Friday, June 21, 2013


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~ blessings, Bronte

Wednesday, June 19, 2013


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

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

But there's one thing I don't.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I listened to this today and found it very interesting.

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

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

I know it's hard.

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

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

~ Blessings, Bronte

Friday, June 7, 2013


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~ Blessings, Bronte

Thursday, June 6, 2013


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The busyness though - it's a lie.

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

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

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

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

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

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

How do you practice being present?

~ Blessings, Bronte

Sunday, June 2, 2013

20 YEARS OF MARRIAGE - a reflection

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~ Blessings, Bronte