian,  part of C.S. Lewis’s Narnia Chronicles. “The children Peter, Edmond, Susan and Lucy all find themselves in Narnia after a long absence from Aslan, the great king and lion.” Lucy is who finds him first with great emotion and relief:


Aslan says, “Welcome, child.”

“Aslan,” says Lucy, “you’re bigger.”

“That is because you are older, little one,” answered he.

“Not because you are?”

“I am not. But every year you grow, you will find me bigger.”

Mark says, “That’s a perfect description of those who train themselves in God’s goodness and sovereignty: Every year you grow, you find him bigger. The best way I know to embody this Godward orientation is thankfulness.”

Saint Sulpice Church Service

After visiting the Luxembourg Gardens, John and I  happened upon St. Sulpice Church. They were in the middle of a church service. The hush over the crowd in the candlelit cavernous altar was awe-inspiring.

Attendees didn’t just genuflect, they fully, deliberately knelt prior to finding a spot on a pew which made our visit amazingly worshipful. Prayers, songs and a message in French was beyond beautiful. This was one of many gifts we found along our walk that day.

In Front of Saint Sulplice

Here’s the outside of the church. It’s modeled after St. Paul’s in London…Wonder-filled architectural details.

May we all wander in the wonder.

‘Til next time!



Filed under Book Reviews, Family, Margin, Travel

A Croissant a Day…(Managing your Margin: Part 2 of 4)

Could it be possible for Satan to masquerade as a young, handsome maitre d’ on board our ship in France? And could he possibly sachet thru’ the dining room, every single morning, with a tremendous tray, tongs in hand, serving fresh, melt-in-your-mouth-nearly-foot-long croissants to each and every passenger because none of us could say, “no”?????

Actually, my stealth-like-resister-of-temptation-husband was able to turn this guy down. Yours truly? Not a chance.

Breakfast with croissants and coffee

Fresh butter and cheese and an assortment of lovely preserves enhanced the croissant. Slice of Heaven… All of this was a mere preamble to the breakfast we were about to order. So to answer my earlier question about the possibility of Satan masquerading as our maitre d’, oh, yes, I’m sure of it.

I could go further out on a limb and claim the croissant brought me margin (!!!), but that’d be a bit of a stretch. As in needing to wear stretch pants after a week of a croissant a day. And look at what was waiting for us in our workout room once we got to Paris:

apple a day

Alrighty then…

Last week we began by defining what margin is (Purposefully keeping space between your load and your limit. For more descriptions and suggestions, click on Part 1 of 2…)

This week we’ll discuss one of many concepts of margin. It comes from a well-known Scripture, Psalm 46:10a which says, “Be still, and know that I’m God…”

The NASB says, “Cease striving…”

The NLV says, “Be quiet.”

The VOICE says, “Be still, be calm, see, and understand I am the True God.

Author Rob Morgan, in his book The Lord Is My Shepherd: Resting in the Peace and Power of Psalm 23 points out that finding time to study and savor Scripture is “a challenge in an age of noise, earbuds, radios, iPods, television, and loudspeakers. But all my electronics (including my mobile phone) HAVE AN ‘OFF’ BUTTON.” Hello???


Rob says, “We’ve got to steal away for stillness.” He recommends we “carve out a little zone of quiet each day for devotion and meditation.” Think about how you can do this today.

Ruth Bell Graham said, “The definition of traveling light may vary from one individual to another. But most of us need to trim off some excess weight.” (She’s not talking about excess weight on our bodies—as in pounds, plural, from consuming a croissant a day…She’s talking about in our calendars.)

She continues, “We have too many social involvements, an overabundance of good but unnecessary meetings…Remember this: ‘Beware of the barrenness of a busy life.’”

protection against stress

Let’s return to Mark Buchanan’s book, The Rest of God: Restoring Your Soul by Restoring Sabbath. Mark admits his number one regret is being in a hurry. Anyone besides me relate to this???

He says, “I cannot think of a single advantage I’ve ever gained from being in a hurry…Thru’ all that haste, I thought I was making up time. Turns out I was throwing it away.”

The Rest of God

Now get a load of this: “The Chinese join two characters to form a single pictograph for busyness: heart and killing. That is stunningly incisive. The heart is the place the busy life exacts its steepest toll.” To further convince us of this, Mark adds, “This is true literally, physically, and cardiologically.”

Doctor Holding A Red Heart

He said his own father died of heart failure as did his father’s brother.  They literally worked themselves to death. Completely consumed and obsessed, they raced to a dreadful finish line. Scary.

Equally eye-opening is the Swahili word for “white man”–mazungu. It means “one who spins around”, as in spinning out of control. Mark says, “We’re flurries of going nowhere.” Ouch. “It’s Sabbath time,” Mark adds, “which invites us to stop turning around and around.”

The busy life is the antithesis to how God wants us to live. Ann Voskamp said, “Hurry always empties a soul.” Thus if we’re empty, we are rendered unable to glorify God. The light of Christ within us quickly becomes snuffed out. Scarier.

How then, must we live

To be still?

To manage our margin?

To restore our souls so that we restore the Sabbath?

This week, I pray you’ll consider ways to manage your margin every day. As I said last week, managing our margin translates into a huge benefit for our health and well-being.

I’ll leave you with a couple moments of margin while in France. Why don’t you leave a comment with some of your own ideas of favorite margin moments? We could all use some help!

John taking a moment of margin
This would be John’s idea of margin: relaxing on the balcony of our ship, taking in the beautiful scenery. (Yes, I did micro-manage just a tad and suggest he be careful to not kick his shoes off in the river!!! Fairly sure that little remark blew a moment or two of his margin…)

front of chocolate store
One of my ideas of margin occurred while drooling over some chocolate in a chocolate store.

moment of margin in cafe for coffee
This selfie (!!!) was taken one morning after a walking tour in Paris. It was a bit chilly and we wanted a hot cup of coffee. Café Americain, bien sur. Just what the doctor ordered for a moment of margin.

keep calm take a bible
Couldn’t resist this sign. Good advice….(And for you Frenchies, take the advice about your dog.)

Let’s return once more to Psalm 46:10 – “Be still and know that I am God.” May we find moments of margin to be still and not hurry thru’ what life we have left on this earth.

Next week we’ll look at some thought-provoking questions from Mark’s book. Heads’ up: they have the potential to stop you in your tracks…but for good reason. We’ll also have more moments of margin from France.

‘Til next time!


Filed under Book Reviews, Family, Margin, Travel

Come with Me to France…(Managing Your Margin: Part 1 of 4)

Ahhh, a big bonjour to you, dear friends! John and I are just back from a wonderful trip to France. We were blessed to celebrate his 55th birthday and our soon-to-be-30th anniversary on a river cruise on the Gironde, Garonne and Dordogne Rivers.

I’ll be sharing highlights from our trip with you as we spend the month of May managing our margins (oh yes, I’ll explain), which translates into a huge benefit for our health and well-being.

The below photo was taken on a night-time walking tour in Bordeaux…

john and eliz in Bordeaux

It occurred to me, while on vacation, where one would certainly hope to have mega-margin, we still may not have any due to our over-worked and frazzled brains. Our world tends to encourage us to never shut down.

I love the Speed Bump comic where the Mom comes in and proclaims to her daughter, “There aren’t many nice days left—why don’t you go outside and text?” Sad, but true…..

Social media icons on smartphone

Unbelievably, while en France, I did manage to shut my cell phone down for eleven days! (Granted John’s phone stayed on, so we could call home, and I could get emails on my iPad, so don’t be too impressed, but you get the idea…)

My new favorite awe-inspiring, life-giving book is by Mark Buchanan, The Rest of God: Restoring Your Soul by Restoring Sabbath. (It came highly recommended.) We will learn ways to enhance not only our Sabbath, but our margin as well.

The Rest of God

I confess I’m obsessed with margin, and securing more of it. This should come highly amusing to those of you who know me. I’d say you had no idea of my obsession as I’m sorely lacking in managing my margin. Daily.

After soaking in some of Mark Buchanan’s much-needed points on Sabbath, my “aha” moment hit. We can do this together, friends!!! Mark says, “I believe the Spirit has brought us into each other’s company for just such a time as this, that together we might discover Jesus in the midst of our busyness.”

Well, what is margin? Margin is the space between our load and our limits.


Andy Stanley, in his Bible study Take It to the Limit Study Guide: How to Get the Most Out of Life (North Point Resources) says it best: “All good things happen within margin…such as your relationships with others and God. Because we are human, we all have limits on our time, our energy, and our money. So, if we push our limits, spreading ourselves too thin, we push out God. Therefore, deleting any margin we may have had.” (DANGER, WILL ROBINSON!!!)

take it to the limit

Anybody good at spreading themselves too thin? ‘Tis one of my terrible “talents”…as my crammed calendar can testify. Sigh…

On our trip to France, however, we had no agenda. We simply did most of what Viking offered, which were wonderfully educational and enlightening experiences, beautiful scenery, and meeting fun people from all over the world.

Our ship’s Chef delighted us foodies with homemade soups, sauces, fresh seafood, steaks, lamb, bread, a boatload of butter (pun intended), a wide variety of cheeses, and desserts-to-die-for. Think of these meals for lunch and dinner, not to mention melt-in-your-mouth-clog-your-arteries Eggs Benedict for breakfast!!!

chocolate mousse and coffee

This was a favorite dessert served after lunch one day at Chateau Siaurac: chocolate mousse, a petite cookie and hot coffee. What a presentation!

While we did stroll thru’ the towns of Bordeaux, Paulliac, Blaye, Bourg, Libourne, St. Emilion and Arcachon, strolling is the operative word. Boat Blobs would be the end result.

We had glorious days to soak in the French culture, walking the cobblestone streets while viewing twelfth and thirteenth century churches. (Next week, we’ll also talk about the breath-taking countryside.)

Tower in St Emilion

This is the bell tower in St. Emilion

Back to the book, Mark lays out the importance of Sabbath, the gift of Sabbath and the challenge of Sabbath. Choosing to experience the Sabbath equals managing your margin.

For all you cat and dog lovers out there, Mark reminisces from his childhood days when his parents had multitudes of cats. He said they all would find warm, sunny spots in their home to curl up for a long winter’s nap. Our dog, Gracie, is also quite adept at this:


kitty on roof

This little cat (if you can spot her!) chose to sun herself on a roof in Blaye, France…

Visually and poetically gifted as a writer, Mark offers this image after the cat nap story: “I think of Sabbath as a patch of sunlight falling thru’ a window on a winter’s day…In it, you can lie down and rest. From it, you can rise up and go—stronger, lighter, ready to work again with vigor and a clear mind.”

Mark confesses he was purpose-driven to a fault. He said he once went  forty days straight without taking a day off. (Never mind he’s a pastor!) He was squandering time. Bitter, impatient, easily irritable, and worse character traits suddenly crept into his soul causing all of his relationships to suffer. He realized, “I learned to keep Sabbath in the crucible of breaking it.” 

Running Out Of Time

Mark gives us several ways to understand Sabbath: “Sabbath imparts the rest of God: practical, physical, mental and spiritual rest…but also the rest of God: the things of God’s nature and presence we miss in our busyness.” His goal for us readers is: ”to awaken in yourself wonder and expectancy, that Sabbath in the long-run is as essential to your well-being as food and water.”

We must look at Sabbath in two ways, also a key to managing your margin:

–         Set apart portions of a day, working up to an entire day: Realize it’s a gift from God, not something to feel guilty about. If an entire day is too extreme for you, start out slowly. (*See end of post for ideas.)

–         Sabbath is also an attitude: A Sabbath heart “is restful even in the midst of unrest and upheaval. It is attentive to the presence of God.” And don’t miss this warning: “You will never enter the Sabbath day without a Sabbath heart.”

Lovely little girl playing with red heart shaped balloon

One Scripture I’m always drawn to is Jesus’ invitation to us all: “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)

The Life Application Bible says, “The rest that Jesus promises is love, healing, and peace with God, not the end of all labor. A relationship with God changes meaningless, wearisome toil into spiritual productivity and purpose.” 

The ESV Study Bible says, “Come to me is an invitation to trust Jesus personally, not merely to believe historical facts about him. ..The wider application is that Jesus provides ‘rest for our souls’(v. 29)—that is eternal rest for all who seek forgiveness of their sins and freedom from the crushing legalistic burden and guilt of trying to earn salvation by good works.” 

Enjoy these pictures of doors from all over France.  When thinking of an invitation, especially at Jesus’ prompting,  how lovely to enter via a beautiful door…

cool door in st emilion

black iron door w topiaries

picturesque door in Blaye

fancy wooden door in paris

teal and brass ornate door

Wooden Door w brass knobs and lion heads

maison du commander door


So, for any of us who are tired and worn out, this is not God-intended. What can we do this week to manage our margin? (*No need to stress over jumping in to a full day, start out slowly…)

Take a walk

Take a nap

Sip and savor a cup of coffee or tea


Meditate on God’s Word

Go for a bike ride

Listen to music



Call a friend for no reason

Write a hand-written letter


Luxembourg Gardens

On one of our days walking thru’ Paris, (we had three nights there after the river cruise) John and I happened upon the Luxembourg Gardens. While it rained off and on that day, we were blessed to have clear skies and sit and rest and enjoy the beauty of the gardens, children playing with boats, people having a picnic, etc. Pure margin!

We’ve just barely touched the tip of the Sabbath/Margin iceberg. More to follow this month when  I’ll take you to more picturesque scenes from France.

Meanwhile, I’ll leave you with our last day’s adventure to the resort town of Arcachon. Oyster fishermen were plentiful and John and I tasted our very first raw oyster!

Forever fearful of these marvelous molluscs, I emphatically stated, “Well, we certainly can’t come all the way to this seaside town in France and hurt the feelings of this brave oyster fisherman, now then, can we???”

oyster farmer explains to our guide

Without further ado, our group very bravely sucked-n-swallowed the salty, slimy things, fully doused with lemon juice, followed by a large slice of bread and salty butter. No problem… (Note John is quite triumphant while I opened my mouth as wide as possible in hopes I wouldn’t taste it so much….Crazy tourists….)

John Swallows an oyster

Eliz eating oyster

Our moments of margin that day were on the boat ride across the beautiful bay. Our French-speaking captain showed us the oyster beds and the remarkable high, high sand dunes near the entrance to the Atlantic Ocean. This was truly a lovely, soul-replenishing day.


Sand Dunes and oysters

(These sand dunes are the largest in Europe. They are so tall, there are stairs you can climb to the top which is about 360 feet. It’s about 9 football fields wide and 1.86 miles long and get this: it moves about 16 feet a year! Incroyable!!!)

I pray our journey thru’ Mark Buchanan’s book will bless you and afford you a little more time to rest, savor the Sabbath, and manage your margin.

‘Til next time!

This week’s post is dedicated to all you Moms. Grandmothers, and Great Grandmothers out there with Mother’s Day fast approaching. May you find some moments of margin and savor the Sabbath. Happy Mother’s Day!



Filed under Book Reviews, Family, Margin, Travel, Uncategorized