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, 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 (, via Wikimedia Commons



Learning About Sheep

By guest blogger and Take Heart Leadership team member Frankie Sherman.    sheep

I have been studying about sheep in preparation for the Take Heart Leadership retreat in January. Our theme is “Still,” and is based on the 23rd Psalm. You know the psalm; it talks about the Lord as our shepherd–and compares us to sheep!

Oh my! The more I’ve learned about sheep the more I’ve discovered how they (we) desperately need a shepherd.

Did you know that sheep are easily distracted? Or that they have a tendency to follow other sheep and just wander off? It’s true. Yet some amazing nuggets about sheep gave me reason to not feel so bad that Jesus compared me to an animal that did not have the brains God gave to a Billy goat…literally!

The sheep know their shepherd—the sound of his voice—and follow him. Even when several herds graze or sleep together, the voice of their shepherd has the power to separate them. When it’s time to move on, the shepherd calls the sheep and they come. They need no markings to distinguish them—all they need is to hear the sound of the shepherd’s voice.

Sheep follow the one they know. They come when their shepherd calls. They will never follow the voice of another shepherd.

We are the sheep of God’s pasture. May we not be distracted by duty or devices, or enticed to follow other sheep to illusions of greener pastures. Instead, may we listen for the call of the Good Shepherd who knows our name and leads us to want no more.

I am the good shepherd,” Jesus assures us. “I know my sheep and my sheep know me… My sheep listen to my voice. I call them by name and lead them. They follow me because they know my voice… I am the good shepherd. I lay down my life for my sheep” (John 10:14, 3-4, 11, slight paraphrasing of NIV84).