Monday, April 16, 2012


I have received quite a few unexpected gifts lately. Last week, in one interview I was given a jar of honey. In another interview, the author gave me a copy of her book. Thursday, I'm interviewing someone who breeds flying squirrels - that should be interesting if things continue to follow this trend. lol

The thing is, God gives me gifts every single day - it's just I am either too busy or too busy being negative to open them. About a month ago, my youngest son Brody and I were making our almost weekly pilgrimage to Hobby Lobby. If you are not familiar with Hobby Lobby - it is a giant store that stocks everything from very cool decor to silk flowers to jewelry making items to art supplies. The latter is usually why Brody and I go to Hobby Lobby - he needs a different charcoal or a gum eraser or titanium white paint or a verithin colored pencil in umber and ultramarine. Can you tell he's an artist?

Anyway, I always like to take a quick peek at their decorative stuff. They have lamps, baskets, pretty plates - all kinds of things - but the thing I love the most are their various plaques with sayings on them. Being a word nerd, they really appeal to me. Anyway, I found two that just struck me. The one was too big to hang anywhere in my house - it said, "It's never too late for happily ever after." The one I actually bought (with my 40% off coupon) said, "Happiness is choice."

God's been talking to me a lot lately about choices. Happiness or joy is one of them. I can either be a glass half-full or glass half-empty kind of gal. I want to be the kind of girl who chooses happiness.

The truth is I can drag myself out of bed and complain or dread all the things I have to do, OR I can plant my feet on the ground and wonder what new adventure awaits me. I know, you may be saying the latter is rather Pollyanna-ish, but the truth is my attitude isn't necessarily going to change what happens in my day, but it sure will change how I react to it.

It certainly will influence how much enjoyment I get out of my days.

The truth is each day is a gift from God. It is meant to be unwrapped and enjoyed. After all, we are not guaranteed tomorrow, only the here and now. I wonder how many times God is disappointed when we throw aside His gift He wrapped just for us. How many times He is saddened when we carelessly toss His gifts and blessings aside, not even opened, because we are busy or in a bad mood or have allowed things like bitterness, unforgiveness or anger to crowd out our joy and thankfulness - our delight in the everyday.

Today I subbed. To be completely honest, it was slightly boring. When you sub, you pass out assignments and then wait for kids to finish them. In fact, you do a lot of waiting - waiting for the kids to finish, waiting for the bell to ring, waiting for the new crop of faces to settle in their seats - well, you get the idea. On the plus side, everyone behaved; the other teachers were friendly; and I didn't get lost either going or leaving. All in all, a success.

Tonight I came home and made dinner and then walked the dog. It was nice to sit down and enjoy dinner with my family. My boys make me laugh - we act like goofballs at the dinner table and tell awful jokes (they are so cheesy!). Then I cleaned things up listening to my music - cleaning is so much more enjoyable when set to music. Then I clamped my earphones on and took the dog for a walk.

As I walked, I looked around me and realized how beautiful the day was - it was brisk but the sun was shining. It was my favorite kind of weather - just cool enough to need a light jacket. The sky was so blue and the clouds weren't fluffy but instead looked like wisps of chiffon thrown across the sky. They swirled white but also various shades of grey - dove and pearl with a tint of charcoal. Across this panorama, a hawk caught the wind and glided. His wings were outstretched as he rode the winds like a ship with a following wind. I watched him coast until he was out of sight - he never flapped his wings.

The beauty of this evening's walk was a gift. I'm glad I took the time to unwrap it and enjoy it. What if every day I found something to enjoy and delight over? How would life be different if I lived like that every single day? How would your life be different?

"Bless the Lord, O my soul and all that is within me, bless His name." Psalms 103:1

~ Blessings, Bronte

Thursday, April 12, 2012


To be completely honest (am I ever anything else on here? lol), I didn't really want to make the long drive out to this older gentleman's house to do the interview. I sort of wished I'd set it up as a phone interview. In fact, I tried to find a different person to interview but it didn't work out.

So, I climbed into my car on Tuesday, grumbling slightly, but I decided to put on some praise music and try to just enjoy the ride.

I drove out into the country, past rolling fields that were just losing that dead, winter look and beginning to show that tender green color that signals spring. There is just a certain color of green you only see in the spring. In the summer, the greens get darker and cooler, but in the spring, the green looks new and fresh.

With the man's good directions, I pulled up his driveway right on time. As my tires crunched up the gravel, I felt like I had stepped back in time about 50 years. A man in a neat flannel shirt and worn but crisp jeans stood on the small, cement porch that backed up into a square, two-storied white clapboard farm house. A dog barked out back.

The man I was to interview stood on the porch, waving to me. He had a balding head and a beard, and he smelled faintly of tobacco. He ushered me through his kitchen and into his dining room. Instead of chairs, two long benches were pushed to the sides of his dining room table.

I rather ungracefully climbed on the bench, set down my recorder and notebook and prepared for the interview. But my interviewee had other ideas.

He picked up a snapshot in a gold frame. The couple in the picture were obviously he and his wife. She was wearing one of those "grandma" type sweatshirts - you know, the ones with the cute animals or sayings on them usually in pastel colors. She had her arm around his waist and both of them looked happy.

"This is my sweetheart," he said. He cradled the picture in his hands. He wore a faint smile on his face, but his eyes seemed a bit sad. "She went home to be with the Lord last Mother's Day." He continued to look at the picture and gave it a sort of pat as he put it back on the sideboard. You could tell, she really WAS his sweetheart.

Then he walked over to a wall of 9 pictures, neatly hung in rows of three. "These are my kids," he said. He pointed to each picture, telling me the names, occupations and where each had settled. Two had died - one in an accident and one in the service in Afghanistan. He was a pilot.

Finally, we sat at his table and he talked to me about beekeeping - the reason for the interview. During the interview, he would pop up and go get a book or a picture to illustrate what he was saying. Halfway through the interview, he asked me if I liked honey. When I said yes, he disappeared into the kitchen only to come back with a mason jar full of amber liquid.

A shaft of sunlight came through the window and illuminated the honey. The moment felt special somehow.

The photographer came just as I was winding up the interview. My intention was to get back in my car and drive home, but the man invited me to come see his hives. It WAS why I was there, so we all climbed into the photographer's car and drove around through a lane - I say lane but it was really just grass.

The man had us drive along his pond and he pointed out a nesting goose. She was tucked against the bank. I would have never seen her if he hadn't shown us. He told us about the beavers that were trying to set up house on his pond and dam it up.

I shivered in the wind and pulled my sweater tighter around me as he pointed out the various components of the beehives. He even pulled out a frame or two to reveal several bees milling around.

Back by the house, he showed us his barn and the various beekeeping equipment he kept back there.

The house, the barn, the fields - everything seemed peaceful and real life seemed a million miles away. As I pulled away, he stood on his porch - waving.

It made me a little sad when I pulled away because he seemed a little lonely - his wife gone and most of his children far away. It made me thankful for my family all close by - alive and well. That's a gift I often take for granted.

When I got home, I set my jar of honey on the counter by the phone. Every time I look at it, it reminds me that peaceful farm and that half smile the old man gave when he talked about his sweetheart. I remember to say a prayer of thanks for my family.

Monday, April 2, 2012


Today was a Monday, and quite frankly, it FELT like a Monday from the moment I woke up. Unbeknownst to me, I was supposed to take my kids to school today. They normally go in with their dad, but today, I was supposed to drive them. The only problem was, nobody let me in on that little secret.

It had been a busy weekend with Brody's basketball tournament, washing/grooming the dog (a 3+ hour process) and a variety of other things. I had decided to sleep in a little today and had stayed up later the night before because of that.

So, imagine my surprise when Brody came charging into my bedroom, saying urgently, "Mom, you have to get up - it's almost 7:20!! We'll be late to school if you don't get up now!" (to be fair though, school does not start to 8 a.m. and we live three minutes from the school so he was exaggerating a tiny bit - wonder where he gets that from?).

I am not a morning person. Generally, I try not to talk to anyone until I've done my 20 minutes of yoga and had a cup of coffee so I can be kind. I was NOT kind this morning. No, I was angry. And it showed. And it wasn't attractive.

I was irritable and crabby with my kids and annoyed with my husband. I walked with harder steps than necessary and even closed my bedroom door a bit, shall we say, enthusiastically.

I dropped my kids off on a less than good note and then felt terrible about it which only increased my bad mood. The morning progressed and it seemed every little thing went wrong - from discovering we were out of coffee (Yikes!!) to having mapquest directions that were actually incorrect to forgetting my checkbook AFTER I did a bit of shopping and was ready to check out.

You know the kind of day I mean right? The kind of day where you get up on the wrong side of the bed and things just seem to go downhill from there. Please tell me I am not the only one who has experienced this!

The thing is, I knew as I went out to my car to get my credit card so I could make my purchases, that my day could continue on its downward spiral or I could change my attitude. (why is it so much easier to tell our kids this than to live it out ourselves?)

I had a choice to make.

I couldn't control all the circumstances but I could control my reaction to them. And let's face it, my husband did not lay in bed last night plotting to start my day off on the wrong foot. He just forgot to tell me about the change of plans. It's not like we live an hour away. It takes 10 minutes tops to drop the kids at school.

So, getting a hold of myself, I popped in a praise CD and sang out some worship to God at the top of my lungs. I realize that people driving by me probably thought I was slightly unhinged, but it worked.

Later in the day, when my cracker fell cream cheese side down on the floor, I laughed because the dog thought he had hit the jackpot. I shrugged when I didn't get my entire to do list done.

It really is my attitude that makes the difference in how I see circumstances that I often have no control over anyway.

If the choice is to laugh or cry, I'm always going to choose laughter. After all, "A cheerful heart does good like a medicine." And, I'll add, a sour disposition makes everything leave a bad taste.

~ Blessings, Bronte

Sunday, April 1, 2012


April 1st is the day that all practical jokesters look forward to - they get a whole day where they are supposed to play jokes on people and only a really poor sport gets mad about it. I remember, when I taught high school English, I typed up an "assignment paper" that detailed how my students would be doing a 15 page research paper. The looks on their faces were priceless. I managed to teach part of my lesson before I casually mentioned it was all an April Fool's joke. Everyone laughed in relief, and if anyone was actually upset about it, I never heard about (probably because they were afraid I'd actually MAKE them do the 15 page paper!).

Fooling someone like that is fun, but it's not quite so funny when you fool yourself. I am a pretty straightforward person, and I tend to be self-aware. So, while I might not like it or I might ignore it, generally I'm aware of what's going on in my head and heart.

But I fooled myself.

Friday, I was reading a portion of the Bible study, "What's It Like Being Married to Me?" I haven't gotten as far in it because I started a series on spiritual gifts in my Sunday School class and that has taken up a lot of my study time. I was done with my lesson though, so I decided to start reading the next chapter in the book by Linda Dillow.

These sentences slapped me in the face, "Picture your adversary, Satan, squealing with delight because you chose to hold a grudge. He is dancing with glee that he has outsmarted you with his evil schemes. By harboring resentment toward your mate, you open wide a door for satan. And what will he do? Take advantage of you, manipulate you, trick you and weasel his wicked lies into your heart."

Now, my grudge wasn't at my husband. It's not really important who my grudge was at at this point. The problem was that I had initially chosen to forgive, but sometimes, forgiveness is something you have to keep choosing to do.

Sometimes, the grievance against you has a lot of repercussions. The consequences aren't just a one time thing, but they keep cropping up - sometimes in very unexpected ways.

So every time one of these consequences came up, I had to choose to forgive. Initially, I did that. Forgiveness doesn't mean what the person did wasn't wrong - it means that you turn over the judgment for that grievance to God who is the perfect blend of mercy and justice. It means that you let that thing - whatever it might be - go. You give up your right to seek revenge.

God commands us to forgive for our own good because if we don't, bitterness takes root. And bitterness will eat you from the inside out. If you've ever met someone who is elderly and bitter, it is truly a scary thing.

Even though I had forgiven and thought I was still doing so, somewhere along the way, I stopped making that choice. Somewhere along the way, a tiny root of bitterness took hold in my heart.

This week, God pointed it out to me.

I tried to argue that I HAD forgiven - didn't He remember the day we worked this all out? God reminded me that I had ceased to make the choice to forgive every time one of those pesky consequences came up and had, instead, started to hoard them - taking my grudge out like Gollum with his "precious."

That is a seriously ugly picture isn't it? But that's what we do with grudges - we see them as precious things that we hold close to our hearts. But, like Gollum in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, "precious" doesn't help us at all. It changes us, until we end up living in the dark with our bitterness consuming us, not even remotely resembling who God made us to be.

I don't want to be that person. Generally speaking, I am a pretty forgiving person, so I deceived myself. However, bitterness is not something I want in my life. Bitterness only hurts me, not the people I'm bitter against. Usually, they go on their merry way, none the wiser. It's satan's lie that makes us think that holding on to bitterness gives us some kind of power over the person we bear it against. Instead, the opposite is true - anger that turns into bitterness holds us in a prison.

Instead of unforgiveness, we are called to love our enemies, pray for them and bless them. In our humanness, that's a tough thing to do, isn't it? But God never asks us to do anything He doesn't give us the strength to accomplish.

"Above all, love each other deeply because love covers a multitude of sins." I Peter 4:8

You can't love someone and remain unforgiving toward them. It's not really possible. So, I'm making the choice to forgive and to love. Are you holding on to unforgiveness or have you let bitterness take root in your heart? I promise you that the freedom of letting it go beats the pain of hanging on to whatever it is.

~ Blessings, Bronte