M A R G I N {A THINK TANK}

margin value

I have this bad habit of wanting to cram too much information on a single page of paper. Whether it’s a marketing graphic or a party invitation or I’m just trying to save paper by fitting everything I want in a one-page Microsoft Word document, I am consistently getting an alert from my printer telling me that what I’m trying to print exceeds its capacity.

When asked if I want to continue, I always click “YES”. And I’m always disappointed with the outcome.

The sad thing is, I don’t treat my life much differently than I treat my word processor.

I overload my schedule, treat my body and my mind like a production machine, and consistently say “YES” to things I know I don’t have the capacity to do.

I berate myself with negativity if I don’t perform at a certain level, and at times I continue steamrolling through life as a mother of three living in a different country in the same way I did before I had kids and lived in the U.S.

As a contributor for Velvet Ashes, I’m often writing with a persuasive tone, hoping to capture your attention with a story or draw you into some revelation I’ve experienced.

But today, I’m here reaching through your computer screen with open palms, asking you for advice. I’m confessing a weakness I have and I’m going to need you to write this article.

I sat down this morning and just happened to be reading in Exodus when God was commanding the Israelites to take a Sabbath each week. As hard as we try to practice this as a family and recognize its importance, I’ll admit it’s a struggle.

I’m one of those people who must consistently be reminded that my performance for God doesn’t equal my value to God.

There are some basic truths I think we can all agree on:

  1. God commands us to rest. We must build this time into our schedules for our personal health and the health of our families.
  2. We must say “no” to the good things so that we can say “yes” to the great things.
  3. Without consistent margin built into our lives, we are on the brink of burnout.

What I’m looking for in the comments is the “how-to” response of the spiritual discipline of thoughtful time and space.

If you’re an extrovert, how do you prioritize alone time?

If you’re an organizational leader, how do you build safe boundaries into your work week?

If you’re a mother of young children or a homeschooling mom, what does your quiet time with the Father look like?

If you’re a person who is bent toward achievement (enneagram 3 anyone?!), how do you remind yourself that your worth is not correlated to your work ethic?

What podcasts have changed the way you schedule your week?

What books do you recommend to the workaholic?

What Scriptures do you meditate on to hold you accountable to Sabbath?

I’m so looking forward to reading your tips and tools! I know your collective wisdom will bless me and others like me.

39 Comments

  1. Sarah Rideout January 28, 2018

    I am no expert! Far from it (something my friends would agree with me on), and am just in the beginnings of my own journey of learning.. I am the homeschool mom you referred to above, and the only way I survive is with strict boundaries on bedtime and being willing to be flexible with the rest of the schedule with my kids. We are also a missionary family living overseas, Im an extrovert and an enneagram 4 (taken the test 3 times now) and so desperately need validation and community, both of which are difficult since we are very isolated as far as community goes. As we speak, I am taking the first mental health break I have had since the birth of my 1 month old and my husband leaving to go back to the field ahead of me. I have all 4 kids alone eeeek! today has been so good…I just look for strategic opportunities for alone time and for my brain to have a rest, both a social rest without kids and a quiet rest without people at all. I am getting both today and feel so incredibly blessed. praying I can make this a priority as school picks back up when we head back to the field in a few weeks. God’s speed in all you have in front of you!

    1. Lauren Pinkston February 1, 2018

      Sarah, I so get you here. As an extrovert, I haven’t realized until recently how much I desperately needed alone time, too. I actually begin to act out with an anti-social stress response if I don’t get that alone time. Good for you for taking this time – it can feel impossible with a newborn while homeschooling kids! I was in those exact shoes just last Spring.

      God bless your journey back to the field! And for continue space!

  2. Spring January 28, 2018

    It is interesting to me that you wrote this post, we just talked about it in Sunday school today.

    I am 100% a task oriented person. I like to get things done. My life was changed when I had children and it was so difficult to even finish one task. I think this will be a lifelong struggle. I continue to figure out how to prioritize relationships.

    My husband had suggested when we moved back to the field that we take a rest day during the week. I honestly HATED the idea of it. I am a homeschooling mom and prior to this year, I kept track by checking boxes of days we’ve done school. That being said, I realized that YES I actually do appreciate and need a rest day. I don’t always rest as much as I should.. but it is oh so important!

    I am not answering your questions in order (or all of them) sorry! My time alone with God happens in the morning.. and it isn’t always alone. I have found that if I don’t do it before I get out of bed, I am very unlikely to do it. I try to not even pee, because sometimes that messes me up and I don’t go back to spending time with him. I do have kids coming in and out of my room. I guess I just accept it. I sometimes pull my blanket over my head Susanna Wesley style, to attempt to feel alone with him.

    I am not good at listening to podcasts, and I can’t think of a book to help a workaholic. Your post does sound like the book The Fringe Hours https://www.amazon.com/dp/0800723481/_encoding=UTF8?coliid=I1SD89NB074VBD&colid=2QYC0IIT03A05&psc=0 but since I haven’t read it, I won’t say one way or the other if it would help you. Blessings on your journey and thank you for your honesty

    1. Lauren Pinkston February 1, 2018

      Thank you for your response, Spring. I love the reference to Susanna Wesley, especially! I remember this commentary from her biography really sticking out to me. She didn’t make excuses for her time with the Father! Thanks for validating that.

      I remember that book coming out…I need to look into it again. Great comments and ideas here – keep on Sabbathing in rest! <3

  3. Sarah Hilkemann January 28, 2018

    Emily P. Freeman has taught me so much about margin, saying no, and rest. I really love her podcast called The Next Right Thing. For one, it’s short, generally only 15 minutes which makes it easier to find a moment to slow and listen. She gives so much freedom and permission for rest, which is what I need. I feel guilty far too often for slowing down, and I think that is a culture we’ve built in the m community even across different personality types. I LOVE that you are bringing these questions up and I’m excited to see what others have to say. 🙂 Thanks, Lauren!

    1. Rachel January 29, 2018

      I was also going to mention Emily Freeman’s podcast The Next Right Thing! Tuesday has become one of my favorite days because that is the day it comes out!
      I would say you could especially check out episodes 19, 20 and 21.

    2. Lauren Pinkston February 1, 2018

      A 15 minute podcast? YES, PLEASE! I’ll definitely check it out. Thanks for the recommendation, and for the specific episodes to listen to, Rachel!

  4. Carrie January 28, 2018

    Thank you, Lauren, for inviting us to all collaborate and share our ideas! I love this kind of thing, and will return to scope out others’ suggestions.

    Before moving overseas, I noticed that I needed a connect point with Jesus once every 30 minutes or so or I’d get distracted and my productivity would drop. I use the program “Take a Break” on my laptop to remind me to do just that. It blacks out the screen and gives me 60 seconds to just connect with Jesus and give what I’m doing to Him again. You can set the parameters for how often and how long the breaks are.

    As a teacher overseas I discovered that if I hid in the library for the second half of my hour lunch break, listened to worship music and prayed, I’d get super recharged for the second half of the day. Honestly, that 30 minutes occasionally even turned into a power nap! Thankful my students never caught me!

    I built in quarterly weekend retreats because I needed that time away to sort through my life and ask God what I had picked up that wasn’t from Him, and what I needed to say ‘no’ and ‘yes’ to in the coming season.

    I feel like I’ve gotten better at defending a weekly sabbath over time. Some of that takes some planning, though, and the planning I am not so great at. An old friend in my organization asked me before I moved overseas, “What is restful to you?” I think the answer changes over time with how busy I am. I haven’t done this before but am processing “out loud” with you ladies now. Perhaps during my quarterly retreats I could take an inventory of what has and hasn’t been working for rest and ask Jesus to help me play what I’ll be doing for rest (in bigger and smaller ways) in the coming season. Sometimes it is reading. But sometimes after preparing so many lessons, reading is the last thing I want to do. Sometimes it is getting outside. But sometimes the journey from city to countryside seems daunting. Sometimes it is going out with friends. But sometimes what I really need is to stay home and hide in my room.

    Ooh! And I have one new one! I was looking for a way to freshen up my quiet times. I got myself an old day planner (do you ladies remember those? they still exist!) and a bunch of blank index cards which I punched holes into. On the cards I write different aspects of my quiet time. Verses, prayers, prompts of questions to ask God, etc. The day planner gives me flexibility to move the cards around or switch them out (like when a prayer is answered, or when I’m focusing on a new set of scriptures). It has been wonderful!

    Looking forward to what others have to share!

    1. Spring January 28, 2018

      Carrie I love that you powernapped! That is totally up my ally! I tend to over nap if i nap though and mess up my sleep schedule. I agree with you what looks restful has felt different depending on my business and where I am

    2. Lauren Pinkston February 2, 2018

      Carrie, I’m super impressed with how in-tune you are with yourself. What great advice! I’ve download the “Take a Break” program and I’m looking for an app that will do the same thing for my phone. I’ll keep reading over your comment periodically to be encouraged by you. Thank you for sharing with all of us!

  5. Dana Welty January 28, 2018

    Putting away the phone. The quiet and contemplation make the time working more productive. This has been helpful: https://cac.org/

    1. Lauren Pinkston February 2, 2018

      Seriously, SO MUCH FREEDOM in putting the phone away. And I’m going to spend some time hanging out on this website…thank you!

  6. Megan Moss January 29, 2018

    This post absolutely resonated with me. Thank you so much! Literally just this morning during my quiet time I was also in Exodus reading about God’s re-emphasis on Sabbath rest. I’ve realized that I have put Sabbath rest on the back burner of my priorities this January and the Lord is gently nudging (okay, with so many repeat occurrences maybe it’s more like strongly urging) me to schedule this in and make it a priority. I’ve been pretty diligent about keeping my daily quiet time with the Lord each morning, but when it comes to setting aside a whole day, I’ve honestly given Him the scraps. Too often, I’ve let the to-do list creep in and get just one more email responded to on a day that is supposed to be for rest! I’m such a task-oriented person that it is really hard for me to just ‘be’ on my Sabbath, but I’m going to explore some creative ways to meet with the Lord on these days (coloring, worshiping, sitting in nature, reading, etc.). It’s this hard balance of needing to rest but also a strong desire to feel like I’ve accomplished something (hello to anyone else who has Achiever in their top 5 Strength Finders!).

    Thank you also for talking about what we say ‘yes’ to and what we say ‘no’ to! That theme has come up so much in the past couple days as well! (I absolutely love how God can drive home a point, as in – you better pay attention here, I’ve repeated this to you about 5 times now!) My struggle is that I say yes to too much. They are good things, but how do I know the right thing? I’ve got to spend some time laying this before the Lord. I don’t know what to say yes to and what to let go of. I think what will help me is discovering the underlying reason of why I don’t want to say no.

    MARGIN! During a team meeting last week one of my teammates asked if I had any margin built into my schedule. We were talking about how my personality leads me to schedule just about everything and as a result, I really struggle with interruptions. I realized that I don’t naturally build in margin in my daily schedule. If anything, I put too much on the to-do list for the day, fully expecting that I won’t get it all done, but trying my darndest to do so. Margin? I’ve got it the other way around! Now I’m wondering what this looks like for my daily schedule. I’m the type of person that is 5 minutes late to something because I squeezed just one more thing into that time. I don’t like wasted time and that’s what margin feels like to me. Definitely need the Lord to change my mindset on this one!

    Thanks again for posting this! I don’t feel like I answered any of the questions, but just resonated with what you were saying!! 🙂

    1. Lauren Pinkston February 2, 2018

      Megan, you are obviously in good company here. Lots of us ladies are functioning in similar ways! And totally share that scheduling pattern with you…overly optimistic about how much I can fit into a 5-10 minute period. 🙂 I hate showing up early anywhere! ha

      May the Lord continue to give us those gentle nudges or bang us over the head with lessons…whatever we need. 😛

    2. Grace L February 3, 2018

      Hi Megan. I can totally relate to your feeling like putting in margin is a waste of time and wanting to squeeze in as much as you can. But my husband has taught me the value of margin. He always insists on leaving much earlier than we need to. After I resist a bit and then negotiate a bit, I do find that having that extra margin helps me to be much more relaxed. I am not totally “cured” of my passion to squeeze in as much as I can, but I have come to appreciate having margin.
      I get my extra margin at the end of the day when I have no responsibilities to anyone and can take time to be with the Lord and journal, or to read or write a bit.

  7. Jen January 29, 2018

    I love this conversation! God has had me on a journey of going deeper with Him for quite some time! I’m learning what it really means to rest in Him! But boy has it seemed like a slow journey where i seem to forget what I’ve learned all too often!
    The book Rythms of Rest by Shelly Milker has been a great help to me.
    And more than that the Story of Martha & Mary in Luke 10.
    Jesus reminds me often that I am troubled and anxious about many things and then He gently invites me to choose, like Mary did; the ONE necessary thing, sitting at His feet and letting Him carry my burdens! What a sweet thing it is when I CHOOSE the ONE necessary thing! My prayer is daily that i would choose it more often than not!

    1. Lauren Pinkston February 2, 2018

      This is great, Jen. Thank you! Ironically, my Bible fell open to Luke 10 last week in some quiet time, and I read the story of Mary and Martha again + thought of your comment here. What a gift, that the Father gives us Scripture for every part of our hearts and every season of our lives. Thank you for sharing!

  8. Karen C January 29, 2018

    After being a homeschooling mom of seven overseas, I thought being an empty nester would give me tonnes of time and energy for more of a reflective lifestyle. Not so! Ladies, it’s a battle no matter what the season. Why did I think that the enemy would lessen up just because my schedule did?

    For the first few years, I took more time to simply rest. I had a LOT of resting up to do since even though I took a Sabbath of rest every week for a majority of those years, it still wasn’t enough for the demands of the week. And I’m OK with that resting season [although most of my friends say I still was doing a lot]. We also have lived most of that time in countries that have seen a LOT of unrest…and that does take a toll, even if subtle.

    I have found now that having a few people as accountability partners help. My husband encourages me in some areas and one-two friends in others [depending on where we are]. What makes it challenging for me is that for the past 18 months, my husband and I have been trotting around the globe filling in where needed. I get in a routine and get my friends lined up for a couple of months, and then poof….we’re off again. Sometimes it does seem like two steps forward and one back.

    1. Lauren Pinkston February 2, 2018

      Karen, so much goodness here. Thank you for the reminder that there will always be things that threaten the margin in our lives, and that we must seek to actively create that space. You’re right about the environment around us also influencing the amount of rest we are able to really feel. I reached out to my mentor and accountability partner last week. Crazy how easily we can fall out of Sabbath rhythm, hey? Thanks so much for your encouragement here.

  9. Cam January 29, 2018

    We’ve recently returned to the field after a 3-month furlough. The time at home was anything but restful. We did have some down time, but it was countered by church visits and speaking engagements.
    So, when we returned, not 3 months in my husband said, “I sense we need a Sabbatical.” Talk about a spanner in the works! We are in the midst of exploring what that means for us & why we feel this is the right thing for our family. One reason being, we have been in Ministry for over 15 years!
    In order to attempt good listening and discerning, we have just (3 weeks ago) started to take a Sabbath as a family (son-8, daughter-5). It’s been interesting, challenging but also fun. We get up later than usual, have a big cooked breakfast, reflect on the week, read scripture together and pray. We stay in our PJs for most of the day… because we’ve built in a nap time! We’ve made it so that on sabbath we don’t use technology. Many ideas have come from Ruth Haley Barton’s book Sacred Rhythms. Thanks for opening the discussion, it’s so real and raw and I’m glad we’re not the only ones struggling with this.

    1. Lauren Pinkston February 2, 2018

      Hi, Cam. I love hearing about your new Sabbath rhythms, especially the way you’re doing it as a family. I think we all know too well around here how UN-restful furloughs are, and you are definitely due for some extended sabbatical time after 15 years in ministry. I think this book is one I need to checkout. God bless your time of discernment in looking to the future!

  10. Jen January 29, 2018

    Thanks for these great thoughts. I’ve really enjoyed Matthew Sleeth’s book 24/6 and his website has a bunch of great resources. http://sabbathliving.org/

    1. Lauren Pinkston February 2, 2018

      Ok I absolutely love the title of this book. Thank you for the website resource! Maybe I’ll make this the date night resource topic for my husband and I this next week!

  11. Kiera January 29, 2018

    I have a 5 year old daughter and a 3 month old son. My daughter just started Kindergarten this year, a few months before her baby brother was born. Oh yeah, and we moved to the US after 11 years in China this past summer. 🙂 Coming into this season of transition (pregnant) I knew I wanted to give myself a lot of grace and not overburden myself. In the months that I was pregnant, I worked hard to get a lot of major transition items out of the way but I also took time to nap when I needed to. Now, having a newborn at home, in some ways it feels like I have lots of time, and in some ways it feels like I have no time. I have lots of time to do things that I can do while nursing, but little time to do things that can’t be done when baby is awake. One thing that has been helpful to me recently is only putting 3 items on the to-do list for the day. (Well, I am a to-do list person, so there are actually a lot of other things on the list, but I just pick 3 to focus on during the day). Sometimes one of those things is make dinner or do laundry. There are days when I don’t even get those 3 things done, but at least 1 or 2. It helps me to focus on what needs to be done when I do have time and also to feel like I accomplished something during the day, in between cycles of nurse, play, nap (for baby). 🙂

    One thing I have been doing for a couple of years that has helped a lot with making sure that time to focus on God happens is two-fold: First, I made a set of prayer cards for my children with a different item and verse for each day of the month. (I got this idea from Kat Lee at Hello Mornings, but I changed around some of what she did.) Second, before I hop in the shower I look at the card for that day. When I am in the shower, I can’t be doing other things, so it’s a good time to focus my mind and pray for a few minutes. Sometimes it launches me off into other prayers, sometimes it’s quick and focused, but either way it’s a connection point for me with God and my role as a mom. And most of the time, when I am praying for something for my children, I end up reflecting it back on myself as I know how much of a difference I can make as a model. The cards repeat every month so when I miss a day, I don’t feel behind, I know it will come around again next month. This keeps there from being a build-up that I feel like I need to complete before I can continue which has derailed me from a number of routines in the past.

    A pod-cast that I love is the God Centered Mom podcast. I listen while cooking or walking or folding laundry or whatever. I find it fits in well with everyday life. As for a book, I am currently reading Better than Before (by Gretchen Rubin) about habit-forming. I am not finished with it yet, so this is a conditional recommendation and she does not write from a Christian perspective so you need to over-lay what she says with the Holy Spirit BUT I am finding it a helpful way to think through building new habits. Maybe check it out if you are wanting to put some new habits into your routine.

    Last, about a year ago I was struck by one fact in the story of Jesus’ baptism in Matthew 3: At the end, when he comes up out of the water and the heavens open and the voice of God speaks, God says, “This is my beloved son, with whom I am well pleased.” And it struck me that at this point, Jesus hasn’t done anything yet – hasn’t healed anyone, hasn’t taught or preached, hasn’t even gone through the temptation in the desert and yet God is already pleased with him. This helps remind me that I don’t need to do ANYTHING for God to be well pleased with me. Sometimes I think of that when I first wake up, “I am already accepted and loved before I do a single thing today.” 🙂

    1. Rachel January 31, 2018

      I’ve never thought about that perspective in Matthew 3 at Jesus’s baptism. God said He was well pleased with him before his ministry even started.
      That’s such a neat revelation. I love it, thanks for sharing!

    2. Lauren Pinkston February 2, 2018

      Seriously, Keira, can I just put you in my pocket and carry you around to whisper wisdom to me all day? What GREAT advice here! I love the idea of the prayer cards and shower time. I feel like my best thinking and prayer time comes in the shower…it’s the only time little ones aren’t calling me or asking me questions. I just need to do a better job of showering more during the week. 😛

      Also the podcast and book recommendations, thank you!

      I agree with Rachel that your reflections on Matthew 3 have been super encouraging to me. What a challenge and affirmation to our understanding of our place before God. I’m really finding encouragement in that today. Thank you for everything you to time to share with us here!

      1. Kiera February 2, 2018

        I agree, Lauren, I don’t always get a shower either. Haha. Sometimes I just grab the prayer cards when I am going to the bathroom – hahaha, any moment of (semi) privacy. 🙂

    1. Lauren Pinkston February 2, 2018

      As an adoptive mom to an older child from a hard place, this looks like an excellent resource. Thank you so much for this!

  12. Jean January 30, 2018

    I got burned out with work the last 14 months, such that I felt like crying every day at one point, and it has been quite the journey to learn how to take care of myself better, and also how to cope with the stress in a healthy way, so that I don’t continue to burn out. I have been reading Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, by Peter Scazzero, and would highly recommend it. It is written by a pastor who, at one point his wife quit his church, and then threatened to leave him, due to him being a workaholic and the “fake” Christianity she saw in him and their home. It is his journey of how to be emotionally healthy, and thus also spiritually healthy – that God ties these together – to live this abundant Life. He talks about the Sabbath, along with many other things to live a more balanced life.
    I started implementing the Sabbath 6 months ago, and am still trying to figure it out, but it has been very helpful. I can tell when I miss it for whatever (not very good) reason, how much it affects the rest of my week. I’ve had to write it on my calendar so that I am not as tempted to schedule other things on that day. It’s been kinda fun because I’ve tried out things I normally wouldn’t have time for, like doodling or drawing, baking something special, etc, depending on the mood I’m in that day. I also do my Sabbath on Monday because I often work weekends, and it is the one day every week that I am never scheduled to work.
    It is a beautiful thing to see how everyone has different insights and experiences of how they try and balance life well. We are each unique and have to figure out what works for each of us. Thank you for sharing this with us.

    1. Lauren Pinkston February 2, 2018

      I remember a time in my life, too, Jean, when I was crying every day. Feeling anxious and overwhelmed and unsure of myself…it was 3 years ago but sometimes still feels like yesterday.

      I’m actually in the. middle of reading Emotionally, Healthy Spirituality with some of my girlfriends, which may be why this topic is so heavy on my heart right now. I agree – I can’t recommend it enough! SUCH a fabulous resource and one that I wish I could share with everyone!

      Thank you for adding to the conversation here. You have encouraged and validated us all.

  13. S January 30, 2018

    In the Jewish environment I grew up in, absolutely no shops were open on the weekend, and barely any restaurants. There was no public transportation, you wouldn’t hear many private cars on the roads, and no one would be making loud noise until the evening. Foreigners who came to work or visit would often start their time complaining about how inconvenient and eerie it was on weekends. But, when their time was up, they would just as often say that the local Sabbath observation was one of the things they were going miss most when they were back in their home country.

    I myself found it really easy to rest when nothing was open, but when I moved to another country for two years, I realized how much of a temptation it actually was to just slip in an errand, and I had to be much more intentional about Sabbath. So I recommend pretending no shops or restaurants are open for one day of the week. It’s amazing how it helps 🙂

    1. Lauren Pinkston February 2, 2018

      Excellent connection, S, to the real world and spiritual realm connected to it. Even though I’m not in a Jewish community, I find it hard to keep up with the pace of life when we are back ‘home’. I’m going to pretend like everything is closed this Sunday and see how it feels. 😉

  14. melissa January 30, 2018

    The last year or so has been very busy for our family. Overwhelmingly busy. I have been stretched thin, especially at the last Christmas season, and the Re: topics have been ones that I need to spend more time on. We are a normal family (overseas workers, but normal in a third-culture way, LOL). I like my sleep. If I don’t get enough, I can be crabby and it affects everyone around me. Lately, I have not been getting enough sleep. It’s kind of like my older son – the last two nights, he’s gone to bed, but been awake for a long time. And then it makes me wonder how the next day is going to be. We have struggles. We have questions. We keep on keeping on.

    At a dinner for two in December, my husband let me know that during 2nd semester, he would take our kids to school two mornings a week. I keep hoping that those two mornings will be rest days (to sleep in) for me, but that hasn’t happened yet. What I do notice, is how nice it is to not be stressed about getting out the door and waiting for public transportation. I use that extra half hour for time to read or get ready, depending on what I am doing for the day.

    I have not gotten into podcasts. To be honest, I need a whole lot more to listen to. So when I go walking (when the weather cooperates), I listen to sermons. That’s what I need. I don’t need self-help, I need more from the Word.

    One thing I want to do more of is to print or write out Scripture and post it around our home. I think that will help me to be refocused and it will help our kids, too. Little steps.

    1. Lauren Pinkston February 2, 2018

      Great thoughts, Melissa. My favorite podcasts are the sermons or spiritual discussions, for sure. I need to minimize the noise in my life and fill up with the Word. Thanks for the reminder to be mindful of what Truths we’re putting in! I’m so happy for the slow mornings you’re getting each week. May they keep giving you life!

  15. Ellie January 30, 2018

    I really like the book “An Unhurried life” by Alan Fadling. Also “Rhythms of Grace” by Tony Horsfall. I have various things I’ve tried over the years to try to guard Sabbath time a bit more (I always think of that Jewish phrase “it’s not us that keep the Sabbath; it’s the Sabbath that keeps us”) and try to keep on track but recently back in home culture has felt a lot harder to achieve. Keep thinking “I have nothing to give if I don’t take this time” but it’s a constant effort to do so – I think that’s where the culture is so important and having other people you’re accountable to etc – checking with each other to encourage rest.

    1. Lauren Pinkston February 2, 2018

      Excellent, Ellie. And thank you for these resources! I’m going to fill my bookshelf full of these reminders. 🙂

  16. Ashley February 3, 2018

    Wow, so many great thoughts and ideas already! I’ll try not to repeat…but you may be on overload already. Regardless, maybe these will help someone.

    I am currently at our org’s annual conference and we got the surprise at some leadership meetings to hear from Jayna Gallagher (remember her from the VA retreat last year?!) on…Sabbath! There were so many great points, but I’ll just share a few. One was about margin in her day. We all have them: right when we wake up, waiting at the doctor’s office, waiting at a red light, etc. What do we do first? Most of us grab our phones. Eek! What if we committed to NOT grabbing them and instead chose to fill those few minutes with prayer or connecting with God? A good, practical challenge in this technology-distracting world.

    Another thought that came from some discussion was to prepare for Sabbath. It should be something we look forward to after working hard for 6 days! Practically, that may be doing some extra laundry, making sure the dishes are done, pre-cooking a meal, or whatever you see as “work” on your Sabbath day. And, even if those things don’t get done, not feeling like you have to do them to catch up…they’ll be there the next day, and it’ll all probably be ok. (Although we all live in some funky parts of the worlds with lots of creepy crawlies, so some of us might really have to have our kitchen cleaned the night before or we’ll get some unwanted guests!)

    As for quiet times…again, it’s so so hard as a young mama. I have even realized in just the past few weeks that I feel like my brain is maybe a firm mush now instead of just completely mush. Haha But really, as the kids get older, I think our brains gain more capacity to think on other things besides nap times, who ate what, and who needs to poop. AmIright? I think God gives grace for season like that. However, I also think we have to FIGHT for our time with him. Tim Keller gave a great sermon on this topic (I can look it up if you want). The enemy loves winning when we choose excuses over time with God. Loves it! So we have to fight against them, fight against schedules, distractions, interruptions, all of it. Right now, my hubby and I have our QT after the kids go to bed, before we get on any devices. The instant accountability is definitely helpful. Grace and fight. 🙂

  17. Lauren Brewer Bass February 3, 2018

    From one (mostly former) high capacity over-achiever to another, it’s a battle isn’t it? My “honor the gifts you are given” and overachieving way of life (ok, and my pride, because that’s what it is) had led me through seasons of amazing productivity and then burnout before even moving overseas. I finally began learning that stress was bad for me but by that time what could I do? I don’t have kids yet, but I have developed some health issues that have slashed my capacity and energy…but I did my best to fight through it. Add in living in the chaos of life and poverty and traffic and heat in South East Asia, while maintaining funding and learning to read and write all again in another language and, well, something had to give.

    A real effort for Sabbath came first for me. Our local church obligations make Sundays anything but restful for me, so we shifted our schedules (super thankful that I have this option in this season) and made Sunday a “real” work day (so I schedule myself to do work tasks the whole day including church time). Friday is our “personal day,” aka “Saturday” to clean and do all the personal things that need to get done in order to take a Sabbath off (we used to order in on Sabbath, but now we prep an extra portion of food on the day before to eat on our Sabbath). I had to have some pretty firm rules for myself in the beginning. I listed out some activities that were restorative for me (anything creative, getting a massage, journaling in a cafe, listening to a sermon, anything with nature, playing games with my husband, taking a bath, etc.) and then restricted things that were “work” or not restorative (no work email or news at all, only a quick check of personal email and IG in the morning and then not again, no Facebook, no researching, no meetings that aren’t for the purpose of fun or encouragement, no cleaning, no dishes when possible (paper plates when possible because…bugs mean dishes have to get done! My inner environmentalist cringes at using paper plates when I *could* just wash real ones, but I tell myself, just one day is ok) etc.). I also just did not allow myself to schedule anything on my sabbath (which felt impossible in the beginning, but is easy now). I approached it like learning a new skill, which was helpful because I was NOT good at it in the beginning. I struggled with feeling like I didn’t “deserve” a Sabbath if I didn’t have a productive week or took some sick days or whatever (which started to show me how messed up my mentality was in some areas). I resisted stopping for 24 hours when I still had so many things to get done, and it was hard to rest when I had unfinished tasks hanging over my head (I would feel like it would be more restorative to just clear them off my docket than to stop and rest). I also used to feel a lot of pressure or guilt on days set aside to rest or refresh when they weren’t actually restful. Now, it comes around once a week (not once a quarter if I was lucky before), so if my Sabbath was a mess, well, in 6 days I would get to try again.

    After working through adding Sabbath I’ve been looking to dive deeper realistic rhythms and so, in January I read Cal Newport’s book: Deep Work. It takes some translation to make it work for the kind of work we do (and I’m sure some of us will have to be careful to not use the tips he gives as a way to just cram more work into the day!) but I found that he had some really practical tips for time management and also for the ways that multitasking, busyness and the tools we use effect our brains/work in negative ways. (I personally have to be careful about podcasts and audio books, as I love learning and left unchecked will just use them to increase the noise in my head by never having a moment of silence, but, that said, this is a very easy book to listen to on audio book : ) My US library even had it in it’s digital library). I’ve started using his “time block” scheduling (mashed up with a very, very paired down bullet journal system) and it has shown me clearly how much I over-schedule myself and how I pretty consistently underestimate how long it will take me to complete the tasks I have set out for myself (sometimes because of my own speed, sometimes because: living overseas). It’s been eye opening. I’ve been much more focused, much better rested and also gotten a lot of work done. To go with your metaphor, it helps me visualize that what I want to type will be over the edges of the paper BEFORE I type it and hit print.

    I’ll stop now (!), but I thought I would share some of the practical tips that have helped me as I’m figuring this all out too. Best of luck!

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