When I think about the word margin, I think of 7th grade typing.  I think about that electric typewriter and the pursuit of perfect margins – not only left and right, but upper and lower.  Back in the day before computers and word processing, there were rules, tab bars and counting spaces.

Over the past year and a half, this word has taken on a completely new meaning in the life of our family.

margin: (n.) an amount by which a thing is won or falls short.

This thing that is either won or falls short?

Missional community.

And it’s personal to us.

The Mr. and I choose a word every January 1 that we pray will lead and direct the year to come. Last year (2016) we chose two. One of them was “margin”.

If we were going to pursue incarnating (which was our other word) into our neighborhood, we needed to create margin in our life and schedule

For our family, that meant saying “no” to some good things in order to create room in our lives for best things.  We stepped back from responsibilities to already churched people.  We said “no” to obligation driven extras.  We committed to a regular rhythm of rest.

What we discovered is that If you are already maxed out and can’t imagine taking time to invest in your neighborhood, you won’t.

Creating margin in the life of our family has allowed us less structured time.  Less structured time allows us to sit on the porch a little longer, take a different route on our walk, babysit a single mom’s baby while she takes classes or invite a friend in for coffee at the end of a long day.  The margin is where we build relationships.

I read an e-book a few years ago by Shauna Pilgreen called Live Sent: 31 Days in the City.  In her book, Shauna shares about living in four quadrants: home, job, school/play and church.  She suggests that as we overlap those four quadrants, we create margin for building relationships.  If we are constantly going outside of where our home is (neighborhood) for work, school/play and church, there is less time (and more stress) to build relationships there.

Take a moment and think about how your quadrants overlap.  Do your children attend school in your neighborhood?  Does your expression of church meet near your workplace?  Is your gym in your neighborhood?  Can you walk to your local “3rd place”?

What thing is winning or falling short in your life right now?  What steps can you take to create the margin necessary to win?


An Ordinary Afternoon

The doorbell rang.  An incredibly ordinary occurrence, especially since our move almost 11 months ago brought us into this chaotic, sometimes messy and always amazing neighborhood.  

Our neighbor sent her grand-daughter over with a bag of goodies today!  She blesses us regularly out of her abundance.  I’m always humbled that my friend has given so much to us…  

Her generosity has taught me so much about community and what it means to care for others.

Community gives out of abundance.  Community builds relationship – not dependance.

the gifts we bring

tree gifts

I love a pretty package under the tree.  I love perfectly cut paper and minimal tape usage.  (I used to work at a Hallmark store and gift wrapping was my favorite task!)  I love bows and cute gift tags.  The presentation is part of the package – so to speak.

On this Christmas day, I’ve been reminded that the gifts we bring to God aren’t always wrapped in pretty vintage paper or trimmed with ribbons and string…  In fact, often they are wrapped in brokenness and pain; strength and bravery.  They aren’t pretty.  They’re messy and chaotic and raw.

  • Maybe the gift you bring is your addiction – wrapped in a brown paper bag.  The bottle is full and you’re giving it all to the King.
  • Is your gift wrapped in the chaos of bad choices?  The packaging is torn, but the gift is new and bursting with beauty.
  • The gift you bring might be your son – wrapped in the future you hoped he would have.  The doctor says there is nothing more that can be done and you graciously walk in the truth that he is not yours, but the Father’s…
  • Another may bring a gift wrapped in fear of the unknown.  You want to trust Him.  “Lord, help my unbelief.”
  • Your gift may be wrapped in nothing – the nakedness of a vulnerable heart.  You’re stepping out in faith and the undeniable call sounds crazy to everyone around you.

Can you imagine the beauty under God’s Christmas tree?  All these gifts we bring – we don’t have to impress him with a pretty package.

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
Psalm 51:17

“Trust Me”

Three times in the past three years during three difficult seasons, God said “trust me.”

It wasn’t audible, but there was power the moment I sensed His command.

Three times when I wanted to quit.  Three times when I couldn’t see another way.  Three times when I needed Him to intervene.

I wanted Him to step in and make the the problems go away.  I wanted Him to ease my circumstances.  I wanted Him to do something…

He did.

He said “trust me.”


Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ. (1 Corinthians 11:1)

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what it means to imitate someone.  This video of Jen Hatmaker from a Verge conference started my thinking about the subject:

Miriam-Webster defines imitate this way

: to make or do something the same way as (something else)

: to do the same thing as (someone)

: to copy (someone’s or something’s behavior, sound, appearance, etc.)

How I see it, in order for someone to imitate you, you actually have to be doing something worth imitating.  Going back to the 1 Corinthians passage, Paul is saying “Watch me.  Do what I’m doing, as I watch and do what Christ did first.”

I want my life in Christ to be worth imitating.  Not just the leadership skills I possess, but the actual getting stuff done part of my life.

When people watch me, what am I modeling?  Am I modeling the ability to lead meetings, administrate a team and cast vision?  Or am I modeling the pushing up of my sleeves, engaging people and the gritty discipleship of the Kingdom?

I’m making changes.  It feels like a learning curve, though…



One life changing question

I went to a luncheon for area church planters recently in the city.  The guest speaker was JR Woodward.  After I read his book Creating a Missional Culture, I knew I would jump at any opportunity to meet him and learn from him.

I had a great lunch, networked a bit with local church planters and settled in to listen and learn.

The most profound thing I walked away with?

One life changing question: What is the one thing you cannot NOT do?


JR shared that this was a question that my aunt, Linda Bergquist, actually asked him a few years back as he was considering what his next step in ministry would be.

I’ve thought about that question a lot in the weeks since I heard it.  The Mr. and I are on the cusp of some pretty significant life changes.  It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the possibilities.  In light of all the options before us, I keep coming back to this one life changing question…

I’m still working on my answer.  Praying and asking God to show me.

What is the one thing you cannot NOT do?

Move in

From The Message:

The Word became flesh and blood,
and moved into the neighborhood. John 1:14

Jesus.  He slipped into our context and rented the house down the block.

This is the Way.

Can we simplify the missional conversation?

What does it look like for us to “move into the neighborhood”?

God Himself

My goal is God Himself…
At any cost, dear Lord, by any road.
“At any cost…by any road” means submitting to God’s way of bringing us to the goal. – Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His HIghest (November 17)

I’m a planner.

Give me a goal and a plan and I can chase hard after it.

But this goal?  God Himself?  At any cost?

That’s a clear goal with an ambiguous – and possibly dangerous and difficult – plan.

I struggle with that.

God has shown me quite a lot over the past month – journeying on a road that is costly…

God Himself.

Lord, help me submit to your way of bringing me to the goal.

What happens?

What happens when God changes you?

What happens when He places a dream in your heart?

What happens when He opens your eyes to see?

What happens when He ignites a passion?

What happens when He fills you with unexplained hope?

I’ll tell you what happens…

He consumes you.

consume:  to do away with completely

He had done away with me completely and replaced my desires with His.