Jennifer Camp, co-founder of Gather Ministries, and author of Loop, grew up in the middle of an almond orchard in Northern California and now lives in the busy Bay Area with her husband and three kids. A former high school English teacher, she loves to write, but she especially loves to encourage people to seek and live out the truth of their story, their identity in Christ. You can find her writing at her blog, Jennifer J. Camp .You can connect with Jennifer on both Facebook and Twitter. She would love to have you join her there.
There are stories that have yet to be told, yet to be whispered, even in the dark when we believe no one could possibly hear. But we wonder yet if these words, hidden in secret places, could be gathered up. We wonder if there is a place for them. For the question is about more than words. It’s about the claiming of our stories, often the ones most difficult to speak out loud.
It’s hard to share. There is fear of rejection; we’re convinced that the person to whom we share will condemn us. There is shame, the cruel and twisted feelings of humiliation at having sinned. We want to keep the story secret. It’s a story too painful to tell. There is disbelief that sharing the story–even a story of beauty, or joy–will help. We think it surely can’t bring about any healing–for the person listening, or for us.
So we struggle, even, to open up our hearts to God.
And sometimes we don’t even know what the prayer is, until it is unearthed, the Spirit searching our heart and revealing to us the hidden, fragile places that need to be coaxed into the light.
It can feel impossible to discern, sometimes, how to pray. It can feel impossible that the beginning of prayer–sharing our heart with God–can even do any good. I know this from my own experience, and from leading women’s groups for years. And I’ve been wondering why we feel this way.
And I’ve also been wondering what it might be like to walk like Eve did, with God.
What would it be like for us right now, in our particular life situation, to hear God’s whispers?
We can so easily feel overwhelmed and stuck because we have only considered our situation from our own perspective. We believe that our truth is the truth, the only truth. But, actually, there is more.
What would happen to our outlook on our situation if we listened to what God thinks about it. If God spoke into our struggle, our joy, our uncertainty, our pain, how would our lives be different? How would we view our situation if our prayers were conversations and we heard God’s answers back?
I bet we would awake to new life–God’s light, God’s fresh air, God’s new perspective on our situation. I bet we would be open to considering our situation, our story, our life, with new eyes.
This is breathing Eden, experiencing new life, intimacy, with God.
I decided I want this kind of life, this new outlook on my circumstances, right here, right now. So I started capturing women’s stories–the brutally vulnerable, the beautifully raw. Then I asked God what He thought of it all. And I wrote that down too.
What what He said was never what I expected, but always what I hoped.
Breathing Eden is a book containing the stories of women whose raw, honest prayers needed to be heard.
The women of Breathing Eden
Some of the stories were inspired by real life women I’ve met. But many of the stories were of women I have yet to meet face to face. Similar to how I wrote Loop, I listened intently for God’s voice. I waited, I looked for Him. Who is she, Father? What is she doing? What do you see? How is she crying out to You?
What was different about writing Breathing Eden was that I asked God to show me a picture of a woman He wanted me to see. I would see an image of her, in a scene, a moment. These visuals, in my imagination, prompted the writing of each story. Even in the few stories inspired by women I know in real life, the words to their stories also began with an image in my mind. I prayed, as I wrote, to be able to listen to their stories clearly. I listened carefully to what they had to say.
Then, after I wrote down each woman’s prayer, I listened for what God wanted to say to her, making the prayer complete. And I wrote that down too.
I did this forty times.
It was difficult immersing myself in each woman’s story. It stretched me emotionally so much that I would feel it physically. Yet, in each conversation I found that, no matter our circumstance, God doesn’t want us to stay in the same place. He feels our pain; He binds our wounds. He rejoices with us when we celebrate. He knows that we ache to breathe Him in.
And He loves it when we do.
God wants to fill our life with light, fresh air, and new things.
This book is actually more than a set of forty conversations. It is particularly designed for the reader to engage in each story. Each conversation contains exercises for individual study or for small groups to dive in together.
The big news
On October 4, Breathing Eden: Conversations with God on Light, Fresh Air, and New Things, is releasing, through Zeal Books. Quarter-backed by Don Jacobson, Zeal has been amazing to work with; I couldn’t imagine a more gifted, supportive, and creative publishing team. But you know what is something to get excited about today? We can preorder Breathing Eden on Amazon right now and get additional resources that I hope will make your reading of the book even more impactful.
*To claim the pre-order gifts, email me ([email protected]) a copy of the receipt with the subject line: Breathing Eden pre-order. Easy, right? And continue to check out the Breathing Eden book page, as more information is added.
Want to tell me what excites you about the book, or what questions you have?
This post appeared originally at jenniferjcamp.com