Finding Room to Breathe: A 12-month pursuit of the presence of Christ

I’ve waved the white flag and retreated to the kitchen table this morning.

It was the unexpected nature of the rush and stress that did me in and led to my defeat.  I woke up without major plans or a busy schedule, determined to soak in the joy of winter break for just a few more days.

But then ‘it’ happened.

And by ‘it,’ I don’t mean one crisis.  Not an accident or disaster or tragedy.  No, more like life trampling all over my garden of peace and tranquility.

Like four children all needing help at the same time, calling out “mom” (or the newborn equivalent thereof) in harmony from all four corners of the house.  Suddenly I was off on missions of finding and fixing and feeding and changing and breaking up fights.

And that, my friends, is when momma gets grumpy.  My vision of winter break rest turned into sorting through the cabinets and cleaning out drawers and discovering where children had hidden the missing top to my water bottle (behind the television cabinet) and the missing Xbox game (in the very back of the DVD cabinet) and various other long-lost treasures.

All before mom had her cup of tea and time with Jesus.

Have mercy.

Life can suffocate us at times, slam right into our sides and knock the very life-breath out of our bodies when we’re not looking.  Pretty soon we’re panting on the sidelines, injured, weary, and defeated.

Yet, Psalm 62 says that God is “solid rock under my feet, breathing room for my soul” (Psalm 61:1-2, MSG).

I need the reminder.

In a few days, I’ll be back to zooming around town in the minivan, picking up children, dropping off children, passing sandwiches to the kids in the back because we won’t make it home exodus33for dinner and coaching them on homework all from the driver seat as we bounce from school to ballet to church to play practice and back again.

And right there, in the middle of the ‘mess, noise, and busyness’ of life is where I need God to manifest His presence and to breathe life back into my hyperventilating soul.

God promised this to Moses:

The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest” (Exodus 33:14).

A promise like that might leave me in a blubbery mess of tearful gratitude and peace—His presence and the promise of rest.  Yes, Lord, Amen!!

The promise of God’s presence and rest didn’t come at the end of the journey or on the edge of Canaan either.  It was right there at a mountain in the middle of the wilderness.

So, Moses got a little bold.  Or a lot bold.

He said,

“Now show me your glory” (Exodus 13:18).

God did just that.

Here I sit at the beginning of a new year praying the same thing.  Please, Lord, show me Your glory on the mountain, in the wilderness, along the journey, in the everyday travels.  Let me know the heavy weight of Your presence as I go.

This year I’m choosing one word to focus my faith-journey and I’m making it a year-long pursuit.

I’ll be writing each month about how I’m pursuing God’s PRESENCE in a particular way.

Here’s what I’m thinking for each month (although I reserve the right to change my mind, move things around, alter, delete, and improve this list as time goes on!!)

  • January:  Be Still and Know
  • February:  Pray Simply
  • March: Unplug (Turning off TV, social media, and other distractions and tuning into God)
  • April: Enjoy beauty (Gardens, walks, nature, and more)
  • May: Create beauty (Dabble in the arts and get to know the nature of our Creator God)
  • June: Invest in Friendship
  • July: Retreat and regroup (Why we need to get away and how to make it happen)
  • August: Learn how to say ‘no’ (Because you can’t do everything)
  • September: Learn how and when to say ‘yes’ (Because you have to do some things)
  • October: Find sacred in the ordinary
  • November: Practice Sabbath-Keeping
  • December: Abandon perfection

Will you join me? 

Will you share with me in this pursuit of the PRESENCE of Christ?

I’d love for you to comment, write your own blog posts and share them with me, email me and give me tips, ideas, failures and success stories as we pursue His PRESENCE.

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 book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, is available now!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2013 Heather King

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

I’ll Wait For the 7:30

Today, I am tired.

And it shows.  Words seem tricky and hard to maneuver, elusive and even a little mocking as they play hide and seek in my mind.  This morning with my kids, I would snap my fingers and squint my eyes trying to think—“What’s that word . .  what’s that word again . . oh, yeah, shoes.  Yes, put your shoes on.”

The trouble started just a few weeks ago when my toddler appeared by my bedside at 6:00 a.m. and announced it was morning and time to get up for the day.

Now, many of you are routinely early risers and prefer waking in the darkness and sipping hot coffee leisurely over your devotions before heading out for your morning commute.

At our house, however, morning begins at 7:00 a.m. So, when my early riser appeared another morning at 5:45, I mumbled, “It’s still night time.”

“No, it’s morning,” she answered and pointed out the window to the few glimmers of sunlight visible through the blinds.

Unwilling to give in, I explained, “You really need more sleep.”

With a simple, “I’m awake,” she bounced out of my room ready for cheerful activity while I shuffled behind her like a zombie.

What my toddler doesn’t understand is that waking me too early in the day ultimately short-changes her.  I’m a happier, more cheerful, more productive, more energetic, more playful mommy when we all agree to sleep until 7 a.m.

Impatience typically has a way of short-changing all of us.  We miss out on God’s best because we’re not willing to wait for it, settling instead for whatever barely acceptable option presents itself.

Or, while we wait we make it clear that we hate this.  We hate the unknown of it all, the required patience, the uncertainty, the lack of control, and the destruction of our own agenda.  We whine.  We nag.  We grumble and complain.  We envy others who already have that ministry, that relationship, that job, that child, that clear direction, that future.

It’s as if we pop up to the throne at 5:45 and announce, “It’s time!  I’m awake. Let’s get going.”  God’s plan, however, is to present us with His 7:30 best.

In 1 Samuel 8, the people of Israel wanted something from God. Following the leadership of Moses and Joshua, a series of judges had led the nation and delivered them from the perpetual persecution of the Philistines and other surrounding enemies.

This era of judges ended with Samuel the prophet, who led the people to rededicate themselves to God.  When he tried to pass the baton of authority to his sons, however, the people quickly complained:  “Behold, you are old and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint for us a king to judge us like all the nations” (1 Samuel 8:5 ESV).

The people didn’t trust God’s ability to choose their rulers and they were no longer willing to wait for Gideons and Samsons and Deborahs to deliver them, to direct them spiritually, to lead them into battle or to arbitrate their disagreements.

They wanted what other nations had—-assured succession and an inherited throne.  Not only that, they wanted it at 5:45 and they weren’t willing to wait until 7:30.

In her book, A Heart Like His, Beth Moore writes:

“God had already planned a king for the people.  Their lack of patience was to cost them dearly.  If they had waited for the Lord’s choice instead of demanding their way, how different might the story have been?” (pp. 32-33).

God’s design for a Messianic line and for an eternal kingship to emerge from the tribe of Judah and through the house of David required the king of God’s choosing at the time of God’s choosing.

Instead, the people wanted a king and they wanted one NOW. So they settled for Saul.

Then, years later, unwilling to wait for Samuel to offer a promised sacrifice on the eve of battle—full of as much impatience as the nation that had demanded a king in the first place--Saul did the unthinkable.  He, a king and not an anointed priest, sacrificed to God.  That cost him his reign.

Thus, Samuel traveled to a man named Jesse’s house and anointed a ruddy and handsome young shepherd to be God’s chosen king.  Indeed:

He chose David his servant
and took him from the sheepfolds;
from following the nursing ewes he brought him
    to shepherd Jacob his people,
Israel his inheritance.
With upright heart he shepherded them
and guided them with his skillful hand (Psalm 78:70-72).

God wanted a shepherd to shepherd His people, just as He later chose fishermen to become fishers of men. 

That was God’s best.

God’s best was a man who would write:

For God alone my soul waits in silence;
from him comes my salvation (Psalm 62:1, ESV).

The Message version says:

God, the one and only— I’ll wait as long as he says.
Everything I need comes from him,
so why not?
He’s solid rock under my feet,
breathing room for my soul (Psalm 62:1-2, MSG).

Unlike the impatient nation of Israel demanding a king like other nations had …
Unlike Saul impatiently giving up on the tardy Samuel and offering a sacrifice on his own …

David waited for God, waited in silence, waited as long as God saidIf we want God’s very best for us, we must do the same.

You can read more devotionals on this topic here:

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for 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.

Copyright © 2012 Heather King