Two Years of Learning How to Breathe

Yesterday was the two-year anniversary of this devotional blog.  I’m so thankful for all of you who have joined me for this journey along the way!  I’m working this week on a new look for the site, something to celebrate two years of blogging and a book release this year!In the meantime, here’s that first post on Room to Breathe.  I hope you enjoy this reminder of why I’m here!

Originally published as: The Reluctant Blogger

I have been putting this off for such a long time and now that I’m here, blogging away, it is almost as if I have stage fright.  That’s surprising because I’m generally more comfortable talking to a group of people from a stage than I am chatting with someone one-on-one.   I’m envisioning Winnie the Pooh calling out, “Hellllllllo.  Is anybody there?”  And hearing crickets.

But then I realize that whether someone is there or not is irrelevant.  I’m blogging now because I’m being obedient to a burden God placed on my heart, to write and share with others my devotional journey with Him.  My goal here isn’t really to write about me at all–not my daily activities or deepest dreams.  Not my beautiful kids or wonderful husband.  I’m not in the middle of any life adventure that I want to share with the world.

This is essentially about what happens when an insanely busy woman takes the time to meet with God at the kitchen table.

And you know what happens when I sit down with my Bible and my journal and my cup bible2of tea . . .

I breathe.

It used to confuse me on exercise videos when you’re in the middle of your 20 lunges or 15 leglifts and the instructor says, “Don’t forget to breathe.”  I’d think, “Well, yeah.  Of course I’m breathing.”

But, usually when the exercise lady tells me to breathe and I’m resenting her perky condescension, I realize I’m really not breathing in and out.  I’m kind of gasping for air and holding it in.

My daily life isn’t much different.  When I answer the phone, people ask me all the time, “Have you been running or something?  You sound out of breath.”  And I realize, I haven’t been running; I just haven’t been breathing.  The phone usually rings when I’m making dinner and racing around the house cleaning and supervising homework and breaking up fights and sending emails and finishing work.  I’m juggling everything and keeping every ball in the air, but the one thing I’m forgetting to do is to just breathe.

So, most days I’m really too busy to enjoy the luxury of a quiet time.  I’m certainly too busy to put those thoughts together into a blog.  In fact, my lack of time has been one of my biggest excuses for not blogging.

I don’t have the time, but I make the time.  Because without my kitchen table moments with God, I’d die.  I’d slowly suffocate from my lack of breath.

So, in the middle of this “discussion” with God over whether or not I should even write this blog, I went to a women’s conference at a local church and they chose as their theme verse:  “He’s solid rock under my feet,
breathing room for my soul” Psalm 62:1-2 (MSG).

It made me think that maybe it’s not just me who needs the reminder to breathe in and out.   If anyone reads this and realizes you’ve been holding your breath, let me encourage you—”Don’t forget to breathe!”  And, that’s essentially what this blog is about—me taking time to breathe and reminding you to do the same.

This is an excerpt from a poem they tucked into our bag at the conference:

Breathing Out and Breathing In
by: A.B. Simpson

Jesus, breathe Thy spirit in me.
Teach me how to breathe Thee in,
Help me pour into Thy bosom
All my life of self and sin.

I am breathing out my own life
That I may be filled with Thine;
Letting go my strength and weakness,
Breathing in Thy life divine.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her upcoming book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, will be released in the Fall of 2013!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2013 Heather King

Weekend Rerun: Marthas Anonymous

Originally posted on October 26, 2011

Fourteen years in women’s small groups and I’ve never once heard someone confess to being a Mary rather than a Martha.

We sit around the table at what might as well be Marthas Anonymous and confess, “Hi, I’m Heather, and I’ve been a Martha now for as long as I can remember.  I’m always busy, can’t seem to sit still and don’t enjoy resting.  I don’t watch TV without something to do at the same time and feel best when following a to-do list.”

I’ve heard the same confessions for years.  What I’ve never heard is, “Hi, I’m Jane and I’m a Mary.  I have no trouble at all dropping whatever I’m doing just to hang out with Jesus.  I’m totally fine if others are working in the kitchen while I sit at His feet.  Priorities for me are never a problem–Christ always comes first.”

That’d be the day!

And while we confess to being Marthas as if we recognize it’s a problem, at the same time, there’s a little bit of pride there.  Pride at being productive and busy.  Pride at being the one to take care of others.  Pride at the fact that people can depend on us to get things done and that we’re necessary to others.

That’s what the busy life does for us—feeds our self-esteem and reminds us that we’re important.

Yet, while we always pick on Martha as she grumbled to Jesus that her sister, Mary, wasn’t helping enough in the kitchen, it’s not Martha’s activity that was the problem. Someone did in fact need to feed Jesus and the disciples lunch and some Ramen noodles or boxed macaroni and cheese wouldn’t really cut it when feeding a crowd of at least 13 traveling evangelists.

Busyness in the kitchen wasn’t necessarily Martha’s issue and it isn’t always ours either.  It’s fine to dream wistfully of hour-long quiet times, but reality doesn’t always allow for that.

Someone has to do your job.  Someone has to mop your floors, do the dishes, make the phone calls, cook the dinner, fold the laundry, play with the kids, read the bedtime stories, and direct the homework.

No, the problem isn’t always a matter of what we’re doing.  It’s a matter of the heart.

For Martha, the first stumble came when she complained about someone else’s lack of activity.

Oh, how often we take it upon ourselves to judge the choices of another, making us angry accusers and our target the burdened recipient of our disapproval.

Imagine if Mary had hopped up at Martha’s griping and headed begrudgingly into the kitchen.  She wouldn’t be serving dinner because God had instructed her to do so.  She would have been serving out of arm-twisted obligation rather than answering a divine call.

There’s no blessing, no peace, and no rest when we serve outside of God’s will.

Jesus asked, “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly” (Matthew 11:28-30, MSG).

When we walk in step with Christ, trodding only where He is leading, we can feel the true rest of dependence on Him and the freedom from performance and accomplishment.

Martha’s next problem was thinking that it was all or nothing.  You either work in the kitchen or you listen to Jesus.  You can’t do both.

Surely, though, she could have been listening to Jesus while she stirred the soup at the stove.  We also can bring Jesus into the moments of our day.  Pausing for five minutes to breathe deeply and utter a prayer of need.  Singing praise to Him while we drive and meditating on Scripture as we wash dishes.

In the same way, even when we don’t have time for Jesus, we make time.  No one is too busy for God.  We choose to make His presence our priority, even if it means shutting off the TV, not answering the phone, taking a “Mommy time-out” for 15 minutes, reading the Bible during our lunch break, or delegating tasks to others.

Life crowds out time with God.  It always does.  We must be vigilant to demand those moments with Jesus. They will not happen by accident.

In Stumbling Into Grace, Lisa Harper wrote, “He teaches us . .  to slow down and recuperate after giving our all for the sake of the gospel.  To find a balance between going out and doing and being still and knowing” (p. 119).

Are you a tired Martha? Accept the rest that Christ offers you in His presence.  Return there as often as possible, taking a minute when you need it and an hour when you can. Don’t expect to be energized for eternity.  He gives you enough for today, for just this moment, and we bring that renewal back into all of our activity.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.