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5 things I learned from my “Year of Deep Breathing”

moments that take our breath away

The Spirit of God has made me,
and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.
Job 33:4

We’re designed to breathe in his sustenance.

And breathe out his praise.

No matter what. Good times. Bad times. All the time.

Ironically, in this Year of Deep Breathing, I watched both my parents struggle for breath, and ultimately stop breathing here altogether. My dad died on Valentine’s Day; my mom died September 8.

With those vivid experiences fresh in heart, God has been teaching me about the natural rhythm of inhaling and exhaling. Throughout this year I have journaled and prayed and talked and received gifts (thanks, Brenda)...of breathing. In and out, over and over. 

Here are five lessons I’ve learned about breathing:

1. Keep the rhythm
Inhales and exhales
work best in balance. Inhales can come through scriptures, through music, through prayer, through conversations, etc. Exhales can come through service, through kindness, through verbal affirmations, through worship, etc.

Monday, May 24
“I felt myself breathing him out while singing with the residents today,
not only for my sake,but giving them the opportunity to breathe out, too.”

Monday, December 13
“I exhale less when I have shallow inhales. Breathe him in deeper.”

2. Don’t take breathing for granted
Breathing may come naturally—God created you to do it without thinking—but ordinary things can also be purposed things. Don’t belittle the ordinary. The daily inhales and exhales are sustaining.

 Wednesday, August 18
“Sometimes having quiet time is my most disciplined way of hanging out w/him to let him know that he matters to me, & that I know I need to sit with him for my own well-being, too.”

Tuesday, November 16
“Pushing hard to identify the ways he blesses me
thru what he gives and what he does not give.”

Monday, December 13
“I feel short of breath today…”

3. Fresh (Spirit) air is best
You can breathe in bad stuff, too, which means your exhales will also be unhealthy.

Tuesday, March 16
“I need to breathe him out more with those I get too easily frustrated with. I’ve been breathing out ugly me instead of beautiful Christ.”

The freshest, purest air is straight from God’s Spirit.

Friday, September 24
“Did all my memory work today, breathing in His Spirit thru His Words.”

Tuesday, December 7
“Daily, daily, over & over, I say these same words, inspired words,
to myself because I need to breathe them like air—continually.”

4. Straighten up for easier breathing
You breathe better when you’re straightened out.
This was the year I had surgery to straighten my very deviated septum so I could breathe better (wasn’t that appropriate?).

Thursday, April 8
“Breathing you in, Lord, in deeper ways with my
new & improved air passages! Thank you!”

It’s hard to breathe deep when we’re hunched over in self-pity or with our nose up in the air in pride. Straighten up, and the breathing becomes easier.

5. Breathing in = Loving God
    Breathing out = Loving others
On January 1, I had those four phrases listed as four separate resolutions. But by December, I realized they’re really just two.

When you love God, you’re breathing him in. You take in his nourishment when you study his words; you breathe in his strength when you stand in awe of his.

And the best way to love others? Breathe God into them.

Monday, January 4
“Lord, you provided time alone w/my father to take him to his PET scan. Precious to me. He was glad I was driving. I had to open his water bottle
We need him; he needs us.”

Tuesday, August 24
“Letting others help me. Gretchen bringing supper Fri nite—may she feel the exhale of giving God glory by my acceptance of her gift in His name.”

May the Lord continue to transform us one breath at a time,
and may all our breaths be deep!

Let everything that has breath praise the LORD!
Praise the LORD!
Psalm 150:6

* * *

What lessons did God teach you in 2010?


Barbara H. said...

I love all these analogies to breathing -- balance, posture, exhaling what we inhale. Thanks for much food for thought.

Brenda said...

This is good to read and re-read Lisa. So many lessons here that spoke to me.
With me even my quiet time can sometimes be a time of study and worship then without being aware I have drifted and not focused anymore. I am off thinking of what needs to done for the day. Taking a privilege of worship so lightly. My prayer for 2011 is that He takes my every thought captive and make it filtered through HIm.

Faith said...

wow, this really ministered to me today....I'm actually sitting here in the late afternoon after a busy day celebrating xmas with my parents and family and needed a "breather" and much good stuff here!

One thing the Lord showed me this past year was to just let certain things go. Although I try and try to restore a broken friendship, it just isn't being received. God showed me that HE is a friend who loves unconditionally, who will never leave me, and that my self worth is not wrapped up in whether I was successful at restoring a relationship or not. Learning to let go is huge for me. I am a fixer but He showed me only HE can fix things like that and only if the other person is willing for them to be 'fixed". Letting go has been like a breath of fresh air.

Lisa notes... said...

Yes, me too-- even in my quiet time I can get distracted. I usually close my bedroom door and do much of it out loud to help me stay focused. I love your prayer for 2011 to take every thought captive.

What a beautiful lesson. I just read today from Andree Seu that “To me belongs obedience; to Him belongs outcomes.” You obeyed, and that’s all you’re responsible for. Learning to let go is valuable; I still struggle with it.

Janet Benlien Reeves said...

Beautiful thoughts--thank you! And Merry Christmas.

Anonymous said...

What an amazing and rich post, Lisa. I can see how these lessons have been impressed into your life. Many blessings to you and your loved ones this Christmas and in 2011.

Hazel said...

Beautiful message, Lisa. Thank you very much. #4 hits me. In my case what's making it hard to breathe deep is something I know won't give me a happy ending, but I keep doing anyway. Guess I need to straighten up for easier breathing. The question you posed will be in my mind through the rest of this year. I will try to find answers before 2011 arrives.

Thank you Lisa for blogging. Many of your views work for me. Your perspective teaches well.

Merry Christmas to you and your family.

Jerralea said...

I love this post, Lisa! What really resonated with me is when you said, "“Sometimes having quiet time is my most disciplined way of hanging out w/him to let him know that he matters to me, & that I know I need to sit with him for my own well-being, too.”

Why is quiet time always the first thing to go when the day is busy? I have such a hard time to quit doing and just "be." But the motivation should be showing Him that "He matters to me."

I feel convicted, yet encouraged by this post!

Merry Christmas, Lisa, and I'm so glad I started coming by your blog this year!

Donnie said...

That was so sweet. When God brings us to it He will bring us through it and with His strength we will survive. Have a blessed day.

Karen said...

This is a wonderful post and a reminder...without Him, I could do nothing!

Nikki (Sarah) said...

this really hits home for me. I used to hold my breath...too afraid to let my guard down...your words..."We’re designed to breathe in his sustenance. And breathe out his praise." - means so much to me.

Ginger~~Enchanting Cottage said...

Thank-you Lisa for sharing this today. Reading this about breathing was so interesting.


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