Day 1: Why Exhale?

photo credit: science.howstuffworks.com

photo credit: science.howstuffworks.com

Sometimes I find that I’m holding air in the top of my lungs, never breathing all the way down to my belly. As life keeps piling on top of me I keep inhaling trying to push myself up from becoming a puddle under everything pressing in, pressing on, pressing down.

Sometimes I feel that I am wound so tight if you look at me wrong I’m liable to unleash a tornado of tension I’ve been holding deep in the clouds. My teeth are clenched so often it feels like work to let my jaw relax.

Sometimes I am so tired of trying to be and do and have and believe that even reaching for the paper bag to breathe into feels like too much work. My body is weary, my heart is creeping up.

And I’m tired of living this way.

So it’s time to choose differently. It needs to be a conscious choice before it can become natural. I’m ready to let go. I’m ready to exhale fully, deep through the heart and into the gut.

Over the next 30 days I’m going to share some of the things that keep me wrapped up in holding my breath. Things like:

  • I’m tired of white-knuckling my way through life. Exhale.
  • I’m not a size 6. Exhale.
  • I get angry. Exhale.
  • I’m worn out by church. Exhale.
  • I’m afraid of the what ifs. Exhale.

It’s going to be revealing (even for me). Maybe you too have been breathing shallow and long for something deeper. In order to breathe deep, we must exhale fully.

Just think about it for a few minutes. When was the last time you let it all out?

If you want to see more from the exhale series, please click below and follow the links.

photo credit: 1ms.net

photo credit: 1ms.net

31 days…

photo credit: 1ms.net

photo credit: 1ms.net

Breathe in deep. Now breathe out deeper.

Welcome to 31 days of exhale. I’m glad you’re here.

Each day for the month of October I will be linking with The Nester writing a post on exhale. I’ll invite you in to walk with me as I learn to exhale with topics like Letting Go, Fear, Beauty and more. Join me on this journey of freedom as a new post is added below each day.

Don’t miss it…you may just find your own reason to exhale.

Day 1: Why Exhale?

Day 2: Put the Luggage Down

Day 3: The Reality of the Now

Day 4: The Path to the Future

Day 5: Letting Go of Good

Day 6: The Man in the Suit

Day 7: Take Me Away

Day 8: When the Exhale Hurts

Day 9: What Comes First?

Day 10: Fill, Release, Repeat

Day 11: Ordinary

Day 12: Three Words Whispered

Day 13: Two Words

Day 14: Perfectly Imperfect

Day 15: Life on the Edge 

Day 16: My Own Fault

Day 17: It’s Not In the Jeans

Day 18: Start in the Center

Day 19: The Iceberg

Day 20: Frames and Pedestals

Day 21: Choosing to Believe

Day 22: Threadbare

Day 23: Looking for a Landing

Day 24: Slipping Silently

Day 25: Together

Day 26: Glory in the Ordinary

Day 27: Waiting to Be Called

Day 28: Rose-Colored Glasses

Days 29, 30 & 31: No Pretty Bow

exhale small

Five Minute Friday…True

This one has me written all over it! I’m linking up with Lisa-Jo Baker for Five Minute Friday.

Five minutes.

One word.

No editing.

No rethinking.

Just writing.

Today’s word: True

photo credit: robertringscenics.com

photo credit: robertringscenics.com

GO

It’s what I long for. I always have. TRUTH. The desire for it courses through my veins, hard pulsing in my ears. I’m guessing it comes from a lack of truth. Or maybe not a lack, more of an uncertainty.

When the sand shifts beneath  your feet you begin to crave solid rock.

I always felt like I had one foot on the rock and one foot sinking. There was the truth of what was solid in my life. I was loved (by some). I was strong (most of the time). I felt deeply (all of the time). But my balance was off.

That’s what happens when you only have one foot firmly planted. Even the solid ground feels like it’s moving.

So the sand shifted around me. All the time. And the rock anchored me. Sometimes, the motion made me sick and I wondered if it would be better to be untethered.

How did I survive it? I learned where to bear my weight.

If I tried to stand equally on both feet, I felt the push and pull through my whole being.

If I put my weight on the sandy side, the pull would take me in and the rock would have no hold.

If I put my weight on the rock, my world no longer shifted.

There would be pull from the sand occasionally, and fatigue from balancing so long.

But my world had found an axis: truth.

When I feel too much pull or even begin to sink, I remember to look for what is true. That is my center.

STOP

This poured out in large loops and sways leaving me out of breath and poured out before you. Where does your dance take you?

If you want to join in check out Five Minute Fridays!

Where Do You Fit in Church?

square peg

photo credit: industyweek.com

I sat on the outside aisle taking it all in. The lights, the music, the lyrics. I was surrounded alone. Surrounded by people of like mind, of like faith, yet something in me couldn’t process it. I wasn’t struggling in my faith. I wasn’t having an emotional crisis. I was, I still am, fed up.

Institution bothers me. And somehow the Sunday morning from 10-12 has become just that, and I am suffocating. My edges have never fit in the smooth curves of normal. But the frustration comes from a different place. I don’t need to feel normal. I just need to feel like I, with all of my angles, am loved, valued and important.

Church isn’t the place for that.

Before you get mad and defensive or try to save me from the devil or myself, know that I’m doing just fine. My faith is in tact. I still love God and believe it all, even when I don’t understand it. And maybe this is one of those things I don’t understand. Or maybe we’ve got it wrong.

Church as it is works great when you don’t know God. When you’re spirit is crying to be saved and you’re at rock bottom. Church can go into the trenches for the desperate ones and soothe them helping them climb out of the darkness.

Church is perfect for the pretty people with pasted on smiles that were yelling at their spouse and kids to hurry up and stop fighting just thirty minutes earlier. But only if they’re willing to enter Stepford as they cross the threshold.

Church is amazing at taking you and laying you down, if you’re willing of course. It will be happy to trod all over you in the name of service leaving you covered in mud with the heart pressed out of you.

The thing that church is not so good at. Normal. The normal, everyday people that aren’t in crisis, yet don’t want to fake it. The ones who have shattered the mask and don’t want to put it back together. The ones trying to live a life of faith and love in the midst of piles of laundry, bills that are late, and the kids that keep fighting.

Where is the room for real life in church? Because I haven’t found it.

If you’re not in the pit, Stepford or a doormat how do you fit in church? Is there even a place for people that are that are working and walking the best they can in the everyday? What about the feeling that church is just one more thing on the perpetual list?

I don’t know what to do with this. I’m not angry or bitter, but disillusioned and tired.

I’ve lost pieces of me trying to fit where I was never meant to belong.

I wonder if I’m the only one tired of the institution and desperately missing the body. The body that believes and loves and walks through it all together. Maybe I just have too many angles.

Somehow I don’t think the cross had curved edges.

Picture Perfect

DSCN1536

It’s out of focus, the picture on this blissful evening with my boy. Not in my mind though. In here it’s as sharp as it will ever be. Because next time it will have faded around the edges as I struggle to remember just how his hand felt in mine.

I shouldn’t have used the fill flash. I should have realized the sun is always the perfect bright.

My scarf is blocking my face, my eyes are closed too much, I can’t see his whole profile.

And it’s perfect.

The image may not be, but the moment is. The moment is perfect because we’re there together, my boy and me. I can hear him call,

“Quick Mama!”

as I set the timer on the camera. I rush to his side and his arm wrapped around me and his hand grasped mine. I couldn’t help but look at him and smile. And he did the same.

Pictures don’t need to be perfect — only real. Because someday it will be all we have, and perfect will never represent the real life and heart of someone we love.

When I think about pictures of me I’ve come to realize I want something back that is more than beautiful.

I want eyes wrinkled around the edges, my head back and my mouth open far too much.

I want bodies blurred in motion.

I want the bike on the ground, tear on the cheek and clutching of a knee.

I want my head tilted, face placid and eyes closed in deep sleep.

I want little feet dirty from the day.

I want wind-blown hair in all the wrong ways and squinty eyes from looking to the sun.

I want it all. Because it’s all real. And I want to embrace what is real rather than strive for what is not.