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The 3×5 Challenge: Week 1

I read this list of 25 that’s supposed to keep me from feeling overwhelmed and yeah, I’d love to remember it but truth be told, I’d probably forget I lit that candle and near burn the house down. Even on my best days, it’s feels like more for me to try and remember, another way for me to already get behind before the day has barely crested.

I don’t need more in my day. I need less. Less of the noise, less of the running in seven directions without focus, less of the trying to do it all.

Could there be a way of finding peace in the midst of the dishes, the diapers, the work deadlines and coffee dates? Could we learn to practice God’s presence like that monk who found Him while peeling potatoes?

Why should the mystics and the monks get to be the ones experiencing the deep peace of walking close to our Carpenter King? Might there be a way of slowing down in our days in order to speed up in our running after Him?

Those of us desperately saying yes, we’re signing up around the globe to take the 3×5 challenge. A month of three times a day, hard stop for five minutes to gather the thoughts running wild, slow the breath and check the heart.

To focus for those minutes so that our hours and days move to a better rhythm. 

I struggle to quiet the frenzy in my head and turn away from the to-do list, so I’m writing down on a three by five card the Words I need to keep my eye on the prize. Just a little white card with some black notes to help mark the five minute stops three times a day. 


Maybe your stops are during the morning and afternoon commute or before you turn out the light. Maybe it’s while you’re walking the babe in the dead of night, up and down the hall. Or while you’re on a run or sitting down with your first cup of coffee in the quiet morning or taking a lunch break or pausing before you jump into dinner prep.

It doesn’t matter a wit when you make the time, what matters is that the time gets made. So we set our calendars, write it on post-its on the fridge or time the alarm to remind us. Remind us and reset us. And we carry our 3×5 cards with the Words we need to think on and let sink deep into our gray matter.

This first week of counting the minutes, what if we start with this searing gem?

Search me, God, and know my heart;
    test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
    and lead me in the way everlasting.

Psalm 139:23-24

As the clock ticks down the 300 seconds three times a day, we take stock:

          Lord, what am I anxious about right now?

         Where am I not trusting, leaning on my own strength instead of yours?

         Where have I offended, been selfish, screamed mean and been ugly in these past hours?

        How might I need to reset, redirect or refresh when the timer strikes done?

Like Mary choosing the better way, we’re trying to step aside from the rush of doing long enough to be: be still, be present, be with Him. To breathe in deep the Truth and exhale out the heavy, the stress, the worry being carried inside. To let a little light in, airing out the soul and removing some of the clutter that has built.

This week let’s start our Whole 30 for the Soul by listening to what is going on inside, getting specific in what lies beneath the deep waters. There’s a world outside our four walls (and maybe inside too), screaming for our attention, for our opinions and our time. But we’ll only know how to give what is needed when we’ve tuned our ear to recognize the whispers of the Almighty above the din. We’ll only know what should fill our lists, and become our goals and be our opinions when we’ve sat and listened.

The world is desperate for strong arms that embrace, hands that invite and hearts that extravagantly love. But we cannot do any of those things in our strength or it will never enough. A well runs dry quickly when there is nothing pouring in to replenish it every hour, every day.

Three times a day, for five minutes, with our 3×5 cards, we’re practicing the presence of Abba in our corners of this spun out world. Calling a stop to the rattle in our minds and inviting Him to speak into the quiet. Getting filled up so  we can be poured out.

Won’t you join us?

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