A Moment to Breathe

We hope you will enjoy our summer series of “A Moment to Breathe”

Even When We Can’t Be There, God Still Is

By Holley Gerth posted August 26, 2022

“God is our refuge and strength, a helper who is always found in times of trouble.” Psalm 46:1

I answer the phone and hear the tears in her voice. I close my eyes and wish I had wings to fly the many miles to her side. I read the hurt in the email that makes its way to my inbox. As I respond, I want to reach through the screen and put my arm on her slumped-with-discouragement shoulders. I see the status update on Facebook and whisper a prayer with the hope she’ll somehow sense it.

I want to be there for the people I love. I imagine you do too. I don’t like the idea of missing even a moment when they might need me. And yet I realize making this happen is impossible. How do I live with that reality? How do I know they will be okay anyway? The answer came to me through Psalm 46:1. God is an ever-present help in trouble. He is right beside her when she reads my email reply. He is with her in every event on her Facebook timeline.

There is never a time when God will not be with the people we love. They are not alone even when we can’t be with them. They are not without help even when we can’t be with them. They are not without help even when we can’t do all we’d like to serve them. We don’t have to bear the weight of believing they can’t possibly make it unless we’re there every second. And the same is true for us. As much as the people in our lives care for us, they can’t always be there for us either. Sometimes they’ll be busy. Or they may simply be unable to meet our needs. But God is always available. He is with us even when the room is empty. He’s not even a phone call, email, or hug away—He’s with us right now, right here, every moment of every day.

A Moment to Breathe…
Whisper a word of thanks that God is with you always. No matter where you go or what you do. He is with you.

When It’s All Said and Done

By Teri Lynne Underwood posted August 19, 2022

“When all has been heard, the conclusion of the matter is this: Fear God and keep his commands, because this is for all humanity. Ecclesiastes 12:13

Stop by the pharmacy. Pay the utility bill. Pick up the dry cleaning. When I looked at my to-do list for the day, I realized just how mundane my life can be. A sharp contrast from my childhood dreams of changing the world.

Some days, the most exciting task on my list is changing the sheets on all the beds. (I know you’re tempted to feel envious …try to contain it!) Solomon’s life stands in stark contrast to mine. A world leader, renowned for his wealth and wisdom, Solomon reached the end of life and landed here—the whole of humanity is about fearing and obeying God.

Sounds a lot like another Man, near the end of his life on earth, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul…and with all your strength…Love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:30-32). From the Old Testament to the New, the priority for our lives is revealed: love God and love others. This is our purpose. This is why we’re here, to love the Lord with abandon and to love others the same way.

It's easy to think I can’t do much for the kingdom that impacts eternity. Do you ever have those same thoughts? What if we shift our focus? What if instead of seeing all the places, we choose to see the people? What if we stop focusing on the lists and start focusing on love?

The pharmacy, the utility department, the dry cleaners, even the grocery store move from mundane tasks on our to-do lists into missional opportunities to share the love of Christ with others. At the end of even the most uneventful days, we can rest in the assurance we’ve honored Him through our treatment of others. And when all is said and done, that’s the most important task on any to-do-list.

A Moment to Breathe…
Imagine a conversation happening today that could impact a soul for all eternity. That’s what you get to do today. See each person you meet today as a person you can love with Christ’s kindness.

God Uses You Every Day

by Jessica Turner posted August 13, 2022

“The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:28

At lunch, my new friend opened up and shared some struggles going on in her life, and I was able to speak truth into her life. When I got home, I shared with my husband about our time together. “It was the first time in a very long time I felt like God has used me,” I told him.

He looked at me and solemnly said, “God uses you in this family every day.” His words meant the world to me. I have been thinking about them for months. Chances are, you need to hear the same thing.

God uses you every day.

When you cook dinner for a group of friends, He uses you. When you are sitting in a cubicle, answering emails, He uses you. When you get up in the middle of the night to rock your crying child, He uses you.

Sometimes in life’s mundane moments, it can be difficult to see that, can’t it? But it’s true. God created us in His image for such a time as this. And so today, right where you are, I want you to pray and ask God to show you how He is using you. Because, if you are like me, you don’t think of God using you when you are wiping snotty noses and trying to get dinner on the table after working all day. Be He is. He uses you every day.

A Moment to Breathe…
See your day—this very day—as a fresh opportunity for God to use you in a special way. A smile here. An encouraging word there. Invite God to use you as you interact with others today.

Because Hope Wins

By Nasreen Fynewever posted August 6, 2022

“Now this is what the Lord says—the one who created you, Jacob, and the one who formed you, Israel—“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name, you are mine.” Isaiah 43:1

I moved from the fluorescent lights to the crisp cold of the outdoors. I beheld a new ceiling, a canopy of heaven stretched over the snowy floor. Colors and splays of nature beautifully enveloped me. Yet, depression clung to my every step. It seeped into my pores and crisscrossed my face, leaving hollow eyes and an unrelenting somber sheen. Life did not wait for me; no, it created a tide of expectations and a current of must-dos. I parceled out my energy to see others, to meet requirements, to do right by a career, family, friends, and a future. My smile, real enough to some and the shallow clear to others.

This week a colleague laid his beloved wife to rest after a torment of days and a life journey with mental illness. This week a student could not stay where bridges were built, and allies found. Depression robs us. It thieves from many. Yet this I know, when strangle felt close, my lungs still filled. One more breath, one more day. I cannot do all of life the way I wish or take away others’ pain. I cannot belong in all the ways an orphan girl is supposed to once adopted. I cannot change the color of my skin or how I fit into people’s constructs. I cannot unlearn my trauma or forget my twisting of perception.

But as sorrow lies near—I live. To love. To teach. To lead. To write. To whisper. I do not know who will follow or who will listen, but my steady foundation of faith and the formation of friends and family remind me, to be me to the world. Who I am, whether small and in a ball, tired from the day, or strong and tall, knowing my purpose, I am alive.

One more day, friends. To tasks and talents, give what you can. Allow others to lend you hope when yours is low and depression is real. Let’s walk together. Another day, yes, the light still shines.

A Moment to Breathe…
Step outside and breathe fresh air. Look to the sky and see His handiwork splayed in color. And tell your soul you are here for a reason. You are wanted. And you are so deeply loved.

Living Beyond the Bubble

By Suzanne Eller posted July 28, 2022

“You are the light of the world. A city situated on a hill cannot be hidden.” Matthew 5:14

A concerned person pulled me aside after church and said, “Do you know what your daughter is doing?” I waited to hear, holding my breath. She continued, “Your daughter is hanging out with people who aren’t Christians.”

Oh, that. I sighed in relief. Yes, I knew about that. Because they hang out at our house too. My daughter invites them to come over often. They spend the night. I know their names and some of the details of their lives because my daughter has shared them with me. When I explained this, the woman at church was a little affronted.

Huge bubbles are created when we put up boundaries around things that aren’t sin, just in case they might lead to sin, and we become hyper-vigilant to make sure that everyone stays within that self-designed bubble. Yes, we want to be wise, and we understand that it’s good to surround ourselves with people who share our love for Christ. But if Jesus is our example—and He is—then I’m not sure we should live in self-made bubbles.

Jesus burst bubbles right and left. He loved people who were different from the traditional crowd. He believed in people discarded by others. He listened to people and saw them, which demonstrated how sometimes those things led them straight into the arms of the Father. Jesus engaged in long conversations over debates. He walked straight into crowds where people adored Him, mocked Him, and were curious about Him. He showed compassion that was the lasting impression in every one of those encounters.

Jesus remained true to Himself and His mission. He spoke truth and had very clear and honest words for those who lived in a bubble and demanded that others live there too. Jesus came to rescue humanity and we are part of that plan.

A Moment to Breathe…
Open your circle to include people who are different from you. Listen to their stories, even if you don’t agree. Have honest conversations filled with truth and light.

Why God Allows Change

By Melanie Davis Porter posted July 25, 2022

There is an occasion for everything, and a time for every activity under heaven. Ecclesiastes 3:1

“Hey Mom, I’m leaving,” he said.

Looking up from a book, I see my twenty-one-year-old son with a backpack and pillow under his arm. Confused by the time, I glance at the clock. “Where are you going at this late hour?”

“I moved into the new house today,” he said. His wedding day was less than a week away and suddenly I realized he’d spent his last night sleeping under my roof. In the weeks and months that followed, I experienced more change. I met the unexpected loss of my father, and the company I loved working for shut their doors forever. Yeah, I wanted my old life back.

Perhaps you’re wrestling with some big changes right now, but with every life change that brings pain, God is allowing something new to be born. It’s okay to grieve or regroup, but let’s not linger too long there. If change wasn’t a part of life, there would be no long summer evenings on the porch. We wouldn’t have the glorious splendor of Fall to look forward to. There would be no winter for the earth to rest. And without the rest, spring can’t bring new life.

The same is true in our spiritual life; trusting Jesus to transform the shades of our faith, making them more brilliant, no matter what season we are in—be it the hurts or the joy. In time, my empty nest became a place of beauty. I found new purpose and went back to school at the age of forty-eight. My retired husband and I found a new depth of love and joy in our relationship. And surprisingly, God has taken away the fear of change. I’ve finally realized that every season the Lord brings into my life is lovingly filtered through His precious fingertips.

A Moment to Breathe…
Find an old photo album and savor the sweet memories of seasons past. When you turn the last page, ask God to fill the “new pages” of your life with sweet new memories

When Jesus Wore Camouflage

By Mei L. Au posted July 15, 2022

The God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, establish, strengthen, and support you after you have suffered a little while. 1 Peter 5:10

We stood in line waiting to pay for our meal at our favorite Mexican restaurant. My husband, Darren, had just returned home after a six-day business trip. The demands and weariness of the past week still weighing heavy on his shoulders. In front of us, I noticed a couple with three young children.

“I left my wallet in the van,” said the mother as she shifted the baby in her arms while herding the other two little ones. The man gave his wife an exasperated glare and headed out the door. As Darren stepped up to pay our bill, he leaned over to me and said, “I think I’m going to pick up theirs.”

“Sure, but hurry up before he comes back, “I told him. I didn’t want to draw attention to us. As Darren was signing the receipt, I saw the father coming towards the front door. Hastily, we made our getaway.

“Walk fast!” I said to my accomplice as we headed across the parking lot. Suddenly, we hear the man’s voice. “Sir, sir.” We pretended not to hear. “Sir, Sir!” the voice got louder as he got closer. Darren turned around. He had caught up to us.

“Did you pay for our meal?” said the big burly man. Dressed head to toe in hunter camouflage, the husky man with a thick beard seemed to tower over my tall husband. As the two strangers spoke, Darren extended his hand. The man, however, was not content with a handshake. So there, under the glow of a business sign, I watched as two brawny guys embraced. Time stood still as I was struck by the tenderness of the moment. With genuine authenticity, the men acknowledged their mutual brokenness, and each became wrapped in the arms of Grace.

In our stress, in our struggles, in our suffering, Jesus meets us…sometimes wearing camouflage.

A Moment to Breathe…

The next time you’re at the grocery store or the coffee shop, maybe right now, or later today, take a look around. Spy someone in line and quietly pay their tab.

Meeting God in the Silence

By Diane W. Bailey posted July 8, 2022

He said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a remote place and rest for a while.” For many people were coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat. Mark 6:31

I walked into the house and allowed the plastic bags filled with groceries to fall to the floor with a thud. The dinner hour neared, and I realized I hadn’t eaten breakfast or lunch. Mentally and physically, I had given all I had that day, and I needed to stop and collect my thoughts.

A cold glass of sweet tea accompanied me to my white wicker rocker beneath a fan on the back porch. My breathing slowed as a cool breeze came off the pond, and I was suddenly aware of silence all around me. It was the most profound silence I had ever heard. And my mind began to rest as my spirit began to revive.

Sometimes it feels like God isn’t near. The truth is, His Spirit is within us at all times, but the problem is we don’t stop often enough to recognize Him. God has called us to a great adventure—a journey of unpredictable adversity, as well as God-sized victory. The only way to be faithful to His call is to find time each day to sit in the profound silence of heaven intersecting earth and listen to His Holy Spirit speak.

Jesus called His disciples away to a quiet place to rest because ministry without pause can bring both weariness and waywardness. Jesus’ example of coming away to rest can be difficult for those of us who pride ourselves on productivity. I’m like a young child who’s been told it’s nap time. I throw my head back and protest, “But I’m not tired!”

Do you have trouble with taking time to rest? I do. So, to help me with my need to achieve, I bring God’s Word and a journal to my time of rest. Then it’s not long before I sense the Lord’s presence speaking to my soul. Rest time isn’t a place to achieve; it’s a place to receive.

A Moment to Breathe…
Pour yourself something cold to drink and sit in the silence. Open His Word and allow the words on the page to speak to your heart today.

The Ministry of Tears

By Robin Dance posted July 1, 2022

You yourself have recorded my wanderings. Put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book? Psalm 56:8

I have cried more in the past three weeks than I have since my mother’s death, and that was a long time ago. Emotions? Threadbare. Sleep? Fitful at best. And it’s embarrassing to admit the “why” of it, because if I play the Comparison Game, it’s not a good enough reason to justify my fragility. I’m not facing illness or financial trouble; my marriage and my children are doing well. In fact, the “why” of it is ultimately good: We sold our house. But packing up and purging the house my children will remember as home—the place destined to inhabit their dreams when their minds drift back to childhood—undid me.

We’ve been married thirty years now—our babies are grown. Downsizing to a much smaller house forced decisions I didn’t want to have to make. To toss any “thing” felt personal, as if I were saying that memory didn’t matter. Suddenly everything mattered and I was paralyzed by emotions and indecision, and just about anything could trigger an emotional breakdown.

I was grieving a certain kind of loss, and I cried a lot and instantly felt guilty. But then it hit me…crying wasn’t weakness, it was simply cathartic. Every tear tells a story. Tears are a way for the body to express itself when words aren’t enough. They’re a gift.

It’s important to listen to what our tears are saying. They aren’t arbitrary. Some thing in our home would trigger a memory that caused me to cry, then laugh almost at the same time. Though I felt crazy at times, I paid attention and began to understand what all those tears were telling me.

Selling our house is a threshold from one season to the next. It’s a final letting go of one thing to be free to grasp another. These tears are evidence of a great love and for a life that has meant something special, even important.

A Moment to Breathe…
The physiology of tears is amazing. Did you know they’re protein rich and antibacterial? Let’s begin to listen to our tears and see them as evidence of a heart that loves and cares.