Standing on the Fringes of Life

I’m Not Interested in Standing on the Fringes of Life

I live and worship on the fringes of a fishing economy. On the drive to church, I observe nets festooned and floating on the water, and my husband and I ask each other, “What’s running right now?” or “Is it time for alewives already?”

I’ve noticed that I need a translator for sorting out conversations between my two welder sons. My music major has reached a point in his studies where he’s far beyond my comprehension level. Too, whenever I direct an innocent question about work to the son who works as a cardiac cath tech, I’m fascinated with the answer–but completely snowed by the terminology!

At times, I’m alarmed to catch myself thinking, “I don’t really need to understand this…”
And it’s true. I don’t NEED to understand commercial fishing practices, pharmaceutical grade welding, diminished chords, or the ins and outs of invasive cardiac procedures.

This week I will celebrate my 60th birthday, and I’m well aware that there are entire mountain ranges of information I will never scale. However, I can’t afford to live my days on the fringes, and I’m not interested in standing there. That’s why my birthday gift to you is a challenge intended to pull us away from the fringes! (Read on…)

There’s something about this new eligibility for senior citizen discounts that makes me want to stop and assess the way I use my time and abilities. I have sixteen-hour-a-day energy even with Parkinson’s Disease vying for my time and attention–but sixteen hours doesn’t seem sufficient to do all the things I envision, the things I pin to the pages of my planner in scribbled lists with smudged pencil lead.

And then I remember this quote from Elisabeth Elliot:

There is always time to do the will of God.”

And the Spirit whispers this prayer:

My times are in Your hand.”

Psalm 31:15

There’s something about this new eligibility for senior citizen discounts that makes me want to assess the way I use my time and abilities. I can’t afford to live my days on the fringes, and I’m not interested in standing there.

It’s Time to Choose Wisely

The word immerse keeps coming to mind, a dive-deep mentality that allows for comprehension BEFORE application. Going deep may require a narrower scope and a more focused approach to work, ministry, and relationships. An immersion mindset is all-in, leaving NO room for a life on the fringes.

I’m wondering if some of my recent decisions to be more immersive and less on the fringes have been driven unconsciously by this landmark birthday:

  • I resigned from a leadership role I’ve held at my church for over twenty years. The young couple who has taken it on is doing a fabulous job– and it feels good to narrow my scope to Sunday school oversight and women’s ministry.
  • I’ve decided to use a curriculum guide for my women’s Sunday school class instead of forging into Exodus with nothing but a stack of commentaries and a vague idea of how much we might cover in an hour.
  • I’m sticking with part-time substitute teaching because grandchildren grow up so fast.
  • We’re giving up our lawn mowing business at the end of this season.
  • I started posting here just once a week in order to make time for building a community around my monthly newsletter. I’m still reviewing a book almost every week, though, and I’d welcome your input on how this is working for you as a reader.

It’s Time to Do Good

My family is mildly amused by my mid-life spurt of writing. They are happy for me when I get invited to speak at a retreat or a conference. Sometimes they read my articles, but the creative effort they really appreciate is a batch of whoopie pies and a huge bowl of Mediterranean pasta salad at a family picnic. More than my words, preserved on this website, they value the dilly beans, preserved on shelves in our furnace room.

Loving our people well requires a solid understanding of their definition of love. It’s becoming more important to me all the time to ensure that I am living my days to the fullest and doing as much good as I can for the people I love.

She does… good, and not harm, all the days of her life.”

Proverbs 31:12

I know how my family defines “good”, but how does God define “goodness?” Rounding the corner toward my 60th birthday, I want to be sure that I’m paying attention!

In the Proverbs 31 classic laundry list of desirable traits for a wife and mother, doing “good” seems to pale alongside seeking wool and flax and buying a field, but it has grabbed my attention, because it requires that I know my people. What “good” can I do that will spell L-O-V-E for them? There are certainly worse questions to shape a life than “How can I do good today for those I love?”

It’s Time to Immerse

In a world where my dishwasher and stove know more than I do, where the music we listen to in the car is stored in the Invisible-Somewhere, and where having an online presence has become so complicated I can’t begin to make time to learn about all the things I’m not doing, I have to be selective about the things I can know deeply–and then go deep on those very few things.

Don’t be looking for a big splash, but I’m not interested in standing on the fringes, skimming the surface, and doing lots of things–but none of them very well.

How about you? Have you asked God to show you where you need to go deep?
No matter what birthday you’ll celebrate next, you’ve really got no time for a life on the fringes–so scroll down to the free resource I’ve created to help you begin moving toward the center of a living and powerful walk with God!

Holding you in the Light,

Have you asked God to show you where you need to go deep? No matter what birthday you’ll celebrate next, you’ve really got no time for a life on the fringes.

My Birthday Gift to YOU!

Standing on the Fringes of Life

A Seven Day Challenge of Scripture and Prayer to Pull You Away from the Fringes

As my birthday gift to you, I’ve created a seven-day challenge intended to draw us away from the fringes. The challenge incorporates daily Scripture and prayer to help you begin moving toward the center of a living and powerful walk with God.

Last winter, I memorized John 15:1-8 and was struck and instructed all over again by the truth of God’s intense longing to be in relationship with me. He wants us! No question about it, but so often we behave as if we don’t want him.

Each day’s brief reading from John 15 is an invitation to abide with Christ, to pull away from the fringes and toward his heart. I’m committed to the truth that women can become confident followers of God and students of his word, and it’s my goal to provide resources to help you along that path. Subscribers receive them automatically, and you can receive your copy by simply entering your email and then clicking on the button below…

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Photo by Zosia Korcz on Unsplash

52 thoughts on “I’m Not Interested in Standing on the Fringes of Life”

  1. This one really touched a raw spot. I found myself crying while reading and realized that this put on paper a struggle I have been working through this year. (Thanks for the puffy eyes for church.) Trying to find the balance between the worth we find in job titles, intellectual prowess, surviving financially; and loving well is challenging. Life is flying by and I really do want to hear, “Well done thou good and faithful servant.” Wishing you a very blessed birthday, Michele. Thanks for the thoughts.

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    1. Oh…
      You and I are both thinking along the same line—one that goes straight from today on to the horizon, and we really don’t know the measure of our days without his wisdom. Let’s stick close to Truth and trust his sovereignty!

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  2. Interesting, MM. “Endure” was the word Spirit deep planted in my 60 yr old soul and I’ve been pondering it ever since. I believe I’ve endured it with peace and mostly joy. Food for thought. It’s good when that happens.

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  3. I know what you mean. I think our younger years consist of trying several things. But our older years seem to be more focused. Whatever time I have left, I want to make it count for good. There are so many things, good things, that can be done. But what does God want me to do? That’s something I am asking Him a lot lately.

    I appreciate, too, your thoughts on balancing writing with family. Writing requires time alone, for me, anyway. I can’t think as I need to with voices or even music on. Yet my husband is approaching retirement years, when he’ll be around more, and I am wondering how that is going to work. We’re getting a foretaste since he’s been working from home even before the pandemic. But God knows all that He has called me to, and I trust He’ll guide me as to what to focus on when.

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    1. Interesting…
      I get a foretaste of retirement every summer when my teacher husband is home and we are both caught up in the mowing business together. And adult children do impact the schedule, sometimes more comprehensively than when they were little.
      I really see all of this as God the Holy Spirit working in me to keep kicking myself out of the center of the universe!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Yes! The things I’m supposed to be doing, I need to do them very well, to the very best of the ability God gave me. Your challenge and encouragement was good reading and dovetailed so nicely (in my mind, anyway) with the great advice I just read from Barbara on “what is God’s highest calling”

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  5. This has been a summer where I have been tempted to draw back into the fringes, but over and over again, God has pulled me from there, telling me I am to flourish to the end – and I am to just trust Him, not what the world says I have to do to flourish – and, like you mention, to make a big splash! Loving those He gives us – that’s what it all circles about. Happy 60th birthday, Michele. Praying Blessing and Joy follow you into this new decade!

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  6. My dad’s battle with Parkinson’s inspired my first unpublished novel: Chorus of Crows. I’m on a steep learning curve these days. You are doing a great job with wordpress. Goodness is greatness I say.

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  7. Happy Birthday, Michele! I’m sensing change ahead but I have absolutely no idea what shape it needs to take. “There is always time to do the will of God” gives me hope that doing what God has given me to do today will lead to what He has for me tomorrow.

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  8. I had to chuckle about you not understanding what you sons were saying as they talk about their jobs. I went through the same thing especially with my husband, who sailed ships for 35 years and my daughter – the music major.
    This is actually a timely post for me, Michelle, as I was just talking to my sister who will turn 60 in two weeks, and she was talking about the challenge she has decided to undertake (walking 100k over 10 days). She also told me of another she had considered (loom knitting 60 hats for children but she said she didn’t have time to get it done). I have signed up for your challenge and I’m sending this to my sister as well. Thanks for putting it together and Happy Birthday!

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  9. You have posed so many important questions and challenged me on several levels. I just passed #73 and I, too, find myself wanting to focus on those closest to home. Yet, not wanting to neglect what I believe God has called me to maintain as an act of stewardship.

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  10. Oh what a fun milestone birthday to be celebrating and pondering! My boys (and husband!) are far more interested in what I have coming out of the kitchen at any given point versus what I’m writing about ever. LOL. But they do love that I have something creative that I’m passionate about that puts me in touch with such wonderful and supportive women.

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  11. I may have signed up twice. Bc I’m 70. I’d like to have you on my podcast again to say what you wrote here. Maybe record in Dec for March? Yes?

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  12. I “amen-ed” my way through this entire post, Michele–from that wonderful quote of E. Elliot’s (which I copied into my journal) to your rationale for immersing ourselves into whatever God directs. For me, I’ve felt called to invest myself in the younger women at church (Bible study and mentoring) and in blogging–my own weekly posts and then supporting, learning from, and being inspired by other bloggers (like you)! I take great joy in these endeavors; I trust God does too, otherwise He’d surely make a different path clear to me (Psalm 32:8).

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Happy 60th Michele!

    I’ve learnt in this season of my life to follow God’s leading daily & that may mean only doing one thing well.

    It may be taking a phone call, our sending a text message of concern or replying to a reader’s comment with encouragement.

    It may be cooking a comforting meal for hubby.

    Or meeting a friend or loved one for lunch.

    Or it may be writing what God wants me to write, rather then what I have in mind for a post 😉

    You see I’ve learnt with chronic health issues that on most days I can only do one thing well & that is enough. 😊
    Bless you, Jennifer

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  14. Happy Birthday Michele. My sister sent me the link to your blog , she knew how meaningful it would be for me. I too will turn 60, ten days from now. Your words perfectly mirror my own feelings . There has been alot of reflection going on in my heart as the milestone approaches. So much time as gone by so very quickly. I find myself thinking about a line from a Joey and Rory song ” did I do all I could do in the time that you gave me ” I look at so many things I have intended to accomplish and know I need to choose wisely. Immerse is perfect for me . Thank you for that, it has touched me so very much. I’m excited to join you for the rest of this ( very meaningful to me ) challenge.

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    1. Hi, Kathy! I so appreciate your chiming in here, and I want to look up that song. Your sister is a huge encouragement to me.
      I am espresso grateful to hear that you are taking the challenge. These years ahead can be deep and meaningful!

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  15. Love your thoughts, Michele! It’s hard for me to let go of my NEED to know so many things, because I simply LOVE learning! But you make a point here, and I wrote about this in one of my recent posts, too. You see I am turning 64 in two weeks! I suddenly felt the same urgency of intention you describe here, and want to make the most of the last leg of my journey! Wishing you a very Happy Birthday, and I commend you for making some hard decisions. I am praying for you regularly!

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  16. Wow.
    This is very honest.
    That E Eliot quote hit me. As a challenge. Always time to do God’s will. Sometimes I wonder how this can be. But I have to trust that it’s so.

    Thank you for the challenge.

    Thank you for sharing this at the Sunday Sunshine Blog Hop

    Laurie

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  17. This post speaks to my heart, for sure, Michele! I pray every day for God to lead me to the important things I should be doing, and where to go deep and what to give up! Thanks for your insights!

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  18. Michelle,
    Since I retired, I have been struggling with making better use of all the time i have and not get distracted doing things that waste that time!! I think this year, after 3 years, i am finally getting it under control!! Thanks so much for stopping by!!
    Hugs,
    Deb

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  19. Therefore, the only issue we have is that we don’t comprehend His Providence’s direction.
    We don’t want that, though. The most crucial thing for us to do is to learn about His Providence, His treatment of us, and our relationship with Him. After all, this relationship has a shape, a pattern, and a structure that helps us find Him.

    We can’t reach the Creator on our own, but by following that path, we can progress spiritually by learning about His perspective on us.

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  20. Happy happy birthday, friend! 60 looks so good on you!

    ‘I have to be selective about the things I can know deeply–and then go deep on those very few things.’ I love this so much. It’s where I find myself these days and I make no apologies. There’s only so much mental and emotional bandwidth that I’ve been given in this season and I’ve gotten fairly selective on what and who I devote my energy to.

    ‘Your strength must come from the Lord’s mighty power within you.’
    – Ephesians 6:10.

    Bless you beyond your wildest dreams in the days ahead, Michele. I feel so blessed to do life in your wise and wry company.

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  21. This is beautiful, Michele. I’ll feature this at Grace & Truth this Friday on my blog. Happy 60th Birthday to you! (My 60th is in 2 months.) I’m glad you’re not resigning yourself to the fringes; you have so much of God’s goodness and glory to keep sharing with the world. I’m so thankful for you.

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