Friday, April 28, 2017

Life Lately

I always feel badly when I don't get to post much here.

Life is changing. We have closed on the sale of our home in Arkansas, and have a week before we close on the purchase of our next home, in Alabama. It's been an emotional and physical roller coaster, with trips of one-way 9 hour drives, goodbyes to old and new friends and neighbors, and stepping into an area of the world that I've not experienced before.

It befuddles me.

It's different for my husband. His move goes like this:

Accept the job. Sign the paperwork. Start the job. Move into temporary housing (a few weeks in a hotel and a move to a duplex). One trip by UHaul. Same thing every day: Work. Home. Try a new church on Sunday. His relationships circle around work, and me.

For me, I'm back and forth. I go from excited to this new experience, to dreading saying good-bye. I cry over the thoughts of not knowing when I'll see my granddaughter next (I've babysat her almost 2 days a week for the last 18 months, and she is a main source of joy in my life, her parents some of my best friends). I look at the calendar and wonder when I'll get to see my other grandkids too. They're only 4 hours away from the new place, but it still takes effort. It's still emotional. It's still work that I don't have energy to do.

Speaking of work...  My life feels a little upside down. Even before the move I felt God opening my hands... EMPTYING my hands. I'm ok with that. It's all for HIS glory, and I have always believed that He has me "let go of the good to grab hold of the better." Even when the "better" is not a large work account, a ministry, an article, a conference. If it's for His glory, He will bring it to be. I only want His will, with or without work. I'm ok with not doing anything. I'm ok with delighting in Him in stillness and rest.

In this season, this last week of temp housing living, I can delight in Him in the things He brings to me. I don't have friends here (yet), and we don't yet have a church. I keep to myself most of the time (except when I torment the Real Estate office across the alley) and cling to God's promises in the midst of the every day. I delight in the friendliness of the area, being called "Ma'am" and common courtesies displayed, like doors held open and kids saying "excuse me." I don't know if I can ever get used to that! People even utilize what we call "Pittsburgh left turns" - where the driver opposing you will allow you to safely turn left before they go on straight, so as not to hold up the cars behind you. Where else do they do this?

I'm looking forward to learning what lies ahead, the ways God will grow me, discovering this community, and sharing the area with our kids, grandkids, and friends who will venture to visit us here. I'm excited to learn the rhythms of the seasons here, from summer crowds on the lake and little league fields and where to buy the best snow cones. I'll even venture to say I hope to build relationships here, girlfriends who will walk with me, drink tea on the back deck and laugh over silly stories. Girlfriends who will pray with me and for me, my marriage, and any ministry God wants me to do. Girlfriends who will invest in our friendship and allow me to grow, and GO, if and when God moves us again.

I'm looking forward to venturing outside my norm and building relationships with those that may not know God, may not know Him as Creator, as Protector, as Savior. I want to evangelize the area, to encourage others to grow closer to Him and to know Him fully, whether it's on the walking trail or in our neighborhood, and to make an impression on this area for the Kingdom.

#GuntersvilleAlabama #GuntersvilleLake #companymove #moving #marinaskitchentable

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Sunday's Reminder: Grace

After camping in Friday's convictions, I'm grateful for Sunday's reminder - Jesus conquered sin. All sin. It's not dependent upon my obedience (although I want to respect His sacrifice with my discipleship). Great message by @patrickgarcia1 from#crossroadschristianchurchnewburgh this morning online. So good to have real, honest, transparent teaching to bring me back into the camp of grace. Happy Resurrection Day friends! Miss my CCC family. Grateful for technology 😘#onlinechurch — atCrossroads Christian Church.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Good Friday Considerations From Luke 12

These verses in Luke 12 are some of the most beautiful, yet at the same time, scariest, I've ever read!
I love the beginning, and who wouldn't?! I love The Shepherd's voice and the thought of being called His "little flock" (32). Yet when He goes on, what a motivation for right living! I can't imagine the punishment that awaits a believer who decides not to wait for His return (v42-46).
I know that there are huge theological arguments that take place over these verses. I'm not looking for an argument! Just live right, according to the convictions of God's Word on your heart. I'm not judging, I have struggles too, but I can't ignore these verses, especially today.
Especially this Good Friday, while I contemplate the brutality that took place as He laid down His life for me, for us.
What struggle is so huge that I wouldn't give it up for Him? What thing can I give up, not just for Lent—but for LIFE—to show a small act of thanks for what He gave up in sacrificing His life for my sins?
I can't comprehend, it's so great. No habit, addiction, unforgiveness for a wrong done against me... no pleasure, or possession... is as valuable as my salvation or as important as pleasing God. It's not an act of "works," or legalism, but a small thanks for the undeserved blessing of God's immeasurable mercy and grace.

If a friend brings me a gift, or treats me to lunch, don't I want to reciprocate? Of course!
I could never pay back what the blood of Jesus has given me—but my obedience, with gratitude, can show my gratefulness. Yes, Lord! May it only show my grateful heart to You! And when I struggle with temptation towards my sin, may I be obedient to run away from it and cling to You. ALWAYS running to You.
Lord, I celebrate the joy and freedom of your Resurrection, but may I also remember the act of sacrifice that it took today, the day You were crucified.
Luke 12
32 “So don’t be afraid, little flock. For it gives your Father great happiness to give you the Kingdom.
33 “Sell your possessions and give to those in need. This will store up treasure for you in heaven! And the purses of heaven never get old or develop holes. Your treasure will be safe; no thief can steal it and no moth can destroy it. 34 Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.
Be Ready for the Lord’s Coming
35 “Be dressed for service and keep your lamps burning, 36 as though you were waiting for your master to return from the wedding feast. Then you will be ready to open the door and let him in the moment he arrives and knocks. 37 The servants who are ready and waiting for his return will be rewarded. I tell you the truth, he himself will seat them, put on an apron, and serve them as they sit and eat! 38 He may come in the middle of the night or just before dawn.[a] But whenever he comes, he will reward the servants who are ready.
39 “Understand this: If a homeowner knew exactly when a burglar was coming, he would not permit his house to be broken into. 40 You also must be ready all the time, for the Son of Man will come when least expected.”
41 Peter asked, “Lord, is that illustration just for us or for everyone?”
42 And the Lord replied, “A faithful, sensible servant is one to whom the master can give the responsibility of managing his other household servants and feeding them. 43 If the master returns and finds that the servant has done a good job, there will be a reward. 44 I tell you the truth, the master will put that servant in charge of all he owns. 45 But what if the servant thinks, ‘My master won’t be back for a while,’ and he begins beating the other servants, partying, and getting drunk? 46 The master will return unannounced and unexpected, and he will cut the servant in pieces and banish him with the unfaithful.
47 “And a servant who knows what the master wants, but isn’t prepared and doesn’t carry out those instructions, will be severely punished. 48 But someone who does not know, and then does something wrong, will be punished only lightly. When someone has been given much, much will be required in return; and when someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required.
Jesus Causes Division
49 “I have come to set the world on fire, and I wish it were already burning! 50 I have a terrible baptism of suffering ahead of me, and I am under a heavy burden until it is accomplished. 51 Do you think I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I have come to divide people against each other! 52 From now on families will be split apart, three in favor of me, and two against—or two in favor and three against.
53 ‘Father will be divided against son
and son against father;
mother against daughter
and daughter against mother;
and mother-in-law against daughter-in-law
and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.’[b]”
54 Then Jesus turned to the crowd and said, “When you see clouds beginning to form in the west, you say, ‘Here comes a shower.’ And you are right. 55 When the south wind blows, you say, ‘Today will be a scorcher.’ And it is. 56 You fools! You know how to interpret the weather signs of the earth and sky, but you don’t know how to interpret the present times.
57 “Why can’t you decide for yourselves what is right? 58 When you are on the way to court with your accuser, try to settle the matter before you get there. Otherwise, your accuser may drag you before the judge, who will hand you over to an officer, who will throw you into prison. 59 And if that happens, you won’t be free again until you have paid the very last penny.[c]”

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

On Friendship and a Book Review: Never Unfriended

Reading a book on friendships, in the middle of another move, made for interesting emotions. Here in Arkansas I was delighted to be so close to friends I had from years ago when we lived near there. It was comfortable to connect with them as I ran around all of NW AR for errands and appointments, and we were authentic and real with each other, but not entwined in each other's lives. I was close enough to people we knew during our 18 years in Missouri, women who became deeper friends through time on Facebook, sharing prayers and stormy nights together online from afar. Of course my heart friendships from other places (back over 35 years of friendship) came with me wherever I went! These women know my scary, messy places and all the failures in my life and loved me anyways.

Still there was the group of women that I met through a church in Branson, MO that most of us ended up stepping away from in my short time in Arkansas. These women had a deep friendship group going, and they were brave enough to let me (and a few others) in. We did Book Clubs, and shared prayer requests and laughed a lot. They have been a huge blessing, even though it took me a while to find them (we tried churches for months before attending that one, and then a few months later things just didn't work out, and we all scattered! It was as if God allowed us to all attend church there just long enough to become friends!).

And then there were the women in my neighborhood that blessed me every time I went out to the mailbox, reminding me that they were just a few steps away. I can't count the number of times that we stood there at the curb, holding our mail and sharing the latest on our kids and grandkids, how God was working, how we could pray for each other.

We walked through a lot, these neighbor-friends and I. Sickness and health, loss of life, family problems, great celebrations of grandkids' milestones, and restoration of family.

Good neighbors don't just happen on accident.

Could I really trust God to open doors to friendship after such a rich season of GOOD friends like family?

The book Never Unfriended (Lisa-Jo Baker, B&H Books) brought all those thoughts (and more!) to the surface.

On the heels of the compilation book Craving Connection ((in)courage community, B&H Books) comes Lisa-Jo's second title, with her wise and whimsical way of sharing her struggles with friendships and all the feelings that go with being left out. She cheers us on to be the first to say hi and still shares her heart about all the things that can go wrong when you do. She honestly and openly lays out what God has to say about friendships, and relationships as a whole. She doesn't hold back by putting a pretty bow on a bad situation, but calls it as she sees it, and then tells us to move forward anyways.

She advocates hospitality, telling us, "If I wait for my house or my life to be perfect before inviting someone into it, I might never let anyone come through the door." She tells us to check comparison at the door. I loved the chapter on "Live Like the Kingdom is a Co-Op, Not a Competition." It's easy to fall into that realm over and over again. No coveting allowed in Kingdom friendships!

I feel that I've been living these examples over the past few years of us moving around, and can relate so much to the things she's writing. She and I are in different ages and stages of life, yet I think we've experienced the best (and worst) of friendship—as kids in lunch rooms and school clubs, to being left out from mommy gatherings, and even middle aged events. Today my friendships are healthy and rich, but as a kid I was awkward and didn't fit in. There's some of that still hanging around my edges, but women who have come to know me accept me as I am; flawed and imperfect and broken.  I'm so grateful and thankful for my girlfriends.


I stop my writing when my husband walks in the door and we run to sign some papers at the realtors. Upon returning home, I walk up the steps to the mailbox, in the off-chance mail has found us (it hasn't). Out of the corner of my eye, I see Heather, our upstairs neighbor, walking to her mailbox too. We've only met a few times, and don't know each other well, but we're friends already. She greets me with a smile, arms wide open, welcoming me into her friendly hug. We talk for a bit, and exchange phone numbers, making a plan for staying in touch through the expected storms hitting us this afternoon. I welcome her to "not be afraid alone" when the storms hit. I tell her that I'll leave my door unlocked should she need to come down to my place, just a tad safer.

I return to my husband in our apartment, he's wondering what it was that took so long. When I mention Heather, he understands, I've been reaching out. I may not know much about things, but I know how to make a neighbor into a friend.

I don't know if Heather knows how she's impacting my life; she's an answer to prayer. I'm not sure if she'll come hang out in my bottom apartment during a tornado warning, or come to share a cuppa before we move out of this temporary housing, but I'm praying that we can continue the friendship long after we've moved into our home. Despite all our differences, we are sisters in Christ, and I want to hear her share her HIStory, learn her laugh, know her favorite cookie, and how she takes her coffee or tea. After all, that is what friendship can be all about.

©2017 Marina Bromley for Marina's Kitchen Table. I received a copy of the book Never Unfriended by Lisa-Jo Baker, from the publisher in advance, for my honest opinion in review. I loved it! You can purchase a copy for yourself through your favorite online or Christian retailer.

Romans 12, Parts 2 and 3: Balanced and Beautiful in Christ

The new posts that I wrote for Balanced and Beautiful in Christ are now live on their Facebook page, and here on my new blog site (subscrib...