Yoga and Jesus: Just Breathe

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Yoga and Jesus: Just Breathe

A few years ago I had a counselor critique me. He said, “you don’t breathe.” I looked at him with curiosity and then realized I was in fact holding my breath. Maybe you do it too?

His recommendation? To breathe, and practice breathing deeply when I feel stress. And for at least 8 years now, I have been practicing this. Reminding myself to breathe, reminding my children and my best friend, “just breathe” I say. Try it, right now, nice and deep. Doesn’t it feel good? A cleansing breath.Just breathe, doulaThere’s this new adventure in my life right now called yoga. I’ve been a bit close minded about it in the past I’m afraid to admit, and now since trying it I’ve come to understand the benefits. I was close minded because it seemed so zen and associated with religions other than my own. But, I’ve come to realize…

1. We can be friends with Jesus and Yoga without compromise. My pastor said that sometimes as Christians we can be so afraid of Eastern religions and the traditions that we have completely dismissed meditation in Christianity. Abraham meditates in Genesis 24. In the book of Joshua, the LORD tells Joshua to meditate on the law day and night. And all throughout the Psalms we are instructed to meditate on God’s wonders, His promises, His statutes, and His works. This is an absolute Biblical habit. We should not be afraid of compromising our relationship with Jesus by meditation. In fact, it can strengthen it.

2. Yoga trains the mind and body to be still before the LORD. Now,  there are definitely challenging poses that require effort, but what I’ve experienced is a stillness of mind while doing yoga. I’m not going through my to do list. I’m not paying attention to my mobile device. I’m in my body, giving my full attention to my muscles and my breathing. I’ve learned to hold a pose, and still my mind and ignore the thoughts of “I can’t do this.” If I am intentional about prayer while practicing yoga, I can walk away feeling like I’ve actually spent time with Jesus during a session.

3. Yoga trains me to breathe. So, let’s just state the obvious. If you hold your breathe while exercising in general, you will pass out. During a stretching pose that is particularly difficult, if I breathe, I can maintain a deeper stretch than if I don’t. If I breathe, I can stretch further and longer than if I don’t. If I breathe, I can hold a pose longer because I’m focusing on the breath instead of the pain. This is what I often tell my doula clients during labor contractions. Focus on the breath instead of the pain.

yoga, doula

During a yoga session I wear Bergamot and Ylang Ylang essential oils to help with the mind/body connection. They don’t drug you into submission, they just encourage the natural processes that are happening in the body while exercising. You will often hear instructors remind the class to breathe. It’s training and it’s good for you. For stressful times, for pain filled times, just breathe.

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Mile Marker 31

Jesus take the wheel” by Carrie Underwood may just be the song I woke up to this morning. I never this listen to country ya’ll, and I never say ya’ll but as I lay in bed thinking, it dawned on me that today marks one year of living in Tulsa. So ya’ll, is fitting now more than ever.Jesus doula

A year ago, I was saying good bye to some of my most dear friends in this world. There were tears and hugs and kind words spoken and acts of service given. As they packed our moving truck, a bit like Tetris, I wondered what was on the other side of the state line. Would Jesus really be enough? Can he really fill the hole that’s left? As I followed the moving truck down the one lane highway for what felt like an eternity, I prayed. One of those long, 5 hour conversations where words don’t exchange, but hearts connect between me and my Savior. “Jesus take the wheel,” I prayed.

I’ve learned by watching and listening to others’ stories, that we mark our lives, the timeline of before and after with specific, life changing events. We will catch ourselves referring to our history with, “before the accident” or “after he died.” And as we should. Life changing events are meant to be just that, are they not?  “Jesus take the wheel, cause I can’t do this on my own.”

I find myself writing some of those same old scripts in my head, and then I catch myself. I give a little nudge to the, “before Tulsa” feelings and remember that He makes beauty from ashes. When we begin to see the beauty from the pain, we know we are on the other side of the lesson. So I allow the lesson to be just that, a moment He teaches me from. Jesus whispers the memory of mile marker 31 into my heart and I pause, because He’s reminding me of all He’s carried me through.

Mile marker 31, is an identity lesson. My identity is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. It’s not about my culture, where I’m from and what kind of accent I use. It’s not about which home team you cheer for, or all of the back roads and short cuts. It’s not about how comfortable you feel in a crowd at church or who you can wave at from across the room because you know everyone, and their mother. Identity should be, with Christ because

“It ought to be the business of everyday, to prepare for our final day.”

On that final day, when I say goodbye to those I love most, the comfort of being found in Christ will be the only thing that matters. So I “praise the One who paid my debt, and raised this life up from the dead.” Mile marker 31 is only restoration, as we take one step closer to home.


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Stretch n’ Grow

There’s a tag line that I use often on my blog posts, stretch and grow it says. It’s been a tag line in my life since high school. You see, I’m a girl who doesn’t like change. It’s not a hatred type feeling towards it, just an emotional temper tantrum if you will. A chill in my bones when I am forced to change. An uncertainty, uncomfortableness in new situations.

And my thoughts are constantly on the woman of the Bible named Sarah. As Abraham’s wife, she has the task of following him around the world. Um, no thanks. And yet, she handles every uncertainty with grace and I always wonder how she does it? She’s constantly moving, from city to city, following Abraham as he follows the LORD toward the promise land. I can hear her thoughts; how much further and can we settle here?               I believe she knew her true identity. Sarah knew herself to be the daughter of God.

It’s when our identity is wrapped up in things that will pass, yes, that’s where we fail. I’ve had identity crisis’ before. I’ve gone from collegiate athlete to Air Force wife to intern’s wife in a matter of two years. Ministry to insurance sales man’s wife. From working, educated woman to stay at home mom. Outside changes forcing inner strength. I think I’ve learned, if we build our identities around things that change, then in the sinking sands of life we will be lost. Our only hope in this is to cling to the One who never changes. At the end of the journey, there is a promise that we will surely rest with God. When we fix our eyes on Him, on the only One worthy of our gaze, He becomes our identity.

No longer am I a Colorado girl; that’s long past expired, and my love for other states like Georgia and Nebraska are competing. No longer am I that social worker who wants to change the world either. I have three little people who need me to shape their world. No longer am I that cell group leader or wife of a sales man hoping to fill her fridge with food. And I can’t even claim to be that Manager’s wife who lives in the big brick house just yet. But what I can say for certain is…

I’m with Jesus. I’m on His team. He makes me feel like I belong. I follow Him because He is the perfect leader and I really do trust him. My Creator calls me daughter and my Savior calls me beloved. My identity is with Him. Jesus. He is the chief cornerstone; the rock.

And so, as I maneuver my way through this new season of change, I can calm my anxious heart when I remember my true identity.

stretch and growThe rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.” Mt 7:25

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Hot & Uncomfortable

It was May of 2009 and I was feeling hot and uncomfortable. The warm summer air had already started to creep into the days of May just as school had ended for the year and I caved. I couldn’t take the heat anymore so I turned on the air conditioning. The frugal side of me was screaming, “No! Hold out one more day” but I was uncomfortable being pregnant and wanted a reprieve. I tried to turn on the air conditioner, and nothing happened. The fan would blow, but as far as I could tell, it was all hot air. And so I waited for my husband to come home and when he went outside to investigate, he found what looked like acid corrosion on the air conditioning unit. It didn’t look hopeful. The service man confirmed our worst fear, we needed an entirely new unit.

Any other normal summer my husband would have done the sensible thing and financed a new unit through one credit option or another, but this summer was different. His wife was pregnant and a stay at home mother to two children and he was out of work. He had been desperately trying to sell health insurance without success. The economy had recently been hit by a new recession and the job market was less than flooded with openings.uncomfortable during pregnancyWe did what seemed wise and we waited. The hot humid air would fill the house and we would utter desperate prayers to our God. Something like, “please God, it’s hot and I don’t know how much longer we can take this.” Friends gave us fans, we mostly barbequed our dinners to keep the heat of cooking outside of the kitchen. Someone offered to buy a window unit. They saw our plight and wanted to give generously. Financing was not an option due to the employment circumstances and the fact that we could barely afford food, much less a new hefty repayment plan. We were peniless and so we waited.

We wanted our God to show up, we wanted to be seen by Him.

It was mid July and already 90 degrees at 9 am inside our home. I had previously made a committment to myself not to complain everyday to my friends on my social media outlets because no one likes a complainer, but I had reached a boiling point and I put it out there for all of the world to read. “It’s 90 degrees inside our house and it’s only 9am!” A friend read the status and asked her husband to keep his eye out for a window unit or something that could cool us off. He has the type of job where he comes into contact with a lot of people in a day, and wouldn’t you know that his very first client of the day had an air conditioning unit they were planning on donating to charity. When he saw the unit, he boldly asked if they would be interested in donating it to us, and they agreed.

Another generous heart. But here’s where my story get’s interesting and the word, miracle, can be used as a tag line. Air conditioners are not like welcome mats, that just sit outside and do their job, they have to fit like engine pieces. They are not swappable. Depending on the size of your home, the square footage will dictate the size of the unit. We were overjoyed when we heard the news that a stranger wanted to give us an air conditioning unit. When we called our service company to schedule an installation, reality came crashing down on us again. They said, “we’ve seen this happen a thousand times before; people try to swap these things between houses but it just doesn’t work that way. Don’t get your hopes up.” For good measure they took down the unit’s make and model and crunched the numbers. About an hour later we got the call, the unit would fit. Again, hope had sprung a leak in our heart. They warned us again, that because it had been sitting unused, all of the freon had most likely leaked out of the unit. That would cost around $500.00 to replace. They also said that because it had been sitting unused, there was the possibility it would not work at all after being transported across town. But we had hope. It was our only hope at that point.

My husband knew that the installation of the unit would take about 6 hours. Hoping to speed up the process and to cool down the house by bedtime, he met the service man at the house to help in any way he could. The house had reached 100 degrees F and I had taken the kids to a friend’s house to swim. 2 hours later the installation was complete, a record installation for that company. The freon that most likely leaked out of the unit was full. The unit turned on and immediately began working to cool the house. The service man told my husband, “Jesus must really love you, because I’ve never seen this happen before.” All of the pieces had to fit together just perfectly and they did.

Only God, the author and creator of the universe can fashion a more perfect scenario. He brought a generous heart with an unused air conditioner together with a family melting from the heat. He is the God who sees.

Today, if you’re feeling forgotten by God, take heart; He sees you.