Thursday, December 19, 2019

Merry Christmas

I've been really busy, and not busy enough. My heart has been breaking in unexpected places the past few months...friends passing away unexpectedly, illnesses attacking loved ones, me missing kids and grandkids, and not wanting to feel nostalgic for all the sadness around my heart right now. I feel tender and raw...vulnerable. I cry at the drop of a hat, even over silly things, like TALKING about not watching a movie that would make me cry...not even watching that movie. Just talking about it. Oh dear!

I did want to touch base though as we approach Christmas...all the sadness is making me draw even nearer to Jesus, because He is my hope (and the hope of the world). I've enjoyed my time of Advent, singing in the choir at church, baking cookies for friends and neighbors.

It helps me to shift gears emotionally and mentally when I can change it up a bit and do something new. And in God's goodness, He is allowing us to do something new for Christmas! I'll share the details on the other side of the experience, but for now just know that if you'd have told me this 5 years ago I wouldn't of believed it. He is amazing in ways like that.

Are you facing sadness this Christmas? Do you get winter blues, or are other circumstances making it difficult to cope? Please take time to be good to you. Take a warm bath. Sit in a sunny window. Breathe deep and read scripture...promises from God's heart to ours. Share with a friend. Share with me if you don't think you have a friend who will understand. I will pray with you and for you. I am praying for the sad hearted friends right now...may you feel His peace near to you.

Take time to gaze up at the winter's sky and marvel at His creation. He is so good to us, for us. He loves us so much, no matter how things are going on around us. He is in the midst of it with us. He feels our pain, our heartache, our sadness. He understands. He wants us to invite Him into those seasons, to walk with us.

Walk with me, God. Walk closely to me.

Merry Christmas.
m

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Feeding the College Ministry: Mom’s Mac ‘n Cheese

Marina’s Kitchen Table, Feeding the College Ministry
Mom’s Mac ‘n Cheese

Last night I cooked for our College Ministry from church, at the 316 building (a local car lot that’s opened their spare converted space - made to be like a coffee house - doors after-hours for us to meet in). I always try to make it a home-made meal, warm and yummy and stick-to-your-ribs good. It happens that most of these kids are college athletes at our local state college, so they’re not afraid to eat.

We have a lot of people at our church who recognize how pivotal these college years can be to a young adults faith, so we are blessed to have a great group of volunteers!

One dish that I’ve always had success with feeding people of any age is an adaptation of my mom’s macaroni and cheese, with ham in it. I’ve cooked it at camp, for missions training sessions of adults, and raised my kids on it. It’s a favorite! Last night we served it up with a salad, and one of the other volunteers brought a pot of home canned green beans with new potatoes in them. With a white Bundt cake (from another volunteer!) and a pan of brownies with walnuts in them, it made for a very home-y meal!

This is one meal I don’t use a recipe for, so the estimates are in the recipe below.  As with anything homemade, you’re free to adjust this to your taste, but trust me on this, and don’t leave out the tomato sauce!


——-
Roaster-sized Recipe
Marina’s Mac ‘n Cheese
(Family sized recipe follows)

5 boxes of large elbow macaroni
about 2/3 of the ham off a spiral sliced ham (cut in cubes and trimmed of the fatty edges)
2 sticks butter
nearly a whole 30 Oz (?) can of tomato sauce
4 lbs shredded Colby jack cheese
pepper

I boiled the macaroni and cut up ham into cubes ahead of time.

In a very large pot, melt the butter and heat up the ham in it until it’s heated through. It will make the ham release a lot of it’s water, but don’t pour it out. Pour the tomato sauce into the ham mixture. Add pepper (maybe a half teaspoon, but if you’re serving little kids you could leave it out).

Grease the bottom of the roasting pan, with butter or whatever you prefer (spray?).

Pour about a third of the elbow macaroni into the roaster pan. Add 1/3 of the ham mixture, stir to combine and coat the macaroni. Cover with 1/3 of the cheese.

Then pour the rest of the macaroni into the HAM POT, stirring to coat. Put 1/2 of the mixture over the cheese in roaster, layer cheese on top, and repeat with the last of the macaroni/ham mixture and grated cheese.

I put the roasting pan in a 325 oven for 1 hour to bake thoroughly, because of time restraints, but you could just use the roaster base to bake if you had more time. I don’t think the roaster would make it crispy on top(?).

After baking I placed in the roaster base on lowest temp to keep it warm while transporting and serving.

—————-
Family sized recipe

1 box large elbow macaroni
2 cups ham, cubed
1 small can tomato sauce (3 or 4 Oz?)
1/2 - 1 stick butter (to taste)
Pepper to taste
About 2 cups grated Colby jack cheese (or more if you like it super cheesy)

Boil macaroni, drain into colander.
Use same pot to melt butter, heat ham, add sauce and pepper.

Add macaroni back to pot and mix to distribute ingredients evenly.

I then add the cheese, reserving some for the top of pan (my cookware can go into a low temp oven), but my mom would layer in a buttered 9x13 pan, making 2 layers and ending with cheese. Bake at 325 until cheese is melt or crispy on top.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

My No-Go Missions Story

Random picture...we kicked off our College and Career group tonight, and I got to provide dinner for them... baked potato bar! Since I was making so many potatoes I used a camp kitchen trick and ran them through the rinse cycle of the dishwasher. I still rinsed and used a vegetable brush on them, but so much less work than if I’d only done them in the sink!
...
I had an important reminder tonight that came to me over and over... definitely God whispering (no, shouting!) in my ear. I’ll sum it up like this...

Sometimes God plants a vision, an idea, a dream...and He only wants us to be obedient in taking the first step. He MAY bring the whole plan into fruition, but that may not be His long-term goal. He really just wants us to listen to His voice, remain disciplined, and trust Him in that first step.

I shared my missions story tonight, the time I fell in love with deaf children in northern Mexico. Back then all I could dream of was being a dorm mom for the girls that lived there and leaving behind all the comforts of life in Southern California. But it wasn’t to be.

After it was all said and done, I couldn’t pass the physical, as my bloodwork showed signs of what they eventually found to be an autoimmune disorder. It took about 4 months to diagnose it and about 6 months to force it into remission. It was a really hard season.

When I was first sick, when I realized I couldn’t go to Mexico, lots of people had questions about whether or not I heard God right about going in the first place. I never doubt that I did, very clearly. I had nothing to gain by going, only knowing I was being obedient to His call. But as I was recovering I realized that His will was for me to take the first step, to be obedient to be WILLING to leave this all behind. I was also called to walk with Him through the months of testing, pain, medications and side effects. Just one foot in front of the other, day by day.

I got to walk with Him through disappointment and fear, through heartbreak and joy. That season was one of the hardest for me, yet its’ roots continue to grow fruit from deep within. It’s still a part of my HIStory, and it’s still relevant to be told as others are led by Him, called to just take that first step in obedience.

Deuteronomy 33:3
Indeed, he loves his people; all his holy ones are in his hands. They follow in his steps and accept his teaching.


Monday, November 4, 2019

Cold Weather Recipe: Potato Corn Cheese Chowder

Last week our church hosted a Trunk or Treat, which got moved indoors because of the cold weather and rain that came upon us. Since it was going to be inside, they decided it would be nice to have a soup supper for everyone to enjoy.

For years I have made this soup, Potato Corn Cheese Chowder, at home, for church potlucks, youth activities, and even served it at summer camp! Everyone likes it! I've never had anyone turn up their nose at it once they tasted it!

I don't really use a recipe when I make it, but isn't that how the tastiest things go? I'm trying hard to estimate my measurements! I'm also going to keep it my original sized recipe, but it makes a LARGE pot of soup. If you're needing it for your family, please cut it in half, and if you are making it for just yourself and your roomie, or spouse, either third or quarter it!

I hope that you'll enjoy it, and that it will "stick to your ribs" during the coldest of weather yet to come!

Marina's Potato Corn Cheese Chowder

1- 5lb bag red potatoes, rinsed and cubed (I keep skins on, but that's personal preference)
4 - 12 oz frozen sweet corn
8 cups chicken broth
15 shakes of Tobasco sauce
1/2 teaspoon garlic pepper
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1 cup milk
40 slices American cheese
.......
Place cubed potatoes in a large stock pot, and cover with water. Over high heat, bring to a boil, and allow to cook until potatoes are tender, but not falling apart. Turn off heat, and add frozen corn, allowing to barely cook in hot water.

Drain potatoes and corn mixture, return to the pot, and pour in chicken broth, Tobasco, and spices. Heat over medium heat until it barely begins to boil, then reduce heat to low and add milk. It should barely cover the vegetable mixture. Add cheese slices a few at a time, and stir often, to distribute and melt cheese into the broth.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Morning Meditations at Marina's Kitchen Table; A Devotional Memoir

I wanted to say "Thank You" to all of you who have been so supportive of my first book, and also share a little insight from the book to those of you who may not have seen it yet. In a little way, this is my abbreviated and a little late book launch.
I'm including Day 1 here, so you can read it and see how it's to be used. There are a few prayers, a little essay on my life experience, another prayer, a few more verses for you to look up, and an exercise to do. I pray that it's a blessing to you, and inspires you to spend more time with God in the midst of your morning. Stay tuned for other posts this week, where I share other parts from the book.
Blessings,
Marina

Day 1
Morning Prayer

God I need You in my life today. Thank You for meeting me here in the quiet of the day, allowing me to discover Your peace and presence. Settle my mind and spirit and help me to focus on Your presence right now. I feel You, and I need to know Your touch, hear Your voice, and sense Your Holy Spirit with me. Please allow me to abide in You and be so close I can hear Your heartbeat. I love You. Amen.
Focus Verse
Psalm 139:5-6
You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand!
~
When I was eight months pregnant with my third child (3 kids in 3 years!), my husband accepted a job change, moving us from our home and family in Southern California to Northeast Georgia, where we didn’t know a single soul. Our home sold immediately, and we lived in a hotel for a few weeks until we could close on our new home in Georgia. Meanwhile, all of our belongings were being shipped across the country. It was the first of many company moves, but we were excited for all that the opportunity held.
Once we moved and got settled in, my husband started traveling for his new position immediately. Just a few weeks after arriving, our son made his appearance, and though we had barely met our neighbors and only visited a few churches, we were blessed beyond measure by their displays of Southern hospitality and thoughtfulness. Some of the ladies in the church we had begun to attend had also made big cross-country moves, and understood what it meant to be alone in a new place. They graciously threw me a baby shower and welcomed my family with open arms, providing meals after the birth of our son.
Our closest neighbor had two teen daughters who adored our kids, and they were kind enough to help accompany me in emergencies, such as having to go grocery shopping alone with all three kids. One time, I came down with salmonella, and a neighbor got my medications from the pharmacy and helped feed my kids, while I camped out on the bathroom floor for a few days.
Still, there were times I felt very alone. Like the night all three kids climbed into bed with me before I realized somehow my bed had been taken over by ants. Or the long night where I scared myself into staying awake all night even though exhausted, because I was hearing noises on my roof. It turns out there were baby possums falling out of the tall Georgia pine trees. My new friends from church had a good laugh with me about it.
Living in other places, I was not always sure I had good neighbors, or there was not a church reaching out to us. There were months I lived petrified of being alone, our dog hearing every quiet sound in the night, then leaving me diligent to stay awake and protect my family.
In retrospect, I realize how foolish that sounds, but this was the time before technology, and we did not always have a cell phone in our hand and a security system set up.
There were times I felt even more hopelessly alone with a house full of kids, simply because I was disappointed in my husband not being there for me to rely on.
It took me a while before I learned that I was not alone, but I was not relying on the right person. God was with me, and I should have known He knew my needs and would send others to assist or encourage me.
So many times, I should have called upon the name of Jesus in prayer, inviting the Holy Spirit to bring peace into my fearful mind. I wasted so many nights when I could have been sleeping peacefully, knowing He was standing guard, watching over us, and protecting us. I should have been speaking to Him, instead of wishing my husband was home. I regret the fear I undoubtedly planted in the minds of my children, and thank God they are so much wiser spiritually than I was at their age.
I have learned to enjoy being alone, not because I’ve become an introvert, but because I have learned to recognize God’s presence. I don’t believe we are ever truly alone. Even though we may not see another person in the room, He is with us. He hears us, through our prayers and songs and words of worship. He speaks to us through His word, the Bible, and through the power of the Holy Spirit. He is with us, and we are not alone.
~
A Prayer
Father, there are so many times I feel anxious and frantic, and I cannot be still before You. You meet me here and quiet my spirit and mind. Other times I feel totally alone and abandoned, yet I know in my heart of hearts You are here with me. Lord, let me not forget Your position near me, that You will not leave me alone, and You will never abandon me. Teach me to call upon Your name, to welcome You into the quiet places, and to trust You will speak to me. Help me recognize Your voice today. Allow me to be alone, confident in Your presence and promises. Amen.
Table Talk
Genesis 3:8, Jeremiah 29:13, Psalm 139:7, James 4:8, Psalm 56:8
Write out an “action plan” of scriptures to read if you are alone and become frightened or sad. Include a prayer from your heart you can say in anticipation of any fear or disappointment you have experienced in the past. Ask others to pray with you and for you when you know you will be alone, focusing on God’s promises that He will not leave you.
©2019 Marina Bromley, Marina's Kitchen Table, and Soaring Beyond, an imprint of Winged Publications. Used with permission. Available online at https://www.amazon.com/Morning-Meditations-Mar…/…/ref=sr_1_1?

Friday, October 11, 2019

Embracing All of Fall

He will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like his own, using the same power with which he will bring everything under his control. Philippians 3:21
Like He changes the seasons, He will change us. Glorious!
Where spring seems tender and fragile, and summertime a season of visual growth and abundance, fall tends to bring fresh eyes to the scene with its changing colors and beautiful vistas, but ultimately by death.
It seems by the end of October nothing will remain but bare hillsides, brown empty branches and muddy fields. But in the remnants of that lays the quiet dormancy of winter, where roots grow deep, renourishing, and preparing twigs, branches and fields to regenerate life. Seeds dropped in fall are buried in rich organic matter, only to be protected from the harsh winter elements as they wait for spring’s return.
So goes my life.
Take this weak and decaying body and mind, Lord, and pull me deeply to You, to be broken of myself and my weaknesses, my habits, my humanity.
Draw me close to Your heart, and make me more like You. Strip me of anything that distracts me from You. Grow my spiritual roots deep. Prepare me for the new growth, the new work You desire to do in me. Let the old pass away so the new can take root and grow.
Prepare me to be a glorious reflection of You.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

From a recent Amazon book review...

From a recent Amazon book review...
"I’ve only just begun this devotional and already I’m a huge fan. The first couple chapters have been immediately relatable to me as a young mom. I love the additional scriptures that help you dive deeper in God’s word, and the questions at the end have really challenged me to act on the convictions God brings through the reading. Already I can see how this study is going to deepen my faith and encourage me to apply what I learn. My quiet time was kind of stuck in a rut of routine reading and immediately forgetting what I read. This devo was just what I needed to have a real heart to heart conversation with God each day."
Morning Meditations at Marina's Kitchen Table, a Devotional Memoir, by Marina Bromley


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.



















Counting 1000 Gifts 2020 Continues...

Many of you know that I've been counting 1000 Gifts from God over the past several years, and this year I've been doing it more publ...