Monday, December 31, 2012


Before you faint or move away from the computer for fear of the lightening bolt coming to zap this post, let me explain what I mean.

Our purpose in life is not to serve God.

Are you shocked? Do you feel like just reading that sentence is akin to heresy? You aren't alone.

I don't mean that we aren't supposed to serve God or that serving God isn't a good thing. What I mean is that service is an overflow of our love and relationship with God.

Trying to serve God so you can be closer to Him is going about things backwards. When we love God; when we develop an intimate, close relationship with Him - then service naturally flows out of that.

God has an interesting way of getting truths home to me. In both a book I'm reading, Greater by Steve Furtick and in my Bible study When the Good News Get Even Better - this idea of relationship over activity was mentioned. In the same day.

Do you think God is trying to tell me something or what?

The thing is I often feel guilty - like I'm just not doing enough. Like, maybe if I work harder, run faster, do more - then I will be pleasing to God. In my head I know this isn't true, but old habits and thought patterns die hard.

But this is not a burden God asks me to take on. He doesn't ask me to run in a wheel like a gerbil. Instead, He invites me to come to Him. He invites me into intimate communion with Him.

He delights in me because I am His daughter - not because I did more than the next person. Not because I stayed up later, did more good deeds or had a longer to do list than anyone else at church.

This is not a "get out of good deeds" card. When we have draw closer to God, our natural reaction is worship, praise and obedience.

Ah, obedience - that too can seem overwhelming and too hard can't it?

Sometimes, obedience is hard. Sometimes, what God asks of us feels like stepping out into what can feel like thin air, but obedience is usually not one huge thing - it is a series of small steps that rolled into one, become a big thing.

Right now, I am reading through Holley Gerth's Do What You Can - which you can check out here

All God is asking is that we do what we can. That means being obedient, one step at a time, until He walks us to our promised land - a land where we sit at Jesus' feet, not run around frenzied and harrassed by all our "shoulds".

This is hard for me. Right now, I have a rather long to do list and I haven't even really gotten started yet. I feel that familiar sense of panic start to gnaw at me - You'll never get it done. How dumb - why didn't you get up earlier? That condemning voice hisses in my ear, but the truth is, I have the whole day ahead of me. I'm not behind and there is no reason I can't get the things on my list done. Satan wants me to feel overwhelmed and spazzed out because then, I won't do anything at all - especially not take the time to sit with Jesus, to read His Word and to pray. Which, when all is said and done, is the most important thing I could do today.

So, today, as you look at your long list of to dos, remember that God cares much more for you than your do.

~ Blessings, Bronte

Tuesday, December 25, 2012


I'm almost embarrassed to admit this at the age of 39, but one of my favorite Christmas shows is "How the Grinch Stole Christmas." I am an ardent fan of Dr. Seuss and am sad that my kids are now too old to give me an excuse to read his stories out loud. Besides the wonderful stories, I just love the rhythm of the words.

So, tonight, we were sitting around my in-laws' kitchen table playing a game, and the Grinch came on. Now, I am not talking about the Jim Carey movie, but the original animated version with Boris Karloff.

My mother-in-law had to keep saying, "It's your turn," because I was enthralled with the story.

If you're unfamiliar, the Grinch lives at the tip top of this mountain with his dog (who happens to be my favorite character in the story) and at Christmas, he is up there thinking very grinchy thoughts. He can hear the Whos down in Whoville getting ready and it's just driving him crazy - the thought of all the dinners and presents. The thing that bothers him the most, though, is their singing. They sing and sing and sing and their joy overflows, and since the Grinch has no joy, this is the most annoying thing of all to him.

So, he devises this plan to go in and steal Christmas. He goes down with a giant sleigh and does a reverse Santa - stealing food, decorations and presents.

The next morning, he expects to hear the wails and crying of the Whoville residents since he has stole their Christmas.

Instead, he hears them singing. The end of the story goes:

Every Who down in Who-ville, the tall and the small,
Was singing! Without any presents at all!
He HADN'T stopped Christmas from coming!
Somehow or other, it came just the same!

And the Grinch, with his grinch-feet ice-cold in the snow,
Stood puzzling and puzzling: "How could it be so?
It came without ribbons! It came without tags!
"It came without packages, boxes or bags!"
And he puzzled three hours, `till his puzzler was sore.
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before!
"Maybe Christmas," he thought, "doesn't come from a store.
"Maybe Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more!"

And what happened then...? Who-ville they say
That the Grinch's small heart
Grew three sizes that day!
And the minute his heart didn't feel quite so tight,
He whizzed with his load through the bright morning light
And he brought back the toys! And the food for the feast!
And he...

The Grinch carved the roast beast!

I love this story because Christmas really IS more than presents and food and decorations. It's more than just a fuzzy feeling and a Hallmark celebration.

Christmas is ultimately about love. God's love for us. Sending His Son to earth to be a human baby - the Prince of heaven had only a animal food trough for his first bed. Love that caused heaven to come to earth in the form of Jesus.

Don't get me wrong - I appreciate the gifts, the great food, the pretty decorations and the warm, fuzzy feelings, but even if there was none of that, I'd still know I was loved because Jesus was sent not just for the world, but for me.

So, yes, Mr. Grinch - Christmas doesn't come from a store. It really does mean a whole lot more!

Merry Christmas - I hope you feel God's love for you today.
~ Blessings, Bronte

Sunday, December 23, 2012


Today, I stepped into my Sunday school class, and there was a gift bag and a giant wrapped thing that sort of looked like a wrapped fruit basket.

I thought, "Hmmm."

As the ladies drifted into class, the pile grew as several added to the collection. I started off with a small devotional and we took prayer requests. All the while, I was peering around this small mountain of gifts and bags.

Eventually, I was told, the gifts were for me! My sweet cousin-in-law, Cindy, who is in my class, had organized it all.

The class was asked to bring in things that were either their favorites they wanted to share OR something that was one of my favorites. Cindy told me that she had told them there wasn't any kind of dollar amount and it didn't have to be a lot - just a token.

Well, they went WHOLE HOG!!!

I'm not often speechless - I think I can remember maybe two other times when I've been struck dumb - but today I was.

As I opened the bags and read the sweet notes and cards, my eyes misted and my nose burned and I felt perilously close to tears. Inside those bags and the big basket were chocolates (Lindt truffles - my favorites!), 5 boxes of tea, several pairs of fuzzy socks, candles, lotions and shower gels, books, a movie, 2 pairs of earrings, several coffee mugs with cute plaques, a handcrafted purse and several other things I can't remember right off the top of my head. There were even a couple items for my dog! (everyone knows I love my pupster!)

To say I was overwhelmed by their thoughtfulness and generosity is an understatement. While I appreciated each of those gifts, what I appreciated even more was the thoughts behind them.

Long after the last truffle is eaten (sooner than I thought since my family members seem love them too!) and the last bit of lotion is rubbed in, I'll still have the cards and notes from each of the dear women in my class.

To be honest, I love to teach Sunday school because I love to teach God's Word. I'm always so excited when God shows me something and I can't wait to share it with someone else, so being able to teach Sunday school gives me a chance to do what I love. It's a blessing and a privilege to me, and it doesn't really feel like work at all.

So, I am doubly blessed to know that the ladies who come every week enjoy the class too. I'm humbled to know that our class is blessing them in some way, too.

So, while I plan on enjoying the truffles and tea and various other goodies I was given, what means the most to me is the thoughts behind those gifts. I know for some of those women, it was a financial sacrifice to buy another gift.

It's a lesson to me that generosity, in whatever form, is never a mistake. You can't be too kind. You can't be too generous.

A generous heart is the true gift behind the present.

This is a season of presents, and it can be really easy to get caught up in buying a big enough gift or a certain number of presents. For me, though, the thing that means the most is that someone took the time and effort to get me something I would like or enjoy.

It really IS the thought that counts.

I guess the whole idea of Christmas is built on the idea of a carefully thought out gift - Jesus Christ coming to earth as a baby. As I opened all my gifts today, I kept thinking about God carefully planning out His gift to not just all of mankind, but to me. Jesus come to earth as a man - now that was true generosity!

~ Blessings, Bronte

Friday, December 14, 2012


That's the only way I can describe my feelings at the moment - brokenhearted. When I read about the shootings today, I cried. I wasn't the only one. Seasoned news anchors choked up on air, and the President couldn't get all of his prepared statement out - as a dad I'm sure he was thinking of his own daughters.

I've tried several times to write about what happened today at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Nothing comes out right - my words are inadequate and trite in the face of such a tragedy.

What do you say about a horror of this magnitude? My mind can't wrap itself around the fact that a 20-year-old man went into a school and opened fire on a kindergarten classroom. Who does something like that? Well, I guess I know the answer to that - someone who is very ill and broken because nobody in their right mind would do something like this.

It makes me angry and sad and sick all at the same time. I wish there was something I could do to comfort the grieving families, but there isn't really. Nothing I can say or do will take away their pain and loss. Nothing anyone can do can bring their child back to them.

This morning, their arms were full. Tonight, they are empty. There will be empty rooms filled with dolls and trucks that nobody will play with. There will be an empty chair at the table. Christmas gifts that were bought, won't ever be opened.

It's difficult to wrap my mind around a loss of that magnitude. I wish, in this space, I could offer up an explanation as to why God allowed this to happen, but I can't.

Life in our fallen world is often difficult and hard and sometimes, like today, tragic. So, I have to go back to what I DO know because God never changes - no matter what is happening around us.

I know God is good.
I know God loves each of those children beyond our imagining.
I know God grieves with each family.
I know God is gracious and compassionate and full of mercy.
I know God will not leave us or abandon us.
I know God is ever ready source of help during any trouble.
I know God will use even something horrible like this for good, if we let Him.

"The Lord is near to the broken hearted, and He saves those who are crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous but the Lord delivers him out of them all." ~ Psalms 34:18, 19

I will be praying for all those who lost someone today, and for all the kids, teachers, first responders, and others who will forever be touched by what they saw and experienced today. I will also be praying for the family of the shooter. I can't imagine their thoughts and feelings and loss either.

~ Blessings, Bronte


Have you ever stood in the shampoo aisle and looked at the huge variety of choices and felt sort of stumped? Like, should I go for shiny hair or maybe bouncy hair or should I emphasize my curls or maybe build volume? The thing is, if you flip over those bottles, despite the grandiose promises on the packaging, almost all of them have very similar ingredients. The choices are a lot narrower than they appear at first glance.

If you recall, I shared that I was chosen to participate in Holley Gerth's God-sized Dream Team. If you don't, you can read about it here.

I still feel overwhelmed by all the choices.

Just like the shampoo aisle though, the mirage of lots of choices is just that - a mirage. Why? Because it all comes down to answering this question - am I will to take the next step of obedience?

That's the real choice.

I know five year plans are popular, but if you'll notice, God doesn't really give anyone a five year plan in the Bible.

In fact, there is an alarming lack of details in the calls God placed on peoples' lives recorded in Scripture. At least, alarming to me. ;)

Abraham was told to just go. God didn't tell him where - just to a land God would show him. The man did not even get a north, south or west direction - just go.

Joseph had a great vision of what his life would be, but then he was thrown into a pit; sold into slavery; languished in jail for a crime he didn't commit and when he helped someone else, was forgotten for more years in that same jail. God never explained these events to Joseph while he was going through them or how this was supposed to all work out with that early vision.

Moses and the children of Israel were led BY GOD to the edge of the Red Sea, only to find the Egyptians hot on their trail. That probably didn't seem like a really good decision when they saw the seemingly impenetrable wall of water on one side and angry Egyptians intent on their annihilation on the other.

God always knows His plans for us, but He doesn't seem very big on giving us the details. He just asks us to put aside our fears and obey. The results are up to Him - our only job is to step out in faith and obedience.

You'll notice that when the priests were told to walk into the raging Jordan River when they crossed over into the Promised Land, the waters didn't part until their feet hit the water. If they would have stayed on the shore, fingers clinging to the rocks for safety, waiting for things to be "safe," they would have never gotten across - never entered their Promised Land.

God has a disconcerting habit of not revealing the next step until we take the first one.

So, while I still feel somewhat overwhelmed by which direction I should go toward my God-sized dream or really what that encompasses besides just writing, my choice is really quite simple: will I obey or will I allow feeling overwhelmed to paralyze me with the fear of choosing incorrectly?

God has graciously allowed me to be part of a team of other dreamers - I believe to help me along the path and narrow my focus on what HE has in store for me. But in order to fully realize His plans for me, I have to pry my fingers off the rocks on the shore and step into the churning water. Only then will my path be made clear.

I'll leave you with a couple quotes that God's used to speak to me lately. I hope they encourage you too.

"Give yourself fully to God. He will use you to accomplish great things on the condition that you believe much more in His love than your own weaknesses."
~ Mother Teresa

"Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows; it empties today of its strengths. "
~ Corrie Ten Boom

"A ship in harbor is safe, but that's not what ships are made for." ~ Unknown

Where is God asking you to set sail to? Are you still anchored at the shore?
~ Blessings, Bronte

p.s. I'm not sure how many blogs I'll be posting here in December, as I am going to be overhauling my blog and may move to Wordpress. All part of that process! :)

Monday, December 10, 2012

RACHAEL - never enough

While Leah longed for her husband Jacob to love her, Rachel just longed for more. Throughout the account of her life, it seems that Rachel was never satisfied with what she had.

Numerous times in the Genesis account of Jacob and his wives, it states that Jacob loved Rachel.

It never says Rachel loved Jacob, though.

Rachel grew up as the beauty of the family. Jacob married her only a week after her older sister Leah and then worked seven MORE years for her.

So, Rachel had beauty. She had Jacob's love, but it wasn't enough for her. Leah was having baby after baby, but Rachel's arms were empty.

I would have a lot more sympathy for Rachel if not for the sentence,"Now when Rachel saw that she bore Jacob no children, she became jealous of her sister."

In other words, Rachel wanted children, but her reason wasn't to have a baby of her own. Her purpose was to one up her sister. You know, her sister whose husband didn't love her. The sister whose husband Rachel had married a scant week after Leah had gotten married.

She goes to Jacob and says, "Give me children, lest I die." Dramatic much?

Jacob gets understandably angry. What she is asking is beyond his capability - I'm sure he was doing his part, but he rightly says that only GOD can give children. It's the only time it states that Jacob was angry at Rachel.

In her desire to have children - and remember that children gave a woman status and Rachel was feeling her lack of status due to her barrenness rather keenly - she gave her maid Bilhah to Jacob.

We get a deeper glimpse of Rachel's character in the names she gives the two sons that Bilhah bears. The first one she names Dan which means vindication, and the second son she names Naphatali which means wrestling. She says, "With mighty wrestlings I have wrestled with my sister and I have indeed prevailed."

It doesn't really sound like her motive was a longing for a baby. No, Leah had something that she didn't have, and Rachel couldn't rest until she had a few children of her own, too.

Then comes that bizarre mandrake story again. She trades the favors of her husband to Leah for mandrakes in the hopes of becoming pregnant. It's fairly obvious that she holds her husbands love lightly. I can assure you, that if Rachel had truly loved Jacob she would not have made that deal.

It's not until Leah has two more children that Rachel finally has her first son, Joseph.

Even then, she is not content. Joseph means, Jehovah has added. In the verse, she says, "May the Lord give me another son." She has one son but that isn't enough. She wants more. She wants to compete with Leah who by this time has had 6 sons and a daughter.

At this point and time, Jacob has had enough of working for his father in law and the family makes plans to leave. Fearing that his father in law won't be very keen on him going, Jacob sneaks his family out during the night.

How a man with 4 wives, 11 children and hoards of livestock thought he was going to sneak out at night without anyone noticing is beyond me, but Jacob gives it a try.

Laban comes after him and they call a truce, but then Laban comes out with the zinger - who stole our household gods or teraphim.

Jacob rashly says that nobody has stolen anything and if Laban finds the gods on anyone there, he can kill them.

What Jacob doesn't know is that Rachel had taken the household gods with her.

Lest you think that Rachel was overcome by nostalgia or that she was a religious fanatic, let me assure you this was not the case. Whoever had the household gods got the lion's share of the inheritance - even if it was a son in law.

So, Rachel, not content with the current financial status of her husband decided she needed to add to it by stealing the teraphim.

When her father gets to her, she greets him sweetly and respectfully and then tells him that she can't rise because her woman's time was upon her.

In other words - I can't get up because I have my period. You can bet her dad beat a hasty retreat and didn't press the issue. What he didn't know was that Rachel was sitting on the teraphim. Laban left, still baffled as to the disappearance of his gods.

Rachel has no idea that her words at the beginning of Genesis 30 prove to be prophetic. She died giving birth to her second son, who she called Ben-oni which means son of sorrow but Jacob renamed him Benjamin which means son of my right hand (a little better handle than son of my sorrow).

While God did great things through Joseph, Rachel never saw it.

Rachel had many blessings in her life, but she was never happy with what she had. She spent of her life wanting what she didn't have. It affected her relationship with her husband, with her sister and almost got her killed at the hands of her father. Eventually, Rachel did die - in childbirth because she wanted more children to even the score between herself and her sister Leah.

It wasn't enough for her that she held her husband's heart; it appears she didn't want Leah to have any advantages over her.

While it's easy for me to point my finger and shake my head in disapproval, how many times do I want what I don't have? How many times do I allow discontent to creep into my life? It can become such a habit, I'm not even aware of how negative I've become until suddenly, I hear myself and wince.

Rachel's life could have been far different if she had taken the time to be thankful instead of wasting her life longing for what she didn't have.

Are you thankful or are you allowing discontent to rob you of your daily joy?
~ blessings, Bronte

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

LEAH - the unwanted wife

Anyone who says that the Bible is bland and boring has not read it lately - particularly the Old Testament. One story that would have made it onto Jerry Springer is the story of Jacob, Rachel and Leah - the original love triangle. Throw in a couple concubines and things really get interesting.

In my previous post, I wrote about Rebekah who was the mother of Jacob, and if you remember, she sent him to her brother Laban under the pretext of finding a wife - although really, it was to let Esau cool down from his murderous rage.

When Jacob arrived at his Uncle Laban's, one of the first people he saw was Rachel. She is described as being beautiful in face and form, and when Jacob saw her, he fell hard for his cousin.

He also had another cousin, Rachel's older sister Leah. Leah is described as having weak eyes. There are a variety of explanations of what that means - anything from her being cross-eyes or near-sighted, to her having light eyes which were not considered beautiful in that culture. Whatever it means, her sister Rachel was considered the beauty in the family, and Jacob didn't look twice at Leah.

After he had been staying with Laban about a month, Laban asked offered him wages because Jacob had been working for free up to this point. Jacob offers to work 7 years to marry Rachel. The Bible says that he loved her so much, it only seemed like a few days to him.

When the seven years were up, Jacob immediately went to Laban. I imagine that Jacob had been marking off the days, and on the very one that his agreement was completed he sought out his uncle and demanded his wages - in other words Rachel.

Laban says "Sure thing," and organizes a wedding feast. In those days, a wedding would go on for a week - full of food, wine and song. It was also the custom in those days to heavily veil the bride. So, Jacob weds his bride. They attend the feast where much wine was probably flowing - perhaps Jacob imbibed a little more than he should have.

In the morning, imagine Jacob's shock when he realizes he spent his wedding night, not with Rachel, but with her older sister Leah. To say he was furious is a massive understatement. He demands of dear old Uncle Laban why he has tricked him. Laban answers quite calmly that the custom is to marry the older daughter first - probably shrugging his shoulders as if to say, what can you do?

As a side note - anybody else find the irony here interesting? Jacob tricks his dad that he's Esau, and then Laban tricks Jacob by passing off his older daughter as the younger. While I feel sorry for Leah, I'm not quite as sympathetic toward Jacob. He sort of had it coming, kwim.

Laban tells Jacob to give Leah her marriage week and then he can marry Rachel - for which he has to work another seven years. So, within an eight day period, Jacob has two wives - one he had wanted and one he didn't.

In Genesis 29, which records the whole story, it says that Jacob loved Rachel more than Leah. It also says that God saw that Leah was unloved. In the Hebrew, the word unloved is sane and it actually means "to be hated."

Apparently, Jacob didn't hate Leah too much because she has four sons in quick succession. Each one reflects her desire to be loved by her husband. Their names and her thoughts on each occasion breaks my heart a little each time.

Her first son she named Reuben which means "behold a son." In ancient culture, giving birth to a son conveyed a lot of status. For Leah, though, she hoped that by giving her husband a son, she could earn his love.

Her second son was named Simeon which means "heard." She states that God saw that she was unloved and gave her a second son because of it.

Her third son is named Levi which means "joined to." She has sort of given up on the idea of being loved, but she is hoping that having a third son will at least bond her husband to her.

By her fourth son - Judah meaning "praised" - her focus has shifted from trying to gain her husband's love to praising God for the blessing of having four sons.

At this point, Leah stops bearing. In the original Hebrew, "stopped bearing" has an interesting translation. It means "to take one's stand." I have no idea what this means in the context of the story, but it seems to point to more than her body just simply stopped conceiving.

In Genesis 30, Leah gives her maid Zilpah to Jacob. She did this mostly because her sister Rachel had given HER maid to Jacob. There was a definite rivalry between the sisters. Leah was not the favored wife, even though she was the first wife and she gave Jacob six sons and one daughter.

Leah was very aware of her non-favored status. In chapter 30, there is the bizarre story of the mandrakes. Mandrakes were used in ancient culture as both an aphrodisiac and for fertility. In reality, they have narcotic properties - something similar to ecstasy from what I read. Leah's son Reuben found some in a field that had been harvested for wheat. The root had probably been pulled up during the harvesting process.

He runs to give them to his mother. Rachel sees them and pleads to have them since she is still barren. Leah's words to her say volumes. She basically says, It's no small thing that you've married or snatched away my husband, but now you want the mandrakes too? In other words, now you want to take away the only advantage that I have - bearing children.

Rachel makes a deal with Leah (which says a lot about her too) - she tells Leah she can sleep with Jacob tonight in exchange for the mandrakes. Leah agrees to this deal. She runs out to Jacob as he's coming in from the field to inform him that she has paid for his, um, services. (again this story makes me question the meaning of stopped bearing - could Leah have put a stop to Jacob's marital visits because it hurt to know you were unloved yet used physically?)

Leah conceives and has a fifth son whom she names Issachar which means recompense. She feels she has been repaid by God.

She has a sixth son soon after, who she names Zebulun or "exalted." She says surely my husband will dwell with me - but dwell in this case actually means honor or exalt.

Throughout her life, Leah felt unloved. The circumstances of her marriage soured things from the beginning. Whether she had a choice or not, I'm sure Jacob felt deceived by her actions that night. I can't imagine how Leah felt the next morning when Jacob drags her to her father and demands to know what he's done. How humiliated and unwanted she must have felt.

Then, only a week later and as soon as Jacob could manage it, her husband marries her younger sister. It is obvious from day one that Jacob loves Rachel. He may sleep with Leah, but she knows his heart is with her sister.

Yet, she is Jacob's first wife and God honors her for that and has compassion on her because she is unloved. God sees her unhappiness and blesses her with many sons. She is really the only matriarch that was fertile. Sarah, Rebekah and Rachel certainly weren't.

It is through Leah's son Judah's lineage that Jesus is born. It is through her son Levi that the priesthood is established.

In the end, it is Leah who is buried beside Jacob in the family tomb. Rachel is buried along the roadside between Bethel and Ephrath.

God honored Leah, even when her husband did not. I think there is a valuable lesson to be learned from Leah's life. Like Sarah and Rebekah before her, God protected her when her husband didn't treat her the way he should have.

God saw Leah's plight and had compassion on her. God cared about Leah and her heartache. It mattered to God, just as He cares about our sorrows and difficulties.

I have no idea what Jacob and Leah's relationship was like after Rachel died in childbirth, but I do know that Jacob's last request was that his sons bury him beside Leah in the family grave plot. Maybe, in the end, Leah was no longer unloved but cherished. I like to think so anyway.

~ Blessings, Bronte

Monday, December 3, 2012

REBEKAH - the ensnarer

It's been a little while, but if you remember, I've been doing a series of lessons on women in the Bible in my Sunday school class. I started with Eve and have been working my way through the matriarchs of Israel.

There sure are some colorful characters, to say the least.

The last woman I posted about was Sarah - the princess. Today, I'm going to look at her daughter-in-law, Rebekah, who was cut from a somewhat different cloth.

I always like to look up what people's names meant in the Bible because in that time period, the meanings of names meant more. These days, the meaning of name isn't nearly as important as the name itself.

Case in point - the top girl's name is Isabella and means "God's oath." I seriously doubt most people who name their daughters Isabella are thinking about God or oaths . The top boy's name is Jacob which means "supplanter or deceiver" - hardly flattering for any kid. We tend to care more about how the name looks and sounds, than its meaning.

But in ancient culture, the meaning of a person's name had more weight. Rebekah's name meant ensnarer. What does it mean to ensnare someone or something? It means to catch or to trap. This was a somewhat prophetic name, in her case, but that comes out a little further down the road.

When Abraham was up there in years, he decided he needed to find Isaac a wife. This was pretty common in ancient culture - the parents picking out or strongly shoving, er, nudging their children in a certain direction. So, Abraham sent out his trusted servant back to the land his family was from, to seek out a wife for Isaac among his family. Marrying a relative was also a cultural norm back then.

The servant realizing the great trust he had been given, prayed that God would make it really clear to him which girl was the one for Isaac. He asked that when he asked her for a drink, not only would she give it to him, but offer to water all his camels as well.

When he arrives in Nahor, he heads to the nearest well - which was pretty much a great place to gather information and find the person you were looking for - and here comes Rebekah. The Bible describes her as both beautiful and a virgin.

When the servant asks her for a drink, she gives it to him and then offers to water all his camels. He starts praising the Lord and loads her down with gold and jewels. She runs back to show her family, and the deal is pretty much done. Not only was the this stranger offering Rebekah marriage to her cousin, but the cousin was apparently very rich. This was really a no-brainer for the family as far as marriage matches went.

We see the first glimpse of Rebekah's character here. Her family asks her if she would like to wait a few days before setting off with a complete stranger to marry another complete stranger. She says, "No, I'll go with him." Then she jumps on her camel and sets off. We can definitely see that Rebekah, whatever other shortcomings she might have had, was adventurous and strong.

Although they seemed to have very different personalities, Rebekah and Sarah also had a few things in common too. Not only were both extremely beautiful, but neither was very fertile. Rebekah and Isaac were married 20 years before she became pregnant with twins.

The twins fought in her womb so she sought the Lord herself to see what the deal was, and God told her that the younger would be over the elder. Here is another clue to her character - she had her own relationship with God and felt comfortable going to Him.

The time for the birth came, and if you are familiar with the story at all, you know that Jacob came out holding onto Esau's heel. Their rivalry began, quite literally, at birth.

Over the years, Esau became Isaac's favorite, and Jacob was his mother's favorite. This favoritism proved to be a really bad idea. It divided not just Jacob and Esau, but also Isaac and Rebekah, and each parent with the other parent's favorite child, as well.

When it came time to pass on the blessing to the oldest son, Rebekah decided she needed to step in and "help" God. I can criticize her for this, but honestly, how many times do I feel the need to help God when circumstances seem impossible? Way more than I'd like to admit.

Rebekah, like Sarah, waited until it seemed impossible that God was going to intervene and then she stepped in to fix the problem. It wasn't until the circumstances seemed impossible - in this case, the blessing of Esau was imminent - that Rebekah stepped in to help out.

Not only did God NOT need Rebekah's help to fulfill His plan, though, but the way Rebekah went about it was problematic - she lied and deceived Isaac by passing Jacob off as Esau.

It's interesting that Jacob protested - not because he thought it was wrong, but because he was afraid he'd get caught. When Jacob voices his concern that if Isaac finds out he could curse Jacob, Rebekah reassures her son that she'll take the curse for him.

Again, Rebekah wants to help her son but does it in the wrong way - by deception and hurting the relationship not just between father and son but between brothers. Not to mention, her actions couldn't have been very good for her marriage either.

Jacob is successful in fooling Isaac, and receives the blessing. BUT, there are heavy consequences to this "success" for Rebekah. While she wasn't officially cursed, things don't turn out the way she had envisioned either.

Esau is outraged and starts immediately plotting Jacob's demise as soon as Isaac is dead. Rebekah convinces Isaac to send Jacob to her brother Laban under the guise of finding a wife, but really to let Esau cool down. She thinks it will be for only a short time, but she never sees her son again, dying before he returns some 20 years later.

Rebekah was sincere in her desire to help, but by jumping in without God's direction, she never saw her favored son again. She never knew his wives or helped in the birth of his children. She never held her grandchildren or saw them grow. Not only that, she hurt her relationship with her husband and her remaining son. Nothing is mentioned about those relationships after the fact, but it does make you wonder if she spent the rest of her days living in loneliness because of the strained relationships with her husband and son.

This is kind of theme we see in the women early in the Bible - wresting control from God and doing what they think is best. Unfortunately, even though they mean well, the results of their "fixing" things always brings about more problems and heartache than the original problem.

There are several lessons from Rebekah - both good and bad. First, she was adventurous and fearless. Those are good qualities to have - they allowed her to leave her home and head into the unknown with confidence. She also sought God out when she had a problem - at least in the beginning. She obviously believed what God told her.

However, we can also learn from her penchant for favoritism among her sons and her desire to "fix" things when circumstances seemed to indicate God's plans just weren't going to work out. If she would have just waited and trusted, the last half of her life would have been much different - certainly much happier - but she didn't and she died without ever seeing her son again.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding." Prov. 3:5

What is God asking you to trust Him with, that you just don't understand?
~ Blessings, Bronte

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


This month, I've been doing the whole 30 days of thankfulness. Today, to be honest, I'm just not feeling it. I know - we aren't supposed to let our emotions dictate our actions, but some days that's just hard to do.

Today would be one of those days.

It doesn't help that I am sleep-deprived and there is no sun shining today. Somehow, it just seems easier to be thankful when I can see blue skies and the sun shining - even if the temperatures are in the 30s.

I dragged myself out of bed and did my exercise tape. Then I dropped the kids off at school. When I returned home, I sort of wandered aimlessly around the house, wiping off this counter, putting that load in the washer. I had an article to write and other things to do, but I couldn't seem to get motivated or focused.

I finally did my Bible study and was cheered by the idea that God's work is not frantic activity but trusting Him.

It wasn't until this afternoon though, that God smacked me upside the head with my ungrateful, whiny spirit. I was scrolling through Facebook when I saw a link to this blog:

Okay, I admit that I had to get out my tissues because it made me cry. It also made me aware, once again, of the many blessings in my life. I can't imagine going through what this woman has. I am praying for her and I hope you will too.

Then tonight I sat down in my chair with my knitting and caught the last half hour of the Pixar movie Up. I'm actually a big fan of good animated movies. Rio made me laugh out loud and Tangled was charming. Let's face it, there isn't all that much out there these days that I can watch without fear of my kids hearing or seeing something offensive - even on regular television!

I love the main character, Carl Fredricksen - the way his face is square and his glasses are square and his body is square and how he is endearingly grumpy (I know that sounds like an oxymoron but it's true). Carl meets tomboy Ellie when they are young. Eventually they marry and you see a montage of Ellie and Carl's life together - the highs and the lows. Before you know it, they are elderly, and Ellie passes away before Carl can take her on that last grand adventure. He feels like he has failed her, so he holes up in his house becoming a sort of living museum exhibit.

Until Russell shows up - an inept Wilderness Explorer scout. Together, much against Carl's will, they go on a grand adventure.

Up always makes me cry a little, especially at the end when Carl looks at Ellie's adventure book and instead of being blank, it shows pictures of their life together. On the last picture is a little note that says, "Thanks for the adventure. Now go have a new one. Love, Ellie."

Why does it make me tear up? It's because Ellie chose to see their simple life together as an adventure - joyful and full of life. Realizing that changes Carl. He ends up being a grandpa-like figure to Russell and finding joy and adventure in life, instead of being stuck in a house living a bland, repetitive existence.

My attitude and perspective define how I live my life. I can see things through the lens of discontent and an ungrateful heart OR I can see the it as the grand adventure God intends it to be.

True joy and thankfulness isn't the result of circumstances - it's the result of how I choose to see my circumstances.

~ Blessings, Bronte

Thursday, November 22, 2012


Today, millions of Americans will be gathering around tables to eat turkey, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie. They will laugh, eat too much and watch the Lions lose, I mean play.

I love Thanksgiving because it's simply about being together with your loved ones and about being thankful. Although, to be completely honest, the whole food thing isn't so bad either! :)

The thing is though, not everyone is enjoying today. There are many people who sit alone or force a smile even though inside they are hurting for a variety of reasons. Maybe a spouse has left or betrayed them; maybe a child has gone off the rails or is struggling; maybe the person was just told of a terrible diagnosis that will change her life forever; maybe they know this will be the last holiday meal in a home that is going into foreclosure; maybe their family is just so dysfunctional, the idea of being alone is way more appealing than gathering together. Whatever the reason, a day like Thanksgiving just seems to rub salt in the wound.

Although your circumstances might not be ideal or just plain stink at the moment, there is one thing we can all do today - be thankful.

"Whoa," you might say, "how can I be thankful for this (whatever this might be in your life)?"

God tells us to be thankful IN all things, not necessarily FOR all things. No matter what is going on in my life - and trust me, in the past three years there has been quite a lot that hasn't been sunshine and roses - I can choose to be thankful for the many blessings God has given me. I can choose to praise Him even if I don't necessarily feel like it.

Because the truth is God HAS blessed me abundantly, and He is worthy of my praise.

It's so easy when things are going badly to focus on that, but I have found in my own life, if I intentionally turn my eyes on the blessings, it helps me all the way around. My emotions get in a better place. My physical self doesn't feel quite so weighed down. I can smile and mean it. I can look out instead of focusing on myself.

And let's face it, too much navel gazing and inward focus just makes you feel worse in the long run!

So, today, may I encourage you to take a few moments and count your blessings and praise the Lord? I know it sounds cliched, but it really does help. God never asks us to do hard things that aren't for our own good.

"I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth." Psalms 34:1

Happy Thanksgiving!
~ Blessings, Bronte

p.s. For days 21 and 22 in my 30 days of thankfulness, I am thankful for my home because it holds so many memories< and I am thankful for the fact that I can be home today with my family and not have to work like so many do. I consider that a huge blessing! :)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


Yesterday and today I subbed for high school English. I have to say, I certainly enjoyed finishing up Ethan Frome with the seniors. Everyone had this horrified look on their faces when they realized the deliciously ironic way that story ends.(No - I'm not telling you the ending. Go read it for yourself - it's really not that long. You know you're dying to know the ending now).

Anyway, when you sub, you usually do a lot of sitting around and waiting for students to finish their busy work, assignments left by the departed teacher. So, I brought along my 2013 Writer's Market book. If you aren't familiar with it, this is a book that lists all the various markets for your writing. From poetry, to novels, to magazine articles - Writers Market has it all.

For the first time, I saw my dream of writing, not as a dream, but something that was real. Something I could wrap my hands around.

I'm not sure what the difference was this time. It's not like I haven't gone through Writer's Markets from other years. It's not like I haven't made lists of possible places for my ideas, but it was the first time I really, truly saw the possibilities, not just as a maybe - but as a yes!

Maybe it's because I've been meeting multiple weekly deadlines for almost two years now. Maybe it's because in just a couple months I'll be 40 years old, and really, if not now - when? Maybe it's because I just believe I can, that I have something to say and there are people out there who are willing to listen.

I'm sure I'll get rejected. For a writer, being rejected is just a part of life. But that's okay because sometimes, I won't.

The thing is, God created me to be a storyteller. Whether that is sharing someone else's story or spinning one of my own, I've been telling stories in one form or another all my life.

When I was in elementary school, we always went out to recess no matter how cold it was, but I was always warm. My secret was that most recesses, you'd find a group of girls huddled together next to the brick wall. I was at the center, a pint-sized Scheherazade, knowing that as long as I spun a good story, my audience would stay huddled around me and I would not have to fear the cold.

One girl would throw out a sentence, and another one would send some other detail my way. I'd pick up the threads and start to weave, holding the other little girls captive with my words.

It was heady stuff. I felt invincible - well, until the teacher blew the whistle and I morphed back into the somewhat nerdy kid with the red afro and freckles.

The thing is, writing is my dream, and for the first time in a long time, I have enough time to truly visualize that dream becoming a reality.

I can't tell you how good that feels.

So, I guess, staying with my theme of 30 days of thankfulness, today I'm thankful for the God given courage to not just think about what I'd like to do, but to, as Nike would say, just do it.

What is God asking you to step out and do?
~ Blessings, Bronte

Sunday, November 18, 2012


Yes, I know - once again I'm behind. I kept meaning to get to this and then I would forget or someone needed the computer or - well, you get the idea.

On Day 15 I chose to be thankful for my husband, Bruce. There are very few people in this world with true integrity, but I'm lucky enough to have a husband that espouses that very virtue.

I wrote a whole post about the 20 things I love about him, so I won't bore you with a lot of repetition. I will say he is a great husband and father. Jesus said to lead you need to serve. In my eyes, that makes my husband a truly great leader!

On Day 16 I chose to be thankful for my Bible. I was on a mom's board and was listing all the different translations that I own. I realized how very spoiled I am. Many people around the world have given their lives to own a Bible or to keep the one they had. There are over 6000 languages and only 2000 linguistic translations. For some believers, a Bible in their own language is still an unfulfilled dream.

I remember a radio program I heard with this woman that was from the former USSR. Their small village came into the possession of one Bible. They tore it up and passed out a few pages to each person, and oh how cherished those few pages were. Yet, in the U.S., the statistics say that less than 25% of those that profess to be believers read or study their Bibles in any meaningful way. So, I am so thankful for my Bible. It gives me comfort; it encourages me; it convicts me. I would be like a rudderless ship without it!

On Day 17, I chose to be thankful for something very mundane - a full night's sleep. However, if you have a newborn or suffer from insomnia (often mistaken for the same thing! lol), you know what a blessing a full night's sleep actually is. I have had this tickly cough for the past few weeks which has majorly interrupted my sleep at night. On Friday, for the first time in many weeks, I slept all the way through the night. I was truly thankful!!

On Day 18, today, I'm thankful for my Sunday school class. What a great group of women they are - always willing to listen to me and try to absorb whatever I happen to be teaching. We pray for one another and encourage each other, too.

Christian life was not meant to be lived in a vacuum. We NEED fellow believers with which to journey. I am so thankful for the group God has blessed me with. It's a real privilege to teach them - and I probably learn a lot more than I teach, to be completely honest.

Finally, I'll add one more thing. I was driving home from my parents' house, and I saw the most gorgeous fall sky. It was like someone had taken a paintbrush and swirled it across the glowing sky. Beauty is not something God HAD to create - He could have made a world that worked just fine but was bland and utilitarian. But He didn't. Instead, He chose to bless us with incredible beauty each and every day in just our sunrises and sunsets (I see more of the latter than the former!).

So, I am grateful for God's creativity and the beauty He chose to include in this world for our enjoyment!

I hope you are finding things around you for which to be thankful - even the mundane things are worth stopping to say a quick thank you for!

~ Blessings, Bronte

Wednesday, November 14, 2012


Today, I sat down with a cup of Dunkin Donuts gingerbread cookie coffee (and yes, it is as good as it sounds!) and did my morning routine. That is, I opened Facebook to see what fascinating things had happened while I slept. Then I went to my favorite mom's board, and finally, I opened my email accounts.

Maybe I should back up a little bit. Last night, as I was walking my dog, I felt overwhelmed - overwhelmed by the possibilities that is. I was praying for direction with my writing. I know - wah, wah, wah right? It's not that I don't have passion and it's not that I don't have interests - it's that I have too many.

I'd love to write a book (and I'm working on a zoo mystery at the moment -ssshhh, don't tell!). I'd love to write a Bible study. I love writing on this blog - so should I try to expand that into a ministry? I'd love to show women that God really does make a daily difference in their lives.

I would love to write devotionals and guest blog. I would enjoy writing articles on a wide variety of topics - and perhaps make a little money while doing it. Or, speaking of money, maybe I should start doing business writing.

I already write two features for our local newspaper which I love doing because I get to meet so many great people and at the same time, maybe help people too a little.

I'm sure you can see the problem - there is only so much that one person can do and do well. I need a little focus with my passion. I can't run around willy nilly, doing a little of this and a little of that because then I won't do anything with excellence.

But that means I have to choose.

Did I mention I hate choosing? When I was a kid, I had a very elaborate system to rotate which stuffed animals slept in my bed with me. Yes, I know - I was an odd child, but I didn't want anyone to feel left out.

Then, because I felt overwhelmed, I started thinking, well, maybe it would be easier to just quit. Yeah - brilliant plan isn't it. I'll quit so I don't have to choose. (rolling my eyes at myself here)

So, back to this morning - I open my Facebook page and one of the first things I read was from Jennifer Keat-Beck. It said, "Everything in life that is worthwhile takes effort. Don't give up."

Apparently, God realizes that He needs to be fairly blunt with me. lol Then I opened my email and found out I got picked to be on the "God-sized Dream Team." I had filled out the application several weeks ago, and quite frankly, forgot about it.

I'm sure my neighbor (or at least her dogs) could hear me squealing this morning. I'M SO STINKIN' EXCITED for this opportunity. You can read a little about this God-sized Dream Team here.

So, today, I am thankful for the ability to dream big dreams, and I am thankful for opportunities.

What step of faith is God asking you to take?
~ Blessings, Bronte

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

30 DAYS OF THANKFULNESS - Days 12 & 13

I had a hard time feeling very thankful today. That is because I'm tired. I get kind of cranky when I'm tired.

The reason I'm tired is because I have "The Cough." I've had "The Cough" for about four weeks and it often wakes me up at night. Last night, I was up for a couple hours which made me somewhat incoherent this morning.

Even though I'm tired, I can still be thankful right? So, here goes my list for yesterday and today.

On day 12, I am thankful for my boys. Brock is now 14 and Brody is 11. I look at them and I'm sort of amazed. I distinctly remember looking at Brock when he was a newborn, and thinking, I am responsible for this little being. Then I promptly burst into tears. I remember wondering how in the world I was going to teach him to feed himself. It seemed so complicated. Potty training seemed like rocket science to me.

Then Brody came along, and I thought I had this mom thing down pat. Well, you know how people say "never say never?" Yeah - that would be me as I realized that despite almost three years on the job, I had to start over from scratch because while yes, he was a human being and yes, he was also male- there the similarities ended.

I'm sure if you have more than one child, you know what I'm talking about. It still amazes me that two boys who came from the same parents, raised in the same home could be so different.

It just goes to show that God makes each person unique and special. I am so thankful for that uniqueness. I love each of my boys and am so thankful for exactly who God created them to be. I enjoy spending time with them and watching them grow up (but not too fast - please!). I am so blessed by my boys.

On day 13, I am thankful for another being - one that isn't quite as far up the list as my sons, but I certainly think of him as part of the family.

Today, I am thankful for my dog Kipper. If you know me at all, you knew this was coming. ;)

I have always loved animals and wanted a dog of my own, but I didn't get my first dog until I was 34 years old. He really IS the best dog. He's funny and sweet. He's loyal and patient.

He will let a toddler give him a dental exam, but I would not envy someone trying to hurt myself or my kids. He might even protect Bruce too in a pinch!

Together, my dog and I have walked over 1,000 miles. If I didn't have him, it would be way too easy to skip that walk when I was tired or the weather wasn't that great. Kipper doesn't let me though. He looks at me and nudges his leash. If I get my walking shoes on, he starts to wag his tail and get excited.

I call him my satellite dog because he is always in the vicinity, and he's always tuned in. If anyone is upset, Kipper will make his way out and lay that long, pointy nose in the person's lap. He'll lick away tears and lean against you in a show of solidarity.

I often have people stop and tell me how beautiful he is, and I always tell them he's as nice as he is handsome.

I am so thankful that God has given us the gift of animals, pets in particular. Yes, I know they are "just" animals, but they bring so much joy in our lives. I can never quite get over my amazement that I can communicate with another species. There is just something very cool about that.

So, what are you thankful for this week?
~ Blessings, Bronte

Sunday, November 11, 2012


I know, I'm way behind. That's why I'm breaking my "no computer on Sunday rule," and listing the things I'm thankful for this week.

On Wednesday, Nov. 7, I was thankful that God loved me. His love is something I sometimes have a hard time getting my mind wrapped around. It's not even that I don't deserve it - it's that it's GOD who loves me. The God of the universe, who created everything - and He loves and cares about me. I'm also thankful that He assures me that nothing can separate me from that love.

On Thursday, Nov. 8, I had a very, very busy day. I ended up interviewing six people. Now I really like people and all, but six is a lot in one day. One of the men I interviewed grew up in Kenya, Africa. The poverty he described was beyond my comprehension. When he talked about having nothing, he wasn't referring to not being able to afford cable and latest techno gadget. He literally had nothing. So, on Thursday, I was thankful anew for material things I've been blessed with - things like hot water, a working toilet, a bed to sleep in, blankets and pillows, not to mention a computer, two cars and the numerous other things we've been blessed with. It's true that sometimes the budget gets a bit tight, but at least I have something with which to budget. In this country, the vast majority of us have no idea what true poverty really is!

On Friday, Nov. 9, I put a pork roast in my crockpot and realized how thankful I am that someone invented the crockpot. I know that's a very mundane thing to be thankful for, but my crockpot let's me put a hot meal on the table even if I have a very busy day. I'm thankful for all the modern conveniences like dishwashers, washers, dryers and the like. I'm not much of a domestic goddess, so while I enjoyed reading about Little House on the Prairie, I don't think I'd actually want to live there!

On Saturday, Nov. 10, I was out and about. Part of the day, I spent with my mom at a ladies' tea her church was doing at a cute little place in Ottawa-Glandorf called Touches. Then there was an auction at our school. In the evening, I spent my time baking for the week - one of which I burned because I set the pan on a burner I had left on. This just goes to show, I am definitely not very domestically inclined! In all that busyness, my kids were laughing and having fun. My youngest had a friend spend the night and I could hear them cackling away from down the hall. I am very thankful for the fact that my kids are laughing and having fun. When you read of these children with cancer or other major issues, it's sobering. Life can change in the blink of an eye, so I am thankful that my boys are healthy and whole at this moment.

On Sunday, Nov. 11, I am getting ready to head out to church. I am thankful for my church and the fact that I live in a country where I can attend church without fearing the ramifications. I don't worry that I'll be bombed while I sing worship songs or that officials will burst in and cart me off to jail. Sometimes I can take church and the body of believers that attend there for granted, but our church family, they are the people who help us practically when we have tough times. So, today, I am thankful for my church.

As November rolls along, what are you thankful for? Are you taking the time to stop and really thank God for His many blessings? I can say that taking the time to do this changes my whole perspective. I find myself thanking God throughout the day for the small and mundane things, as well as the big things. A thankful attitude makes me happier. While that's not the main reason to cultivate a thankful heart, it sure is a nice by product!
~ Blessings, Bronte

Friday, November 9, 2012


I'll be honest, I woke up Wednesday with a heavy heart. I knew the outcome before I actually heard it (I went to bed and didn't stay up to hear all the gritty details) and as I laid there in my bed in the predawn light, I felt immeasurably sad. I felt very strongly that America, the grand experiment, had finally come to its end. Maybe her heart would continue to beat, but she was on life support at this point. I know - that's really melodramatic isn't it? But that's how I felt - like I was witnessing America's slow topple from greatness.

As I got ready for my day, an old song kept running through my mind. I hadn't really thought of it in years but it popped in my head - providentially, I believe.

"My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
but wholly lean on Jesus name.
On Christ the solid rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand.
All other ground is sinking sand."

The truth is, I was kind of surprised by my feelings on Wednesday. Throughout the election season, I had thought President Obama was going to win. I guess I got caught up in some of the political talking heads that were giving a different picture in the last weeks before election day. I guess I had started to hope for a different outcome.

The truth is while I believe that President Obama's policies will have a very negative impact on America in a lot of ways, I also believe that Mitt Romney wasn't going to be able to pull a rabbit out of his hat either and turn America around all by himself or even with other conservatives in Washington. He would just slow the downward descent is all.

You can't force inward change on people by outward mandates. Culture changes government, not the other way around.

Yes, President Obama is extremely liberal in all areas - socially, fiscally, you name it, but is he really all that much different than many of the people he governs?

Four years ago, he promised hope and change. He was an unknown entity. He rode into office on a wave of optimism and voters didn't really know what they were getting. Tuesday, they did. We knew who he was and what he stood for. The election showed that just over half the American public (that voted anyway) agreed with what he stood for.

In a democracy, your government reflects the values and priorities of the people.

Looking at the tide of American culture it would be really easy to get discouraged and depressed. It can feel like I don't have a voice and that my vote, my opinion, my interests, my values mean nothing. I can start to feel like that boy who was trying to plug the holes in the dam with his fingers.

The thing is, on the grand scale of the American political landscape, I can't make much difference. BUT, in my own community, that's a different story. I can reach out to the hurting. I can meet people's needs. I can share God's love and His light in my own sphere of influence.

For instance, even if we enacted legislation that would make abortion illegal, that would not necessarily change the behavior behind those terminated pregnancies. Abortion - as horrible as it is - is a symptom of a greater problem.

We can rail about the "problem" with the younger generation, but how many of them do you know personally? How many of them have you sat down and really listened to lately? How many of them have you loved on and showed that you cared?

We can force a mask of morality on our country, but it doesn't change people's actions or their hearts. It just delays the inevitable.

On the other hand, I can volunteer with a youth ministry or at an unwed teen home. I can take the time to notice the people around me and meet them where they are at and love them. Those things, while relatively small, can make a huge difference in someone's life - a positive difference.

I can't change a whole country, but I can influence one.

I was reminded in the past few days, that my hope and my help is not in the government because the government is made up of people. Eventually, people let you down because they are human.

My trust is in Someone a whole lot bigger and more trustworthy. Someone who is reliable and actually keeps His promises.

"Do not trust in princes or mortal men, in whom there is no salvation. His spirit departs, he returns to the earth; In this very day his thoughts perish. How blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is the Lord his God." Psalms 146:3-5

~ Blessings, Bronte

p.s. Tomorrow, I'll get back to 30 days of thankfulness! ;)

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


This morning, after dropping off my kids, I voted. Can I just say how thankful I am to live in a country where I can vote?

Not everyone lives in a country where going to the polls to vote is a violence-free event. I'm thankful that I live in a country where I don't have to fear for my physical safety when I fill out my ballot.

Despite our freedom to vote and the wonderful privilege that is, this particular election season seems to have been extra brutal. The race is tight. If the political pundits are right, it will probably go down to the wire.

It's sort of a recipe for anxiety, isn't it? Will my candidate win? What will happen if he doesn't? Will I be able to talk to my relatives and friends again after some of the things I posted on Facebook?

People are passionate about their candidate and sometimes that passion has spilled over into hostility and ugly words. Even among believers. Even at church.

While I am grateful for living in a country that still uses the political process, I don't really enjoy all the ugliness that accompanies this time of year.

For the record, I voted for Romney and Ryan. I didn't do that because I think President Obama is a horrible person. I didn't do it because I'm some kind of racist. If truth be told, President Obama and his wife are probably lovely people. I'd probably enjoy talking with them. There are things I greatly admire about them - how they've kept their girls out of the spotlight during the past four years being one of them. I appreciate Michelle Obama's passion to get kids eating better and moving more.

However, I don't agree with the current President's view of what our government should look like. We have very different ideology. I could talk to him for hours and I don't think we could find a compromise because our views are just so different.

Can I just say, though, that differing opinions or views or ideologies don't give me the right to call someone ugly names or denigrate his character without solid proof.

It also doesn't allow me to judge your Christian walk because you may have marked a different name than I did on your ballot.

I voted for Romney, so, obviously, I hope he wins. But if he doesn't? That's okay, too. I won't necessarily like it, but I serve a God that Scripture says holds the heart of kings in His hands.

It's really easy to get caught up in the hype and get completely wigged out about the outcome of something as serious as a presidential election, but God is still on His throne. He still loves me and my family. He still has plans and a purpose for me, for my family, for my community - no matter who wins tonight.

So, today, as we wait with bated breath for the announcement of who our next president will be - let's agree that no matter who we voted for, we can be truly grateful that we live in a country that allows widely differing political views and discussion of those views (even very, ahem, heated discussions) without fear of retaliation. There are many people around the world who don't have that luxury.

Even if our views are different, let's agree that under the blood of Christ, we are all in a red state (even if your party affiliation happens to be blue).

"The Lord established His throne in heaven and His sovereignty rules over all." Psalms 103:19

~ Blessings, Bronte

Monday, November 5, 2012


I've been trying to take some computer-free days, so I am going to play catch up on here for my month of thankfulness.

For day three, I was thankful for the beautiful fall weather. I actually like winter which I know makes me not only weird, but in the minority, BUT fall is my very favorite season. Maybe it's because I have lived in a household that has revolved around the school calendar, but fall to me speaks of new beginnings. The muggy, hot days of summer are over. There is a crispness in the air that encourages new plans and activity and the turning over of new leaves. I love the smell of wood smoke, the need for a sweatshirt and the return of cozy sweaters and jeans. (hey, I don't tan so shorts are NOT my friend!).

Heck, I'm thankful for seasons, period. I know that God would give me contentment even if I lived in a place that did not have definite seasons, but it wouldn't be my first choice. There is something about the ending of one season that makes you so thankful for the next season. Spring wouldn't be half so enjoyable if it wasn't preceded by the cold days of winter.

For day four, I was thankful for good friends. Not just friends who are fun to laugh with or are nice, but true friends who care enough about you to be honest with you - even if it stings a bit (faithful are the wounds of a friend and all that). Friends who care enough to cry with you when you're hurting and rejoice with you when good things are happening to you. Friends who care enough to pray for you and uplift you even when you can't seem to pray yourself.

I am so blessed to have a number of those true friends in my life. While we are all busy with kids and schedules and what have you, we are still there for each other. I know they have my back, and I hope they know I have theirs. :)

Today, day 5, I am thankful for my job. There are sometimes when the weekly deadlines get to me. There are times when things sort of fall apart - the photographer doesn't show up or the pictures don't turn out (or get stolen - which actually happened!) or the editor pulls a sudden switcharoo that leaves me scrambling. Then, there are the weeks when I look at the calendar and have no earthly idea what I should write about next, but the bottom line is that even on the stressful days, I get to do what I love.

I get to meet some extraordinary people whose stories have left a lasting impression on me. I get to work at home in my sweats, taking breaks to play with my dog or eat chocolate. Mostly, I'm grateful that I can be home to be available to my kids or my husband or my family or my friends if they need me. To me, that is definitely a win-win thing.

If you haven't joined in on 30 Days of Thankfulness, it's not too late to start. Jump in and share what YOU'RE thankful for these days!
~ Blessings, Bronte

Friday, November 2, 2012


Some of my favorite books when I was growing up were the Anne of Green Gable series. I wanted to BE Anne. Hey, we were both adopted and had red hair and green eyes, so I felt I was well on my way! :)

One thing she and I did NOT have in common was that she was one of those perky morning people. I don't hold it against her though. In her perky little way, she'd come into the kitchen where Marilla was invariably making something with fresh cream and say, "Tomorrow is fresh, with no mistakes in it."

Yesterday was a tough day, but this morning the sun is shining. Today is a fresh day with no mistakes in it. It reminds me of the verses in Lamentations 3:22-24, that say, "The Lord's lovingkindnesses (mercies) indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning. Great is Your faithfulness. The Lord is my portion saith my soul; therefore, I will hope in Him."

In Psalms 146:5 says, "How blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God."

Continuing on the theme of thankfulness this month, I am thankful for the various ways that God's mercies are new every morning. I am thankful that His compassions never fail and that HE is my hope and help and that's a blessing.

One way that God's mercies are new every morning are the special people He puts in our lives. For me, I am very thankful for my extended family - my parents, my brother, my in-laws and my sister-in-law.

It's unusual in this day and age to actually live near one set of grandparents, never mind, two. It's also somewhat unusual to see your aunts and uncle on a regular basis, but my kids have that blessing as well.

I know some people whose kids don't have any relationship with the grandparents for whatever reason, but my kids are blessed to have close ties with not one, but TWO sets of grandparents.

I am a firm believer in the wisdom of those who have lived a bit longer, and I am grateful that my kids are the recipient of that wisdom and that love.

This morning, my parents came to pick up my youngest son Brody for a day of fun. His older brother is hanging out with a friend so he was at loose ends. I'm just not terribly exciting these days, I guess. ;) All though, to be fair, I can see how hanging with the grandparents, going to Hobby Lobby and doing fun projects is WAY more fun than working in the garden. lol

So today, on day 2 of my month of thankfulness, I'm thankful for the great relationships my kids have with both sets of grandparents. These days, I know that isn't the norm so it is a very precious gift to me.

What are you thankful for today?
~ Blessings, Bronte

Thursday, November 1, 2012


To say our family is having a difficult time at the moment would be a vast understatement. And while I want to be transparent, I don't want to be mooning the world either, so let's just leave it at - these are difficult times for us. (and no, by difficult times I am not referring to anything to do with my marriage, and nobody has cancer - those are the two things which always seems to be everyone's first and second guess for some reason when you say you are struggling with something).

Today is the first day of November and I suppose it's sort of natural to turn to the idea of thankfulness when Thanksgiving is right around the corner.

To be honest, I haven't been feeling all that thankful lately. In fact, if I can be super honest, I've been a bit angry with God. We've had some long, very frank conversations, and I always come away with the knowledge that God loves me and He is big enough to handle my anger - it doesn't threaten Him at all. In a weird way, it is very comforting to know that God is not shaken in the least when I get angry with Him - I guess it's like the kid that knows he or she can act out and their parents will still love them.

Yesterday, as I was praying, I was hit by the fact that I have been so focused on my own problems, I had sort of tuned out the rest of the world. I am not the only person hurting or struggling - there are people much worse off.

In fact, I have a lot to be thankful for, even in the midst of this very difficult time. For years, I misunderstood the verse that says to "be thankful in all things." You'll notice it didn't say FOR all things, but IN all things. That means that even in the midst of difficulty, I can be thankful.

God knows what He is talking about here too. Even though it can be difficult to get your eyes off your own problems, mental health professionals will tell you that one of the best ways to feel better during down times is to help others.

So, since this is the month of Thanksgiving, I am going to choose one thing every day for which to be thankful.

On day one, the thing I am thankful for is God's Word and His presence in my life. While sometimes He seems silent, I know that He never, ever leaves me. My performance or lack of faith doesn't drive Him away. Instead,He is my rock and my fortress.

He always seems to provide what I need when I need it. He IS my strength and for that, I'm very grateful because on my own I am pretty much a wimp!

Yesterday, He led me to Psalms 31 and the first eight verses really encouraged me. I hope they encourage you to be thankful for the bigness and power and reliability of God, too.

Psalms 31:1-8
In You O Lord, I have taken refuge
Let me never be ashamed;
In Your righteousness deliver me.
Incline Your ear to me, rescue me quickly;
Be to me a rock of strength,
A stronghold to save me,
For You are my strength.
Into Your hand I commit my spirit;
You have ransomed me, O Lord, God of truth.
I hate those who regard vainidols,
But I trust in the Lord.
I will rejoice and be glad in Your lovingkindness,
Because You have seen my affliction;
You have known the troubles of myu soul,
And You have not given me over into the hand of the enemy;
You have set my feet in a large place.

~ Blessings, Bronte

Monday, October 22, 2012


We are once again in the midst of one of my favorite months of the year - October! I love fall. I love the changing leaves and the crisp snap in the air. I love apples and cider and pumpkin spice lattes. :) I love the cozy feeling that cool nights bring.

One of the best things about October though, is usually, somewhere in there, we get an Indian summer. If you don't live in the North or Midwest, an Indian summer is beautiful summer-like weather when the weather has been decidedly fall-like and heading into winter-like. Usually, you have given in and changed over your closet to sweaters and sweatshirts.

This week, we've been experiencing our Indian summer. The temperatures are supposed to be in the 70's, the sky is blue and the trees are wearing their gorgeous fall colors. I sat outside to do my quiet time (figured I should probably enjoy it while I still could!) and soaked it all in.

While I love fall, that doesn't mean I don't enjoy balmy temperatures and sunshine less than the next person. I also still have some outside work to do, so I want to take advantage of the milder temperatures and sunshine!

The best thing about this week is that it reminded me that God's goodness and faithfulness are still visible even when you feel like you are going through a difficult and painful times.

This fall has not been a stellar time in our family. In fact, it's been downright hard lately. This hard time has come on the heels of a couple years of difficult times.

I'm tired. It sort of feels like I have been hiking for miles, thought I had gotten to my destination, only to look up and see a mountain looming in front of me. Did you ever see Homeward Bound - the movie about the two dogs and a cat that travel through the wilderness to find their family? I feel just like they did when they finally got to the top of the ridge, and instead of home, they saw a range of mountains they had yet to cross.

However, even when the cold winds begin to blow, God often surprises us with an Indian summer. We think that winter is moving in and sunshine and nice weather are far in the future. Then, God surprises us with His warmth and light in the midst of what feels like an endless, cold night.

During this difficult time, sometimes, it's hard to be thankful; it's hard to remember God's goodness, His faithfulness and His blessings.

Today, I was reminded that I still have a lot to be thankful for - that God's light is still shining on me and my family. He never leaves. He never fails. He never breaks a promise.

I'm sure things will feel hard again. But today - today, I'll savor the sunshine.

"I would have despaired unless I had believed I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living." Psalms 27:13

~ Blessings, Bronte

Thursday, October 18, 2012


Last week, I was feeling very thankful and aware of my many blessings - I just had a sense of contentment and warmth, like I was nestled in the palm of God's hand and right where I needed to be.

In the back of my mind I had that vague feeling of needing to be careful because I knew that it never fails when I feel thankful and content, that's when satan attacks. He waits until we get our guard down and then moves in.

I think the times I am most vulnerable is immediately after a mountaintop experience and when I am in the lowest part of the valley.

The former is because in a moment of victory, I am so busy doing my happy dance, I'm not really watching out for the enemies arrows. In the latter, I am so exhausted, I don't have the energy to look around, and sometimes, I'm just too tired to really care.

So, it wasn't surprising to me - after a great week last week - that this week has been less than stellar.

It started on Monday with several work related issues that caused me some stress (some of which are still raising my blood pressure) and just general feelings of being overwhelmed. It progressed to yesterday, when my youngest son was having some issues while I simultaneously found out we have a mouse (or mice) in our house {shudder} and then was capped off this morning when my computer completely crashed with a deadline looming.

Can I be honest and confess I lost my temper this morning? I punched several (soft) things and let loose with a few loud yowls in my frustration. I think I scared the dog.

Not feeling terribly thankful anymore, now was I?

After walking away from the computer for an hour, it finally came back on (whew!) and I was able to get my article edited and turned in.

A good friend of mine listened as I vented about my no-good, terrible week (that is only half over, I might add). I took a few deep breaths and felt myself calming down.

The truth is, I was ripe for an attack. My feelings of contentment had led to complaisancy. I had missed my quiet time all together yesterday and had shortened it several times last week - too busy and too lazy to refill myself with what was really my source of contentment to begin with - God.

So, instead of feeling peace and contentment, I was feeling anger, frustration and panic - not exactly the picture of that serene godly woman, is it?

Thankfully, God is always waiting for us. He never moves away or lets us down. He never fails us even when we are less than faithful.

"The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness."

That description of God is scattered throughout Scripture, and I take a lot of comfort in it because that means I don't have to be perfect. It means, even if it takes me a while to learn something, that God is not up in heaven tapping His foot and rolling His eyes at my denseness.

Instead, when I finally, finally get it, He looks at me with love and tenderness and says, "That's my girl!"

So, the next time you experience a mountain top experience, by all means do your version of a happy dance, but be sure to keep one hand on your sword and keep your shield of faith handy!
~Blessings, Bronte

Monday, October 15, 2012


Can I just be completely honest? I've had a spectacularly crappy day. I mean, I didn't get diagnosed with cancer or anything horrible like that. I've just had a bad day at work - well, I work from home, but you know what I mean.

It started out with an email that informed me pictures did not get taken. I then was blamed for two mistakes I didn't actually make - that's a lot of fun, let me tell you.

I got those things straightened out, but every time I sat down to write my rough draft, the phone rang or someone came to the door or the dryer buzzed or....well, you get the idea.

It was just one of those days.

I had managed to put it all behind me (sort of anyway) and was cleaning up the dinner dishes, when the phone rang. It was a photographer who was on assignment for one of my articles. He was - how should I put this? - rather ugly to me. Since he is normally a nice guy, I was taken aback and sort of ticked, to be truthful.

I mean, the reason he was there was because he didn't show up where he was supposed to be two days ago. So why yell at me??

I was oh so tempted to bring up his failure and stick it right back in his face. Instead I bit my tongue (I think there might be holes) and tried to be gracious. Lest you think I'm some kind of saint, it was mainly because my kids were all right there and they had a friend over. I didn't to blow up in front of a guest!

After this lovely conversation, I followed my long-suffering husband into the bedroom and told him that I didn't get paid nearly enough for this aggravation. He, being the even-keeled, non-emotional type of guy he is, was trying to soothe me. Instead, I was sort of annoyed he didn't want to go punch the guy in the nose! Hmph!

After a few deep breaths, I decided I needed to call back said photographer and offer to go where he was and help out. It was MY article after all, and he wasn't sure what kind of pictures I wanted. No, he hadn't said it in a very nice way, but there you were - my responsibility when you got down to it.

When I called back and offered to come over there, he reverted back to the nice guy I've known for about a year and a half and apologized for the way he had talked to me. He shared that he too had had a very crappy day and one of his main lenses for his camera was broken making getting the shot we both wanted impossible. I told him that we all have our moments and to forget about it.

I have to say that I really appreciated his apology. Should he have gotten all ugly? No, probably not, but we all have those moments, don't we? It took a big person to say he was wrong, and the fact that he gave one, made all the difference.

Personally, I'm just thankful my kid's friend was over, so I didn't get sucked into dishing it right back at him. I DO write the religion column after all. lol

It reminded me of when I was doing my Bible study which is centered on the Sermon on the Mount at the moment. How we respond to people - even people who aren't treating us very kindly - says more about us than them. When we allow other people's behavior to push us into acting in kind, we give them control.

Instead, when we are gracious, even in the face of the uglies, we aren't being doormats. We are being true to our new identities in Christ.

So the next time someone is nasty to you, take a deep breath and decide how you will respond, based not on the other person's actions but who you are.

Oh and if you are the one being ugly - apologize. It really makes a world of difference!

~ Blessings, Bronte

Saturday, October 13, 2012


A look at Sarah's life wouldn't be complete until we take a closer look at the whole Hagar issue. Who is Hagar you might ask (and you might also be wondering why did her mother give her such an ugly name but I can't help you with that one)?

Hagar was Sarah's Egyptian maid. In Genesis 16 it starts with this verse, "Now Sarai, Abrams' wife had borne him no children, and she had an Egyptian maid whose name was Hagar."

You just know that with a start like that, trouble is brewing and the next verse bears that out. "So Sarai said to Abram, 'Now behold, the Lord has prevented me from bearing children. Please go in to my maid; perhaps I will obtain children through her.' And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai."

Now before you accuse Sarah of a lack of faith, it's important to know that most commentaries say that she didn't just grow impatient with the wait. She had gone through menopause, and could no longer physically bear children.

Based on the physical evidence, Sarah came to the conclusion that her biological clock had ticked its last tock. She was past the age of childbearing, and so she decided to take matters into her own hands.

Of course, by doing this, she didn't just affect herself and Abraham, but also Hagar and Ishmael, the child Hagar eventually had by Abraham.

What's even MORE interesting is if you read the chapter before this one. The whole of chapter 15 is taken up with God making a covenant with Abraham, promising him many descendants.

Abraham even brings up the fact that he and Sarah have no children and since they are getting up there in age, the likelihood of that happening seems less and less. God tells Abraham very clearly that HE will give Abraham descendants that are his blood children.

This leaves us with the question why in the world would Abraham go along with Sarah's scheme after this intense interlude where God Himself made a covenant (which Abraham would have realized was serious stuff)?

The answer is in verse 2 - "And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai." If these words sound familiar, that's because they are.

If you remember back when we were talking about Eve, when God told Adam his portion of the curse, He explained why, "Because you have listened to the voice of your wife." As in - you listened to your wife and not Me!

Can't you just see Sarah persuading Abraham. "Well, God did say you would have a child of your own blood, but did He specifically say it was ME you'd have the child with? Be reasonable - I'm past the age of childbearing - how would I even get pregnant at this point when I was never fertile in my young years? This is the only way Abram - it's not against what God told you, is it?"

Obviously, I have no idea what Sarah said to Abraham, but he went along with her scheme. The result is the Middle East mess we have today - the descendants of Abraham still are feuding today with no end in sight.

Before we are too quick to criticize Sarah, though, how many times have YOU decided God needed a little help when all circumstances seemed to point that things were hopeless and it was up to you to fix them?

I know - I'm guilty too.

The other thing that hit me about this part of the story is that we DO have influence with our husbands. I remember Beth Moore once saying that while women don't have the authority in the home, they have the influence.

There's a reason for the saying, "Behind every great man is a great woman." So, what kind of influence am I having with my husband? Am I encouraging him to follow God wholeheartedly or am I instead persuading him in a different direction - particularly if it makes my life easier? This story makes me very aware that I need to use my influence prayerfully and with wisdom - not throw it around casually.

The final lesson I learn from this part of the story is that sometimes, if allow ourselves to get to the point where what we so desperately want makes us willing to do anything to get it, we end up with something that ends up hurting us.

How many women have insisted on a relationship; married and then been miserable? How many women, once married, have destroyed that marriage in the quest to have a baby? Anything that is raised to the status of an idol in our lives has the power to hurt us badly. Idols demand sacrifice but offer no grace in return.

Sarah gave Hagar to Abraham and it says he took her as his wife. So now, after all these years, Sarah has to share Abraham. Even if she was probably only a concubine, Hagar was now clearly more than just a maid. She had gained a bit of status.

Then Hagar did end up getting pregnant which gave her even more status - after all Sarah couldn't have children and the number of children, particularly sons, a woman could produce gave her worth, value and status in that ancient culture.

Now, the Bible says, Hagar despised her mistress - the original word means that she looked at her as trifling or inferior.

Sarah just wanted a baby, but by trying to manipulate the circumstances, what she ended up with was a mess.

I don't know what Hagar and Sarah's relationship was before this whole thing went down, but afterwards there seemed to be a continuous strain - even after Sarah had her own child, Isaac.

It's interesting to me that even though Sarah inserted her free will and jumped way ahead of God's plan, He still carried it out. God said He would give Abraham descendants and He meant for them to come from Sarah and that's what happened.

It's sort of comforting to me to know that even if I mess up - even if it is in a big way - I can't thwart God's plans. Yes, I have to live with the consequences of my choices - just like Sarah had to deal with the problem she created for a long time - but God loves us so much and is so merciful that He works out His plans in our lives anyway.

Despite her big mess up, Sarah still gets a mention in the Biblical faith hall of fame in Hebrews 11:11, "By faith, even Sarah herself received ability to conceive,even beyond the proper time of life, since she considered Him faithful who had promised."

I guess Sarah finally realized that God's promises were more reliable than her solutions.
~ Blessings, Bronte

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


There are a lot of lessons to learn from the life of Sarah. Today, I'm going to look at the fact that Sarah was one hot mama!

The Bible makes it clear that Sarah was incredibly beautiful. She was so beautiful, in fact, that old Abe asks her not once, but twice to say she is his sister so the king of the land they were passing through wouldn't kill him in order to have her.

I guess Helen of Troy had nothing on Sarah. The first time this happens, Abraham and Sarah, along with their entourage, had gone down to Egypt due to a famine. Abraham had an idea that the Pharaoh would want Sarah for himself, thus decreasing Abram's life expectancy - at least in Abe's mind anyway.

A little side note: The truth was, Sarah WAS Abram's sister - his half sister, that is. They had the same father and different mothers. I know this is rather icky to us - incest and all that - but back in the day, this was not unheard of or really frowned upon. It wasn't until Moses' time that God forbade the whole way too straight family tree.

The next time, was much later in Abram and Sarah's life. In fact, Sarah was in her 90's at that time. So, either love really does make someone appear more beautiful or Sarah had some killer genes. The thing was, King Abimelech DID take Sarah for his wife.

In both cases, God had to step in and protect Sarah since Abraham, sadly, was not doing the job. In the first case, God struck Pharaoh and his household with great plagues. Pharaoh was understandably upset since he had no idea Sarah was anybody's wife but his! He gave Sarah back to Abraham and escorted them out of his land. I don't think they got an invitation to stop by the next time they were in town either!

The second time around, God visited Abimelech in a dream and basically told him he was a dead man if he didn't return Sarah to Abraham. Needless to say, Abimelech returned Sarah to Abraham post haste.

So many times, we see women who are beautiful, thin or fill in the blank. They seem to have it all together in some way that we do not, and we imagine their lives are just perfect and overflowing with happiness.

Things like Facebook, blogs and Pinterest play into this idea that somehow, someway everyone else has it all together but us. Every woman out there seems to make homemade meals from scratch after harvesting their organic vegetables from their raised bed garden out back where their free range hens are scratching around. All this is in between homeschooling their children who have retained the innocence of childhood (captured in wonderful, candid photos featuring sunny meadows, adorable overalls on equally adorably mussed children)and recording these moments in a literary award-worthy blog.

Oh yes, while the children are romping in the sunny meadow absorbing their education through fun, one-with-nature type projects, the mom (who happens to also be thin, fashionable without being too fussy and radiantly wholesome) is handcrafting a wreath while simultaneously re-purposing an old wardrobe into a very chic piece of furniture with yarn, a power drill and the kids' finger paints.

I don't know about you, but my life doesn't look like that. On any given day, I am fortunate to have dinner on the table and clean clothes for my kids. It's an added bonus if I get the floor mopped and bathroom cleaned that week. My idea of decorating is setting a couple pumpkins on the porch. I usually forget about them until I discover that the entire bottom has rotted out.

As women, we tend to compare ourselves with other people - at least I do at times. We compare our marriages, our children, our homes and our physiques. The problem is often what we are seeing are the best moments of someone else's life, not every moment. We don't see them with bed head or when their children are threatening each other with bodily harm or they are sniping at their husband for not feeding those stupid chickens.

Yes, Sarah was incredibly beautiful, but she carried the heartache of being barren in a culture where the ability to have children equaled a woman's worth. I bet she would have traded a plainer face or dumpier figure for a houseful of kids any day.

She left a thriving metropolis to be dragged around in a caravan with no real destination in sight. She could have coined the phrase "living out of a suitcase" (or perhaps a animal skin bag would be more accurate). She suffered the humiliation of being passed off as her husband's sister and given to two different men. It's unclear if Pharaoh had relations with her, but it said that God stopped Abimelech before he "knew" (in the Biblical sense) Sarah, but still the fear and uncertainty she must have felt during these times are hard to imagine.

Wouldn't you have loved to be a fly on the wall of the ride back to their camp after Sarah had gotten out of another guy's harem? I mean, what would Abraham have to say for himself anyway?

While Sarah's outward appearance was breathtaking, it certainly didn't guarantee her an easy life.

As women, we long for close friendships, but sometimes, I think the comparison game keeps us from experiencing that. We get so busy feeling inferior and trying to impress others that we miss the real wounds and sorrows of those around us or worse, we never get real with each other because we put on a show.

So, this week, call that woman who you think has it all together. Invite her out to lunch and really listen to what she has to say. You might be surprised that she thought YOU had it all together.

~ Blessings, Bronte