Breathe In, Breathe Out

“Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!” (Psalm 150:6 NKJV)

I recently met a little boy in the hospital who had to undergo a pretty scary procedure. Even with some “I don’t care” medicine, his heart rate was soaring, sending alarms blaring, and worrying his nurse. I stared into his face under the sterile sheet, and I could see his little chest pumping up and down at a rapid pace. His breaths were fast, but shallow. As I tried to calm him down, I tried to help him visualize his lungs. “Feel them fill up with air. Really take a long, slow breath, and see them fill up in your mind. Think about how much air it will take to make them nice and full.” It took a few repetitions in my best yoga teacher voice, but I finally saw him do it. His heart rate slowed, and the procedure was soon over.

He was taking in air, but not well. It wasn’t helping him cope with what was going on. Job 33:4 says, “The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life” (NKJV). If God is our source of air, we need to be breathing deeply! I’m not advocating for everyone to go get oxygen tanks, but I am saying we need to be spending more time with our Creator. Life-giving breath is better in large doses.

Quick glimpses of the Bible are certainly better than nothing, but we need to be diving head first into the Word of God. It’s amazing the connections you make when you really study Scripture. From finding the Gospel in the Old Testament, to seeing prophecies that are taking place as we speak, I guarantee, it will only further your understanding of God. Yes, it takes time, just like it takes a few more seconds to draw in a deep breath, but think of the benefits. In a physical sense, deep breathing can reduce anxiety and stress, lower your heart rate, and stabilize blood pressure. [1]

Imagine what the effects of building a relationship with God are!

Take some time and choose a chapter of the Bible to read sometime this weekend. Use the footnotes in your Bible to look at cross-references. Look up an online commentary to see what scholars have to say about it. There’s no magic spell or trick to it, just start somewhere. Use your inhales and exhales to thank God for giving you life. It’s like having a walking reminder of God’s presence, and stillness in God’s presence is an amazing thing.

[1] Harvard University (2015). Relaxation techniques: Breath control helps quell errant stress response. Harvard Health Publications. Retrieved from http://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/relaxation-techniques-breath-control-helps-quell-errant-stress-response

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Honk if You Love Jesus

img_9465“I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name” – My Hope is Built on Nothing Less by Edward Mote

I spend about an hour to an hour and a half in my car each day, so I see a lot of bumper stickers and license plates on my way to work. I wonder what makes people choose some of the messages. I realize we don’t drive cars forever, or even that long these days, but I wonder how strongly someone must feel about something to put a pretty permanent brand on their vehicle. Some dear friends have a fantastically decorated car; my friend has been a lifelong Star Wars fan, so his AT-AT and Millennium Falcon are fitting. His wife loves to read, so it makes sense that her car is decorated with Les Miserables and Lord of the Rings stickers. This isn’t just a fleeting interest, and I can promise you Han Solo, Jean Valjean, nor Samwise will ever let them down. My mom used to have the license plate “Jesus1”, for obvious reasons. I get it. I can even understand “DSNYFAM”, with the matching decal of a stick figure family wearing mouse ears. Chances are, Disney World will still be a favorite destination long after their car stops working. However, I can tell you right now, I will never understand the decal that took up an entire window to relay the message, “Boosty, you know how I do”. I can’t make this stuff up. But I can quote it. All the time.

What really gets me though is the presidential candidate stickers. Not the actual president. Just someone who is running for president. What happens when that person loses or drops out of the race? I would assume it would feel a little embarrassing to have a losing candidate on your car come November. What happens when that person does get elected, and he or she makes a really unpopular decision or says something insanely inappropriate? That sticker associates the driver with that individual. I don’t know about you, but if I’m going to semi-permanently and publicly  associate myself with a person, it better be my husband, my kids, or my God. So, if you see a car driving around with some stickers that say “I Love My Husband”, “My Child is an Honor Roll Student”, and a Jesus fish, maybe you found me! Okay, and maybe a Hanson decal…

While I am sort of joking, we do have to be so careful about who we put our trust in and who we stand for. We can’t settle for the best of the worst. I want my trust to be in the God that holds our world in his hands. The God that made our world with his vocal chords. The only One who can forgive my sins and promise me everlasting life. He is a God who won’t use empty promises for approval. What He has spoken is true, and He is forever faithful.

2 Timothy 3:16 and 17 says “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” (ESV)

Look also at John 1:14: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (ESV)

I think bumper stickers are a fun way to express your personality. They can add a little pizazz to an otherwise ordinary sedan or minivan. Honestly, it gives me something to smile at on my way to work. But I urge you to be careful about the things you let represent you. God’s Word comes with the promise of grace and truth. It tells us God sings over us (see Zephaniah 3:17), He loves us at our worst (see Romans 5:8), and He offers the gift of eternal life (see John 3:16). No human can promise that. No name but Jesus can give us everlasting hope. While we learn to look heavenward, take time to reflect on earthly decisions with an eternal perspective. Look to God for support. He’s “our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1 NKJV). He won’t let you down or go back on His promises.

But I have trusted in Your mercy; my heart shall rejoice in Your salvation. (Psalm 13:5 NKJV)

 

 

 

Survival Mode

This week has been about surviving, not thriving. I refuse to believe there is another day before the weekend. Surely it’s over by now!

I started the week with a work retreat, which was amazing. It was a great day of team building, crafting, Pilates, and treats. I couldn’t have asked for a better start to the week.

But…

Daniel’s work schedule changed this week. For the past 5 years, we have worked on a great routine where I get the boys ready for school in the mornings, go to work at 8:30, and Daniel picks them up in the evenings and starts dinner, then I get the boys bathed and ready for bed. It was a teamwork system that worked well for us. Now, Daniel has to work later, so I changed my schedule to get off at 4:30. This means I need to wake up earlier to be at work by 8:00.

Here’s the thing. Baton Rouge traffic is straight from Satan. Leaving 30 minutes early does not guarantee arriving 30 minutes early. And I really hate being late.

Except yesterday I voluntarily waited in line for coffee for 90 minutes at “Luke’s Diner” and got to work late by my own doing. At least I got a cute picture and solidified my Gilmore Girls fandom?

Aside from the earlier morning, my evening tasks now include dinner and Hudson’s weekly soccer practices. None of this is impossible, but it’s an adjustment. Daniel has been helpful in taking over a few bathtimes and taking the boys to school today so I could go to yoga.

Then we have Wednesday night church, Thursday night Bible study (which I’m leading this week and remembered, oh, yesterday), my dear friend had a baby and I waited anxiously, I mean embarrassingly anxiously, to hear the news of her arrival.  There were tears.

As you can imagine, with heightened stress comes shortened fuses. The Dumas family is not anyone’s choice for a dinner date this week, I can assure you.

So where does that leave us? Propping our eyes open by 8pm, little more than small talk, scarfing down peanut butter sandwiches before prayer meeting, and giving quick kisses as we pass each other on the comings and goings.

I’ve never been more ready for a weekend.

I’m so grateful for God’s promise in Lamentations 3:22-24, “Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I hope in Him!””

We can rest in the hope that this week is an adjustment. We will make it work, and maybe next week, or the week after, we will thrive. I have to be okay with the fact that today, I will simply finish the race. Tomorrow I’ll run with endurance. I’ll lean on God to get us through and be stronger because of it.

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10 NKJV)