2 Priorities for 2023

2023 is a week away, and I’m already thinking about personal challenges and goals for next year.

At the beginning of every year, many people make what we call “resolutions” that usually involve getting healthier or making more time for important things like family time or projects around the house. Many make spiritual goals as well, such as reading the Bible or fasting more. Of course, all of these goals are great, but we often get distracted by mid-year and abandon those resolutions. The older I get, the more I simplify my life. I’ve got a few small things I’d like to work on in 2023, but the two largest priorities I have and that I believe are essential for us to make every year are 1) spiritual growth and 2) financial security.

Let’s face it – the Christmas season is stressful mostly because many of us have maxed out credit cards or overspent our paychecks trying to buy presents for friends and family. And there are often other expenses that come due this time of year that add to the stress. Money seems to be on the brain more than the reason why we celebrate Christmas. Stressing over our finances takes the joy of Christmas away when instead of seeing the joy on your loved one’s face when they open their gift, all you see are dollar signs.

And it’s also true that when we’re busy with life, we can often neglect our spiritual health and relationship with God.

I made one major goal for myself in 2022 and that was to study the Word more in-depth and get closer to God, and having done so throughout this year has reminded me of the importance of properly ordering your priorities. It all comes down to stewardship. How well am I managing what God has given me? Am I saving money? Am I investing in the Kingdom both financially and spiritually? We should be able to look back over our life at the end of each year and see how God has drawn us closer to Him over the past several months. And we should be able to look to our future every year knowing that the present choices we’re making are to ensure future financial security.

Yes, God will always provide for our needs, but He wants us to be wise with our money – it all belongs to Him, after all. We have the responsibility to invest financially in our future for our own sakes and for our family’s.

“But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.”

1 Timothy 5:8 KJV

In order for us to be able to provide for our families and be able to give to the Kingdom, we have to start making wise financial decisions now. If you’re young, that might look like going to trade school or college and pursuing a stable career. If you’re a bit older, it might look like investing in your kids’ future needs over yours or their present wants. For all of us, making wise financial decisions involves having a good work ethic so we can earn raises and promotions, saying “no” to our flesh when we want to buy something completely unnecessary and ridiculously expensive, saving money consistently, avoiding charging everything to credit cards, and cutting out little unnecessary expenses that add up over the year (like weekly Starbucks runs or fast food for lunch every day). Regardless of where you’re at in life, it is never too late or early to start saving, spending wisely, investing in your future, and investing in the Kingdom.

If you take care of your relationship with God each year and make wise financial decisions, He will take care of you. Rest assured, your future will be secure, and everything else (where you’ll live, who you’ll marry, when you’ll get married, where you’ll be in five years, etc.) will fall into place according to God’s timing and perfect will.

In 2023, let’s focus on God and wise investments and see how He continues to pour out His blessings upon His people as we pursue Him more and spread this Gospel to the people around us. May the Light of Jesus shine so bright in us that it snuffs out the darkness and ignites our communities and families with the Holy Ghost!


Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all my Breathe Pray Repeat readers! I pray these posts have blessed and encouraged you this year. This will be the last BPR post until February as I’ll be taking a break in January to focus on some themes and direction for this blog in 2023.

See y’all in the new year! God Bless!


How to Be Thankful in Seasons of Loss, Pain, and Waiting

Being thankful isn’t always easy.

Most of us have lost loved ones or lost relationships once very valuable to us. Many have suffered financial hardship or emotional or physical pain. And there are those who are in a season of waiting for an answered prayer or who may be going through a spiritual valley. It’s hard to feel thankful sometimes when everything seems to be falling apart. When our thoughts and feelings dwell on our circumstances and on what seems impossible, we can lose a spirit of thankfulness. So, how do we maintain it or get it back?


What is thanksgiving, after all? It is the expression of gratitude and showing appreciation. And what is praise? Showing admiration or great approval. When we offer praise to God, we tend to move into a spirit of thanksgiving. We praise Him for what He’s done. We praise Him for who He is. Praise and worship are the keys to maintaining a spirit of thanksgiving.

Job lost everything but still declared, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him” (Job 13:15a KJV). Job’s children were killed, and yet he could still bless the name of the Lord (see Job 1). In his season of loss, Job recognized the sovereignty of God.

When you focus on who God is instead of your circumstances, you will find that praise comes naturally. How can we not praise God for all He’s done, for who He is? Because no matter what we may go through, nothing changes that He is worthy, that He is faithful, that He loves us, and that He is good.

Our circumstances change; He does not. He remains.

There have been moments in my life in which I lost so much. Perhaps like many of you, I’ve lost loved ones and relationships. And I’ve dealt with anger, hurt, sadness, loneliness, and all the various emotions that accompany seasons of grief, depression, and waiting. The words “just be thankful for what you have” are not easy to hear or adapt to your life when you can hardly get out of bed in the morning and when grief muddles your thoughts and leaves you feeling sicker by the day. But as someone who’s gone through some of those seasons, I promise you that turning your focus from what you’re going through to who God is will bring some joy back into your life. It will allow you to feel more thankful because you’re no longer putting your focus on the natural but on the supernatural. You’re no longer putting your focus on the impossible but on the one who makes things possible.

And God is always a good God, no matter how trying times become. He’s never left me, and He never will.

I recently came across a song (linked here) that speaks so much to experiences I’ve had, and it demonstrates the faithfulness of God. Just look at the verses below:

“I have seen a lot of things, and I’ve been a lot of places. I’ve seen people come and go. I’ve been through a lot of changes. One thing I can always say, You’ve been here every step of the way. I have heard a lot said and sometimes believed the wrong things. I’ve made choices I regret, and I’ve doubted Your mercy. One thing I can always say, You’ve been here every step of the way. After all these years, You’re still good to me.”

After everything I’ve been through, God is still with me. After the things we’ve all endured these past few years, God is still present with us. When we remind ourselves of how good He is every day, we can maintain a spirit of praise and thanksgiving even through hard times.

The circumstances in your life may seem to grow worse or more complicated year after year, but hold to the promises in His Word. He will never leave us, He will never fail, He works all things for our good, His promises are “yes” and “amen,” He will provide for all our needs, and His mercies are new every morning.

We have much to be thankful for.

“Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, And into his courts with praise: Be thankful unto him, and bless his name. For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; And his truth endureth to all generations.”

Psalms 100:4-5 KJV

The Reason Why Jesus Came: Reflecting on 2021

This is the last post of Breathe Pray Repeat…

…of 2021.

2021 has been an interesting year. For some, it’s been better than 2020, but for others, not so much. There’s been a lot of grief and loss for far too many this year. I know quite a few people who have lost loved ones, and my own family has been affected by grief after my grandmother and uncle passed away this summer. People are suffering, and just when it seems that burden has lifted, something else often happens to cause more grief.

As I began to reflect on this Christmas season and the mood many are feeling at the end of this year, I thought again of the song my church’s youth group sang for Christmas:

“For the broken, the unworthy, You came. Jesus, You came. For the wounded, for the hurting, for the lost, and for the lonely, You came. Jesus, You came.”

When I think of all the pain and loss many of us are feeling at the end of this year, I remember we’re exactly the kind of people Jesus came for. As Jehovah, He hadn’t experienced the same kind of sadness and grief and weariness until He wrapped Himself in flesh and became the Messiah, our Savior Jesus Christ. He chose to walk and live among us and suffer sadness, grief, and persecution ALL for us. When Lazarus died, Jesus cried. So, He knew and knows what loss feels like.

You may feel defeated, weary, and weak, but Jesus came to lift that burden and give you hope. Jesus said in Matthew 11:28, “Come to me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

We have hope we’ll be reunited in Glory with our loved ones who have passed. We have hope we’ll get through every trial and come out of it stronger than before. When the joy of the Lord is your strength, you can learn to find joy and gladness even in the midst of less-than-ideal circumstances.

Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.

Romans 15:13 (KJV)

As I look back over this year, I see a lot of sorrow and hardship for my own family. But I also see a lot of good memories. I see a lot of good people who have been there for us and with us through it all. I see how God carried us through our loss. I see how God blessed me with a job that I desperately needed. I can see the blessings of God even through the bitterness of difficult times.

And that gives me hope—hope for a great 2022 even if some things don’t go my way.

As you’re reading this, if you’ve suffered some kind of hardship this year, I want you to know Jesus came for you. He came to be your comfort on those sleepless and sorrow-filled nights. He came to be your strength when you can’t stand another day. He came to fight your battles against spirits of depression, infirmity, and despair. He came so that you might have life more abundantly, and He came to give you salvation and a future with Him.

Jesus, our Jehovah, had the first word in the beginning, and He has the final say.

This Christmas and New Year season, remember that you are never alone in whatever struggle you’re facing or battle you’re going through. Remember that you’re the reason why Jesus came.

And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.

Matthew 1:21-23 (KJV)


Thank you to everyone who has read Breathe Pray Repeat this year, and a very special thank you to every person who wrote a guest post on BPR! You are all amazing, and I’m so thankful for you. I hope to bring more great content to you in 2022 and more great posts from guests that will encourage you and draw you closer to our God.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


3 Things That Remind Us of The True Meaning of Christmas as We Celebrate

Christmas is almost here, and 2020 is almost over. I’ve been savoring as much of this holiday season as I can because this crazy year has inspired me to stop taking the little joys in life for granted. Crowded malls, ice skating rinks, and Christmas light shows didn’t draw me in prior to 2020, but now, I’m itching to experience new adventures with close friends and family. I suppose you might say I used to let my own life and various things get in the way of those “little joys” in much the same way I allowed the tests and trials we’ve endured this year to distract me, momentarily, from the joy of living for Jesus in a tumultuous age.

But isn’t this the way our human mind often works? We get busy, we get stressed, and we get distracted. We often allow the external world and internal pressures and plans to absorb our attention and sway our emotions.

How often—amidst holiday planning, Christmas shopping, decorating, and baking—have you allowed yourself this season to stop and think about the importance of why we celebrate Christmas? How often have you meditated on the fact that our God, who didn’t need to leave His Throne in Heaven, came down to us, wrapped Himself in flesh, lived among us on this earth, raised disciples, performed miracles, and endured persecution and rejection only to die an excruciating death on the Cross to save us from our sins before raising Himself from the tomb so that we don’t have to pay the eternal price for our own mistakes? Sure, many of us may have heard this message preached and have read it in the Gospels one thousand times, especially this time of year, but how often do we really allow ourselves to take time out and thank God that He came for us?

Life gets busy. We’ve got relatives coming over for Christmas, or we have to visit relatives’ houses, or we have to help plan or participate in a Christmas play, or we have to do all of these things and manage to keep our stress levels down so we, too, can enjoy Christmas day. The hustle and bustle often causes many to dread the holidays and long for Christmas to be over before it’s even begun, but we cannot allow the commercialization of Christmas to wear down our spirits and dampen our enthusiasm for celebrating the birth of our Savior. We cannot allow the true meaning of Christmas to become lost amidst all the planning, baking, gift-opening, gatherings, activities, and cute decorations. And so, to help you keep your mind focused on the real reason why we celebrate Christmas for the remainder of this week as you gather with loved ones near or far, here are three things you can spot around you that symbolize aspects of the true story of Christmas:

1. The Christmas Tree Topper

On top of our Christmas tree is a bright star that we purchased from Walmart a few years ago. We replaced our 20-year-old angel topper that I remember from my childhood. It was a beautiful angel–small and clothed in a simple white robe. It had blonde curls and a tiny halo, and its hands were pressed together and its eyes closed like it was praying. I have many memories of getting this angel out with the Christmas décor every year and seeing it lit atop the tree, looking as though it were silently meditating on the birth of our King as it glowed a soft yellow light. Now, our star topper glows with an even softer yellow light than our angel did, but nearly every time I look at it, I think of this line from an old Christmas song: “A star, a star, dancing in the night with a tail as big as a kite.”

This line is, of course, from the song “Do You Hear What I Hear,” which is from the perspective of various elements or participants in the Christmas story, but it calls to mind how the star in the east guided the wise men to Jesus. Perhaps as you look at your star or angel topper this year, it will remind you to draw near to our King and worship Him for His Glory.

(9) “When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.

(10) When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.”

~Matthew 2:9-10 (KJV)

2. The Gifts Under The Tree

Under our Christmas tree are gifts for each member of our family that we open each Christmas morning. In a house of introverts, our gift-opening is very calm and relaxing. I have the job of turning on our Christmas Pandora radio station on the screen for background music and pulling out the gifts from under the tree. My sister directs the correct gifts to each recipient, and then we wait as our parents open theirs first. Then, my sister and I open our stockings and other presents, and as we all gradually open our gifts, we smile, chuckle, offer gratitude, and make sure the cats don’t chew on the wrapping paper.

But we don’t give out gifts for our own enjoyment only. The tradition of gift-giving is to commemorate how the wise men brought gifts to the child-King Jesus.

“And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, frankincense, and myrrh.” ~Matthew 2:11 (KJV)

Perhaps the gifts under your Christmas tree are in gold wrapping paper or have gold bows taped to the top of each gift like ours do. Perhaps as each of us unwrap our gifts this year and watch loved ones open theirs, the gold paper and bows will remind us of the treasures the wise men gave to Jesus. Perhaps the gifts will remind us how Jesus gave His life for us. And perhaps they’ll remind us how we should offer up ourselves and our worship as our gift to Him.

3. The Nativity Scene

We’ve had the same nativity, or manger, scene for as long as I can remember, and it’s as well put together as it was when I was a child. In my own room, I have a manger scene and pictures depicting this scene as well. In both rooms, this scene is at the center of all other Christmas decorations. It wouldn’t seem fitting to place a tree or some other decoration in the center and leave the manger scene to the side. The manger scene depicts the birth of our King with other figures from the story of His birth gazing down at our Savior. It’s a mesmerizing scene to behold, reminding us of the miracle of our great God putting Himself in one tiny body as a newborn baby to live on earth and become our resurrected King. The manger scene captures the awe of that moment when His Creation, both man and nature, beheld the glory of our Messiah.

“And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”

~Luke 2:10-14 (KJV)

As you open gifts, devour Christmas dinner and festive desserts, and chat with loved ones this week, all you have to do to stay focused on Him is look around and spot the symbols that represent the birth of our King. You can pass around gifts and remember the gifts the wise men brought to Jesus. You can gaze at your lit tree and meditate on the star of Bethlehem or the angels glorifying the newborn King. You can glance over at the nativity scene and visualize the night our long-prophesied Messiah was born, the evidence of hope and light in the darkness for His people then and for us even now.

Our hope is in Jesus, whose miraculous birth we must not allow the distractions of this world to overshadow. Jesus is the reason for the season.

Breathe Pray Repeat will be on a brief break until this coming Monday as I celebrate our King Jesus with my family. Merry Christmas to all BPR readers and subscribers! I appreciate all of you and hope you have a wonderful Christmas celebration with loved ones.

~Caitlin Hale