The Sacred Rhythm of an Ordinary Life

Our apartment is five stories above a major road in the city. When the windows are open in the spring and fall, the sound of cars zooming by becomes our constant soundtrack.

I often close my eyes and imagine the ebb and flow of traffic is really the sound of waves—how they build, collect, and dissipate.

We wake before the sun. A few cars travel in their empty lanes, headed quickly downtown, while trucks delivering packages move in the opposite direction.

At noon my husband goes to work, and the kids and I stroll past the mart outside our apartment complex. Workers shift boxes and produce off the sidewalk to let us by.

We end up at the library, our home away from home, where we settle on the floor, barefoot and curious. The kids flip through stacks of books and outdated encyclopedias while I sit quietly and softly exhale.

At 4:30 we meet our neighbors at the playground. The kids run laps around play structures, occasionally hovering near the grandmothers who always hand out sugary snacks.

We eat dinner together, brush our teeth, and I wait for the traffic sounds to once again lull my kids to sleep.

This is the sacred rhythm of my daily life in this season. The rhythm of motherhood and our neighborhood. All the beautiful and noisy, the chaotic and boring, mingle together on sidewalks and playgrounds. The place where I stand is holy not because of the location, but because of who stands with me.

My husband and I moved from China to Korea when I was pregnant with our daughter. While our time in China was largely characterized by freedom and exploration, my perspective and experience here in Korea is largely shaped by motherhood. The rhythm of life as a mom is so much different than as a single teacher. Instead of exploring my neighborhood and being available to meet people, I am now confined to playgrounds and my sofa during nap time. Still in these moments, the kingdom work is significant and the love for my neighbor is just as important. The rhythm of life is different, but the sacredness is the same.

Sometimes all it takes to enter into a holy place is simply to pay attention. As I push the double stroller down the sidewalk, yellow butterflies kiss the leaves of nearby bushes. Car horns beep. Bicycle bells ring out. Sounds that once felt abrasive serve as reminders that I am not alone. This is the way God speaks loudly to me in motherhood and in my neighborhood. He invites me to stop striving, to stop complaining, to stop trying to do my own thing. He invites me to notice and be still, and when I start moving again, He invites me to move with Him.

In these moments I’m learning unexpected lessons of faithfulness, holiness, and meekness. Love and beauty flow heavy like rush hour in my life if I just take the time to pay attention. It’s easy for this season to feel less important and more menial. As I reheat leftovers and change diapers, receive package deliveries and hang laundry, it often feels less sacred and more common. But God in His mercy is calling me to see it like it is— to embrace the sacred rhythm of an ordinary life.

When I feel like my life is unbearably different than it would be in America, when I’m bored or overwhelmed by daily tasks, it helps to stop and feel the rhythm of obedience, of consistency, of a Faithfulness steady like the movement of traffic, of a Love constantly in motion like the sea.


Whether you’re studying language full time, wrangling your kids, or working 9-5, how does God remind you of His presence among the rhythms of your everyday life? How does He encourage and speak to you on the days you feel overwhelmed


  1. Jodie November 10, 2015

    “Sometimes all it takes to enter into a holy place is simply to pay attention.” I love that line. Thank you for such a great reminder.

      1. MaDonna November 11, 2015

        Me, too! I loved that line!

        1. Kara Pyo November 11, 2015

          “Pay attention” is such a powerful message that has been echoing my head for a while now. I’m glad it resonated with you ladies, too.

    1. Grace L November 11, 2015

      Yes, I have just been doing that too – slowing down to pay attention to the Spirit that lives within me. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Denise November 10, 2015

    I loved this.  Mundane yet magnificent.  Thank you for sharing.

    1. Kara Pyo November 11, 2015

      You’re welcome! Thanks for taking the time to comment, Denise 🙂

  3. Joanna November 10, 2015

    this is excellent. beautiful. have you read–It doesn’t have to be

    the blue iris, it could be

    weeds in a vacant lot,

    or a few small stones; just

    pay attention, then patch

    a few words together and don’t try

    to make them elaborate, this isn’t

    a contest but the doorway

    into thanks, and a silence in which

    another voice may speak.

    (Praying, Mary Oliver)

    1. Kara Pyo November 11, 2015

      Thank you for your kind words. Mary Oliver! She is one of the best. Another favorite poem of hers is

      Instructions for living a life.

      Pay attention.

      Be astonished.

      Tell about it.

      I have that one written above my kitchen sink 😉

  4. Debbie November 11, 2015

    Oh, I love those poems. And this was great to read as a new overseas worker mama, I’ll come back to reflect on these words again. Thanks

    1. Kara Pyo November 13, 2015

      I’m glad it was an encouragement to you. They are words I need to revisit often as well.

  5. Colleen November 11, 2015

    Beautiful as always! Funny how paying attention is always needed, whether our lives fast-paced, or slow, or stop-and-start.

    1. Kara Pyo November 13, 2015

      Hi Colleen :). So true. Paying attention is necessary for all of us no matter where we are or what we’re doing.

  6. Julie November 12, 2015

    There is so much peace and joy in accepting as good the boundaries God has put around us! Thanks for this!

    1. Kara Pyo November 13, 2015

      Amen! Thanks for reading 🙂

  7. Valerie November 12, 2015

    When you said you moved from China to Korea I was thinking, “I wonder if I know her?” (as if China is small and I would know tons of people here) and then when it got to your picture I was like “What? I lived across the hall from her in that small fishing town in China!” Small world… anyway, totally resonate with your comment about the season with small children feeling less important sometimes. It’s so easy to reminisce about the good ol’ days when I was teaching and had tons of chances to be a light. And now it feels sometimes like my world is so small. So I appreciated your comment about stopping to pay attention. That’s something I need to do more often.

    1. Kara Pyo November 13, 2015

      Hi Neighbor! That’s so funny. The China network is crazy! Such a small world. And yes! I easily get stuck reminiscing. It’s a constant battle to stay focused on today. It helps to know that I’m not alone in the struggle. Moms with young kids really need each other. I’m glad you commented 🙂

  8. Tamika November 12, 2015

    That was beautiful. I love this part…This is the way God speaks loudly to me in motherhood and in my neighborhood. He invites me to stop striving, to stop complaining, to stop trying to do my own thing. He invites me to notice and be still, and when I start moving again, He invites me to move with Him.

    I can so relate to this. It is the same for me. I see him now in the little things, still, quiet moments where he whispers…I have not forgotten you, don’t forget about me! Keep moving forward!

    1. Kara Pyo November 13, 2015

      Yes! Those whispers are the best gift. So thankful that He doesn’t just watch us walk… He walks with us.

  9. Dorothea Guglielmetti November 17, 2015

    The place where I stand is holy not because of the location, but because of who stands with me.

    This line is such an encouragement! It does not matter where I am… in my kitchen, sitting and helping with homework, at the working place, at church, next to the bed of a sick friend, at the market… HE is there with me and so I am on holy ground! Yes, lets pay attention to HIS presence in our ordinary life!

    Thank you so much for this!!!

    1. Kara Pyo November 17, 2015

      Thank you for reading and taking the time to comment. His presence makes all the difference. Such a gift to us.

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