Sunday, September 8, 2019

Book Release!!

It’s time!! Thanks to everyone for praying with me and for me as I’ve worked to get my first book out! It’s been a learning process, for sure, and none of this would be possible if God’s hand wasn’t firmly holding me!

Here’s the back cover description for now. I’ll have some memes and more information about the book later in the week! 

“You can learn from my mistakes, and it won’t cost you a thing!” is one of Marina Bromley’s favorite quotes. Over the years she’s had time to reflect on her life lessons and the grace-filled ways God has turned them into blessings. This book is based on what she’s learned through those mistakes, much as she’s shared around her Kitchen Table online and in person over the past 35 years. If you’ve longed to have an older friend, someone who won’t gloss over the mistakes she’s made and will own up to the realities of life, then this book is for you! Take this 30-day journey of scripture focus and practical life application and reflection in Morning Meditations at Marina’s Kitchen Table. 

Available on Amazon and Kindle. Free for those of you on Kindle Unlimited! 


The REALLY Empty Nest... A Parents of Missionaries Post

The house still has evidence of Miss J being here all last week, and grandkids Norah and Isaiah a few weeks before, and to have these 2 pop up in my memories this morning makes me miss them (and their brothers and sisters). 
Yesterday, on our way home from dropping off Jac, the dad of these 2 in the picture (Ryan), was doing a Facebook live video from a visit to their friend’s village, where they buy charcoal for ones cooking and their coffee (growing on the side of the road!), and pick berries in season. In the video, he turns to Bella (pictured here) and asks her something in Spanish, and she answers back in Spanish. It was beautiful to see her not hesitate, just to speak it so naturally. I knew the littlest would pick it up quickly, but didn’t know what that would look like time wise.
Although we get to talk with them via video calls nearly weekly, we miss this family so much. All the good stuff that goes on in our lives doesn’t replace them not being here. We miss them. It’s hard.
It will be a year in December since we saw them last. A year since we had giggle-filled hugs, walks, played games around the dinner table, had bedtime devotions and said goodnight prayers together. When we do these things with our grandkids living stateside, it so much fun, but it reminds us of how fun it was to do it with all of them too. I’m thankful for the memories, but sometimes it makes my heart hurt a little more.
I’m so grateful for technology, for getting to see how they’re growing and learning, even though it’s a tiny snapshot. I’m so thankful to get to talk to them and hear about the good and the bad in those few minutes each week, but it doesn’t take the place of making memories with them.
I’m not sure if we will make it there before they visit here in a year or so, but I know that I already dread the goodbyes, no matter where or when we will meet again.
God growing my faith this way keeps my heart tender. It takes a lot of exercise to keep my faith bigger than my fears, and those fears loom just around the edges of my heart, looking for any opportunity to sneak in. But God is bigger.
I’m reminded of the first all summer mission trip my then 16 year old daughter was taking to Mongolia, and the phrase that God etched on my heart, “I’d rather have her in the center of God’s will than in my own backyard against His will.” So I pray God’s will for these kids, for this family. I ask God to refine the parents wisdom, and that they can discern the heart of our Father for this family. To do what’s best for His Kingdom, not only to help others hear about Jesus, but also in nurturing their own children’s faith and physical health. And yes, for me to continue to trust Him with each of them, grown ups and grandkids alike, because He loves each of them too.
And when bad stuff happens, because it does, He is with them in the midst of it all, and I pray that their FAITH > fear too.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

BIG News ... well, later this week!

Hello Friends!

I'm sorry that I've been on a bit of a hiatus here... I've been busy putting the finishing touches on my book Morning Meditations at Marina's Kitchen Table, A Devotional Memoir, and enjoying time with my grandkids in this end of summer heat!

BUT SOON... I'll have news on the book, on launch team opportunities (if you'd like to join in on helping promote the release of the book) and the details on availability!

So watch your inboxes, or join me on Facebook and Instagram...

Blessings,
Marina
Marina's Kitchen Table

Friday, August 2, 2019

Book Review: Back Roads to Belonging, by Kristen Strong

I had told myself I wasn't going to do book reviews this year. That I would take a year off. That I was just going to pleasure read and not force myself to sign up to read too much... well, when I said that I didn't know that one of my favorite authors, Kristen Strong, had a new book coming out. I was going to read it for pleasure...I may as well be on her launch team, get the goodies, and review it when I was done! 

Lets be clear, there are only a few writers that I'll read anything they publish. I'd gladly purchase any book that Kristen Strong writes. Her life as a military wife and often mover resembles my own corporate move challenges. She writes as though you are sitting at the table with her, a willing new friend, not a stranger. I rarely feel alone when I've got one of her books in my hands. Her practical, honest, no glossing over the realities of feeling a bit awkward, hit straight to my heart. She pulls from scripture, and encourages with scripture and practical examples of putting it to work in my life. She shares her failures as well as her victories. She's a little sarcastic around the edges, but not in a mean way, more like "we can laugh together at this" way. I love the way she writes, shares, welcomes us in as readers to peek at her life. 





 I look forward to whatever she's got next on her writing list. It's going to be great, I'm sure!!



Here's the shorter version that I shared on Goodreads...
"Wow. Kristen's done it again with a book that hits straight to my always-feels-out-of-place heart. With biblical truths to cement my place in this world, she exposes the lies and reminds me that it's no accident that God has brought us to each place in life, every neighborhood, church, social group—you name it—He meant for you to be there. I appreciated the "Traveling Companions" of each chapter, lending examples from outside her own life to show other ages and stages and how people relied hard on God's wisdom. I loved the "Belong Blessings" to extend each chapter into ideas and actions. I know that this is a book that I'll be picking up often in life (just like her last book, Girl Meets Change, that I STILL read and recommend often!). It is well written, well thought out, and an enjoyable and encouraging read. I really loved it!"


The book is available for pre-order on Amazon now, and releases on August 6th, 2019 through your favorite bookstore or online retailer. For pre-order bonuses, please have  your pre-order receipt number and go to https://kristenstrong.com/can-i-send-you-free-goodies/

#bookreview #backroadstobelonging #kristenstrong

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

I don’t think of my mom every day, maybe that’s hard for some to understand, but we lost her to cancer just before I turned 13, and it was a very different type of difficult with no counseling or assistance to help me sort it out.
But every now and again God taps me on the shoulder and reminds me of her.

Today it was this Coral Knockout rose at Lowe’s. It reminded me of her lipstick! Lipstick of all things! I remember little Avon samples of coral lipstick and how badly I wanted to wear it, to hold on to her and those little sample tubes.
It’s funny all the ways and wonders of how God made us...our minds and emotions and memories...

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Back Roads to Belonging

Sometimes you step into a book and it feels just right. It feels that the author has been walking the same road as you, maybe peeking in on the edges of your life. This book is like that for me. It’s like a comfortable chair, sort of hugging you in the right spots and supporting your weary bones.



I’m loving her insight, her perspective, and her way of weaving in scripture, reminding me that He is with us, even in the silent and seemingly lonely spaces...that He’s always preparing us for His next place of blessing.


#backroadstobelonging #marinaskitchentable #booklaunch 

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Backyard Breaks

Since I’m sitting at the kitchen table so much while I’m writing, I have to get up and stretch from time to time.








Today we had rain again, but between showers I was able to take some photos of things around the yard. This little hummingbird is becoming a buddy around here. He scares off all the other hummers, and has flown right up to Mark and I and looked us in the eye. It’s fun to see so much blooming around us! Many times we plant things that we don’t get to see blooming the next year because we are moving on along. This year we are enjoying it all!












 #marinaskitchentable #hummingbirdsofinstagram #flowers #flowersofinstagram #backyardsofinstagram #corporatemoves #homesweethome #amwriting #amwritingdevotionals










Friday, July 5, 2019

Lamentations of Past, Present and Future

I've been going through files during this time of being off line. I'm writing for the new book coming out, and looking for inspiration, but while I'm not writing I'm doing computer "housekeeping" and organizing files and deleting things that can be deleted. 

I located this as a "draft" on the blog. I am not sure why I didn't post it. I know it was a busy time of life, and perhaps I never got around to doing an edit, or making a meme to post with it. Still, I'm in awe of God's timing—then and now.

This was 3 moves ago, leaving Owensboro and moving to Harrison, AR. It was such a time of emotional and physical turmoil. Thankfully it was not a time of spiritual turmoil. God is so faithful. Going back and reading this is like looking at an old photo album. I remember these thoughts, these ideas, these fears and answers. Now years on the other side I remember details that I didn't know then...and I'll write them at the end. 

I am grateful for God's faithfulness, and letting us stay here right now (in Alabama). Having been in this house for a year now, it's one of the few times in the past 10 years that we're getting to see a full season in one place. It can always change, and that's ok. He always knows where we need to be, and where He will move us next. He also knows when it's good for us to stay put for a bit. I still hold it all loosely, and look forward to wherever He has us in a year, here or away from here. 

.......
I've been thinking a lot lately of lamenting.

I think that it was borne out of forcing myself to look beyond the sadness of moving and see the amazing things God was still doing in this season. I also think it was the answer to a lot of people's prayers. It's easy for me to camp out in a sad emotional spot, especially when it's justifiable.

Who wouldn't be sad to be in some part of a move for the 4th September in a row? Who wouldn't be at least a little sad (ok, a LOT sad!) to move so far from the majority of their grandkids, after getting to see them often, and having them live just a few minutes (or hours) away? Who wouldn't be upset to have just poured blood, sweat and tears into completing the fence around the house, planting the beginnings of a great perennial flower garden, and starting to celebrate the start of a few friendships in the new neighborhood?

"But still..."

I can really go on and on in my complaining... but I won't. God has done some amazing things over the past few months, and although it doesn't change the situation that we're in (moving) it convinces me that He is a part of this change.

I've been reading a book that comes out soon called Girl Meets Change, by Kristen Strong. I don't think that it was a simple coincidence that I'm reading it now. She addresses the feelings of change we all get, fear, anxiety, sorrow, and takes them head-on with scriptural truth. It's helping me. A lot.

I think that is where the seed of lamenting came from too. It reminded me of a sermon I heard about a year ago, while visiting my sister's church in California. In all my years of church-going, I'd never heard a lesson on "lamenting." I've been taught on the book of Lamentations, and the Psalms (where many of David's lamenting poems are found), but not on the facts of what makes a lament.

In the past few weeks, the negative complaining had taken over my emotional bank. Grandkids were about the only thing that brought joy to me. I found it hard to enjoy anything, especially the things I really enjoy - photography, art, music, working outdoors in the garden. Even watching tv changed, as I turned off the shows on travel and house-hunting and home repairs and found myself tuning in to more news (bad news, of course), or shows that were more drama and negative. I was trying to escape.

I also found myself engaging with other bad behavior, like biting my nails more, snacking more, and drinking more sugary drinks. It was as if I was feeding my poor attitude and ignoring the things that normally brought me joy.

I asked a few friends for prayer, more specifically praying for things like my behavior, my attitude, my marriage and my heart. I confessed things that I knew needed confessing, and invited accountability, even though I didn't want to.

More than I didn't want to ask for prayer, I didn't want to remain on this path of depression or destruction.

I also know that I'm facing some big changes, and that it is not wrong for me to be sad, upset, disappointed, or depressed about them. It's not always wrong to feel these emotions when they are balanced with other emotions. I was walking a fine line, and finding it hard to pull away from the negative feelings, but being authentic in suffering, and lamenting well, helped to find that balance.

I think that having to get my car worked on was the final straw.

I had been having the "service engine" light come off and on for the past few weeks, and I finally managed to get it to the auto parts store, and there was time it was on to get the computer read by the little gizmo that reads the codes for what's wrong. The code it indicated was about a $50 part, but my husband was out of town, as well as my son in law, and I didn't feel confident in changing out the part all by myself. My husband and I agreed to put it at the dealership (where we have a great relationship with the service department) to get the work done. I was also doing a little investigating online (of course!) and saw a few other things it may be, but all easy fixes and relatively cheap.

When the dealership called me with the news that it was going to be several THOUSAND dollars to get my car fixed, it pushed me over the edge.

However, this didn't surprise my husband at all. He had been looking online too, and saw the articles dealing with the problem that the dealership found. How come I never saw those is beyond me! He almost expected it to be that problem, and was glad that they found it.

What infuriated and upset me, he was pleased with. This made no sense to me.
...
So written as a lamenation in my mind, it went something like this:
...
My service engine light torments me, coming on and off, without allowing me to get the problem diagnosed.
The service department can not get me in until days later, and there will be a charge to determine the problem, as well as the fees for solving it.
But still, You kept the car running, and running well. Never once did you allow it to break down, leaving me stranded while my husband was away.
You provided a clear passage for me to get my car in the shop at it's appointed time, and You alone allowed me the provision of a loaner car from the dealership. You never left me without transportation, and I was permitted to take care of the issue without inconveniencing others.
You allowed me to connect with sweet friends that encouraged me, and inspired me, while I awaited the call from the repair shop, making for a great time of fellowship.
While the diagnosis was so much more than I expected, You allowed my husband to set aside money to fix it. You met our financial needs, and helped us to be prepared.
You moved up the schedule, with the mechanic completing the task a full day before expected. You timed this to coincide with the need for me to pick up boxes and moving supplies from a store in the same city, allowing me to combine errands and making the most of my time.
I rejoice at the goodness that You have shown me. I will praise You, for You have provided in ways I never would have known, if I had not faced this difficulty. You alone are good, and You alone are God.
...
As I think of the upcoming move, I consider this lament...
...
My husband lost his job unexpectedly, although he was committed to serving You in this space, and we prayed for the people and the business that took place there.
He has applied for jobs here, and no door has opened. There are not many jobs available in the industry, or in the field in which he is trained to work.
You send him away to work in another state, for just a few weeks, while I am traveling on my own during a planned trip.
I'm frustrated and upset with the thought of moving again, as we've had to move so often in the past 5 years.
We had just finished working on projects on the outside of the house, fencing, extending the patio, and planting several trees and plants. I'm so sad that I won't get to see them grow, or enjoy the gardens I've planned and planted.
So many of my grandchildren live near us now, and it makes me sad to think of being far from them.
It will be difficult to get to see them and be involved in their lives, and how will I help my daughters when they need help?

But still, You are God. You gave these girls to me, and have given them 9 children between them.
You have provided work for my husband, and it is in another place, but it's not in an unfamiliar place.
You have provided technology for us to be able to participate in our kids and grandkids lives, and we trust You to meet their needs.
I have no idea where You want us to live next, but You have sold our home here at a fair price in just a day! We praise You!
I will trust You with my tomorrows, because You have walked me through this moving process so many times in the past 5 years. Each time You provided a buyer for our home, and took care to provide a new home for us too! You have never allowed us to be homeless, and You have given us an apartment to rent until You reveal the next home for us to buy.
You are moving us to a place that is not far from our son, and I will praise You for the opportunity to get to spend time with my new granddaughter and help our daughter in law. You could have sent us to another state farther away, or closed the door for the job here, but You have seen fit for us to be here for a season. I will praise You for this season near to them!
...

Epilogue: We lived there for just over a year (the new job location in Arkansas) and I loved taking care of my granddaughter there. It was a good season of life, living there, and it was healing to the soul in many ways. Again, God moved us again out of state, much to our surprise, and He provided a buyer for our home (again, after many projects!) and provided another home for us in Alabama. We did a lot of projects on that home, and sold it and moved to another home a year later! Each time God gives us a peace that it's time to move, and He has always provided a buyer for our home within 30 days, and a new place for us to go to. Every project we have done has been fruitful and good team-building for us as a husband and wife. He has met our needs and provided work for my husband, and right now, work for me too. 

God is big enough to handle our complaints, our arguments, our ugly cries. He cares about us, and wants us to love people deeply. It's ok that our hearts break a little bit when we go through sad and difficult seasons. He wants to carry us. He wants us to be aware of His presence and provisions in the midst of our hurting and lamenting. He is with us. Always. 

Girl Meets Change, remains one of my favorite books ever. Author Kristen Strong has a new book coming out this fall that I am looking forward to reading soon! You can pre-order Back Roads to Belonging through online book stores and Amazon. 

#kristenstrong #backroadstobelonging

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

A Family Friendly Devotional

When I first saw The Devotional Doodle Journal online, I immediately thought of all the families around me that would have a blast with this. Since my grandkids live far from me, and I had a family of friends visiting, I thought I’d check it out, and I was right! 

The momma loved the content and easy to grasp topics with Biblical truths. The kids, aged 3-15, loved the doodling activities and journaling prompts. It would be good for a personal or family devotion time. Everyone had fun and good discussions took place! 

Use the DaySpring link on the side to order through the affiliate marketing program. 












Thursday, June 20, 2019

9 Little Photos: A Break in the Rain

We had a break in the rain today (storms now expected overnight) so I was able to enjoy the flowers instead of having to water them this afternoon. 

The Limelight Hydrangeas are doing great, and the Phantom Hydrangeas are turning pink in the blooms’ base. The Strawberry Vanilla has blooms on it, but they’re just barely beginning to open. I love the “bead and bloom” look that the cones have, and the red stems of the Strawberry Vanilla. It’s striking! 











We have a random sunflower growing in the birding border! The petunias and agapanthus are still blooming well, and the cannas are setting flowers now. One has bloomed red, and it’s a striking contrast next to that yellow sunflower! 





I feel so blessed to have so many birds and blooms to enjoy during my writing breaks. I’d not planned to be writing a book this summer, and with this planting done I’m able to fully enjoy it. 





Our neighborhood hawk hung out while Mark was working on the hillside. He sat on the fence and sized him up (I almost said “watched him like a Hawk”!), then flew to the back fence while he shopped for some dinner. I’m secretly hoping he’ll snack on some of the area snakes and rodents, but he’s amazing to see just perched on the fence.


Beautiful! 

Monday, June 17, 2019

June Gloom

June is hard. It just is. In California we called it “June gloom,” but it’s followed me everywhere I’ve lived. I keep seeing things added to it that weigh me down at my core... life and death stuff that God controls. It still catches me off guard and then I remember, “it is June.” 

Forever I have thought it has to do with the moon phases and seasons. We have been building up our daylight, and we peak next week with the coming of the first day of summer at the Summer Solstice. Then it begins to decrease, a slow descent into fall, then winter again. Over and over again, June Gloom appears.

But over and over, the ONE who made the sun and the moon and the stars pulls me through it. He made me too, and He doesn’t want me to focus on the GLOOM, but the GROOM, God Himself. 

I will live in the LIGHT of Jesus, hold dear the LIFE everlasting that He has given me, and lighten up a bit to balance out the negative side of the list. 

June brings so much beauty, cheerful kids out of school, clear blue skies and rolling thunderstorms to cover the parched ground. JUNE BRINGS BLOOMS, flowers of every color, greenest of trees and lawns, icy beverages and memory-making activities. 

And JUNE BRINGS GROOMS, and Brides too!! 

So I’m praying against the JUNE GLOOM, and taking it in stride, but not letting it rule my emotional calendar. 


Thank You God for June! 

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Farmland

With all the disastrous flooding and storms all over the country, my heart has been breaking for the farming families that provide food for our country (and other countries too!).

Looking back in my memories I ran across these words from when we lived in Kentucky, in a small subdivision in the center of a large field. I could ride my bicycle to the back of our neighborhood and end up in the middle of a wheat field. It had the most spectacular views for sunrise and made for many beautiful pictures. It often felt like Holy Ground, as I’m sure the Farmer’s Family prayed over their crops, the weather, their work.

I’d like to share those old words with you again, mixed with a few new, and with photos of various farmland that I’ve captured over the past 10 years or so...from Kentucky, Missouri, California, Arkansas, Alabama and a few states between.

I’m praying for friends who are getting their crops in late because the ground has been flooded, for those whose growing crops are endangered by hail and tornadoes, and for those whose crops are safe and doing well not to feel guilty if their neighbors are struggling. I’m praying for those whose farmland is still covered with water, with no end of rain in sight.

Lord, bless the farmers.
.......
I'm not a farmer. I don't know much about soils or seasons or crops and I've never been on a tractor. But I have a deep respect for those that bring fruit from the earth.                  

My Grandma planted parsley. She supplied all the little Armenian ladies in her circle with it for their plaki, and chee kuftah. She had a fig tree. We ate oranges and lemons from trees in our yards that were as ornamental as they were functional. We had things to eat and flowers to enjoy and it was life-giving.

There's something in my veins, but it's not easily defined. I see God grow things. I notice them planted on purpose from the Farmer and accidentally by the birds. I know that all of them are given from the Father.

I salvage plants root-bound in plastic pots and give them freedom in the earth around my home. They bless me with colors and fragrances that make me smile. It's a good arrangement, this trade off.

When I ride out past the boundaries of my neighborhood, I find this ground, acres and acres that give life to the birds that fly out from it; give bread for our table, or our neighbor's, or the farmer's. It's beautiful.                

In a few days the sounds will start and the tractors will plow, the dust will stir and the crops will come in.                          

I don't know what this ground will give life to next. But it makes me pause, watch the breeze move the grain mimicking the wind on water, stirring the life in me today.

Thank You Lord, for the Farmers.