Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve 2010 "The Unfolding Grace of God"

Merry Christmas from Bethlehem. As I sit in the renowned town square of the Little Town of Bethlehem, I reflect back on this past year of challenges in Austin that we will long remember. 2010 ranks as one of those exigent years, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything because a very good God showed up. We found grace in our desert. Beautiful Wild Grace! We met a God Who was out looking for us in the desert – Jeremiah 31:2. We faced serious health issues, unexpected unemployment, and mounting financial pressures. 2 Cor 4:16-18 (The Message) reads my heart: “We aren’t giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without His Unfolding Grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the Lavish Celebration prepared for us.” “The Morning Star is visible when the darkness is deepest” - 66 Love Letters. There’s far more here than meets the eye. And it’s all because of the baby born in Bethlehem---a God Who has so invaded our lives and brought immense peace and rest in the midst of confusion and chaos.

It was a year of “letting go” of people and decades. Bob had the immense honor of marrying our oldest son, Barrett, to the lovely Lauren Bailey of San Mateo, California on a cold sun-kissed Sunday in Austin. We recovered slightly and then Bob married our youngest daughter, Blair, to the honorable Patrick Walsh of Atlanta, Georgia on a rainy but stunning Dallas day. A few weeks later, we sent our youngest, Britt, off to college at the University of Texas with much gratitude for a full ride. Brooke is at the other University of Texas in Arlington serving on their BSU staff. We have had children at home tugging on our skirts and hearts for the past three decades in a row. No more. Bob and I miss them so!

The real battle of this decade was not fighting for good health or landing in financial peace or finding the fulfilling ministry or job with benefits. No, the real battle is what is going on inside of me as I face life, face my loss. I jogged this morning along the Sea of Galilee thinking about the disciples frantic in the middle of a raging storm while Jesus slept through it. 2010 was a liminal place for me where God was speaking to my fears, even this very day, just as He awoke in the boat to speak to the disciples’ fears 2,000 years ago. I am on the 66 Love Letters Tour in Israel---an unbelievable gift from a dear friend. The message Larry spoke here was: “Groan inwardly. Wait eagerly. Romans 8:23. Demand nothing. And He will sustain you with joy based on hope. The degree to which I can love means my hope has nothing to do with how others treat me.”

Phil 3:12 says: We are all not yet what we long to be. We are waiting and watching with you, dear friends, in Hope for a very Good God to show up this Christmas and New Year – Lamentations 3:21-23.” God has been good to us to this very day and will keep on doing us good for all our days of 2011 - Jeremiah 32:40. I’m longing with you to love well this coming year. I long to finish well! I long for many to find the peace that only our God can give! My prayer for each of you in 2011 is found in Philippians 1:9-11 – We pray that your love will flourish and that you will not only love much but love well. May we see our lives from His perspective. “The unexamined life isn’t worth living.” Socrates

We are very grateful to have had the privilege of knowing you. We decided not to send out Christmas cards this year---for the first time in three decades. We did want you to know that God has used you in our lives to stir our faith. Because of the Baby born in Bethlehem, we are standing with you in the Wide Open Spaces of God’s Grace - Romans 5:2. May His Unfolding Grace be multiplied in you in 2011. There is so much more here than meets the eye. “The hopes and fears of all the years, oh come to us This Night!”

We’d love to see you in 2011. Merry Christmas & Happy New Year. Written by Bev for The Brandons
Bob, Bev, Barrett, Lauren, Brooke, Blair, Patrick, and Britt -
P.O. Box 90814, Austin TX 78709 * Bob’s Cell 512.541.5772 * Bev’s Cell 817.915.6769

Saturday, December 11, 2010

"Simply Irresistible"

My two boys are at the Heisman in New York, compliments of Wendy's.  Britt finished his first semester of college and they left Thursday.  It's weird not having children at home anymore after three decades.  Britt comes home on Monday from New York and I just cannot wait.  They are all coming next week for Christmas and the 8 of us will be together here in Austin for Christmas week.  My prayer is out of Phil 1:9-11 (The Message) that this Christmas we not only love much, but that we love well. 

We don't have extra money this Christmas to spend cause of just going through cancer. And I have to throw in that the latest health update couldn't be any better.  Cancer bills did deplete our savings and we had to go to creative means with being in job transitions as well.  God knew.  No surprise there.  God has so blessed us with earthly blessings unimaginable but they are "second things" as C. S. Lewis calls it.  It's the spiritual blessings, those "first things," that have me on my face before a very Good God this Christmas!

I write to say that a Beautiful God showed up for me in Bethlehem 2000 years ago and He was back there again last week.  God so took me by surprise in Israel.  HE so stirred up some things in my heart.  I've never been more attracted to the possibility of becoming a more meaningfully mature Christian.  More than ever!  I'm more spiritually ALIVE than ever!  Paschal wrote:  "The Gospel to me is simply irresistible."  It is.  More so than ever.  I wonder why?  Chalmers said:  "It's the expulsive power of a New Affection."

In 66 Love Letters, the author writes that the joy Christ offers grows in the soil of emptines and brokenness.  That's where I've been.  "In My Spirit's Hands, your felt emptiness will become a consuming thirst to know Christ.  Your agonizing brokenness over the ongoing corruption in your soul will transform into overwhelming gratitude for My Son's forgiveness.  It is empty and broken people, who at the same time are thirsty and grateful, who discover the power to live in ways they never thought possible."  That's it.  I couldn't put it in better words what God has been doing in my life these past couple of years.   Empty.  Broken.  But God is allowing me to wrestle with Him over the sin in my soul that is transforming me.  Overwhelmed in gratitude for His Forgiveness.

God is helping me to see what is clearly wrong in me more than what is wrong in those closest to me or what is wrong in the churches I am familiar with---no, it's what is wrong in me.  And He has been so gracious to help me experience the Power to face what's wrong in my own heart and discover His Power, Resurrection Power, to grasp how long and wide and deep and high is His LOVE for me.  Eph 3:17-19.  I have a long way to go.  And it's His Kindness that is leading me to repent. Romans 2:4.  I love Him so!  He is deeply encouraging me, way down deep, in the midst of some unsettling circumstances.

Praying for Our Friend Joanne Psalm 131:3 Waiting on God. Hope Now. Hope Always.

House of Blessing Tribal Childrens Home

House of Blessing Tribal Childrens Home
"Whoever welcomes a little child in My Name, welcomes Me." Matthew 18:5 We have posted pictures of the orphans receiving their gifts from you. Scroll down to the post entitled "Today Was the Big Day." Many orphans didn't own anything of their own, but now do, because of you.

My Family

My Family
Britt, Blair, Bev, Bob, Brooke, Barrett


I've met some amazing women through blogging. I would love to hear from you. My personal e-mail is:
I have another blog where I blog daily as a small group of us read through the New Testament this year. It's called A String of Pearls. We carry each other on mats (when we just can't walk anymore) to Jesus and sweet things like that.


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