All posts by Alison Cole

About Alison Cole

Alison Cole likes to describe herself as “a freelance useful person”. There are all kinds of people and jobs out there, but she likes the freedom to drop everything when someone is in need and go off on adventures to help out with new babies or anything, especially when it's supporting marriages and family! When Alison is not off nannying, she likes to occupy her time with drawing, painting and writing!

Breathing

How often do you think about your breath? Unless you have a reason too, you probably don’t think about it that much. Our breath is instinctive. Babies breathe. No one taught them how. I used to hate thinking about my breath. It made me feel claustrophobic. I mostly got over that though because I realized the great peace which can come by paying attention to the breath.

Why do we start with the breath? Why do we return to it often?

“Jehovah God breathed into man’s nostrils the breath of lives, and man was made a living soul” (Genesis 2:7). 

The Lord started with breath. He breathed into man and made him a living soul. “A living soul” Such a beautiful phrase. Breath is how the Lord created us and breath is the very first thing a baby does. But it’s not a one time thing. We keep returning to focus on our breath.

“To breathe into the nostrils the breath of lives signifies to implant the perception of good and truth.” (Interaction of the Soul and Body 8)

It makes sense that this happens at the beginning. We need the perception of good and truth right from the start. But it’s not something that we get once and are done. We keep breathing. We return to our breath over and over, re-focus. We can focus our breathing for things like yoga, meditation, or even singing. Breath is connected to everything, not just because it is active at all times, but because of how our emotions can change our breath. We think about our breathing when we are out of breath after exertion. Or we can be light of breath with excitement.

In the Greek, the word for breath can also be translated as “wind” or “spirit.” I looked up a few phrases that usually get translated a different way and plugged in the word “breath” instead:

“And my breath hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.” Luke 1:47

“It is the breath that makes alive; the flesh profits nothing; the sayings which I speak to you are breath, and are life.” John 6:63

“And when the unclean breath has come out from the man, he passes through waterless places, seeking rest, and does not find it.” Matthew 12:43

And in the Hebrew, the words for spirit and breath are also the same, and the connection between them becomes even more pronounced in my mind.

“Which were a grief of breath unto Isaac and to Rebekah.” Genesis 36:35

“Why is thy breath so sad, that thou eatest no bread?” 1 Kings 21:5

“The sacrifices of God are a broken breath a broken and a contrite heart O God thou wilt not despise.” Psalm 51:17

And the list goes on and on. What do these passages have to do with breath? There is a reason these are more commonly translated as spirit. But I like thinking about the other meaning of these words because of the connection of the breath and the spirit. It can be hard to separate our breathing from our mood. I said earlier that our emotions sometimes control our breath. But we can also have our breath control our emotions because of how connected they are. By slowing down and focusing on our breath we are able to shift how we feel and how we react.

Our emotions and reactions can change our breath, but our breath can also control our emotions. And that is why we return to it and re-focus. 

“The word spirit also is derived from respiration ; and in Hebrew there is one word for spirit (breath) and wind. There are two springs of life in man; one is the motion of the heart, and the other is the respiration of the lungs. The life from the respiration of the lungs is what is properly meant by spirit, and also by soul. This acts in unison with the thought of man from the understanding, while the life from the motion of the heart acts in unison with the love of man’s will, as will be seen in its proper place.”  Doctrine of the Lord 47

Becoming

I recently had a conversation with a friend about the kind of person you want to be, especially when it comes to finding a spouse. I don’t think it’s advisable to change to fit a specific person. But what about in a more general way trying to become the kind of person that the person you would want to marry would want to marry?

If you are a woman, think about the kind of man you want to marry and the kind of woman he would love; Become that woman. If you are a man, think about the kind of woman you want to marry and the kind of man she would love; Become that man.

That way you aren’t changing yourself to suit a specific person, but a kind of person. It’s about trying to become a good and admirable person.

I’ve been thinking of that word: becoming. Here are two different definitions of the word.

Becoming:
1. Verb: To undergo change or development.
2. Adjective: Attractively suitable.

We don’t use this second definition very much anymore, but I’ve been thinking about how linked they actually are. The goal is to undergo change and develop as a person so that you are attractive. Not just physically attractive, but actually attractive, inwardly attractive. 

But how do we become inwardly attractive? How do we undergo that change? Who are we supposed to become, other than somebody someone else might find suitable and attractive?

The answer is a simple one, though not easy.

“My friend, go to the God of the Word, and thus to the Word itself, and so enter through the door into the sheepfold, that is, into the church, and you will be enlightened; and then as from a mountain top you will see for yourself the goings and wanderings, not only of the many but your own also previously in the gloomy forest below.” (True Christian Religion 177)

Only from the Lord in His Word can we see the gloom in which we have wandered! Only from the Lord and His Word can we correct our footsteps. It is through repentance and regeneration that we undergo change and development. It is approaching the Lord and being the person that He wants us to be that makes us attractively suitable.

And the real end result is that we are becoming angels for the Lord, and so all the efforts we are making to better ourselves is ultimately for the Lord and His Kingdom. And not only is He creating a space for us to live in Heaven, but we create a space for Him to come and live in us now.

“The Lord dwells in what is His own with man, and man in those things which are from the Lord, and thus in the Lord.” (Doctrine of Life 102)

Little By Little

“Little by little I will drive them out from before you, until thou be fruitful, and inherit the land.” (Exodus 23:30)

Do you ever wish that the Lord would give you a sign? Maybe if you’ve read this passage you don’t think of asking for signs:

“A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign. But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.” (Matthew 12:39)

But maybe, like me, you wish some things would be more obvious, or something big would happen to course correct your path. Or you seek a big change. “Something dramatic needs to happen and then I’ll______.” “I just need this to change and then I’ll start _____.” Whatever it is, I think we are all prone to waiting for something. Waiting until January first to start a resolution. Or the first of the month, or the first of the week. Can’t stop and make a change in the middle of the week. Nope. “I will go off caffeine this week!” and if I drink some Tuesday, the week is a goner. Gotta start fresh next Monday. Can’t go caffeine free the rest of this week. At least that’s the way my mind works.

Continue reading Little By Little

For the Sake of Others

“Man is born not for the sake of himself but for the sake of others; that is, he is born not to live for himself alone but for others.”

True Christian Religion 406

It can be hard to see how your actions affect other people. I do something selfish but consider it relatively harmless because no one else will know what I do or do not do. But the point isn’t even getting away with something because no one will notice. Sometimes I really fail to see the point of bettering myself. How does running help the neighbor? If I sleep-in instead of going for a run the only person I’m hurting is me. And is it really hurting me? I could make an argument for it not.

Who do you change for? Well, spoilers, you’re supposed to do it because the Lord says to. You’re not supposed to change because other people want you to. Also, they might not want you to change for the better.

Continue reading For the Sake of Others