Just Keep Breathing

WomenOpenOceanHeroAds            “Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming.”

We’ve all had Dory’s little tune from “Finding Nemo” stuck in our heads at one time or another. Given her memory limitations and their unknown course to Sydney, Australia, her tune kept Nemo’s father and Dory both moving forward, even through some pretty troubled waters.

I thought of Dory this week as I lay reclined in my dentist’s chair having a crown put on one of my very back teeth. At one point, I counted 2 sets of hands with 7 tools all working in my mouth at the same time!

I was stuck. I couldn’t talk or move or do anything. All I could do was try to keep breathing through all the pain, pulling, and poking.

Just keep breathing. Just keep breathing.

I was stuck in that position for about 80 minutes that morning. But when it was over, an old filling and years of decay around it were removed and replaced.

“If anyone is in Christ, He is a new creation. The old has gone, the new has come.” 2 Corinthians 5:17

If we are to become the new creation God has for us, we each have to go through some pretty troubled waters. We each have to go through pain, pulling and poking under God’s mighty hands to carve out the old, decaying flesh and replace it with a new spirit. And sometimes, in that hard, it’s all we can do to just keep breathing.

I’m reminded of our first childbirth classes 18 years ago. Wasn’t the whole point of the breathing techniques to get us to breathe in a way that allowed us to push through the pain? If we could focus on our breathing, we would not focus on the pain, and we’d be able to get through to the miracle moment of holding our precious baby.

“Our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” 2 Corinthians 4:17

There is a miracle moment that waits for us beyond each trial that comes- that moment of rest and peace that God brings in after a season of working hard on our souls. And there will also be that ultimate miracle moment waiting for us beyond all the trials of this world when we behold our precious Savior.

When Chris and I were dating in college, we helped chaperone a canoeing trip down the Guadalupe river. In a patch of rushing water around a quick curve in the river, the canoe I shared with two girls tumped. And as we came up out of the water and tried to get back on ground, I grabbed into a bush full of fire ants which I was very allergic to. Ant bites covered my hands and I went into full anaphylaxis. (The God moment in this story is that everything had dumped out of our canoe except the Ziploc bag that carried my Epipen for allergic reactions!). The short version of the story is that Chris and his buddy loaded me in a canoe and paddled me back up stream where we could get help. As I sat in that canoe, watching the hives come up over my body and feeling more swelling in my throat, I was afraid of dying. All I could do was “just keep breathing.” I remember focusing on one breath at a time, in and out, thankful to still be alive.

The ambulance came in time, and the story has a good ending. Our kids enjoy the story of how Daddy saved Mommy’s life! I’ll always remember those breaths that day, and how God carried me through to the moment of rest on the other side.

I see God’s mercy in the trials that really stretch us.

“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed, perplexed but not in despair, persecuted but not abandoned, struck down but not destroyed.”  2 Corinthians 4:9

He will sometimes pull and poke us to the point where all we can do is depend on Him to pull us through- and just keep breathing. Life is a gift- and each breath comes from His hand. As long as I have breath, may I look to God to sustain and see me through.

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

Blog Update: I am going to be taking a break from “Ministry Moms” for a couple months to write a devotional book for moms of children with special needs called “A Special Hope.” If you are interested in those devotions, please let me know. May God continue to give you strength, wisdom and joy for your journey!  ~Lori

Mom/Life Coach

femalecoachLife Coaching is a billion dollar industry serving corporate America. Millions of executives are hiring life coaches to “catapult their careers, break free from 9-to-5 jobs, and create better, more fulfilling, richer lives.”

This week I had the opportunity to hear a nationally-known life coach speak. His message was positive, his delivery was uplifting, and the example that he appears to live out is genuine. He got us all pumped up and ready to head back to work with more passion, commitment and drive. On my way home, it occurred to me that I want to be a life coach for my children.

The word “coach” comes from the root word meaning “a large kind of carriage.” Think Cinderella. It literally means to carry a person from one place to another. My role as a mother is to carry my children from birth (or shall we say conception) through to independent adulthood.  Coaches work with their coach-ees to understand their current capabilities and future potential, and carry them forward to reach their goals.

One promotion for a life coach reads “Your coach is your advocate. They want the best from you. They will work with you to help you reach your goals and to succeed. Your coach will hold you accountable and challenge you to grow and do more than you think you can do.”

That sounds a lot like who I want to be as a mother.

I had a number of different coaches growing up playing (or trying to play) soccer, basketball, volleyball and track. I got to thinking of them this week, and thought of several lessons for my motherhood journey that I learned from them.

An effective coach identifies your strengths and places you where you can use them best. Each of our children is uniquely created with a different personality, different abilities,  different interests. Our role is to help them to discover those gifts and plug them into opportunities to use and refine them. They will thrive when they are “playing” in the right position.

An effective coach comes and works alongside you.

My high school track coach was a rather large man with a large voice. He would stand up in the bleachers and yell out what we were to be running. My older sister was also a track coach, but with a very different approach. She actually ran alongside her athletes. She would call out the distance to run, and then go run it with them. What a more effective approach!  As mothers, we are more effective when we “practice what we preach,” living out before our children the same Christian life we want them to live.

An effective coach believes in you even when you don’t believe in yourself.

A positive coach offers constant encouragement and gentle challenge to keep you moving towards your goals. When you feel like giving up, an effective coach can keep you hanging on. Our children can get discouraged from the pressures of the world or from the pressures they put on themselves. We have the opportunity to see them through that with our encouraging words and constant support.

An effective coach sees past who you are to who you can become.

Coaches see potential. They see past where we are to where we will one day be. As mothers, we can get discouraged in the present, but we can choose to hold to the hope of who God is shaping our children to be. A strong-willed child will grow to be a strong leader. A nonstop talker will grow to be a good communicator.

I see Christ as my personal life coach – and He does all of these effectively with me. He places within me gifts and strengths and prepares the way for me to use them for His glory. He literally came and walked alongside us when He came to earth, and His Spirit walks along with me each day. He believes in me when I cannot believe in myself, and He sees through to the person He is shaping me to one day become.

As a mother, then, my role is to train up my children to see Christ as their personal life coach too. In the meanwhile, I will look to Him as Athletic Director, and serve as Assistant Life Coach. Let’s go, team!