Friday, October 11, 2019

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.

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 

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 link to DaySpring on the right side of my screen to order through the affiliate marketing program.










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.











Friday, May 31, 2019

WHiM: Preparing for Furlough

As I read "my missionaries" newsletters, I'm reminded that this is when many of them travel for furlough. They have needs for transportation while they're back in their passport country, and many will be exhausted physically, emotionally, and spiritually, as they hit the ground running.

You may think that "furlough" means vacation, but often it is more work than when they are "home" in the country that they work in. People from their sending churches and organizations expect to see them, and often it leaves them even more tired than when they arrived. With family members also wanting to see them, it can put Global Workers as a rope in the middle of a game of tug-of-war. That doesn't sound relaxing to me!



Let's take time to actually pray for their needs, and LISTEN to the Holy Spirit to see if He will use us as a catalyst to meet their needs.

Do we know someone with an extra car that they can borrow? Can we cover the cost of a week-long rental? Can we bless them with gift cards for gasoline, restaurants, coffee shops, or even airline miles to help take some of that financial burden while they are here? Can we share their needs with our Sunday School or church or small group to help meet a larger need? How can we be a part of the solution? Can we bless them with a get away for their immediate family, since furlough is SO MUCH WORK? Can we gift them tickets to someplace fun, or put them up in a hotel where they can be alone and away for respite time?

These are just a few ideas. Usually we think of spending time with the missionaries that we love, but can we love them enough to encourage them to take time away from us, and to take time to rest with the Father?

I pray that we can.

What have you done in the past? What has someone done for you (if you're a missionary, or former global worker)? What do you wish someone would do for you? Please share below, pass this along, and let us mobilize our churches to bless those who are so weary!

God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. Hebrews 6:10

Marina
Women Helping in Missions

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Ideas

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...

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Morning

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.

#hopewriterlife #marinaskitchentable #wordworshipwrite #morning #marinasmorningmeditations

Monday, May 13, 2019

Hope*Writer Life Challenge: Start

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.


#marinaskitchentable #hopewriterlife #wordworshipwrite #start

Monday, May 6, 2019

A New Monday

We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps. Prov 16:9

Vacation was great and I miss this view, but I’m back at home now, 2 nights and a nap in my own bed. Still my heart is tuned to vacation schedule; breathing deep, capturing every view as a God-gift for me to hold closely.



Now, instead of ocean views of sunrises and sunsets, the green and blooming flowers are around me, their fragrance to stop me in my tracks. No more oceans’ waves to lull me to sleep, but there’s front and back fountains to put me at rest. I’m missing the giggles of grandchildren to wake me, but I have my morning woodpecker who wakes me by pecking at the gutter. ๐Ÿคจ๐Ÿ˜†

I’ll treasure the vacation memories, and the now and here...the differences of today.

It’s not just a “back from vacation” Monday morning but a whole new normal for us as Mark starts a new work position. Same company, new role and office.

We have so much to be grateful for—we don’t have to move, and he has a job, though it’s a different one than before, and he’s excited to be working with the skills and training and education that he’s been gifted with, that whole engineering thing.

I have been praying for all the new faces he will work with side by side, for new relationships that will grow, and the old ones he will try to nurture. For encouraging people in their roles without having any responsibility for them in a chain of command. For setting a tone and attitude when it has nowhere to filter down. That God will equip Mark in new ways to be successful in this new role. And for his work habits, that his enthusiasm and love of projects won’t take over his schedule and that he will make self-care a priority. That he can have days off and time for rest.

Truth told, time for me. This girl whose  love language is “gift of time” and this man who loves to provide for his family and God’s Kingdom. Oh, and that I’ll remember that I need to draw nearer to God and not expect Mark to meet my needs, but rely on God to.

How do you cope with changes? Are you a workaholic or married to one? What helps your marriage flourish in change? 

#marinaskitchentable #hopewriters #theworkaholicswife #wordworshipwrite 

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Marina’s Morning Meditation: On the Beach

This last morning on the beach was spent intentionally taking time to breathe deeply.





Jessica has been getting up early and going down to enjoy the sunrise with her little girl (also a morning beachcomber, like Grandpa), but it was a different motivation for me. I wanted the photo opportunity, for sure, and I wanted the walk to the pier before the world woke up and filtered in. But mostly I wanted to have time with God and His sea.

We had to hash out some things, He and I, to reassure me that He’s got this all under control and He knows details I’m not privy to.

I wanted to take the strength of the ocean back with me, recognizing that it’s been God’s strength all along, and I’ve always had access to it. I wanted to be sure that He didn’t mind when I lean in so hard or when I push back against changes even harder.

Sometimes in my pushing back I think I’m being strong, when in reality I’m pushing myself away...running away. It’s that fight or flight mechanism of mine that’s still broken. But He knows that. He remembers what I’ve been through, and knows my responses well. He’s always been there for me and always will remain.

It may be some time before I make it back to Pensacola Beach, or any other scenic coastline, but my God will be with me in this season of change...

#marinaskitchentable
#bromleyvaca2019 #hopewriters #wordworshipwrite

When You’ve Lost Your Mom for Mother’s Day

Sometimes Mothers Day brings baggage along that's sad or bad. I try to see God's hand in it...and don't always find it... but I know it's there.

I don't know why I lost my mom to cancer at such a young age. The year prior to her passing was tough, and because I was a pre-teen and "knew it all," I didn't understand what she was going through or may of been thinking.

I still don't, but I have a better idea.

I often thought my mom didn't love me (my sisters too) enough to fight for her life. I know that's not true, and I refuse to believe that lie anymore. I think I let it live so long to ignore the deeper pain of missing her so badly.



I missed her as I shopped for my wedding dress. I think that was my first awareness of missing her. I vividly remember a Bobby Goldsboro song ("Honey," a favorite of hers) coming over the piped in music, as if God was letting me know she was there, watching from heaven. I still cry at the thought that my husband never got to meet her. I'm pretty sure they would love each other.

I missed her so much when I gave birth to my own children. It may of been selfish of me, I didn't have a mom to help me navigate those early days of motherhood. I was sad that my kids and my mom would never meet. They would never get to be babysat by her and she would never get to root them on in their life achievements.

As my kids approached the age I was when she died, I tried to think of having to say goodbye to them.

I couldn't imagine it.

I don't remember her ever communicating her love for me back then. Was it too painful? Did she not know she was going to die? Did she say "I love you" well and often and did I just blocked it out? I don't know.

I was so blessed when one of my aunts commented how much one of my daughters looked like my mom at that same age. I had never seen a photo of my mother as an early teenager.

As my kids hit milestones in life, I missed her more. Although I was told by my aunts that my mom had a sour disposition and even a mean streak in her, I think she would have cheered grandkids on in life. I hope they would of softened her heart and made her laugh more. That she would of swelled with pride as her grands received educational accolades, celebrated their marriages, and their families grew. I looked around for godly women living near me who gave a good example on how to grandparent... I didn't get to see how this was supposed to be first-hand, and mentoring wasn't much around then.

It became harder to remember things about her as a mom, and although she cherished my older sisters' babies, she herself was just starting her journey as a grandma. She was just learning this for herself.

Now, as I get to see my own grandkids grow, I think about how I want to be remembered by them, and by my grown children and their spouses too.

I've lived beyond my mother's years, and I don't take that lightly. I want to be intentional with my days, my words, my attitudes. I hope I'm planting seeds in my family to grow with them as they mature and become the moms and dads and grandparents God will have them be in the future.

It's not about the recipes and traditions I want to pass along, but the open arms, the ready smile, the laughter and joy, the songs. I want to build my memory makers. I want them to remember that naps are good things to combat "grumpy grandma," and how I love hugs and lullabies at bedtime. That they can "always come home." That I value arts and crafts, and walks to see the neighbor's flowers and God's sunlight filtering through His leaves. I want them to remember me reading my Bible as much as I was taking pictures on my phone (still working on that, and ditching my Bible app for the real book when they are here!). I want them to remember how I loved playing a game more than winning, and how much I enjoy learning new words. I want them to see me love God by loving others, even when it hurts, and how the power of forgiveness before hearing the words "I'm sorry" is so freeing.

No matter how close or far away we are, I want each one of them, kids, in-laws, and grands, to remember how much I love them. Always. Unconditionally.

"Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom."  Psalm 90:12

What things do you hope your kids and grandkids will remember about you?

Do you grandparent from afar? What's your favorite tip?

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




Friday, April 12, 2019

My Best Me

I am mostly my best when I have a baby in my arms. I’m tired, my glasses are dirty, my hair and makeup aren’t done, but babies and toddlers (and most kids in general) don’t care. I love them though. Love the snuggles, the way their minds soak up everything, the way they laugh. I love comforting them when they cry, and teaching them new things.



I’m not getting much writing done these days, but you know what, I’m planting seeds of faith in little gardens. They may grow up and read my words someday, and hopefully they’ll do it because they remember that I loved them well...and I hope I love them the best He will let me.

It’s just a few more weeks of this crazy schedule, then things will slow down to be more reasonable. Then maybe the words will come more fluidly and I’ll have the time to write them down. For now I’ll remember what Jesus said about the children, and I’ll love every moment He gives me with them.
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#marinaskitchentable #hopewriters #wordworshipwrite #babysitting #letthelittlechildrencometome

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

Jumping

(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.

TRUTH=LOVE
...
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.
Amen

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