I come from a family of nine – two parents and seven children. I am number six. If I was Vietnamese, I would be called Number 6. (I learned that reading Fire Road which I highly recommend.)

In 1981, I was dating and my weight fell to an all time low of 112#. My mother and sister in-law thought I had an eating disorder. I thought I was in love. I started eating again.

In 1983, I graduated 9th in a class of 192 with a GPA of 3.875. My best friend, Sarah, graduated 8th with a GPA of 3.899*. The first three in our class had 4.0. We were a competitive bunch.

Returning home after five weeks in Florida where I was quite intentional about what I ate – or rather what I didn’t eat – I came home and weighed myself. Anticipating a lower number, I saw a higher than ever number. A too high number combined with a lack of sleep and I was a mess.

Forty-eight hours later I decided to check again. I know! What am I? A glutton for punishment? But I gingerly stepped onto this magical number wielding machine to see it drop 7 numbers. Wow! Here’s a little happy dance!

Do you ever stop to think how much of what we do is measured in numbers? Our children test in school and the results are numbers and percentiles. Many indicators of a healthy lifestyle are numbers – blood pressure, weight, BMI, cholesterol, blood sugar, liver enzymes – everything has a below, mid, high range. IQ is measured in numbers; ACT and SAT tests are measured in numbers.

Now I don’t have anything against numbers per se. Good information can be gained by knowing our numbers. My mom discovered she was diabetic because she learned her glucose number was too high. It saved her life.

My problem with numbers is when I begin to see it as an indicator of my value rather than a useful piece of information. When I stepped on the scale and saw an “Oh *#%$” number, I spiraled into a hole. It was a black hole. I was discouraged, defeated and overwhelmed. Two mornings later when I did the same thing with a different result, I danced a little jig, my spirit felt lighter, I felt successful and bright! But what really changed? Had my value changed? Was I really any different save for a little less water hanging out in my cells?

I recently read a quote relating to the relationship between numbers and people. The following is a paraphrased version, but it preserves the essence of the quote.

Behind every number is a name.

Behind every name is a person.

Behind every person is a story, a family, a life.

I don’t want to be a number or even a name. I want to be a person with a story. I want to be more than even the sum of all the numbers associated with my name. When we live in a world where numbers are used to evaluate and organize virtually everything, how do we know that we are more than a number or a sum of numbers? Or that the numbers don’t indicate our value?

There is another place numbering is referenced. Check this out in the gospels – Jesus is talking to us. He says:

What is the price of five sparrows —two copper coins? Yet God does not forget a single one of them. And the very hairs of your head are numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.

Luke 12:6-7

Sparrows are abundant. Today during brunch they twittered about our tables hoping for some scraps. It seems there are always more sparrows than needed. But God sees all of them and he doesn’t forget them even when we have deemed them plentiful or unnecessary. He counts them and knows when one goes missing.

Furthermore, he counts the hair on our head. Fifteen times the original Greek is translated hair. At least three times, it is used in the idiom “not a hair on your head will be harmed/touched.” This means we are completely and utterly secure, without fear of even the slightest degree of harm or injury. But only three times is a word used in the Greek New Testament that is translated count or number. Twice it refers to God counting the hair on our head. He knows us so well and is so aware of our being, that he even counts our hair. The third time it is used in Revelation 7:9 in reference to the crowd gathered in front of the throne and it says it was “too vast to count from every nation and tribe and people and language.”

*GPA is recalled to the best of my ability. Her actual GPA may have been higher. Numbers are only to prove a point. My apologies to Sarah if I misrepresented her actual GPA.

Today I am practicing JOMO. It’s not easy. Saying no to something brought up all kinds of FOMO. After all, was I going to miss something? What if it was really cool? What if they come home and say how wonderful it all was?

But I said no. And here is why. I needed to take care of my heart and soul. It wasn’t about the company I would keep or the activity I would experience – both would have been awesome. It really is about me knowing me and what I can do.

Read: Colossians 1:9-10

When I read this, I learn that when I grow in wisdom and understanding, I will also know God better. And knowing God better means I learn to know myself better. He gives me the courage to say no.

Do you know yourself? Can you say no so that you might embrace JOMO? I find it difficult, but I think it will be worth it.

Tonight as I sit to write, my heart is full. Earlier this evening, I watched the sunset over the water while I walked along the beach. Listening to the lapping of the waves, the calling of the birds, the muffled conversations of beach goers, I was reminded of God’s goodness. In no particular way, but generally that He is good to me.

As I walked, I prayed that he would open my eyes to see the wonders of the sea. I want to see what he brings forth, not only in from the depths of the sea, but also in my life. I don’t want to miss a single thing.

Today wherever you find yourself, my prayer is that you give yourself time to breathe. At the end of my online workouts, we take time to breathe. I learned that my body will retain and remember the workout better if I take time to just breathe and allow it to be established in my muscles. So, today, allow God’s goodness and provision to sink in and be established in your life. Remember it, feel it, cherish it.

And just breathe. Deep, cleansing, energizing breath.

Read: Psalm 15

This week we walked through different ways we can lead lives of integrity. This only occurred to me after the fact so don’t worry if you missed it. This psalm combines the four agreements we looked at last week and the elements of a healthy life this week.

I challenge you to invite the Holy Spirit to speak to you as you read this psalm and then listen only for the words or phrase he wants to show you. So much of this psalm is concerned with the words that come out of my mouth and how those words affect others.

What stands out to you?

Do you ever struggle with taking someone at their word? You know when someone says they will show up – do you expect them to show up? I suppose it depends on if that person has proven to be reliable in past interactions.

There have been times when I said I could/would do something and later regretted it. At times, I even found a way to wiggle out of a commitment. Maybe that makes me question if someone might also do that to me.

Read: Proverbs 3:5-6

A book I read, a prayer I prayed, a text I received all swirled together in my mind today to remind me that I can rely on God and his promises. So, when I come to him in prayer about anything, I know that he hears and answers. I commit my way to him and he leads me in the right way. When I am confused, he will show me what to do.

I don’t mean this figuratively. These are not just nice words to placate or avoid action. I genuinely believe he will literally give me ideas, strategies, plans to live a full life. I really believe that!

So why don’t I act on what I believe more often? Why do I act as if I am so clever that I don’t need help? Proverbs 3:7 says, “Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom.”

In all of this, I am bothered most that I am missing out on what God really wants to show me, the way he wants to provide for me, the way he wants to love me. I think he really wants to show off for me, and I’m not looking.

I invite you to take a look. Let him into your decision making process. Trust him with what you need whether it be finances, wisdom, kindness, protection …. whatever it may be, he is ready to show off for you!

Read: Matthew 18:21-22

I really believe Peter thought he was being big hearted when he asked Jesus how often he thought we should forgive the same person – like, maybe seven times? I can almost see him swagger a bit while asking.

Jesus comes right back at him with a shocking answer. Not seven times, but seventy times seven. If we take the numbers literally that would be 490 times. But did Jesus really mean to give us a literal number? Or is this a time when numbers in the Bible have deeper meanings than just counting?

In the Bible the number 7 is the number of completeness or perfection. So, maybe Jesus was saying we need to forgive until it is completely, perfectly finished.

I’m reading an inspiring true story entitled “Fire Road.” It is the story of the girl in the picture taken by a photographer during the Vietnam War. She talks about her need to forgive those who dropped the bombs that burned her so horribly and those who mistreated her following her recovery. Her list was quite long, but she shared how she turned the list of those she wanted to kill into her prayer list. As she prayed for and blessed those who offended her, she found forgiveness sweep through her body, filling her with joy and light.

As I read today, I was challenged to think about my own response to those who have offended me. Do I keep the fire of bitterness and hatred raging by gossiping, bad mouthing and spewing hateful words about my offender? Or do I pray for them and ask for God to bless them and fill them with the wonder and knowledge of his love?

How about you? Do you have a list of those who have offended you? Do you keep it current? Are you willing to turn your hatred into love, your bitterness into forgiveness? I believe it can happen when we allow Jesus to penetrate every corner of our hearts and submit our minds and will to him.

Yesterday I picked up my granddaughter from daycare. Rather than going out to the highway which is fastest, I drove on the county roads. I saw all kinds of beautiful homes, fields, woods as the road curved up and over the hills and around the bends.

I thought it was pretty clever until I was within shouting distance of the daycare. The High Water signs stood where they had been for weeks. I disregarded them and continued forward. Cautiously approaching the first section of water, I decided to proceed. I drove into the water and almost immediately hit a large hole, hidden under the water. I admit, that freaked me out, but I was in the middle of the puddle. Coming out on the other side safely, I approached the second stream across the road and quickly decided I wasn’t going through it. I did a 20-point turn around and headed back the way I came, thumping through the same hole again.

Wouldn’t you know, coming my way was another vehicle! She went right through the first puddle and didn’t hesitate through the second. Maybe I had been too cautious!

Sometimes life can be that way. Two people encounter exactly the same situation – one proceeds with confidence, the other hangs back cautiously. So much of life is gray. I used to see everything stark black and stark white. When I lived from that worldview, chaos abounded. It is difficult to live a grace-filled life, loving and being loved when I looked through that lens.

Read: Romans 14:5-9

Of course there are things that are black and white. But there are a lot more things that are gray. We are all gifted so differently and God puts passion in our hearts in whatever way he wants. I won’t get stirred up about the things that stir you. And you won’t be stirred by what stirs me. It’s a beautiful thing ’cause then everything gets done.

I would like to challenge you this week to step out of the chaos in your mind for just a minute or two. Step away from that issue that fires you up…is it really black or white? Might it be a bit more gray than you first thought? How can you be loving to those in your circles without losing your fire?

I don’t know who I wrote this for, but it’s for someone. And I’m cheering you on right now as you step away from the chaos and you embrace the stillness of Jesus.

As the sun makes it’s final descent into the horizon, I think of spring. Today has been beautiful! Cold, but beautiful. It is also spring break for many schools in my area and I couldn’t help but think about all the families traveling to warm destinations for some much needed family time.

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I am sure you have all heard the expression FOMO. If not, it is an acronym for “fear of missing out.” You know, those times when you are with friends and you really have to use the bathroom but you don’t want to go for fear of missing out.

Even my 2 year old granddaughter gets FOMO. We were there the other night at her bedtime and my daughter put her to bed. She cried and said she was “all done with night night.” Every tactic she came up with failed to get her more time with the adults. Finally, she asked for grandma and my daughter let me go in and rock her. Of course, she wanted to read books and play games but I honored my daughter’s wishes and we sang. We sang every song I could think of and then I made up a few. Thirty minutes later she was ready to sleep. FOMO is a powerful thing.

But what about JOMO? Have you ever experienced that? I only recently learned about this phenomenon from Instagram. Two writers I follow introduced me to the “Joy Of Missing Out” – JOMO. The difference between the two? One is an internal choice you make and embrace. The other is an external force to be resisted.

JOMO is the joy of missing out and feeling content with staying in and disconnecting as a form of self-care. (Thanks Brene Brown)  I think my heart rate slowed, my breathing relaxed and my mind eased just writing those words. How often do we give ourselves permission to stay home, to say no because it will be good for our souls? Do we do well recognizing the need to disconnect? Does self-care come easily?

Read: Psalm 23

In what way does your soul need to be restored? Perhaps a mental walk with the Lord through green pastures and beside still waters is just what you need today!

Happy Monday, friends! Thanks for stopping by!

As we close out this week learning the Four Healthy Agreements and prepare for the new week, I wonder how today would be different if you reviewed and implemented the four agreements. If you attend a worship service, watch church online, grocery shop, clean your house or whatever you have planned…

How can you…

Use your words in the direction of truth and love?

Avoid taking anything personally?

Find the courage to ask good questions rather than make assumptions?

Do your best and feel good about it?

And in everything, bring glory to God because you represent Jesus well.