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, marinaskitchentable.com
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
Seaduction
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

Birth

Birth

It’s been a hard few days, just normal life stuff for me, but greater disappointments, and some REALLY hard stuff for a few friends that I love like sisters. I’m a firm believer that cupcakes can pretty much make anything better, but this stuff is heartbreaking. Way beyond my cupcake cure.


As I was making cupcakes for the Daddy-Daughter Dance tonight at church, I was reminded of a 2-part sermon series a few months ago from Kyle Idleman at Southeast Christian Church. It was called “Kiss the Wave” based on the quote from Charles Spurgeon, “I have learned to kiss the wave that throws me against the Rock of Ages.” Loosely stated, since the hard and treacherous things in life cause us to rely so much more on Him, we need to be grateful for those waves of life. They may suck us down in the undertow, they may cause us to lose our breath and gasp for air we can’t even begin to breathe for all the water in our burning lungs. It hurts. So much. It’s like we go through birth again and again, coughing, gasping, sobbing and crying to take in that first breath of air. We know we need it, but sometimes we can’t imagine breathing normal again, for all the pain. Yet He is with us, and that storm will throw us onto that Rock of our Salvation every time. Again and again. He is here. He is there. He is there again. It is always Him. Press into Him, dear friend. He is big enough. (And I’m praying for you.)
.
.
#marinaskitchentable #kissthewave #birth #februaryfreewrite #wordworshipwrite #friendship

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Mystery

Sometimes, if I pour my heart out in words, it takes me a bit to recover. I didn't realize that until recently. It's as if I need to get refilled in words, in THE Word, and in general, to be able to pour back in to an essay or post.

That's how I feel today.

I didn't know that it would be hard to write about "Mystery." My first thought was that I didn't like the genre of "mystery" in reading or movies. I don't like being startled, afraid, or surprised (even for good and pleasant things really). It's not a mystery. Many people aren't crazy about stuff like that.

Then I thought that the inability to write about "mystery" today, is, in and of itself, a mystery. Why is so difficult? It shouldn't be an issue at all, right?

But it is an issue, and today's post won't be long, or eloquent, or very deep spiritually, because I'm simply human, and can't come up with words. And that, my friends, is no mystery.

#hopewriters #februaryfreewrite #mystery #marinaskitchentable

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Grieve


I am an adult orphan. Many of my friends (some of them younger than I, but many nearly the same age) are getting the opportunity to nurture their aging parents through these second half of life challenges. They care for them in their homes, or visit them in residential facilities. They get to continue to make memories. They are setting a standard of care, loving their aging parents the way they hope their children will love and care for them. It is beautiful.


My mother died early on, just before I turned 13. It was a year of tragedy and family distress. Her death was almost non-climatic in comparison to all the other things that were going on then. I was, of course, too young to take care for her. In my selfish-pre-teen drama, I’m pretty sure I thought she died on purpose. That she chose smoking over being a mom to two little girls (and two young adult girls). Of course she didn’t choose that, but it’s how I processed it most of my younger life.

My father died later in life, but we were estranged for many years before. He chose his 4th wife over all family, and no matter how much we tried to expose her manipulation and deceitfulness, he wanted to marry her. It was his grown-up decision, and he made that choice aware of her flaws. In the 15 years (or so) that he was married to her she continued to separate him from all of his family and friends. He himself was quite the manipulator, so it’s hard to think he was outsmarted at his own game.

His wife failed to contact us when he was dying and placed in a hospital from the complications of his illnesses. She made no calls when he died. Not his children, not his grandchildren. Not his nieces and nephews or friends from his long career. Not the people he received his pension from (yes, she continued to receive, and cash, his checks). She put incorrect information on his death certificate, and had him cremated (which was his specification), and took his ashes with her. There was no obituary released. There was no published record of his death. 

It was a cold winter day, 4 months later, when my younger sister happened to run across his death announcement while searching for him on the Social Security records site.

I was a bit relieved when we found out he had passed. I had already had confrontations with his wife the spring before, and on behalf of my sister had asked the Sheriff to do a well-check on him because we could not get in touch with him. We had many questions surrounding the circumstances of his death, but as those slowly came together we were able to find out the answers to them.

He did not die alone in their hoarder’s home, but in a hospital. God, in His great mercy, allowed a dear friend of his to see him the day before his passing, bringing him a bit of joy. We were able to obtain copies of his death certificate, despite her strange answers to the questions on it, and it had some basic information regarding his death. We were able to put together a paid obituary and run it in the small town paper in the event anyone else tried to search for him in the future.

I didn’t grieve his absence at that point, I grieved it later as we became aware of the years leading up to his death. I grieved that my father, who was normally a very strong, even manipulating person, allowed himself to fall into such an unhealthy marriage relationship. I grieved that he made such poor choices. I grieved when we found out she had been arrested for shoplifting, while she had him in a wheelchair in the store. I grieved when we saw the state of their home, over 4,000 square foot of filth and hoarded items, from rooms filled with rolls of toilet paper to piles to the ceiling of Christmas decorations. I grieved to learn that she had been investigated for elder abuse against him. I grieved to learn she slipped through the cracks of the investigation, and we found out that others had tried to help him to get out of the house, out of the marriage, and he ultimately refused their help. I mourned to hear the details of the concerns that others had, that they didn’t have a way to get a hold of us to let us know, because she had deleted our phone numbers from his phone as a part of her way of distancing him from his family. She had also unplugged the house phone, so we could not ever get an answer from him, and he had no way to call for help. I’m sure he didn’t ever imagine that this would be the result of his poor decisions.

For the entire time they dated and before they married, different family members disclosed their red flags about her behavior; lying, cheating, hoarding. He chose her. When we invited them over, time and time again they refused to come. Occasionally we would run into him at the local store, but often they would walk away from us, as if they didn't see us.

It caused me stress and depression for several years, until one day I learned that his absence in our life was, in itself, a gift from God. Although we had a handful of fun memories of my dad with my children, most of what he had caused us was heartbreak and stress. Our relationship was never allowed to be a normal father-daughter one, and that was ok.

I can be sad for what we missed out on, but there’s no need to camp out in grief. Uncovering the depth of their mental illnesses, co-dependence, and source of their lying, I can see how deep their roots were in sinfulness. Many times I prayed, “Lord, do whatever You need to do to bring them to a loving relationship with You. Put other believers in their path to point them to You.” Although he remained antagonistic and angry at our relationship with Jesus, and our involvement with church, I believe that God continued to put people in his path to help him see the goodness of God, to recognize how much he was loved by the God that created him for a purpose. 

And I trust that there were sweet angel nurses at the hospital, caring for him in his last days, and I’m certain that God did give him every opportunity to say “I believe.”

How my dad responded is something that we won’t know until we reach heaven…

Footnote:
There are many other things that took place in the relationship that I've chosen not to share here. Some of you may feel that we didn't do enough to rescue him from such a horrible situation, but please trust me that we did. The mental health issues that I did share were only a tip of the iceberg, there were other abuses that took place long before his death, and even before his marriage. Those are things that we are still processing. I loved my father, faults and all, and know that he felt he was being the best dad he could be with the knowledge of parenting that he had. I think he made poor decisions, but we all may at one time or another. Essentially, I believe that the distance God placed between my dad and our family was ultimately a blessing. It was a good example of not getting what you prayed for, and that it was not ideal, but it was ok, and God was in the midst of it. He still is walking with me, with other family members, through the process of grieving. He is our good, good, Father.


#grieve #februaryfreewrite #hopewriters

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Invite

I had thought, when I turned 50, that I'd love to have my best friends come to join me for a real life, grown up, tea party. I envisioned women coming out from all over, my sisters from wherever they were living at that time (I think it was CA, AZ and AR) my oldest girlfriends from California, some of the dearest friendships I'd made in Missouri, and a few that were scattered around, having moved a bit themselves.

But earlier that year, my husband changed jobs and went to work with a new company. We no longer lived in Missouri, and I was just finding my feet in our new home in Kentucky. I was really glad to see what God was doing in me there, and super excited to have moved, but I wasn't very secure in my girl-friendships. I felt like the new girl still when my birthday rolled around, and I don't remember doing anything special with new friends, like a party. But that's ok. Birthdays have never been very celebrated in my family as I grew up, and I knew better than to pin my happiness on whether this party ever happened or not.

If I was to be able to throw such a grand party, I would want to invite EVERYONE, and to be sure not to leave anyone uninvited. If they couldn't attend, but wanted to, I'd try to do everything I could to be sure they made it there. I wouldn't want them to miss out, and I would miss them if there was a small boundary standing in the way. I've always believed, whether a meal or a party, the more the merrier!
Family in the kitchen at our last Family Reunion

My husband jokes that in my Armenian family, we throw great parties for many people and tons of food... enough food to feed a small army. The doors are open, and even at family gatherings there are always new friends and extended family members invited to attend. He says that someone could say "Uncle Nick sneezed!! Let's have a party!!" and people would come, with enthusiasm and plates of food. He compares it to the family in "My Big Fat Greek Wedding," and to be honest, my family was like that. Many people have passed, and we're all spread out, but I think it would be easy to throw a party and get the remaining distant cousins to come, carrying plates of food and sharing lots of  loud laughter. We are all accepted, despite our differences.

My sweet (late) Auntie June... she became as much a
friend and sister in Christ as she was my aunt.

When I look back at the days we celebrated, whether it was an Easter at Aunt June's, or the family reunion at my sister Nancy's, we were always so happy to see who came to our table. Whether it was the neighbors, or distant friends visiting from the other side of the country, they were ALL welcomed. When it was a new friend, or the friend of a friend who didn't have a place to celebrate, they were included and filled in on all the family traditions and explanations of foods and games.

The gang's all here! 

I always imagine that will be a bit like heaven. Jesus will welcome us, and as in awe as we are to be in His presence, He will be sure that we know that we have been invited. He desires for us all to be there! I think that's why I can't imagine not sending an invitation to everyone I know for any party I'd ever throw... He would not leave anyone off the invite list... why would I?

So much fun when we're all together...
My 2 Aunties and brother in law have passed... gone, but not forgotten.

I will turn 60 in a few years, and I wouldn't know where to begin to plan a party for that birthday. I've moved so many times, I can't imagine where would be convenient for friends to attend, and there are so many MORE friends I'd want to invite, because of those moves. I'm thankful for social media and the technology that allows us to stay connected online, whether it's to cry and pray, or laugh, or testify of the many good things God has done... and continues to do. Perhaps for my 60th we can gather online with our tea cups and cupcakes, and simply gather online to celebrate together. Let me know if you'd like me to send you an invite! 

#invite #marinaskitchentable #hopewriters #februaryfreewrite


Saturday, February 2, 2019

Filled

Filled

My head hits the pillow and my mind is racing. What happened today that exhausted me so? Praying through phone calls. Meeting a distressed friend for lunch. Listening to the issues going on around me that I’m not even a part of. I’ve got nothing left to give. As my true southern friends would say, “I’m plum tuckered.” I’ve hit rock bottom. Empty.

I inhale fast and deep. Exhale hard, blowing the air as if I can not get it out fast enough. 

Slowly my mantra comes to mind, pushing through the garbage littering my brain and burdening my body. 

Breathe in: more of You, Jesus. 

I exhale: less of me. 

Breathe in: more of You, Jesus.

Slowly exhale: less of me.


I repeat this until my mind is less concerned with the events of today as Jesus reminds me of the rest of the day...the blessings...

His words that launched my hectic day, as sunlight streamed through the curtains this morning. The aroma of my husband brewing his first cup of coffee, safely home from a week away from home. The neighbor girls’ hugs hello as she delighted in the afternoon sunshine and being able to play outside. The gratefulness of a far away friend who needed prayer, and her reciprocal prayers for me. 

More of You, Jesus. 

He shifts my gaze. My eyes lock to his. My heart softens.

Less of me. 

I find myself letting go. My shoulders relax.

More of You, Jesus. 

He pries my hands open, allowing the last of my worries to be released to Him.

Less of me.

I melt into the warm blankets, remembering the sunshine that warmed me earlier. Each exhale of me makes more room for Him. 

My frustration for His control.
My loneliness for His presence.
My pain for His comfort.
My stress for His peace.
My indifference for His love.

Slowly, surely, my negatives are replaced by His positives, as if I were standing by the oceans’ edge and each wave knocks me down and pulls the stress from me, dragging it out to sea, leaving me bewildered as I sit in the sizzle of the water lapping upon the sandy shore.

Altogether I’m exhausted and exhilarated, as if there is nothing left to be done but enjoy the ocean view. 

I take another breath in, wanting more, still. He does not disappoint. 

My exhale is soft, slow, barely audible, hardly felt as the air escapes my lungs. So different than just a few minutes ago. Or has it been hours? I don’t know. 

He has filled me. His promises in my mind. My lips full of praise. My heart and mind at rest. I’m overflowing with His peace. 

Completely filled. 


Friday, February 1, 2019

Rescue

I was a mess. My emotions were a wreck, my life in shambles, and I had no direction. What plans I thought I had made were dependent upon another, and well... that person turned out to be undependable.

I was a puddle of tears, sitting on the floor, rocking myself in my childhood ways. Back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. If I'd been facing the wall, I'm sure my head would of been knocking up against it.

The rhythm was steady where my nerves were not. I needed soothing. Comforting. I needed something that I didn't have, and didn't know where to get it. I was desperate for something new.

I cried out to an unknown god, "I can not live like this. IF there is a god, IF you are there... please reveal yourself to me!"

Slowly, I felt a warmth encompass me, envelop me, cover me. What I now know as the Holy Spirit was making himself known to me. He had come to rescue me.

Sometimes healing comes all at once, sometimes it comes in phases and steps. That night was my first step. I was rescued.

He continues to rescue me every day.


#hopewriters
#FebruaryFreeWrite