Thursday, August 27, 2020

Day 28 (Friday)

 Sharing the full chapter for Friday’s devotion...

Day 28 (Friday)

Morning Meditations at Marina's Kitchen Table; A devotional memoir

Morning Prayer

Abba, Father, You are so kind and show me so much love every morning. No matter what is going on in my life, You gently nudge me to remind me that You are with me, walking beside me every step of the day. Thank You for being here, inviting me to abide with You. Help me to clear my mind of today's plans, so I might rest in You now. I want these moments with You to be my most important part of my day. May You be glorified in them. Amen.

Focus Verse

I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God's love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God's people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. Ephesians 3:16-18 NLT


Is it difficult to imagine how God can love you? I walked in that lie, not believing I was loveable because of my sin and circumstances, and not taking into account the truth of God's great love for us. He created us with intention and knew us before we were created. He loved us before we knew His name. He breathes life into us, knowing we would fail, and yet He chose to give us life, even life everlasting! We are loved SO much by God.

Because I had failed so much at human love, I felt ill-equipped at FALLING in love, and it was hard for me to ascertain BEING in love. My human love failed all the time. It was full of lies, deception, and brokenness. It left me abused, exhausted, and abandoned. It was far from perfect, yet I continued to chase after it as if I were an addict craving an abusive drug. I had so much to learn.

I have come to believe there is a clear difference between FALLING in love and BEING in love. It's as if "falling in love" is totally in your heart and "being in love" is in your head. One is goo-goo eyes and can't catch your breath, but the other is when you know that you know that you know you are loved, and then you choose to love back. It's solid, yet pliable and giving. It makes a way to make it work, no matter what has gone wrong. It's not perfect, but it's forgiving. 

And then there's God's love. Perfect love.

His love cannot be compared to human love, yet it's the source of the qualities found in human love. His love is strengthening, empowering, sanctifying. His love equips us and makes us brave. It reminds us we are never alone. It fills the gap when we are physically alone and allows us to plug into the power of the Holy Spirit, making a way to feel His tangible presence. It comforts us, settles our spirit, and encompasses us. It's within us and around us. His love perfects us as we abide in Him.

His love directs, leads, and protects. It casts a vision for things we could never imagine. It takes us places we would never go and makes us feel as if there is where we have always belonged. It allows us to love and serve others sacrificially. It woos us in the early morning and sings to us at night.

His love inspires us, enables us to do so much more than we thought possible, and allows us to step back, letting Him shine. It's His love that motivates us; He is the source and the solution. All glory goes to Him. 

His love never fails.

A Prayer

Lord, please teach me to abide in Your perfect love. Help me to rest in it, rejoice in it, and hold it close to me when I'm in pain or full of sorrow. Let me never forget it is Your love that brought Jesus to earth, put Him on a cross, dying for my sins, going to a grave, and rising again. Thank You for restoring Him to Your right hand. Thank You for the gift of the Holy Spirit to comfort us, until we are restored and in Your presence. There has never been a greater love. You are pure and perfect love, and I desire to be a reflection of Your love wherever I am. Amen.

Table Talk

Galatians 2:20, 1 Peter 1:22, Romans 8:37-39, 1 Timothy 1:7, Isaiah 54:10, 1 John 4:8-11

Make a list of the God qualities you have experienced and know to be true from scripture. Which qualities do you think you can expect in a human love relationship, whether from a parent to a child, in a friendship, or romantic love? The more time you spend with God, the more you will come to recognize these God-qualities in others who are getting their love from Him. Spending time with Him will also allow you to develop those qualities in yourself, becoming better equipped to love and serve others. Challenge yourself to increase your time with God in a new way!


Morning Mediations at Marina's Kitchen Table; A devotional memoir is available through Amazon, Kindle, and free on Kindle Unlimited.

©2020 Marina J Bromley, Marina's Kitchen Table, all rights reserved.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Day 25: Morning Meditations at Marina’s Kitchen Table

 Day 25 (Tuesday)

Morning Meditations at Marina's Kitchen Table; A devotional memoir

Morning Prayer

Good morning God. Your presence with me this morning is so precious. Please manifest Yourself around me, turning my eyes and ears towards You. Prepare my heart to hear You, my mind to apply Your Word to my life today. Continue to grow me to be more like Jesus. I love You. Amen.

Focus Verse 

May God give you more and more grace and peace as you grow in your knowledge of God and Jesus our Lord. -2 Peter 1:2 NLT

Table Talk

Romans 6:14, 2 Corinthians 8:7, James 4:6, 1 Peter 4:10, Hebrews 4:16

Write a note to someone who has offended you in the past, even on accident, and extend grace to them. Then tear it up. Write more than one if you need to. Begin to train your brain and your heart to extend grace to others throughout the day.

A Prayer  

Father, thank You for developing discernment within me and growing me to have more faith in You. Help me to understand what it means in my life to "err on the side of grace." Walk with me to learn how to exercise grace to those around me, to extend Your love to them, even if they have hurt my feelings. I pray for wisdom as I put this to work, and also freely receive Your grace towards me. Amen.


You can read the rest of the chapter in Marina Bromley's book, Morning Meditations at Marina's Kitchen Table; A devotional memoir, available through Amazon/Kindle and FREE on Kindle Unlimited.

©2020 Marina J Bromley, Marina's Kitchen Table, all rights reserved.

Balanced and Beautiful in Christ: Part 6

Romans 12 | Part 6

“Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord. On the contrary: ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” - Romans‬ ‭12:19-21‬ ‭NIV‬‬

My dad was divisive, often causing arguments between family members and lying to pit us against each other. He stirred up trouble because he could not control his aging body or the circumstances he was living in. He had married a woman who delighted in the same type of manipulation and lies, and together they were a force not to be reckoned with.

We were never able to get in contact with him or his wife to find out how he was, and he never reached out to us. Occasionally a card mailed would provide a phone call of acknowledgment. For the most part, months would go by without any communication. For 10 years we lived in the same town and I would run into him at the grocery store more often than he would accept a call from me. Several times he was hospitalized without us knowing anything about it.

Years later, on a random winter day, I got a call from my younger sister. On a whim, she was surfing the web and discovered from the Social Security web site that our dad had passed away four months prior. We were astounded. Not only did our step-mother not tell us when our dad was hospitalized, but she failed to tell us that he had passed.

There was no newspaper announcement, no death notice from the hospital or funeral home. It took a little searching to discover that he died in a hospital and had been cremated, but his wife took his ashes and we had no way to contact her. Their home was foreclosed on, a hoarders’ auction was held, and we knew more from our friends in our old hometown who kept us in the loop.

Fast forward a few years, and through events that only God could orchestrate, we end up moving to the same area where his widow is rumored to be living. I’m partly happy to be going to an area so familiar, and partly petrified, not knowing what to do if I ran into her on the street. I prayed fervently as to what my response should be towards her—finding a balance between my justified anger, yet knowing that she is unpredictable. I finally found myself at a place of peace, as the Lord revealed this scripture to me that mirrors today’s focus verse:

“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.” - Matthew 25:35-36 NIV

I knew that if I saw her I could use this standard of measure. If she was hungry, thirsty, needed clothing, was sick or in prison, I could do the appropriate thing, “as unto the Lord.”

It didn’t take long for God to place me near her—within the first week, I bumped into her at the library. She was as surprised to see me as I was her. There were superficial pleasantries, and when I asked questions more personal, she evaded detailed answers. That was ok. I could see that she was doing alright. She was clean, clothed, and didn’t appear physically ill. She was walking on her own, clearly was not in prison, and when I asked if there was anything she needed she said “no.” I was grateful that God had spoken to my heart this standard of measure to use to define the space between my being very hurt and still needing to have compassion for someone who is mentally ill. I never bumped into her again.

When I read the verse from Romans 12 this morning it impacted me deeply as I replayed all these events from several years ago. I had never been so glad to not pursue revenge. There were family members that were very angry with not being notified of my dad’s passing—but nothing could have changed to have brought him back. Some wanted us to fight for the house, saying that it was “our birthright” to inherit—but despite being a new structure, it was in disrepair, and it held no good memories for me. Some thought that we should have inherited “stuff,” unaware of the deep debt they had been in for years. Others felt that we could have pursued legal steps for the “elder abuse” that was being investigated at the time of his death—but it would have been fruitless. He was an elderly man in poor health, and ultimately he chose to stay in his very bad marriage with an abusive woman.

Do I wish things had gone differently? Absolutely. My dad’s poor decisions cost him many years with his children and grandchildren. Her involvement in manipulating him compounded that.

Today, I’m grateful for the miles and years between us. Still, it’s a good reminder that God knows all things, always, and we don’t have to concern ourselves with revenge.

What we do need to remember are the things He does ask us to do; to forgive, to let God take care of the details for retribution, and that in the spirit of Micah 6:8 to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with Him.

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Day 21 (Friday) Morning Meditations at Marina's Kitchen Table; A devotional memoir

Morning Prayer
Good morning, God. Thank You for the rest You have given me. Please allow it to sustain me through this day. Help me to use my moments wisely, and help me to be focused on You right now. You are my Rock and my Salvation. I wait in Your presence and trust in You. Amen.

Focus Verse
Philippians 4:7 NLT
Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.


Sometimes His peace eludes me; sometimes it shows up in unexpected places.

I desire His peace, long for it to be as present as the air I breathe. Sometimes I pray for it to be right here, in an uncomfortable or painful place, and I can't feel it. It's then I pray for His will to be done, and find it's been here all along. I just could not find it in my requests. My ways are not always His ways. 

I want others to know His peace, too. To be able to rest in the knowledge of His presence, His place, His priorities. To walk with Him in the valleys and not fear, because His peace is made known. To be assured it's safe to struggle with faith questions, to know He is patient, and that His love for us endures forever.

To know the benefit of the quiet in the midst of the crazy. To feel His stillness in the middle of the frenzy. To rest in His arms in the center of all life's chaos. 

But there's a caveat as we live in Him.

It's only when we choose to live in Him that He can make His peace guard our hearts and minds. Of course, He can make it happen no matter where we are in our faith journey, but we will best recognize His Peace at work in us, around us, through us, when we are residing in Him. His Holy Spirit will permeate us, we will feel His place within us, and we will desire His will over our own.

In many ways, when we choose to live in Him is when we allow Him to reside in us.

Many people know about God. They know who Jesus is. They may have heard about the Holy Spirit, but not understand how, or if, they are all connected. Or perhaps they are clear about who each of these three are. they may be able to discuss the part that each of them play in faith. 

But knowing about them is not the same as knowing them personally. 

When you know them personally, you allow Christ to live in your heart, and He takes up residence there. He instills a part of Himself, and as you spend time with Him in His Word, the Bible, He imparts bits of wisdom. As those seeds take hold, our relationship with Him changes.

As we begin to understand the character of God, the person of Jesus, and the power of the Holy Spirit, then we can more fully understand how He is dwelling in us, just as we are dwelling in Him. Just as we are together.

A Prayer
Father, I long to know You better. Please reveal Yourself to me more. I pray my love for Your Son, Jesus, will continue to grow, and that I will recognize the power of the Holy Spirit at work in my, for me, and through me. God, please undo any confusion, and help me to be sure of my relationship with You. I don't want to know about You, I want to know You personally. Break down barriers and continue to reveal Yourself to me. Amen.

Table Talk
Galatians 2:20, 2 Corinthians 3:18, Colossians 3:10, Ephesians 3:20, 1 John 3:24

Do you know about God, or do you know Him? Do you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, and have you decided to model your life after His? Do you feel the Holy Spirit leading you and guiding you?

If you have never made a statement of faith and would like to know more about becoming a believer in Jesus Christ, please contact a Christian friend or pastor. I'm certain they would be happy to speak with you about what it means to be a Christian and connect you with other believers who can disciple you.

If you are a Christian already, yay! I believe it's important to continue to grow in our relationship with God, our Heavenly Father, Jesus, His only Son, and the Holy Spirit. 

If your heart has grown cold, or distant from God, or if you have always gone to church but have never had a relationship with Him, perhaps today is the day to make a change. Connect with your pastor or contact a friend. I'm sure that another believer would love to help you find a church where you can grow as a Christian and deepen your relationship with God.


You can read more of Morning Meditations at Marina's Kitchen Table; A devotional memoir, by purchasing it through Amazon or Kindle. It is free through Kindle Unlimited.

©2020 Marina J Bromley, Marina's Kitchen Table, all rights reserved.

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Balanced and Beautiful in Christ: Part 4

 Romans 12 | Part 4

“Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.” - Romans 12:16 NIV

Family. Friendships. Classmates. Marriage. Neighbors. More family. In-laws. Church relationships. Work friendships. Strangers. Future friends.

I could go on and on with the different ages and stages of life and the relationships that embellish them. When we are told to "live in harmony with one another," a simple concept becomes a difficult task!

Some of these relationships we don't give another thought, like our family—we are born into them, and we accept them as they are. We may have favorites, but we work together with a common goal; keeping the home a reasonably peaceful place, making sure the kids are fed and clothed, getting everyone through adolescence, teen years, high school grades. If we are blessed, we have many people that want to speak love, life, and light, into our futures.

Then we fall in love and are faced with another whole dynamic of relationships: IN-LAWS.

I don't know if anyone else ever thought about in-laws, but in my life, this has been one of the most challenging connections to navigate. To pray for my in-laws (and my own parents' relationship with us) was not something I did as a single woman, and when I met my husband, I didn't factor in that I'd be considering all these other people's feelings for the rest of my natural life. Add in grandkids, activities, career moves, vacation time, and all the details of dysfunctional family life, and it was a recipe for disaster, over and over again! Still, we tried hard to make everyone happy by sharing our free time and making memories. We ask for forgiveness, love with a dose of grace, and forgive over and over again.

In Christian circles and small towns, to meet people, find our commonalities, and build relationships was a no-brainer. Mutual respect and love of God made it easy.

Sometimes it is too easy, though, and it can be hard to remember to keep ourselves open to the new people God puts in our paths. It takes a dose of brave to go beyond our comfort zone and reach out to new faces, especially when they are not in the same age, stage, ability, race, or economic bracket as us. We forget that in Kingdom living, He has turned it all upside down. Financial success and good health is not a part of God's equation. The least of these have great value. The last will be first. The Shepherd leaves the herd to find the one lost sheep. Our worth is not based on what we do or achieve, but simply obedience to Him. To love God and love others has great value.

Now with mask-wearing and gathering restrictions in place, we may think that we are off the hook in the area of reaching out, but our ministry to others may have never faced a more urgent need. People are lonely, and more people are facing economic uncertainty than ever before. We have the opportunity, even if we are in need ourselves, to be salt and light, and to speak truth and life into other people's hearts and minds. We do not need to put our health at risk, and we certainly don't want to put others in harm's way, but we can provide encouragement through a kind word, a card or note left on the door or mailed, or even a phone call or text to let people know that we are thinking of them. If it is an option, consider giving gifts of cleaning supplies and non-perishable food items to people directly (safely), or through donating to a local food bank.

God did not make us all the same, but He created us all in His image. Because of God's love for all people, we can celebrate the differences. Because of His patience with us, we can overcome any obstacles. Because of His kindness, we can see the God-flavors He has developed in us, and create new friendships. Because of Jesus.

Sunday, August 16, 2020

Day 17 (Monday) Morning Meditations at Marina's Kitchen Table; A devotional memoir

Morning Prayer 

Jesus, I know You are here with me in this moment. Help me to feel Your presence, and to know it is You always by my side. I want to know You in new ways, to let You be my all in all. Thank You for being patient with me as I draw near to You. Amen.

Focus Verse

Psalm 18:1-3

I love you, LORD; you are my strength. The LORD is my rock, my fortress, and my savior; my God is my rock, in whom I find protection. He is my shield, the power that saves me, and my place of safety. I called on the LORD, who is worthy of praise, and he saved me from my enemies.


Before I was married, I had the unrealistic expectation that the right man would meet all my needs. Not only would he manage to provide for me (and us, when we had a family) financially, but spiritually and emotionally, too. He would be able to know just what I needed, when I needed it. Maybe even before I needed it. He would complete me. He would always surprise me with little gifts and flowers "just because." I had it all planned out in my mind, and I'm sure I based my vision on all the happily married couples I saw on TV, in magazines, or read about in novels.

But here's the funny thing...I didn't know anyone in real life who had a marriage like that.

When I became a Christian, I kept some of those expectations, and years later, I carried them right into relationships with me. I had the mindset that my best friend would always be there to hold my hand and pray with me when I needed prayer, or my husband would compliment me, meet my every need, and fulfill my every desire.

Sad to say, it took me a while before I realized only Jesus could do what I expected my friends and my husband to do.

Instead of realizing my expectations were tainted, I held a grudge against these people for falling short. It took me a little while to figure this all out and get my reality in line with God's ideas.

Whether you're married or single, man or woman, in your 20's or 80's, there is not another person who can "complete you.." We are not meant to complete each other! We are made to depend on God, and He, through Jesus and the Holy Spirit, is the only one who can meet our needs.

I know we don't like to be alone. We want companionship and friendship and all the perks of marriage. I promise you, relationships will not fulfill us. God will.

Our spouse will never be able to meet our needs, and it's unrealistic to think we can meet theirs, either. Also, no friendship can handle the pressure of meeting our needs. No job. No career. No hobby. No dream. At some point, we will be caught up in the enemy's lies that we are "so fulfilled," but the reality is any relationship or outside activity is capable of taking us away from the One who CAN meet our needs, satisfy our desires, and complete us. We will hit a wall and have our feet kicked out from underneath us, and then feel like an idiot for spending so much time, money, energy, and emotions on something that didn't live up to all we thought it would. (I speak from experience here.)

What can we do?

No matter our marital status, what our business card or Facebook status lists, our mindset towards Christ is so much less than what He wants it to be. He desires to be our ALL in all. He IS equipped to meet our every need. He wants to spend time with us every moment of every day. He is the only one who is able to fulfill us emotionally, physically, relationally, and spiritually. We have a hole shaped in our hearts that only Jesus can fill, and when we choose Him, He completes us. 

It took me a while to think of Jesus as the one to fill all these roles in my life, but it's wonderful because He is the only one who doesn't let me down. He never disappoints. If my feelings are hurt by some earthly thing, I can run to Him and talk to Him. He is willing to sit with me and let me dump all my emotions on His shoulders. He wants me to come to Him with my disappointments and disillusioned dreams. His patience is unending; His love never fails.

I have found a prayer to meditate on that is especially helpful when things are not going the way I expected them to go. I pray, "Lord, change me. Change them. Or change the circumstances."

I have found, time and time again, that He will ALWAYS answer this prayer! Most of the time, the thing that changed first is ME. He will change my mindset, my desires, my needs, my circumstances. If I am willing to pray this prayer, He WILL answer it! Even if He changes "them" (whoever "them" might be), He will soften my heart or my attitude towards "them" and what really matters.

There are other ways to use this prayer that are equally effective. I have used this as an intercessory prayer on behalf of my husband and his work, and for a friend going through a rough season in life. I have prayed it over my children, their friendships, and their relationships. It's a great prayer when we don't know what the outcome needs to be, but we want to say more than, "Your will be done."

The point is to let God be God. Let Him be all He desires to be, which will then let us be all He wants us to be. As the Psalmist said, let Him be our Lord, our rock, our fortress, our shield, our Savior, and our protection, the one who saves us and is always worthy of our praise.


A Prayer 

Father, forgive me for all the people and things I have put on the throne of my heart. Help me to keep it only for You, and to allow You to meet my needs. Remove the things from my hands and my heart that are crowding You out, and help me to remove the idols, idolatrous relationships, and expectations I have formed against You. Even kingdom things, like ministries and church, can keep me from spending time with You, so please give me discernment as I allow You to purge my heart. Father, change me. Change "them." And change the circumstances of my life, allowing me to be completely fulfilled in You.

Table Talk

Matthew 6:33, Ephesians 3:20, Colossians 3:11, Romans 8:35-39

Identify the things (relationships or activities) you are using to distract you from the ways God wants to fulfill you. Have friends placed pressure on you to be more than what you are capable of? What unrealistic expectations have you put upon those around you? Pray the prayer of "Change me. Change them. Or change the circumstances," and take not how God changes things.


Morning Meditations at Marina's Kitchen Table; A devotional memoir, is available on Amazon/Kindle and is free through Kindle Unlimited. 

©2020 Marina J Bromley, Marina's Kitchen Table, all rights reserved.

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Romans 12: Parts 2 and 3; Recipes for Good Relationship

 Romans 12 | Part 2

“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” - Romans 12:9-10 NIV
This passage speaks to every age and stage of Christians in the world today. There is no limit to the ways we can describe and demonstrate love, hate, evil, good, devotion, and honor. Every form of society has shown examples of these concepts throughout time, for better or worse.
I think that in our healthy friendships and fellowship, we can best relate to the emotions and feelings that Paul discusses here. When we take them apart we can then make them more in-depth, as being entirely beneficial for the Body of Christ. I want to start with the end of the passage first.
“Honor one another above yourselves.” - When we honor someone above ourselves we consider their ideas out of respect and anticipate their needs over our own. We are making a conscious decision to prefer them. We are placing whatever they need in higher importance over whatever we think we want. We wouldn’t inflict pain, injury, or injustice upon ourselves. We would protect those that we honor at all costs. This is the mindset that we need to have as we honor someone above ourselves.
“Be devoted to one another in love.” - To be devoted in love to another person, we will be committed to them. We are dedicated to our children, our spouse, and maybe our parents or siblings. We are often willing to be devoted to a friendship that has weathered years and miles. If we have built up a loving and trusted relationship in our church family we may be able to say we are devoted to our church. We will serve these people, go the extra mile, and sometimes the extra expense, to be sure that they have their needs met. Our relationship with them is a priority, and we will make and take time to be with them, pray with and for them, and for the things that matter to them. Their priorities become our shared priorities.
“Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.” - This is so simply stated, but if you’ve ever had a discussion with people, spanning generations or spiritual maturity, you know that evil and good can mean different things to different people, in different places and times.
If we consider the words that Paul wrote to the Philippians in chapter 4, we can gain a framework for the “good” things. He says, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” We can also reference his writings in Galatians 5, where he expands on the fruits of the Spirit, which can be displayed as evidence of maturing faith and “good” in our life. Verses 22-23 read, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance (patience), kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” These things are all “good,” beneficial for our life to display, and for our church, community, and society to receive from us.
Common sense would tell us that “evil” would simply be the polar opposite of “good.” If we need a reminder of things that would fit under that heading, we might look at the verses preceding the spiritual fruits in Galatians 5 where Paul lists things “in opposition to the Spirit.” I would classify these things as “evil,” although he is careful to include “and the like” at the end, so this list is not inclusive. He writes in verses 19-21, “The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.” Enough said.
“Love must be sincere.” - If I had started with this part of the verse, it would have been more difficult for me to explain. When I take into consideration everything that comes after it (everything you have just read), I think that it builds the framework of what sincere love is. It is a love that is honoring, devoted, preferring others over ourselves. It does not display or think of doing evil to another, and it blesses others with good things. For our love to be sincere, we do it without the expectation of genuine love being returned to us.
As we reflect upon this framework, we can recognize that this is the love that Jesus has for us. His life, death, and resurrection is the perfect example of a life lived sacrificially for us. In all that He did, He reflected His Father’s perfect love for us, and not only for us but for all sinners. This alone should be enough to encourage us to love all people more fully, to serve them on behalf of Jesus, and to be representatives of His hands and feet, whether in our home, neighborhood, church, workplace, community, or world.
Romans 12 | Part 3

“Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” - Romans 12:15 NIV
In this verse, Paul states clearly and simply how we should react when others exhibit heartfelt emotions. We could easily focus on our feelings right now and make excuses for not sharing others’ joy and sorrow. However, self-focus is not what Paul suggests.
Rejoicing with those who rejoice may be more comfortable. A friend’s family celebrates a long fight against cancer. Weddings take place and babies are born. A business survives a problematic season. A church anniversary or special day may occur. These are all reasons to celebrate. While some may seem superficial, I encourage you: take joy in every little space that shines! Look for ways to celebrate with others.
What about mourning? Can we take time to cry? Can we become still and allow others' pain to touch the tender parts of our hearts and minds? How can we comprehend someone else’s pain? It is an intentional act to sit still and listen, especially when so much demands our attention.
We need to quiet the news, talk-show hosts, YouTube videos, and podcasts so we can listen to downhearted friends facing something we may not have ever encountered. Let us sit still, close our mouths, open our ears, and support others in their troublesome seasons of life. We don’t need to explain what they are going through or share our similar experiences, but simply listen and be quiet with them.
We can ask questions to more fully understand others' feelings, but questions are not required. We can ask how we can pray and invite the Holy Spirit to join us in helping us understand what has led up to this season. It’s also best to stop at that moment and pray with the person, asking if he or she would like to also pray--again, putting the premium on listening. If you’re not sure what to pray, then sit with him or her before God and ask that He would send His Great Comforter, the Holy Spirit, to minister in this time of need. It’s okay to pray, “Lord, I don’t even know what to pray. Please, let us feel Your presence and Your comfort."
In addition to prayer, another way to mourn with others is to do something to help. In my own life, I have had to “put wheels on my grief” and do practical things to help me work through it. Recently, my oldest child and her family moved to Central America to work as missionaries. COVID now prevents us from flying there to visit our 7 grandkids, and we rely on technology to see one another. To help me work through the grief, I make quilts for my grandkids.
Others have also mourned with me in this circumstance by praying, creatively raising funds to support the relief work my family is doing in Central America. My friends weep with me and care for my tender heart.
There is no limit to the various ways we can walk alongside those who are rejoicing or mourning. Let us pray, listen, and see how God leads us in sharing these tender moments with people we care about. May the Holy Spirit also empower and equip us to meet the needs of those by our side as we celebrate and weep with them.
These posts first appeared on the Facebook Group page for Balanced and Beautiful in Christ. You can view that page here. ©2020 Marina Bromley, all rights reserved.

Monday, August 10, 2020

Recipe For Good Relationship: Romans 12, Part 1

  Romans 12 | Part 1

“For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.” - Romans 12:3 NIV
In today’s pendulum of attitudes and emotions, it’s an easy swing from “woe is me” to “worthy is me” and vice versa. I often hear friends (and strangers) say that they have the proper attitude, look, and gifting. As a result, they believe they have a sense of entitlement, which means they deserve accolades and should receive rewards, such as a job, a raise, a perfect relationship, a house, an office, a ministry position, a book deal, etc. Self-confidence is not often lacking.
In contrast, we occasionally notice people giving praise to others, while they tear themselves down as if they have no value in God’s eyes.
We must find the balance between encouraging others in their God-given gifts at our expense and having the confidence to use our own God-given talents.
Paul challenges us to find this healthy medium in the verse above; he wants us not to think “too highly of ourselves” and simultaneously “in accordance with the faith.” We ARE a marvelous work of God, but we are not very useful when we try to do it all on our own, refuse to let others contribute, or do not do anything because we insist we have no value, talent, or gift.
Following this verse, Paul illustrates in verses 4-8 that we are like a body, and we have different roles in our work together, requiring cooperation and encouragement. God created us, intending for us each to do our part to benefit His kingdom. We need to grow as one, so we can move forward with finesse.
Perhaps, we would have liked to have chosen our gifts, or we admire gifts others have received. Many times, we want to sing a solo on stage or head up a high-profile ministry. People rarely rush into prayer ministry, church cleaning, or serving children in Sunday school. It takes people in all of these places to make the church work well. Our value is not in doing what is popular or most seen, but doing the job God has equipped us to do in a way that pleases Him.
Often, we think we don’t need to serve at all, but we forget that God’s Body (THE Church) is not solely in a building, but everywhere, since WE are the body. Our service to God is more than a title or recognition.
Let’s look through the list of gifts in verses 6 through 8 and highlight a few of the “different gifts” we may have “according to the grace given to each one of us” (verse 6):
"If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith." - The Holy Spirit will lead you on this one, but don’t hold back if He gives you a glimpse into the future!
"If it is serving, then serve." - Serving can be as simple as obeying the Holy Spirit’s momentary prompting or mowing your neighbor’s yard. We can help our families, in our churches, or beyond.
"If it is teaching, then teach." - We tend to think of teaching as a career or a ministry. It could be both! You may be educated to teach as a career, but are you willing to share that gift with the church body? You may also teach in your neighborhood or community by helping someone learn to cook, paint, quilt, or use a computer, planting seeds of friendship and faith as you teach.
"If it is to encourage, then give encouragement." - Encouragement can take many forms, such as sending a note, making a call, or visiting someone in a different age and stage of life. You can encourage an elderly person or a young mom. If you don’t know what to say, you can share an inspiring scripture.
"If it is giving, then give generously." - In uncertain times, we tend to hold onto our personal belongings and finances, forgetting that it all comes from God and belongs to Him. If He asks you to give, give generously and without apprehension. Give cheerfully! It may be financial or material goods, such as food or clothing.
"If it is to lead, do it diligently." - Leadership is a gift, and some people do it as a job, while others are placed in leadership positions without ever seeking them. Leaders can be born or trained. God makes leaders in any and every circumstance, and whether it is within a workspace, a ministry, or among friends, leaders influence hearts towards God.
"If it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully." - I like how the NLT version rewords “mercy” as “kindness.” Some people are gifted with the ability to express kindness in all circumstances. Their words don’t come out with a convicting voice and harsh words; they're gentle, like a baby’s breath. It makes the receiver of mercy feel loved, nurtured and cared for. As the receiver, you want to do better, because of the giver's cheerfulness.
If you are unsure which gifts you have been given, or if God is still developing them in you, then pray for Him to reveal them. You can take many spiritual gifts quizzes online. Once you know your gifts, practice using them with confidence, knowing that the gift God has imparted to you is just as valuable as the gifts God has given others. Let’s continue to work together in confidence to move the Body of Christ forward!
This post first appeared on the Facebook Group page for Balanced and Beautiful in Christ.
©2020 Marina J Bromley, all rights reserved.

Friday, August 7, 2020

Day 7: Morning Meditations at Marina's Kitchen Table; A devotional memoir

We have enjoyed getting started on this month of devotions from my book, Morning Meditations at Marina's Kitchen Table. It's a busy time of year, so I'm getting comments, some live views, some private messages...and all of it is good! I know that folks are traveling, getting kids back in school, or schooling them from home unexpectedly, and to be honest, if you are reading this and it blesses you—THAT is my goal!

Enjoy today's devotion, and feel free to chime in if it moves you...or journal it, or hide it in your heart. My prayer is that it moves you a little closer to God's heart as we journey together!

Day 7 (Friday, August 7, 2020)
Morning Prayer
Good Morning God! Thank You for Your goodness and kindness this day. Your love and compassion is given with so much generosity, and Your mercy is never-ending. Your creation is so beautiful, as You plan and set days, weeks, months, and seasons into motion. I'm so glad I can trust You with each moment of each day. I love You so much. Amen.
Focus Verse
Hosea 10:12 NLT
I said, 'Plant the good seeds of righteousness, and you will harvest a crop of love. Plow up the hard ground of your hearts, for now is the time to seek the Lord, that he may come and shower righteousness upon you.
Some time ago, during a hard season in life, a friend sent me this verse printed up in a frame. It helped carry me through that difficult time, and I started to notice the significance of seasons in our lives, just like He created seasons in nature. There is more than a coincidental thread of gardening in us; preparing the ground, tending and nurturing our hearts and minds, pruning trees, and our lives, to make them more fruitful. 

When we became homeowners, I brushed up on gardening and landscaping skills, checking out books from the library, searching online, and visiting the County Extension office to gain knowledge specific to our area. I remember learning about the process of trees losing leaves in autumn (a new process to this Southern California raised girl), and the purpose in it—for the trees to spend their energy growing roots during winter, so they are ready to birth blossoms again in the springtime. 

It's easy for me to forget life can be that way, too. We love the new blossoms of spring, the tree's canopy of shade and bright colors of summer, and even the colors of the leaves in fall, but when the trees are bare in winter, I can forget there is a purpose in that as well. My heart wants to hibernate, thinking it's a wasted season, forgetting God can use it to do deep work in us.

I think it's purposeful that we celebrate Thanksgiving at the beginning of our coldest season. To turn our hearts and minds towards God, to give Him thanks, can be the start of growing our spiritual roots deep and strong, carrying us through the hardships of winter and the spiritually dry times of life.

He walks with us through the times of preparing for our season of thanksgiving. Just like we may divide our crowded bulbs or turn the soil in our gardens and fields, we need to allow God to break up the hard ground of our hearts in preparation for the season of regeneration.

Just like the plants in life, I need to have a season of "root growth." I need to have the weeds pulled out; the lies I've believed or allowed to take root in my heart. My soil needs to be amended by good friendships, fellowship, worship, and teaching in God's Word. In order for me to begin my growing season in the spring, I need to start preparing for it in the fall. 

God uses illustrations of gardening and farming all throughout the Bible, and it's fitting to describe our lives with God and our journeys with Jesus. No matter what season we are in right now, we need to be sure we are in the Word, nurturing our spirits, preparing our soil for whatever season lies ahead and whatever crop He wants to grow in us. 
A Prayer
Father, You are The Master Gardener of my life. I know my heart soil can be as hard as clay or stone. I know Your love for me will keep it broken and soft, so that You can add to me what is needed to grow the things You want to grow in my life. Please help me to grow, to rest when I need rest, to allow You to do the hard work of preparing me for whatever lies next. Purge the weeds, amend my soil, and start good seeds that will bear good fruit in Your perfect timing. I need You to be at work in my life, and I realize sometimes the work will be painful, as You pull weeks that may look beautiful to the world, but may have dangerous repercussions in the roots, bringing damage to my other crops. Purify my heart, mind, and spirit. Amen.

Table Talk
Psalm 1, Isaiah 55:10-12, Ephesians 3:14-19

Which season best represents the condition of your heart today? Is there something God is leading you to pray about, or to do, to best be prepared for the next season in life? 
Morning Meditations at Marina's Kitchen Table; A devotional memoir, is available through Amazon and Kindle, and is free on Kindle Unlimited.
©2020 Marina J Bromley, Marina's Kitchen Table, all rights reserved.

Sunday, August 2, 2020

Wanting the Healer

Old words that still ring true today...and should every day. As we get older maybe we see this play out even more, desiring more of Jesus despite whether or not the healing comes and knowing that even the momentary healings only bridge us to the next crisis of the body, or emotions, or disappointment in general.
“It goes against human nature to say that I'm going to find joy in hardship. When you discover the joy of resting in the peace of who Jesus is, you can be disappointed, but it doesn't shake your peace in Him. There is a way that you experience Christ in the valley that continually reminds you He is near. We become more aware and more available to Him. He gives us access to His unmovable peace.” - Natalie Grant 

As I read the Jesus Calling Kids devotion to the grands last night, we talked about how God is ALWAYS near to us. They grasped the biblical truth easily and spoke candidly about how we can apply it in our life. 

Shortly afterwards, I thought of this song, and how in my daily life, do I always want God so near? 

He knows my every action, reaction, my thoughts deep within. They don’t always bring honor to Him. Sometimes they even embarrass me. 

Yet He knows them all. 

How quickly I can ask God for healing, for provisions, for our list of wants, but do I often ask Him for more of Him? 
“I know if You wanted to You could wave Your hand
Spare me this heartache and change Your plan
And I know any second You could take my pain away
But even if You don't I pray

Help me want the Healer more than the healing
Help me want the Savior more than the saving
Help me want the Giver more than the giving
Help me want You Jesus more than anything”

More Than Anything, Sam and Becca Mizell, sung by Natalie Grant
Perspective. Selfishness. Wanting more of the world more than Heavenly things, when I should want more of Jesus first. 


When I was a new believer I spoke about Jesus being my “first love” and intentionally gave my heart to Him. Over and over, sometimes even moment by moment. Repent, confess, repeat. 

Years of being a wife and a mom and distracted (jobs, hobbies, even church and ministry!) allowed me to shove Jesus to the side and pretty soon the “loveseat of my heart” held more “other stuff” than Jesus. It looked more like a sectional, and a crowded one at that! Jesus was still nearby, but it was as if my prayers were Christmas wish-lists and I was a selfish kid. 

I recognized some time ago that this needed to change, and God changed my prayers to include “YOUR will be done, God.” Always His will in my life. I want His will in the lives of those around me, in catastrophic situations and small storms, always, only His will. 

I want MORE of JESUS, and His will in my life, and in yours too. Not good health, not fortune or fame, not nice stuff, just what He wants for me, and it always starts with more of Jesus.