A few of you probably know that I used to have a blog. A blog that I posted on quite frequently. A blog that had a readership, not a large one, but people who followed and commented and got antsy when I went too long between posts. Some of them were locals who knew me, some were cyber “friends” and then of course, there were family members who could keep up with our particular brand of crazy from a safe distance. My blog wasn't cutting-edge or political or controversial; it was just about life and marriage and kids – my take on it all. I enjoyed writing, and it was always fun when someone liked a story or when they could relate to what you'd said. It was also a way to process things that happened, like when our house was struck by lightning, or a way to slow down and document the seemingly insignificant things, which are all too easily forgotten in the midst of our busy lives. And let’s be honest – sometimes writing was cheaper than therapy, like when the littles found and then dumped a brand-new container of baby powder all over their sister’s room … once the cloud cleared, we discovered from their toddler gibberish and gyrations on the floor that they were making “snow angels.” Oy. If I recall, my eye ceased twitching after about the third day, but the powdery, fresh smell lingered on.
I shared all that to say that somewhere along the way I think I lost my voice. Not in the literal sense, as in I needed warm tea with honey and lemon because I couldn't speak, but my voice – the expressive part of me that shared life’s experiences through words. It just slipped away. But it didn't happen all at once; it was gradual, by degrees. And the longer I was silent, the easier it was not to speak. It’s not that I didn't have anything to say. Something funny/interesting/noteworthy would happen, and I’d think – THAT is blog worthy, but when I’d sit down to write, the words wouldn't come. And if they did I would edit myself back down to a blank screen, rendering myself mute. During this time, even though I was not posting and only wrote occasionally (normally when a deadline that I couldn't escape loomed over me) I would tell myself how no one was really affected by my silence. Life went on, as it is prone to do, but there was an uneasiness, a discontent, that seemed to hover.
The little boys took swimming lessons last month, and as it turns out, I learned something too. On day one, he taught them to “Superman” by putting their face in the water, streamlining their arms and using only their legs to propel them. Next he taught them to reach and pull with their arms, in addition to kicking their legs, to freestyle. Then he taught them to float. To lie on their backs, relaxed, and just float. They were pretty proud of themselves and couldn't wait to go back. On day two, he had them jumping off the blocks into the deep end (9 feet) and swimming about one fourth the length of the pool to a “noodle” that he held out for them to grab. Over and over they jumped and swam, while he increased the distance to the noodle slightly each time until they were swimming almost half the length. But the next time they jumped, he said, “This time, don’t swim. I want you to tread water.” He got in the pool with them and showed them how to move their arms and legs just enough to keep their head above water. The next few minutes were spent jumping in, treading water, then swimming to the ladder and climbing out. At the end of the lesson, he sat beside them on the edge of the deep end of the pool and told them, “Today I taught you to tread water because it can save your life if you fall into a body of water.” One of the boys told him, “That made me feel tired!” But it was what the coach said next that struck me: “That’s right. You can only tread water for a short time before you become too tired and begin to sink. But that’s why I taught you to float. When you get too tired, just relax and breathe and float until you can tread water again or swim to safety.” Upon hearing his words, I quietly closed my book, and felt the sting of tears begin to well up because I realized that’s exactly what I had been doing – not treading water, but treading life. Treading through the day to day, through relationships, through loads of laundry and sinks of dishes, through parenting challenges, through responsibilities and expectations, through surgeries and life changes, through feelings of guilt and inadequacy, through preparing for a child to leave the nest … and the list goes on. Treading life. And it’s exhausting. That feeling of inertia, feeling stuck, because you know you should be moving forward but you aren't, either because you can’t, or because you don't know how? Painful.
But God never intended for us to live life like that, struggling to keep our head above water. I love how The Message reads in Matthew 11:28-30:
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
And because God is full of grace and mercy for His children and uses the people in our lives to bless us, one of my very best friends, Stefaney, invited me to do a summer Bible study with her. You’ll never in a bazillion years guess the title!!!
“STUCK: the places we get stuck and the God who sets us free.” I know!!! I’m sitting here in tears all over again thinking about how much God loves us and wants to free us, for our own good but ultimately for His glory! And I’m speechless … but this time in a good way. :)
So I promised when I introduced myself to you in my “meet the blogger” post that we’d be keeping it real here. I’m not sure you were ready for all this real-ness, but here it is. And while I am trying to once again find my voice, and to stop treading, please don't be offended if I ask for some warm tea with honey and lemon or for you to throw me a noodle occasionally. This life thing is hard, but God is good.
Keep it real,
Hi, I’m Bronie ... not brownie or brawny, but trust me when I say, I have heard many entertaining attempts at pronouncing my unusual first name. It’s really pretty simple, like Bonnie with an “r” or Ronnie with a “B”, but I’ll break it down for you –– it’s pronounced [BRA knee], and heaven forbid those two things ever meet! :)
I was born and raised in Nashville, Tennessee, the youngest of three kids in a single-parent household. Though I don’t think I have a particularly strong Southern accent, the inherent twang doth eek out occasionally, especially when I sing. And after I’ve been home for a visit. But mostly in my writin’ ... I often drop the “g” off the ends of words when I tell a story because that’s how I hear it in my head. I’m weird like that.
I was raised in church and came to Jesus as a six year old girl, and although I point to that experience as the beginning of my faith journey, it was not until my young adult years that I feel like I really took responsibility for my journey with Christ. I began a relationship with Him with a child’s understanding, which is all that’s required, but as I grew up, a little life experience taught me more about what I’d been saved from. That’s the part that is sometimes lost on a child. Salvation is instant when we ask, but surrender is a process –– letting Him have control on a daily basis.
As a kid I loved singing, playing piano, drawing, painting, playing tennis, writing poetry, and all things artsy-crafty, which I’m pretty sure can be attributed to a long line of DNA. I remember on many occasions (read: every time our family got together for holidays), we were craftin’ it up making dough ornaments, weaving baskets, decorating straw hats that were meant to hang on the wall (the 80’s, anyone?) ... but on one unlucky occasion I recall having to perch one atop my noggin on a long trip home from Myrtle Beach because the car was slap full of cousins and a plethora of hand-crafted masterpieces made during our visit. Good times.
I’m married to the most patient man and have been for almost 21 years. He truly is the better half of this union. He is kinder, more compassionate, way more organized than I am, and he still makes me laugh on a daily basis, though sometimes unintentionally. We have four awesome kids who are 18, 15, 8 and 6. The older kids, Ryan and Emily, were born in Tennessee and currently attend public school, and the littles, Wyatt and Elijah, are our Louisiana “baybays” and are still homeschooled. Jay made me two promises when we got married: 1) that we’d never have much money, and 2) that life would never be boring. My man’s a promisekeeper!
I have been a part of Total Woman U Faculty for the last several years and currently serve as Co-Executive Director, Director of Performing Arts and Editor-in-Chief. Okay, that last bit is unofficial, but a role I have inherited because my friends call me “Word Girl” (“Grammar Nazi” behind my back). I admit it. I love words ... reading, writing, doing word searches and playing word games in my spare time, and let’s not forget talking. My love of words carries with it an aversion to incorrect grammar and all things misspelled. I correct things, sometimes only in my head. This is what has earned me editor responsibilities. See? God can use even our quirks for the good if we’ll let Him.
Just so you know, I have been called on more than one occasion and in a variety of ways, “not very pastor’s wife-y” which just makes me giggle. “You’re just so ... *I wait while they struggle for the word they’re looking for* ... REAL.” Well, here’s the thing. I AM real. (And I really hope they meant it in a good way because that’s how I chose to take it.) I’m not big on pretense and prefer authenticity, even with its flaws. And flaws? Oh, I got ‘em. And if you’re honest, so do you. Everyone has challenges, things they deal with or struggles they face. For example, I live with RA (Rheumatoid Arthritis) and have since I was a young adult. It’s not my identity, but it is part of my story. And it has stolen some abilities like opening pickle jars, playing the piano, and all prospects of making a living as a hand model. :) I am, however, profoundly thankful to our kind God that He still allows me the awesome privilege of leading in worship. All glory to Him! We were asked at our last TWU Faculty retreat to write a personal purpose statement, and while mine is still under construction, it goes something like this:
God has granted me the ability to find humor in the hard things and has lovingly showed me that brokenness does not equal uselessness; He does not waste our struggles and can use them to encourage others in theirs ...
And that’s my hope –– to be an encouragement to people. Life is hard, but God is good! If you decide to journey with us, you’ll hear real stories from real people striving to live their best life in obedience to a real God! And we just might share some laughs along the way!
Keep it real,
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