Category Archives: breathing


I returned from Seattle last Monday. Weekend one of four is tucked away in the books. This leg of the journey has only begun.

After an intense 25 hours of lecture and group time, it was lovely to spend Sunday afternoon with friends being a tourist before boarding a late-night, red-eye flight home.

Feeling claustrophobic in a window seat on a full flight, I was grateful that my cup of Sleepytime Extra tea seemed to be kicking in and that my neck pillow, however awkward looking, offered comforting support. Slipping off my sparkly Toms and on my cozy fleece socks, and covering up with a scarf-blanket, all I needed was music to send me on my way to sleep.

I slept.

It was a sweet grace to drift off for a few hours before waking to a waning-crescent moon and the big dipper right outside of my window in the clear black sky, so close I could almost touch them. Slumbering people sharing the row prevented me from getting up and walking around. Deep breathing and the moon and stars kept me from panicking.

Sara Groves sang in my ears as tears ran down my face. Tears invite curiosity, and I pondered what resonated so strongly between her words and my heart.

And I pray for a vision and a way I cannot see. It’s too heavy to carry and impossible to leave.

Heaviness. Impossibility. Vision. Change.

Drifting back to sleep, I stayed settled until the descent. Bright flashes of light caught my attention. I wondered if they were lights from the plane.

It was lightning.

I left sunny Seattle and returned to thunderstorms.

Touching down, the pilot’s voice over the speaker informed that lightning prevented the plane from being parked at the gate, since it was unsafe for workers to be out on the tarmac. Until further notice, all flights were grounded, and we were not going anywhere, including off of the plane.

This was a difficult space to inhabit. I was transported to days at the pool or the amusement park, or at a sporting event where timing the lightning was crucial to re-entering the activity. Those minutes between flashes felt like an eternity. There was nowhere to go.

We waited.

When the timing was right, I exited the plane, uncertain of what would be waiting inside. Would flights be cancelled? Rescheduled? On time? This time I knew where I was going and walked through the airport with purpose.

My flight was cancelled. Plans were changed. Instead of meeting my son in his classroom later that morning, I would spend the day grounded in the Charlotte airport. Weather is not something that can be controlled.

I struggled with this.

After much wrestling and acceptance, I breathed into the space that was a day at the Charlotte Airport and made my way to the chapel first. Sitting there in the quiet, I tried to hold what had just happened, but so many shoulds weighed down on my shoulders.

Giving myself grace to just be in the space, I practiced silence before re-entering the fray of a busy airport.

Disappointed that I had gate-checked my suitcase with the power cord to my laptop, I found a rocking chair to sit in and grounded my feet. The rocking motion soothed my soul as I watched the sky clear and the sun return.

My flight did not board until 5:30, so I spent time writing and reading and thinking. I got lunch and spent time reading and eating alone until I invited a lovely lady to sit with me when it was apparent that she could not find an open table.

This move was unusual for me, yet opened my heart to a sweet gift. We shared where we were in the moment and in life and found that in spite of the difference in our skin color, there were many similarities in our souls. A new sister was met, friendship was sparked, and numbers exchanged.

I left lunch in humility and awe at the kindness of God in the Charlotte airport. The space felt sacred and sweet. I saw and was seen. I was blessed. I spoke blessing.

The flight to Roanoke was uneventful and the drive home smooth. I was grateful to fall into the arms of my husband and into the comfort of my home.

Here is Sara’s music that met me on the flight. Maybe it will meet you, too. Be blessed, Friends! Thank you for sharing this journey with me.

Keep Breathing

Just breathe. Take a deep breath in. Let it out. You can do this.

Days begin early with this reminder. Coaching myself through each part of before school, during school, after school, and evening routine, they continue.

Take deep breaths. Slow it down. Be present.

I try, really I do, to believe that it is working. Breathing is important, as is mindfulness. I am mindful of the fact that this is an overwhelming time.

I’m still breathing. That counts.

This morning, I scramble out the door with my mini in tow reminding me of the essentials, Do you have my gift exchange gift? The candy canes? Your key lanyard? Don’t forget your coffee. This little one knows me well.

I grab a roll of wrapping paper to take along to wrap her gift, as there is not a scrap of tape in the house. Of course there isn’t. I have only been to the store countless times this week picking up ONE THING AT A TIME, while forgetting basic others like tape. Because lists? Checking twice? Who has the time and energy for THAT?

We run on the edge of slightly behind, but traffic is kind, and lights are green. She beats me to our classroom where she will wrap the gift while I go retrieve my charges, so that we can begin our school day together. I walk in to check on her, trying to slow the pace of my racing heart.

Move through each part of the day mindfully. Take deep breaths. Just breathe.

I say this audibly to myself, but little radar dish ears pick up the sound waves of my whisper, and a little person begins to laugh. As air mindfully and deeply fills my nostrils, I know exactly what is so funny.

I farted, and you just breathed it in!

Yes. I. Did. Deeply. Mindfully.

And that, Friends, is a perfect picture of how things are in these parts. I keep trying to control what I can, but there’s a lot of stuff I can’t control that just stinks.

I keep breathing, anyway.

Stricken, Smitten, and Afflicted

Singing this song Wednesday night in preparation for Sunday’s worship reminded me of heaviness in the hearts of so many that I love. Of heaviness in my heart.

This has been a full week. I find myself reacting and running and restless instead of responding and remaining and resting.

My reactions feel justified. As if somehow I am not where I am supposed to be. The if onlys surface. They are not pretty. Angry tears demand to know WHY?!

Many have been stricken, smitten, and afflicted this week. Many eyes reading this know exactly what I mean.

You know exactly what I mean, because what you love has been stricken from your life. You know because you have been smitten by the unthinkable and are reeling with what to do next. You know because you are afflicted by a malady that will not just go away and leave your body to function in peace. You know.

He knows.

Can you pause and rest here for 5 minutes, soaking in music and Scripture and truth?


The Fountain of Life

You are the fountain of life. The light by which we see. Psalm 36:9

My heart is overflowing, looking for a place to settle.

After full days that have run into full weeks that continue to accelerate, I need to pause and rest by that fountain of life.

I need to view my day through the light of Christ and not through the darkness that threatens to overcome me.

I am grateful for compassion that reaches out when I feel contempt.

As my insides churn and I anticipate what tomorrow may bring, my heart feels faint. But all I need is to be present in this moment. I am not guaranteed others.

A Place for Your Heart to Worship

I love worshiping on Sunday with my church family.

I love singing on worship team.

I love that we sing Hallelujah, Praise Jehovah, Psalm 146 from The Psalter based on a Gregorian Chant, along with Forever  by Chris Tomlin.

I love that the tune we use for How Much I Owe (Robert Murray M’Cheyne) was written by Brian Davis who is a part of our team, and that we often sing songs and arrangements written by Burress McCombe, our worship pastor. 

I love singing On Jordan’s Stormy Banks and wondering when I shall reach that happy place and see my Father’s face, resting in His bosom.

I loved singing this with my sister and brother-in-law during an Indelible Grace Hymn sing years ago when they were newlyweds. And loved that though the call was close, they weren’t quite bound for the Promised Land, yet.

I love seeing a hymn titled How Sweet and Awful is the Place on our set list and wondering what the congregation will think of it, since it’s not one of our standbys. The tune is quite familiar and beautiful, and the words are rich.

When we were kids, my siblings and I would rhyme the words to hymns even if they were written poetically. I want so badly to sing “geest” instead of “guest” at the end of the second verse. Or at least to look out and lock eyes with a sibbie!

I love that we celebrate a Risen Christ each Sunday.

Yeah, Death, where IS your sting?

Wherever your are on your journey, may God meet you and touch your heart through His faithfulness.

I continue to marvel at His faithfulness to me, as seen by the fact that I am even ON a worship team or WRITING about it on a blog. Where do YOU see His faithfulness to you? It’s there!

Friday Fun

Remember that space we all need? It’s important to take a break from the work, and sometimes that looks like PLAY.

How do you plan to play this weekend? Yes. Sometimes you have to plan it. I work really, really well.  Play doesn’t come as easily.

Tonight I get to watch my husband play with his Improv Troupe in their First Friday Free show. If you  have never been to a show, come join in the fun!



Strange Places, Small Spaces

I had grand plans for working outside in the soil to refresh my heart and give my soul some space. Sometimes the ideas in our head and in our heart don’t quite mesh with what we are able to do with our hands.

I was determined to fight for my heart, though.

I struggle with being present and not allowing my mind to race ahead with all of the reasons why what I am doing in the moment is not enough. In this instance, it looked like working with my less-than-perfect, overgrown, hand dug flowerbeds surrounding my less-than-perfect house with gasping flowerpots and baskets on my needs-much-work porch.


Why bother? Look at these other houses on the street. I could work all summer and not be where they are.

Ugly comparison.

If I allowed myself to go down that path, that spiral, into that place, I was doomed to throw it all down and return to the computer to pore over all that wasn’t. All of the ideas that I can’t do because of time or money constraints. All of the ungratefulness that stirs up inside at the drop of a hat or a garden rake or the click of a mouse.

My friend, Amy, suggested listening to some Sara Groves while I gardened. That wasn’t working out for me, but Sara began singing Add to the Beauty to me in my head (one of the many benefits of having most of her music committed to memory!).

One of my favorite lines is Redemption comes in strange places, small spaces, calling out the best of who we are, and I want to add to the beauty, to tell a better story…

Here are some strange places, small spaces where I added to the beauty.

DSCN0236[1] DSCN0237[1] 

How about you? Where might you find or create beauty in a strange, small way today?



The Need to Breathe

In order for bacteria and other helpful microorganisms to thrive and reduce kitchen scraps to compost, oxygen is needed. Matter that is packed tightly and compressed leaves no room for air to get to those beneficial little creatures, and the mixture begins to stink. There must be life-giving space in the rubbish pile for work to happen.

In a similar way, composting the heart requires breathing room. The constant gathering and packing down of thoughts, feelings, emotions, and stories without creating space to breathe is counter-productive. It may even produce its own version of stink in the form of anxiety, agitation, anger, panic, fear, dread, or over-thinking.

Putting the work aside and taking room to breathe is an important part of the heart composting process.

What does room to breathe look like? It is different for everyone but may include (though not be limited to) the following:

  • taking a walk
  • being still
  • talking to God
  • listening for God
  • doing anything that calms you (taking a hot shower, practicing yoga, listening to music)
  • gardening
  • reading
  • resting

What does room to breathe look like for you? How will you practice breathing today? I think that I am going to do some gardening in the literal sense. I will allow myself the space and freedom to be outdoors enjoying my landscaping and flowerpots.

I am going to refresh my soul while working in the soil.