Alleviating Tension

Alleviating Tension

Setting Aside Time in our Daily Lives

 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” – Jeremiah 29:11-13

"All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us." - JRR Tolkien

Have you ever tweaked your back as you roll out of bed in the morning? I have. And if it’s a particularly painful spasm, it might last a day or two derailing everything I have planned.

Every day we camp in the unknown. Did you realize that? Every. Single. Day. 

I’ve always known that to be true somewhere in the recesses of my brain, but never considered it in the forefront of my mind. Maybe I don’t want to think about it because the very thought creates a certain level of anxiety and tension to the planner/control-freak in me, but the fact remains that you and I honestly have no idea what will happen throughout our days.

Sure, we make plans and have routines we like or tend to follow. If you’re a Christian who’s familiar with your Bible, you’ve seen in scripture how God often expresses that He knows the plans He has for us and will reveal them to us in His perfect timing. But even in that, we don’t know the details of the journey, and certainly not the timing.

Personal example: yesterday I was on my way to meet a friend for coffee I hadn’t seen in nearly 10 years. I was looking forward to seeing her, and hadn’t left a lot of margin to get to where I was headed. I made the decision to go a different direction then I would normally have gone, and on the way I saw a neighbor heading to her car. As I waved, I caught a look on her face. I knew her mom had been battling cancer for about a year, so I stopped, jumped out of my car, and as I walked toward her I asked if she was all right. Her mom had passed away the night before. It had been a hard-fought battle, and there were hopeful moments that her mom would beat the cancer. But in the end, the disease overwhelmed her body and she succumbed to it. 

On the side of the street, we hugged and cried. I didn’t know her mom, but for my neighbor, she felt safe because she knew I had experienced the grief of losing my mom many years ago. The familiarity washed over me as I empathized with her transition to life without her mom's love and support. 

All this to say, by God’s infinite grace, I was able to be fully present with my neighbor, and somehow made (what would normally be) a 20-minute drive in 10…and no, I wasn’t speeding – any more than usual. 

Author and speaker, Doug Fields, regularly reminds his readers/listeners to make sure there’s margin in our life. I am a regular offender of this life application. But as I sit here this morning, with my cup of coffee, typing away, reflect on the passage of scripture above and the life lesson played out yesterday morning, I am challenged by the Holy Spirit to live a life with more margin in it. To be wholly present, so that when I’m passing by a person in need, my mind isn’t so cluttered that I miss the opportunity to comfort or encourage…or be comforted and encouraged.

Today, let’s practice the art of margin in our day and week, which in turn alleviates so much of the tension we carry around. Let’s daily practice the beauty of: "I don’t know what today will bring, Father, but you do. I pray I will be fully present to not only be aware of it, but experience it abundantly, whatever ‘it’ may be." For me, that means carving out a little more time in the word of God, and cutting out unnecessary “stuff”. What about you? Do you have areas that need tailoring so you have more time to be present? Please share with me your ideas to create margin and, by extension, beauty in your life. I look forward to hearing from you! 

Seeking the beauty in the every day stuff of life with you,


Featured artwork: “Whatever May Come,” 36” x 36” x 1.5” acrylic on canvas

It’s funny that before I sat down to write this morning, praying that my words would be spirit-lead, I felt inspired that no matter what, I would include this painting. Did the painting inspire the content of this blog or visa versa? God knows. But it is my visual offering this month for you. I produced a series based on the wisteria I enjoyed in the Washington DC area this past spring. Please check them out on the website:

NEWS (I'm so excited to announce): Please mark your calendars for November 3rd - 6th, as I will be exhibiting my artwork at ART SAN DIEGO, at the Balboa Park Activity Center. I'll provide more information in next months blog, but my series of florals will be featured.

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