- About Us
- Our Journey
- Our Dream
- Defining the Need
- Meeting the Need
- Vision, Mission, Purpose
- Our Board
ABOUT US | Steve and Jamie got married in 1998. Steve began ministry as a youth minister in Houston, TX and has served in pastoral ministry in four different churches in Texas. Jamie homeschooled their four children for 10 years and earned an Advanced Counseling Certificate in 2018.
While these are our basic credentials, they do little to tell you who we really are. You might find it interesting to know that we are both first-born children. For any of you familiar with birth order, you know that means we are generally reliable and conscientious. However, it also means that we have a tendency to be driven, perfectionistic, and achievement oriented. Both of us raised in highly active, church-going families means that you can add to our list of credentials a training to look out for the needs of others, be nice, and sacrifice so that others can know the love of God. While those might sound like pretty good things, it’s kind of a funny combination if you think about it – highly driven to be really nice and sacrificial. It causes a person to have to be somewhat covert about their perfectionism and people pleasing, but that’s another story.
For much of our lives, this skill set, albeit not perfect, seemed to work for us. Somewhere along the way, though, life stopped going the way we thought it should. All of our hard work did not seem to produce the results we expected. All of our sacrifice began to leave us dry, weary, and if we’re being completely honest, somewhat bitter and resentful.
Do you see what we see? The list of qualities above is not completely admirable. It might even be that as you read the list, you think we are not the kind of people that you would want speaking into your life and your ministry. That may be true, especially if you are one who expects perfection. I hope you will stick with me for a little bit longer, though, because that is not the whole of our story. Part of our journey has led us to identify, at least somewhat, with Paul in his second letter to the church in Corinth.
But He said to me,
“My grace is sufficient for you,
for My power is made perfect in weakness.”
Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses,
so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
~ 2 Corinthians 12:9
One of the things we are coming to terms with in our journey is that no matter how much we work and how hard we try, there always seems to be something about ourselves or the people around us that crops up and threatens to destroy our ability to accomplish our goals. While annoying and discouraging for awhile, at some point we were invited to wonder what God was doing in the middle of all that frustration. Why was it that the way of functioning that had always produced results for us was no longer working?
For the sake of time and space, we will leave out all the ranting, the crying, the counseling, the despair, the anger, the unexpected help, the anxiety, and the depression that were a part of the process of letting go of our old, no longer functional way. It was not so much that we were excited about learning something new but more that we continually were running into a brick wall. It was ugly and painful, and honestly still is some days.
Yet, in bits and pieces, we began to discover that God was wanting to make His love, His grace, and His power known to us in a fuller way. We began to see that His grace really is sufficient for us. We don’t have to know it all or do it all just right. In fact, the more we release our tight grip on control, the more we see that God is actively working with us and for us. While there are still a lot of ups and downs, we have begun to experience the truth we had believed in our minds for many years but rarely were aware of in any practical sense.
Some of the great discoveries have been that reality that God really does love us apart from our works. He is not a taskmaster. He is patient and kind. The blood of Jesus really does cover over all – failure, sin, shortcomings, mistakes – and has won for us the freedom to be childlike again, fulling trusting that the Father knows what tomorrow holds and does not intend for us to spend our lives worrying about it.
Maybe you have heard all those words before. We had, too. But now we have a personal story to go with each truth. These statements are no longer just words on a page for us, but evidence of a loving and active God who has woven Himself into the fabric of our lives – a God whose ways are often beyond our understanding, but whose character has captivated our hearts.
So yeah – we aren’t perfect, and it can be easy to pick out our flaws. But we have discovered a love that is more important than any of that. We love to help others experience that grace more fully as well.
OUR JOURNEY | By American standards, it could be said that we had a somewhat dramatic call out of our normal life of ministry. However, our story is not uncommon among followers of Jesus in the Bible and throughout history. Yet when God invited us to leave our life of public ministry behind and follow him on what we termed our “Trust Adventure,” it felt far from common even to us. We were accustomed to pushing through what was hard. While we didn’t love the dryness we were experiencing, we had chalked it up to the cost of discipleship. In some ways, it is what we thought we had signed up for when we took the call to be leaders in the church.
Imagine our surprise when we began to suspect God might not be demanding that we continue in our current context. Was it possible that He might lead us out for a time of rest and refreshment? Could He be inviting us to a sabbath season of not producing, but instead, of relying on the Lord’s provision and direction in a way we had not known before?
In an unfamiliar demonstration of childlike trust, we jumped, hoping that the Father’s arms would catch us. Steve resigned from his job, giving up a regular paycheck, health insurance, and participation in a retirement saving fund. In so doing, he gave up his reputation as someone reliable and responsible, and even began the process of surrendering his confidence in his own ability to provide all good things for his family and placing that confidence in God instead. I (Jamie) gave up my nice house, my beautiful possessions, and my identity as a diligent homeschooling mom. I put my feet on the path toward seeing myself as a beloved child of God and trusting Him to take responsibility for my children and their wellbeing (as promised in Isaiah 54:13). We sold our house, gave away most of our possessions, and packed what we had left in a 10-foot cargo trailer to be towed behind our Suburban. We hit the road with our four children on a journey to discover the gifts of God in an unconventional way. You can read more of our story here, at the blog we kept during that time. We recommend starting with the original announcement, which is how we let people know about the new journey God was inviting us to begin.
OUR DREAM | This page is a little bit tougher for me (Jamie) to share than the other pages on our website. Have you ever noticed that it can be harder to vulnerably share of our dreams than it is to share of our weaknesses (and the challenge of that is already significant)? Having the courage to give voice to a dream is especially difficult when the dream has taken so many hits. We can even tell ourselves that it’s ridiculous to desire something like this; yet God seems to have a special affinity for those dreams that He Himself planted in our hearts. They can get hammered, abused, and forgotten. You can even try to leave them in some dumpster along the side of the road as you declare that you quit. You’re done dreaming. But those God dreams – somehow they just won’t die. On second thought, maybe they do die, and then He goes about resurrecting them.
That being said, now I will risk sharing our dream. First of all, the place matters to us. One of the key things we do in our ministry is to cultivate sacred space. In our experience, disconnecting from pressure and encountering safety and rest is often easier for people when their physical surroundings communicate beauty, spaciousness, and an invitation to explore. We imagine Breathe Life Ministries on a piece of property with trees and trails, some sort of water – such as a pond or a creek, and plenty of space to get away from the bustle of life and people. We want the external environment to give a picture of the internal environment God invites His people to as we experience His rest, His healing, and His playful delight.
In addition to providing a place to get away, we also see this property as a place to gather. So many of us are lonely and isolated in our regular lives. We long for the simplicity of connecting over a cup of coffee, a good meal, a game of horseshoes, or quiet fishing in the pond. Sometimes we want to connect with others, but sometimes we want a way to reconnect with ourselves, with creation, or with God. As Dietrich Bonhoeffer says, the life alone prepares us for the life together and vise versa. We want a place where both are available and can be entered into at each person’s comfort level.
We imagine this property to be a place where some people live and work and others come frequently as a regular part of the community. In the book of Acts, the believers gathered regularly in each other’s homes to eat, pray, worship, encourage each other, and share of their gifts and their needs. We would like the opportunity to experiment with what this might look like in the 21st century. We like the idea of hosting larger gatherings at times for groups to come and experience the gifts and values of our community. We also see this as a hub of ministry life, where people come for a time to be refreshed, but then are sent back to live their calling in whatever context the Lord has for them. We see ourselves as living in this space only part of the time, as somewhat of a home base. We have a heart to go to some people where they are and walk alongside them in their ministry context. Maybe we would even have an RV someday to make this possible. We believe God may have ministry partners for us in multiple locations where we visit regularly – a home away from home for us.
If you pressed me for specifics, I would say we’re looking for our primary property to be in Texas – specifically somewhere northwest of Houston between Tomball and College Station. Though we would prayerfully entertain any other offer as well. We’re also curious about partner ministries and properties in other parts of the country (and world?).
As with some faith dreams, we’re not sure what to do with this. I’ll admit that the dream has already died and been resurrected once or twice. For now, we allow it to rest safely in the Lord’s hands, trusting that when the time is right, He’ll show us what to do. I doubt we’re the only ones with this kind of vision. It strikes me as being somewhat heaven-like. My heart cannot deny my longing for it, so I guess the most faithful response I know of right now is simply to believe. And to tell you. 😉
DEFINING the NEED | COMING SOON!
MEETING the NEED | COMING SOON!
VISION, MISSION, & PURPOSE|
- VISION | Every church a sacred space where real people with real needs, challenges, and dreams receive real help through the close friendship of God and His people.
- MISSION | Cultivating sacred space where the unfiltered life of a Christian leader meets the power and grace of the living God, overflowing with Heaven’s gifts to the world.
- PURPOSE | We cultivate intimate and community space for Christian leaders to hear and know God, receive His kingdom life, and overflow with His gifts for a hurting world. We do this by offering a safe, non-pressured context to vulnerably and authentically know your own unfiltered story and begin to share it with God and a person of grace. This honest knowing and awareness in the presence of God and another person is the geography in which the Holy Spirit breathes rest, healing and play into the life of the leaders He dearly loves. This breathes life into the Church. This breathes life into the world.
BREATHE LIFE MINISTRIES BOARD of DIRECTORS |
Stewart Harms | Chair & Interim Treasurer | Colleyville, TX
Stewart is retired from the U.S. Department of Justice. He served eight years in lay leadership at the church he and his wife currently attend. His positions included a term as Chairman of the Board of Elders and a term as President of the Board of Directors. He currently sits on the Board for Mission Administration for the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, Texas District. During his time spent in lay leadership, Stewart witnessed and experienced firsthand the intense pressures and stressors to which Christian leaders and staff can be subjected in the course of carrying out ministry goals.
“It was through these experiences that I came to embrace the need for organizations such as Breathe Life to ensure the spiritual and emotional health of those who have dedicated their lives to sharing Christ’s message with others.”
Deb Brazzel | Secretary | Roswell, GA
Deb has studied people for the past four decades, earning a bachelor’s in Human Services Counseling, a master’s in Organizational Development, a coaching certification and an advanced certificate in counseling. After 27 years in the federal government, Deb became a professional volunteer and fell in love with the world of Christian non-profits.
“Since 2013, I have seen such brokenness in God’s people, and especially among those called to lead. My heart is for leaders who were never supposed to bear the weight alone and I’m committed to the vision and mission of Breathe Life to be a place of rest, healing and play for those leaders.”
Sarah Anderson | Knoxville, TN