Becoming an author was never on her ten-year plan. Instead, my wife Kirsten was en route to the corporate corner office, and she emphatically let me know about her goals even as I swept her off her feet with a fine dining hall meal on our first official date as juniors in college. Much has changed in the twenty years since we ordered Philly cheesesteaks and patty melts in Athens, Ga. After seven kids and sixteen years of marriage, we still relish a delicious quiet meal, although they require more planning and intentionality. Life is demanding, and writing a book takes enormous time and attention. As we celebrate Kirsten's release, I am inspired by her obedience to steward the message God gave her to encourage women no matter where they are in life. We have been nomads for most of our adult lives, living in five different states, two of them twice. At times this lifestyle was demanding, but it provided us with unique opportunities to do life with myriad men, women, and children hailing from every corner of this land. Kirsten's experience engaging with these women revealed some common truths. These women wanted to do life well regardless of their stage or scenario. Their deepest desire at work, in relationships, or in the throes of motherhood was that they wanted to bring their best to their people and their mission.
Secondly, as children multiplied and career responsibilities increased, each day became a blur of deadlines, diapers, and to-do lists, launching them into survival mode and sapping the joy out of life. Over the years, I remember moments when Kirsten's brilliant personality had become a gray shadow. She kept the plates spinning, but her countenance bore the marks of despondency. In essence, she wasn't breathing, and in meeting with other women, they weren't breathing either. Breath is essential to life. Without it, death is inevitable. So many of our bodies appear alive while hovering on the brink of spiritual, emotional, and relational death. Deep breath is the intentional pause that calms the noise so we can hear and see what God is teaching us in the madness.
Sometimes, breath is short for valid reasons. Frantic rhythms and fear of failing even inhibit our ability to smile genuinely. In Sis Take a Breath, Kirsten offers encouragement in the chaos and strength for tomorrow. She humbly walks through sorrows such as miscarriage and despair and highlights the power of community and deep friendships that carried her through loss and celebrated with her in victory. With the transparency and humor that I fell in love with, she gives practical advice on ordering life to limit the craziness. Women deal with an inordinate amount of pressure that is specific to them. Comparison is a cancer. What we see on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter is everyone's highlight, not their reality. Each of us has a unique journey, distinctly equipped with the gifts and talents required to accomplish our purpose. But when breath escapes, we cannot fulfill these roles, and others miss out on all we have to offer. Breathing precedes thriving. When we inhale God's Word, we exhale peace.
This book speaks to the heart of women and girls in a way that transcends individual circumstances and contexts. It is an essential read for daughters of the King who desire to love well but feel overwhelmed. Busyness and anxiety are hurdles to healing and hope. Family and professional life are passing by, and too many of us are missing the tender moments with colleagues, friends, and children because we are suffocating. As I read each word of this literary work, I was encouraged by these stories and equipped by this truth. It's time to breathe. God is using Kirsten to show us how.