Carrying a Corner of the Mat

Some men came carrying a paralyzed man on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus.  When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus.  When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.”

The Pharisees and the teachers of the law began thinking to themselves, “Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”

Jesus knew what they were thinking and asked, “Why are you thinking these things in your hearts? Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the paralyzed man, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” Immediately he stood up in front of them, took what he had been lying on and went home praising God. Everyone was amazed and gave praise to God. They were filled with awe and said, “We have seen remarkable things today.” – Luke 5:18-20 (NIV)

“Friend, your sins are forgiven.”

There is tenderness in the way Jesus greeted this paralyzed man who had literally been dropped in front of him. The man was a sinner. That is clear because one of the things Jesus did was forgive his sin. In the Jewish mindset of that day, physical abnormalities and sickness were believed to be the judgment of God for the serious sin of the person or his family.  Most likely the paralytic had been carrying the weight and guilt of that for years.  But, yet, here he was, laying helpless in front of Jesus, the holiest man who ever lived. Jesus looked at him and called him, “Friend.” 

Jesus didn’t ask, “What are you doing here? How did you get here? Don’t you know you interrupted me? What do you want?” Anyone could see that the man was paralyzed. What no one else could see was the condition of the man’s heart. But Jesus started there. The religious leaders in the room immediately took offense – as they tended to do – and said, “Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” Jesus went on to prove he could heal the man’s visible, physical ailment, but he made it clear that the most important thing, that only he could do, was to free him from sin. He does that for us, too, going right to the root of the problem.

 “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.”

When Jesus said, “Take up your mat,” the man did it. He didn’t spend time telling Jesus all the reasons why he couldn’t. He attempted something that had been impossible before and stood up. Jesus didn’t pick up the man’s mat, or ask his friends to help him out. He told him to pick up his own mat, and he gave him the necessary strength in his arms and his legs to do it.  

He does that for us, too. If he tells us to take a step, he promises to give us all the strength we need to take it. You may be thinking, “I need to confront an issue with my husband or my kids, or I need to go to counseling, or I need to share my faith with this person.” And then you start thinking, “But, but, but, what if…” Let this paralyzed man be your inspiration. Jesus told him what to do, and the man did it – knowing the full power of Jesus was supporting him. 

When Jesus saw their faith…

The wording at the beginning of verse 5 is significant. Jesus saw the faith of the paralyzed man, but he also saw the faith of his four friends.  God honors the faith of those who are willing to carry the weight of another. Some friends would have given up. They would have said, “Maybe next time,” or “We’ll try again next week.”

But these weren’t just any friends. They knew their friend needed Jesus now. They weren’t concerned about the status of the people in the room with him and they weren’t going to let a little crowd or a roof get in their way.

We live in a world where people are hurting – paralyzed by fear, guilt, shame, sin. They need someone to carry them to Jesus, just like someone carried us.

“We have seen remarkable things today.”

The people understood that they had witnessed a miracle. They didn’t get distracted by the mess or the noise or the interruption. They saw the goodness of God played out in front of their very eyes. That man’s story became the story they used to tell their friends and family about the power of Jesus. We’re still using it in that same way today! What remarkable thing is God doing in your life today, and who do you need to tell about it?  

What does it look like today to carry the corner of a friend’s mat?

When Jesus spoke about spiritual things, he looked for common ground on which to relate. If we are creative and willing, like these four friends in our story, we can get through anything to get our friends to Jesus.

In Acts, we see that early Christians got the attention of the world and turned it upside down as they shared Jesus with others.  They lived in difficult circumstances, hard socio-economic times and in an unfriendly political climate (sound familiar?), but they didn’t take that as meaning that it was a bad time to talk about Jesus.

Start with these things:

  • Pray for them.
  • Value them the way Jesus valued them. (Remember, he died for them.)
  • Get to know them and find your common ground. (Even if you don’t agree or understand everything about them.)
  • Answer their questions.
  • Love them in a way that reflects Jesus.
  • Never give up.

We may get tired or frustrated along the way, but God honors the faith of those who bring their friends to the feet Jesus.  

Are you actively engaged right now in carrying a corner of the mat of a hurting friend who needs Jesus?

(Originally published in the MOPS Magazine, February 2023 Leader Issue)

Awe and Wonder

You have seen wonder – you see it in your child. That moment their eyes get wide when they see something they’ve never seen before, the time they hear something new and ask “What’s that noise?” The time they point and whisper, “WOW.”

Several years ago, I was walking into our church on a week day morning. We have a preschool that meets in the building and so there are always children and parents coming in and out, but this was no ordinary preschool day. This was the first day of preschool for the year. In front of me was a little boy who was coming to preschool for the very first time. He had a backpack and was carrying a lunch box and holding his mom’s hand. Then he saw the corner of the playground. The playground is enclosed by concrete columns every 6 feet or so with tall fencing in between. This boy stopped at the first pillar and said, “Wow, mom. I hope I get to play on those swings!” Then he skipped to the next pillar and jumped around to see what was beyond it. He squealed and said, “Oh mom. I hope I get to play in that playhouse.” He tiptoed to the next pillar, peeked around it and just whispered, ‘Oh mom. It’s awesome.” Once we got in the building, he hopped down the ramp to his hallway – painted in bright, playful colors. He put his arms out to his side and said, “Stop. Let’s just look at it.”

Our children are naturally awestruck by things because there are so many new things being introduced every day. But as adults, we often have to look for the wonder-filled moments.

I was studying up on wonder and awe a little bit – which sounds strange, I know. But I found an interesting article by some researchers in California.

First, they said: “People increasingly report feeling time-starved, which exacts a toll on health and well-being.”  Would you agree? Would you define your life as time-starved sometimes?

They found participants in the study who consistently had moments of awe felt “they had more time available, were less impatient, were more willing to volunteer their time to help others and more strongly preferred experiences over material goods.”

As they were studying awe, they found it hard to generalize what causes awe, but they did narrow it down to four categories:

  1. Travel (new places)
  2. Staring at the cosmos
  3. Sensational film (This is different for everyone, but it’s about immersing yourself in another’s experiences.)
  4. Things in massive quantities (like a field of tulips, a school of fish, or a mass people).  

This is how they wrapped up their study:

People mostly walk around with a sense of knowing what is going on in the world. They have hypotheses about the way people behave and what might happen. We are always walking around trying to confirm the things we already think. When you are in a state of awe, it puts you off balance and, therefore, you become ready to learn new things

As adults, we think off-balance is always bad.  Because of that, we often chose to live in the mundane. Because of that, sometimes we just plain miss the wonder of it all. Small doses of awe in the everyday boosts life satisfaction. It helps us focus us on our present moment.

So how do we try not to miss the wonder in our every day?

This is what we can learn from the sweet little boy on his way to preschool:

  • We should always anticipate what is around the corner. And I mean “anticipate” in the excited, just can’t way to see it kind of way.
  • Take a minute to absorb what is right in front of you before you head to the next corner.
  • Do new things every now and then that just make you want to whisper, “Wow.” Set aside what you think you know so you can experience something new.  Allow yourself to be curious. As we get older, we tend to learn with purpose rather than just learn for fun or wonder.
  • Lastly, this boy’s mom was amazing. She didn’t rush him. She just walked with him and agreed. “That would be so fun. I hope so too!”  “If not today, then maybe another day!”

Start to face everyday life with wonder – What don’t I know? What can I learn? What can I see? Allow a little bit of un-balance in your day.

He’s Doing a New Thing

God is very interested in our future. Isaiah 43:18-19 says,

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.

We can learn a lot from our past – from the things we’ve done well and the things we’ve messed up. But we shouldn’t limit our future by fixating on our past –

                 how we didn’t accomplish what we set out to do.

                                       how we let someone down.

                                                            how disappointed God must be.

Regardless of our failures, we can start over.

  • Thomas Edison tried 200 elements before he found the right one that made the light bulb work.
  • George Washington lost 2/3 of this battles.
  • Abraham Lincoln lost 10 out of 12 elections before he became President.
  • Babe Ruth had 714 home runs, but he also had 1,330 strikeouts.

God is more interested in our future than he is our past.

2022 is full of possibilities. It is a blank slate laid out before you. What are you going to do with it?

Think positively. 

  • Read Proverbs 4:23. “Be careful how you think. Your life is shaped by your thoughts.” 
  • How does this apply to how you face the blank slate of the new year?
  • What are you thinking about the new year? Use a few words to describe your thoughts about 2015.

Start with Faith.

  • Read the last part of Matthew 9:29: “According to your ________________, will it be done to you.” (NIV)
  • That means we usually get out of life what our faith expects. Whatever you focus on you tend to reproduce in your life. Are you focused on your failures? Are you focused on what you cannot do? Are you looking at the blank slate of 2015 with high expectations?
  • A pastor of mine once said, “The person who says, ‘I can!’ and the person who says, ‘I can’t!’ are both right.”

Don’t wait.

  • Read Ecclesiastes 11:4 – Whoever watches the wind will not plant; whoever looks at the clouds will not reap.(NIV)
  • In other words, if you wait for the perfect conditions to act, you may never get anywhere. 
  • We are surrounded by imperfect people and we live within imperfect circumstances. How often do you say, “I’ll do that when things slow down/get better/feel right?”


  • Zechariah 4:6 gives us the key to success:  “‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty.”
  • God specializes in new beginnings but it requires trust on our part. The word “trust” means to lie down and stretch out. Do you trust God like that with your family, your MOPS group, your future?
  • Write out a prayer, committing to lie down and stretch out before God.


  • Proverbs 16:9 says, “In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.”  Start with prayer. Make some plans. Make some big plans. And let God direct your steps. 

An Unexpected Warrior

At the beginning of Judges, we see the nation of Israel resting in a good place. They are happy, well-fed and strong. Because of that, they have forgotten their good circumstances have come, not because of their own efforts, but because of God’s grace. As a result, at the beginning of Judges 6 we see that, “The Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD, and for seven years he gave them into the hands of the Midianites.” The Midianites were a powerful and merciless people. Every year, they stormed in, took what they could carry and then destroyed the rest. This happened for seven years and then, finally, the Israelites cried out to God for help.

Why did it take so long? Probably because they were trying to fix the mess themselves first. I know that’s what I usually do! The Israelites had a history of being slow to ask for help, but God was never slow to respond.

In this case, he used a man named Gideon. Read Gideon’s story in Judges 6 and 7.

An angel appears and calls Gideon a “Mighty Warrior,” which seems odd since Gideon is hiding in a winepress at the time. Over the next chapters, we see Gideon’s journey. Starting with wondering if the angel is lost and really looking for someone else, to wanting to believe that maybe he is who the angel thinks he is, but needing God to prove some things to him. When Gideon is finally ready to go, God pushes him to handle some distractions and disobedience in his own family first and then set out to face the Midianites, only to have God rework the plan at the last minute.

We can learn a lot from Gideon’s journey:

The Israelites forgot about God. When we look at the good things in our lives, do we remember that they are always a result of God’s grace, rather than our own doing? List the things that are going well, and thank God for them.

God is quick to respond. Where do you need God’s help right now? Ask him for it. 

God saw what he could do through Gideon. Gideon just needed some convincing. Have you ever been called to do something, but knew you weren’t equipped for it?

God had a clear plan. Once Gideon was listening, God laid it out for Gideon to follow. Have you had a time when your priorities didn’t match up with God’s? How did God redirect you?

Gideon could have never done on his own what God did through him. Do you trust that God will do what he has promised – in your ministry, your family, your life?

Let Love be Loud

Life can sneak up on us and we don’t realize that we are carrying a burden that is far heavier than we are intended to carry. Matthew 11:29-30 says, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

The thing about a yoke (that wooden crosspiece that is fastened over the necks of two animals and keeps them working together) is that it doesn’t take the burden away completely, but it makes it lighter to carry because the weight is shared. We get weighed down by other’s expectations, our fears and past mistakes, but with Jesus’ yoke, the weight shifts and he carries most it. We may still be surrounded by the things that weighed us down in the first place, we may still hear the haughty and demeaning voices of the world, but we can shift the weight and understand who we are because of who God is. We’re already loved and loveable. Understanding this changes the way we parent, how we treat ourselves, and how we respond to others. Believing it lets us walk in freedom.

Listening to love and trading our heavy burden for Jesus’ light one requires some work on our part. It’s not about earning love, because God’s love isn’t based on what we do. Nothing we do can make him love us more or less. It’s about putting effort into learning more about Jesus, taking time to monitor the voices we allow to speak into our lives, and doing the work to free ourselves from old patterns of thinking or habits that hold us captive.

We have to turn down the voices that lie about how God feels about us and work to hear the truth. We are God’s beloved children. Children who don’t have to earn or hustle for our worth. Children who just need to shift the weight and find rest. Stop settling for what simply gets us by and do the work to get to what’s best. Take his yoke and learn from him; allow his love to change the way we feel and talk about ourselves; take the chance to share this truth with someone else.

Turn down the noise of the world, listen to truth and let your voice speak love.


  • Are you listening to voices that aren’t speaking truth into your life? How can you turn those voices down?
  • What is weighing you down?
  • What is your first step toward freedom?


My brother-in-law was born colorblind. He knew the grass was green and the sky was blue because everyone told him. But to him, it all looked gray. A few years ago, he was involved in a car accident. In the midst of a dozen terrible things resulting from it, one really interesting thing happened: he could see color. I don’t know the medical explanation, but suddenly he’s living in a world of shading and textures, realizing sky blue is not the same as water blue or Royal blue (the color of his favorite baseball team). Living in this new colorful world requires some adapting and learning. He has a whole new perspective.

I think we all need a new perspective every now and then, but especially after the last year we ‘ve had. We need to see each other and God in a way we haven’t before. To look closely and notice the textures and subtleties of each other. To celebrate things that make us alike and, maybe more importantly, things that make us di­fferent. To be a safe place for others to dream, seek, change, and be themselves. Let’s not just see blue – let’s see cobalt, navy, midnight, periwinkle and cerulean. Look at something you don’t quite understand, requiring you to get on your knees, dig in and study, and reach out to someone else to help you fully see what is in front of you.

Toilet Paper and the Scarcity Mindset

When the quarantine in our area began, we had 5 adults and a baby living in our house. My husband, son, daughter, son-in-law, granddaughter and me.

Now, this is NOT a complaint. I am so grateful we were all together during this lock down. The only thing better would have been, if for some crazy reason, my oldest son and family needed to move in with us, too! (I don’t know where we would have put them. My college son, who came home for the longest spring break in the history of spring breaks, was sleeping on an airbed in the laundry room.) I worked in my office, my husband worked in the dining room, my son studied in the living room, my daughter and son-in-law worked upstairs and the baby just crawled around from room to room. We took turns fixing meals and we played games via Zoom with the rest of the family at night. If I had to sum up our quarantine in six words, it would be: “Just looking for a quiet place!”

Just before the official lockdown in our area, I had stocked up on toilet paper at Costco. Not because I had some sort of prophetic leading, but just because we needed it. So we were in a pretty good place when the whole toilet paper shortage began. Several weeks in to the “shortage” my daughter and I were at the store and they had toilet paper on the shelves for the first time in a while. I voiced that we should grab some since they had some. My daughter responded, “But we have lots of it. We don’t need it.” My concern was that, even though we had it now, what if they didn’t have it later, when we did need it. She replied, “But, mom, what if the next person comes in and really needs it NOW, but she can’t get it because you took one you didn’t need?”

I didn’t buy toilet paper that day. 

This fear of running out came because I was listening to media and others who were saying, “This is a big deal! You need to be worried about this!” It was a big deal for some, and I was able to give some of my precious rolls away to a neighbor who had literally used up all the toilet paper she had in her house. But I didn’t need to worried about it – not yet. And it turned out that I never needed to be worried about it, because by the time I ran out of all of my Costco stock, the shortage was over.

I had fallen into a scarcity mindset. The feeling that if I don’t hold on to what I have, if I don’t stockpile when I can, if I give away any that I have, then I will suffer later. I realize that sometimes our physical resources are scarce. Proverbs says that a wise man prepares.

So what is the opposite of this scarcity mindset? We might think that the opposite is “abundance.” Brené Brown, in her book Daring Greatly, talks about this. She explains that scarcity and abundance are not opposites. The opposite of scarcity is, in fact, “enough.” A scarcity mindset and a life focused on wanting an abundance may look very much the same. (Talking about abundance the way the world describes it, not necessarily how God describes it.) If we are constantly striving for “more,” then we often feel scarce.

Give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that I need.” – Proverbs 30:7-9

When we are at peace with enough, we don’t have to be afraid of not-enough; we don’t have to hoard more than enough.

Brené Brown says, “The greatest casualties of a scarcity culture are our willingness to own our vulnerabilities and our ability to engage with the world from a place of worthiness.” 

This scarcity mindset rolls over into our jobs, our ministry, and our relationships.

In a professional environment, if you feel like there aren’t enough promotions or commission dollars or even kind words from your boss to go around, then competition becomes your driver. Competition isn’t wrong on its own, but it’s harmful when we become obsessed with getting all we can because we think there will never be enough. That’s why we fear change, it’s why we won’t help someone else or why we won’t share what we know – because if I tell you what I know then I’m not as valuable anymore. There just isn’t enough for all of us.

We see this in ministry all the time, too. We see the damage it can do to a leader and to a ministry when we are so focused on holding tight to what we have because we fear that if we share it or give it away then we won’t have enough. Or that somehow me calling out the really good things you do – in your home or work – makes me less. We don’t believe there is enough space for everyone to succeed, and when we feel that way it is really hard for us to cheer others on.

I had a conversation recently with a young single friend who said she doesn’t like to hang out with women her own age because they spend all their time picking each other apart (sometimes out loud, sometimes through jokes or jabs) and she knows that she just doesn’t measure up. She can never be or do what they are. In the insecurity that accompanies a scarcity mindset, she so easily discounts what she has to offer.

Our scarcity mindset makes us focus on what we need and what we don’t yet have. One author describes it this way:

When we focus only on the needs, our vision becomes distorted. It may seem as though we are looking up from the bottom end of a funnel that is broad and wide at the top, but narrow at the receiving end—our end, where we are waiting for what we need.  And a mindset of scarcity can creep in. Gradually, our perspective becomes defined more by what we have not yet received, rather than everything that is waiting in the funnel for us.

What do we do if we find ourselves with a scarcity mindset?

First, be thankful.

Second, remember how good God is and how much he loves us.

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matthew 6:26-33).

God gives us “all these things” that we need. He gives us enough. 

  • What in your life feels scarce?
  • What are you holding back that God wants you to share with someone else?

Pray –

We come today so grateful for all you’ve given us. For salvation, grace, compassion, guidance. For physical resources that sustain us and protect us. For opportunities to give and share what we have, to speak kind words and encourage others, to do loving things for someone who might feel unloved, and, most importantly, to share what we know about you.

And God, give us a fresh revelation of how much you love us. Thank you for loving us so lavishly.

A Noisy Gong

Around 54 A.D., the Apostle Paul wrote an eye-opening letter to the church in Corinth. The people were busy comparing their contributions to the church and judging each other’s value based on their gifts – the things they did to help the church and community. Paul told the Corinthians that every person’s contribution was important and emphasized the need for unity.

But then he tells them, as excellent as their contributions are, love is better. I may develop and use my gift to its fullest but what is it worth if I don’t love other people?  

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.  – I Corinthians 13:1-3

The Hebrew word for “gong” describes metal made of brass or copper mixed with tin – normally shaped into a drum that yields a hollow, echoing noise. Corinth was steeped in pagan religions and rituals. The people danced wildly under the influence of drugs and alcohol while pagan priests beat their metal drums louder and faster to increase the frenzy. When Paul compared the unloving spirit to a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal, the Corinthians could relate. They knew exactly what this empty worship sounded like because they heard the clamoring of it all day long.

Paul tells the people of Corinth, and us, that it is possible to be doing all the right things, but if our actions are void of love, those things lose their power. In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul describes love in action. Most of the descriptions he uses are verbs. The noun “love” is a great word. It feels ethereal and conjures up all the good emotions, but Paul isn’t writing about lofty concepts or how love feels. The kind of love he is describing is not just talk. It is action.

Join me in studying more about Love In Action through this YouVersion study.


Let’s look at Psalm 3 today. But, before we do, let’s look at one word that we are going to see a few times – the word is Selah. It is a word used frequently in the Psalms, but the meaning of the Hebrew word Selah is uncertain. It may be a musical or liturgical direction, because so many of the Psalms were written as poems or songs, but the closest we can get to defining it is “Pause.”

Psalm 3 is a Psalm of David, written when he was fleeing from his son, Absalom. David had real fears. He was running for his life. So with the meaning of the word Selah, and the very real fears David faced in mind, let’s read what David wrote, pause every time you read the word, Selah

3 O Lord, how many are my foes!
    Many are rising against me;
many are saying of my soul,
    “There is no salvation for him in God.” Selah.

But you, O Lord, are a shield about me,
    my glory, and the lifter of my head.
I cried aloud to the Lord,
    and he answered me from his holy hill. Selah.

I lay down and slept;
    I woke again, for the Lord sustained me.
I will not be afraid of many thousands of people
    who have set themselves against me all around.

Arise, O Lord!
    Save me, O my God!
For you strike all my enemies on the cheek;
    you break the teeth of the wicked.

Salvation belongs to the Lord;
    your blessing be on your people! Selah.

This Psalm is not about what we are doing. It is about what God will do for us. He is our shield. He will lift our heads. There are many times in scripture where we are told to do certain things – we are to go and tell others about Jesus, we are to study and show ourselves approved; we are to love our neighbors. However, this part of scripture isn’t about that. This psalm tells us we can rest because God is our shield. We can rest because he is the lifter of our heads.

Many of the fears that we face are real, the decisions we have to make that cause our heart to race, the concerns that keep us up at night, are legitimate concerns.

Name your fear, your concern, that thing that’s not letting you rest – say it out loud to our Father.

Dear Father,

How many are the concerns and fears that rise up against us. Remind us that you are our shield, that you send answers and help when we cry out. Father bring us rest, because we know that you sustain us, that you protect us, that you are the lifter of our heads. Thank you for this day of rest, for this moment of Selah. 


Thank you for pausing for a moment with me today and more than anything, may you find your rest in the one who came to save you, the one who lifts your head. May his blessing be on your people.

Art and Photo Cred: Kenzi Quigg

Index Cards

It all started with index cards.  My daughter walked into my room at 9:00 pm and said she had to have index cards for school the next day. I can’t describe what happened next any other way than this: I lost my mind. I berated her for 20 minutes about her lack of responsibility in waiting until this late the night before to ask. I made sure she understood how this request was affecting my life, my plans, my deadlines. Clearly, this request was outrageous and life-disrupting. For the first time I can remember, my child ran from me in tears.

I live in a large suburb. In the time it took me to drive my daughter to tears, I could have driven to at least five different locations to get the item she needed and it would have cost me about $1.50.

This wasn’t about index cards. This was about the pace of my life being out of control.

I’d forgotten that it was up to me to decide what kind of rhythm I wanted for my family. I had made a decision somewhere along the way to live at an exhausting, time-consuming, attitude-wrecking, family-changing pace. I was saying “yes” to everything because I believed that was what was expected of me and somehow convinced myself it was good for us. It was the urgent overtaking the important every single day.

I thought I needed some balance in my life. I wanted things to be even and steady and to work easily within my plan. But what I was missing was less about balance and more about a healthy rhythm. When I let old, bad habits about spending, activities, and my own self-care take over or when I let others dictate my time, everything became urgent and out of control. The rhythm I was living in was actually someone else’s. 

I’d been doing it for so long that it wasn’t going to be easy to change, but it was going to be so much harder not to.

I knew where I needed to start. I needed time to think and pray. I needed to talk to God about how he had created me and the decisions I’d been making. I needed wise counsel from someone who knew me well.

During this time, a friend pointed me to Galatians 5:22-25:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. (ESV)

I was out of step. Its’ pretty clear from these verses what kind of rhythm God wants for me. The desire to excel, be better and grow is not always a bad thing. But it becomes harmful when I get caught up in gauging myself and everyone else by some ridiculous standard set by Pinterest, Instagram, or that spot deep inside of me that thinks your rhythm must be better than mine. The pressure to live my life like it was a competitive sport didn’t come from God.

Galatians 5:16 in The Message version says: Live freely, animated and motivated by God’s Spirit.

That is the rhythm I want!

Every day there are dozens of meaningful opportunities laid out before you – opportunities in your home, community, church, school and work. Saying “yes” to them all usually means forcing your family rhythm to fit into them. But now may be the time to shift your thinking. It may be time to talk to God about your own personal rhythm and then take gutsy steps to live in it.

Making this shift creates white space. It gives you time to take the scenic route to school, room to be the ride for the friend whose car is in the shop; and space to sit with someone who needs to chat. It gives permission to turn buying index cards at 9:00 pm into an adventure instead of an attitude adjustment. Most importantly, it gives direction and purpose to your steps. It just may bring you freedom to decide what the important things are for you and your family for today, tomorrow, and the days after that.

You see, it’s hardly ever about the index cards.