” Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
– 
Matthew 11:29-30 (MSG)

Andrew and I often joke with one another about the fact we thought we were busy before Levi came along.
The reality is, there are many days I sit back and wonder – what in the world did I do with all my time?
While ministry was no less busy, our evenings and mornings before work were free to do whatever we wanted!
Netflix marathon? Sure, no problem!
Sleep in until 10 on our day off? Absolutely.
Take a spontaneous day trip? Let’s jump in the car! No need to pack snacks, extra clothes or toys.

Despite our jokes about how much free time we had, we genuinely thought and felt busy in that timeframe.
Our lives were “go-go-go”, and our lives essentially were work hard, then crash hard!
Once we had Levi, our spontaneity and time to ourselves wasn’t an option anymore.
This little bundle of joy required a routine and a schedule.
He didn’t care what we wanted to do – he wanted to nap in the morning and afternoon, and eat every 3 hours.

Levi’s schedule quickly forced me, even on maternity leave, to try to develop a rhythm and routine to our days.
I’ll be honest – I’m still quite imperfect at this practice.
There are still a lot of days off when Levi & I don’t get dressed until lunchtime, or my 6:30 AM alarm goes off and I snooze it once or twice, thinking “I’ll just do my devotions when I’m eating breakfast or get into the office.”
There are way too many nights that Andrew and I say, “We’ll watch just one more episode” and go to bed way too late, and wake up feeling drained.

Despite those shortcomings, I do feel that I’ve been able to create a rhythm to my days that has worked for us.
In the Facebook challenge I’ve been doing for the past several weeks, we’ve just started talking about creating a rhythm and routine for our days. Here are a few of the reasons I believe routine and rhythm are so important:

1. Having a routine helps us establish what really matters in our lives.
Since establishing a routine, I’ve had to establish the non-negotiables in our lives.
Levi’s nap? At this stage, a non-negotiable!
Eating supper? Whether it’s a good cooked meal, or toast and tea, it’s absolutely essential. Not just for our bellies, but for that connection time as a family.
Devotional time? An absolute essential. In order for me to function well, it has to get done.
Coffee? A vital.

Seriously though, creating a routine forced me to look at a lot of the things I was doing – and still do – that aren’t really worth my time each day. There are some things that really matter to me, and some that I can let fall to the wayside. What really matters to me may not really matter to you, but each of us has important things in our lives that routine helps us recognize.

2. When we have a rhythm to our days, we feel less overwhelmed.
I cannot tell you how amazing I feel on days when I’m following a routine.
Most days, our routine doesn’t go even close to perfectly. There’s still chaos trying to get through the door, or Levi decides to have his nap twenty minutes (or two hours) later than expected. Work runs a bit later than anticipated, and I’m rushing to get to the sitter on time to pick up Levi.
But, having a routine – both at home and at work – helps me feel stable and secure, despite how busy and crazy my days may get! Prior to having Levi, I felt absolutely swamped a good chunk of the time. In busy seasons, I felt like I was barely keeping my head above. Now, despite the busyness, most of the time, I feel like I can deal with what gets thrown my way.
Knowing that I have a time established in my workweek to sort through supplies and run to the store to replace them helps me not panic when I notice there are no glue sticks in the children’s church classrooms.
I don’t freak out when I realize I haven’t cleaned my bathrooms yet this week, because Monday is coming, and that’s cleaning day!
When Levi is operating at high-speed as soon as he opens his eyes, I can stay fully engaged (for the most part) because I know naptime is coming and I will get a breather.

3. Rhythms create space for God to work in our days.
Before I created a regular routine, I honestly felt like I didn’t have a spare minute.
If I felt a Holy Spirit nudge to call somebody, go for coffee, or even write an email, I didn’t really feel like I had space or time.
Since creating a regular routine, I actually feel like I have space for God to work in my life!
When I’m not rushing around like crazy, I can manage to hear God’s voice in the moments I press pause.
When I have a regular lunchtime scheduled into my work day, I can take that time to make a call or send a text, or even meet a friend, because I know I have the rest of my day to do the other things that feel urgent.

Full confession – I’m still not fantastic with routine.
When I read blogs and see Pinterest posts of elaborate and beautiful planners and family schedules, I feel a little envious. That’s what I want to be!
I’m not there yet. This is still a very new thing for me, and most of my routine is in my head (and on a not very pretty app on my phone).

Yet, I’ve seen the difference that establishing a rhythm can make in my life. It’s not a dictator, but it’s a boundary that helps me day in and day out.
It allows me to breathe amidst the busyness! It keeps me going when I feel like just lying down and taking a nap (anyone else!? haha)

I want to encourage you – start considering creating a routine, if you don’t already have one.
If you do, take a few minutes in your day to reassess and make sure it’s working for you.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing some more thoughts about rhythm – from the tools that have helped me create it, to resources that I love on rhythm and routine. Stay tuned!

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