Gary T

Long life, short bio.  In fact, just finished the preface for my book, Generational Fathering, last night.  I’m a bit too full of myself right now.  How about this, a retro look:  Married to a true beauty for 47 years. “Retired” or whatever better term applies to guy out of the employment cycle, getting a Navy pension (sounds really old, right?) and YOUR social security contributions.  Thank you.  A grandfather of six by one be-fruitful-and-multiply daughter.  Writing the book with her husband, my best friend.  It’s about our “companion fathering” bringing two generation to bear on the latest gang of kids.  My son died of cancer at 31, so I have a “life is hard” perspective of walking with God.  Before that a rancher doing international business from a lovely log home in the Colorado mountains.  My four businesses were pioneering for what is now common, “Business as Mission.”  Got there by way of helping start and supervise the gunslingers of a new mission, Frontiers, planting churches in Muslim lands.  Somewhere in there I retired from the naval reserves, a captain with 32 years under my brass-buckled belt; I was both warrior and peacemaker because I also served as a pastor…short-term calling; the warrior didn’t work well with whiners.  Ten years with Campus Crusade, helping launch the military ministry.  That was right after landing 301 times to, fortunately, match 301 take offs from the deck of a carrier off Vietnam and one time returning from those skies when the other guy with red stars on his wings did not.  Now I write.  I keep  pretty lively with fathering stories, both mine and those of my therapist son-in-law.  If you can’t stow your curiosity, a full profile of the two of us and our book shows up at

Guest posts are a challenge.  “Max clever” or “deep but witty” are my first impulses. “Spiritual and uplifting” quickly follows. Then I see me grinning at myself reflected in the laptop screen.  The reflection prompted reflection. Such moments always start out, “HMMMmmm.”  Meantime, behind the grin turned somber, I realized those urges were left over from the promotional lusts of my 40’s and 50’s…when I was just a kid.

I can see you smile at that one.  But it’s a real factor in my life these days, the hailing back to memories of an over-vigorous life, I mean.  So happens, I finished the preface for my book, Generational Fathering, last night (no I’m not promoting it, that book, the one they tell us each of us has deep down inside, is a long way off.  Heck, the preface is the easiest project and it took a week.).  I get to tell personal stuff about me and my co-author, my son-in-law and father to the six grandchildren we loaned he and my daughter.  Wistful stuff.  Maybe a little too cute, what with the cowboy references and all.  But re-reading it this morning, I liked it. It reminded me, “clever,” “witty,” “spiritual” were the bylines of a high-energy life turned to saving the world.  Fighter pilot, evangelist, missionary, entrepreneur, global business mogul (a very small scale mogul).  Some people pack a lot into 70 years.

But I shan’t bore you with all that.  We HARD-CORE types have heard that mildly deprecating, highly self-glorifying stuff before.  As a visitor here, I’d like to bundle my years up and tie them with one knot.  The MARGIN knot.

Herein begins pages upon pages of the story.  No, not today, not here?  Right, I’m a guest. Then how about the short form?

Life was frenetic and it suited me.  Not so my wife, but, bless her heart, she stuck it out (I’m brewing coffee and clearing my throat for her birthday song in a few minutes, by the way).  Yes, I could slow down to read. I’m glad because two books changed my life.  Sacred Romance by Curtis and Eldredge set in motion a whole life perspective and deep involvement with the Ransomed Heart gang. Most of you know about Wild at Heart, et. al.  So let me tease you with the other book, Margin.

All of this has been introduction as I near the word limit I set for myself.  You’ll get Dr. Richard Swenson’s theme quickly.  But, honestly, you really do need to get his book (or books; several around this theme).  This guy said exactly what I needed at just the right moment.  It was as if he was God’s mouthpiece.  Here it is—or “was” for me during that hyper-adrenal period:

Gary, you live without margin.  Get some.  Every day is a page in the story you write for yourself even before you wake, and it goes from one edge to the other, from top to bottom.  What if your family had a need?  If you even recognized it, where would you stuff it in today’s Big Page?  And how about God?  You follow Him, right?  How does He get a word in edgewise…when there is no edge, no margin.  Are you going to give Him a slot a couple of pages away?  What if they or He wants to engage you like now?


Problem 1:  I was writing my own story, a noble, honorable, godly one. All the while, knowing it was the Lord God I was serving who really had the last word, I was stuffing all the words on my life’s page well before His “last word.”  It came rather suddenly (and, here’s where Eldredge’s insights played a part): I was supposed to be living in His Grand Story, the one the Council of the Godhead dreamed up and wrote for me even before they started the clock of time.

Problem 2:  I had been writing in HIS margins.  His story for me was excellent.  Better than mine.  By far.  And it has wide margins.  Gives a chance to put notes, even love notes, here and there. “NB,” Noto bono in God’s handwriting started showing up.  His notes change everything.

In regular, less poetic terms, my discovery of margin (the book gives frightening data and examples) was something like, “Slow Down.” Only better.  I’d heard that rant almost every day, but zipping about doing good faster than the speed of sound, the words were muffled.

One story closes this teaser.  It happened suddenly on one drive from the ranch to town.  I drove 45.  The speed limit was 55.  I usually drove 65 unless I was in a hurry.  I was always in a hurry.  I actually (this means I am NOT kidding you), saw things on the 15 minute drive (formerly 10 swish-by minutes) I’d never seen…spring flowers, snow still on Pikes Peak, two Elk hanging across the meadow in the tree line.  I remember breathing softly when I told God, “Thank you.”  If not then, then now—or both—I had a tear.  Gratitude and resolved.

One story more, a bonus.  My wife noticed.  I have, since, lived a still full life, but I leave plenty of margin.  When I got to the laid-back but productive leg of the journey (my indolent neighbors call it “retirement”), I said I only wanted two goals to drive me.  (Wow, not 16?!)  I wanted to love God more and better and I wanted to love my wife and family more and better.  Very, very big margin in that story.

  1. Loved this post. loved the way it was written. I am 58 and for pastors I seem to be beyond the age of usefulness. But i see differently. I plan to be useful as long as God allows me to be. Money will dictate no retirement but would I enjoy it anyway? Highly unlikely although I am taking steps to slow down now. What I want to do is savor the moments-in my work; in my relationship to Jesus; in my relationship to my wife, my adult daughters and my grandson; and in my cycling. Thanks for the reminder that is ok to slow down.

  2. Brandan Isaacs says:

    great post, great topic…I seem to sometimes be going so fast that I don’t let God get his “margin notes” in…thanks for sharing this as a reminder

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