Monday, March 21, 2011


The other night I watched a retelling of the fairytale, Beauty and the Beast. To be honest, it was only okay as far as the acting went. The story line was a bit far-fetched too, but since it was supposed to be a hypermodern version of a fairytale, I was willing to suspend belief a bit.

After watching the movie though I was struck by several things. First of all, the whole idea of this tale is to impress the importance of looking beyond the outward appearance. This echos the Bible because God said to Samuel, "Man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart."

As Christians, we know that to be true, but I know I often fall into the trap of letting first appearances sway my judgment or perceptions about someone.

As far as the fairytale goes, it seems funny to me that so many retellings of Beauty and the Beast exist. We seem to be fascinated with the idea of seeing beauty and worth beneath a repulsive exterior. Yet, if you look at other fairytales, the heroine of the story is always beautiful. Snow White wasn't plain. Cinderella didn't have buck teeth. Ariel wasn't chubby. So even though the tale is trying to give a lesson, the whole idea doesn't seem to sink very deep.

In our modern times, the idea of seeing beyond the surface seems appealing but how many movie stars have you seen lately that aren't beautiful. And the lengths that many go to achieve that polished perfection are truly scary! So, as fascinated as we are with the idea, we don't, as a cultural whole, seem to put it into practice much these days.

In fact, I recently heard something on the radio that I found deeply disturbing. This study or survey (can't remember which since I was in the car and couldn't really take notes) looked at the top New Year's Resolutions for 2011. For young girls and women, most of those included their appearance in some way - weight, hair, skin, etc.

In the 1930's and 40's, the top resolutions had a lot more to do with character - being kinder or more truthful. I think that is a sad commentary on our world today. Everything is at the surface these days.

The other thing I have noticed is that Beauty is ALWAYS a woman/girl and the beast is always the guy. Why is that? I mean, couldn't a handsome man look past the exterior of a homely girl and see the beauty of character beneath? Is this a judgment on men's character somehow? I know men are much more visual creatures but they also have character and integrity. Makes you kind of go "hmmm."

And the last thing that hit me was that if the lesson to learn is that outward appearances don't matter, why does the beast always regain his former glory? I mean, if it isn't important, why make the beast look great again? Why is the reward, the thing that caused the problem in the first place? Is it like the bonus and if it IS the bonus, isn't that going against the entire lesson anyway?

I'm sure the makers of the movie I watched had no intention of sparking deep questions in viewers. In fact, I'm pretty sure of it! But it did make me wonder how much I look at a person's outward appearance and how much I look at the heart (although I can't possibly really know another person's heart but you know what I mean). How often do I allow first impressions to color my view of someone? I would hope I am not swayed by outward appearances but I'm sure that I am.

It also begs the question - how much am I wrapped up in MY outward appearance? Do I put too much emphasis on it? The Bible says that exercise, while good, is futile; that beauty too is fleeting. A lot of questions for an average movie.

~ Blessings, Bronte

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


I've been reading on fb several posts and blogs about various addictions to food, caffeine and the like. There was discussion about whether drinking coffee was wrong or energy drinks or processed foods. It gave me a lot of food for thought (no pun intended!).

It came down to this for me - all addictions are a symptom of a deeper problem. If I want to stuff my face with a Big Mac, most likely it is more than a taste for greasy, fried foods. It probably means I am upset or stressed or some other unpleasant, uncomfortable emotion.

The one thing that was mentioned was caffeine. Now I drink one or two cups of coffee each day. I enjoy my coffee. I've gone several days without it and not had an issue, but I miss it. But does that mean I'm addicted to it? I don't think so.

Paul said that all things were permissable but not all things were profitable. That means I am free to drink my coffee and enjoy it guilt free. However, if I start downing it by the gallon, am so jittery I can't sit still or have other negative side effects, I need to start looking not just at the coffee, but at WHY I am drinking all that ooffee.

Maybe the problem isn't the coffee at all. Maybe the problem is that I am want to please everyone so much I can't say no so I'm exhausted and am turning to coffee to perk me up. Maybe I worry so much that I can't sleep at night so I need coffee to wake me up. Maybe I have an unhealthy need for control so I have to be in charge of everything so I exhaust myself. See? It's not quite so simple as the coffee.

The bottom line is that if you have an addiction, you have a deeper issue. If you don't address that deeper issue and find a God-way to fill that hole, you will most likely replace one addiction for another.

I've seen this happen too and have been guilty of it myself. I get so into getting rid of my addiction that I start to become addicted to/put my faith in whatever I am using to get rid of the first addiction. For instance, I know people who are obsessed with what they eat - and they eat healthfully - but it is all they think about constantly. I see it in the Prevention magazine I get - "stop cancer forever;" "never have a heart attack," or "live forever." Last time I checked all that stuff isn't totally up to me.

We can get so caught up in the "answers", that instead of putting our faith in God, we put it in a diet or a lifestyle or whatever. Maybe that isn't a temptation for you, but it can be for me.

This is not to say that we should not use some discipline and make good food choices so we can be stewards of the health/body God gave us. For instance, if you are diabetic you should say, "Oh I have faith in God's sovereignty" and then go on a sugar binge.

My son and I are getting tested for gluten intolerance. If we ARE gluten intolerant, it would be wise to cut gluten out of our lives to feel better. But that doesn't mean no health catastrophe will never befall me either. I am called to be a good steward of my body, but I'm also called to trust in God's sovereignty rather than my own understanding.

"Trust the Lord with all your heart, and ean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path." Proverbs 3:5, 6

~ Blessings, Bronte

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


Have you ever sought answers, but the more questions you asked, the more questions you had? That happened to me yesterday.

My youngest son, Brody, and I went to the allergist. The goal was to find out if we had food allergies since we both suffer from chronic stomach issues. Because we both have some seasonal allergies, I thought since we were there, we may as well have those done as well.

Well, 165 pokes and 2 hours later (did I mention I absolutely HATE needles???), I had an answer that begged more questions. Brody, apparently, is allergic to every plant that grows here in Northwest Ohio. I am allergic to fair number of them as well. Suddenly, instead of having an answer to a problem, I had another problem to deal with.

I would like to say that I dealt with this news in a serene, calm way, but unfortunately, I didn't. I am rather prone to overreacting. I also suffer from a guilt complex because I often feel as if all my health issues (which aren't really major, just chronic and joy-sucking at times) are a burden on our finances. It's not like my husband makes me feel that way, but what can I say? I am prone to feeling guilty. It's my nature.

So this morning I felt discouraged. Last week wasn't exactly stellar and now here we were with another health problem that was going to cost money. Again. Sigh. I started praying because honestly, who wants to be a whiney, complainer? I don't - although I'm guilty of that way more often than I want to admit! I told God how discouraged I felt and I really needed some kind of encouragement. I NEEDED Him to show up during my quiet time. I NEEDED a personal word from Him to help me to meet my circumstances with joy.

Now I realize that finding out you have severe seasonal allergies is not on par with truly horrendous news like cancer or a loved one dying. I realize that overall, I am truly blessed. But like pebbles piling up in a sack, my little things were weighing me down. I needed to know that God saw and understood and had a plan for me. I am a wimp by nature - what can I say?

Well, God made me laugh and cry this morning. I was doing my Jennifer Rothschild study, Fingerprints of God, and came across this verse. "Therefore do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying yet our inward man is being renewed day by day. For momentary light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory for beyond comparison." 2 Cor. 4:16,17

The NEXT verse I had to look up was, "But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves." 2 Cor. 4:7

I started crying because I was overwhelmed by God's goodness in meeting me right where I am at! Then I started laughing through my tears because how like God to use two verses that were SO OBVIOUS! The thing is I was so completely humbled and awed and grateful that God cares about my life and all the details of that life. It was just what I needed to BE encouraged and not weighed down.

The last verses in the study for today were sort of like that theme song in Rocky - I felt like I could FIGHT. I no longer felt like curling up in a ball and having a pity party. I no longer wanted to be a shrinking violet but a valiant warrior - a good soldier in my light affliction. I hope these verses sound as a fight song for you too!

"But my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back My soul will have no pleasure in him. But we are not of thsoe who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul." Heb. 10:38, 39

~ Blessings, Bronte

Thursday, March 3, 2011


Can I just be honest? March may have started off with a bang, but it wasn't in a good way. The bang, by the way, was quite real - I got in a car accident. To add insult to injury, I was cited in the accident (even though I really don't think it was my fault at all).

Because of the accident, I was over an hour late to my next set of interviews. So, instead of being able to have a nice cry, I had to be all adult and conduct interviews instead.

I got home just in time to make it to my doctor's appointment for yet another sore throat. Since I was all stressed out, my heart was beating erractically. It was so erratic that my doctor refused to let me leave unless I had an EKG. She said I could be in defib of some kind and have a heart attack or stroke on the way home. Yes, that kind of news is just the thing to get my heart to stop palpitating. Turns out, it was my normal weird heartbeat rhythm.

I got home and realized my editor wanted me to write a sidebar on the tradition of Lent. Um, okay. I felt rushed and stressed and my throat hurt!

It was just one of those no good, rotten, horrible days. But in the back of my mind, God's quiet whisper said, "Be thankful in all things." I was thinking, but didn't say, "You've got to be kidding me! This has been the worst day ever and I am sick again! What in the world is there to be thankful for???"

Then I remembered back to Sunday. We are doing a Bible study by Jennifer Rothschild called The Fingerprints of God. During this past session she told a story from the life of Corrie Ten Boom. For those of you who don't know, Corrie Ten Boom and her family were put in a concentration camp for hiding Jews during World War 2. Well, the barracks that Corrie and her sister were in were infested with fleas. It was awful as they were tormented continually, making sleep difficult.

Corrie heard her sister thanking God for the fleas and she had a hard time doing that and said so. Well, it turns out that those fleas were a gift from God - although an unusual one. They kept the guards out so none of the women were molested.

As I remembered that story, I looked back at the events of my no good, terrible day. Yes, I got cited but I wasn't hurt at all. I have major back and neck issues and it could have been a very bad thing for me, but it wasn't. My EKG was fine - there was nothing wrong with me that calming down and not drinking more caffeine wouldn't cure.

The more complicated my circumstances, the bigger God appears in them - if I let Him.

"Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all."

Even though it didn't feel like at the time, God's hand was on me and He DID deliver me. Realizing that, I could be "thankful in all things."

~ Blessings, Bronte