Vow To Breathe

prayDuring my highly-distracted years, life was a blur—the to-do lists took over . . . my life was a constant mad dash to a finish line that couldn’t be reached . . . and my devices were gripped more tightly than the hands of my loved ones.

Thank God things are different now.

Now I strive to open my hands, eyes, and heart to the moments that matter. And on this particular day, What Really Mattered was on my radar.

Out for a morning run while on vacation, I spotted a helpless starfish sitting in a tide pool. I couldn’t remember the last time I saved a starfish like I did when I was a girl.

But on this day, it felt like the right thing to do.

I reached into a shallow tide pool and pulled out a starfish missing a limb. I turned it over expecting to see no movement, but amazingly its tiny tube feet waved at me. The starfish was alive—and it was fighting to survive.

“Breathe,” I whispered to the broken creature. “Breathe.”

Suddenly, it became crystal clear what I didn’t want my life to feel like. Here are the thoughts that went through my head that day—words that have become my daily prayer, my Hands Free mantra, my vow to breathe:

Vow To Breathe

No longer do I want to feel like I’m always running late.

No longer do I want to feel like I‘ll never catch up.

No longer do I want to feel compelled to rush my children through life.

No longer do I want to feel the brush of a hurried kiss on my husband’s lips.

No longer do I want to feel guilty when I sit down to rest.

No longer do I want to feel depleted and empty.

No longer do I want to feel like each day is a blur.

No longer do I want to feel half alive.

Instead, I vow to breathe.

I vow to look my children in the eyes and step into their world.

I vow to remember what my heart loves to do and then stop making excuses.

I vow to close my eyes in gratitude and open my eyes wide in wonder.

I vow to have face-to-face, soul-to-soul connection with the ones who share my life.
I vow to:

Read a book.

Dance in the rain.

Say, “Take your time,” and mean it.


I vow to:

Give a good kiss.

Leave a surprise note.

Do absolutely nothing every now and then.


I vow to:






And breathe.

And breathe.

So I can truly live.

It’s been three years since I made this vow. My journey has not been perfect. Sometimes I stumble, but I get back up by reminding myself that the to-do list doesn’t contain the most important tasks of the day. God’s gentle urgings on my heart tell me what I need to flourish and thrive—as long as I stop long enough to listen.

handsfreemamaTired of losing track of what matters most in life, Rachel Macy Stafford began practicing simple strategies that enabled her to momentarily let go of largely meaningless distractions and engage in meaningful soul-to-soul connections. She started a blog (www.handsfreemama.com) to chronicle her endeavors and soon saw how both external and internal distractions had been sabotaging her happiness and preventing her from bonding with the people she loves most. Now she’s written a book: Hands Free Mama: A Guide to Putting Down the Phone, Burning the To-Do List, and Letting Go of Perfection to Grasp What Really Matters! Order your copy today.



  1. 7 months ago
    Jen Pawl says

    My on again off again boyfriend tells me “Breathe, Jen”. And before I let Jesus into every aspect of my life that use to annoy me. And then we broke up again and I let Jesus in and stopped being the driver of my life and “Breathe Jen” became the only thing beyond prayer to get my through each and everyday. Now I’m the one reminding not only myself but others to Breathe. Its a beautiful thing just to stop and breathe. When you do you realize God’s got you and everything in your life so enjoy all the beautiful, wonderful and amazing things and people He has blessed you with.

  2. These are amazing words of wisdom that we should all as Christians be sure to remember each day of our lives. I fell into the same trap until God opened my eyes to it. Once I understood the magnitude of the problem and how profoundly it impacted my life everything began to change. I sold my data engineering business and began a Christian jewelry line called Speak Your Faith Inc. which encourages discipleship. I redirected my focus back where it belongs, on honoring God.
    Thank you for sharing your story as it will help change the lives of others.
    Anne Kelley

  3. 7 months ago
    Pat says

    What a great, inspirational article. We all need to do more of this.