Eyebrows Make A Man…

the crazy naked littles

Okay, we have had a lot of laughs on this particular blog site about eyebrows.  I, alone, am a living, walking, talking, breathing eyebrow failure of a woman.  BUT TODAY…today it was all about a lesson my son was teaching my youngest daughter.  And, I am willing to bet, it’s a lesson that YOU, AS WELL, didn’t even know 😉

Maxwell (age 4), sitting at our lovely farmhouse renovated table, messy hair, and slightly hoarse morning voice, eating the “talking” cereal with his little sister, GoGo Bean (aka Josephine Diane), looked excitedly at her and proclaimed, “JOSEPHINE!!!!!  You’re growing EYEBROWS!  Soon you’re going to turn into a MAN!”

And as excited as he was for Josephine to turn into a man, this newfound knowledge did not sit as well with his 3-year-old sister who then proceed to cry, “I DON’T WANT EYEBROWS!”

Entertainment abounds, my friends…

Even in the art of eyebrows!

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Leftovers

hosea scripture

(Photo Source)

There is very little in life that is as comforting as leftovers.  Like, seriously, leftovers…

Leftover dessert.

Leftover dinner.

Leftovers.

Many of you already disagree with this statement.

Piping hot!  Fresh out of the oven for you.

But, the thing is, with many dishes, the longer the food remains — the more the flavors are absorbed.

The better the food is.

Today I ate leftovers for lunch.

Indian food from Valentine’s Day.

Amazing—delicious—mouth watering leftovers.

Perhaps you feel like a leftover in life.

Like you are tomorrow’s lunch or dinner.

That you are no longer piping hot—or as fresh and delicious as yesterday’s meal.

But I am here to tell you something…

You are perfectly seasoned for today!

So, no matter where you are or what your life looks like, I pray that you don’t feel like a leftover but a LEFTOVER!

Wahoo!

God bless,

b

Minion Mom Wednesday: Unprecedented Access to the Far Reaches of Space!

 

monicaandfamily

25 years ago, NASA launched the Hubble Telescope in an effort to better understand the cosmos in its current and past states. The images sent back to earth are breathtaking and have given scientists and the world unprecedented access to the far reaches of space and a new understanding of the heavens. No other generation in human history has ever witnessed what we’ve been privileged to see: star nurseries, new planets, never before seen galaxies (really, really far away), and the incredible “pillars of creation.”

All of this is new to us, of course, but all of these “discoveries” were in existence long before humans ever dreamed of the concepts of space travel or HD imaging. Isn’t it incredible to think that all that extreme beauty and complex creation existed for all that time solely for the purpose of God’s glory? Before an audience of One, the heavens twisted and turned, spun and exploded in a symphony of light and vibrant color, simply to declare the majesty of the Creator.

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Psalm 19:1

I can’t help but wonder what else God has for us that we haven’t yet discovered. Our God is an awesome and wonderful God in the truest sense of those words. The breadth and depth of His creation will never be fully explored or comprehended but isn’t it amazing that he lets us in on just a little of it? Little by little he gives us the wisdom and knowledge to see just an inkling of what he has done and who he is.

What is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? Psalm 8:4

What about things a little closer to this planet? What might God have for your life that is yet undiscovered? Looking back we often see how God orchestrated things in our life for our good and his glory, but how often do we think about what might lie ahead. What spectacular things might be in store for you that, at this point, you can only dream about or imagine? I love that the infinitely creative and inventive God who manifested the intricacies of the universe, designed me and has equally spectacular things for my life just waiting to be discovered. Little by little he gives us the passion and the desire to be who he created us to be, and the power of the Holy Spirit to proclaim, just like the heavens the unimaginable glory of God.

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. Ephesians 3:21-22

The Return of GoGo Baby and her Momma…

Last year I shared a photo when my husband returned after a month of travels to Africa. It was of my daughter and son—and my son simply laid his head on my husband’s lap, in awe of his daddy and his closeness and presence.

Sometimes as the mom, since we are typically the “No” parent, we wonder how our presence is felt when we are not there or what our homecoming would be like.

After all, Daddy is always “So Much Fun!” and the “Tickle Fight King!” And the list goes on…

Me, as Mommy—Well, I am the do your homework, clean your room, brush your teeth—EXCUSE ME?! lady.

Yet. Just yet…They must have missed me quite a bit these past two weeks when I went to America to help my mommy out (she broke her shoulder and had emergency surgery) because I got a glorious homecoming from the one that made me a momma and the other that fought with his entire being to live (and live he did thanks to the Grace of God and your prayers around the world)…

And Daddy got his baby back. His final baby. She was tired and in shock. And just as cuddly as could be. She is her daddy’s girl—although in the photo, you may wonder 😉 Chalk it up to jet travels. The two days we have been home since, she has trailed after him in the home continually shouting, “Dadda! Dadda! Dadda!” and then just stares and smiles at him until he responds.

All in all, my journey finally brought me home to my babies and my Richie…And Josephine and I couldn’t be happier. Because together, as 5, we are complete.

Xo for now from here to there. My next cultural blog post will be…
Europe! It makes it easy for you to get fat.

So stay tuned. In the meantime, enjoy our glorious reunion…

b

waitingwhen is momma going to come?

Waiting for Momma…

daddy's baby is back!gogo baby has arrived

But GoGo Baby came first!

mommy's home!

After I gathered all the luggage, I finally arrived.

And I was in heaven with my hugs and cuddles.

i get them both!complete!

Rich and I still have yet to take a photo.  It’s probably because we are now in survival mode with jet lag taking over the warped bodies and minds of Brooke and Josephine.  But we get to go to Kalisz on Thursday for the celebration dinner from our Christmas in the Square (raising money for children with cancer) event.  Perhaps then we’ll snap a childless shot together.  And, maybe-just maybe, I won’t fall asleep at the event.  We will have to wait and see.

Ciao for now (or Pa in Polish).

As always.  We love you…

B and R

Well, don’t just look at your presents under the tree. Open them!

giftreceived

A gift becomes a gift once it is given.

The thing, however, about gifts is that they are given with the hopes that they will then be received.

And, usually, a gift is given in brightly colored wrapping or placed gently and beautifully in a bag.

They are pretty. And enticing. And exciting.

Gifts. They usually are calling our name! We can’t hardly WAIT until that moment when we can take that beautiful wrapping and tear it apart! Or, if you are a wrapping paper saver, slowly and carefully start removing the tape and gently folding back the paper.

Or take that bag and peek inside, throwing tissue paper up haphazardly in the air so that you can get to the point where you can pull out the present. REVEALING the gift.

But that’s the thing…

Action has to be taken to get to the heart of the present.  And that action is:  You must receive the gift (accept it) and then open it.  I don’t know anyone that keeps their Christmas presents under the tree all year long, just looking at them in their wrapping and saying, “My, what beautiful boxes under the tree.”

Heavens no!  Christmas morn or the eve before, when it comes time, your family probably sits down together and you pass the gifts around, and you open them.  And you proclaim how great the gifts are and how happy you are to receive them!

That’s how presents are done.

And that’s exactly what Jesus is.  A beautiful gift.

But he was never meant to only be given and placed under the tree, just to sit there and wait.

He was meant to be given and received.  Unwrapped and accepted.

And then proclaimed…

“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.”  Luke 2:11 (KJV)

For you this is what I pray.

That you accept this beautiful gift of Jesus.  The perfect Christmas present.  And share this good news of great joy!

Wesołych świąt i szczęśliwego nowego roku!  

May your Christmas be filled with love and laughter and may God guide and protect you into the new year!

 

When you believe in Santa, how do you pray?

DSC_0047

We love Jolly Old Saint Nick, otherwise known as Swieta Mikolaj here in Poland.

We love his red suit, his white beard, his jiggly belly, and his bright smile.

We love the twinkle in his eyes.

And did you know he actually sent us a couple of those elves while we were living in Arizona? Yep! Charleston and Swenson. Oh, they are clever little elves up to lots of good fun.

Today I found them in our Marks and Spencer bag EATING our salt and vinegar chips!

Don’t they know that is a HUGE NO-NO! After all, Poznan is an hour away from where we live. We only get to Marks and Spencer every month or so…And even our two-year-old, Maxwell, LOVES those chips.

Pesky, fun-loving, excitement for the next magical place they will appear, ELVES! I do have a feeling, since our home is heated by coal, that they will wind up in the furnace room—in a pile of coal—before long!

I wonder if this will scare Adelyne, our 8-year-old? Perhaps she’ll think she’s getting put on the naughty list. Sometimes she actually is…but aren’t we all?!

Our son, Maxwell. He’s not sure what to think of our elves. The elves received Oreos the morning St. Nick came and brought goodies for the shoes. And one elf had an Oreo out and was eating it when we must have surprised them. And so his Oreo dropped on the ground.

All Maxwell, the 2-year-old, saw was a perfectly good Oreo lying on the ground. OHHHHHHH! What torture.

He kept trying to grab the cookie. I told him, “No, Maxwell, that cookie does not belong to you.”

It was hilarious. He laid down on the floor with his hand stretched out to the cookie, his fingers merely wisps away from it and just cried, “Cookie! My cookie!” (See above picture for accurate depiction of this story)

Of course, his age has a LOT to do with pretty much everything right now.  But it was a FANTASTIC lesson in “We don’t take what does not belong to us, even if the magical elves will not finish eating it later.”

I must say, (pat-pat-pat on my back) he did not take the cookie.  He practiced self-control.  And that is a HUGE deal, if you have a 2-year-old.  So, these magical elves also help us teach lessons.  Lessons like:  listening to your mom; and practicing self-control.   Well done, C and S (Charleston and Swenson).

And, as much as my daughter (Adelyne the 8-yr-old), LOVES the elves.  She does freak out sometimes.  Like the other day she was downstairs alone, Christmas music was playing, when she heard, in a high-pitched voice, “MERRY CHRISTMAS!”

Sure enough, at the speed of lightning that we don’t often get to see her travel in, she was up those stairs, in our laps, crying, “Mom!  Did you hear that?  Do you think the elves spoke?  I heard, ‘Merry Christmas!’ in a high and squeaky voice!”

Her dad and I hugged her and said, “Wow!  How exciting!  You heard them speak.  What fun!”

It did little to curb her excitement, and then she refused to go back downstairs and finish her homework.  Perhaps you aren’t laughing—but we were.

The minds of children really are delicate balances of excitement and wonder with the never-ending tier of, whether it is based upon sense or not, “Protect me, please!”

But, before you get worked into a lather, she wrote her elves notes later that night, yes, they write her notes back, and asked if she heard them speak.  They responded, “YES!”  And she was so excited.

So, even in the midst of uncertainty, the child-like joy of the magical remains.  And that is WHY I love living these phases of life with my children.

BUT…

And this is the big BUT.  How do we pray in our home when we so obviously are also in love with the big, red suit and the joys of the magical parts of the Christmas Season?

It’s simple.   Christmas is a glorious season of giving.  And receiving.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with either and something beautiful about both.

Why it’s better to give than receive!  You may say.

Why, yes, the Bible is very clear about that, Acts 20:35,  I respond.  But let us take a moment to look at both!

And that is why I am writing this post.

The GREATEST gift that was ever given to us came as a small child, in a miraculous way, over 2,000 years ago.  You probably have heard the song, “Away in a Manger”.  Well, perhaps I should have said, “In a miraculous way in a manger…”

Anyhow.  We did not deserve this precious gift.  Yet this gift was given.  To me.  The BIGGEST sinner of all.  Really.  You should see me wife-it and parent-it and live-it.  I am a big ol’ failure each and every day.

“Oh, but Brooke, we do see you—you put it on your blog.”

Oh, that’s right.  So you know.

And I will never fail in proclaiming how hard this thing called life is and how grateful I am for the gift of forgiveness and grace.  So grateful.

Therefore, this miraculous gift that was given to us as a baby, so very long ago, remains the GREATEST focus of our home.

How do we do that and love Santa?

It’s easy.  Every night when we pray, we thank the Lord for what he has provided in our lives.  And, just so you know, provisions do not merely mean monetary things.  We are thankful for health and family.  We are thankful for our precious international church and our best friends.  We are thankful for our baby that was taken in pregnancy to heaven (and, yes, we thank God every day for this baby with our children).

And we also thank him for the home he has provided, and our dogs (especially when they foil the plans of robbers).

We thank him for our daughter’s school, and our son’s medicine (our son is a life-survivor).

Josephine!  She’s our last surprise miracle.  We thank God for her chubby goodness.

And we thank God for our marriage (even though the kids are unaware of the depths that have gone into fighting for it).

We thank God each day for so many beautiful things that he has placed in our lives===the men at the New Life Center and the people that give so that these homeless men and former prisons can have new starts to life…

Our lists are long.  We are unendingly (is that a word) THANKFUL!

And, now that the Christmas season is upon us and everywhere you walk you see the Jolly Red Suit, we continue to make an extra effort to remind our children that as much as we love Santa, we love Jesus more.

This is how we end our prayers, “And, Lord, thank you so much for this season of the GREATEST gift of all…your son!  Your son that you gave to us so humbly.  The angels rejoiced and so do we.  Thank you for the gift of Jesus and the life that he lived and the sacrifice he made at the cross and the victory that took place when he conquered death.   It’s because of this gift of Jesus that we know you in such a personal way.”

And two out of 3 say, “Amen!”

But, to be fair, the third is only 10-months-old, so she pretty much only says, “Dadda and Ada” right now.

When they drift into their child-like slumbers, what do they dream?  Well, that is a question for the next morning.  Tucking them in, kissing their faces, and hugging them tight, however, we send them to bed with the reminder of the greatest gift.  And this is the last thing on their hearts before we close the doors, whispering, “Good night!  We love you more than life.”

That’s it.  My friends.

That’s why it is not hard for us to love Santa and yet remain focused on Jesus in our home.  Because, in the end, he’s what matters most.

And, if you think about it, he was a gift.  So, in a way, receiving is also blessed, too.

How about you?  How do you love Santa and keep your family’s focus on Jesus?

***

Here are some other blogs related to Christmas that I have written in the past:

The Christmas Mullet…what a shame!  http://wp.me/p3Bh9m-30

It shares about some of the Polish traditions to Christmas and the very unfortunate incident of my daughter’s personal hair cut.  Which means she personally cut her own hair.  At Christmastime.  Oh, and there is a carp in our bathtub!  Enjoy.

Jesus Good.  Santa Bad? http://wp.me/p3Bh9m-OO

A blog written that questions “Is Santa Bad?”  My look on it in my life.  Enjoy!

AND…Click on any of the above highlighted words in the article to go to a different article regarding the highlighted topic.  Enjoy!

xo always,

b and my crazy gang

Failure to Live Faith Results in Failure to Teach Faith

brooke

I have been the VERY unfortunate teacher of Genesis of recent.

Boy! What a way to start an article, eh?!

Very. Unfortunate. Teacher. Of the Bible.

I sound like an extremely swell Christian, don’t I?

But let me elaborate, and I hope that you will join me for this article and journey.

You see, we have been following the reading encouragement of Good Morning Girls to read through the Bible with a group of ladies.

And we have had an AWESOME semester to date.  The books have been fantastic, the conversations unbelievable, the ladies (from all over the world in our study:  Poland, United States, Russia, Turkmenistan, India to name a few) have been purely lovely, and the topics OOOOH Boy!  Tough.

But real women like TOUGH.  Right?

Well, when it comes to reading the Bible, I say, “Eat nails.”

I believe the common expression is, “Eat your Wheaties!”

Or, in general, just prepare for the difficult.  No wimpy women, please 😉  Okay, wimpy women still welcome.

We started by reading Esther.  Then we read 1 and 2nd Peter, 1-3 John, Jude, Psalm 1 and 2, and now we have been reading through Genesis.

But, you see, we did not start with an easy book.  I mean, really?  Is Esther really a lovely story about a young girl becoming a queen?

I don’t personally think so.  I mean a queen was banished from her marriage and position because of her failure to satisfy the instruction of her husband.

And then women from all over the dynasty were chosen to come and present themselves to the king where he would get to decide upon a new queen.  And Esther was chosen to be one of the potential suitors but was instructed to NOT share her heritage.

And then there was a plot to kill a king but his life was spared; later an entire race for failure to honor one man in authority; a woman that did not want pretty much any job given to her; then boldness accompanied by a change of heart—despite if she should die; later a hanging;  and then the opportunity for the people scheduled to be slaughtered the right to defend themselves and their properties.

I mean.  Esther.  Did she really want to be queen?  Did she have a choice?  What fate did become of her later when one of Xerxes sons took over the throne?

And, yet, the conclusion is just as Esther states, (I’m paraphrasing), “Perhaps she was chosen and put in her position for ‘Such a time as this.'”

And currently, in Genesis, it has not gotten any easier.

Our conversations are honest and blunt.  And we question the people in the Bible and the scriptures we have read.

And there is one question we find ourselves asking over and over again after watching these people fail big time.  Not once.  But once more.  And then yet again.

We wonder—how can God use these people?  They are okay.  Pretty normal.  Not that courageous or strong.  Not too convicted at times or quick to make decisions that were not okay at others.

And why, sometimes, were such harsh punishments bestowed upon some?

And how could Abraham be considered a great man of faith?  Not just once but twice he claimed that his wife was his sister so that his life would be spared?  Wouldn’t it be better for him to defend his wife with his very life?

Oh, my, my friends.  I haven’t even begin to touch all of the scripture we have covered.

Sodom and Gomorrah?

Lot.

His daughters.

Tragic tragedy after tragic tragedy.

And we are not shying away from any scripture.  Not any verse.  Not any choice, decision, or consequence of action.

Lives altered.  Years numbered.  Families made.  Families destroyed.  Children had.  Children abandoned.

Where am I going with this?

This past week as we finished reading through the story of Sodom and Gomorrah with Lot, his wife, his daughters, his sons-in-law, and the death of his wife, sons-in-law and then what took place after with his daughters, my stomach was sick and my heart heavy.

But let me first say, If you want to read a pretty story without gory details and blunt honesty, find a different book.  The Bible has never shied away from sharing the ugly truth along with the redeeming truth.

And, if you only look at it in parts, you will miss the beauty.

Which also came by way of ugly.  Death by brutal crucifixion.

But let me stop rambling and get to the title of this blog post: Failure to Live Faith Results in Failure to Teach Faith.

You see, story after story in the Bible shows men and women taking life upon their own shoulders. They choose to be angry or self-indulgent.  They choose to live loosely or make choices based on fear of their future.  And they choose to go about their lives in ways that separate themselves from God.

Sin will always separate us from God.

And, believe it or not, when we fail to live in faith we have opened up a whoop-bottom (I did want to write the other word for emphasis) can of trouble.

Because when we fail to live in faith we fail to teach faith.

And that, my friends, is the moral of my rambling…

So many times through the scriptures we have read so far, people have taken it upon their own shoulders and lives to make decisions EVEN if God has directed them in a different path.

As I continue to teach through the scriptures, not shying away from any, I had a HUGE heart check!

Am I faithful to teach my children that despite an overwhelming task set before me; despite fear of the future of the unknown; or despite feeling as if better is deserved—I must teach faith!

As a Christian that believes wholly in God the father and the gift of salvation through his son, Jesus Christ, I struggle daily.  I struggle daily with doing things my own way.

I struggle with fear.  Fear that what I believe needs to take place and how it may not come to fruition.

I struggle with trust.  Trusting that if I remain faithful to God’s instructions, His way will be done.

And perhaps that is also why I struggle.  Because what if God’s will is not my will?  What if I desire a different outcome in my finite mind than he has planned in all of his omnipresent knowledge?

What if????

All of these questions and doubt and fear are probably EXACTLY why the scriptures in the Bible share the blunt honesty of the stories of the men and women in them.

Because these people were not perfect.  They were not all full of “God is awesome and I will never sway in my faith of him!’

They were human.  Human and fearful.  Human and fearful and real.

And real is sometimes very ugly.

Ugly and not understood.

We can all shake our heads in understanding.  What we need to do, however, is STOP.

Stop living in fear.  Stop living in half-hearted faith.  Stop living as examples of “I’ll take care of this on my own!”

You may not know the future.  Heck, you may not even know your current present.  But what you do need to know is that God is here in your present.  And God is there—in your future.

And I believe one of the main reasons the scriptures are so clear to show the good with the bad and the ugly is so that we can see that God has always had a plan, but sometimes we like to try to change it—instead screwing it all up.

And the greatest lesson I have learned along this reading journey is this.  God’s way will be done.  But how we go about fulfilling it or accepting it is up to us.

Do I want to live in fear of the unknown and make choices along the way that God had wished I wouldn’t.  Teaching my children and those around me that faith is only okay when I don’t have fear?

Or do I want to live in faith.  Making difficult decisions along the way despite the unknown, my faith remains?

In faith, I am choosing the latter.  And, I hope through my life, my children learn to trust and have faith.  That my children learn to overcome fear.  That my children learn that God has, is, and will be there.

And we are to live according to His Will in our lives-even if we are unsure what that is.

Because that is what it means to have faith.  And this is what I hope to teach.

After all, as FDR once stated, “…the only thing we have to fear is…fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”

And when you choose fear over faith, you, too, are paralyzing your efforts needed to convert retreat AWAY from God’s will in your life to ADVANCE for what plans he has for you.

Today, my friends, that is what I pray for me.  For my husband.  For my children.  And for you.

God bless.