Sunday, December 23, 2012
Monday, November 5, 2012
Posted by Brenda at 9:27 PM
Sunday, November 4, 2012
Two Saturdays ago, I went for the first time with my friend M to pass out food to the homeless outside a local homeless shelter. It's an informal, early morning thing. (I don't generally embrace the early morning). M and his friends bring the food that is left over from the week at the recovery center where he lives, and for which I work, and passes it out to people leaving the homeless shelter on Saturday mornings. Another church group showed up with sack lunches and some coffee. M lead a devotional. One of the homeless prayed. We also brought coats and socks from my store. Afterward, back to tent city to pass out some more necessities and then to breakfast as a group. I was feeling a bit of a spiritual high.
Unfortunately, it was while I was at breakfast that I got the call from Sarah about her friend Kaitlyn being in a horrific car accident the night before... so I gave my bill and money to M, asked him to pray, and left in tears... anxious to get to Sarah and to Kaitlyn. Spiritual highs are often fragile things.
Many are praying. Her friends have raised a tremendous amount of money to help the family with expenses. One teenage boy at Sarah's church gave $50 out of his own pocket. I see God at work in this situation. In his kingdom. Using his people to reach out to this family. And to heal Kaitlyn.
But it has been so hard. A visit from my parents was so nice, but then they had to leave and I got bronchitis (again) and, well... life is getting me down. I'm just going to be honest. It's a rough time.
Posted by Brenda at 9:24 PM
Sunday, October 28, 2012
Kaitlyn lives life to the fullest. She is funny and smart and caring and rowdy and annoying and beautiful!
She is like a member of our family. Over Spring Break, she went to the beach with us.
|Sarah, Kaitlyn and Libby in Gulf Shores|
|Kaitlyn and Rufus on the way to Michigan|
|Kaitlyn letting the world know Hell Is Real|
|Kaitlyn and Sarah.... Forever Friends|
|Kaitlyn and Jacob at church a couple years ago|
|Libby and Kaitlyn|
Posted by Brenda at 3:16 PM
Friday, October 19, 2012
So, since my last post, I have been seeking God's kingdom and righteousness. Being a straight-forward kind of girl, I thought about how one typically goes about "seeking" something and one thing I think I would do is just to ask someone where it is. One night in (boring) Legal Research class, I was thinking about it and just decided to ask. I even wrote the question in the margin of my notebook. (I'm a doodler).
One thing I know about God is that if you ask him an honest question about his kingdom, He will answer. He will never leave you to wonder. And you won't have to wait long.
Recently, my friend M, who...
- was once homeless himself
- is now in the recovery program for which I work
- who now has a passion for the homeless in our city
- and who works for the man next door to my store
.... asked if we could start setting aside the winter coat at my thrift store that we are going to salvage, so he can take them to the homeless. I agreed (and the boss agreed) and my only stipulation to him was that he collect them regularly because I don't have alot of storage space.
Late in the day yesterday, he came into the clothing room and asked me what I was doing after work. "Nothing. Going home. Watching TV", I replied.
"Do you want to drive me to tent city [homeless "community" under a bridge] after work so I can distribute some of those coats and then you can take me home?"
What?! Don't we need to sign up through an agency with the city to do that kind of thing? Clear it with the elders? Plan it at least a month in advance and get a big group together? Sell candy bars to pay for the trip? Pray about it? Order matching T-shirts? Something???
We can't just show up under a bridge and hand out coats. We'll get shot. Mugged. Raped. Eaten.
"Tonight?! Right now? Just like that?" I asked.
"Yeah, it won't take long. I know who needs what."
So after work, we gathered the coats, and my friend L came along with us once she heard where we were going and I drove us to tent city. I didn't even know where "tent city" is. Turns out, it is under an expressway that I have driven over 1,000's of times (often on my way to church) and I had no idea it was down there. There were perhaps 20 tents at the most. Little "households" set up. And M used to live there.
L prayed in the back seat for God to protect us. I felt surprisingly at peace. I think it's because M used to live there so I know he wouldn't take me some place too unsafe.
And we got out of the car and M said to the huddled people, "Hey, we've got some coats" and they came and took coats and were grateful and chatted and hugged us and we left. Changed.
I ask and ask and ask God what he wants me to do about "church". Which one to go to? Where do I fit in? And I haven't heard any clear answers- I admit I am quite frustrated by the whole thing. I am perplexed, because one thing I know about God is that if you ask a question about his kingdom, He will answer and never leave you to wonder. So why do I wonder which church to go to?"
And last night I realized that "church" is not the kingdom. It is something all people in the kingdom should do. And I believe I will find the right one eventually, but I believe more strongly that God has me where He wants me right now... "churchless".... so He can teach me about the Kingdom. The kingdom that lives in the hearts of his people... the ones who know the homeless, even though they are all strung out on drugs and drunk on alcohol.... need basic necessities. They are cold and hungry. And that means tonight. That means, put the coats in the car and let's go now.
It is in the heart of the nephew of my best childhood friend who received a death sentence from cancer at 13 years old and knew that only left him a few years to preach about Jesus and share the Good News... and so he did. And as he lays dying, thousands of people are hearing his story on Facebook and being encouraged.
It is in the hearts of the ones who welcome foster children into their home.
It is in the hearts of the ones who smile at the sad-faced, grumpy cashier at Walmart.
It is in the hearts of the ones who are on the college campuses sharing the good news that changed their life.
It is in the hearts of the ones who work in recovery programs where the rewards are few and the work is hard.
It is in the heart of the hockey coach, who, a couple years ago, prayed with my son who was crying in the penalty box.
It is in the small things, usually. In the "Here's a coat and a hug".
It is a perspective.
It is action.
It is time for me to go to work.
Sorry this is so long, but when you get a taste of the Kingdom, you want to tell about it.
Posted by Brenda at 8:35 AM
Wednesday, October 17, 2012
Most recent conversation between me and my very patient therapist who has put up with me for over three years and knows more about me than anyone should:
Me: "I am so overwhelmed by life right now. I have no peace. I want to lose weight. I need to handle my money better. I can't even afford to pay for this visit today. My job is stressing me out. I don't have a church family anymore. I don't have any friends. I don't have time for any friends even if I had them. My house is a mess. My physical family is 600 miles away. I am struggling spiritually. My bff in Kentucky is sad. My bff in Huntsville is sad. I am tired of being alone. I hate having to pay bills. I hate making decisions by myself all the time. I am lonely. Did I mention I am fat? How did I get fat? Why can't I lose weight? I can't stick to anything. I don't know what to do with my life. I don't want a career, but I am forced to make one. I don't know what career to pursue. I need to spend more time in meaningful conversation with my kids. I spend my days running all over the place. I have college classes, homework, many things at my job to think about, many things at my job I am not good at and I question whether I should even spend the time to be. I am tired all the time. I am not exercising. I'm too tired to exercise. So-and-so made me mad. Then this other so-and-so made me mad. And I am SOOOOOOO tired of dealing with so-and-so, you have no idea. I keep making bad relationship choices. I am not close to God right now. I don't even have time for God. I miss my mom. I miss my dad. I miss my sister and brother and aunts and uncles and cousins and nieces and nephews and my best friend from college. I hate eating out so much, but I am too tired to cook..... blah blah blah. Yada yada yada".
My patient therapist, nodding sympathetically: "Well, where do you think you could start to get this stuff under control?"
Me: "START????? Are you crazy?! There is no place to start. Everything is a mess. I am completely overwhelmed... I wouldn't even know where to start!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I just want to go to bed and pull the covers over my head. This is what I am trying to tell you... I have no idea where to start!"
My patient therapist, gaze fixed on me: "I'd start with Matthew 6:33".
Me: [crickets chirping]
My patient therapist: "Seek ye FIRST the kingdom of God...."
Sometimes we just need a reminder and I'm thankful I got one.
Posted by Brenda at 1:28 AM
Friday, October 5, 2012
|Travel Hockey is in full swing and Jacob spends alot of time in the car going to and from the ice rink and to games and tournaments. He amuses himself by taking his own picture.|
|Sarah with her date, Jessie, on their way to homecoming.|
|Libby and her friend, Brianna, ready to go to homecoming.|
|Libby's pretty feet for homecoming.|
|Libbinardo Newvinci is back in art class and I feel she has real talent.|
|This is my textbook. I spend alot of time with it. :-)|
Posted by Brenda at 12:27 PM
Wednesday, September 12, 2012
Until then, I keep studying to be a Legal Assistant and I am coming to love the law. And here are the reasons I think that is:
1) I love what law is. Law is "enforceable rules that govern individual and group conduct in a society".
2) Without law, we have anarchy. I hate anarchy.
3) Though not perfect, U.S. law mostly makes sense and is mostly good. I like things that make sense.
4) It needs people who can analyze it and apply it to issues. I like to analyze and apply.
5) It needs people who can write about it. I like to write.
6) The law has its own vocabulary and uses lots of Latin words. I like being privvy to an exclusive vocabulary.
Some day I will be a great Legal Assistant, unless I decide to remain a Thrift Store Manager. There are reasons I like thrift stores, too. Maybe I will tell them to you next time.
Posted by Brenda at 5:04 PM
Monday, September 10, 2012
But the story doesn't end there. Once again, I have been hard at work on this piece. After buying Libby some new bedroom furniture, I just couldn't part with this shelf thingy because it's been through so much with me. :-) And it's just so practical.
So, I went to Wal-mart and Lowe's and got some dark brown paint and a new piece of fabric and...... wa la! The perfect hutch for my breakfast area.
Posted by Brenda at 8:02 AM
Sunday, September 2, 2012
Posted by Brenda at 1:57 PM
Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Posted by Brenda at 6:56 AM
Wednesday, August 15, 2012
Posted by Brenda at 9:13 PM
Wednesday, August 8, 2012
Outside my window...night is falling. The temps are cooler than they had been. It is still summer, though. I wish it was raining.
In the kitchen...Libby baked a carrot cake. And I made Hamburger Helper for dinner. And the dishwasher is running. All is at peace.
I am thinking...about my job. And the people I get to meet. And the disappointment I feel when they leave.
I am grateful...for my home (because someone I know was happy to move from the Rescue Mission into a hotel room this week) and for freedom (because someone I know is looking at jail time) and for a job (because I have met many this week who don't have one).
I am praying... and praying and praying and praying.....
I am wondering...if my mom and sister are having fun together without me. :-P
I am studying... nothing! I am now on a two-week break before Fall semester starts and then I will be doing nothing but studying. :-) Civil Law, Wills & Estates and Legal Writing. Exciting.
I am resolving...nothing! I am not resolving to do anything because I am sick of resolving and failing.
I am wearing...a "Navy Mom" t-shirt I got at my store and a pair of Minnie Mouse pajama pants.
Around the house...laundry is needing doing.
I am reading...a Chicken Soup book with real-life stories of God answering prayers in amazing ways!
I am going...crazy. Want to come?
I am looking forward to...Christmas Break! :-)
A picture (Libby got the idea from Pinterest for my birthday last month)....
Posted by Brenda at 8:11 PM
Sunday, July 29, 2012
1) I had an interesting conversation with a young friend of mine this week in which I realized there are two kinds of people in the world. Those who expect you to get over your problems quickly and move on (because they do) and those who understand that for some of us, it takes a long, long time for us to work through our issues. I am the type who... if I invest alot of time and emotional energy in someone/something and I get hurt... you can expect a lengthy period of time of me dealing with it. And that's just how it is. And that's okay.
2) I am coming to realize that I love far more people than I dislike. And I believe God is as real as the keys of the keyboard I can feel beneath my fingers as I type. And he is a God of Love. And I need to work on giving people the benefit of the doubt, looking for what is good in them, listening rather than judging and condemning, being honest and straightforward (perhaps I don't really need to work on that one as much), allowing people to be where they are, but doing my part to encourage them to move forward. Everyone is one bad decision away from destruction. Everyone.
3) Jesus came to redeem our souls and not our flesh. Therefore, I shouldn't be surprised when my flesh fights my redeemed soul for what it wants and wins. However, the more I grow, the more I know that greater is He who is in ME than he who is in the world... and theoretically, my flesh never has to win.
4) I have lost 7.4 pounds in the last two weeks!!! Go me!!
5) I saw Barry Manilow last night in Nashville with a sweet friend of mine. I was surprised at how many of his songs I was able to sing along with! :-) I have to give him credit for being able to get up there and do what he does at his age! It was a fun time!
6) I can't wait to see my girls tomorrow! They have been gone to Alexandria, VA on a mission trip for TEN days and I have missed them soooooooo much!
That is all I have time for. I have to get ready for church now!
Posted by Brenda at 8:17 AM
Wednesday, July 11, 2012
Posted by Brenda at 10:21 PM