Thursday, May 16, 2019

The Hope*Writer Challenge, Days 1-4

I sit at my desk and enjoy the view of God’s creation…green grass, birdfeeders full of brightly colored birds, flowers blooming. I could stay here all day and watch life take place at a snail’s pace in my backyard…sigh.

Stop it! I need to stop putting off what I want to do and get to the heart of the matter. I want to write. I need to write, and make it a priority like it used to be. I need to give it space to grow, and bloom, and not keep it hidden in the soil of my wish lists to do someday.
Someday is now.
Just like the other UFO’s (UnFinished Objects) I have in my creative pile that I need to complete, many of my words are buried under half-basted quilts and just-started paintings. I have journals with pages torn out, and photo albums undone. Never mind the boxes of photos that still need to be sorted! If I think about them I’ll never begin writing!
So today, I START. No matter what else is undone, my words will take hold here. Starting NOW.

Day 2: Morning (but the wrong topic... I looked at the challenge from earlier this year!)

I wake up early. Earlier than I need to. I’m exhausted as it is, having tossed and turned all night, despite medications that promise me a good nights’ sleep. It’s not often I get sick, but when I do, it’s a doozy.

Without saying a word I know I have no voice. My throat rages on fire.

I peek out the window to see evidence of morning. It will be a while before sun streams through my windows as there’s a hill in my backyard that blocks the eastern view—so I see dawn in the shade of hillside and trees. Still the birds come, they have no need of direct sunlight to make their way to the feeders. I’m not so easily coaxed to stay awake. It’s chilly for mid-May and I climb back in bed to the warmth of my cotton sheets and duvet. I snuggle down with my Bible seeking, something to meditate on as I savor these moments and give my body the rest it needs to heal. My eyes land in the Psalms.

Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, for in you I trust. Make me know the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul. Psalm 143:8

Yes, this. It’s not a coincidence that I’m sick as I’ve had a few weeks of busy schedules, good and bad stress, emotional strain. I’ve been around sick people, but usually I can self-care and nurture my system to keep from catching the germs-du-jour. I’ve neglected myself though, and haven’t done the things I usually would do, like doubling up on supplements, using my essential oils, meditating in the Word, or soaking in the bath. When you’re busy, things like that seem a luxury, when in reality—for me—they are a necessity.

I re-read the verse and savor each word, adding emphasis different places each time I read it. My tired soul is trusting in Him today. I will listen and hear from Him, stepping back and resting in the provision of His nurturing care. I may not go anywhere, but even this is the “way I should go.” I’m grateful for His timing, His clearing my schedule to rest in Him today.

He meets me right where I am, sickness and all, in the dawn of the day. I know I can trust in Him because of His steadfast love, every morning.
Day 2: Mantra
It’s barely 70* and I’m sitting on the shady back patio. There’s a breeze that rustles the tall trees to my south, and the birds are hitting the feeders hard for their afternoon meal. They call out from the trees, the fences, and the feeders. The fountain is full and it’s sound sets the backdrop for this peaceful scene. I breathe deep, letting go of my frustration and allowing God’s gift of peacefulness push into my frazzled soul, my foggy brain, my tired, sick body.

“More of You, Jesus... less of me.”
This has been my mantra for some time now, taught to me by an Ozark Christian College student as he led our youth group on a series exercises to focus on Jesus. It’s easily been 15 years ago. It has stood the test of time.
The breathing technique is just as important, using your breath to push out my negativity and create room to receive His Presence.
I use this often enough in daily life; when I can’t get to sleep, or my thought pattern is spiraling in a negative direction, when I’m not able to communicate clearly in conversation. When I need to feel His peace and presence. Just because.
Why haven’t I included it in my writing process? I don’t know. I meditate and pray. I worship. I invite Him to be a part of the process, but I haven’t used my mantra.
This changes now. Mantra and deep breathing becomes a part of my process. Just like stretching my muscles before a long walk, I’ll stretch my lungs and open my heart to hear what He wants to say—to give Him more of my mental and emotional space before writing.
What’s your process? Do you have physical or spiritual exercises that help prepare you for the task of writing? Please share in the comments.

Day 3: FLOW
A part of the challenge with Hopewriters
I peruse the group’s Facebook page, reading about the practices and discipline my fellow writers exhibit.
They rise early, hours before their children, to take advantage of the only time their house is still.
They send their kids and husbands out the door, then do hours of research, morning writing practices, and connect with their accountability partners.
They keep a journal with them, frantically scribbling notes whenever they get a writing prompt, whether it’s for the next post or their next book.
And then there’s me: I write. No set scene or time of day. I don’t have many distractions at home, and none that are much more than a momentary glitch. I write when the Spirit moves me to.
I used to be afraid to say that. Like it was near blasphemy to admit I could feel His prompts, but now I know that others feel it too. More than a few of us write this way, and dare I say, it may be normal?
Oh, we may not ever crank out books at a hare’s pace, we may not publish at all, but our words still have value. Our flow may be slow, and our priority is not likely to get 1000 words a day, but perhaps to get a handwritten note to a friend who is hurting.
And maybe other writers can do it all—that’s amazing! But when I’m Spirit led to write, I’m exhausted when I’m done, and rarely do I remember what I wrote about. It’s like I’ve written in my sleep, but I remember my dreams better! My writing flow comes from deep within me. I can’t quite put a finger on it.
It’s how I learned to write, even before I knew His voice. Now it’s hard for me to think of word counts and writing times and goals when my only goal ever was to be still, listen, and write for One. And I guess for me, that’s ok. That’s my flow.

Day 4: IDEA
I’m never short on ideas, and I’ve usually got some creative project on a back burner—but word crafting is different and ideas bubble up faster with less planning.
Where most of my life is fairly routine and well planned, my writing is mostly spontaneous and catches me off guard. I’ll be unloading groceries from the car and *BAM* a prompt will pop into mind, or perhaps while watching birds a scripture will linger that ministers deeply, and I’ve suddenly got a series of posts to write about.
But a good idea does not a good writer make.

I’ve been told I’ve got to limit my topics, or at least decide one area to write about. Ok. Maybe two. Instead my words cover many diverse topics, from being a parent of a missionary to being a workaholics wife, or sharing biblical inspiration. From cooking to home DIY and being middle-aged. From autoimmune issues to sending missionaries to the field. I think you’ve got the idea. My blog has been called Marina’s Kitchen Table because I wanted it to be a place we could sit and chat about anything, so that’s why I’ve been all over the place.
And the photography. Do my photos still work?
I’ve gotten better about not writing about every little thing, and better still at not posting everything I write, (believe it or not), but the idea of finding my niche and staying there scares me! What if my readers and followers like that I’m always writing about something different? What if they get a kick out of the fact that I write about my life? Can that be my niche? Is it ok to have a niche of many facets, showing the areas of my life from many different angles?
I’m sure someone from @hopewriters would suggest I do a survey and poll my readers what they want to read about most, and then take the top one and focus on it. That’s actually a good idea! It would be good too to see how many people are actually glancing at my blog, my Facebook pages, my side hustles.
I guess I know what my next post will be on...

Monday, April 22, 2019

Lamenting at the Gate

His righteous acts will be told to those not yet born. They will hear about everything he has done. Psalm 22:31

Even before I read the provided YouVersion verse of the day, my heart was turning towards the Psalms. I asked myself yesterday, “After the Resurrection, where will I go in scripture? After such heartbreaking sacrifices that He endured, the torturous beatings, the humiliation, the graphic descriptions of Holy Week...what can my response be?” My heart longs for moments of lamenting, repenting, awakening to the fact that all of this was because of God’s great love for me (and you).

I came across this photo the other day from about 8 years ago. My daughters’ family was serving in a church in Pennsylvania, and this gate kept the kids from wandering out into the driveway. It was Easter morning, all those years ago, and she was waiting with expectancy for her dad to come and set her free for the rest of the day’s activities.

As much and as often as I love to curl up on my Papa God’s lap to hear His heart beat, I want to be awake and aware of His coming for me. Whether it’s His return, or His preparing me for today’s journey, I want to be found waiting at the gate with anticipation.

Truth be told, in this past season I’d be more often found curled up in bed under warm blankets and hiding from daylight. My heart has been tuned to His, but my body has not cooperated, and physical limitations demanded rest and warm during this never ending very cold and wet winter. Spring has flip-flopped from bits of summer back into winters’ cold and bleak. Just yesterday I finally felt myself turn a corner towards the sunny spring day, my own body responding to His Resurrection power.

My heart longing for lament is falling right into line with that power. I have always loved the “...but still...” of David’s Psalms. My own modern day versions could mimic his with contrasts more suited to my failures:

My body is weak and my mind longs for rest, yet You, oh God, are awake and alive and strong, and call for me to be renewed through the beauty of Your creation.

Though troubles astound me and loneliness plagues me, You, God, have invited me in to Your quiet place. You provide for my every need, and meet me where I am. You comfort me by reminding me of Your unlimited resources and even placed me in a neighborhood of people who show Your loving-kindness in real, tangible ways. Your goodness, God, overcomes my sadness, and you fill my heart with joy.
Much like David’s laments, it’s easy to identify with the vast and varied needs in today’s life—and just as easy to counteract it with God’s qualities and provisions. We just need to be willing to look past ourselves.

What is your need today? What do you lack? What has God provided, if not to solve your problem or fulfill your need, to let you know that He is aware of you, and He is walking with you through this season? The God who gave His son, Jesus Christ, to be tortured and sacrificed for our sins, will not leave us alone at the gate. He continues to write our story, so we can continue to tell others of the great things He does, even today, and for every generation.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

The Road Often Traveled

I've always been a girl that likes to stop and smell the roses, and take the road less traveled. This happens to be a road we travel all the time, and each time lately I've said "I need to stop and take some photos there..." and drive on by.

I hadn't even driven this road today, but the light was right in the sky, and I knew it would be beautiful. I was actually worried that by the time I got home and the groceries unloaded it might be too late (and they're not even put away yet—they are still in bags on the kitchen floor!).

So when Mark came home behind me, I asked if he wanted to drive me there. I figured I'd have to get out and walk to where I needed to get the view I wanted, and the sun WAS a little lower than I'd hoped, but God pulled it together! He does AMAZING work! Thank you AGAIN Mark, for facilitating my photography!

I'm hoping to get back out there soon, even if I have to wear rain boots and tick spray. It's literally right off the side of the road, but it's so peaceful, so beautiful.

May it quiet your heart and mind as we approach Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, and as we prepare to celebrate Resurrection Sunday!

#marinaskitchentable #hopewriters #wordworshipwrite #marinajbromley #roadlesstraveled #roadtraveled #meetinginthemeadow #cullmanalabama #alabama #cullman 

Friday, April 5, 2019

The Workaholic's Wife: Searching for Home

I'm not quite sure why I didn't post this two years ago, when we were first transitioning to Alabama, but I ran across it today and found it's still true. We have moved once more since then, although his job has stayed the same. Yep! Sometimes we choose to move when He prompts us, and it's not involving a job change. Now it's 7 moves in the past 9 years. Each time God has sold our home within 30 days of listing it (and closing it in a timely manner). Nothing says we heard God right, than when He does that for us. We don't know if/when we'll move again, we love it here! However, we're remaining committed to serving Him wherever He leads, and if that means another job change, or house change, or a move for any particular reason that He wants to point out, I'll trust Him with the details and go again.

I hope it's not for many years though!

Now it's been 35 years of marriage, and those grandkids equal 10 (not 9), and 7 of them are living in another country. We still live far from the remaining 3, but it's not so hard. Well, yes it is. I miss them. I think I'd miss them wherever we were though, wherever they were living, if it wasn't close by.

Still, we have to choose the hardest thing, whether it's leaving a house, a job, a life well lived, a friend well loved. We have to choose to walk in faith, trusting that whether we are planning our departure on a trip, losing a job, or facing end of life illnesses, we have to walk in the knowledge that we will not walk the road alone. He will go before us, with us, and come behind us. He will not leave us.

Searching for Home
Marina J. Bromley

I know the drive is boring, but I make myself push through the miles to be by my husband's side at his most recent hotel by dark. He has worked all day, and despite my map blunder, I arrive barely before the sun sets into the hills. The hotel room seems small to me, a little run down, but safe and inviting still. I'm exhausted and sore and slightly wobbly from all the car time. I'll find my feet by morning and all will be well.

I sleep hard, and awake before his alarm goes off, but I've mistaken his normal 4:30 alarm for the 5:30 he set it for, and end up being awake for over an hour while he sleeps. He rises and dresses and heads out the door. I fold my pillow from home in two, roll on to my tummy, and slip down to the bottom of the bed so my toes can hang down, just like home. THIS is when I sleep the best, after he's gone and before my day must begin.

My dreams are vivid and deep and I feel well rested when I wake up next. I've got time to linger, and after the quiet of my room I hurry downstairs, afraid to miss the breakfast offered. My husband returns from work and joins me over bacon and eggs and yogurt and fruit. We're looking over the list of homes we'll tour with the realtor, and by the time we're done eating, the realtor has arrived. We let him chauffeur us around town, looking at homes in neighborhoods and hillsides and lake fronts and precariously perched as if balancing on cliffs. With each one we view, I try to look beyond the paint colors and worn floors, past the peeling wallpaper and cluttered shelves, to imagine my life here. I wonder how my kitchen table will fit in, where the light will sprinkle in through the windows. I try to get a feel on this sunny winter day, will it be too dark in the house when the leaves fill in? Will I see birds come when my feeders are relocated here? Are there neighbors that will go beyond the steep drive to say hello and bring a plate of cookies? Where will I walk to pray over my neighborhood, when there are no sidewalks? Can I steal a look at the lake if we clear the underbrush, and can we even get permission from the TVA powers-that-be to clear it? So many questions and technicalities for houses we won't even make an offer on today. The search is just beginning.

I've been here before. No, WE have been here before. We have done this ritual with other houses in other cities our whole married life. This is our sixth state to live in, over the lifetime of our marriage. This is our sixth move in seven years of working with this company. If you count the temp apartments and short-term rentals (like a month or two, here and there) I *think* we've had at least 22 addresses during our 33 years of married life.

When I was a kid, I liked to travel. I still love taking the road less traveled, though usually it's just a day or two with my camera in tow. I like to eat at local places, get to know the culture and history. Truth be told, I'm a sojourner at heart. I love moving. Usually.

My last move was emotionally really hard, and I didn't want to move. The circumstances of the job change were not on our terms, and I had to leave the area closest to 9 of my grandkids, 7 of them that we lived about 5 miles away from. It was HARD, but even as I set my jaw with tears in my eyes and drove down the road, I remembered the words I clearly had heard God tell me just a few months earlier, "Choose the hardest thing. If you choose the hardest thing, you'll cling more to me and grow in ways you can't otherwise grow."

When He spoke those words to me, I thought we would be leaving when WE chose to, and it involved a move to California, not far from where we started our married life. It would of been hard in so many ways, so far from our kids and grands, we would take a financial hit because of the cost of housing, and it would mean working full-time for both of us—perhaps stretching the comfort of our norm's in marriage too. That is when I thought He wanted me to choose the hardest thing, not 3 months later—then I didn't get to choose at all. The door closed on my husband's "hardest thing" (to stay and work in a place that was difficult), and *BOOM* we had to move to where he was able to find a new position. It was still far from those kids and grands, but closer to others... and now, we've accepted a new "hard thing," choosing to move far from ALL our kids and grands, starting over with making new church and work friendships, building new relationships as we try to minister in our neighborhood (whichever one we end up in), and still investing in the friendships that we made at the last home, and the one before that, and the one before that...

It feels a bit like juggling. Each ball represents all the aspects of a move. The home, neighborhood, friendships, church, and then work—with aspects of job responsibilities, relationships, mentoring, all the new things that have to be learned. Over our 33 years, we are juggling those 6 states we've lived in. 22 moving balls that represent the people we went to church with, co-workers that stay in touch, girls I've mentored and co-workers he has, pushing things into a different order so I can find room for the new people I still want to meet here. I throw the balls higher in the air to keep them moving. They may not be in my hands as often, or for as long, but I'm still keeping them in my life!

This is where the sojourner kicks in, and my adventure begins. I know not to hold my hand too tightly around a house, a church, a child or a friendship. I know not to ask for the promise of "Let's not EVER move again!" as it becomes an instant reminder of Who is in charge of the number of days in any town or job or home. I know that everything can be changed in a house, besides the neighborhood and the physical footprint. It might cost dearly to remodel, but it can be changed. Everything else in life is temporary, and it can change so quickly. Everything can change, except His great love for us.

©2019 Marina J. Bromley, Marina's Kitchen Table, all rights reserved. 

God’s Nature

See that no one pays back evil for evil, but always try to do good to each other and to all people. 1 Thessalonians 5:15

Human Nature says get even; God’s Nature says forgive and bless. Human Nature says take back what’s yours; God’s Nature says turn the other cheek. Human Nature says fight, fight, fight; God’s Nature says peace. Human Nature says you are number one; God’s Nature says the last shall be first. Human Nature boasts pridefully; God’s Nature says to be a servant of all.

•Photo credit Kirsten Nicolette, used with permission.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019


(Love) does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 1 Corinthians 13:6

I’m not very athletic, but I’m very good at jumping. Well, I used to be good at jumping, jumping rope that is! Do kids do this any more? I could even do double-Dutch, where two ropes were swung around alternately. I loved it, and I could say it was one of my favorite forms of fun (aka: kid exercise!).

Perhaps I should take it up again! Add it to my “fitness plan.” It would do this body good!

Lately, one of my worst habits is jumping to conclusions. Totally not cool. I will choose a side before I hear the full story, whether it’s a personal story or a news broadcast (which is why I have given up all things news, except for weather).

When I read this morning scripture from YouVersion’s verse of the day, it occurred to me how this would benefit the world (and me in particular).

What if I never jumped to conclusions again? What if I waited on God to lead and reveal what was really going on, what His deeper intentions really were? What if I only prayed for God’s will to be done, so He could fully work in circumstances and bring Light out of darkness and healing in His timing, not my own.

What if we all cared more about people instead of their standings in the church, the community, or on social media? What if we wanted truth more than entertainment?

If “Love rejoices when the truth wins out,” then I want truth to win every time.

Lord, bring truth to the surface in my life, my home and family, my neighborhood, our community, our state and region, our country and our world. Change us by Your Truth being told, the HIStory of perfect Love, and teach us how to rejoice in this Truth, sharing the truth of Love around the world.


Saturday, March 23, 2019

Lessons From the Garden

"I said, 'Plant the good seeds of righteousness, and you will harvest a crop of love. Plow up the hard ground of your hearts, for now is the time to seek the LORD, that he may come and shower righteousness upon you.' - Hosea 10:12 NLT"
We are planning to begin working on our backyard landscaping projects, and I ran across this post from 3 years ago about landscaping the front yard. My history repeats itself in a timely fashion!

I can't work in a garden without thinking of this life verse. While I love the finished product, and anticipate a future flowerbed filled with lovely things, I have to remember the process it took to get to today—assessing what was there to start with, determining what changes needed to take place and what steps (and time and money!) it took to get it where it needed to be, and remembering it will take more work week...month...year!

Weeds will grow, I will need to watch for whatever comes to snatch the tulips, I will have to water in dry seasons. Could I have lived with a sparsely planted, poor-soil-filled flowerbed? Well sure! But it's so much nicer now, and in addition to adding value to our home, I see it adding value to our neighborhood, since the neighbors all see it from their yards.

My heart is the same way. I can keep it the same, never ask God what improvements can be made, never allow Him to break up the fallow ground of it.

I've had seasons like too? I was pretty selfish, and had a "love it or leave it" attitude. Nothing beautiful was planted, or I didn't nurture it and it was wasting away. It was ugly, and others may have seen potential, but no one dared try to work. But people prayed. I prayed, eventually. God worked little by little and in His time I was ready for new seeds to be planted for new fruit.

He still has work to do in me, and I want Him to! I want new fruit to grow in new seasons of life! He is The Master Gardener!



Friday, March 22, 2019

Dark Valleys

Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me. Psalm 23:4 NLT

I’m guessing that you’re facing some sort of “dark valley” today. Most of us are. It doesn’t have to cause us to be overwhelmed with fear, but sometimes it does. It doesn’t have to throw us into depression, but there may be signs of it affecting our bodies and minds. It may be issues financially, spiritually, emotionally or relationally.

Oftentimes these valleys of life affect us in multiple layers—it may start with something relationally, then depression or anxiety sets in. That exacerbates into a physical health issue, so we go to a doctor, and that creates a financial burden. All the while we continue to pray for God to heal us, restore the relationship, and wonder why He hasn’t—so our faith doubts that He is there, or we begin to think that He doesn’t care enough to “fix it.”

Often He wants us to grow in our faith, and it can take a season of pressing in deeper to Him to see how much He DOES care. We can become so self-reliant, believing that a Western way of life—DOING all the things, holds all the answers, when He wants us to rest in His arms and feel the breath in His chest and hear His heart beat. He CAN heal us right away, but He knows that we need to learn to trust Him for every little thing. He grows us to depend on Him more, that in another season our HIStory will testify the amazing ways He provided during our dark valley journey.

God is not a genie who gives us what we wish for. He is not a tyrant who wants to see us suffer. He is a loving Father who wants to see His children grow and mature in all ways. He continues to walk with us through dark valleys so we learn He can be trusted with our prayers, and we can depend on Him for our every need.

#hopewriters #wordworshipwrite #marinasmorningmeditations #psalm23 #devotions #darkvalleysoflife

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Happy First Day Of Spring!

Oh, it feels that Spring has taken its time to arrive this year. Anyone else think so? I’ve gone through weeks of photo memories where things bloomed so much earlier, weather was so much warmer already, and folks were in much better moods...we will blame it on all the rain. Nothing lifts my spirits like a warm and sunny Spring day! Maybe we can all turn a corner today, feeling better physically, happier emotionally, and more hopeful spiritually. I am ready!

What’s your favorite thing about Spring?

#marinaskitchentable #hopewriters #wordworshipwrite #celebratespring 

Monday, March 18, 2019

Washing Feet

And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other's feet. John 13:14
I love the symbolism of Jesus washing His disciples feet and the example He set for us, but outside of a few wedding ceremonies and an occasional service at church, I don’t see that happening as often as it did back in Jesus’ day.
Sure, we wear shoes, our roads are paved and sidewalks poured, and eeew, people’s feet can have all sorts of icky things that can be spread—it’s easy to justify why we don’t often wash feet these days, but does this mean we toss out the significance of serving one another? Nope!
There are likely a handful of other ways we can serve each other every day. Parents do it inside the home (and work!) every day, providing for their families. We use current societal manners, like holding doors open, or gathering our neighbors trash cans from the curb and pulling them up to the house. We offer to loan tools and assist with small jobs. Maybe we share meals when folks are under the weather.
I’m sure we could come up with a good list of ways we can serve each other daily, but the significance of washing feet shouldn’t lose its’ place in modern biblical teaching. Yes, it may be gross to think about, but the physical act of lowering yourself below your brother or sister in Christ, to loosen their shoes, remove socks, and tenderly wash their feet can also be a beautiful act of humility and love.
Have you ever been a part of a foot washing? How did it make you feel?

Friday, March 15, 2019


A living-abroad family member recently shared how many of their family are experiencing loneliness. We forget, those of us not having lived abroad, how magnified any emotion can be in a stressful lifestyle, whether living overseas or back in their passport country for a visit.

I remember a friend sharing on furlough how deeply her friendships had changed; she and her family had experiences that had grown them, changed them at their core, yet back in the states, even their best friends had only advanced their visions of the American Dream. There was a huge chasm. 

Let’s remember to pray for our missionaries here on furlough and abroad. Let’s pray for God to be the remedy to their loneliness, for them to be able to be honest and transparent about all of their emotions, with people at their side and those monitoring them from their passport countries. Let’s ask God to provide relationships to help fill the gaps—not just people to reach out to evangelize, but deep spiritual friendships that can be a healing salve in their heart languages to overcome the loneliness, for the parents and kids alike. Lord, have your way! 


Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Practical Missionary Care Refresher

Although I’m not immersed in Missionary Care Ministry in this season through our church, I still love encouraging our Missionary friends and family. 

I have spoken to many friends who are preparing for their Global Workers and Missionary friends to return home for furloughs soon. Whether they are near or far, there’s many ways we can bless them! I was reminded of this post I wrote for DaySpring a few years ago... 

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Reminding Myself

But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world. 1John 4:4 

It’s sad how easily I can forget Who I belong to and how far He has brought me. My HIStory is a testimony of His great love, His blood poured out to cover all of my sins. It is the stuff old hymns are made of. 
I once was lost, but now I am found, was blind but now I see.
(Amazing Grace, John Newton, 1779)

I was sinking deep in sin, Far from the peaceful shore, Very deeply stained within, Sinking to rise no more; But the Master of the sea Heard my despairing cry, From the waters lifted me, Now safe am I. Love lifted me! Love lifted me! When nothing else could help, Love lifted me.
(Love Lifted Me, James Rowe, 1912)

Count your blessings, name them one by one, Count your many blessings see what He hath done.
(Count Your Blessings, Johnson Oatman, 1897)

Little one’s to Him belong, they are weak but He is strong! Yes, Jesus loves me, the Bible tells me so.
(Jesus Loves Me, Anna Bartlett Warner, 1859)

The above was from a post a year ago, inspired by a YouVersion app verse of the day. It inspires me still. 

The “reminding” is fresh in my mind, not a threat of the enemy, but a promise from God. He is STILL changing me, challenging me, refining me, molding me. I don’t believe I’ll be “done” until He takes me Home, or He returns —what a glorious day THAT will be! 

We all have a HIStory, even if you were a good kid raised in a Christian home. We all have the need to be saved, and just because your HIStory is different than mine doesn’t mean it’s not important. It is!

The same way, all of our sins need to be forgiven by the Savior, Jesus. It was His blood that was shed on a cross, and He was buried for 3 days before He was resurrected and restored to His heavenly place with His Father. 

“What sins?” you may ask. Well I came with a long list of them, and He still refines me today. They aren’t the addictions and behaviors I had 40 years ago, but they’re just as sinful. I like the description in Galatians 5:19-21 of some of the more popular ones, and how he leaves it open to “and the like.” I think every other sinful outbursts of humans falls under that phrase.
“The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
And verses 22-26 show what He places in our heart instead...
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.”
It’s still a process. I’m still growing. It may not be “drunkenness” but “envy” instead. Or it may be that my spiritual fruit is not yet formed and ripened, perhaps I’m not showing “patience” or “peace.” Your struggles may be the same or different. They still need to be confessed to God and He still wants to change them, to grow you!
Whatever is going on, it’s important to keep walking with Him. With the assurance that He is with me (and you!), always (Psalm 16:8) I don’t need to fear the letting go of bad behaviors or attitudes. He loved me as I was, and loves me as I am ... still growing. I can still cling and grow, and stumble, yet He is so faithful to let His blood wash over me as long as I continue to come to Him... 
Just as I am, without one plea,
But that Thy blood was shed for me,
And that Thou bid’st me come to Thee,
O Lamb of God, I come! I come!
Just as I am, and waiting not
To rid my soul of one dark blot;
To Thee whose blood can cleanse each spot,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come!

Just as I am, though tossed about
With many a conflict, many a doubt;
Fightings within, and fears without,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come!

Just as I am, poor, wretched, blind;
Sight, riches, healing of the mind;
Yes, all I need, in Thee to find,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come!

Just as I am, Though wilt receive,
Wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve;
Because Thy promise I believe,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come!

Just as I am, Thy love unknown
Has broken every barrier down;
Now, to be Thine, yea, Thine alone,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come!

(Just as I Am, Charlotte Elliott in 1835)

©2019 Marina Bromley, Marina's Kitchen Table, all rights reserved.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Morning Prayer

Lord, may we never lose our childlike wonder. May we remain insatiably curious, incredibly creative and impeccably devoted to You. Amen. 

(Thanks @trotters41 for the quote and graphic! Great inspiration for my morning prayer.)

Monday, February 25, 2019

Happy (Work) Anniversary!

Mark has been in his position in Alabama for 2 years now. TWO years! In comparison, he had 18 years in one position with a different company, and this is his 5th position in his 9 years with Tyson Foods. I’m grateful for each one, and I’m thankful that we are here (still!) now! 

It’s a little different today than it was when I wrote this two years ago in Arkansas, but it’s a little the same too... his khakis go to the dry cleaners for washing and pressing (thank you L&L Cleaners!), but I still pray for him and his work as I wash his clothes. He only travels occasionally now, and I’m grateful when I get to tag along. I still pray for his job, his team members, and their mission field. It’s still an adventure and we are so grateful to be on it together, knowing that God does some pretty amazing things along the way! 

We have seen God sell and find homes for us 7 times in those 9 years, and met some great Realtors turned friends. We have been to some great churches (ok, some had a little drama), and had wonderful neighbors-turned-friends, and God has grown friendships out of the most amazing places. He has proven to me over and over that the best friendships can come with me, no matter where we go! 

It’s not all Pollyanna wonderful though, there’s always the long hours, time apart initially and all the details of a corporate move. There’s learning new things for Mark (job related) and OTHER new things for me (life related —like shopping, doctors, dry cleaners, etc). There’s always the learning of a new routine, temporary living in apartments, and house hunting (not nearly as glamorous as HGTV makes it look, but praise God for patient realtors!). There are hard goodbyes, late dinners, weeks apart, and missing dear friends and family. 

But God has grown us so much, and I wouldn’t trade that for anything.

If we are “new friends,” you may not realize all this about us, all that God has brought us through. I invite you to go check out my other Facebook pages, “The Workaholic’s Wife” and “Marina’s Kitchen Table” and “Women Helping in Missions” to see some of our story, some of my view of life. Many times I repost articles to encourage others (and me!), but there’s original content there too. 

To our “old friends,” thank you. Your prayers over us the past 2 years in Alabama have been so effective, and I’m blessed to walk this journey with you! Thank you for your friendship, your faithfulness and your fellowship, even when it’s over miles and years. You’re the best gifts ever! ❤️🙏🏼❤️

#marinaskitchentable #wordworshipwrite #hopewriters 

Thursday, February 21, 2019

I’m So Glad He Is

He doesn’t expire, retire or get voted out. He never gets tired, runs out of ideas, or gives up. He doesn’t forget, always forgives, and is always near. He is omnipresent and omniscient. He is perfect love.
He is just who He said He is.

©2019 marina bromley, marina's kitchen table,
Photo credit YouVersion app
#hopewriters #wordworshipwrite #marinaskitchentable

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

February Free Write: Hour

I sleep in a pitch black room. It's true.

We sleep better with black out curtains in the room, to deter the full moons and the east facing sunrise that greets me every morning... if I saw it. But I don't. My curtains work well, and I can't tell the difference between middle of the night or middle of the morning, except that if my husband is still snoring in the middle of the morning, he has slept through his alarms.

Lately I've been leaving the curtains cracked open a few inches, despite the really full moon that still illuminates our cloudy skies. I've come to recognize that I NEED to know when it's light out. Even though I'm tired (because this night owl has a really messed up circadian rhythm right now), and my body thinks that I'm training for a marathon for all the sore muscles when I awaken (side effects from all the restless legs going on when I DO sleep), I still want to have some sort of rhythm. In this season I have this luxury, but in a few weeks I will not... I'll be caring for littles in the neighborhood and I'll need to wake up around 4 (is it still dark then? I don't even know!), so I want to ease my body into a schedule. Is that even possible?

When I wake up I'm SO TIRED. Do you know that feeling too? I think that an hour will make a huge difference in the rest of the day. It's true. Like a magic space where my aches will go away and my attitude will improve. So even though I didn't have an alarm set to start off with, I'll take my morning meds, take a good drink of water, set my alarm, and go back to sleep. Crazy, huh?

Something magical DOES happen in that hour... I dream.

I usually dream in the morning hours anyways, and this extra hour is like going to the movies. I fall asleep easily, aware of the warm bed and blankets (unlike when I go to sleep at night in a cold bed, which my husband loves, but I struggle to relax in for all the cold in that space). If there's any question of falling asleep, I start my breathing mantra, "More of You, God" on the inhale, and slowly exhaling "Less of me..." and BOOM! After a few breaths I'm sound asleep! The next thing I notice is my alarm waking me up (yes, I use that ringtone of angelic harps, bringing me back from deep slumber) and I'm groggy for the deepness of that hour. Oh, and I'm instantly trying to psychoanalyze that crazy dream I had.

Other amazing things can happen within an hour's time, but for me, sleeping is the BEST thing ever. What's your favorite thing to do with an hour? 

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Sunday’s Sabbath Rest

Matthew 11:25-30
Jesus’ Prayer of Thanksgiving

25At that time Jesus prayed this prayer: “O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, thank you for hiding these things from those who think themselves wise and clever, and for revealing them to the childlike. 26Yes, Father, it pleased you to do it this way!

27“My Father has entrusted everything to me. No one truly knows the Son except the Father, and no one truly knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”

28Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

It’s been such a hard week for so many that I love. All I can do is sit at His feet and try to encourage them to wait for Him to reveal the “why,” to hold on to His peace in the waiting. I have no strength to answer them. No hope but Jesus. No promises besides His.

Praise God that we are not supposed to have all the answers, all the cures, all the future solutions.

Thank You Jesus that you gave an example of coming to You in a childlike manner. I don’t need to pretend to be wise and have all the answers, I just need to climb upon Your lap and rest.

I choose to take Your yoke and lay down my own. I can not hold two things in my hands at the same time, so I choose to hold on to Your yoke so my burden will be light. I lay down my agenda, my plans, my dreams. May Your will be done.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Name: Marina

I walk along the narrow docks, watching boats’ reflections in the glassy water. Occasionally the slips bob up and down with the small wake of a passing dinghy.

On one side I see the boats bows, polished chrome glistening on top and bright fenders dangling, keeping space between the slips and the boats themselves.

On the other side I see the sterns, ladders down to the water and fancy or silly names to identify each individual boat...names like
For Reels
Yachts All Folks

You can tell what the personality and interests are of the owners by their boats’ names. I’m slightly amused and wish I could see them standing on the docks next to their boats. I wonder if I could match them by the way they looked and the boats names.

I walk farther along, past rows and rows of slips. Each one is silent with the weekday lull of winter. The fresh sea air hangs in the stillness. A brief breeze ripples the flags on one of the sailboats masts. Then just as quickly, it stills again, rearranged in its position.

Overhead a flock of gulls sail looking for bits of bait left behind by the morning’s fishermen. It’s slim pickings this afternoon, with nothing for them to scavenger. They’ll have to find their meal elsewhere.

The sun hangs low on the horizon and the breeze picks up again, the tall sailboats masts set to rocking back and forth, back and forth. Slowly the daylight reflects sky off of water and the boats and bay and sky all seem to be one. I breathe deep as the colors take my breath away. Not a cloud in the sky, yet the warm sun can’t take the coolness of the breeze off my face. I’m chilled.

I turn my back towards the sun and begin to head home, one foot in front of the other, past the boats and the jetty’s, the beach and the pier. It’s dark now and cars headlights send me scurrying across the street to my front porch. Memories fresh on my mind of my afternoon walk to the marina.

My name, and my favorite walking place to meditate.

*This is a memoir of when I lived in Seal Beach, CA and I would walk to the Long Beach Marina. The photos are from there, in addition to Guntersville, AL and Myrtle Beach, SC. All of these places have served as a place of devotion and meditation in my life...
#marinaskitchentable #februaryfreewrite #name #wordworshipwords #hopewriters