Living a Rhythmed Life: How Have Things Changed for You?

Outside the window.

Hi, friends.

We’re at the end of our rhythmed life series today. I’ve really enjoyed walking through this process with you!

I’ve heard from a number of you along the way about decisions you’ve made as a result of this series, and I can’t tell you how much it excites me to hear how this process has helped you think through discernment questions and make decisions about how you want to live.

I’d love to give you a chance to chime in and share how this series has met you personally.

How have things changed for you? What have you learned or noticed or decided?

Living a Rhythmed Life (Online): Choosing What We Ingest

Type, type, typing away.

I’ve been looking forward to this short miniseries-within-a-series about living a rhythmed life online.

Mostly that’s because the places I’m called to work are in the online arena. These are my stomping grounds each day and the place I am called to love and serve others, and so I am continually thinking about this and learning what a healthy interaction and rhythm looks like for me in this area.

But I’ve also been looking forward to this part of the series because I know it’s something we’re all learning in the midst of this new internet era. Right? 

So, yesterday we talked about cultivating rhythms of generosity in online spaces, specifically Facebook and Twitter. Today I’d like us to think about being intentional about what we ingest. 

There. Is. Just. So. Much. To. Ingest. 

Isn’t there? 

As I mentioned yesterday, it can get quite overwhelming. And that’s one of the most adverse effects of the internet on our daily lives. There’s such an onslaught of information brought into our awareness at all times, it can totally upend us. (At least, it can upend me.)

It can upend me through the subtlety of distraction.

First I’m doing one thing, like checking my Twitter feed, and suddenly I’ve clicked over to a New York Times article, which leads me to another New York Times article, which leads me to a Google or Wikipedia search, and then I decide to go check Facebook and my email because it’s been about 15 minutes and maybe something new has happened since then, and then suddenly I can’t remember what I was trying to do in the first place.

Crash and burn. Ineffectiveness in total effect.

It can also upend me by disconnecting me from who I am and what I’m here to do.

This connects to what I said yesterday about so many voices clamoring for attention in the online space. On the one hand, the internet is amazing in that it breaks down message barriers and allows each of us to connect to people we would never otherwise be able to meet or reach, and if you’ve got a business or a social cause, that is especially incredible.

But man, it’s like the internet has made the world both vastly huge and microscopically tiny at one and the same time. Now we know everything that’s happening all around the world every second of the day — which not only makes India and Syria and Kenya feel like our next-door neighbors but also makes our minds and hearts practically explode from all the information we learn about what’s happening in all those places. 

It’s hard to hold it all, and it’s especially hard to know what to do with all that information. 

And lastly, the internet can upend me because the voices I hear in that space can affect my interior affect.

If I tune in to snarky, sarcastic banter through the blogs I read or the people I follow on Twitter, I become a bit more sharp-edged too. Or if I choose to ingest too much — subscribe to too many blogs in my feed reader, for instance — I start to feel like I’m constantly behind and a sense of obligation and dread creeps in. I feel pushed to read and read and read, just to catch up. 

And so, we need to be intentional about all this. Don’t you agree?

So, I’m going to lay out for you what living a rhythmed life in the online space has come to mean for me. I’ll tell you what my rhythms and parameters look like, and you may find these to be helpful guidelines for yourself as you work out your own relationship with the internet in your daily life. 

Here goes.

1. It means giving myself clear parameters for my online time.

Sometimes I’m just catching up on Twitter and Facebook for the relational aspect — to see what my friends and family and acquaintances are doing — and so I’m clear within myself that I’m not going to click on a bunch of links to read “extracurricular” material. Sometimes, though, I’m settling in for an hour-long spell of blog reading, so anything that catches my eye to click over and explore (bringing with it the possibility of getting lost in the internet maze) is totally OK. 

What this looks like for me: Usually my relational check-in times happen in the morning, at the end of the work day, and before bed. My open-ended blog-reading and browsing sessions only happen about once or twice a week and usually take place after dinner but before Kirk and I settle in together for the evening.

2. It means unsubscribing from lots of email newsletters.

You know how you buy something once from a company and suddenly end up on some newsletter list? Or how you care about an organization and a cause so you sign up for their email updates?

It’s really easy for me to unsubscribe to those business newsletters, but it’s been tricky for me to navigate the newsletters that come from organizations on causes I care about. I used to care about receiving all those emails, reminded each time I got one that I cared about the work represented by that organization. But I noticed over time that I hardly ever read them — and if I did read them, it was after they sat in my inbox for several weeks and I just wanted them archived already.

In regards to this, I’ve recently re-discovered the amazingness of the “unsubscribe” button. Done!  

What this looks like for me: I don’t sign up for business newsletters when I buy something. If I get added to a random list anyway, I unsubscribe immediately. When getting emails from organizations I support for causes I care about, I wait and see how I respond to the experience of getting the emails. If they sit in my inbox for a while and I only read them it in order to archive them, that means I don’t really want to be on the list — so then I unsubscribe and move on.

3. Unsubscribe from blogs and unfollow Twitter peeps. 

This one’s been historically hard for me. I’ve been reading blogs for about 6 years now, and reading them in a feed reader for about 4 1/2 of those years. There are some bloggers I’ve been following that entire length of time, and I still really love reading their stuff. But there are others, over the course of those years, whose interests slowly diverged from mine, and I read their content with less and less enthusiasm. 

There comes a point periodically where I just have to be real with myself about this and do something about it. And so I go through “spring cleaning” of paring back the subscriptions in my feed reader. I have never regretted this. Instead, it felt like relief. 

Or there could be people I followed on Twitter because I thought I wanted to hear what they have to say. Celebrities and popular bloggers and new people I find because a blogger I like recommended them usually fall into this category. I follow them, but then within a couple weeks — or sometimes a couple months or even a year — I realize I don’t really care what they have to say. Maybe their perspective grazes me, or maybe it pushes me toward becoming a person I don’t really want to become. 

Whatever the reason, I’ve gotten pretty good at tuning in to my interior responses to this and responding accordingly.

What this looks like for me: It’s hard to unsubscribe from blogs I used to love, but interests change and so I periodically do it — especially when I notice that a certain blogger’s posts keep piling up, unread, in my feed reader. It also takes a bit of a “close my eyes and just do it” kind of courage for me to unfollow people on Twitter. If they’re big-name people, I don’t sweat it so much. But when they’re just normal folks, I always feel bad. I just have to remind myself that I only have so much energy and attention to give, and I want to be purposeful about where I give it.

How do you choose what to ingest online? Have you ever needed to set parameters for yourself like this?

Living a Rhythmed Life (Online): Cultivating Generosity

Taking a moment to breathe.

I don’t normally post here on holidays, but since the theme of the July 4th holiday in the United States is freedom, I thought it made for an appropriate time to talk about the freedom to be generous. 

And specifically, the freedom to be generous online.

The seed of this practice, for me, got planted a couple months ago.

Mid-morning one day, I clicked over to Facebook to get caught up on my news feed — the usual morning check-in to see what’s been going on with friends and family since I checked in the night before.

I’ve talked before about the value of delaying this morning check-in until after I’ve spent time in the quiet, and I’m not always faithful to that spiritual practice, but on this particular day I was. I’d been up for a few hours and had spent time writing, reading, and in prayer, and I was ready to engage with the world. 

Normally when I enter into these check-in routines, I scroll and scroll and scroll, tapping or clicking on occasion to “like” or “favorite” a status update on Facebook or Twitter, but not often taking the time to comment. I’m doing it to get caught up, to add my two cents by way of my own status update, and to stop and click on a few updates that I particularly noticed or appreciated. When I do comment, which I’ve noticed has become more and more rare over the last year, it’s usually in response to people I know really well or whose updates connected with me in an unusually poignant or timely way.

But on this particular day, for a reason I still don’t completely understand, I commented on almost every single person’s update that presented itself in my Facebook feed — people close to me and people not close to me, people I talk to regularly and those I very rarely connect with at all. For about 10 minutes straight, I clicked in those little comment boxes and typed out responses to almost every single one of them — an encouraging word here, an acknowledgment there, a question maybe, a “hooray!” sometimes. 

At the end of it, I felt completely energized and overflowing with love for each one of those people.

And a few days later, the same exact thing happened when scrolling my Twitter feed. Again, I clicked and replied to many of the people showing up in my stream, even those I’d never replied to before that day, and I found myself full of energy and love as a result. 

This is unusual behavior for me, and again, I’m not exactly sure why it happened or where the energy and desire to do it came from. It felt a bit like an “encouragement sprint.” It lasted about 10 minutes, and then it was over and I felt nothing but the headiness of love.

Why don’t I do that more often? I wondered. Why do I withhold responses as a usual matter of course? Why do I keep generosity all to myself? 

I think there are several reasons.

Sometimes it’s time — I’m just doing a quick check-in and don’t have time to stop and respond. Hitting that “like” or “favorite” button is a quick and easy way to feel a pulse of connection without asking too much of me.

Sometimes it’s overwhelm. There’s far more information than I can possibly take in. So many people saying, “Check this out! Read this! Go here! Buy that!” I just can’t do it all, and so I tune it out. I scroll, passively, and in that passivity, I’m actively shutting out the noise. I say no to all that noise by scrolling silently by.

Sometimes it’s insecurity. I begin to think and then believe that people won’t want to know me. I think they won’t notice I’m there. I anticipate their judgment. And so I stay small, whispering my own updates through the bullhorn, pouring judgment on myself the whole way through.

And then sometimes it’s judgment in my own heart. There are people in my news feed I just don’t enjoy. Their comments affront my sensibilities and sense of well-being. Or I find them judgy and exclusive, so I judge and exclude them right back. I pass by their updates and, while doing so, push them out of my mind and close them out of my heart. Sometimes I even close them out of my feed completely.

But in this generosity burst? I let all of that go. I chose embrace, acceptance, and the olive branch of friendship. I believed in abundance rather than scarcity. I made room in my heart for connection and care.

And I remembered: that’s the person I want to be. 

And so I’m choosing, more and more, to cultivate generosity in my online life. When I’m tempted to just scroll on through to get caught up, I remind myself how much an encouraging word or a simple acknowledgment of response can mean to someone else, even if it’s just a quick, “Hey. I see you. I hear you. I care.”

And when I find myself getting stingy or closing up my heart online, I know it’s time to practice this in a more focused way. I know it’s time to take 10 minutes for an others-focused “encouragement sprint.” 

This practice opens me up. It connects rather than isolates. And it builds into me more of the person I really want to be: one of welcome and love. 

Can you relate to any of this?

Living a Rhythmed Life: The Gift of Dailiness

Coffee's ready.

So, I am not a person historically concerned with the dailiness of life. I’m a thinker. A writer. A mystic type. I live in the mysteries and questions of life more than the practicalities of it, and I have always been this way. 

This is not quite conducive to real life, though, is it? The dishes need to be cleaned, the laundry needs to be run and folded, and food needs to make its way into our homes, through our appliances and cookware, and eventually onto our tables and into our stomachs. 

I fought these realities for much of my childhood and young adult and even mid-adult years. 

I would rather read a book than cook dinner. I would rather work on a project than think about the grocery store or filling my car with gas. I would rather have a really great soul-deep conversation than tidy up the house. 

Who wouldn’t?

(Ha. I say that knowing full well not everyone is wired like me.)

But the rhythmed life has really changed this for me. 

Now there is a place for things to go and a reason for them to be included and to go where they go. 

For instance, I mentioned earlier in this series that I do my meal-planning and grocery shopping on Monday afternoons. I sit down at my computer and work out a dinner menu for the week, then go through the recipes and add needed ingredients to the ShopShop app on my phone, and then take off for the grocery store. (I wrote more of the nitty-gritty details of this routine in another online space here.)

I’ve found a real sense of stability and even pleasure from having a routine and time of the week for doing this. In that period of time, I’m completely focused on caring for Kirk and our home through the vehicle of food. When I walk the aisles of the store, noticing how familiar they’ve become, I feel so connected to our home. I feel aware that I am a provider of sustenance for us and that doing this for us allows Kirk to remain focused on his own work, not having to worry about how or what we’re going to eat every day of the week. 

It gives the dailiness a greater sense of purpose, a connection to something higher and important to me.

And then there’s just the joy living inside that space.

Putting away the groceries becomes a familiar puzzle of placing items where they normally go in the fridge. Cooking meals becomes a creative and rhythmed dance, with meals coming together with smoother and seamless ease the more I make our favorite meals. Washing dishes at the sink becomes a meditative time of prayer — often a time when you, the readers here, come to mind and I hold you to the light of God, especially when you’ve shared with me some of your concerns and life realities.

When it comes to the dailiness of life, I’ve learned a rhythmed life is immensely helpful for two reasons: it gives these activities a place to go (a time of day and/or week when they get my attention) and it gives them a measure of purpose. 

A place and a purpose. What gift.

How might the dailiness of your life be aided by place and purpose?

Living a Rhythmed Life: The Challenges I Face

Cruciform tree.

Hi, friends. 

So, we’re on the back end of the rhythmed life series. We spent a full three weeks looking at the concept of a rhythmed life from various angles, with last week allowing us to flesh out what this could mean for us individually. (To see a comprehensive list of the posts in this series, click here.) 

This week, I’d like to sew up the series by sharing some final thoughts and perspectives. I’ll share some stories from my own life about living this way, and we’ll look later this week at how the rhythmed life affects our online lives. 

If you have any remaining questions about this subject, feel free to chime in and ask in the comments. I’d love to make sure your questions get answered before the series ends. 

Today, though, I’d like to talk about challenges. 

What hurdles crop up when living this way? 

The one I face most has to do with my availability to other people.

Even though, as I shared earlier in the series, being with people in this approach to life means being more fully present when I’m with them, the rhythmed life — at least in the rhythm I’m meant to sustain — means being present to less people, and often being present in different ways than I would have been before I began living this way.

It means saying no to coffee dates and dinner invites and social parties sometimes. It means only being available in certain timeframes, which may not end up working for other people’s schedules. It means, for me, having to schedule phone dates with people I love rather than leaving things open-ended and spontaneous.

It means missing out on connection sometimes. It means other people might not understand why I said no. Living a rhythmed life means accepting these realities and limitations, and this can be hard. 

There’s also the challenge of how life just happens sometimes.

People get sick. We can’t get to sleep. Plans fall through. Our work goes through a busy season. The car breaks down.

As I shared earlier in the series, this isn’t about rigidity. There’s always room for grace and the unexpected here. This is about rhythm and intention, not schedules and rules. 

About once a month, for example, I have a work commitment that keeps me in the office all day for three days straight — sometimes into the late hours for each of those days. On those days, my morning routine and my evening routine must flex to accommodate. 

And that is totally okay. We let life be what it needs to be, and then we shift back to usual rhythm when we can.

Lastly, I face the challenge of comparison.

I just can’t do as much as other people can. I have a very low tolerance for stimulation and noise. I lose energy quickly in large groups. I need to take things slow. I need a lot of silence. 

It can be easy to judge myself for these limits. It can be tempting to goad myself to do more. 

But the reality is, I’m made the way I am in order to do the things I’m meant to do. The life I’m called to lead and the work I’m invited to offer needs slowness and great cadences of silence. I can’t do what I do without those things, and so my personal make-up become a proper fit for my life. 

Rather than compare, I have to remember who I am and the life that’s mine to live.

What challenges do you face — or anticipate facing — in living a rhythmed life? 

Living a Rhythmed Life: Getting to Say Yes


Hi there!

Yesterday we talked about having to say no, and today we get to talk about the fun part: getting to say yes! (This is my favorite part.)

And so, to orient us to this part of the process, I’ve created another little video for you that you can watch here:

If you can’t see the video in your e-mail or RSS feed, click here.

As I mention in the video, it’s taken us quite a long time to get to this point of actually planning out what a rhythmed life might look like for us individually. There’s so much to consider before we can even get to that point. 

But hopefully now, with the foundation we’ve laid over the last three weeks, you have a great sense of what matters most to you and what elements ought to stay or go in your life (and why), so that you’re able to begin plotting out the rhythm points of your life.

To download the chart/visual aid mentioned in the video, click here: 

Getting to Say Yes

Next week, I’m planning to do some wrap-up thoughts on this series — sharing some things I’ve learned, some challenges I encounter with living this way, and devoting some time to what it can look like to live a rhythmed life online. 

Do you have any remaining questions about living a rhythmed life?

Living a Rhythmed Life: Having to Say No

Glimpses of light.

Today we’re turning a corner in this rhythmed life series that allows the reality of a rhythmed life to show up in our daily world. 

We’re going to talk about having to say no. 

Ouch! So hard. (At least, it is for me.) 

And yet, as I share in the video below, saying no helps us be able to say yes to what really matters. 

If you can’t see the video in your e-mail or RSS feed, click here.

As I mentioned in the above video, I’ve gotten some practice at saying no of late. It started back in 2009, with my original decision-making tree of discernment that I shared with you early on in this series, and in the 3 years that have elapsed since that time, I’ve continued to learn how to better flex that “no” muscle. 

I’m not fond of flexing that “no” muscle at all, but I’ve learned something important about this: 

The more intentionally I live my life, the easier it is to say no. 

Because I’ve created a rhythm for my life that’s based on my values, my way of being, my sense of calling, and the realities of finite time and personal limits, it’s become easier and easier to tell when something does or does not fit into the life that Kirk and I share together and that I feel called to live.

Do you want some examples? Here are things that have gotten my “no” recently: 

  • Maintaining three separate blogs
  • Offering spiritual direction by phone
  • Making plans on Sundays
  • Being the coordinator of a spiritual formation blog
  • Freelance projects that aren’t purely editorial
  • Grocery shopping on the weekends
  • Making appointments before 1PM
  • Creating a new online course

Some of these have to do with my sense of calling. Some of them have to do with values Kirk and I have for our home life together. Some have to do with the reality of my limits. Others are purely practical and made in the interest of my sanity (hello, crazy shopping world on Saturday afternoons!).

Where do you have to say no right now?

Living a Rhythmed Life: What Are Your Energy Patterns?

Planning for the week.

Today’s post in the rhythmed life series is a rather simple one. 

It’s about noticing your energy peaks and valleys. 

Are there certain times of day you like to do things? Do you notice an energy lull cropping up pretty regularly at a particular point in your day — or when connected to certain activities? 

If you’ve used the Time Catcher from the second week of the series, this might be a great time to pull it out and take a look at it for patterns. Did you get distracted by the internet around 10 a.m. each day? Do you usually need time and space to decompress when you get home from work? Do you find your mind most active between the hours of midnight and 3 a.m.? 

I’ve noticed a couple things about myself with regard to energy patterns, and I’ll share them here with you to spur your own thoughts on the subject.

First, mornings. 

I’m not a morning person. While I like the idea of waking in the cool, grey hours of morning and being present to the world as it starts to wake up, I’ve not ever been someone who actually does that. I like the idea in theory, but I am continually repelled by it in practice. In fact, every time I’ve tried to start a morning routine that includes waking at 5 or 6 or even 7 a.m., I never last more than a couple days doing it. (And sometimes I’m not even faithful from day 1!)

Next, wee midnight hours.

Recently, I’ve noticed that the wee, dark hours of the night between midnight and 3 a.m. are my most productive creative time. It’s where I brainstormed the Cup of Sunday Quiet and designed its cozy template. It’s where I get a lot of editorial freelance work done. And it’s where I’ve been continuing to work on the revamped version of the Look at Jesus course (currently in redevelopment to become more personalized and rich with content than its original version). 

My brain goes into hyper-creative mode in those dark, wee hours of the night. And as much as I’m apalled by that reality (it can really throw my daily schedule out of whack!), I’m also loving it. A lot of good things happen during that time — things I’m proud of. 

What do you notice about your own energy patterns?

Living a Rhythmed Life: What Do You Wish You Could Do?

It looks like Narnia.

Hi there, friends. 

Toward the beginning of our series on living a rhythmed life, I invited you to create a discernment tree to get a wholistic picture of all that’s happening in your world right now. And then yesterday, I shared that this week in the series, we’re starting to hone in on practicalities. 

At the end of the week, we’re going to start making some decisions. 

Up until that point, though, I’m going to invite you to add a few more components to your discernment tree. 

Yesterday’s component was that of calling. I asked, “Do you have a sense of call?”

If you do, add the truth of that calling to your discernment tree page — perhaps at the bottom of the page, underneath the fullness of your tree. It will serve as a guiding principle for you as you begin the process of making decisions later this week. 

(Sidenote: I spoke with a friend this morning who shared that her answer to the question, “Do you have a sense of call?” was “No.” However, she does have a very strong sense of important values that she wants to mark her life. If you have a sense of values that you want to mark your life, feel free to write those down at the bottom of your discernment tree, too.) 

Today, I want to ask you the question: 

What do you wish you could do? 

Our discernment trees are all about surveying what’s really “there” in our lives right now — all of our commitments, all of our daily routines, all of the pieces that make up the fullness of our reality. 

But what about the parts you can’t include right now? What about the hobbies you really love but just can’t get to, or simply haven’t? What activities have been sitting on the sidelines that you miss or wish you had time to explore? What aspects of life do you wish could be included in your daily, weekly, or monthly routine?

Today’s activity isn’t about looking at what is but allowing ourselves to voice what we wish could be.

It’s about dwelling in possibility.

Again, if you’re able, give yourself permission not to judge or make decisions about your particular wishes right now. Just write them down at the bottom of your discernment tree.

What things do you wish you could do?

Living a Rhythmed Life: Do You Have a Sense of Call?

“If ye have judged me to be faithful.”

Hello there!

We’re heading into our third week of the “Living a Rhythmed Life” series, and this week will be a return to the practical. We’re going to answer a few more questions about our lives and then turn to our trees of discernment to begin making decisions. 

The first question I want you to consider, then, is: 

Do you have a sense of call? 

This may not seem like a practical question, but I promise that it is. A sense of call impacts the decisions we make about our life’s rhythm. For instance, I’ve had a sense of call significantly impact the practical details of my daily life at least 3 times in the last 3 years.

I’m going to share those 3 instances with you here. 

The first time was in 2009, when I created that very first discernment tree I shared with you during a particularly overwhelming season of my life. At the time, when I stopped to think about it, I had a very clear sense of the direction my life was headed. I had received a call to ministry in 2007-2008, and so I was completing graduate work in spiritual formation and training as a spiritual director as a result.

I didn’t necessarily know what that calling to ministry meant or what it would look like or where it would lead, but I knew that it was a calling I needed to respond to and follow. Additionally, over the previous year I’d become significantly moved in the direction and study of nonviolence. The subject and its practical implications in our own hearts and lives had an inordinate occupation in my heart and mind.

And so, consequently, I knew that my schooling and training needed to take priority over other things in the sorting out of that very tumultuous time of 2009, and I knew that the ongoing invitation to the study and consideration of peace and nonviolence needed to stay in my life.

I couldn’t turn away from these things. Other things would have to go.

The knowledge of this impacted the way I made decisions after drawing my tree of discernment.

Another sense of call came when I graduated both study and training programs in 2011.

I had spent some time discerning with a few key people in my life in the months leading up to the completion of both programs about a specific call to serve in online spaces.

These mentors in my life had noticed with me that most of my spiritual direction clients had come to me over the years in long-distance contexts, with many of the directees coming to know me first through my blogs. I had completed my spiritual formation training in an online cohort context, so doing the work of spiritual formation online was not new to me. I was very comfortable with it. And, to top it all off, I had just finished my master’s thesis proposal on the intersection of digital connectivity and spirituality, and through the research process had developed some very clear ideas about what is needed for us to tune into our spiritual lives amidst all the noise and stimulation and distractions of our increasingly connected online lives.

The online medium had become, surprisingly, a space for me to exercise my call.

And so, as a result, I decided to commit, first of all, to this online space of Still Forming. I began writing here five days a week. (And just recently, I celebrated a year of faithfulness in this space.)

More recently, God has been bringing even more refinement to my calling.

I’ve come to see in recent months that my work is that of creating spaces for people to reflect on their lives with God. Still Forming is that kind of space. The Cup of Sunday Quiet is that kind of space. The Look at Jesus course is that kind of space. And the spiritual direction I offer to people is that kind of sacred space, too. 

This refinement of calling has required even more decisions that affect my daily rhythm. I recently made the decision to close down two personal blogs I’ve kept for quite some time. I’ve also had to turn down or adjust my involvement in certain opportunities based on the way they fit or don’t fit into that clear sense of call.

It’s about letting the call get my yes — and adjusting my daily rhythm to support the continued creation of those sacred spaces.

A sense of call impacts our rhythm. 

Do you have a sense of call at this point in your journey?

Living a Rhythmed Life: When Your Life Is Not Your Own

In focus.

So, I’d love to hear from the mamas and the papas on this one. 

Living a rhythmed life is such an intentional approach to life. As we’ve seen so far, it starts with learning our natural rhythm, looking at what is, and then considering the finite resource of time and the limits of our own selves

And then it’s about making some decisions. (We’ll be speaking to that next week.)

But what if you’re a parent, and you don’t have the luxury of so much intentional structure in your life?

What if you don’t know whether your young one will sleep through the night so you’re rested and ready for what tomorrow holds, or when she might need her next feeding, or if they’ll have a meltdown day (or if you’ll have a meltdown of your own)? 

What if you’re running to soccer practice, dropping off at piano lessons, picking up from school, and helping out with homework? Not to mention making dinners, packing lunches, and getting everyone woken, dressed, fed, and out the door?

From what I hear from my friends who are parents (speaking as someone who is not one), life can feel like a a sprint and/or a marathon every single day. 

Where does a rhythmed life fit into all that? Where do limits and natural rhythms and finite resources of time go?

And does a rhythmed life even matter if you’re a parent? Is it just a luxury for those who aren’t?

These are such good and legitimate questions. And I’m stepping onto what I know is holy ground here to even address them — especially since I am not a parent.

But as someone who majors in the subject of formation and how it shows up in our real lives, and as someone who has thought about (and lived) a rhythmed life for some time now, I will offer some perspectives for consideration.

(And then I’d love for the mamas and papas among us to chime in with their thoughts.) 

I’ll say first of all that you can, of course, choose or not choose to live a rhythmed life. 

This series isn’t meant to be prescriptive. It’s meant to be descriptive. We’re exploring the advantages of a rhythmed life in response to life’s often overwhelming realities and helping you consider what that might look like in your own individual life.

The second thing I’ll do is ask a question: 

What might it be like to model a rhythmed life for your children? 

What if they learned from you the reality of limits? 

What if they learned from you the value of yes and no? 

What if they learned from you that being tossed about by whims of culture and expectations and even peronal compulsions doesn’t have to be their unqualified fate? 

What if they learned from you how to live intentionally? 

What if they learned from you how to tune into their own natural rhythm and how to honor the natural rhythms of others?

I ask these questions quite honestly. What do you mamas and papas out there think?

PS: Have you signed up for the Cup of Sunday Quiet yet? The inaugural version goes out Sunday! Would love to have you join me in this special invitation. xo

Living a Rhythmed Life: How It Cares for Others, Too

Side by side.

There are a couple of ways that I’ve found living a rhythmed life actually increases my care for others.

First, it makes me “really there.” Living a rhythmed life means fully committing to the ways I spend my time. It means saying yes to some things and no to others.

Which means that when I do say yes to someone or something, I’m really saying yes — no concerns about what else I ought to be doing at that time. I’m giving those in front of me my full attention and presence. I give them the best of me when we’re together.

Second, it models reality. There’s a subtle but pervasive pressure around us to do all things and never say no. We live in a time where limits are spurned and confrontation is feared. But as we’ve already learned, those pressures don’t live within reality. Limits are real. Time is finite, and we are finite too

When we live within the reality of ourselves and the reality of time, we model the truth of that reality for others. This, in turn, accords them an opportunity to live in reality for themselves, too.

It can be rather counter-cultural, really, all in the name of truth and love.

How might you better care for others by living a rhythmed life?

Living a Rhythmed Life: How It's a Practice in Self-Care

Growth in small places.

Hi there, friends. 

Today’s post in the “living a rhythmed life” series is a bit of an extension of yesterday’s post about the reality of limits in our lives.

Sometimes we want — and try — to do more than we really can. We try to stretch time. We try to stretch energy. We try to stretch ourselves so that we can do everything we either want to do or feel that we have to do. 

That is a degradation of self.

When we push and push and push, trying to do it all, we’re ignoring the reality of our minds and bodies and spirits. We’re making “the thing out there” more important than the reality of the actual embodied and spirited selves “in here,” closer to home. 

We just can’t do it all. 

And so tuning in to who we are, how we’re made and wired, and what we’re meant to do — and honoring that truth with the way we live our lives — is a continual practice in self-care. Honoring the self you really are. Not pushing beyond your limits, but living within what’s real and true. 

What is it like for you to regard the rhythmed life as a means of self-care in this way?

Living a Rhythmed Life: Our Selves Are Finite, Too

Hello, gorgeous.

Yesterday we began to think about the finite nature of time — that there are only so many hours in a day, and what we do with them impacts what we’re actually able to get done. 

The same is true for ourselves. 

Our bodies and minds and hearts and spirits have limits. 

Some of this has to do with the natural rhythm embedded in us that we discussed at the beginning of this series — how we are actually made in our true state of being cannot do things outside that rhythm very well. We can try, and perhaps succeed for a time, but eventually we will wear out.

In other words, how we are uniquely made to function impacts what we can and can’t do. 

And then there is the pure physicality of our limits. 

Our minds function optimally for a certain period of time each day before slowing down and then needing rest. And the same goes for our bodies. We need rest, down time, recuperation, and sleep to recalibrate and recharge our embodied batteries.

Our bodies themselves make a difference in what we can do, too. Because we have bones and muscles that connect in certain ways, we cannot do whatever we want with the bodies we live in. We are limited by their structure and connections. And then there’s the actual shape of our bodies — if we are tiny, we cannot lift gargantuan things; if our metabolism is fast or slow, that impacts our stamina and pace of life; if our muscles and bones are strong and firm, we can move around and do things with relative ease; if they aren’t, we have to take greater care.

Living a rhythmed life means paying attention to these realities of our finite selves. 

What can the reality of your finite self teach you about helpful or unhelpful rhythms and commitments in your life right now?

Living a Rhythmed Life: Our Time Is Finite


Hello there!

We’re diving back into the series on living a rhythmed life this week, and now we’re going to look at some aspects related to time: how much time there is, how we’re spending it (really), and what the implications of that might be.

So, I’ve created another video for you. :-)

If you can’t see the video in your e-mail or RSS feed, click here.

Also, as I mention in the video, I’ve got a handy-dandy chart/visual aid that you can download called the Time Catcher, which you’re free to use this week as we continue our discussion.

Click to download the Time Catcher 



Living a Rhythmed Life: What It Is

I love these trees all reaching up toward heaven.

Limbs reaching up toward heaven. 

It creates freedom. 

It creates space. 

It makes your “yes” and “no” more clear.


It relieves anxiety and worry.

It lets you settle in. 

It increases presence.

What’s more: 

It removes the ineffectual and unnecessary.

It creates a sense of purpose.

It generates life.

It invites joy.

Is there anything you would add to this list?

Living a Rhythmed Life: What It Isn't

Thank you, light.

It isn’t about rigidity.

It isn’t about conformity.

It isn’t about ignoring reality.

It isn’t about losing yourself.


It doesn’t look the same for each person.

It doesn’t remain the same always.

It doesn’t suffocate you.

It doesn’t snatch away your life.

What’s more: 

There isn’t one right way.

It doesn’t require having your life figured out.

It doesn’t make your life perfect, with no spots or mess in it ever.

What about this list surprises you or reveals something about your assumptions?

Living a Rhythmed Life: What's Going On in Your World?


Hey there!

In yesterday’s post in this series, we did an interior pulse check of sorts to learn our most natural rhythm — the rhythm of life that is most native to us. This provides a great starting point as we begin to explore the different facets and realities of life and how we might best live intentionally within them. 

Today, we’re taking the very next step: looking at what’s here. 

And I have another video for you, recorded this morning:

(If you can’t see the video in your e-mail or RSS feed, click here.) 

If you happened to watch the video from yesterday’s post all the way through, you’ll remember that I mentioned an exercise involving a tree drawing that I created to discern my way through an overwhelming season of my life. Today, in the above video, I’m sharing more about that tree exercise with you and am inviting you to draw your own!

As I mention in the above video, this is just a starting point.

We’re not going to try and figure out our lives all at once in drawing these trees right now. Instead, I’m inviting you to take an afternoon or a couple days or even a week to draw your tree and just be with the reality of what your life really looks like right now. 

And so try, if you can, not to judge your tree and all that it contains. You may feel it has too much on it. Or that the branches and little twigs and smaller branches you chose to include are silly. Or that perhaps your tree is not full enough.

Try, to the best you are able, to set aside those judgments.

This is not the day for making decisions about your tree. This is the day for simply seeing and being with what is

What is it like for you to do this tree exercise?

Living a Rhythmed Life: What Is Your Natural Rhythm?

You are beautiful.

Hi friends,

So, as we dive into this new series on living a rhythmed life, we’re going to begin by laying some groundwork — spending a little bit of time exploring the basic truths of ourselves before we begin looking at all the areas of life that a lifestyle of rhythm can affect. Also, we’re going to take a little time to understand what a rhythmed life is and what it isn’t. 

Let’s begin by getting in tune with the natural rhythm we carry inside ourselves, shall we?

I have always been a person who prefers quietness and a slow pace in my life, but it was just three years ago that I really owned that and explored what it would be like to live from that place of rhythm more intentionally. 

I made a little video detailing some of that process (recorded in 2009), which you can watch here: 

(If you can’t see the video in your e-mail or RSS feed, click here.)

You don’t have to watch the full 10-minute video. Mainly, I’d just invite you to watch the first 50 seconds of it, where I used my hands to show you the pace of my own internal rhythm.

And then I’d like to ask you:

What would it be like for you to do the same?

Take a minute of quiet right now to do this.

Close your eyes and go inside yourself. Gently give yourself permission to discard the demands of your current realities and really tune into yourself. What is the pace that hums along most naturally inside of you — not because of what external life asks of you but because it feels most true? What pace and rhythm feel like sanctuaried home? What rhythm is most real and life-giving for you? 

Move your hands up and down to indicate that pace and speed (like I did in the video). What is the measured tempo your most natural rhythm makes?

(If you’d like to create a short video clip to share your natural rhythm with us here, feel free to leave a link to your video in the comments. Or simply share what you notice!)

Living a Rhythmed Life: A New Series

His morning routine.

Kirk’s desk.

When we celebrated a year of being faithful in this space a couple weeks ago with an open call for topic requests, one reader requested some meditations on cultivating the spiritual disciplines in our lives. Specifically, Terri said: 

“I’d love it if you covered more on the journey of cultivating spiritual disciplines. It seems as though writing this blog has become something of a spiritual discipline for you and I’d love to hear more about the obstacles you encountered and what was required of you to push through those obstacles.”

I’ve been musing on this request since receiving it, and that musing has formulated itself into a new series I’m going to offer here about living a rhythmed life. 

So much of learning to write faithfully in this space has been due to cultivating a rhythmed life. Rhythms have always been a part of my life in some way, but it’s only been in the last couple years that I’ve realized how much I truly need rhythms in order to thrive. And so — especially in this last year — I’ve become much more intentional about the way I live and spend my time.

And now I’ve realized that I have quite a bit to say about all this. :-)

The way this series is shaping up on the pages of my brainstorms about it, we will cover more ground than just my experience of growing into a life of greater faithfulness through the experience of writing posts for you in this space, though it will definitely include reflections on that experience. We will cover things like:

  • The rhythms of our online lives
  • The rhythms of our households
  • How a rhythmed life cultivates self-care and love for others
  • Exploring our personal rhythms
  • Obstacles to the rhythmed life

Some parts of this series will delve into the spiritual realities of living a rhythmed life. Other parts of it will be more practical, more tactile, more down and dirty in the nitty-gritty dailiness of our lives. But I often find God in those nitty-gritty spaces, too. 

Will you join us in this new series? 

What questions, challenges, or even frustrations do you have about this idea of living a rhythmed life?