Permission to Breathe

It’s already happening.

Before the Thanksgiving fixings were in the oven, I started falling into Harried Holiday mode. I felt like l was frantically trying to juggle all the balls others (and my own ego) threw at me, and life was inching into a bad place.

This morning, as I went to my first exercise class in months, the reality of my harriedness (is that a word?) smacked me in the face again. As we relaxed at the end of class, the instructor told us to lay back and to simply breathe in and out.

Abdome_superiorIt was so relaxing. Exactly what I needed. But then I thought—“Wow! How sad is it that I need someone to give me permission to breathe!”

So today, I’m giving myself—and all of you—permission to breathe. As soon as I’m done this e-blast, I’ve blocked time to look at my month, consider what I want it to look like, and do some damage control:

  • I don’t want my time with God to turn into devotions on the toilet and study prep time for Bible Study. I refuse to multitask God!
  • I don’t want to get so caught up planning our women’s ministry Christmas dinner that my loved ones find me too busy to interrupt. I don’t want friends and family to lose out because I have holiday chores to do. Relationships are eternal. But gifts wear out and cookies get stale. The decorations we put up today just have to get boxed up again in January!

 

There are things I love about the holiday season. I love baking cookies for my guys. I do like gift giving (within limits). I love how our Christmas tree brightens up the house.

And I do believe God loves a good party and celebrates Christ’s birth along with us.

But there are ways to push back against the crazy expectations. Little ways, and big ways:

  • Maybe I’ll skip make up, hair, and fussing about what I wear, so I can relax in my quiet time. Everyone’s too busy to notice my yoga pants anyway!
  • Maybe we’ll eat a few more meals out of the freezer, so I can sit at the table with my family instead of running around the kitchen.
  • Maybe I can skip hearing that Christmas performance and get to bed early.
  • Maybe I can give fewer gifts, knowing that those who truly love me love me, not what I give them.
  • Maybe I can schedule my time so that I know I have permission to breathe!

What does permission to breathe look like for you? My prayer is that you will rest with God and He will show you how to breathe your way through the
Christmas season immersed in His love, which will overflow into the lives of His Beloved all around us!

Merry Christmas from the Take Heart team!

–Sandy MacMillan, Take Heart Director

P.S. Please check out our Ministry Leaders Breakfast on December 12th and our Leaders Retreat at the end of January (see the Take Heart website, www.TakeHeartTogether.com for details). We don’t want to add more busyness to your schedule, but both will be great opportunities to breathe.

Feel free to come in your yoga pants!

Photo by André R. Maciel (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

 

A Different Kind of Peace

by Karina Whisnant

ImageIt’s hard to walk into a store these days without seeing the peace sign emblazoned on something—cups, clothes, shoes, notebooks—you get the idea!  Peace is a word that is common place to our eyes and ears, but has lost any significant meaning.  We hope for a world that is not at war and experiences “peace.”  We strive to be “at peace” with those around us. We beg for “just a minute of peace” when the chaos of life surrounds us and we can’t breathe.  But, are we really experiencing peace in our daily lives? 

Webster defines peace as “freedom from disturbance; quiet and tranquility.  That definition seems to indicate that peace is the absence of something, but is that the only way someone can experience peace? Do you see that definition of peace ever being attainable in your present season of life?  I know in my life as I strive to manage a family, a part-time job and a ministry, “freedom from disturbance” does not seem to be in my future.

Even as obsessed as the world seems to be in displaying symbols of peace, I believe there is hope for peace that the world doesn’t understand and can’t help me find. 

As I turn my attention to God’s Word to learn what He tells me about peace, I am hopeful for a deeper meaning.  Are you ready for a real answer?  Are you ready to experience quiet and tranquility that is not dependent on your circumstances?  True peace, as I believe the world seeks after, can truly only be found in a person.  Without knowing God as a personal Savior, true peace is not attainable. 

Let’s follow the trail God gives us in his Word when he talks about peace. 

We have to start first with the gift he extends to us in His Son, who bore our sins on the cross so that, as Romans 15:1 tells us, “having been justified by faith, we have peace with God.”   Accepting God’s gift to us gives us peace with Him.   He then gives us the Holy Spirit, who gives us the power through Him to experience peace. 

What great news for us to know that peace on this earth is not going to come through circumstances—having to wait for things to fall perfectly in line would seem hopeless!

As we abide in Christ, he gives us His peace that transcends a momentary quiet in our world.  God shares in Phil. 4:7 that His peace does not make sense in this world, And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your    

As we experience all that this world brings us, those things that thrill our hearts as well as those that bring sorrow, we have confidence in God’s final promise of life with Him. 

There is reason to rejoice when Jesus tells us in John 16:33, These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”

ImageKarina Whisnant loves to “do life” alongside other women. She has been privileged to do that for many years as part of the women’s ministry at Fellowship Greenville. Karina is leading a breakout session entitled “Peace in the Chaos” at Take Heart 2014. In that session, she will encourage women to look at the “who” of the peace in their lives instead of the “what.”

For information about the Take Heart conference, or to register: www.TakeHeartTogether.com/conference.

 

Peace sign image courtesy of digitalart/freedigitalphotos.net