Monday, July 29, 2013


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~ Blessings, Bronte

Friday, July 26, 2013

5 Minute Friday - BROKEN

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

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

They weren't.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God truly does bring beauty from ashes.

~ Blessings, Bronte

Tuesday, July 23, 2013


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

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

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

These days - not so much.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~ Blessings, Bronte

Tuesday, July 2, 2013


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

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

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

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

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

Or I don't.

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

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

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

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

The same day I prayed that prayer.

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

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

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

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

God whispered in my ear, "Anything."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~ Blessings, Bronte