Wednesday, January 26, 2011


No, I'm not talking to my readers. I'm talking to myself. I am in the process of reading Job. I am between Bible studies and when I am between Bible studies, I work on continuing to read through the Bible.

To be honest, I haven't been looking forward to Job. It's not a very cheerful book, and quite frankly, I find it difficult to understand. It seems like nothing so much as the story of a shooting match between God and Satan, almost like Satan goaded God into action.

Part of the problem is that I have never lived in the times of kings, nor is the culture I'm surrounded in very conducive to the old idea of a king's champion. The culture I live in basically is very individualistic - look out for yourself and your family. It's hard for me to wrap my mind around the fact that all that happened to Job was to prove to Satan (and maybe Job himself) how faithful he was to God- no matter what. That seems rather unfair to me - here, since you are so faithful, I'll take everything away from you to prove how faithful you are. I know it was a huge compliment to Job, but I can't help thinking, please don't compliment me that way.

The thing I have noticed so far in Job is that, for a man suffering as much he is, Job sure does talk a lot. He goes on several chapters at a time, and he speaks very eloquently in verses and metaphors. Honestly, if all my children had been killed, all my wealth destroyed and I was covered in boils, I'm not sure I could articulate a sentence, nevermind string together several chapters worth of verse.

And his friends - man, with friends like those who needs enemies? I suppose you can hardly blame them. Nobody had that much calamity unless they were very wicked, at least that was the theory. It was sort of the golden rule of the day - do what you are supposed to and be blessed; be wicked and watch out. (come to think of it, we sort of have that mindset too, don't we?)

The first few days, they just sat with Job, suffered with him in silence. But then, apparently, they couldn't keep quiet anymore and they began to speak. And speak and speak and speak. What happened to conversation? These are a series of monologues, each more self-important and self-righteous than the last.

Elihu, the youngest of the bunch, held his tongue until the end, but when he got going - whew- 6 chapters and 157 verses worth of telling Job what he thinks. I think a good lesson to learn from Job is to shut up and listen already.

I know, I tend to want to jump in and give solutions or information to fix a problem. A lot of times, when someone is hurting, they don't need me to fix it for them or to tell them what they are or are not doing right. They just want someone to listen, to hug them, to pray with them. It's a good lesson to relearn - the more we talk, the more chances we have of putting our foot in it.

As Proverbs 18:28 says, "Even a fool, when he keeps silent, is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is considered prudent."

May I not be a fool and learn to just shut up and listen for a change!
~ Blessings, Bronte

Sunday, January 23, 2011


Over the past months, God has been taking me on a journey to set me completely free. After all, Christ said He came to make me (and you) free indeed. He also said the truth will set us free.

But what is the truth? How does that set me free? It all started when God gave me the courage to feel my feelings. For a long time, I was afraid to feel anything negative, especially anger. It felt wrong to me so I just stuffed it all down - preferably with either a cheeseburger or some type of dessert.

After I began to feel my feelings (what an interesting ride THAT was), God showed me that while feelings are real, they are NOT always true. I'm a woman - therefore, I feel and feel and feel and feel. In the course of one day, I could go from the top of the mountain to the mud puddle in the bottom of the valley. If I relied on my feelings as a truth gage, I'd be in pretty sad shape.

While I don't believe you can always control what you feel - for instance, the guy who cuts you off in traffic is probably going to inspire a spurt of anger - I have always believed we have a choice of what we do with those feelings. So, I began to learn to take them to God. It's made our relationship so much more intimate because you can't give Him your feelings in all their raw form without being vulnerable and open. I figured since David had all those Psalms doing just that, I was at least in good company.

But then God started showing me something recently. Yes, our emotions are real and are not always true, but we are not a slave to our emotions. We don't have to exist on some kind of wild rollercoaster. What I think about, what I dwell on - that has a very direct and heavy influence on what I feel.

As I said, being a woman and being who I am, I will always be a somewhat emotional person. I will probably always cry during disney movies (don't tell!). Other people's pain will have me tearing up. Looking at my sons' little tiny baby outfits will have me sniffling. But I don't have to be at the mercy of feeling up and down all the time.

How? By dwelling on truth. I don't know about you but I spend a lot of time talking to myself - not always out loud. Of course, that is another good reason to have a dog - people think you are talking to it and not yourself! lol But we spend a lot of time with a sound track going on in our heads, at least I do.

I need to make sure that sound track is truth. The verse God gave me almost a year ago now talks about not looking behind or pondering the past so I don't miss the new thing He will do in the future. The truth is, I can miss the blessings of today by rehearsing the hurts and pains of the past if I am not careful. Jesus wants the truth to set us free, but first we have to know what that truth is. We need to memorize it and know it and meditate on it, so THAT becomes the sound track in our head.

Let's face it, the world at large has an auto pilot of easy listening for us. We have to be purposeful about replacing it with God's truth.

I used to make a long list of New Year's Goals. I'd have categories and everything. The last couple years though, God has sort of just given me a theme or general goal to go with. For 2011, it is to know exactly who I am in Christ and then choose to believe it, even if I'm not feelin' it that day or moment. I pray that God gives you truth that will set you free this year too.

~ Blessings, Bronte

Thursday, January 20, 2011


I don't know about you, but God seems to bring just the right people into my life at just the right time - chance encounters that really don't have a thing to do with chance.

It's been a rough couple weeks. Last week, I woke up at 3 a.m. with the worst sore throat. I never get sore throats, so in desperation, I practically OD'd on airborne. It helped but I was still dragging all week. The long weekend came, and I took the opportunity to rest up. Then this past Monday morning, I woke up at 4 a.m. with the stomach flu. Oh joy. I mean, really??? I spent the Monday holiday miserable and in self-imposed quarantine (so far, nobody else has caught it - keep praying that they don't!!).

Meanwhile, I had deadlines to meet and work to go to. I called off of work on Monday, and was immensely grateful for Tuesday to get myself back to normal (well, relatively speaking). On Wednesday morning, I had a list of things to do before I left for work and was feeling a tad bit frantic. The kids had a snow day which usually calls for fun but that day felt like a major fly in the ointment of my to-do list.

I went out to walk the dog, to calm down, to talk to God. Honestly, I think God gave me my dog for the express purpose that I have to walk him and that gives me time to clear my mind and refocus. Hey, God used a donkey to talk to Balaam. So, as I was praying, I gave over my anxieties to God, my stress of two jobs and a third one that was due this past week, of being sick and all of that.

It still isn't automatic, but God is teaching me (and I will admit to being a somewhat slow student) to practice Phil. 4:8,9. To not just recite the verses but to put them into practice. I got home in a much better frame of mind and found out I didn't have to go to work! I practically jumped for joy that I got to stay off of slick roads and got a chance just to get caught up. It was truly a blessing.

Today, I had an interview scheduled with a lady who for no other reason than God told her to, went to Africa. What a wonderful time of blessing to not just interview her but talk to her and share her excitement for what God does in our lives. She prayed with me when she got there and when she left - I still get all excited sometimes and forget to start things with prayer (keep repeating to self - am a work in progress). I felt like God had visited in our time together. I felt so refreshed and energized after our time together and some of the things she said were just affirmations to things God had been showing me.

What really blew me away, though, was that God used me to encourage her. Apparently, the timing of my call for the interview gave her encouragement that she was to keep on with what she is doing. It gave me chills to know that something I did was used by God so somebody else could keep doing what He called them to do.

It reminded me strongly of the verses I've been studying for Sunday school - about how we are all individuals with individual callings yet we are all one body and apart of each other. Isn't that awesome?

I really can't wait to see what God will do in 2011.
~ Blessings, Bronte

Saturday, January 15, 2011


I was preparing for my Bible lesson for this week's Sunday School class - Romans 12: 3-8. Talk about feeling a bit over my head. After studying, I decided to look up some commentaries because I wanted to be sure I wasn't out in left field or anything. After looking at the list of writings, all with impressive credentials, I felt sort of out of my league.

Normally, I use the NASB version of the Bible - it's my favorite. My oldest son, Brock, uses a KJV. That is his favorite. Anyway, I picked up his study Bibe and flipped it open to the appropriate passage so I could use my Strong's Concordance to look up some of the words in the original Greek.

Imagine my surprise to see the very verse I was looking for underlined all ready. For some reason, it brought tears to my eyes. I think it is because I can see how Brock tries to live out those verses in his own life.

As someone who doesn't describe herself a necessarily maternal, I often feel overwhelmed and out of my league in the job of mothering. I also realize that I can only do so much - I can teach and guide and disciple - but then my sons have to pick that up and keep carrying it with them. It struck me rather forcefully not that long ago, that at 12 years old, most of my direct parenting is over. From now on, my control will get looser allowing Brock to make his own choices and sometimes mistakes.

It was a huge, very unexpected blessing to me to see how God is working in my son's life, to know that God is answering my prayers that my boys love His Word. I'm sure that both Brock and Brody will have rough patches and fall down on this journey into adulthood, but if they keep loving the Word, they can't go too far wrong.

Isn't it so good of God to give us encouragement along the way? I know I am so thankful for this unexpected blessing He showed me!

~ Blessings, Bronte

Friday, January 7, 2011


It's been a while now since Finding Nemo came out, but my favorite character in that movie was always Dory. She was a fish with short-term memory loss, yet she was cheerful and encouraging - even if she couldn't remember who you were. One of the little things she would sing in a tough spot was, "just keep swimming, swimming, swimming."

I'm afraid I tend to be a bit more like the dad in Finding Nemo - sort of grounchy at times and always looking at the worst-case scenerio, ready to give up. Without Dory, I doubt Nemo's dad would have found him.

This has been a somewhat tough week. I pray for things. God answers my prayers and I expect things to be easy after that. But they aren't all the time. Sometimes, the answer to our prayer is actually hard and difficult. That is what I am finding out this week - the week I started writing for the newspaper. Nothing has gone smoothly.

But God didn't call me to easy - He called me to perservere and He called me to excellence. It's funny (well, I should really expect it by now), that this week, the final week of my character make-over Bible study, is the trait of perserverece. How ironic - how totally God's timing. I can almost hear Him chuckle and see Him give me a wink.

To be honest, I approached this difficulty with my auto pilot response - which is to whine and complain. This is hard. So and so is being difficult. Why can't anything go right? (can you hear the whiney tone?) Today in my quiet time though, God gently showed me that difficulty is not always a bad thing. Sometimes, He even orchestrates it for our good.

The author challenged the reader to think of a difficult thing in their lives at the moment (it only took me a second!) and to think of three things I am learning or could learn through that circumstance. It was pretty easy to see the glaring lessons that I can learn through this.

The first is patience - patience with others. This led me back to my week on generosity. I need to be generous with my patience towards other people. Generous in giving them the benefit of the doubt. Generous in reassurance.

The second lesson is humility - humility in that I still have a lot to learn. Yes, I take pride in my craft of writing, but that doesn't mean I don't have a lot to learn and improve upon. This took me back to my very first week of study. Pride is something I think I will always have to be on the lookout for in my life. It can creep in so very easily in unlooked for places. It is hard to have to "prove" myself when I feel I should be past that at this point in my life, but I can either chafe against it or look at it as a challenge to live up to.

Finally, the third lesson I can learn is diligence to detail. It's not enough to just do enough. I need to push myself to excellence. I have the unique opportunity to help people - both those reading and those I write about - through my weekly religion column. I need to be sure that all the details are in place, that each sentence is polished to a shine. I need to push myself to interview more people than I think necessary to give each article depth, not just width.

I am not much of a perseverer by nature. I tend to give up and quit far too easily. God is teaching me that the easy path is not always the best path to take. Some great things in my life are hard and require work and diligence and yes, perserverence. Parenting comes to mind. :) The following quote in this study brought me up short. I think we put stock in things like talent or education when those are really just tools, not the actual answer. I realize that just "pressing on" in our own strength won't do it either. We have press on with Jesus, but the idea behind the quote really spoke to me. I hope it speaks to you, too.

"Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful individuals with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. The slogan "Press on" has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race." ~ Calvin Coolidge, 30th president of the U.S.

May you and I continue to "press on."
~ Blessings, Bronte

Sunday, January 2, 2011

WELCOME 2011!!!!!

Okay, it's been a busy couple weeks here with Christmas and New Year's, but tomorrow school starts, so the normal routine will click back into place. I thought I'd take a moment out and welcome the new year.

Looking back on 2010, it was one of the hardest yet most blessed years of my life. God has taught me so much. I remember back in January of last year wondering if things would ever change, and boy, have they ever. Some of those changes didn't seem too great at first, but I can see God's hand even in the hard and painful things.

I can't get over all the answered prayers and very cool ways God has worked in my life. It sort of blows me away. I have no idea what 2011 holds, but I know that God holds me, so I don't need to worry about it. :)

This week will be my final week with my Character Makeover Bible study. The past two weeks have been "Contentment" and "Generosity" which I thought rather interesting during this time of year. I love it when God is ironic. :) Contentment has been something I've struggled with over the years - not money and stuff, but where I am and what I am doing or not doing as the case may be.

But generosity and greed were not things I really thought I struggled with all that much. Quite honestly, while I think I could be a better giver (don't we all?), I don't really envy people their big houses or their stuff. We'll drive by some big mansion and my kids will say "Wow, what a cool house." My thought is that I'd really not want to have to clean that monster! lol Bigger houses and more stuff just mean more stress - to me anyway. I'm not saying I don't have things I'd like to have (a laptop computer comes to mind) but they are just that - wants. I'm fully aware of how blessed we are financially compared to the rest of the world.

However, God hit me with a 2x4 this week about greed and generosity in a way I never had thought about before. I have always equated greed and generosity to be about money and stuff. But it isn't always. We can be greedy about our time, our youth, others approval, and a wide variety of things that have nothing to do with money or possessions. On the flip side, we can be very stingy with things like compassion, mercy, grace or just giving people some slack already.

When I was reading about what we think we really want will actually bring us, a light bulb came on for me. I am greedy for approval. Being a people-pleaser is something I have struggled with for most of my adult life. I don't think it is a bad thing to be kind and want others to be happy, but when you get greedy for it, when you crave it, it can be a real problem. In that list I mentioned before, the thing that stood out to me was that I thought approval would bring me happiness and self-worth.

The truth is the only person's approval I NEED is God's, and I got that the moment I accepted Christ as my Savior. See, that is another thing that struck me this week - God approves of me - who I am. Yes, I sin and He doesn't approve of everything that I DO, but sinning is what I do, NOT who I am. Because Christ's righteousness is imputed to me, when God looks at me, He sees someone who has been made whole and righteous. I'm a saint. People who know me might be falling off their chairs laughing right now, but I didn't say it - God did.

This leaves me free to be kind and loving to others without expecting anything in return. It is a completely freeing and wonderful feeling. Every year, I come up with a "theme" for the year. This year's might very well be the name of this blog - Free Indeed and living like it!

~ Blessings in 2011, Bronte