Sunday, July 31, 2011


Yes, it is true - I am the mother of a teenager. It really doesn't seem possible - I don't feel nearly old enough to have a teenager. It's strange how 12 sounds so much younger than 13 for some reason.

But my oldest son, Brock Howard, is now 13 years old. He turned 13 on Friday, July 29th. I remember his birth like it was yesterday. From the day he was born, that child has had a laser-like focus. He's still that way today.

I distinctly remember when Brock was about 2 years old. He was playing on the floor in front of the sliding glass doors that went out to our patio. That was when we lived in the condo. He had on one of those sleepers with feet and was happily building something with his blocks. The sun streamed in and gilded his blonde head. I remember thinking at the time that I wanted to freeze that moment, that I would blink and he'd be all grown up. Well, I blinked. He's not all grown up but in five (5!!) years, he'll be 18 years old. My job will essentially be over.

Even now, my job is lessening. When God told Eve about the curse of pain in childbirth, I don't think He meant all physical. Being a mother is at times bittersweet because the whole point is to work yourself out of a job. With each year that passes, my influence, my guidance will get less and less.

So far, Brock has been a great kid. He reads his Bible every day without fail and asks insightful questions. He has a heart for the lost and has lead several of his neighborhood friends to the Lord. He is kind to other people, even his little brother most of the time. He is respectful and polite (if a bit quiet and shy with adults). He has high standards for himself. I mean, how often do you have a 13 year old who blares the Canton Spirituals as his music of choice? lol He is so smart, he takes my breath away sometimes. The thing I admire most about Brock though is his self-discipline - probably because that doesn't come very naturally to me. From the time he was very young, Brock has had the ability to decide to do something and then follow through. I hope he retains that trait as I believe it will serve him well in his life.

Although very serious by nature, he has a dry sense of humor that catches you off guard and makes me laugh until I can't breath and tears leak from my eyes.

Time goes by so quickly. It is hard to believe that 13 years have gone by since Brock was born early and tiny. But here we are. I pray that I can be the mother he needs to finish guiding him to manhood. I pray, as I always do, that he will love God with all his heart, soul, mind and strength and his neighbor as himself. I pray that he will continue to love God's Word and study it. Brock is a blessing that I thank God for every day. Despite my lack of maternal instincts, God has blessed me with not one, but two wonderful sons.

So, welcome to the teen years, Brock. May God bless you and keep you through these fun but turbulent years. I can't wait to see what the years bring in the next 13 years!
~ Blessings, Bronte

Saturday, July 30, 2011


When I was a kid, I used to play down in our basement with my best friend, Karen. I remember how cool the basement was compared to the hot summer days outside. In fact, it was so cool in the basement, Karen and I would drag down blankets and pile them on top of ourselves. I always felt very snug and safe during those times. I felt somehow, like I was hidden from the world where nobody could ever find me. Of course, this was all an illusion since we were just underneath the stairs and anybody could have walked down them, peered through the slats and seen us. But nonetheless, I felt like I was safe in that cubby hole beneath the stairs, wrapped in the scratchy Afghans my grandmother had crocheted.

Fast forward to the other day. I was walking in Walmart of all places, looking for a loaf of bread. I searched up and down the aisles and couldn't find the bread anywhere. This Walmart had only opened up recently and I'd only been there once before for something completely unrelated to bread. Finally, I asked someone and they pointed me to the "bakery" section. It was a nook with shelves lined with soft loaves of bread in plastic wrappers proclaiming names I was very familiar with like Wonder and Aunt Millie's. Suddenly, as I stood there, surrounded by the familiar and comforting smell of starch, I had that same feeling of safeness that I used to get as a kid under my basement stairs. It was tempting to stay in that safe little nook surrounded by bread indefinitely. Don't ask me why a bread area in a box store made me feel that waym but it did.

It also brought to mind that lately, I've felt like I have been free falling. Circumstances and frustrations have given me the uneasy feeling of walking on a very shaky bridge, never sure if the next step will hold me or not. To be honest, it makes me feel very tired and weary. But amongst those shelves of bread, I suddenly felt cocooned and insulated from the real world, like its noise was somehow muffled.

As I made my way to the check out, my Wonder Whole Wheat Italian loaf in my cart, it hit me that I am always safe, starch or no starch. I am wrapped in the love of the Father who never lets me go and never leaves me. Not to mention, Jesus is my ever ready "bread" of life. Walmart is a strange place to have an epiphany, but I find God is just as much present in the mundane as the sublime, somehow transforming something daily into something holy. At any rate, eating toast has a whole new meaning to me now! :)

~ Blessings, Bronte

Thursday, July 28, 2011


This Bible study I'm doing, Calm My Anxious Heart by Linda Dillow isn't at all what I thought it would be. I guess I was thinking it would be a bit more warm and fuzzy. I wasn't expected to be challenged, convicted and prodded quite so much. But that's a good thing. I think, anyway.

She pointed out I Peter 5:6,7 in the reading and the homework portion. This resonated with me so strongly that I didn't finish yesterday's homework but just sat there meditating on these veres. Not only were the verses the author mentioned gripping, but the ones that came after struck me even more forcefully. Here they are:

"Therefore, humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, frim in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world. After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you." I Peter 5:6-10

Interestingly, the verse before this ends with "God is opposed to the proud but gives grace to the humble." Verse 6 makes it plain that we need to be humble AND give all of our anxieties to God. The word casting literally means "to hurl" which gives a funny sort of picture in my mind of me running by God, pelting Him with all my anxieties and worries. It seems to give this picture of anxiety hot potato - get rid of them as quickly as possible by hurling them at God who is big enough to handle them all.

The next verse tells us to be sober and alert because Satan is looking for people to devour. The words be sober in the Greek mean to be calm and collected in spirit. I've seen these verses before but suddenly, when looking at them all together something clicked into place for me. In order to be sober and alert about the devil so I can avoid being devoured by him, I need to be humble and not full of anxiety and fear. Those things - pride and fearfulness - make me a prime target for the Satan's attacks. They certainly don't give me a calm and collected spirit!

Even the very first sin took place because of both pride and fear. Pride that Eve knew better than God and wanted to be in control. Fear because she feared that God wasn't really good and was holding out on her with the good stuff. How many times do I fall into Satan's trap because of pride (it does come before a fall after all!) or fears/anxieties? Way more than I want to admit!

But the next verse tells me what to DO: "resist him, firm in your faith..." Faith is utter trust in God - not myself (pride) or in circumstances (fears/anxieties). In these verses, Peter is saying "yes, things might be hard and you might suffer but if we hold on to God - have faith - then He will do something wonderful in us.

The last verse gives us the results of not letting fear or pride make us an easy target. It says God HIMSELF will "perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you." Because I am somewhat of a Bible nerd, I had to look up those words in the Greek. Perfect means to render complete or sound. Confirm means to make stable, place firmly, set fast. Strengthen here means to make steadfast. Finally, establish means to lay the foundation. This presents such a different picture than the one that the devil is seeking to devour doesn't it?

I don't know about you, but I want to be the final picture - completed, placed firmly, steadfast and with a solid foundation NOT a tasty entree for the devil's neverending appetite! God tells me how too - be humble and giving (throwing) my anxieties to Him. I guess I better start working on my throwing arm!

~ Blessings, Bronte

Saturday, July 9, 2011


Lately, I've been coming up against the call I feel God has placed on my life - ministering to women through writing, teaching and speaking - and the reality of my life which is the financial need to work a lot.

I feel like I am standing, like the Israelites, on the banks of the Jordan River. On the other side is the Promised Land. I can see it and oh does it sparkle in the sun! But between me and the Promised Land is a raging river. It froths and churns. It does not appear to be crossable in any way. My meager attempts to build rafts or rig up some kind of conveyance to get across have been futile. Every time I try to get across, waves and rocks crash into me and send me scrambling back to the shore.

To be honest, I feel sort of abandoned on this shore with the promise seemingly taunting me from the other side. I feel like I did take that first step of faith by quitting my job last year with nothing to count on but God's call and promise.

Yes, God was very good to provide me with two jobs, but the time it took to do them (and the string of health issues I've had in the past months) left me with nothing to give to my calling. Now another financial burden has been heaped on my shoulders and it seems impossible to cross this raging river with it tied onto my back.

I wish I could say I had the answers to this. But I don't. I wish I could say I saw a way that God was making for me. But I don't. I wish I could say I feel hopeful and optimistic here on my rocky shore. But I don't.

What I do know though is that God is faithful. Always. What I do know is that He is bigger than any circumstance that comes my way. What I do know is that He is always with me because He promises to never leave me or forsake me. What I do know is that He has a plan and a purpose for my life and if I let Him, even difficult, seemingly overwhelming circumstances can be used to bring Him glory and deepen my relationship with Him. What I do know is that HE is the Blessed Controller, not me. What I do know is that nothing can seperate me from His love. What I do know, that no matter how it feels, I am overwhelmingly a conqueror through Christ. (Interesting that Greek word for overwhelmingly conquerors is the root for Nike and their slogan for "Just Do It.")

"But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able tosepearte us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our God." Romans 8:37-39

So, I can stand on the rocky shore and know that my footing is firm even if the river seems too big and wild for me. Blessed be the Rock of my Salvation!
~ Blessings, Bronte

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


"Contentment is not about our circumstances - it is about our heart." I'm currently doing a Bible study by Linda Dillow on the subject of anxiety and contentment. When I picked up the study, the idea of being calm no matter the circumstances appealed to me. Over the past several years, I have struggled with anxiety quite a bit.

Some of it is my personality - all the what if's that crowd in to my head, regularly make mountains out of molehills. But I recently found out that a lot of it had to do with some medication I'd been taking - who knew?

But regardless, my natural state is not calmness. My natural state tends toward worry and what ifs. I thought it interesting that in the very first chapter, the author tied peace and calmness in to contentment. Hmmm, interesting. I had not tied those two together in my quest for peace and calmness. I saw them as two seperate things - apparently not.

The verses she focused on were Philippians 4:11-13 where Paul talks about being content in whatever state he finds himself in - needy or prosperous. Strangely enough, just last week I found a blog ( a woman was talking about how God was working in her life to live more for Him and serving others than working on her savings portfolio. She specifically mentioned Dave Ramsey and how she wasn't going to be following his steps to savings.

Whoo- boy, did a "discussion" evolve from that. I mean, people were definitely taking sides and some were even taking cheap shots at the blogger, as well as, other posters. I felt badly for the poor woman since she was just wanting to share what God was doing in HER life - how He had turned her thinking upside down! Yes, it did come across a little bit like everyone should do what she was doing, but sometimes, it's hard to not get carried away in our enthusiasm and come across that way even if that is NOT the intent.

And let's face it, there are far more Christians who don't seem to even be aware there IS suffering or any different realities than their own present one than ones who shed tears over the persecuted, the hungry and the oppressed. But I digress...

After reading her blog, I was convicted to look up and out more often, to look for opportunities to share the blessings God has given me. This in turn made me so much more aware of all that God HAS blessed me with. I was also left with a couple questions from all those comments. Is it a sin to save for the future and have an emergency fund? I don't think so. Is it a sin NOT to save for the future and have an emergency fund? Again, I don't believe so. I was left with this answer: What IS a sin is to NOT do whatever God is telling you to do. The Bible DOES specifically say that if we know we are to do something and then don't do it, that is sin.

Anyway, the reason the verses and that blog collided in my mind was because as I read that Paul was content not just in humble circumstances but also when he was prosperous, it hit me like a 2 x 4 that God isn't in the business of blessing us to then guilt us because we ARE blessed. I think we all need to open our eyes to how richly we are blessed in this country and also to the needs around the world, but it isn't supposed to be another cause of anxiety.

Instead, it's another opportunity to trust God and follow Him. It is a chance to once again come face to face with the fact that "The Lord has established His thrones in heaven and His sovereignty rules over all." Psalms 103:19

Coming to God and realizing that everything we have is really His gives you a different perspective on what to do with "your" money - whether that is saving or giving. God tells us in James that if we ask for wisdom, He will give it to us, so I don't think God is up there trying to leave us in the dark about this subject. What a burden lifter to know that I don't have to figure it all out. I can ask for God's guidance in all things, including my blessings, and He will give it! And that is just anoher thing to be thankful for and a thankful, gratitude-filled heart is one way to find some contentment!
~ Blessings, Bronte