Monday, April 22, 2019

Lamenting at the Gate

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

The Road Often Traveled

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, April 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.
#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.