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