Monday, August 19, 2013


Well, I'm moving to a new blog space. When I started blogging here almost four years ago, I had no idea what I was doing. (I still don't - not really). I remember sending out my first post and sort of imagining it floating out into a black hole in cyberspace.

I mean, who would read what I was writing? Over the years, I've posted about my husband, my kids and the cool things God was doing in my life. Looking back at those posts, I can see how much God has done for me and in me.

Four years ago I wasn't ready. In fact, if I'd known what God was going to ask me to do, I'd have never started blogging in the first place.

What did He ask? I'm sure you're dying to know. It was to revamp my blog and make it more public.

I'll be honest and say that sort of scares my socks off. I'm a pretty open person, but having your words in public - not just on a little blog you share with a few friends and family - but out where strangers who don't know you can read them, well, it makes you feel vulnerable.

At least it makes me feel that way.

However, I'm hoping that you will migrate over to my new blog, Divine Ordinary. It's still about God making a daily difference in my life, but it's going to be expanded to show how God makes a difference in other people's lives too.

I'm excited to start spotlighting not just local ministries, but others across the country too. I'm hoping that it will be a one stop resource spot for people looking to deepen their walk with God, to be encouraged and just plain inspired by what God does in the lives of other ordinary people - just like you and me!

I hope you'll join me in this new adventure!

~ blessings, Bronte

Monday, July 29, 2013


God promises us that if we look for Him, we will find Him. In James, God invites us to ask Him for wisdom, but then says a verse later that we need to believe for that wisdom - to not be a double minded man (or woman, as the case may be!).

The truth is that as much as I love God, as much as I study His Word and pray, there are times I am filled with doubts. I rationalize it by saying I don't doubt God - I doubt myself.

But really, that's just an excuse, isn't it to doubt God's ability to use me. It also gives me the excuse not to go out on that limb. Ouch!

Today, as I finished up various small tasks before I officially start my vacation days, I felt weary. Really, really exhausted - burnt out. I had a huge project about three weeks ago for the newspaper. It was a true blessing because it will pay for my new computer, but it was about 45 hours of work between Monday and Friday of the same week.

The next week, I had a garage sale. If you are a fellow garage saler, then you know how tiring it is to prepare for one and then work one - even though you spend a lot of time sitting around.

Last week, I was doing double work at the paper to free up this week for some vacation time with my boys. I could barely squeeze out the last article as my brain had already decided it was vacation time! lol

So this Monday morning, I was tired as I sat down to wrap things up. In fact, part of me was already looking toward next week's workload and cringing, and the whisper, "Just give up. What you do won't really matter anyway and then you can rest," hissed into my ear. It was tempting to follow it. Weariness makes me weak. Giving up seemed so welcome.

Then two things happened. First, my God-sized dream team buddy Christine Wright let me know that she was using my post in her "Rebuilding the Walls" series. I hope you'll go read it here and leave some comment love. ;)

It's always so encouraging to me to think anything I write might encourage or inspire someone else. So, this was a real lift for me. It also made me realize I need to get my new blog site up and running this week - no more excuses of being too busy! (I'll share more in a post this week about my new site).

Second was a little bit of serendipity. I really love how God reaches down and meets us where we are at, how He tenderly encourages us when we want to give up (even though He can see the big picture and is probably tempted to roll His eyes at my puny stamina).

A few months ago, I opened a fortune cookie and was tickled to find the following, "You are a lover of words; someday you should write a book." I mean, I've read the whole you'll be wealthy, happy, wise, meet someone type of fortunes in those little cookies for years, but I'd never come across one like this. I saw it sort of as a small sign post of encouragement from God.

Well, it's a tiny piece of paper, and I lost track of it a long time ago. This morning, as I sat down to add some last minute touches to the article I was sending in this morning, I looked down to see a slip of paper. I turned it over and it was the same fortune cookie slip.

I know it could have been a coincidence, but I really don't think so. It was just the encouragement I needed this morning and it brought tears to my eyes to know that God cares about me that much to place a little reminder of my dreams right when I needed it.

Yep, that's the kind of God we serve. Isn't He awesome? How has God encouraged you today? I'd love to hear about it!

~ Blessings, Bronte

Friday, July 26, 2013

5 Minute Friday - BROKEN

It's been a little while since I've joined in with Lisa Jo Baker to do 5 Minute Fridays. Here's a little recap if you are just joining me or if you have forgotten what 5 Minute Fridays are all about. Basically, Lisa Jo gives a prompt word - today's is "Broken" - and then you write for 5 minutes without editing, without agonizing over word choice. You just set your fingers on the keyboard and go. After you're done, you can link up your post here. I hope you'll join in the fun!

Broken usually has a bad connotation. Recently, I dropped my Kindle (which I had just gotten at Christmas this past year) on the floor. Immediately, I had a sinking feeling in my stomach but I hoped that when I picked it up, my fears would be unfounded.

They weren't.

The screen was a mess of dots and weird lines. I called the Amazon hotline with trepidation. I figured since I dropped the Kindle, they wouldn't replace it with a brand new one. After all, it was my fault.

But I was pleasantly surprised (okay, jubilant) to hear the girl on the other end tell me that since the Kindle was still under warranty, they were shipping out a new one right away. I had my new Kindle in my hot little hands within just a couple days, and I was so pleased to see that I hadn't lost any of my over 100 books on there either! Whew!

God is kind of like Amazon in replacing what is broken.

The thing is that to God, brokenness isn't a bad thing. So many times, I want to hide my brokenness from God - like He can't see it anyway - and I don't want to come to Him to fix it. Instead I try to piece myself back together, but just like my Kindle, there are weird lines and I'm not very functional.

But because Jesus paid for my sins, I'm still under warranty. God promised me a new life, a whole life. He promised to continue working on me until the day I die - isn't that a relief? When I bring my brokenness to Him - even if (or I should say when) it is my own fault - He makes my life into something new and functional. Yet, I'm still me.

I don't know how God does that - make me a new creature that is essentially still myself only transformed - but He does.

You know, when I got my new Kindle, I told everyone how awesome Amazon was for replacing it for free when I was the one that dropped it. I want to be that quick and eager to share my brokenness and how God put me together again with others, too. But others need to hear our stories of how God restored us in our brokenness, so they in turn can feel brave enough to bring their brokenness to God, too.

I don't know about you, but it is always amazing to me that it is at my lowest, most broken that God steps in and gently, tenderly rebuilds me. Instead of feeling shame or heartbreak, those moments of restoration, of God building me back to what He created me to be are moments of deep beauty.

God truly does bring beauty from ashes.

~ Blessings, Bronte

Tuesday, July 23, 2013


Lately, I've been nostalgic for the "good old days" when my kids were really young. You know, when one of those books with flaps or Balto and a little popcorn was cause for much celebration.

Back then, the biggest issues I faced were potty training, nap time and sharing toys, and most of the time, a little cuddle, a Spiderman band-aid and a juice box fixed their hurts.

Now, though, things are different. As the mom of a 12 and 15 year old, the old way of doing things just doesn't cut it anymore. I think I am nostalgic because back then, my input in my kids' lives was so much bigger. Let's face it, I basically was the ruler of their little universes. I could control things.

These days - not so much.

They are both good kids. They really don't give me much, if any, trouble. But like all moms, I worry about them. I never want them to get hurt, or to get left out, or to fail. Unless I drag them to a deserted island and wrap them in cotton batting though, that's not going to happen.

And can I say it - maybe that's a good thing.

Wait, don't gasp in horror. The truth is without struggles and difficulties and hard things, none of us would mature into adults. If things come too easily, it can stunt your growth - at least your mental, emotional and spiritual growth.

My oldest son, Brock, is a little over 5'6". Since he had a major growth spurt of almost a foot at the age of 11, and has only grown about an inch and a half since, his dad and I are guessing that he's not going to grow much more.

Personally, I don't really care how tall he is, but Brock's passion in life is basketball. Yes, basketball - not wrestling or baseball or any other sport where height wouldn't matter that much. Nope - it had to be basketball. So, Brock has had to work MUCH harder than anyone else to make up for something he can't change.

As a mom, that's been hard for me to watch, and sometimes, I can't help but ask God why He didn't give Brock a passion for something that more suited his size and build.

However, Brock's hard work earned him a spot on the Varsity team last year as a freshman (a really young freshman too since he won't be 15 until the end of July). That was even harder for me to watch. Not only were the games more "important," but the boys he played against were big.

I can't tell you how many times I squeezed my eyes shut because I was afraid some big man-boy was going to break my son in half. In fact, in the last tournament game, some big fellow came barreling down the court, caught Brock in the side and spun him in mid-air. It was all I could do not to leap over the bleachers in front of me and run out onto the court to make sure he was okay.

But I knew he probably wouldn't appreciate my motherly concern.

To be completely honest, sometimes in my heart of hearts, I've sort of resented this big obstacle Brock has been forced to overcome. It just doesn't seem fair. Was a few more inches really that much to ask for a kid who lived and breathed basketball?

Personally, I don't like things to be hard. I don't like to overcome obstacles. I want things to be easy. I don't pray for trials and suffering to come into my life. I've gotten to the point in my life where I can thank God for what He teaches me through those things after the fact, but I'm not to the point where I'm asking for them.

It's even harder to want that for your kids! It is so against my nature as a mom to want my kids to struggle or suffer. Recently though, as I've been reading and studying about the cost of being in full surrender to God (and no, following God does not automatically guarantee you wealth, health and happiness - hate to burst your bubble), I've realized that God is preparing Brock for something He wants him to do - something that takes hard work, perseverance and the ability to overcome big obstacles that seem impossible. If Brock was 6'2" and he didn't have to work so hard to overcome his size, he wouldn't be prepared for whatever that is, and as hard as it is to watch him struggle sometimes, I can trust that God is using this and it's necessary. God doesn't allow difficult things in our lives just for the fun of it.

Our struggles and pain and hurts are never wasted. God uses them as building material - costly and precious.

I think so many times as parents, while we have good intentions, we stunt our kids' growth because we keep trying to make things easy, or we try to cushion the hurts to the point our kids never feel pain at all or we step in to keep our child from failing when the lesson is not in skating by without any scratches, but in actually landing flat on their backs so they can look up.

In almost every culture around the world, boys go through a ritual before they are considered men. Often the ritual is hard or painful or involves completely some kind of quest or a combination of those things. In America, we tend to cosset our boys to the point where it's not unheard of these days to find grown men in their late 20s, early 30s still living in their parents' basements, playing video games.

It's kind of like we have a Peter Pan syndrome going on here - boys never want to grow up and are living in a sort of Never Never Land.

While that's cute in a Disney movie, it's not so cute in real life.

I remember reading about butterflies. They start out as caterpillars and then they make a cocoon and in that cocoon they morph into a butterfly. Once the transformation is complete, they have to struggle out of that cocoon. It's a hard battle. If you came along and saw that butterfly struggling and thought you'd be nice and break them out of of their little silk jail, you will actually cripple them, and ultimately, that will kill them because a butterfly that can't fly is some other creatures afternoon snack.

The struggle strengthens the butterflies wings so it can fly. Without the struggle, the muscles are weak and instead of soaring, the butterfly is bound to earth and doomed to a short life.

I really don't want to do that with my boys. While it's hard to watch the different things they struggle through or watch them fail or live through the consequences of actions, ultimately, I have to step back, stop hovering and let them. Otherwise, they will never soar, but will instead be doomed to be boy-men - and we don't even have a basement!

~ Blessings, Bronte

Tuesday, July 2, 2013


I've been doing an online Bible study attached to the book Anything by Jennie Allen. The study is at the Good Morning Girls site

It's been one of those books that alternatively convicts me and makes me angry. Part of me will wrestle with this idea of feeling guilty for just living my life - someone has to clean the toilet! - and another part of me resonates with Jennie Allen's premise that our lives should be radical, that this life is a just a short time to live wholehearted for Jesus.

In recent months, I was part of the God-sized Dream Team. I watched women step into their callings - some tentatively, some boldly. I saw God work in mighty ways when women trusted Him with everything, willing to do anything. God has convicted me in recent weeks about my lack of obedience to His call in my life - lack that is evidenced in dragging feet and halfhearted effort. Everywhere I've gone, I've heard the message - delayed obedience is still disobedience.

I have had plenty of excuses - work, busyness, kids' issues, the list goes on. But the bottom line is that I know and I haven't done it. I've prayed what do you want me to do, and I just get the answer, "I've already told you." It seems frustratingly incomplete, so I've held fast to my justifications, my comforts, my fears.

So, last week, I took a big gulp and decided to pray the anything prayer - I'll do anything that you want Lord - anything I have is Yours. I laid it all on the alter - everything. Because either I believe God is really God and that He is good and faithful and I can trust Him with it all.

Or I don't.

Trust, faith - where the rubber hits the road is holding it all with an open hand. Without conditions. Without that little bit held back whether it is your kids or your marriage or something more mundane like your stuff.

So, the same morning, my neighbor calls me. I hesitated to pick it up because, well, I'm selfish with my time, my emotional energy. God nudged me - You said anything which means, inconvenience.

I picked up the phone. My neighbor chatted for a few minutes and then asked me where it said you had to be saved in the Bible. Yes - she called me and asked me to give her the plan of salvation. I almost laughed because sharing Christ doesn't get much easier does it?

Then I went into work where someone I knew came in - she'd never come to that branch since I started working there. She asked me about the discipleship class I had gone through at church and if I'd be willing to share the information and maybe disciple her.

The same day I prayed that prayer.

I was sort of flying high. These seemed like such God affirmations of my prayer of anything.

Then, that evening, my son came out of the bathroom and I spotted it. A red dot on his shoulder. I pulled him aside and looked at it more closely. It was small, cherry red and raised from the skin. It looked like a mole that was ready to pop.

I asked him a few questions about it, and sent him on his way. Inside, my stomach tied itself in a knot. With auburn hair, green eyes, fair skin, freckles, and my share of burns in my younger years, I am fairly familiar with the topic of skin cancer. It's something I keep on top of for myself because of my increased risk. I thought my kids got a free pass because they don't burn - they tan. It's something I've always been thankful for because spending a day on the beach for me is something of an ordeal if I don't want to come home looking like a steamed lobster.

Immediately, I began to pray. I wasn't very happy with God to be honestThis was the same kid who had struggled in the fall; the same kid who had just been to a pediatric cardiologist to test for a genetic heart disorder. Now I had to worry he might have skin cancer? Hadn't he been through enough already? Hadn't I, for that matter?

God whispered in my ear, "Anything."

Anything includes your kids and bad things like cancer happening. Anything means this life is not as important as the one to come. I didn't want to take back my prayer I had just prayed, so I told God that I was willing to go through anything - as long as He came too because He knew what an incredible wimp I am. I prayed that whatever happened, God would get the glory, that I would be able to see something good come out of this if my worst fears were realized.

So, I called the doctor. And I called. And I called. Finally, they got back to me with an appointment the same day - that would be today. I drove over, chatting with my son, trying to act like it was no big deal. Inside, I felt like I was going to throw up. I had seen the spot - it was bigger than just a few days ago and it had been bleeding too.

We waited in the waiting room, chuckling at the Dora the Explorer cartoon that was on - once my son's favorite but long outgrown. We were ushered into a small exam room, and we waited some more. I had asked for prayer from an online group of women and peace and calm were with me, even as I braced myself for the worst and prayed for the right words to reassure my son when they told us he had a cancerous mole.

The doctor came in - a woman in the practice I hadn't met yet. She asked several questions, pulled up my son's sleeve. She peered at the spot intently, then looked up at me.

"That's not a mole," she said.

I sort of gaped at her and asked her what in the world it was then. She brought back a book and they took a picture of it for posterity, I guess. It was some kind of granuloma - annoying but completely harmless. He'll have to have it removed because they bleed easily, but he was fine. No harm, no foul.

To say I felt limp with relief is an understatement. We laughed about it, my son and I. I drove him to the gym, came home and promptly burst into tears of profound relief and gratitude.

The thing is though, if it actually HAD been something bad, God would have still been good and He would have still been faithful.

I can pray anything because my God is trustworthy no matter what happens in this life. How has God shown you He is faithful and trustworthy even during the midst of hard things?

~ Blessings, Bronte

Friday, June 21, 2013


Five Minute Friday
It's 5 Minute Friday - where you can join Lisa Jo Baker here and a lot of other writers and write for 5 minutes on a word prompt. No editing. No second guessing - just writing. Today's word is rhythm.

When I was little, all I really wanted to do was dance. I bounced in those little plastic booster seats at Pizza Hut to the music playing from the jute box. I tapped my way across our front entry way - leaving little black scuff marks from my patent leather shoes (much to my mother's annoyance since she was the one who had to clean them up).

When I was about 3 years old, I calmly informed the pastor's wife at the church we were visiting in, having just moved to town, that when I grew up, I wanted to smoke and be a dancer.

My poor mother was mortified - even though we laugh about it now.

It seemed to me that life was full of rhythm. It seemed to rise up from the soles of my feet and I could hardly keep myself still.

Although I never took dancing lessons (not for want of begging either), intricate steps never really mattered to me.

It wasn't ever about the steps though - it was about feeling the music inside of me and letting it flow out. If I tried to concentrate too hard on steps or what I should be doing, I lost the rhythm.

I find this to be true in many things in life - my writing, my walk with God, my relationships.

When I try to force certain steps on the outside, I lose my way. Walking in the Spirit, which is the only way I can live this life with any thing resembling victory, involves being moved from the inside out, not forcing specific rules and breaking the rhythm the Holy Spirit builds in each of us.

While there are certainly Biblical absolutes, my God has a unique rhythm He created for each of us. Let's not lose our rhythm trying to follow someone else's steps.

~ blessings, Bronte

Wednesday, June 19, 2013


As summer gears up, I got out my shorts, capris and tank tops. I looked forward to shedding my winter coat and not having to take 10 minutes to bundle up so I can go out the door and not freeze to death.

I'm looking forward to the sunshine and slower days and days at the beach. There are a lot of things I look forward to about summer.

But there's one thing I don't.

I was at Kohls the other day. I had run in to see if there was anything cute I could get with my 30% off coupon. A group of giggling teenage girls went in the doors right before me. One girl was wearing a shirt that was cut so low, her boobs threatened to make a break for it, and I was hoping one of the other girls didn't drop anything because her shorts were so tiny, I was afraid I'd get mooned.

It's hot outside - I get that - but please, as a mom of two boys in their tween and teen years, can I ask you to encourage your daughters to cover up a little bit more?

As one mom to another, can I ask you for a little help? Wherever we go, my boys are bombarded with images of half naked females - in the grocery store waiting to check out, walking through the mall to buy a pretzel or a pair of tennis shoes, on the sides of roads we drive down where billboards and even the sides of buses sport six foot tall cleavage.

So, when we go to church or a school activity or even shopping, it would be really awesome if my boys didn't have to constantly divert their eyes from the girls around them. It would be a true blessing if they didn't have to stare fixedly at the grass or a tree in the distance to avoid looking at your daughter because she is wearing shorts that barely cover her or a shirt that dips too low or clothing that is so tight it leaves little to the imagination.

I'm trying to do my part. I have taught my boys from a young age to respect girls, to treat them with care and kindness. Even as toddlers, I drilled it into their little heads that you never, ever hit a girl. As they got older, I taught them to let the girls go first, to open a door, to lend a hand, that girls were to be protected and cherished and defended.

I know that the responsibility is ultimately on them. I know that they need to learn how to bounce their eyes off of provocative images and resist the urge to let their minds "go there" even if they do see someone dressed inappropriately.

I know there are women who blithely say it is the man's problem and not theirs. I know that no matter how a woman dresses, it doesn't give anyone the right to treat her poorly. I really do get all that being a woman myself.

However, I also know that when something that is very tempting is constantly dangled in front of you, it takes a lot of grace and God's power to continue to do the right thing.

The thing is, I don't believe most young girls really and truly understand what dressing immodestly does to the males around them. Sure, they probably enjoy the attention, but have little understanding of what that attention really means. They feel pretty or desirable or special.

In fact, I would venture to say that there are a lot of moms who really don't understand that it's not just "bad" men who think "that way" about their daughters when they dress provocatively.

What many women don't realize is that the guys around them aren't thinking beautiful or special. Instead, that girl has become an object of desire to them with the key word being object - not person. That includes not just the cute boy on the basketball team, but grandpa, too. Ewwww.

I listened to this today and found it very interesting.

I want my sons to view your daughters as people - not objects.

Please don't think I am judging you or your daughters. We live in a culture that makes raising kids hard. I know that our culture sends a constant message to our daughters that their only worth comes from their sexual appeal. When you're in middle school or high school, it's hard not to want to fit in, to be liked, to feel worthwhile. Our culture sells sex to both girls and boys as a way to do that.

I know it's hard.

So, let's help each other. As moms, let's partner together to raise boys and girls that respect themselves and each other.

As a mom of a daughter, what's one thing you wish moms of boys would teach their sons?

~ Blessings, Bronte

Friday, June 7, 2013


Five Minute Friday
What is 5 Minute Friday? I'm glad you asked. Every Friday Lisa Jo Baker (you can find her here), gives everyone a word to write about for 5 minutes, and then you link up to share what you've written. It's free writing at it's finest - no editing, no agonizing over word choice, no going back and changing everything. Just write. This week our word is Fall. Are you ready?

Have you ever thought what if I just let go? What if, instead of worrying or fretting or anxiously looking ahead or behind, you just would allow yourself to fall - fall right into God's arms.

What if you were willing to just step off what you knew and know into the air without a safety net you could see? What would it be like to fall without a worry or thought into God's waiting arms, knowing without any doubts, that He would catch you, sustain you, lift you up?

Sometimes, I glimpse that sort of faith. Out of the corner of my eye, I glimpse what it would be like to live free of worries or fears or anxiety. But then it's gone, and I am back to my regular way of dealing with things, which usually involves wringing my hands and some sort of sweet.

When I was a kid, my parents spent a lot of time in church helping out. My friends and I often found creative ways to entertain ourselves while they were busy. In one side room, there was a staircase leading up - well, somewhere. I can't really remember where it led anymore, but the stairs were the kind that turned - you went up about 5 steps and there was a landing and then you went up more steps and there was another landing and a door. The "rail" of the stairs was a ledge about 10 inches wide. Down on the floor were a pile of gym mats, cushiony and inviting.

We all took turns leaping off the ledge to fall to the mats below. I loved that feeling of falling. I would stand on that ledge, my toes curled over the edge. The mats looked so far away, and I would leap. And fall. My stomach would flutter and it felt like a breeze had come up in that small room. It was like, for a moment in time, I was flying.

Sometimes, I would contort my body in strange shapes as I fell toward the mats. Sometimes, I'd just drop like a stone. But the excitement of the fall was what drew me and my friends to climb up those stairs over and over, to leap again and again.

God calls me to fall with Him, to take His hand and just leap off the ledge. When did I become overly cautious, afraid to fall? When did I lose my faith that I would be caught at the bottom?

~ Blessings, Bronte

Thursday, June 6, 2013


My youngest son was about 3 years old, and we were in the kitchen. I was trying to put dinner together. Brody was glued to my leg, chattering away. I was only listening with half an ear while I gathered ingredients to make dinner.

Apparently, little Brody realized his Mommy was not paying attention, so he started tugging on my arm, saying "Mommy, Mommy - listen, Mommy!"

I leaned down to hug his sturdy little body, the curls on his head tickling my nose. "Mommy IS listening," I assured him. He wiggled in my arms until he got both of his chubby little hands on both my cheeks. His brown eyes looked into mine, as he said earnestly, "Listen with your eyes too, Mommy."

Children have a way of teaching you things that nobody else can. That long ago day in my kitchen, my little toddler taught me something about focus and listening - that it isn't just a passive activity but a whole body attitude.

That whole body attitude of listening, of giving our entire focus, of being truly present in the moment is so often missing in my life - with my kids, my husband, on the phone with a friend and even in my time with God. It seems there always seems to be something waiting to snatch my attention or at least part of it.

Today, as I studied the last chapter of Ephesians, I got to the verses that talk about the armor of God. After this list of armor, it says in verse 18, "With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints."

To be completely honest, I haven't really been doing this the past few weeks. I find myself looking at the clock, realizing how late it is getting and hurrying off with an apologetic mumble to God about getting up earlier tomorrow and how we'll really spend time together - tomorrow.

You know how it is though - tomorrow never comes. Instead, days, weeks speed by, and my soul feels thirsty. My circumstances feel overwhelming and I can't seem to find clarity or peace or perseverance.

It's not as if I don't pray, but they are more of the "shoot em up" types of prayers as I go about my day.

I go through my prayer list. But it is hurried, haphazard - too many days I'm distracted, only half focused while a separate compartment of my brain is busy sorting through the day ahead.

The busyness though - it's a lie.

With two boys in sports, a husband who works a lot, a couple part time jobs and trying to keep our family in groceries and clean clothes, life does get busy.

But we all - myself included - make time for what is truly important to us. For what isn't, we just make excuses.

Am I really telling God that I'm too busy to give him my whole, entire focus and attention for an hour of my day?
The God of the universe. The God who created everything my feet and fingers touch. The God who sent His Son to die for me. The God who holds out His hand and invites me into a deep, personal relationship with Him. That God?

It seems ridiculous doesn't it? I mean, if the President called and wanted to meet with me, would I tell him I'm too busy and my to do list was too long? Would I say, Okay, but I can only give you 15 minutes because I'm really pressed for time?

That's sort of laughable isn't it? But I do it all the time to God, and He's way more, well, just more than any human being could possibly be.

I don't know about you, but I want to listen to God, not just with my ears, but with both my eyes too.

How do you practice being present?

~ Blessings, Bronte

Sunday, June 2, 2013

20 YEARS OF MARRIAGE - a reflection

Wednesday was my 20th anniversary to my wonderful husband. We actually had a busy day and weren't able to celebrate until this past weekend. He did offer to skip his meetings for me, but I gave him the pass to go because I knew it was important to him. Twenty years ago, that wouldn't have happened. Heck, 10 years ago, it might not have happened.

The truth is, I'm not the same girl I was when I got married. At the age of 20, I thought I was mature for my age and knew everything. I thought marriage was all about me and how my husband would make me happy and fulfilled and everything would be "happily ever after." I romanticized the "hard times" all the older people kept talking about, envisioning how we would be the brave, yet loving couple - swell the background music as we stood with our arms around one another on some hillside - not sure why it was always a hillside but it was. I believed in soul mates.

I was, and to some extent still am, an idealist. However, marriage has refined my romantic, idealistic self into something a whole lot more realistic.

This happens to be a year of milestones for me. I turned 40 years old. I celebrated my 20th anniversary. My brother just got married in March, and my parents will be celebrating their 50th anniversary this fall.

My husband and I are in that middle place, somewhere between my brother and his new wife who are just starting out, and my parents who have been at this marriage thing way longer than we have.

It's interesting to see the two perspectives - the giddy newlyweds and the committed couple. My parents actually are very cute together. They go everywhere together, still hold hands and genuinely enjoy each others company.

It felt right to take a moment to stop and reflect, to look at what I've learned after 20 years of marriage.

I'm not the same as I was when I walked down the aisle, and neither is my husband. That's probably a good thing.

1. Marriage isn't about making you happy. Oswald Chambers, revered Christian author, said it best when he said "Marriage is not about making you happy; it is about building your character." I know a lot of women who think if they can just get married, they will be happy. The thing is though, if you aren't happy before you got married, then you won't be happy afterward either. Marriage isn't a fairy tale and happily ever after doesn't actually exist without a lot of hard work.

2. Along the same lines - it isn't your husband's job to make you happy, fulfill you and meet every need you have. In fact, it's nobody's job to make anyone else happy or meet all their needs. No one person can be everything to a person. Only God can do that. It's unfair to place that burden on another person.

3. Marriage withers if you play the comparison game. It's futile anyway because each marriage is as unique as the individuals in it. Nothing is as detrimental as a woman saying, "I wish my husband would be like so and so's husband," or "I wish my husband and I did fun things like that couple." You'd be much better off expending your energy on growing, nurturing and protecting your own marriage.

4. Cultivate an attitude of thankfulness and appreciation for your spouse. Nobody is perfect. Those things that drew us to our spouse can become a source of irritation eventually. It's easy to fall into a pattern of negativity or being critical without really even realizing it. Love does not flourish in a house full of criticism though. My husband and I are such opposites, it's kind of a joke between us. I've learned to appreciate and be thankful for those differences. I wouldn't want to be married to a clone of myself.

5. Accept your spouse for who he is. Nothing is so demoralizing to someone as believing their spouse doesn't like who they are. I'm not saying you'll like every single thing your spouse does, but that's different than not liking who they are. When I try to change my husband, that's what I'm saying to him - "I don't like you as you are, but if I could just make these improvements, then you'd be acceptable." Nobody likes to feel as if they aren't quite good enough. I want my husband to know how much I admire who God has made him to be. Respect and admiration are big deals to men, and letting them know how and why you admire them is important.

6. Accept your spouse's work schedule and be supportive. My husband is in full-time ministry. His hours are weird and often change at the last minute. Fortunately, I'm not a super scheduled person and it doesn't bother me to be alone. However, I'll be honest and say that for many years early in our marriage and when our children were young, I often guilted my husband because he wasn't home and why couldn't he spend more time with me and wasn't I important enough to him and, well, you get the picture. Now, to be fair, my husband has a tendency to be a workaholic at times, so we did have to sit down and figure out what worked for us and where he did need to draw some boundaries. But can I say it is far different when you sit down together and decide together as a team what works for your family, as opposed to one person haranguing the other. I also had to realize that during certain seasons, my husband needed me to give him a pass and to be patient until things slowed down again (well, relatively anyway).

7. Successful communication is as much about how and when you say something, as the actual words. The same words said in a sweet tone when your husband is well rested can come across completely differently than words said in a nasty or sarcastic tone of voice as your husband comes straggling in the door after a difficult day. It's important to speak up and talk about issues. I've been guilty of just letting things go until I explode so I'm not advocating stuffing your feelings, but at the same time, choosing the right time and tone can be the difference between a productive conversation and a big fight.

8. Men, for the most part, really aren't about hidden agendas or saying one thing and meaning another. Men are pretty straight forward. They don't usually do subtle or hints. If you want something, say so. I know, secretly you're thinking if they really loved you, they'd know. But they don't. Really. So, if you say you don't want anything for your birthday, then expect to get nothing for your birthday. Men, even ones that love you to pieces, can't read your minds. They are also less adept at reading body language than women as a general rule (have to make that caveat because I just know there are exceptions out there!). So do both of you a favor - say what you mean and mean what you say. :)

9. Submission doesn't equal being a doormat. Submission is probably one of the most misunderstood commands in the Bible. For one thing, it is voluntary. For another, it is from one adult to another adult. It has none of the child/parent relationship to it. God created us as wives to be our husbands helpers. That word in Hebrew is "ezer" and it is the same word used for the Holy Spirit when He is called a helper. We are our husbands trusted advisers and while we don't have authority over our husbands, we do have influence. That's a big deal. Being submissive doesn't mean you don't have an opinion or aren't allowed to express it. It just means your husband is the leader and you are his helper/adviser/supporter. You are on the same team and he's the captain.

10. Kindness and consideration - while they don't seem very sexy - really do go a long way in making a marriage work. I'm not saying my husband and I have never said anything hurtful to each other - I said a few real doozies in the first couple years we were married - but for the most part, we are kind to each other. I would rather NOT say something I should, than say something I shouldn't that I can never get back. Whoever said words don't wound was an idiot. Seriously. Hurtful, wounding words are something I can never get back, no matter how many times I say I'm sorry. And they are damaging to a marriage. I know people who still remember something nasty their spouse said years ago. Because we know each other so well, and we are vulnerable with a spouse like nobody else, our words have an incredible power to hurt each other. If I want my husband to be real and vulnerable with me, I can't then use what he says against him later when we get in a disagreement. I need to be trustworthy - not just with confidences and the private parts of our marriage, but with my husband's weaknesses and vulnerabilities. If I'm not or he's not, then we can't truly trust each other, and a marriage without that trust isn't much of a marriage.

What has your marriage taught you? I'd love to hear about it!

~ Blessings, Bronte

Wednesday, May 29, 2013


I can't believe that the six months of being on Holley Gerth's God sized Dream Team are over this week. I filled out the application on a whim and nobody was more surprised than I was to receive an email saying I had made the team. To be perfectly honest, I sort of panicked because I couldn't remember what I had put on my application.

I wasn't sure what to expect from a group of 99 women I didn't know, but what a blessing they have been to me. As believers, I am passionate about community. Through this dream team I found a community of like-minded sisters, traveling a similar path to my own. I didn't feel slightly out of step or just a bit odd when I was with them in cyberspace. Instead, I found acceptance, encouragement and inspiration.

I remember this movie with Anthony Hopkins in it. His plane had crashed in the Alaskan wilderness, and the little group faced bears and rough terrain and lethal weather. As he and the one person left alive planned how to kill this bear, the other man asked how he knew it would work. Hopkins answered that if someone else had done this before, he knew it could be done, too.

This group felt a little like that. I saw other women succeeding in their dreams, and it made me believe and hope that I could too.

Back in January, the only thing I knew was that I wanted to write, and I should probably make some money while I did it. I had this little blog, but not many readers. I had a job writing articles for our local paper, but I wasn't sure if I wanted to stay there long term. To put it bluntly, I felt like I had been told to go to South America, but didn't have any more detailed directions than that - not a country, a town and certainly not an address.

Over the past six months, my dreams have clarified. I've learned that instead of worrying or rushing around like a chicken with my head cut off, I needed to be still (thanks, Chelle!). I learned I needed to focus only on God, not on what I perceived were my needs because if I was doing what God wanted me to do, where He wanted me to be, then He would provide my needs.

What I learned was that my God sized dream was a bit different than I originally thought it would be. For one thing, I am launching a new blog at in the next few weeks. I never thought my job at the newspaper would branch off into a ministry, but it has. This new blog is that branch and with God's help, I am believing it will bloom.

I also learned that instead of freelance articles, God wanted me to take the risky leap of writing short stories - for KIDS. The thing is, over the past few months, I've fallen in love with children's and young adult's fiction. You see, it still has a little magic in it. :)

Eventually, I will be writing that fiction novel, but I am excited about this "training" period of writing short stories. I know God has a lot for me to learn and that I will grow as a writer.

The biggest thing I think I've learned on this God-sized Dream Team is that the map to my dreams changes. There is no static destination, but rather dreaming is a journey. It is an adventure.

Fortunately, God saw fit to bless me with my own little "Fellowship of the Pen." He put together a group of women with unique gifts and talents that somehow, miraculously, all seem to complement each other.

Holley Gerth's God-sized Dream Team has been a huge blessing in my life, so thanks Holley for taking the leap of faith to bring 99 women together. You gave us all a gift! This group is an active demonstration of what God means when He says we are to love each other, and I know that even though our official time is over, our journey together will continue around another bend in the road.

"For love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails." I Corinthians 13: 7, 8a

Blessings, Bronte

Monday, May 27, 2013


That sounds so spiritual doesn't it- walking in the Spirit? It's what each of us, as believers, is called to do. The great thing about being a Christian is that it isn't a cookie cutter experience. Every believer does not have to be identical to each other.

At our salvation, God gave us each at least one spiritual gift, sometimes more. He gave us passions and dreams and desires that are as unique as our fingerprints.

While there are certain things we are ALL called to do - loving God with all our hearts, souls, minds and strength and our neighbor has ourselves comes to mind - He also has individual plans for every single one of us.

He knows us so intimately, even before we were a glimmer in our mother's eye, that we can trust Him for those plans and purposes, that He knows better than we do what and where we should be.

All that sounds pretty great doesn't it? It's like the deluxe Christian package or something. But there's a catch. You knew there would be one, didn't you?

We can't do ANY of this in our own strength or knowledge or abilities. Not one bit of it.

Now that deluxe package doesn't seem quite so deluxe does it? How many times have I purposed in my heart that I am going to only speak edifying words, only to find myself hours (or sometimes minutes) later, wishing I could somehow press a reverse button and erase the words that are hanging in the air like a bad odor?

How many times have I purposed to be loving or kind or patient or meek or you fill in the blank, only to fall short again and again?

The thing is you and I will continue to fall short to do and be the people we are called to be by God, UNLESS we are walking in the Spirit.

So, how do you do that? How is it possible to daily walk in the Spirit so I can love the unlovable or speak boldly when normally I'd hide in the corner or meet an offense with kindness and humility instead of anger and pride?

I won't pretend to have all the answers to that question. I am, after all, a work in progress (and praise the Lord, God promises to continue to work on me until the day I die!).

But one thing I DO know - walking in the Spirit doesn't happen by accident. It doesn't happen when we don't daily spend time with God.

I know we've all heard stories of people who read their Bibles and said their prayers but never really changed or grew, so it is possible to just go through the motions but never allow the Spirit to change you. But, I'm here to tell you that growth and change can't happen without reading God's Word and spending time in prayer with Him. You can't grow in your intimacy with God if you are getting everything second hand.

You can't walk in the Spirit if you never spend purposeful, intentional time with Him.

I don't want to sound legalistic about this, but this is one of those spiritual disciplines we all really need to be more, well, disciplined about. Current statistics tell us that of the people who profess to be born again, Bible believing Christians, less than 25% of them say they spend any meaningful time in God's Word outside of church.

God is not going to force you to spend time with Him, but He gives us an open invitation. Personally, when I stop to think that the God who put stars in place and carved out places for the oceans and created all the beauty around us every single day also wants to spend time, one on one, with me - well, it sort of blows my mind. It also causes me to tremble to think of the many times I've told that God in actions, if not words, "I'm too busy to spend time with you today; my to-do list is more important than sitting at your feet today."

Spending time with God is not a luxury or an indulgence. It is a necessity if we have any hope of fulfilling what God has place us individually on this earth to accomplish.

Will you say yes to God's invitation to spend time with Him today?

~ Blessings, Bronte

Friday, May 24, 2013

5 Minute Friday - VIEW

Five Minute Friday Every Friday, Lisa Jo Baker offers us the opportunity to free write for 5 minutes on a word she provides. No editing. No over thinking - just writing. This week our word was "view." You can check other writings here.

I remember this book by Edith Wharton (at least I'm pretty sure that's who wrote it) called Room with a View. It's the first thing I thought of when I saw our prompt word today.

The view from my room includes a city neighborhood. We aren't exactly downtown, but we are definitely not in the suburbs either.

I have a pretty good view of my neighborhood because my dog and I walk every day around its environs. This area started out as a blue collar type neighborhood. Most of the houses look very similar - box type ranches built in the 50s. If you went inside, you'd probably find the layouts inside to be similar too.

There are big, old shade trees in yards and lining the streets - which is really nice when you're walking in the summer.

This area used to be full of young families or retired couples. Over the past decade - we moved in here about 12 years ago - things have changed.

I still see a lot of children, but they often come from broken homes. Small children play on curbs, dangerously close to cars that zoom by too fast, too carelessly.

My big fluffy dog is a kid magnet and they all run out to pet him, to hug him, to chatter at me. Often, there are no parents around. They are alone. At the age of 6 or 7 years old.

I knew there were kids that were neglected in our town. I knew that. But now I have an almost daily view of it.

And it breaks my heart.

We've had kids at our house all day long and I have no idea who their parents are. I tell them we are going to eat lunch and they'll have to go home, only to look up to see them hanging on my front porch, peering through the windows.

I keep boxes of popsicles in my freezer and gallons of lemonade in my fridge to pass out. I've passed out pb&js to eager hands.

My boys are older now and many of the friends they had when they were younger now roam in packs further afield. But we still have visitors. The little boy across the street often comes to my house.

It seems like he and his sister are just as happy to see me as my boys.

I'm not judging these kids' parents. I have no idea what their lives are like - maybe they work weird shift hours or just simply don't have the tools to parent their kids like they need to. I don't know. I just know the view from my window shows me a great need.

I've prayed that we could move, but God never seems to okay it. I've prayed about how I can help because to be honest, the whole thing makes me feel overwhelmed. God has shown me over and over again that what He requires of me is that I take note of them.

Instead of sighing and hurrying along with my dog, I stop. Instead of telling kids who come to my door to go away, I welcome them. I talk. I smile. I listen. I care.

My boys have learned to listen and to care, too. They've learned that not everybody gets to grow up in a home with two parents that love them and are able to take care of them.

Sometimes, the view from my window hasn't been very pretty, but every day, God gives me the opportunity to make a difference - even if it is a very small one. That's a view I can be happy with.

~ Blessings, Bronte

Tuesday, May 21, 2013


From the time I was very young, I wanted to write. In response to that, I usually got the question of, "But what will you do as a real job?"

Can you relate? If you are a writer, a painter, a photographer or any other creative/artistic based soul, there is the expectation that you won't be able to make a living doing that, that you'll have to do something else as well.

Today, for Holley Gerth's God-sized Dream Team, we are supposed to write about the biggest risk or scariest part of following our dreams.

For me, it's the fear of failure and everybody being right that perhaps I am a little crazy.

I've gotten off track more than once on these past six months because I got caught up in a) what's the next best career move and b) how to make my writing lucrative.

I know that sounds so crass doesn't it? If you are a true artist then money shouldn't matter right? Well, the truth is, when you have bills to pay or kids that need braces or your car needs repairs, money becomes a little more important. I remember romanticizing the idea of being poor for my art, but the reality is, that gets old pretty quickly.

Besides the money aspect of pursuing my dreams, there comes this fear of failure. What if I pursue this with my whole heart and then find out I'm not good, or nobody wants to read what I write, or there is nothing that really sets me apart from the million other wanna-be writers out there. Who am I to think I can make a worthwhile contribution?

I think the idea of "being good enough" is something all artists of all stripes face at one time or another. Art - whether it is through words, paint or a camera lens is very personal. It's a reflection of our inner selves given to the world. Criticism of it feels uncomfortably close to criticism of who we are, not just what we do.

Another risk for me goes back to that old question - "what is your real job?" Or, to put it another way, is this worthwhile in the scheme of eternity? While I believe in the power of story to change peoples' lives, I don't necessarily believe in the power of MY stories to change peoples' lives.

As a former English teacher, I can run down a list as long as my arm why reading fiction is beneficial, but for some reason, I have a hard time translating that into me writing fiction being beneficial to the readers out there.

It all comes back to two things: trust and obedience.

Do I trust God's direction? Obviously, while I am perfectly capable of going on a wild goose chase after the unimportant, GOD isn't going to send me on a goose chase. HE is the one that created me to write, to be creative. Sometimes, I wish He'd made me to be a nurse or a doctor or with some other very obviously beneficial skills than writing. The benefits of writing stories isn't always tangible and I often don't see the rewards until much later - if ever.

But I can trust that God's plan for me is perfect and worthwhile.

That means, if I can trust God's plan, then the only question left for me to answer is will I be obedient? Will I walk out what God has for me to do? Will I be a faithful steward of the skills and gifts He's entrusted to me? Will I trust enough to obey and leave the results up to Him?

My answer is YES! Yes, because to do anything less is to miss the grand adventure God has for me. Yes, because I don't want to be like that steward in the Bible whose master comes back to find he buried his talents instead of using and multiplying them.

Ultimately, when I write, I'm not trusting and relying on MY gifts and abilities. Instead, I'm laying them at Jesus' feet and trusting Him to use them for His glory and for His purposes.

Are you willing to let go and let God use the gifts He's given you? Do you trust Him enough, even when the result doesn't match the world's definition of success?

~ Blessings, Bronte

Wednesday, May 15, 2013


You probably gasped in shock when you read the title of this blog post, but I'm serious. I know what "they" say about platform - everyone needs to find, grow and cultivate a platform. In this day of social media, it's the only way to get your message out.

To a certain extent, I agree. Personally, I have about four books I'm currently reading about platform - how to decide on one; how to develop one; how to find your niche. It's all good stuff. Really.

In fact, since finding myself on Holley Gerth's God-sized Dream Team, I've been looking and studying this idea of platform and how to find my voice. I've gotten detoured a few times along the way, and honestly, it wasn't until I stopped searching for a platform and started being still before God that I actually found my platform. It wasn't until I stopped to listen that the fog that had shrouded my path finally cleared.

It's ironic, really, that at the time I was discovering this, I happened to sign up for a Beth Moore simulcast. Her three sessions were on secrets - the good kind and the bad kind.

I'm sure you can imagine how secrets can be bad, but did you know that God invites you into the secret places with Him?

"We live in the day of platforms. Stop worrying about finding your rooftop (in Bible times rooftops were flat and people would climb up and shout their news from them) - you go in the secret with Him." Beth's words seemed like they were aimed right at me.

Isaiah 43: 5 says, "I'll give you treasures in the darkness (secret)."

Beth went on to say that we want our gifting to come out, but that instead of searching for a public venue to get it, we actually need to get in the secret place with God. That's where we work it out with Him.

God moves in us, He gives us His word in the secret, but I know I am so excited and so impatient, that I'm often shouting it out in public before I've had a real chance to digest it and really take it in, to allow it room to grow and develop.

God gives me a glimpse of a dream and instead of reveling in this new thing, of taking it to God, and letting He and I watching it grow together - I drag it into the public sphere where it promptly keels over from too much harsh light and too much traffic and noise.

In June, my time on the God-sized Dream team will come to an end officially. I've made some friends though that I will continue to travel with. All writers need a "fellowship of the pen," but one thing I've learned through these months - God's time table is not my time table. I'm often impatient and unwilling to wait.

I'm reminded of the Anne of Green Gables series. At one point, Marilla takes in two twins - Dora and Davy. Dora is a perfect little lady but Davy is a bit of a devil. It's spring and they plant seeds for a garden. Dora's plants start to send up green shoots. Davy complains that his aren't growing at all, "Even though I dig 'em up every day to see how they are doing."

Like seeds, our dreams sometimes need to be nurtured in private before they can bloom in public.

So, as Beth said, "Don't go roof-seeking; go closet-seeking."

~ Blessings, Bronte

Saturday, May 11, 2013

MOTHER'S DAY - the two women in my life

Two women gave me life – one didn’t want a child and the other did. One found an unexpected pregnancy devastating, a cause of panic. The other, found that unexpected pregnancy a source of hope, a way to have her arms filled when they had been empty before. One I’ve never met, and the other is all I’ve known.

As someone who is adopted, I’m often asked if I want to meet my “real mom.” My answer is, “Not really – I already have a real mom.” Sure, it would be nice to know where I get my creative ways or my auburn hair; knowing a little medical history wouldn’t be a bad thing either.

The truth is, though, my bio mom has gone on with her life. She’s probably married and has a family of her own. I don’t have any desire to disrupt that.

I do wish I could tell her thank you, though.

Thank you for choosing to carry me, even though in the 1970s being pregnant and not married still brought shame.

Thank you for putting your plans and life on hold, so I could one day have plans and life, too.

Thank you for caring enough to indicate the type of home you wanted me in. Apparently, my biological mom was an only child, so she specifically asked for me to be placed in a home with siblings. This is the main reason that my parents did not have to wait too long after they adopted my older brother to adopt a second child – which would be me.

The other woman in my life IS my mom. I don’t even really like to use the phrase “adoptive mom” because to me, she’s just my mom. While my birth mom gave me life, my mom is the one who taught me how to live it.

She is the one that read me story after story when I pestered anyone who breathed to read to me.

She is the one that got up during the night when I was sick, and the one who taught me about Jesus and faith.

She is the one that encouraged me to dream and learn and grow.

She is the one that guided me into adulthood, so I could fulfill those plans and dreams.

Two women who have never met each other, but each has given me untold gifts. My birth mom gave me the gift of life. My adoptive mom taught me how to use that gift.

On Mother’s Day, I have to say thank you to both of them.

Thursday, May 9, 2013


I have a confession to make. I am absolutely horrible with directions. My lack of directional abilities is sort of a family joke.

With my job at the newspaper, I regularly find myself going to places I've never been before, and often, they are in the middle of nowhere. The last words out my husband's mouth when I leave the house aren't usually "I love you." Instead, he stands at the door, a worried look on his face, asking me as I pull out of the driveway, "Are you sure you know where you're going?"

With my directions on the seat beside me, I confidently wave my hand out the window and assure him that I will have no problem finding wherever it is I'm going.

The directions always seem so easy when I look at the map. Turn left here. Continue on that road. Destination is on the left.

Sometimes though, I find myself turned around. Roads aren't clearly marked or they go by a different name than the one listed in my directions. A weird jog in the road leaves me with two options, and I invariably pick the wrong one.

Other times, the directions are just plain wrong, and for whatever reason, the address I typed in isn't anywhere near where the map shows my destination. I remember one time, the map clearly said my destination sat between two roads. I drove to the farthest road, turned around and stopped the car - stumped. I was between the two roads and there wasn't a house to be seen for miles. It was just me and the cows.

Fortunately, after several very frustrating past trips I've learned to make sure I have my interviewees phone number and my phone (and have it charged up), rather than just driving aimlessly around without a clue as to where I am or where I'm going. So, I called the person and she was able to direct me to her house. Turns out, I was on the right road - I just hadn't driven far enough (and yes, the directions were wrong but hey, at least I was pointed in the right direction).

The thing is, as I travel down the road toward my God-given dreams and calling, I can think I've downloaded the map correctly. However, I often find that the directions aren't quite as easy as I had at first thought they'd be, or sometimes, I find myself somewhere completely different than the destination I had in mind because somewhere along the way I took a wrong turn or the map was just plain wrong. Sometimes, I just keep driving - hoping if I go a little bit further, the address I'm searching for will miraculously appear.

That happened to me recently. I had interviewed for a job at the library and didn't get it. I assumed this meant that it wasn't God's plan. I was tooling along quite happily when I got a phone call.

Suddenly, I had a choice to make. Did I take the job, even though it was only five hours, to get my foot in the door, or did I turn it down? I wavered. I looked at the pros and cons. I talked to my husband (who said it was up to me - that isn't helpful, btw). Finally, I decided that I would regret not taking it and seeing where it led. My thought was I could always quit, but I couldn't just magically conjure up another job.

I like the job. It's easy and non-stressful. It's in a library and I'm surrounded by books - what's not to like!

Then I got another call - would I like more hours at the main library branch. I decided to try it and see what happened.

What happened was that suddenly, my plate became precariously full. Last year, my plate was too full. I can admit that now - you know, that I'm not actually superwoman. I was stressed and really didn't enjoy the experience. I had gotten it cleared off to manageable, but now, once again, I found it too full with stuff dripping off the edges.

Then I started to agonize again - should I quit my hours at the main branch? Should I quit all together? What if by quitting, I threw away an opportunity? What if something happened to my job at the newspaper and then I wouldn't have any job at all?

The words "what if" swam in my brain and I found myself posting my dilemma on several boards I belong to. I wanted someone to give me "permission" to quit. I prayed about it too - throwing my worries and questions at God, never pausing to actually listen to what He was trying to tell me

It finally dawned on me (hey, I never said I was a fast learner), that the person I NEEDED to seek counsel from weren't friends (no matter how well-meaning). It wasn't even throwing out prayers like confetti. Nope, I needed to go to my map maker Himself and just stop long enough to listen.

God showed me I was not only on the wrong road, but I was driving further from the destination He had in mind for me. I needed to pull over right now and turn around.

Suddenly, the angst and indecision I felt fell away. The answer was obvious and crystal clear.

I called today and let the folks at the main branch know I wouldn't be working extra hours after a specific date (I wanted to be fair and give them time to find someone else).

Part of me feels frustrated with myself. Once again, I got distracted on a detour, delaying my dream, feeling further away from my destination.

But every trip teaches you something.

For me that was learning that instead of fearing the "what ifs," I need to go to the I AM.

~ Blessings, Bronte

Friday, May 3, 2013


Are you brave? I don't really think of myself as brave at all. I'm the type of girl that if things go bump in the night, I huddle in my bed hoping someone else will go check it out - and I turned 40 this year.

So, brave is not a word I use to describe myself.

Yet, other people think I'm brave. It absolutely floored me when a friend told me she thought I was brave for trying something new. I just blinked at her. I wanted to feel her forehead to see if she was maybe running a fever and was hallucinating that I was someone else.

The thing that God has been showing me though is brave is more of an action than a feeling. I don't often feel very brave, but if I wait to do something until I feel brave enough, it will never happen.

As Nike would say, I just have to do it. Often the worst thing that can happen is only my imagination running away with me anyway.

The opposite of brave isn't fear - it's doing nothing at all. Many of the people throughout history who are considered brave wouldn't have described themselves that way, but the history books are left with their actions not their feelings.

So, can I encourage you today - hit the publish button, or send in that resume or make that phone call or tell that person how you really feel or whatever it is that you are not feeling very brave about. You'll be really glad you did.

I want to take this opportunity to share someone who bravely started a new blog series today. Check it out here.

Don't forget to hop on over to Lisa Jo Baker's blog to check out other posts on being brave!

~ Blessings, Bronte

Five Minute Friday

Tuesday, April 30, 2013


Today, for our link up (which I am once again late to), Holley Gerth asked us to write a letter of encouragement to our fellow dreamers. There are 99 people in our group, so I wasn't sure who to pick. Then I started to worry, what if I pick one person and someone else is hurt? What if nobody picks several people? Can you tell I tend toward being a peace maker and people-pleaser? Not to mention, with so many wonderful, gifted women - who could pick just one? So, in the spirit of equality, I'm writing to ALL the dreamers, those women on the God-sized Dream Team and those are aren't on the team but are dreamers none-the-less.

Dear Dreamer,
It's hard to be a dreamer, sometimes. Some days, it even appears impossible. Today, I interviewed a woman who had every reason to let all her dreams go, to give up because it's too hard. She has hydrocephalus which is basically spinal fluid on the brain. In her life, she's had 27 different serious, she-could-die-on-the-table brain surgeries. She is also legally blind.

As I talked to her and she shared the various things she's done in her life - including not only writing and speaking but also becoming a lawyer - she said something that hit me. "I like to focus on the abilities rather than the disabilities - God gave me both. I think He gave me both for a reason. We all have disabilities and I don't believe God gives us things without a plan of how those things, if we follow Him, will bring Him glory."

Maybe you don't struggle with a physical disability like blindness or a chronic disease. Maybe your disability is something much subtler, like a bad temper or chronic disorganization. Maybe, in a world or extroverts, you are painfully shy and see that as a handicap in your life. Get this - God has a plan, not just for your abilities, but the things you consider disabilities or handicaps in your life. He can use it all for His glory, if you let Him.

Later, the same day, I was listening to Beth Moore. I love her - don't you? :) She talked about Psalms 139:14-16,
"I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them."

Moore talked about how God knew you "when I was made in secret." In other words, there was a time when only God knew and delighted over you. Nobody else - not even your mom - knew you even existed yet. I guess the earliest detection is at about 7 days into a pregnancy - and that is with some spiffy tests your average woman doesn't get.

In fact, God knew you BEFORE you were even conceived. Jeremiah 1:5 says, "Before I framed you in your mother's womb, I knew you."

That means that God knew you would struggle with patience or have a stronghold of fear before you were even formed. He knew if you would struggle with a physical, emotional, mental or spiritual disability. He knew; He planned for it; He can use it to bring Him glory.

What we consider the worst of parts of us can become a beacon of God's love, mercy and grace to a world cloaked in darkness.

So, Dreamer, will you give it all to a God that loves you, that has plans for you - yes, even for those things you consider disabilities in your life?

He is the God who bring beauty from ashes, after all.

~ Blessings, Bronte

Wednesday, April 24, 2013


As I said in my previous post, the topic of unity has been heavy on my heart the past month. Everywhere I turn, I seem to hear or read or see something on this topic.

It has brought me to tears on more than one occasion during my prayer times - and I'm not really much of a crier.

Today, as I prayed (and cried) over the lack of unity I see in the body of Christ, I felt anger rising in me at people's blindness. Don't they know that we need to be united? Don't they realize the turn off we have become to the unbelieving world? As I prayed and felt the stirrings of righteous anger, God brought to mind a book I read recently.

It stopped me in my spiritual tracks before I had veered completely onto that path labeled "self-righteous." I know you're dying to know what the story was, so I'll share it with you. It's from a book called Warped. The whole plot is rather complicated, so I'm just going to share this small part of the story.

There was a young prince who wandered into a wood. As he dismounted from his noble steed, to walk through the narrow, leafy paths, a small dwelling seemed to spring up from nowhere. Although he had been in these woods many times, he had never seen this small house. Looking at it closely, it seemed to have grown from the very ground - covered in flowering vines and made from tree boughs as it was.

A small, elderly woman poked her head from the doorway and greeted him warmly. The young prince, seeing her tiny, frail form felt safe and entered her home when he was invited. She chatted amicably with him and he relaxed into the encounter. She drew ever nearer, but the young prince had no fears of a little, old lady - even if she did seem a bit odd.

The old woman pulled a small stone from her pocket and touched his chest with it. She started to babble undecipherable words. The young prince thought that the poor old thing had lost her wits - until he tried to move and found that he couldn't.

The old woman continued her garbled speech until the young man's very essence had dribbled out. The next thing he knew, he had changed. He was no longer a young man, but a strong unicorn with a long, spiral horn protruding from his forehead. Terrified, he galloped away into the woods.

Several days past and the young prince's family started to become frantic. Where was he? He had appeared to vanish into thin air. The next day, an old woman was in the village, telling everyone she had seen a unicorn, and that the unicorn had killed the young prince.

Immediately, the young prince's brother vowed that he would kill the unicorn. He mounted a hunt, and being an excellent hunter, had soon cornered the beast. The brother's eyes glittered with malice and determination as he approached the pawing, rearing beast - the enemy. He looked into the animal's eyes, and for a brief, dizzying moment he thought.... no, this was the enemy. The brother shook his head. He slashed at the unicorn. The unicorn, perfectly cognizant of who he was, didn't want to hurt his brother, but knew, his brother would surely kill him because his brother believed him to be the enemy.

The unicorn struck out with sharp hooves, wounding his brother in the arm. In the ensuing confusion, the unicorn broke away and escaped into the woods, dripping blood from a wound in his neck. His brother sat on the ground, the wound in his arm dripping blood onto the ground.

The witch - for that is what the old woman really was - cackled her glee. She had gotten what she wanted and the brother was still clueless that he had been hair's breadth away from mortally wounding his own brother for he was deceived.

This is what happens to Christians all the time. We are deceived into thinking our brother or sister is the enemy. They aren't. Instead, like the unicorn and brother, both parties run away from each other, bleeding, while satan sits back and has a good laugh at our expense.

How can we stop being deceived into thinking our brother or sister is the enemy? The answer is found through out the New Testament. Whenever there is a list of things you need to deal with fellow believers, you will always find the word "humility." It reminds of the verse in Proverbs that says, "A soft answer turns away wrath." It's the opposite of how we want to respond when we feel wronged by someone isn't it?

But as is so often the case, God asks us to do the very opposite of what our flesh clamors for us to do. There's a whole list.

If you want to be strong - be weak.
If you want to be great - become small.
If you want to be first - be last.
If someone treats you badly - pray for them.
If someone curses you - bless them.

I don't know about you, but those things don't come naturally to me, but it's really the only way to affect unity.

"Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves;" Phil. 2:3

~ Blessings, Bronte

Tuesday, April 23, 2013


Lately, as I have taught and studied the book of Ephesians for my Sunday school class, over and over again, I have run into the importance of unity within the church as a whole. Apparently, the world of unbelievers is supposed to be drawn to Christ by how we love each other, by how we treat each other.

Let that sink in for a moment.

Keep in mind that by body, Paul is referring to the ENTIRE body of believers, not just my church or your church, but all believers in all parts of the globe.

Look around. What are unbelievers seeing? Is what they are seeing drawing them to Christ or making them want to run in the opposite direction?

So often, we get this really wrong. We don't treat each other with gentleness or kindness or patience. We want to be right more than we care about the other person. We dutifully do "good" deeds, but our love is missing. The unbelieving world notices.

If this is so very important, not just within the body but in drawing others to Christ, why do we mess this up so much? Why do we do the equivalent of cutting our own flesh on a fairly regular basis?

As we were discussing unity in class the other week, one of the women piped up with this insightful comment. She said, "Maybe the reason it's mentioned so often is because God knew how hard it would be for us."

Of course, she was right. Unity is vital, but it's also hard because it involves dying to ourselves and being humble.

And because it is so important and we are so human, satan targets it. This isn't unusual because he often tries to take the gifts God gives us and warp or destroy them.

He whispers lies in our ears and manipulates circumstances so we start to view our fellow brothers and sisters warily, like they are the enemy. He incites anger and hurt, and then he hides behind a human target. So instead of slicing down the true enemy, we slice into each other.

This past week our study was the first half of Ephesians 4. This passage is often used to discuss spiritual gifts, but it is also a powerful treatise on the subject of unity within the body.

It tells us how to deal with each other effectively in verses 2 and 3: with humility, gentleness, patience, tolerance and love.

A few verses down in verse 11, it lists the various areas of service in the church: apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. It then gives in verse 12, the reason for these gifts: to equip the saints (believers) to go out and serve and to build up the body (church).

I know in my own life, it is so easy for me to get my eyes off that target. I can start to worry about if I am doing a good job teaching; if the ladies in my class like what I teach or how I teach; if my class is popular and growing or if it is shrinking. Being human, it's so easy to make my gifts all about ME. It's not, though. The only reason I have any spiritual gifts at all is to equip and build up other believers.

In verse 13, we find the goal of building up the body - to attain unity of the faith, knowledge of Christ and become mature in our faith.

One of the aspects of maturity in a believer is found in verse 15 - "speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ."

It's hard to speak the truth in love. By personality and by gift mixes, we usually fall on the side of mercy or justice. Truth without love is harsh and alienating. I know a lot of Christians who speak truth but without love, and it only drives people away from Christ. Love without truth isn't really love, though. I also know a lot of believers who are so afraid of hurting someone's feelings, they refrain from speaking truth, causing a deeper wound by what they don't say. "Faithful are the wounds of a brother." It's a sign of maturity when we can do both - speak truth and do it lovingly.

Finally, in verse 16, we get this wonderful picture of the body working together as it is supposed to.

"From whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love."

Each joint, every part - fitted together. Each tendon and joint is important for the whole functioning of the body. It's like when you get a blister on your pinky toe. Most of the time, I never think about my pinky toe. It seems so small and unimportant, but if I get a blister on it, even though it's a tiny wound on a tiny part of my body, my WHOLE body is effected.

So it is with the body of Christ.

When we are working together in unity, we are a force to be reckoned with - think of the first century church! When we are working together in harmony, we grow and build ourselves up in love.

When we treat each other with love and kindness and diligently preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, the church becomes the glory of God. It shines like a beacon, drawing unbelievers to Christ.

How will you let your light shine today?
~ Blessings, Bronte

Friday, April 19, 2013


If you know me, you know I am a huge movie buff. Nothing is better than settling back into a cushy theater seat as the lights dim, knowing I'll get to visit a different time or place or world. It's a kind of magic.

Tonight I went to see 42 - the movie based on the story of Jackie Robinson. At the beginning of the movie, the owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers decides to bring up a "negro" baseball player - the first non-white player. Mr. Ricky tells Jackie that people won't be welcoming him with open arms. He lists the insults Jackie may face - being turned away from a hotel, not able to use a bathroom or even turned away from locker rooms.

He looks at Jackie and says, "Do you have the guts to not fight back? Do you have guts our Lord and Savior had to turn the other cheek?"

The thing was, Jackie was a fighter. He was tough and not easily intimidated. He had a history of standing up for himself. It was one of the reasons Mr. Ricky picked him in the first place. As he looked through a stack of players, he stared at one dossier and said the man was too sweet-natured and he'd be chewed up and spit back out.

Throughout the movie, you see Robinson booed and insulted. At one point in the game, a manager from another team stands on the sidelines spewing racial slurs and insults. To be honest, I had a really hard time listening to it. I was appalled that anyone would yell that at someone else.

You see the tension on Robinson's face and how badly he'd like to shove those words down that other man's throat. But he doesn't. Instead, he has the guts to walk away.

We could all learn a lot from that example, couldn't we?

I hesitated to write this because a)I'm a white woman and b)I've never had bigotry, hatred or racism aimed at me. It's not like I'm writing this from experience.

But I do know that though this movie was set in the 1940s, this type of hatred is still around. People all over the world experience this because of their skin color, ethnicity, religion or gender. They don't just have ugly words hurled at them - although that is hurtful enough - but often those words escalate into violence. People lose their homes, their livelihoods, their loved ones.

Why do we do this to each other? I know, that sounds like a naive question doesn't it? Kind of akin to "can't we all just get along?" But really, why can't we?

Throughout the years, the cruelest and ugliest things have been done to humans beings by human beings.

And these things are not just perpetrated by people who are mentally unhinged either. These are people like you and me - people with jobs and families and grandchildren. How is do you get to the point where you treat another person like they aren't a person?

I think the answer lies, as it always does, with Jesus. It's easy to stereotype a group because you take away their humanity by lumping everyone together. They cease to be an individual.

The Bible says that God so loved the world, and Jesus died to save everyone. But redemption happens one on one, doesn't it?

While Jesus died for everyone, salvation is a powerful yet personal gift. It's an individual thing even after our salvation. God works in us individually. He cares about us in minute detail - down to the number of hairs on our heads.

The thing is, to God, each and every person is precious and beloved. It says He wasn't willing that even one perishes. There's that great parable of the shepherd going out after the one lost lamb, even though 99 were safe in the fold.

As Christians, as believers, there should be no room in our lives for racism or hatred of any kind. Our true enemy isn't other people - it's satan. He just tends to hide behind human shields.

The thing I loved about this movie is you saw that Robinson's behavior changed and challenged his teammates. If he had come out swinging, while they would have probably certainly understood, it wouldn't have touched them the way his ability to both stand tall and turn the other cheek.

Instead of fighting, he had the guts to not fight back. Do we have that kind of courage in the face of ugly words or actions? How do you respond when someone is less than kind to you?

~ Blessings, Bronte

Thursday, April 18, 2013


If you had asked me when I was 20 if I would still be living in the same little town at the age of 40, I would have laughed. The kind of laugh where you are bent double and your eyes stream tears and you can hardly breathe.

After I wiped my tears off my face and gained control of myself, I'd have told you that wasn't in my plans. My plans were to go, to see, to do. I wanted to have grand adventures, preferably while paddling down the Amazon, bright birds streaking overhead and monkeys chattering in the trees.

As someone who is endlessly curious (nosy seems so negative, doesn't it?), I could gladly pack my bags and hit the road to sights yet unseen, friends not yet met and experiences just waiting to be explored, without much hesitation.

But you know what they say about the best laid plans don't you?

Instead, God asked me to sit and stay. Most of the time I'm content. I can see the blessings of being in a place where you know and are known, the blessing of extended family and the blessing of my boys having close ties with their grandparents and the community.

But other times - times like right now for example - I itch to wander and explore.

Today, I don't want to sit and stay. No, I want to go. I want to visit Italy and see where my grandmother's people come from. I want to poke into dusty places where feet walked hundreds of years ago. I want to hike up a mountain with the delicious thrill of knowing that I could run into a bear or a mountain lion at any moment.

Sometimes, I don't know why God has asked my wanderer's soul to sit and stay when I want to go and see, but I know He has a plan and a purpose. There are things I can't learn if I don't stay here. There are lessons that only come when I sink my roots deeply into this particular soil.

While I still yearn to go and see, I've found that the biggest adventure, the best "experience" is God Himself. Any adventure I have apart from Him is not really worth having.

I Don't Want to Go by Avalon
You changed my world
When You came to me
You drove a passion
In my soul down deep
Lord, to follow You in everything

I don't want to go somewhere
If I know that You're not there
'Cause I know that me without You is a lie
And I don't want to walk that road
Be a million miles from home
'Cause my heart needs to be where You are
So I don't want to go

So come whatever
I'll stick with You
I'll walk, You'll lead me
Call me crazy or a fool
For forever I promise you that

Without Your touch
Without Your love
Filling me like an ocean
For Your grace is enough

Enough for me
To never want to go somewhere
If I know that You're not there

~ Blessings, Bronte

Wednesday, April 17, 2013


I was getting dinner ready the other day when the phone rang. I snatched it up, saw the number and hit the talk button. "Hey," I said, as I stirred the pot on the stove.

My friend's voice sounded strange - a bit flat. "I'm sorry I haven't been around the past couple days, and I don't have time to go into all the details, but I had a miscarriage this week."

The breath whooshed out of me, and I stopped stirring the cream corn. My heart fell to my feet and broke in a million pieces for my friend. While she had had symptoms of pregnancy, she hadn't really know for sure she had been pregnant until the baby was already gone. The whole thing seemed surreal for her.

Over the past few months, my friend had been through a roller coaster of emotions - she and her husband would be flung high on hope and then crash down with disappointment. You can read about her journey here, but the short story was, they had struggled to the decision to adopt, and were about ready to do so when a woman stepped forward to offer to be their surrogate. Dazed with hope and surprise, they crashed down again when they found out insurance wouldn't cover much and there was no way they could afford it. Now a miscarriage.

Sometimes, life just stinks. :(

As I listened to some of the details, I kept saying, "I'm so sorry." It felt inadequate and rather pathetic in the face of my friend's pain and disappointment. I wanted to do what I used to do with my kids when they were little and hurt themselves - gather her up in my arms and tell it would be okay. But it wasn't okay and none of my words would make it so.

In fact, I was a little afraid I would say the wrong thing and make things worse. Have you ever been there? I know when my grandmother died, more than one well-meaning friend said something along the lines of, "She lived a long life," or "She's better off." Yes, I knew that, but just because she was elderly didn't mean I was going to miss her any less. I knew they meant well and just didn't know what to say, but part of me wished they would just not say anything at all.

As I prayed for my friend during the evening and into the next morning, I began to think about the things we should do and say (or not do and not say) when a friend or loved one is hurting. What is helpful? What is hurtful? The Bible tells us to rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those that weep. What does that look like when you are actually walking that path though? As I prayed, a few things came to me.

1. Listen. Seriously - just shut up and listen. Be a safe place for the person to vent their emotions, both good and bad. Be a safe place for that person to express what they are feeling - even if it IS this really stinks or I'm mad at God. As Christians, sometimes, we have this idea that we should feel no negative emotions, so we try to talk other people out of theirs. I am reading through the Gospels and have come to the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus was so distraught, He was sweating drops of blood. That's some very negative emotion going on. I figure, since Jesus can have negative emotions, it's probably okay for us to have them, too.

2. Encourage them. I think it is okay to gently help someone lift her chin to look up to Jesus rather than look down at her circumstances, but you have to tread lightly here. Empty platitudes or getting preachy isn't really helpful and can often backfire. A Scripture offered is fine, but try to avoid the temptation to beat the person over the head with the Bible. If you are unsure if it is the right thing, saying nothing is probably better. I often put Scripture in cards of encouragement that I send. This seems less "in your face," than spouting them whenever I see the person. Don't guilt them for not having enough faith or trusting God enough. The person probably "knows" the "right" response but their emotions haven't caught up with that knowledge. That's okay - it's called being human.

3. Don't tell someone how to feel. Maybe it is because we are so uncomfortable in the face of grief or other negative emotions, but it seems like when someone is really upset, the temptation is to tell them how to feel. "Don't be sad," or "Just forgive and let go of the anger," really don't help. Give the person space to feel her feelings. Emotions have to be gone through in order to find the healing on the other side.

4. Respect their grief process. Everyone is different and everyone experiences things differently. Some women get angry. Some women weep. Some clean like maniacs or run miles. Give your friend the freedom to grieve in her own way. Don't judge her if it is a very different way than yours. And don't put a time limit on it. While excessive grief for a very long time might mean the person needs a professional to help them through, grief is an unpredictable thing. While my grandmother has been gone for six years, there are still times when moments of grief sneak up on me and surprise me with their emotional punch.

5. Give practical help. If someone is going through a really traumatic time don't ask them what they need. They might not be coherent enough to tell you. Instead, offer a meal on a specific day and ask them if that works, or show up and take the kids out. While it might seem more sensitive to put the ball in her court, your friend is probably dazed and more than a bit confused. Clear thinking can be difficult in the midst of a really hard emotional time like a death, a diagnosis or a divorce. Look around and see what is needed and then offer specific things for specific times rather than the nebulous, "Just let me know if you need anything."

6. Honor anniversaries. In high school, my boyfriend's brother was killed in a car accident. It was truly a horrible time for him and his family. I remember at the beginning, people were very sympathetic, but as time went on, they went on with their lives because it wasn't their tragedy and it didn't affect their daily lives. I remember him saying rather bitterly that everyone had forgotten his brother. While it is natural for people to move on with their lives when a tragedy isn't theirs, showing empathy after that first few weeks has passed will be greatly appreciated. I am terrible with dates, so I have to write stuff like this in my calendar. Realize that major holidays, birthdays and the anniversary of the death or event will be difficult for the person. Send a card. Give them a call. Show them you remember too, and you care.

7. Pray for them. I know, sometimes this ends up being my last resort sort of thing, but it really should be my first. Prayer is powerful, and praying for your friend really does make a difference. Let the person know you are praying for them, too. And if you say you will pray for them - do it!

In the end, just letting the other person know you care and are available for them can be the best gift you can give a grieving or hurting person. You'll never find the exact right words to fix it. Sometimes, "I'm sorry" is all they want or need to hear.

What ways have you found to help hurting friends or family? I'd love to hear about them.

~ Blessings, Bronte