Happy New Year from Snowy Seattle
We made it over sleety streets to a tiny town near the foot of Mount Rainier. Spent a seventy-degree Christmas in Allen, Texas with my sister and her fam. The morning after Christmas, we put Britt on a chartered bus in Austin with his high school basketball team (about 50 favorite buddies) traveling to Disneyworld for a basketball tournament in Florida. Didn’t have the money to follow him and God gave a peace in missing it. We have hardly missed anything our children have been a part of, ever, but had to let this one slip through our fingers. Bob and I hopped on a last-minute flight to visit his 92-year-old dad who invited us up to the Northwest. He lives alone in a quaint northern town. No internet, just frost everywhere. I’m frozen! With nine decades of life, he has a span of stories having lived through wars and recessions and crises and inventions.
Lots of time to reflect on the goodness of our God this past year. “The nearness of God has been our good.” Psalm 73:28. Have caught up on lots of reading. This morning one quote just jumped out at me: “The place where I am most deeply hurt is what I am always trying to get, to collect---to get people to like us, to be in charge, to serve, to applaud, to get someone to take care of me. There is an anger at that point in us where we feel so small.” What do we do with those places? Is my repentance too shallow? I have believed lies in my life that have ended with demands that people come through for me and that I’ll have to arrange it if God doesn’t come through. How foolish. Phil 3:19 calls it a god: “Their god is their appetite.” Exploring and deepening my thirst for God will release in me deep repentance or I’ll keep my friends and my God “in court” in my mind examining the evidence that I am not loved, not cared for. Not true at all! If we don’t repent and relate to Him in such a way that HE frees me to love openly and receive love freely, then I’ll just control my world and arrange it to get what I want. People don’t have to respond in certain ways anymore for life to be okay. I want to live with no demands to fill the hollow spaces within that ultimately only God can fill. St. John of the Cross wrote: God cannot pass an empty life without filling it with Himself. That’s if we are empty---are we empty of ourselves and this world?
Happy New Year to each of you. Do you remember the quote in Braveheart: “All men die, but only a few men really live.” My wish for you this coming year of 2009 is that you learn more deeply what it means for you to really live. You were made to matter. You were made to make a difference. You were made for HIM. Psalm 73:24-28--- May HE guide you with His counsel and receive your words. May you desire nothing else on earth but HIM. “It is good to be near to God.” Draw near. He’s waiting.
Monday, December 29, 2008
Happy New Year from Snowy Seattle
I found a teeny tiny eatonville cafe that has wireless. It took about 45 minutes to warm up the computer so I'm staring out the sultry cafe window and what do I see??? S N O W...it's snowing outside. What delight! Pure joy! Baby, it's cold outside. So pristine and peaceful and pure white as snow. Stirs something deep inside of me and tears fall. From seventy degrees to snow. A precious moment for me as we came up to find a wireless connection to post a Monday Morning thought. It's the last Monday morning thought I'll post. It has been such a joy for me to read through the Bible with several of you this year. Here's my last meloncholy post...
DO I LONG TO BE UNDERSTOOD?
DO I LONG TO MATTER?
HE upholds the universe by the word of His power. He holds me up this moment, this circumstance. Or am I trying to hold myself together? “Pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift…” Heb 2:1. Pay attention to what God has said this year. I spent a lot of my Christian life thinking about how much I wanted to be understood, to matter in someone’s life, to belong, and be in charge of something of significance. But, now I long for the One Who understands me and my world; I long for the One Who matters more than anything; I long for the only One in charge of anything---the One Who holds me by the word of His power. It’s no longer about me holding things together.
AM I LIVING IN THIS PRESENT MOMENT?
“Today if you hear HIS Voice, do not harden your hearts.” Heb 3:15
So many of us are where we are this moment because of how we have handled our lives and the hurts over the years. A friend of mine wrote the following note: “I’ve yearned for my parents to give something they could never give me. I’ve sought for my sweetheart something that never fully finishes me and makes me complete. And in my dying age, I’ve tried to make my life a difference as I go to my homecoming and it still doesn’t fill me---even though I’m having a great ministry and an impact on my world---even if I’ve loved well. In all of this, I turn to the One to whom I owe my life, to whom I have found my life, and to Whom I have gladly given my life as an eager gift of all that I have, to the One I have come to adore. I feel grateful. I said He was not good, but He is. I’ve said He’s not here, but He is. I’ve accused Him of not loving, but He does. Everything is upside down, and yet in the face of Him, I see not the face of a scolder but One Who says, ‘Welcome! I’ve been waiting. The feast is prepared.’ “
DO I KNOW A REST THIS VERY DAY LIKE I’VE NOT KNOWN BEFORE?
“Let us strive to enter that rest…for the Word is living and active piercing our souls and discerning our thoughts and intentions. Nothing we do is hidden from His Sight, how foolish to think we are not seen and exposed and known for who we really are. Heb 4:11-13. So, if I don’t have rest in my soul this day, what will I do with that place in my heart? Will I just shove it down or will I enter it and embrace what is not of Him and repent more fully, more widely, more deeply. What I have loved about reading the Word chronologically with you all is that day after day we have opened the Word of God on our journey to read the historical story. But it is the Word of God that has read me and my thoughts and my intentions that don’t match up with His. I read but I am read and rest is revealed or released or recovered. He’s a beautiful God offering rest to each of us in this moment.
WHAT DO YOU WANT MORE THAN DRAWING NEAR TO GOD?
Heb 4:16 “Let us with confidence draw near to the throne of grace.” Whatever weakness we have, He is able to sympathize with that weakness, He says. So, if I choose this day not to draw near to HIM and all that means for my life, then there is something more important to me than following my Christ. Something more important than drawing near to our God. Our goals, our moments reveal what that is. Maybe it is my goals; maybe it is even just ruminating over what is not going right for me. Or, maybe it is a real circumstance that is not going my way. I have to take a look at what is not going my way and recognize that I am trying to make my life work. And God says in Heb 7:25 that when we draw near to Him, He always lives to make intercession for us. What a beautiful promise in our heartaches, in our dreams, in our longings, in our schemes.
WHY ARE MY HANDS DROOPING?
“Lift up your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet so that what is lame may not be out of joint but rather be healed.” Heb 12:12 Don’t let any root of bitterness spring up. Deal with present fray of your heart. The passage goes on to talk about Esau who sold his birthright for what he could see---a single meal. He found no chance to repent later even though he sought for it with tardy tears. Not all tardy tears are good. Tend to today’s tears. All those things that shakes our lives. One day God will remove all things that can be shaken in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. “Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken.” Heb 12:28. And let’s fall on our face and worship and speak the Word of God to our friends. Heb 13:7
On New Year’s Day (or any day after that), let’s post our final lingering thoughts for Cover to Cover from the Book of Revelations. Would love for you to share your thoughts about your journey in reading through the chronological bible this year.
Posted by Bev Brandon @ The Fray at 5:11 PM
Sunday, December 7, 2008
One Dollar a Day Sends an Orphan to School
Hi, my name is Britt Brandon
and I am Bev's 17-year-old son. I'm a junior in high school,
and I am doing a service project to help my sister, Brooke Brandon,
who volunteers at this orphanage in
Brooke volunteers weekly at
this government orphanage.
Your gift will go 100% to the orphan.
Would you be willing
to sponsor one orphan and
pray for that orphan
You can pay by check or Paypal.
Make checks payable to Britt Brandon.
$1 pays for one day for the orphan
you sponsor to attend school.
$5 = one week
$10 = two weeks
$20 = one month
We hope we can help these 7 orphans
whose parents have died mostly from AIDS.
Because they are all older than five,
they will not be able to be adopted.
They need our help. No amount is too small.
The following five boys and two girls are the remaining students at the orphanage
If you are interested in helping me reach the goal of sponsoring in part
The photo of Chon did not come out. He is a male.
Thank you for considering helping one of these seven orphans this Christmas.
They really want to go to school.
I hope I can find some sponsors and it will all add up
to send these seven orphans to school for a dollar a day.
and thank you for considering this opportunity to make
7 orphans very happy this Christmas.
Posted by Bev Brandon @ The Fray at 8:54 PM
Monday Morning Cover to Cover December 22nd - Conscious & 15th - May the eyes of your heart be opened to the immeasurable Power toward you - Eph 1:17.
I am shooting from the hip this week. Misplaced my notes with my checkbook, oh dear! This is what really moved me this week in what I read from the chronological readings.
AM I LIVING FOR THIS WORLD OR FOR ANOTHER COUNTRY?
“We who are strong have an obligation to bear the weaknesses of those without strength.” Wonder who I can find to build up? Wonder if I am more willing to think of their needs and live for another country or am I bent on my own seasonal needs in living in this world? Rom 15:1. Please others, not self. “May the God of hope fill you with joy and peace in believing.” Rom 15:13. That so shakes my soul. The God of hope. It’s not dependent on me trying to find hope and make hope and have hope. We “overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Rom 15:13. I've thought long and hard about the theme of HOPE as we read this week. Way too much, we want to kill hope rather than walk into the future in faith trusting a good God to provide in whatever ways He so chooses. Hope is one of the most dangerous commitments we make for it draws us to Him to sacrifice without any guarantee of fulfillment in this world. But we live for another country, don't we?
AM I REALLY LIVING IN THIS PRESENT MOMENT? ALIVE or DETACHED
IS OUR GOAL TO BE GODLY OR NICE?
"Take courage, for I have faith in God." Acts 27:25. It's a busy season but what is the beat of my heart? Is it for the faith of others? Who can I give courage to this week? I do have faith and believe Him because I know how HE has redeemed good in my life in the past. I have an anchor of trust in my beautiful God that is shored up and that no one can pull up. All that my present dilemmas can do is plunge me into present deeper depths of doubt where brand new faith is being reborn. If we don't have that anchor of trust, then we really are thrown into confusion when people let us down and unexpected unwanted things happen to us---confusion about our ID, confusion about our place in this world. What God has done for me in my past may not take away the pain of the present moment but "faith birthed in the dessert" (as one of my friends calls it) frees me to remember my past, remember the loss, and remember redemption. He so deepens our trust that our redemption draws nigh. It will dawn tomorrow morning as we awake as we trust the One Who is faithful and true. Maybe you have a friend who needs your faith. Maybe you need a little of mine. Take courage. HE is waiting to dawn on your day.
DO YOU KNOW THE HOPE HE HAS CALLED YOU TO?
I really struggled when my husband lost his job three years ago. I lost hope. I killed hope. But it's foolish of me to not anticipate the future and fear the failure again. A friend told me: The more we hope, the more we lean into the future risking the present to secure the dreams that entice us. Just like you, I'll keep on risking for nothing else is worth living for but HIM and His life! I hold so much hope in my heart at this place in my life, and am so humbled before my beautiful God for what HE has done for me! And my prayer for you is the mighty words that Paul penned in his opening letter to Ephesus. May the Father of Glory give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of HIM. May the eyes of your heart be enlightened this present moment to know the HOPE He called you to and the immeasurable greatness of His Power toward YOU.
Posted by Bev Brandon @ The Fray at 8:53 PM
Political unrest in Thailand caused their airports to shut down for days! Brooke has been "stuck" in Austin with us and are we ever excited! She just drove off on her way to the airport and I cried like a baby! I am so grateful for the extra week with my girl. We reminisced, and rummaged through sales, and racked up hours and hours of so enjoying her extra-long Thanksgiving stay with us. She's actually been in the states for one month now...see why I bawled??? Pray that she makes it back to Thailand in the midst of unsettling times for their country. The Prime Minister has been ousted and it's a messy situation.
AM I TRYING TO IMPROVE MY LIFE OR SEEK TO LET MY GOD TRANSFORM ME?
One word so lingers with me from our chronological readings this week. Transformed. Don't be conformed to this world, be transformed in this world. Rom. 12:2 I have been thinking a lot about taking a look at what God has done for me and becoming so gripped with what has already happened. In His favor, "I heard you, I helped you." 2 Cor. 6:1. There's no way in life I could be where I am today except to say that God did it---He has so helped me to wake up and be alive in Him. And true repentance brings about a changed life. 2 Cor 7:10 I may not understand what is happening this moment but life isn't about finding answers either. It's about living not working. And I am known even when regarded as unknown. 2 Cor 6:9.
IS IT ALL RIGHT TO BE HARD PRESSED? God says it's okay. I may be hard pressed sometimes on every side but not crushed. 2 Cor 4:8 I so want to be aware of the schemes of the enemy. 2 Cor 2:11. So FIX OUR EYES ON UNSEEN 2 Cor 4:18.
WHAT COMPELS ME TO MOVE INTO THE LIVES OF OTHERS?
For it is the Love of our beautiful Christ that compels us. Wonder if I am living compelled by the love of my God today or being ruled by other things? Where’s my joy? Whenever I am not enjoying my husband, my children, my life---that's a red flag. “In all my troubles, Joy knows no bounds.” 2 Cor 7:4.
IS MY REPENTANCE TOO SHALLOW?
It’s the kindness of our God that leads us to repent. Romans 2:4. And if our lives don’t change, if there’s not a little more rest, a little more peace, a little more solidness…well, I wonder if the repentance was really deep. Wonder if my repentance was self-serving? Sometimes our motives come from economic places in our hearts to make a better life. Not worth a lot. Let God do His Work in me. Because if we try to repent on our own, we usually end up resorting to self improvement or even doing our own penance. We end up saying—tell me everything I need to “do” to follow God and I’ll go do it. We want “lists” to check off. But when God shows up in His Kindness, there’s hope for our sin. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship? Romans 8:35.
IS MY GOAL TO BE AN OVERCOMER OR TO BE OVERCOME?
In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. So what does that mean? Sometimes, we make our goal to be overcomers. What about making our goal to find God and please Him? It’s not about us overcoming the world—HE has already done that. But it is about us finding Him for I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Wonder why we keep trying to make Him love us? He already does just like we are.
DO I THINK ABOUT REJOICING IN SUFFERING? IS MY DESPERATION REALLY A GIFT?
Romans 5:3 - We rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. I picture the Holy Spirit in heaven pouring down on us a pitcher of His Love. And it came through suffering. When I have HOPE, I receive that Love lavished on me and release His Power in me to love others. Sounds lofty but it’s not about us trying to figure out how to love people. It’s the Love of God that pours into us and out of us if we are empty of ourselves and our own ambition.
AM I DOING WHAT I DON’T WANT TO DO?
“Count yourself dead to sin and alive to God.” Romans 6:11. “If I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.” Romans 7:20. Wretched man! This is my real battle---it’s not with people, it’s the battle of my old nature. Who will rescue me? Thanks be to God! He did. He is. He will. Romans 7:24-25. “You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you.” Romans 8:9
WHAT AM I BELIEVING ABOUT MY SITUATION---AGAINST ALL HOPE?
The powerful book of Romans was written by a very mature Paul centuries ago for me and for you this day. We learned from James last week in our readings that we need to "receive the Word" and not just listen but take it to heart just like Abraham who was 100 with a wife with a dead womb. Do things look dead in our own lives? Dead promises? Dead relationships? Dead marriages? Dead worship? May we follow in the footsteps of Abraham who was backed into a corner against all hope. May we believe the God Who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were. Romans 4. Against all hope, may you find Him in your need this present moment.
Posted by Bev Brandon @ The Fray at 8:52 PM
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
I got this award from sweet Jenny Hope and I can't possibly remember how to link her up here. Nor can I imagine answering 50 questions with one word, so I'll pick and choose as I am supposed to answer to pick up this award. I'll give you about 10 answers just cause I love my real life friend Jenny Hope! No pretend friend anymore---she's a real one and a keeper. Her blog is: http://jennyhope-jennyhope.blogspot.com/
1. Where's the cell phone?---no clue. Two words, what a start.
7. Dream last night? forgotten somewhere. Two words again.
8. My goal? Isaiah 30:15
11. Your fears? being alone
12. Where do want to be in 6 years? more in love with my beautiful God...more alive!
14. What you are not? not bound up like I've been 2 Chron 32:22 not watching my own back
for God is taking care of me on every side and it's happening...a little more solid
15. Wish list item? I-Touch...there I said it.
16. Where I grew up? New Orleans
17. Last thing you just did? Bible study on Corinthians...2 cor 7:10 - real repentance leads to changed lives
22. My mood? Full of hope this day to live a quiet life of rest and trust and let Him pour out, not me being an overcomer but all about Him pouring out Romans 5:5
30. Last time you laughed? Brooke is here from Thailand and so makes me laugh real deep. But my last laugh was with my 17-year-old as he went on a field trip to hear Robert Schuller at a business conference with his school this a.m. and I TRIED to encourage him to remember whose he was (in other words, obey in public, even at 17, as he really tends to enjoy life). His response? He started singing "I'm in the Lord's Army, yes sir." Pretty funny to this mom.
31. Last time you cried? About 5 minutes ago when I was reading Romans and realized that that book of the Bible has sparked many revivals throughout history. Where are we? Start right here in my heart, o God, that I may find HIM in the midst of all we are going through not to get rid of the pain but to connect with my beautiful LORD.
So Jenny Hope told me I needed to pass the torch of questions on to you...so go to her blog to see the list of all the questions. Anyone who reads this blog can take this award and blog on. Just send me an e-mail when you post your 50 questions (I think Jenny quit at 31) cause I'd love to come read your answers and get to know you better. Lots of Love and let me know if any of you are going to Converge. I'll be there! Would love to hug your neck! Bev
PS - I am in desperate need of blog makeover help on a budget. Does anyone know where I can find a Christmas header or new template for free? E-mail me.
Posted by Bev Brandon @ The Fray at 10:54 AM