Breathtaking, the Revised Edition – Why It’s Worth Another Loo

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I picked up this book because I had read, and liked, the first edition. If you haven’t read the original book, here is a quick synopsis.

The original book (no longer in print), simply called Breathtaking , is a compilation of emails the author, Amber Payne, (then Metz) wrote while she was waiting for a double lung transplant. Only 19 at the time, Payne’s lungs had been so damaged by cystic fibrosis that she described her condition as, “trying to breathe through a straw.”

Payne actually came very close to dying and already had her funeral planned before she finally got her lungs.

In addition to the emails that Payne sifted through and edited – there were over 700 pages when she began the process of putting them together for her book – there are reflections scattered throughout the book from her friends and family. This was a great touch as it casts a broader picture of what Payne and her family went through during this time. The first book stops at Christmas 2005.

After her transplant, Payne went on to form a nonprofit organization called Breathtaking Ministries, Inc. She spent a lot of time traveling around the country talking about God’s goodness and sovereignty amidst human suffering – the main message of both her book and her ministry.

Fast forward seven years and Payne’s life has changed.

She is now married, and she and her husband are beginning the adoption process, since it would be too dangerous for Payne to attempt to carry and give birth to a baby herself.

Breathtaking, The Revised Edition features a new cover, a new prologue, and two new chapters. A new epilogue is written by John Payne, Amber’s husband.

What I enjoyed about this book was the authenticity of the writing. Neither John nor Amber Payne sugar coat the struggles they have faced in their lives individually and together after her transplant.

I particularly enjoyed Amber’s vulnerability in sharing how her “do,” or what she did, became such a big problem for her. Amber shares how she struggled after her marriage with a new reality that didn’t include traveling all over the country.  

In one particular line from the book, she said, “You see, somehow in the busyness of doing things ‘on the Lord’s behalf,’ I had unconsciously adopted a false belief that I was growing closer to Him through doing godly works. Instead, I needed to develop my ability to abide and truly rest in Him…In my mind, since the Lord had allowed me to live, I was here to be His workhorse until the day I died, ‘all for the glory of God.’ I was operating in a false gospel that propagated a guilt-driven and works-based salvation, as well as a vocational hierarchy that said serving in ministry was a higher calling than working a regular, nine-to-five job.”

It was refreshing to read that even AFTER God had done this huge work in Amber’s life - basically saved her from death – she still had real struggles and real issues she had to work through. Life wasn’t a “happily ever after” just because she had experienced a miracle. Life, with all its struggles and difficulties, continued after her transplant.

Overall, what I appreciated most about the first and now this revised edition of Breathtaking is Amber and John’s willingness to be transparent in this very real account of their journey through the Christian life. Amber and John don’t just share their lives on the mountain top. They share the road on the way up, and give us a glimpse of the road ahead, on the other side.

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Rosanne Bowman has been married almost 20 years, and is mom to two boys, ages 11 and 14, who she affectionately calls her “bottomless pits.” She is a writer, editor, and blogger at Rosanne believes passionately that God uses the ordinary to do the extraordinary and that there is great power in sharing those stories with others. 

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