2014 © Anne Rose

“Your mortgage payment bounced.”

Four words spoken into the air. But once they hit your ears, you suck in air like a vacuum and your heart takes off in a foot race. Because a bear’s at your door. So pushing the adrenaline button helps you bolt the latch.

The trouble is, in today’s world, there’s a bear at the door all day long. And your body isn’t able to do the simple tasks because it’s running with its nose to a high-definition screen that’s flashing horror scenes in your mind—the what-ifs that you never want to believe can happen—but by thinking of them, they might. Do this enough and cancer, heart disease, diabetes and an assortment of other body-breakdown diseases move in while your sanity moves out.

But there’s a simple solution. And it’s as easy as taking your next breath: deep breathing. Because once the initial fright wears off you tend to barely breathe at all.

It sounds so Eastern. So simplistic. But therein lies the beauty. Don’t overlook an award-winning rose just because it’s growing in your own back yard.

Now, the obvious: inhale as if you’re inflating your stomach. Then, blow out the CO2 until your abdomen is sucked inward like a flat tire. Surprisingly, a number of wonderful things happen through this exchange. For one, oxygen saturates your cells, returning your body to an aerobic state for energy production, allowing it to rid itself of lactic acid buildup in the tissues (a major cause of pain). The acidity level decreases, inducing a favorable environment for immunity. Finally, your parasympathetic system takes over so your stock-up-the-refrigerator and take-out-the-trash body maintenance can resume. Your mind clears. Peace returns. You’re on vacation from stress even though everything still seems to be going wrong.

But there’s more. Who do you think got you breathing in the first place? Is it possible that you haven’t given Him much thought since? I dare say that this very thought of breathing God can propel you into a new dimension of living. And you can do it continually, moment by moment. You breathe in the very breath of God’s Holy Spirit. And then you breathe His love back to Him as an “I love you.” Over and over… all day long. Especially when the negatives pound you in the head. Breathe! Breathe Him in. Breathe Him out. Again, tell Him how much you love Him. It’s something easy you can do. And strangely enough, if you’re going along and you forget about God, another stressor can knock on your door to remind you. And you say, “Oh yeah, I forgot to breathe Him in.” So, even stress can be your friend.

You’ll see. Something changes. The bounced check, the lost job, the illness that stops you in your tracks. All become wisps of smoke as you begin to live in the rarefied air of God’s kingdom instead of in your own anaerobic world.

Breathe … as if your life depends on it.




Lost and Found

2014 © Anne Rose

I thought it was understood that my relaxation time was off-limits. That God knew how over-the-top things had been for me and that I could take an hour off to unwind–and that it would be fun. Just a short respite, that’s all. And wouldn’t you know? I lost this time to trying circumstances.

It came out of the blue while riding my bike. You know the scenario—not much time, squeezing it in before dark. I had a picture in my mind of how nice it would be: clear blue sky, crickets and birds chirping away, the breeze against my face. But before I could roll the length of a football field my husband hit the brakes. “My gears aren’t working,” he said.

This wasn’t music to my ears. His gears had been repaired at no small expense and were working fine the last time out. Mine had just been repaired a day earlier at no small expense. At this rate, it’d be cheaper to open a bike shop. But I digress.

What made this more annoying than anything else was the fact that I had warned him about leaning my bike against his derailleur. It was this little tape that kept playing in my head.

Finally, like any frugal couple we tried to “fix” the thing by turning various adjusting screws, even though we had absolutely no idea what they were for. No surprise here: it didn’t do any good.

So instead of a nice evening ride to get away from the sometimes unbearable stress in our lives, we rode—he with his hand continually clenched on the shifting gear to keep it engaged and I battling thoughts of I told you so.

After this thought rolled around in my head like the wheels of my bike, another thought flittered in: Let it go. Give the problem to God—which I did, though not without some difficulty. Surprisingly, while loading the bikes onto the truck to go home, Jim noticed a loose knob on the lever that he had been gripping. A quick twirl and presto—the gears worked as good as new. The next day, we made another try for a perfect outing. And why not? Surely, after such tribulation God would keep the demons at bay.

God apparently had other ideas. The idea was to kayak one way on the river and bike the other. This in itself could be problematic because certain equipment had to be placed at one end of the river or the other. Trust me, this could get crazy—like the time I had to ride eight miles in eighty-five degree weather with my life jacket on. But I digress.

Somehow, we lost an eight-inch plastic disk that was used to cover the same size hole in our boat. O where could it be? The answer? Nowhere! We backtracked in our minds, by foot, over the river and through the woods, and literally tore the boat apart—still no disk. Jim was not happy and neither was I. He said he wasn’t leaving there until he found it. His resolve was short-lived. We finally left without it. So instead of a nice afternoon ride to get away from the sometimes unbearable stress in our lives, we rode—he, mumbling how aggravated he was, and I battling thoughts of how-stupid-this-is-for-the-second-day-in-a-row, while my boat filled up with water from the rapids.

After this thought floated in my head like a kayak on the water, another thought flittered in. Let it go. Give the problem to God—which I did, although not without some difficulty. Surprisingly, while getting ready to load the boats back onto the truck to go home, I noticed the black plastic lid floating in the water behind my seat.

The next week, we embarked on a leisurely Saturday morning bike ride (hope springs eternal). I even said to Jim before we started that regardless of what might happen, we should just make the best of it. He agreed. Well, no surprise here, my bike locked up in first gear before I could peddle five feet. But surprisingly, peace prevailed and I rode blissfully along at a snail’s pace until Jim came back to get me. He suggested we do more amateur bike repairs, all to no avail. Still I was happy to tool along, enjoying the view. Along the way a little farther up the path, Jim insisted that we stop again so he could tinker. This time, he showed extraordinary patience and persistence—and something else. He fixed it!

One thing I’ve noticed about God: He’s not averse to running the same play over and over again until we finally get it.

I hope we have.