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.
The boys goof off in their bedroom, throwing clothes at each other and not getting dressed. Their room is a mess already. Books stack high on the floor where I emptied their bookcase yesterday and started priming the shelves right in the middle of their room. I take a few steps toward the hallway, warning them that if I have to go in there to ask them to stop, I’ll have to stop making lunches, and Jackson will likely be late for school.
Oh, yeah. I have to walk in there. Clothes are flying; the boys are ducking and scooping up rumpled t-shirts tumbling from open lockers and I barely manage to not trip over the heaps of books near the door.
I kick one of the boys out of the bedroom so, hopefully, the two will actually get dressed and manage to wear normal clothes and not pajamas to school. (Although, with this California weather these days, the boys’ regular uniform of a favorite t-shirt and longish athletic shorts makes what they wear to bed look not so different. I’m close to complete surrender: agreeing that wearing shorts twelve months a year, no matter what kind of weather outside, is perfectly fine. . . But boys, really . . . you’ve got to get out out of your pajamas.)
Abby flits about the kitchen in white cotton nightgown and wild tangled hair while I tighten the sash of the chamois L.L.Bean robe I’ve had since college and assemble sandwiches for lunches. Our dog, Fulton, is actually giving me space so I’m not completely tripping over him, like usual, which is awesome. I throw fruit leathers and yogurts into the lunch bags, zip them up and bolt to my bedroom. I have exactly two minutes to get out the door.
No time for makeup or hair drying. I’ll have to grab my makeup bag and attempt to look presentable later, if I can. I have a doctor’s appointment after school drop-off and it’s a few towns away and I was nervous I’d forget. We’ve got to go.
My mom had breast cancer right after I got married. She is fine and cancer free now, but my doctor is pushing me to get an ultrasound, in addition to the mammogram I already had, due to my family history. I sit in the medical office parking lot on the second floor and watch pink blossoms reach high from branches from the tree below. I am calm and I am fine, but there is something in me, wondering, wondering, if this will be the day I find out there’s actually something wrong.
Do I want something to be wrong? Why do I assume one of these times I will hear bad news?
The sun shines bright and beautiful outside and I sit there, in my car, forty-five minutes early for the appointment. (And for those of you who know me well . . . you know me being early is not the most normal thing.) I try to call my mom, but I don’t get her, and then I start checking email on my phone, and then I find I can’t answer a single one. I am restless–for I am not made for worry, for anxious thoughts, for flying and dashing and hurrying and striving. I miss my Father. Oh, this regular, ordinary Monday.
My daughter, listening to Me is a practice I want to teach you. So, first, take a deep breath. And again. Slow down now. Wait a bit, for Me. For I am here. Trust that I am here. As you listen to the sound of your breath, as you feel your lungs expand—the air pushing through, your chest rising and falling—think about inhaling Me, breathing Me in. I am as close as your breath. I have created you so I am in you, part of you. I am the natural rhythm of your breathing.
I am what you are desperate for. You are not alive without Me. Your soul does not breathe without Me. I am fresh air in tired lungs that live to expand and take in this fresh air I offer.
Oh, daughter, breathe Me in. All the way now. Breathe Me in.
I dare not take this life for granted: this moment stretching out, this light carried forth, this air filling my lungs. God’s breath in me is what I breathe. My very lungs move, inhaling and exhaling–so automatically, so miraculously–because His breath fills me. I cannot breathe, I cannot see, I cannot live without God’s breath in me. Father forgive me: I forget. I so often forget.
The results are fine. The doctor tells me right there she doesn’t see anything suspicious, and I am relieved. But there will be a day, perhaps, when the news will not be so great. I’ll hear it on the phone or in a doctor’s office or in the words of a friend as she shares with me what she is going through that feels not, at all, okay.
And what can we do, sisters? What can we do when we struggle and we fear and we don’t even want to lift our legs out of bed? What can we do when we feel alone and overwhelmed and sad . . . so very sad?
Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being (Genesis 2:7).
Breathe, my sister, breathe. Know this Father of yours, who created you, has not left you alone, all alone, without hope or help. He has given you breath and He gives you breath again. Your lungs rise and fall with His touch, His very breath in you, His very love allowing you to keep going, press deeper, and stand.
You’re not alone. What you’re going through is not too much for you. What you’re facing is what your Father longs to carry. You are made to breathe Him in, my friend, and you will be sustained. Breathe deeply of His love. Breathe deeply of His hope. Breathe deeply and think of Him and reach for Him and hear His voice sing loud. Oh, sister, He sings with joy and hope over you. He dances with wild emotion over you. This day is not too much for you. Your Father who sustains you, who gives you breath, comes for you and lifts you from this place and you will see Him and be restored.
The Lord your God is in your midst, a victorious warrior. He will exult over you with joy, He will be quiet in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy (Zephaniah 3:17).
Breathe, now, sister. Breathe Him in and be restored. You are held and you are loved.
Can you hear Him speak to you, now?
There is no magic formula for listening to Me well. There is no complicated list of suggestions to follow. I have no check list. I have no program to offer you. But I have myself to give you—to give you again and again. And when I give you myself I give you all of myself. I don’t hold myself back from you. I do not set myself apart. I want no separation from you. I give you all of Me for I want all of you.
So breathe, my child. Breathe Me in. All of Me. Think about how much you need Me . . . And my love for you will pour out, and you will know Me more, and my goodness will flood your heart. Then, you will know, even more, whose you are and who you love and how good it is to breathe air. Air that is pure, air that is fresh, air that sustains.
On this day, my friend, what is stirring? How do your tired lungs need God’s fresh air? How can I pray?
*Excerpts are from Loop: “What You Might Take for Granted”. Subscribe to receive twice-a-week notes of encouragement, just for you. Also, this post is from the You Are My Girlsarchives. It is so good to look back and remember another day, like today, on a February once upon a time.