remember to breathe out

I have a tendency to suffocate myself. Breathing shouldn’t be complicated, but somehow it is. Somehow, I have a tendency to breathe in, but forget to breathe out.

I’m thrilled to have a guest post at (in)courage today. Here’s a snippet:

I am not good at everything. I do not think this is big news to anyone who knows me. It should not be big news to me either.

But sometimes, it is news to me. Because sometimes, I feel like I should be good at everything; particularly when I have spent a lot of time on the Internet, looking for inspiration.

Sometimes the inspiration I think I am finding online is actually suffocation.

I breathe in original craft ideas I should make, powerful writing I should emulate, tasty recipes I should cook, and stories of world travels I should aspire to. Then I breathe in again, this time fashion combos I should wear, profound quotes I should remember, educational activities I should do with my kids, and Bible verses I should memorize. Then I breathe in again. And again. And again.

I suffocate because I forget to breathe out.

Click here to read the rest.

contagious joy

As we shuffle our way from the car to the library, he pushes on me, anxious to get out of my arms. He doesn’t want to be carried. He wants to explore.

When we get in the doors, I put him down, and he takes off with a blissful waddle.

As he walks, he is caught up in his surroundings. The light is beaming through the windows and showing him the way. The ledge where the heat vents reside is beckoning him to climb up. The lines between the tiles are asking him to jump over.

Even the walk before we get to the toys is an adventure to my little guy.

As he explores, though, he forgets to watch for people. He bumps into legs of the man carrying his books. He cuts off the path of the teenage girl. Yet, they don’t seem to mind. The same thing that could cause a “hmph” or an angry glare if done by an adult, don’t have the same effect when they are done by this child.

Because when they bump into him, they bump into his joy. And it rubs off. It is amazing how contagious a smile can be.

When we get to the play area, his enthusiasm reaches a new level. He proclaims “Choo choos! Choo choos!” in a decibel not even close to the whisper requested for such a location. Yet the response is not head shakes and hushes; it is grins and chuckles.  

He sees a chair his size. His eyes become saucers, “Chair! Chair!” He giggles as I pull it close, then sits proudly upon his throne. The trains come alive and spittle covers the table as his tongue vibrates the “lmbpf” noises of a motor. As I look around, I notice that he is not just bringing the toys to life. He is bringing life to all who are sitting in that little corner of the library.

And slowly, I come alive, too. I catch the joy.

At first, the joy eludes me. The morning hadn’t gone the way I wanted it to. I was frustrated. The library was my escape. I see my son through those tainted lenses.

But finally, after he spreads his joy to enough others, I catch it, too.

I begin to see the wonder of a child who treats the simplest of moments as the greatest of pleasures. Who approaches old and ordinary places as if they are amusements built just for him. Who smiles at strangers and brings life to dead places.

And I wonder if this is what Jesus meant when he said our faith should be like that of a child. The faith to trust our futures to God so we can fully revel in our present circumstances. The faith to use our imagination to bring life to the world around us. The faith to look at the people and see potential community instead of potential rejection.

The faith to spread joy to a world in desperate need of a smile.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. – Romans 15:13

Have you caught joy from someone recently? How can you spread joy today?


hope and disappointment

I had a difficult start to my week. Why? Because I am a Packers fan. And the Packers lost on Sunday night.

I don’t know if you are a football fan. If not, you might not understand just how disappointing this was to me. The Packers were 15-1 for the season. There were high hopes of a Super Bowl appearance this year. THIS YEAR, the year I am living in Indianapolis, where the Super Bowl will be.

I’m not sure I have wanted a win as badly as I wanted the win this past Sunday. Which is what made the loss all the more difficult to bear.

Sports are full of wins and losses. And it seems that just as “the thrill of victory” tastes sweeter to the underdog who wasn’t supposed to win, “the agony of defeat” stings harder against those who were favored.

Sports can reflect a lot about human nature.

Low expectations are safe. When losses happen, they roll off our back, because we knew it would be that way anyway. When wins happen, they come to us as sweet surprises. High expectations are dangerous. When wins happen, we sigh with relief. When losses happen, they come to us as bitter surprises.

Crushed hopes hurt. They make us wonder if it is worth hoping at all. We fear being disappointed again.

Life with God is a story of hope. A hope that life can be more. Hope of forgiveness. Hope of reconciliation. Hope of love. Hope of an eternal relationship with God.

Yet, sometimes, doubts rise up. What if, when we get to the end of this life, we find out we were wrong? What if God isn’t really there? What if our hopes are dashed?

I think fear of crushed hope keeps many people from following God. But, Romans 5:1-5 tells us we don’t have to be afraid,

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

Hope in God will not disappoint us. That does not mean we will not have trouble in this life. In fact, these verses tell us we will. But, we can see that trouble through an eternal perspective. Trouble does not indicate that our hope is in the wrong place.

But still, how do we know? How do we know God is real? How do we know there really is an eternity to look forward to?

Because unlike football, life is not a game. A sudden injury, bad call, or dropped pass will not destroy our hope. God has given us a guarantee. He does not just say, “wait until the end, and you will be with me.” He gives us His presence now. He gives us His Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit is not just our conscience. The Holy Spirit is God’s presence. The Holy Spirit is the manifestation of hope. 

We don’t have to wait to find out if we have peace with God. Our hope is fulfilled the moment we believe in Jesus. The moment we seek forgiveness through Christ, the Holy Spirit comes to live within us. Our hope is alive and real.

* Photo Credit: Phil Roeder,