Tuesday, January 29, 2013


During high school and college, I did a lot of waitressing. It was a learning ground for me - in grace, in mercy, in efficiency, in not panicking when the hostess seats all ten of your tables at once!

There were days when I looked at the half a dozen newly seated tables, the people sitting there with expectation of fast and efficient service on their faces and knew I'd fail.

As only one person, I KNEW the odds of someone leaving not happy were higher than not.

It was at those times that I learned a valuable skill - to just do the next thing.

It was a waste of energy and time to go in circles, all in tizzy about what I COULDN'T do. The only thing I actually COULD do in those situations, was to just do the next thing.

Many years have gone by since the last time I asked someone if they'd like coffee or a coke, but that lesson has stood me in good stead when I find myself panicking when I'm feeling overwhelmed.

We are now almost a month into the God-sized Dream Team thing, and there have been a lot of times that I have felt that panicky, I can't do all this feeling. That sense of failing before I even start that so paralyzes me from taking any action at all.

That's when I have to remind myself - just do the next thing.

It's interesting because I'm also reading the Do What You Can Plan by Holley Gerth, and here she is saying the same thing - not about waitressing but about life.

Holley asked us what one thing we did in the past helped us to move forward. For me, it is remembering to just do the next thing.

I can either waste an enormous amount of energy and time worrying about what I can't do, or I can just do that next thing. One step may be small, but it still moves you farther along the path.

As the old proverb says, "How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!"
What's your next thing?
~ Blessings, Bronte

Monday, January 28, 2013

MICHAL - a lesson in bitterness

Michal was the youngest daughter of King Saul in the Bible. She was also David's first wife.

As I've studied the women in the Bible, I marvel at how utterly helpless women were in Biblical times. They had absolutely NO control over their own lives and were often used as pawns by the men in their lives - even the men who were supposed to protect them.

Michal is a prime example of this. We always hear about Michal and how she despises David for worshiping with abandon in the streets of the city. She is portrayed as a bitter woman - too uptight and prudish for empathy.

But when you dig into her story a little more, it's a wonder that the only thing she jabbed at David with was her words. (personally, I would have been using something a little more pointy that would cause a little more collateral damage - I'm just sayin...)

It all starts when David is still playing music for King Saul. This is right around the time that the popular little ditty "Saul has killed his thousands, but David has killed ten thousands" gained in popularity. Saul was not tapping his foot to the latest hit song - instead, he was overcome with jealousy toward David.

He offered David his oldest daughter Merab, if David would go fight against the Philistines. Saul's hope was that in all that fighting David would come to an untimely end. However, that didn't happen. God was with David and he was victorious.

When it came time to claim Merab, David refused because he felt like he didn't deserve to be the king's son-in-law (or maybe he just didn't want to marry into the family of a crazy man).

Then came Michal. In I Samuel 18:20 it says, "Now Michal, Saul's daughter, loved David, When they told Saul, the thing was agreeable to him." This is the only time in the Bible that it says that a woman loved a man. Obviously, she was in pretty deep -she was probably singing Israel's version of the top 40 song dreamily around the palace.

Before you think that Saul was just an indulgent papa, the dowry he required of David was 100 Philistine foreskins. As you might imagine, the Philistines were not going to part with these willingly. (yuck!) Saul was using his daughter Michal's love for David in the hopes that in the process of obtaining these foreskins (I really, really don't want to know how David pulled this off, btw), he would die and Saul could be rid of him.

But, of course, David was successful. At this point, Saul's son Jonathan was David's best bud and his daughter Michal loved David which made Saul afraid of David, What was the outcome of that fear? It says in verse 29, "Thus Saul was David's enemy continually."

So, Michal and David marry. David continued to go in and play his music for Saul, but one day, Saul threw his spear at David with the intention of nailing the young man to the wall (and this wasn't the first time either!). Talk about a difficult father-in-law! Michal gets wind that Saul is sending men to kill David so she helps him escape.

Instead of running with him, she stays behind to buy him more time. She puts a house idol into the bed and covers it with goat hair so that the soldiers are fooled and believe her when she tells them David is in bed, sick. Saul sends them back to haul David out of bed, but when they find that David is gone, they drag Michal to the palace instead.

Saul is angry that his daughter has chosen David over him. Michal tells him that David threatened to kill her if she didn't help him - getting herself off the hook.

Then, she waits. Surely, she thought David would send for her. But he didn't. Several years went by and still she waited. Then she got the bitter news that David had married not one wife, but two!

At this point, her father Saul gives her to another man - Paltiel. Just like that, she was no longer David's wife but Paltiel's. While this seemed rather arbitrary, after all that happened, it's unclear at this point if Michal still loved David or not. At least two years had gone by since she had last seen him, and he had married two other women.

Whatever Michal's thoughts were at the beginning of the marriage, Paltiel was happy with his new bride. We don't hear anything more about Michal until much later. As many as ten years had passed (maybe more as the timeline is a little hard to pinpoint).

Now Saul has died and David is large and in charge. In II Samuel 3:13, David tells Abner (with whom he was making a covenant) that he wouldn't talk to him unless Abner returned Michal to him.

Let's get real here - nowhere does it say that David loved Michal. This was not sweethearts reuniting. This was about using Michal, who was the previous king's daughter, to help establish his authority. It was also a little bit about throwing his newly acquired power around, too.

While David was a man after God's own heart and he did a lot of great things, he was kind of a hound dog when it came to women. The man had a lot of wives, and then there was that whole thing with Bathsheba. Like his son after him, David's Achilles' heel was women. The men in her life, including David, treated Michal pretty shamefully - all except Paltiel.

First, Saul tries to use her love to get David killed. Then, David leaves her hanging for years at the mercy of her father while he is on the run, marrying women left and right; then her father gives her to some other guy.

After she finally settles in and is presumably contentedly, if not exactly happily, married, David comes along again and turns her life completely upside down.

We find a tender and sad description of what happened in 2 Samuel 3:15,16, "Ishbosheth sent and took her from her husband, from Paltiel the son of Laish. But her husband went with her, weeping as he went, and followed her as far Bahurim. Then Abner said to him, 'God return.' So, he returned."

Whether she loved him or not, Michal is not happy to be back with David. The last time we see Michal is in her confrontation with David.

David in abandoned worship was dancing wildly in the streets as the ark is returned. Michal confronts David afterwards and basically tells him he was making a big display of himself.

This sounds like Michal was being nit picky, but if you really understand what took place, Michal's objections aren't as bad as they seem at first glance.

David was wearing a linen ephod - this was a garment that resembled Tarzan's loincloth. And like a kilt, men didn't wear anything under this ephod. So, when David is dancing with all of his might in the street, he was also flashing the entire crowd.

Michal accuses David of doing this to gain the admiring attention of the servant girls. David shoots back with God chose him, NOT her father as king and he'd rather have the admiration of the servant girls than hers.


The last verse tells us the Michal had no children ever. Some have seen this as judgment from God for her harsh words to David. However, there is no phrase of God closing her womb. To me, it is a sad statement of fact on a life that is filled with sadness.

The thing is, in her final confrontation (that is recorded anyway) with David, you can almost hear Michal's anger and bitterness spilling out of her mouth. David's undignified behavior is the last straw for her. She's had it!

Michal really had every right to be bitter.

The thing is, just because you have every right to be bitter, it doesn't mean you have to be.

God calls us to forgive those to hurt us - even if they never acknowledge that hurt or ask for forgiveness.

Forgiveness is really not about the other person anyway - it's about us. God knows that if we allow unforgiveness to fester, it turns into bitterness that eats away at us from the inside out.

Forgiveness does NOT mean we act like we have not been hurt or wronged. In fact, you can't really forgive until you acknowledge the hurt and grieve if you need to.

It's only then that you can turn over the consequences of that to God - to relinquish your right to be right. It's easy to say, but not always easy to do.

But we can trust God to take care of things. He IS the perfect judge - just the right blend of mercy and justice.

Once we do that, only then can God move in to heal our hurts and make us whole again.

Unfortunately, we don't know how Michal's years on this earth ended. We don't know if she died clutching her bitterness tightly to her or if she made the choice to forgive.

But we can learn from what we do read that while it's hard and may not feel fair, forgiveness is the only cure for bitterness.

~ Blessings, Bronte

Friday, January 25, 2013

AGAIN - {5 Minute Friday}

It's 5 Minute Friday again - that time when writers from all over write for five minutes on the word chosen for that day. Today's word is AGAIN.

"Tomorrow is fresh with no mistakes in it." This was one of those Anne sayings. If you haven't met her before, Anne Shirley is the heroine of a book written by L.L. Montgomery called Anne of Green Gables. Written around the turn of the last century, it was one of my favorite books as a kid. There's even several movies based on the book - but very loosely based.

This little phrase is what I say to myself when I mess up - and I mess up. A lot. I also tend to beat myself up and do the "what if" game when I make mistakes.

The thing is, though, God doesn't want me or you to do that. He wants true repentance when we sin, yes; but every mistake we make is not a sin. It's just us - being human.

I love the verse that says, "For He knows our frame and He is mindful we are but dust." (and since I only have 5 minutes, I can't look up the exact verse but it is in Psalms 34). I love the fact that my mess-ups, my very humanness that causes me to be such a frail being, He already knows all that about me and He takes that into account in His dealings with me.

God's mercies are new every single morning - again and again and again. We come to Him for forgiveness, for a fresh start, for mercy, for grace. And He gives them to us - again and again and again.

The well of God's love, mercy and grace never runs dry. We can come to it as many times as we need to.

I'm so glad my God is a God who is okay with again.

Five Minute Friday

~ Blessings, Bronte

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


I'm going to be really honest - when I was a kid I was kind of strange looking. I had this kinky curly red hair; super white freckly skin and these huge lips. I also had this unfortunate resemblance to Little Orphan Annie. (I didn't watch the movie until I was in my teens due to the trauma of being called Annie throughout my childhood! lol).

As I entered the gawky middle school years in the 80s, I hated what I saw in the mirror. I was NOT the ideal. I couldn't tan to save my life (and I have the sunburn scars to prove it). My hair didn't feather - in fact that banana comb I kept in my back pocket to seem cool would get stuck in my brillo pad-like hair if I actually tried to use it.

It wasn't until I was about 15 years old that I started to grow into those physical characteristics that caused me so much angst in my younger years.

I stopped fighting my natural curl (it helped that the whole permed look came into vogue) and went with the way my hair had been created. Instead of something I was embarrassed about, my hair became one of my positive traits.

Those big lips that seemed out of place on my younger face suddenly were the envy of my thinner lipped friends. (thank you, Julia Roberts!)

Over time, I grew into my physical traits. The things that had caused me to cringe in the past or want to hide - or in the case of my hair to flatten and tame - became positives.

The same can be said of our strengths. Some things that can seem like a burden before can end up being a true blessing - once we grow into them.

This week, we've been buddying up on the God-Sized Dream Team. I'm embarrassed to say that I just contacted my buddy to ask how I can encourage her. So, Christine Wright, get ready to be encouraged! :)

However, before we buddied up last week, one of the women in the group offered (after I asked) to critique a Bible study I'm writing. I'm not a Bible scholar so the idea of writing a Bible study feels like a real stretch for me.

Okay, here is a little confession - I've always had the heart of a nerd. I love to study God's Word. I love to look up the history surrounding the stories in the Bible. I love to know what the original Hebrew and Greek really mean. My favorite question to ask is "Why?"

I've always had a love of words and their meanings. If you look back at those middle school years, back when kids signed each other's year books, this girl signed mine by saying, "I hope you don't learn any more big words over the summer - haha - j/k!" The "just kidding" didn't take the sting our of those words, though. So, I put my inner nerd away for a while. I mean, who wants to be known as a geek anyway?

As an adult, my inner nerd has come in handy in a variety of ways. My love of words is part of my God-sized dream and it is certainly one of my strengths. Teaching is another thing I love to do, but I often feel unqualified even when God places an urgent need in my heart to share something He's taught me or a truth He's shown me in His Word. I still think - who am I that people should listen to me?

Enter the God-sized Dream Team and Chelle Wilson. There are 99 other women on the team, and connecting with all of them is just not possible. But from day one, something about Chelle drew me - we laughed about being separated at birth and our similarly wired brains. So, I stepped out on a limb and asked her to critique the Bible study I'm working on.

I appreciated her thoughtful and helpful feedback. After all, a good critique is not just "hey, it's great." I'm not going to get any better if I don't get constructive criticism on how to make my writing better, but Chelle was also encouraging.

In her email she wrote, "Your gift for teaching is clear. I wonder if you question your own authority too much...humility is one thing, but clearly you're researched, prayed up, and leading capably."

It made me stop and think - was I pulling a Moses myself? Was I questioning God's calling because I felt inadequate? Was I afraid to step into the role God had for me because I lacked confidence in the ability that God gave me?

Chelle's words helped me to grow a bit more into one of my strengths. To be honest, I feel a bit weird talking about my strengths - it almost feels prideful - but God gave them to me, so to not use them is to waste them. It's really not about me, anyway. It's about using them to give God glory and to help others step into closer relationship with Him.

While I love people, I also have an independent streak - sometimes too much so. This week, God brought home to me the need we all have - myself included - in having companions for the journey. Being independent can be good, but too much independence can hurt us. God created us for community. It didn't intend for us to go it alone. Hey, even the Lone Ranger had Tanto!

So, thanks Chelle for helping me to grow a little more into my strengths, for encouraging me to continue to take the next step in this God-sized Dream.

"And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart." Ecc. 4:12

Who makes up your cord?
~ Blessings, Bronte

Monday, January 21, 2013

DEBORAH - an unexpected role

This week, I taught about Deborah in my Sunday school class. As I've mentioned before, I am doing a series on women in the Bible. It's been fun, interesting, convicting and challenging to dig deeper into the lives of these women.

Most of them, I've heard of and heard stories about. I do get tickled, though, when the women in my class gasp and say, "I never heard THAT story before!" or "Is that really in the Bible??"

Yep, much of the Old Testament is not what you'd call G-rated, but it sure is interesting!

So, this week, I decided to delve into the life of Deborah - the only female judge of Israel. She's really the only woman leader who was over ALL of Israel. There were women who led other women - like Miriam - but besides an ill-fated, short-reigning queen mentioned in the Kings, Deborah was it.

Before we are introduced to Deborah in Judges 4, God gives us a bit of background in verses 1-3. "Then the sons of Israel again did evil in the sight of the Lord, after Ehud died. And the Lord sold them into the hand of Jabin king of Canaan, who reigned in Hazor; and the commander of his army was Sisera who lived in Harosheth-hagoyim. The sons of Israel cried to the Lord; for he had nine hundred iron chariots, and he oppressed the sons of Israel severely for twenty years."

Just to give a little background to this story: Joshua had led Israel into the Promised Land, but after he died, the people had a hard time staying on the straight and narrow. They would start marrying their pagan neighbors and then get caught up in doing a little idol worship on the side. In the book of Judges a clear cycle can be seen as you read through the book (and you really should because Judges has some of the most bizarre stories in the Bible - seriously!).

First, the Israelites would fall away from God and start in with the idol worship. God would allow them to be oppressed by another nation. They would toil away under this oppression and finally repent and cry out to God. God would then raise up a judge to deliver them. Things would be fine for a while and then they'd get off track again and the whole cycle would be repeated.

This penchant Israel had for following after other gods is something you can see throughout the entire Old Testament from Judges on.

So, this time around, God had allowed Jabin the king of Canaan to oppress Israel. When Israel finally had enough and realized they couldn't deliver themselves, they cried out to God and He raised up a judge to deliver them - Deborah.

In verses 5 and 6, we learn a bit about Deborah. "Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth, was judging Israel at that time. She used to sit under the palm tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim; and the sons of Israel came up to her for judgment."

The chapter goes on to say that God gave Deborah a message to deliver to a man named Barak. The message was to gather the men of the tribes of Naphtali and Zebulun and go up against Sisera. God promised Barak that He would deliver the army into Israel's hands.

This was kind of on par with a force from a small city going up against the U.S. Army. It seemed rather impossible, but God promised victory.

Barak tells Deborah, I will only go if you come with me. It was rather unheard of for a woman to ride out into battle, but Deb doesn't blink an eyelash. She just agress to go, but she tells Barak that now, the glory of defeating Sisera will go to a woman.

So, Barak, Deborah and 10,000 men go up to Mount Tabor. Sisera gets wind of the rebel uprising and rides out to squash it with all his big, bad chariots. The Lord gives the signal to Deborah who tells Barak, and Israel charges down to confront them.

Verse 15 says, "The Lord routed Sisera and all his chariots and all his army with the edge of the sword before Barak; and Sisera alighted from his chariot and fled away on foot."

Sisera runs to the tent of a woman named Jael who welcomes him in. She pulls out all the hospitality stops - covering him with a warm blanket, giving him warm milk to drink and assuring him that he could rest in her tent without worry of discovery.

Of course, once he was good and asleep, Jael took a tent peg (wooden I might add) and drove it through his temple with a hammer, killing him. Sisera never woke up from his little nap.

So, a woman did defeat Sisera - in a rather gruesome way.

So, what do we learn from this story? (well, besides you might not want to take up a stranger's offer of hospitality without checking where their tent pegs and hammers are hidden anyway!)

I think as women in the 21st century, we don't fully get the impact of Deborah's role and how truly unusual and unique it was.

Women in that day and age were under the authority of the men in their lives - whether fathers, brothers, husbands and or even grown sons. Their destiny was NOT in their own hands. In fact, they really didn't get to make any of the crucial decisions that determined the course of their own lives.

As a judge, Deborah's job included administrative tasks, making judgments and leading in military matters - these definitely did not normally come under the realm of a woman.

We don't know Deborah's age, if she had children, or if she did, how old they were. We don't know how God brought her into this position to begin with.

But we do know it wasn't something, culturally, that she, as a woman, was supposed to do.

I wonder if at first the people were mocking or disrespectful. I wonder if other women criticized her to each other for being too bold or not staying to her prescribed role. I wonder if the men razzed her husband for not being man enough to control his woman or wondered out loud who wore the pants (or robes) in that family.

I wonder what it was like to be called by God to do something that other people didn't think she should be doing.

From the verse that tells us that she sat under a palm and people came to her to judge things, we know the people did accept her, but I do wonder how long it took for that acceptance to happen.

From Deborah I think the thing that I learned was that I need to listen to who God says I am and what He wants me to be - not other people. Even well-meaning believers.

What do the people around you tell you that you shouldn't be doing? It's really easy to listen to all the voices around us rather than to hear the small, quiet voice of God that may be calling us to the unusual or unexpected - calling us to do the thing everyone around us says we shouldn't for whatever reason.

I read this sentence in a commentary as I was studying (can't remember which one at the moment)and it stuck with me: "Deborah didn't allow cultural norms to hinder her leadership, and thereby she enabled others to bring victory to God's people."

The Bible tells us we need to please and obey God rather than men. What expectations from those around you are you allowing to keep you from God's calling on your life? Don't let other shoulds become your shalls.

~ Blessings, Bronte

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


I have two speeds - paralyzed with fear OR running ahead all willy-nilly. I also tend to be the jump first, look later type of person when I finally do start to move forward in something. In other words, impulsive would be a good word to describe me! (or maybe schizophrenic would be better) While I find that spontaneity gives my life joy, sometimes, it gets me into trouble. When I get excited about something, a lot of times I race ahead before I really know where I'm going.

Because I tend to charge ahead when I finally do unstick my feet, I tend to do hurry to "catch up." I end up running down the path without waiting for God and His leading, then I get overwhelmed and anxious because I haven't taken the time to wait on God. I'm like the toddler that sees something shiny and wanders off in the store to get a closer look, only to turn around and panic when she loses sight of her mom.

Take this God-sized Dream Team thing. I was and am so excited for this opportunity. I've been inspired, encouraged and humbled as I have read blogs and chatted back and forth with a truly great group of very talented women.

But in my excitement of a new opportunity, I have charged ahead (again)- only to find myself up the road without a clue as to where I'm going. There has been a disturbing silence in the past few days - a silence that has finally registered as I have paused to look around.

That's when I realized it.

God was further back on the path, patiently waiting for me to take His hand and go with Him - not dawdling without focus, not rooted to the spot in fear, not even running full out toward my dreams. With Him. At His speed. On His time table.

So today, I took a deep breath and let go of the fear of not moving down the path fast enough. I sat down with God in the quiet of the morning hours and I said, "Here are my dream. What do YOU want me to do with them? Which way do YOU want me to go? YOU set the pace and lay out the map. I'm just along for the ride."

After all, I can try all I want, but if I am trying to do it without God, I will fail in all the ways that truly matter.

It's hard to lay your dreams on the alter. It's hard to give up control. It's hard to say this is not all about me and what I want. But it is freeing.

It's freeing because that means it's not all up to me. It's up to God. What a great thing to know - that I don't have to have all the answers or a five year plan or even a month-long plan.

I just have to know my God.

"Yet those who wait for the LORD Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary." ~ Isaiah 40:31

~ Blessings, Bronte

Tuesday, January 15, 2013


Last week, our assignment was to share our God-sized dream with the world. My dream is to be a writer. It's my big dream, but I also realized this week that I have a few smaller dreams, too.

I don't think of them as "God dreams" because they are sort of ordinary - a little less interesting than becoming a writer shall we say. The thing that God showed me this past week, though, is that realizing these smaller dreams help me in achieving my big dream. All dreams are important.

All dreams need space and they need to be proclaimed, so I decided today, that in addition to sharing the baby steps I've been taking to realize my BIG dream; I was going to share my small dreams and the steps I've been taking to realize those as well.

Last year, my word was "intentional." I just felt that I was way too willing to let the streams of life carry me as they would, without a lot of intentionality on my part. So, last year, God and I worked on being intentional in my relationships and my work and some other things. God taught me how it was important to stop being reactive because living life in react mode tends to make you feel like a victim of life, rather than a true participant.

It was hard for me to say in words what I wanted my life to look like though. It felt a bit selfish, but God showed me that it isn't selfish to be and live how HE created me to be. It was a process - one I'm still working out.

So, one of my dreams is to redo my house a bit. I know - boring isn't it? But for the past two years, I was so incredibly busy working multiple jobs that things started to slide. It's not that my house is a pig sty - I clean on a fairly regular basis - but it just wasn't the homey, welcoming place I wanted it to be. It has clutter and as my family has grown, some things that worked before just don't anymore.

I am also a somewhat creative person - I like to make things and do things myself. A few years ago, I painted my kitchen terracotta and an accent wall a golden yellow. (it makes me smile every time I go into the kitchen which is a good thing because with 2 growing boys is A LOT!) Even though my husband offered to do it, I did it myself. I also put up curtain rods and curtains myself - using power tools. I felt empowered - in fact, I was looking around to see where else I could use the power drill before I had to return it to my in-laws! lol

So, my dream is to reorganize, de-clutter and decorate my home in a way that reflects my tastes and creativity. I also want to do as much of it myself as possible. (I'm in the midst of fashioning curtains from burlap - hey, in the tutorial, they looked super cute!)

My other dream came about in a rather, um, painful way. I was at a Christmas party and afterwards, my husband's niece put some pictures up on Facebook. I looked and wondered who that heavy woman was in the pictures. I realized she was wearing a sweater I own - then I had the horrible, sinking sensation as I realized that woman - was me!

I knew I was overweight and needed to lose a few pounds, but somehow when I looked in the mirror, it didn't seem all that bad. Those pictures told a different story. It drove home that I needed to change the way I ate so that I could have the energy and strength to do what God has called me to do.

So, maybe because this year I'll be 40 or just because I am tired of hiding from the camera, I am determined that THIS year, I'm going to get healthy and fit. I've always said I don't like extreme dieting, but I am determined to make some big changes in the way I eat. Exercise has never been an issue for me. It's what I put in my mouth that's the problem, so that is going to change - one baby step at a time!

Okay, if you've read all that - thanks! Now, I am ready to share with you the baby steps I've taken to realize my dreams - all of them, both the BIG and the small.

To find out more about learning to dream big but take small steps to get there, check out Holley Gerth's Do What You Can Plan.

I would like to say I got many things done in my quest to become a writer, but I got some kind of virus last week and life just sort of got in the way. Normally, I would have thrown my hands up and said, I'll do it next week. BUT, because I'm doing baby steps, I was able to move a few inches toward my dreams.

One thing I did was to start reading Christina Katz's Get Known Before the Book Deal and I also did the first week in the accompanying workbook.

In addition, I blogged a few extra times last week, and started reading Writer for Hire. I've also been sitting down with paper and pen and brainstorming as to what I'd like my writing career to look like - you know, that whole being intentional thing. ;)

It may not sound like a lot; and to be honest, I felt sort of embarrassed about how little I accomplished last week, but it's a start. It's a couple baby steps, so I'm counting it as a victory. :)

For my home, I checked out a couple places for a cabinet for my bathroom. I haven't found what I'm looking for yet, but I did discover where NOT to find it and that's helpful. I also bought an over the door shoe holder so I can get started cleaning out my bedroom.

For my health, I increased my dog's walks - he was getting a little chubby too. I also greatly reduced the amount of soda I usually drink and added a lot more vegetables. I even made a great chicken soup that was loaded with veggies, and I plan to venture into making kale chips this week. I also wrote down everything I ate which for me is a great tool to help me be more mindful about what I am putting in my mouth!

The things I did were all pretty small, but as Ghandi once said, "The journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step."

What small step can you take today that will help you realize your dream or get you started on whatever journey God has called you to?

~ Blessings, Bronte

Monday, January 14, 2013


For the past few months, I've been teaching about the women in the Bible in my Sunday school class. As always, when I teach something, I learn far more than the ladies in my class do. I guess that is why I love teaching so much - it makes me dig deeper and really unearth the lessons in the lives of these women so that I can apply them to my own life.

Friday night, much to my embarrassment, I realized I hadn't actually gotten my Sunday school lesson ready yet!

I'm blaming it on the weird, yet thankfully, short-lived virus I caught mid-week. At least that's my story and I'm sticking to it! ;)

Since I taught on Jochabed, Moses' mother, last week. I decided this week, we'd look at Miriam, Moses' sister. I honestly didn't know much about Miriam except the basics, but as I looked closely at her life, I not only learned a lot I didn't know, but I was deeply convicted, as well.

The first time we meet Miriam, she is standing on the banks of the Nile, waiting to see what happens to her baby brother Moses after her mother had placed him in his little basket and floated him onto the river.

According to several places that I looked, Miriam would have been between 7 to 9 years old at this time. It appears, she took it upon herself to wait there on the banks of the river to see what her baby brother's fate was that day.

It was her own quick thinking and courage that landed Moses his own mother as his nursemaid, too. You have to admire her ability to think on her feet and her bravery. It's not often a young slave girl has the guts to approach the king's daughter, but Miriam didn't appear to hesitate.

The second time we see her, it's many years later. Moses has just led the Israelites through the Red Sea. The Egyptians are nowhere to seen as the walls of water have washed down on them with deadly intent. Miriam, described here as a prophetess, leads the women in a song of worship.

Throughout the time in the wilderness, it seems that Miriam is a spiritual leader - one of the inner circle of Moses.

Yet, in Numbers 12, a darker, uglier side of Miriam emerges. In the previous chapter, God tells Moses to pick out 70 elders to help him in the administrative aspects of leading Israel. After all, that was a lot of people for one man to deal with. God rightly advised Moses that he needed a little help from his friends. Apparently, Moses didn't consult Miriam or Aaron in his choices and that really chapped Miriam's hide.

In Numbers 12:1, we read, "Then Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Cushite woman whom he had married (for he ahd married a Cushite woman)."

When I was growing up and heard this story, I was always taught that Moses' first wife, Zipporah had died, and Moses had married a woman from Ethopia. But, according to several commentaries I looked at, Miriam could actually be referring to Zipporah here, too. Whoever the Cushite woman was, the real problem wasn't this woman.

No, the real reason for Miriam's sharp and critical tongue is found in the next verse, "and they said, Has the Lord indeed spoken only through Moses? Has He not spoken through us as well?"

This was the real problem - Miriam felt like Moses had monopolized things long enough. Wasn't she as good as Moses? Didn't God speak through her and Aaron too? Just who did Moses think he was - choosing those elders without a by-your-leave?

It's clear from Miriam's name being first and the consequences she suffered, that she was the instigator in this. She brought this up and dragged Aaron right along with her.

I don't know if resentment and jealousy had been simmering for a long time or if she just had PMS. After all, Miriam had watched as first Moses was brought up in the luxury of the palace. Then, despite his inability to speak without stuttering and his hesitancy, he faced down Pharaoh and led the Israelites out of Egypt. Miriam had to wait at the foot of the mountain while Moses went up to get the Ten Commandments. Yes, she was used by God, but Moses always seemed to be one step ahead and one step closer to God's inner circle.

However long things had been building, the elders pushed Miriam over the edge. She finally gave voice to the thoughts that had been in her mind.

Verse two and three says, "And the Lord heard it. (Now the man Moses was very humble, more than any man who was on the face of the earth.)"

You'll notice there is nothing about Miriam being humble in those verses.

God ends up calling all three - Moses, Aaron and Miriam - into the tent of meeting. He makes it very clear that while they may be used by God, Moses was the one God talked to and showed Himself to - NOT them. When His presence left, Miriam was covered with leprosy.

It's interesting that the comparison game that had eaten away at her inside, causing resentment, jealousy and anger to bloom, had been hidden; but the leprosy, the disease that caused her outward body to be eaten away, was visible to all.

Aaron is horrified, as is Moses. Aaron begs Moses to forgive them both (my guess is Miriam might have been speechless with horror at this point), and Moses immediately begs God to heal his sister. God says He will but only after she has been shut away for seven days. It couldn't be kept a secret - all the camp would know that Miriam had been punished by God.

The thing is, we can point our fingers all we want, but how many of us have played the comparison game in some way or other? How many of us have felt that ugly twinge of jealousy or resentment when someone, even a friend or loved one, tells us of their good fortune?

When we compare ourselves to others, we hurt not only ourselves but our relationships, as well. You can't truly rejoice with someone if you are secretly resentful that they got the blessing and you didn't.

You can't be in true community with others if our comparisons cause our insecurities to come flaring to life, making us defensive and critical of others.

Let's face it, when we compare ourselves, our lives and our blessings with other people, it's all too easy to start to feel jealous and resentful. This leads us to look for the negative - because that just justifies our feelings doesn't it?

But the only comparison God holds up to us is Jesus.

We cheat ourselves of community and fellowship when we engage in the old comparison game. Instead, Miriam reminded me that I need to be intentionally thankful for the blessings and opportunities God has given me.

I also need to trust in God's plan for me. I don't normally have issues with envying other people their stuff. I don't want a bigger house because then I'd have to clean it, and the new and shiny doesn't really hold a lot of allure for me.

BUT, I can find that little seed of envy or resentment start to poke its head up when people get opportunities or their work seems to be taking off while it feels like I'm still stuck on the ground.

This is when I need to stop looking around me and look up at God because He has a plan and that plan happens on HIS timetable - not mine.

There are not a limited number of opportunities available. If someone else gets a neat opportunity, that doesn't mean that that is one less for me. It just means that God is working out His purpose in that person's life.

The Bible tells us we have a storehouse of blessings God is waiting to give us. It tells us He has a plan and purpose for each of us. God has my back, so I do not need to keep looking over my shoulder at what others do and don't have in any area of life.

Finally, and here is the rub, if I realize that God's glory is the ultimate reason for my existence, it sort of takes the wind out of the sails of jealousy and envy. After all, those things are rooted in a selfishness that can't share room with truly seeking after God's glory and His name being proclaimed.

Miriam forgot that it wasn't about her or even Moses being top dog. It was about God's glory all along.

~ Blessings, Bronte

Friday, January 11, 2013


5 Minute Fridays are the brain child of Lisa Jo Baker. Basically, writers are invited to write for five minutes on the word of the day. You can find out more about it here. Today's word is "dive." So, I guess I'll dive right in. ;)

When I was a kid I had a phobia of the water, so my mom, who also is not a big water fan, decided it would be a great idea to get me some swimming lessons. I was excited as I put on my little ruffled bathing suit and put on my stylin' swimming cap (did I mention I've had lifelong ear problems so I had to wear one of those cool swim hats that you see in the Olympics - only when I was 8 years old, it wasn't all that cool).

I arrived and we all got into the shallow end. We took turns going underwater (I wasn't a big fan), floating on our fronts and our backs, and then, the teacher said we were going to jump off the diving board.

The little enjoyment of the morning evaporated in the wake of sheer terror. Jump in the deep end? I couldn't swim. What was wrong with these adults? That was the whole reason I was here - I couldn't swim!

Being so very kind, I let everyone else cut in front of me in line. I was the last one. I climbed with trembling legs up the ladder and inched my way out onto the board, clinging to the rail for all I was worth.

The water seemed far, far away and as I stared into what seemed to me unfathomable depths, I knew I was going to die. I determined right then, I was NOT letting go of that railing, no matter what they did to me.

First, they tried to have me hold onto the end of this pole. I shook my head stubbornly. They kept coaxing me and telling me how much fun it would be and they would pull me up. I knew they were lying.

Then one of the instructors climbed up the ladder. She took my hand and said, "I'll jump with you. We'll do it on the count of three."

I took a deep breath. She counted 1, 2, 3. I bent my legs to jump, thinking if somebody was with me, I could maybe do this.

And I didn't.

Instead, I wrapped my arm more securely around the railing and somehow pushed the instructor into the water.

You thought I was going to give some lovely analogy about being able to face our fears with someone beside us didn't you?

I wish that was true. I wish we could help our friends dive into the water, to put aside their fears and have the freedom of slicing through the water with the need to hold onto the side of the pool.

But just as that instructor couldn't help me overcome my fears, we can't always help others to take the leap, and sometimes we end up getting pushed in the water when we're trying to help.

My Dad is the one who ended up teaching me to swim. Why? Because I trusted him. I knew he'd never let me go. I knew he would never let me drown. I also knew he was the best swimmer I knew - never mind those instructors.

When I need help to take the leap, to go ahead and dive in, the only one who can really help me, is my heavenly Father.

Why? Because I trust Him. I know He won't ever let me fall, and He created the water in the first place.

~ Blessings, Bronte

Tuesday, January 8, 2013


I've been a dreamer all my life. When I was a kid, I lived in my own little world of make believe. On occasion, I'd poke my head out of my little world, look around, see everything was going on fine and go back to my daydreams. When I was in sixth grade, I knew I wanted to be a writer.

I still have the long (very long and rambling) stories I wrote during that time. I would hole up in our den and write for hours. I think the term "bristling like a pine cone" was one memorable descriptive I used, so obviously quantity didn't necessarily mean quality. But I wrote. A lot.

Then I got older and life intruded, and those afternoons spent writing were put off to next weekend or when I had more time. I still dreamed, but it was more distant. I became hesitant to tell people I wanted to be a writer because what if I wasn't? What if I wasn't good enough? What if nobody ever published me? After all, I needed to make a living didn't I and being a "writer" wasn't too practical? So, the dream became something that would happen in the misty, indistinct distant someday.

It seemed every time I revisited my dream (usually when making New Year's resolutions), I would determine that this year would be different. I'd become a writer THIS year. But invariably life seemed to throw up road blocks and someday was a word I used more and more to myself. Someday - when the kids are older; someday - when I have more time. Someday - when I get more organized and together.

But as the song says, "Someday never comes."

Then there's this little issue I have with follow through. I'll let you in on my dirty little secret - by nature I'm lazy. I don't like doing hard things. I like to be comfortable, and pushing through my fears and insecurities and life's inconveniences was something I avoided doing.

I guess I thought I would wake up one day and my life would magically arrange itself for me to write. (you can stop laughing now).

My God-sized dream is to be a writer - a writer of books; a writer of Bible studies; a writer who makes a living by her pen; a writer who makes a positive impact on the world by encouraging others through the power of words. (the pen is, after all, mightier than the sword, which is good because I'm a bit more adept at wielding the pen.)

But the dream became a someday dream - you know, the kind of dream that you read about (ask me how many writing books I own) and think about and fantasize about. But you don't actually DO it because so the urgent takes over the important.

God has a funny way, though, of moving you along His path for you. A couple years ago, I started writing a couple weekly articles for our local paper. To say, it was an adjustment would be an understatement.

I didn't have an issue with the actual writing, but coming up with ideas and meeting deadlines week after week was tough for me. Remember that whole follow through thing? But I didn't have a choice. I HAD to come up with the ideas, interview the sources and write the articles every week whether I felt like it or it was inconvenient or life got busy.

I also had to deal with a pesky thing called details. I had to check and double check facts to be sure the articles were correct. (ask me how I know it's a bad idea NOT to do this a few times before hitting send to your editor).

There were days, when I guiltily felt I HATED this job. You know, the writing job I had said I always wanted? The thing was though, it made me follow through. I could no longer just think about writing something. I had to actually DO it.

I believe that job was a God-thing.

Why? Because in the process of churning out articles week after week, I met a lot of really great people who had a heart for God. I saw many people who had started with just a dream, had put feet on that dream and with God's help, had realized them. And I got to be part of the process. By putting pen to paper (or more accurately, fingers to keyboard), I sometimes got the huge blessing and privilege of being part of that person's dream becoming reality. It also taught me the fine art of self-discipline - of which I have always been sadly lacking.

Recently, I've been a bit restless though. I was ready to move on to the next step but wasn't exactly sure how to go about that. Saying you want to be a writer is sort of a generic type of dream. You have to pin down things like what kind of writer you want to be, what audience you want to reach, what specific goals you have and what small steps you'll take on a regular basis to reach them.

Enter Holley Gerth. I was reading (in)courage several months ago, and on a whim, I applied to be on her God-sized Dream Team, never dreaming (pardon the pun) that I would actually be chosen!

We started in December getting to know each other and talking about our dreams - fine tuning them and learning how to put feet on them - but officially kicked off on New Year's Day.

With her help, I came up with a life statement - something that had always been really hard for me to do. You can read my life statement and words for 2013 here. Reading her ebook, The Do What You Can Plan, I'm learning to do small things to move forward to realize my dream of being an honest-to-goodness writer that writes, not just dreams about it.

Instead of shying away or making excuses, God convicted me about the need to persevere (one of my words for 2013). He gave me the courage to push past my comfort zone and stop giving myself a pass just because it was hard. I realized that often God does call us to the hard thing and that's okay.

I don't know about you, but I don't want to get to the end of my life and realize I let it slip by without fully realizing all that God created me for. What a tragic waste that would be.

I've always loved having my head in the clouds, but now I know that walking with my head in the clouds and my feet on the ground doesn't have to be mutually exclusive.

I'll leave you with this great quote from Steve Furtick's book Greater. "God doesn't do greater things exclusively through great people. He does them through anyone who is willing to trust Him in greater ways."

~ Blessings, Bronte

Monday, January 7, 2013


We, as believers, are made for joy. That's something I know in my head. After all, I spent three months doing a word study on "joy" a few years ago after trying to figure out exactly what it meant in Nehemiah when it said, "the joy of the Lord is our strength."

I was reading Holley Gerth's Do What You Can Plan and I came across this sentence: "We were made for joy."

For some reason, that sentence just stopped me in my proverbial tracks. I sat with it for a while and let it sink into my soul. I am made for joy.

What does that even mean?

I think it means that pleasure and enjoyment aren't bad things. For whatever reason, I feel slightly guilty when I do the things that bring me joy - like somehow it is more spiritual to be slightly miserable. But that verse tells us that joy comes from God and it's a source of our strength - not something to feel guilty about. I think it also means that we, as believers, have a deep well-spring in our souls that the Holy Spirit fills up to overflowing with joy when we let Him. Let's face it, being human, circumstances can steal our joy if we let it. True, deep, abiding joy despite circumstances is a supernatural phenomenon - not something we can do in our own human strength (and trying to white knuckle joy into our lives rather proves the point).

This year, I'm on Holley Gerth's God-sized Dream Team, and one thing God has impressed on me lately is that my dream - the dream of writing a book, of making my living from my pen - is not a burden.

It should be a source of joy - not a source of anxiety, stress or even guilt. Unfortunately, so much of the time, my dream feels like a weight rather than a blessing.

I wonder how I will get it done. I wonder what I should do next. I worry that it's pointless or useless or I'm not doing enough.

If you'll notice, there's an awful lot of "I" going on in those sentences. Just as God is my source of joy, God is also my source of fulfillment for my dreams. My only job is to be obedient, following one step behind Him as He leads me down my unique path.

God created each of us to know and experience joy. That doesn't mean hard times don't happen. It doesn't mean that we won't feel sorrow and pain. It doesn't mean fulfilling our dream will be all sunshine and puppies. We'll face uphill slogs - that's a given.

But we also are uniquely created for joy, too. Joy is something that is independent of circumstances. It can spring up at the most unexpected times. It's a gift, and the Bible tells us that all good and perfect gifts are from above.

As 2013 begins and you look at your own God-sized dreams, embrace the joy of pursuing them. Let God fill you up to overflowing with the wonder of His goodness and His enduring faithfulness. All you have to do is obey and let God take care of the outcome. Doing that gives you the freedom to experience the joy of dreaming without the all the angst.

~ Blessings, Bronte

Saturday, January 5, 2013


It's Saturday night, so as usual between the months of December and March, I found myself in a high school gym, cheering on my husband's basketball team, the Temple Pioneers.

This year is a little different though. I've been "the coach's wife" for a long time, but this year, my oldest son Brock is now in high school. Which means, I am not just cheering on my husband's team, but my son's. There's just a whole other layer of stress in that. Suddenly wins and losses take on a whole new meaning when your son is in the big game.

Brock has been waiting at least a decade to be on the Pioneer team. He's spent literally hours in the gym and on our back porch - shooting jump shots, three -pointers and free throws. He's spent more hours studying game films and doing ball handling drills.

This summer, he spent at least five to six hours A DAY working on his basketball game. The boy is dedicated to the sport, and his self-discipline puts me to shame.

The thing you have to know about Brock is that he a little over 5'6" tall and doesn't weigh over 120. While he's fast, his speed isn't breathtaking. But he wanted a spot on the Varsity squad and he kept that goal firmly in his sights all summer long.

When your dad is the coach, it adds an additional amount of stress. You can't make the team by the skin of your teeth - you have to prove you deserve a spot there more than most.

But he did it. All this year, he's played a little JV ball and then swung up to the Varsity. He gets quite a few minutes of play, and I've been so proud of him. Not because he's on Varsity necessarily, but because he worked hard toward a goal. That's not just a sports thing - that's a life skill.

As a freshman, his job is to shoot three pointers when needed. After all, at 5'6", it's a little hard to pound the boards with people who weigh 50 lbs more than you.

As the season has progressed, I've seen Brock's defense improve. I've seen his confidence grow, but he's been frustrated. When he practices in the gym, his shots fall like magic.

In the game - not so much. Instead of the 50 or 60% shooting percentage that Brock wants, it's been closer to the 25-30% mark. As his mom, I think he's doing great, but Brock doesn't agree with my assessment. I think he'd secretly like his shooting percentage to 100%, even though he knows that isn't possible. :)

Tonight, we led the first half. Brock shot 5 shots. He missed all of them - one a 12 foot jumper that a very large kid stuffed in his face. I could see his shoulders slump as he walked off the court and a different player subbed in for him. My heart ached for him because I know how hard he works. I know how much he wants this.

When my kids were still in diapers and sippy cups, I thought that was the hard part, but then my kids got older. Suddenly, I couldn't fix it with a kiss and a Dora the Explorer bandaid. Dancing around the kitchen singing silly songs just didn't cut it anymore for the hurts my kids experience now as a middle schooler and high school freshman.

The second half started and things went south rather quickly. The Mustangs took the lead and things were not looking good for the Pioneers. Shots that had fallen easily in the first half, were not finding their mark. The other team couldn't seem to miss.

The last few minutes of the game rolled around. We went up two. They came down with a three pointer. Brock made a three pointer to bring us to within two points. Then they made a couple free throws, and we were two behind.

There were only 10 seconds left on the clock.

Then I saw him. Brock was in the corner. His spot when the team runs the play to get him the ball for a three point shot. My heart squeezed as I saw him take the shot.

Time slowed to a crawl as the ball arced through the air. It seemed to hang there, suspended, as I held my breath. Then, it fell with a swish through the bucket with 2.8 seconds on the clock.

Suddenly time came rushing back in. The crowd was on their feet screaming and cheering - for my son. I yelled and jumped and, quite frankly, almost started crying.

It's not often you get to be the witness of someone's mountain top moment. It's especially poignant when it's your child.

While I was excited that we won as the next person, the thing that I was MOST happy about was that Brock got to see tangible evidence that yes, hard work DOES pay off. All those hours of practice and work were rewarded when the rubber hit the road. When his team needed him, that basket swished softly through the net. That moment wouldn't have been possible without all the hours of practice that came before.

He got to see that it's okay to take a big risk, that without taking the big risks you don't experience the big wins.

Of course, while Brock's was the game winning shot, it took all the other 59 points to get him to that moment. When you are part of a team - you win together and you lose together.

In the future, there will be times when Brock will take the risk and he'll fail. Instead of a swish, the ball will bounce of the rim, the clock will wind down, and we won't leave the victors. But there are lessons in failing as well as succeeding.

But tonight - tonight Brock had one of those shining moments. One of those moments that you look back and remember long after the fans leave the gym and the bus pulls out of the lot. Moments that you recall as you stand alone in the gym - no cheering fans, no pep band. Just you and the ball - doing one more drill, shooting one more shot.

I watched him walk off the court after the final buzzer. While he looked embarrassed at the attention his teammates were showering on him, I saw his shoulders were squared. A smile played around his mouth instead of his usual poker expression, and his walk was confident. I do believe my baby just took one of those big steps towards being a man.

~ Blessings, Bronte

Friday, January 4, 2013


Today, my remote control for my dvd didn't work. What does this have to do with opportunity you may ask - well, it meant that I had to do my stretching exercises on my own, so I turned on the local Christian station.

The topic was on finances. As I stretched into "cow pose," I listened intently because hey, it's the beginning of a new year. I could always use some help and focus on finances (I'm not a numbers person).

What I heard was less about money and more about generosity though. I often think of generosity as giving someone money, but it is a heart attitude more than anything else.

It made me think (as I stretched back into "Downward Facing Dog") that I have the opportunity to be generous this year - not just with my finances, but with my time, my energy and my heart.

So many times, my to do list pushes me past the opportunity to listen to a friend or to stop long enough to really see others. Worse, sometimes I help others but feel grumbly about it inside.

That's not who I want to be. I don't want to be the priest who hurried past the man in the story of the Good Samaritan - too busy to help a fellow traveler in need.

The truth is I want to be generous, but all too often I get that panicky, harried feeling like all the "shoulds" in my life are nipping at my heels and I have to hurry to stay ahead of them.

This year, though, I want to stop. Breathe. Look around me. Take those opportunities presented to me to be generous - not just with my finances, but with my time, my skills, my heart.

I want to hold my life and all it entails with open hands, taking the opportunity to give generously to others.

It really is more blessed to give than receive - especially when I chose to give with a cheerful heart.

Five Minute Friday

~ Blessings, Bronte

Thursday, January 3, 2013

THEME FOR 2013 - (and a few other things)

It's that time of year again - time to make resolutions. A few years ago, I stopped with the long list of resolutions neatly separated into categories (yes, I really did do that!) that I spent several hours crafting and forgot about after about two days, only to read them over the next year. Instead, after reading about this idea from a friend, I decided to go with a word or a theme for the year - MUCH more doable!

Last year, my word was "intentional." It's something God has worked on with me all year - living life intentionally and not just reacting to circumstances.

This year, things are a little different. This year, I'm on Holley Gerth's God-sized Dream Team. That means, on New Year's Day (since we "meet" on Tuesdays which was interesting since this year, the first Tuesday of 2013 was New Year's Day - yeah, a definite God thing isn't it?), I had to *gulp* come up with a "life statement."

Now, I like the idea of a mission or life statement. I agree with the whole premise of having a focus so you can filter all the various decisions we have to make every day and live intentionally. After all, last year was all about being intentional, wasn't it?

The problem is, though, they make me feel slightly claustrophobic. Too much structure, and I start to feel like the proverbial walls are closing in on me.

I remember years ago, I was trying to do the Fly Lady thing, and I was getting my evening and morning routine down. It was so uncomfortable for me at first to put that much structure into my day. I like to think of this character trait as being free spirited (rather than just scatter-brained and slightly flaky).

Then there is the other thing - I'm rather wordy. I tend to give long explanations, and when I tell a story, I provide lots of details, back story and sometimes, the voices (which drives my husband insane - the voices that is).

So, when I am told to come up with a sentence - just one, mind you - to encompass my life statement, I felt a little panicky. I mean, what if I changed my mind?? What if it was longer than one sentence? Surely, the life statement police would haul me away in handcuffs.

But I did it anyway, and it actually wasn't that hard. Holley Gerth made it like filling in Mad Libs (you can check it out here ) - plus I told myself to think of it as a rough draft. If I didn't like it, I could always tweak it or scrap it all together. A life statement isn't necessarily a life sentence! ;)

So, I took a deep breathe and typed out "I believe God has created and called me to inspire women of all ages to hope, joy and fearlessness through the power of story by writing, teaching and speaking."

That statement may change or morph over time, and that's okay. But it has the main elements. I am a storyteller by nature - that is who God created me to be. I also love to read stories -they inspire me. It's why I want to write, because I hope that I can do for someone else what various authors have done for me.

Hope, joy and fearlessness are things God has been cultivating in me, and without them, I am not free, so I pray that for other women, too. Writing, teaching and speaking - those are the gifts and skills God has given me. When He handed out toolboxes, those were the things that were in mine.

Of course, there was still the matter of my word or my theme for the year. That usually comes more easily to me - maybe because I know I only have to keep it for a year?? But, with all the life statement stuff, I was feeling a bit stumped. I mean how much focus can one woman deal with in a week?

As I was praying about this, though, these verses came to mind in Isaiah 61:1-3, "The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,to proclaim liberty and freedom to prisoners; to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn. To grant to those who mourn in Zion, giving them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting. So they will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified."

I started to cry when I read those verses. I am not much of a crier, but when God's Spirit moves and speaks to me, I usually find myself in tears. I suppose it is my own unique version of my "Spidey senses tingling." lol

That's when my words for 2013 came to me: Persevere ~ Proclaim ~ Pray. Persevere because I can't quit. God has called me on this journey; He has placed me on a dream team for goodness sake! The thing is though, I am a quitter by nature. If things get hard, it's way too easy for me to throw in the towel or change direction, so this year, I will persevere.

I need to proclaim God's goodness and the daily difference He makes in my life - that's the only way to inspire women to lives of hope, joy and fearlessness.

Finally, I can't do this in my own strength. Let's face it - I'm the world's biggest wimp! If I got lost in the wilderness, I'd probably turn myself in to the nearest bear or cougar and say, "Just eat me now and get it over with!" I NEED prayer because without that close communion with God, I really can't do much of anything on my own.

So, 2013 is the year I persevere, proclaim and pray. I have focus for those goals because of my life statement. I'm excited to see, as Anne Shirley would say, "what's around the bend in the road."

So what's God telling you about 2013? What path is He leading you down?
~ Blessings, Bronte

Tuesday, January 1, 2013


I am a huge movie buff. I love to go to the theater, snuggle down in my seat and let the screen take me far away from daily life.

Often, at the end of a movie, I find myself blinking as reality slowly intrudes on the fantasy I had been inhabiting for the last 90 minutes or so.

So, for me to say I saw the most powerful movie of my life today is saying something. I've often said I enjoyed a movie or it was in my top ten, but to say it was the best, well, it has to be pretty spectacular.

It was.

Today, I went to see Les Miserables at the movie theater. There are some movies that you can see on DVD and it doesn't make a difference, and then there are movies like Les Miserables that you just have to see on the big screen.

Les Miserables is actually a book written by Victor Hugo in 1862. Since they are still making movies from the story, obviously it is about as classic as you can get.

Personally, I think the reason this story still enthralls people is the wonderful thread of redemption that runs throughout.

Back in the day, when I was young and cocky, I tried to read the book in French. Yeah, that didn't go so well. lol I did, however, read the unabridged version in English and it was still a slog because, in book form, it is incredibly long, and Hugo had an annoying habit of naming his characters similar names - I had to keep a running list to keep everyone straight.

In the 1980's it was made into a Broadway musical, and this is the version with which most people are familiar.

The movie is based off the musical and is a bit more doable for most people who don't have a few months to plow through the novel, and the music itself is wonderful.

The story is of Jean Valjean. We first meet him when he is a prisoner. Being a prisoner then was much different than now. He is set free after 19 years, but is on parole. What this really means is wherever he goes he has to carry a paper that declares him a dangerous criminal. He can't get work or food or a place to stay. They weren't much on rehabilitation back then.

By the way, his crime was stealing a loaf of bread for his sister's starving child.

He comes upon a church and the kindly priest offers him a place to stay, feeds him and is nothing but kindness. Valjean repays him by stealing the silver and running off in the middle of the night. He is caught, but instead of turning him over to surely spend the rest of his life in prison, the kindly priest says he gave the silver to Valjean and then hands him two costly silver candlesticks. He tells Valjean he's offered him grace so he can serve God.

Over the years, Valjean becomes a wealthy factory owner under an assumed name and ends up taking in the child of one of his former workers, Fontaine who has become a prostitute after falling on hard times.

Through the years, we see Valjean make choice after choice of doing the right thing, all while being hunted by Javert, an officer in the French army. Valjean helps person after person, and refuses to exact revenge when his archenemy Javert falls into his hands. Valjean could have easily killed Javert and ended his life of being on the run. But he chose to extend the same grace that was given to him years ago.

The story is powerful - full of redemption and the triumph of the human spirit.

However, the thing that struck me most is the grace extended by the priest at the beginning of the story. Myriel had every right to turn in Valjean who had repaid his kindness and hospitality with thievery, but he doesn't.

Instead, against common sense and being in the right, he extends grace. That original extension of grace affected far more than Valjean - it effected the many people he helped throughout his life.

As all truly great stories do, it made me think - what small acts of grace can change the lives around me? Am I willing to give up my righteous indignation at perceived wrongs to extend grace to those around me, even those who may have truly wronged me? Am I willing to be thought a chump or a doormat?

What kind of difference would it make if I extended grace even when I had every right not to?

It may have just been a movie, made from just a story, but Les Miserables left me thinking. It left me looking at things just a bit differently. The last line of the movie pretty much summed it up for me, "To love another person is to see the face of God."

~ Blessings, Bronte