Saturday, January 31, 2015

November / December 2014

Over the course of my almost two years of writing here on this little blog, I have tried to summarize/document each month's most special moments. Most times my memories come in the form of photographs....this time, they come more in words.

This past Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons were so many moments wrapped up into one common focus - these two.

These boys have been charged to Josh and I - we will not have them long. Lord willing, we will have them under our care until they reach into a full and healthy adulthood, but ultimately they are close and under our wing for a finite time.

This past November and December we enjoyed lots of good food, family, and presents. We talked about and celebrated the goodness of the Lord in our lives - even though we were met with weeks of sickness and well intended plans broken due to circumstance.

There is so much we want them to know about this good and faithful God, especially when life doesn't look the way we planned.....that the beauty found in the lights and sparkle of the season don't even scratch the surface of the beauty of His love for us.

I can't believe it is already the last day of January 2015. I don't think I will ever get used to how slow and fast time seems to pass all at the same time.

Thanks for reading.

- brook.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

The Diagnosis - Mary Heart / Martha World [Week 3]

When I read the list on pg. 33 'Ten Signs of a Big Worrier', I found myself to be 8 of the 10 :)

I. Am. A. Worrier.

I go through seasons of life when I worry more than others, but worry comes easily to me. I usually find something to worry about on a daily basis.

This chapter is such an encouragement to this worrying mama.

I love the illustration Joanna writes comparing worry to a thick fog.....

While physical fog may seem dense and almost solid, scientist tell us that a fog bank a hundred feet deep and covering seven city blocks is composed of less than one glass of water. Divided into billions of droplets, it hasn't much substance. Yet it has the power to bring an entire city to a standstill. [pg. 35-36]

This picture exposes the truth about worry. It is made of so little, yet yields the power to consume and paralyze us.

Later she gets to the root of this issue on worry when she includes a quote from Gary E. Gilley.

Worry is allowing problems and distress to come between us and the heart of God. It is the view that God has somehow lost control of the situation and we cannot trust Him. A legitimate concern presses us closer to God and causes us to lean and trust on Him all the more. [pg. 38]

I may tell myself the need for worry is great because of the importance of the issue at hand. But, I could not list for you 99.9% of the things I worried about over my lifetime.

The truth is I fear a potential future event because I have stopped trusting God.

The problem is not the one in one million things that may or may not possibly happen. The problem is that when I worry, I have stopped trusting God.

I find this comforting, because I have felt so helpless to my incessant worry. How could I be anything but helpless in situations where I am battling in my mind over 'potentials' and 'what if's'.......reviewing over and over conversations that will probably never happen the way I envision them.

God's Word speaks directly and specifically about this problem of worry.

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your request be made known to God.
And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4: 6-7 

As Joanna writes on page 40, the steps to combat worry have been laid out for us in scripture.

Be anxious about nothing.  Be prayerful about everything. Be thankful for all things.

I am thankful for what it says in verse 7. With these three things, we receive the Lord's peace that not only defies our logic but also guards our hearts and minds!

That is what I need, a guard for my heart and my mind.

So this week, we are challenged.......

Will we pray? Will we be worried? We really can't do both. [pg. 42]

Let's talk about it.....

If you feel led, please comment below about all or just one of these items. We will focus on this chapter all week, so please jump in any day you find time. Also, please feel free to respond to others who have commented, let us encourage each other.

1. The third step to gaining victory over worry is to 'be thankful for all things'. What is something you will remind yourself you are thankful of this week?

2. Page 47 includes 'Top Ten Ways to Tame Your Worry Habit'. Which of these do you find most helpful? Is there one you will try this week?

3. What spoke most to you from this chapter?

I look forward to hearing form you :)

- brook.

* All quotes mentioned above are noted by page number and are taken from 'Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World' by Joanna Weaver.

** Find out more about Joanna's ministry and how to purchase her books here.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

"Lord, Don't You Care?" - Mary Heart / Martha World [Week 2]

There should not be any limits to what I can do.
I am the only person available to help.
I must never make a mistake. [pg. 15]

These are lies I have told myself for as long as I can remember. Forget family, career, and marriage - I am the one who puts the most pressure on myself.

Because of that friendships, family, relationships and my spiritual life have suffered. My striving has been a dominant struggle throughout my life, even before I became a Christian.

At some point in every season of my life I have asked "Lord, Don't You Care?". Whether my time is spent in majority at my home (as is the current season) or fully on developing my career and working in the workplace (as it was for a decade), I have found times of experiencing 'loneliness' where my heart has spent far too much time comparing and very little time seeking the Lord.

Joanna wrote in Chapter 1 that 'busyness breeds distraction'. She furthers this thought here in chapter two with the 3D's: Distraction, Discouragement, and Doubt.

I loved how she writes specifically to each of these three words. It has been a lesson to me on how my frazzled state all began and how the cycle can continue daily if I do not pay close attention.

My busyness distracts me from the cross. Without my eyes there, I am primed and ready to be derailed by discouragement and self pity. I then doubt the Lord's love for me and in turn doubt my purpose, my decisions and my direction. The 3 D's build upon each other to a final result of unbelief.

Even on those days when I have the best of motives, my heart can be pulled away from doing things "as unto the Lord" and settle for simply getting things done. [pg.18]

"Simply getting things done"....that isn't a life lived victoriously. I want every one of my days, even the mundane ones to be lived fully. Don't you?

Joanna continues to speak so directly to my heart when she writes.....

When we no longer believe in God's goodness, when we no longer trust in his care, we end up running away from the very Love we need to live. [pg. 26]

I don't want to doubt God's goodness. I want to see my life as the redeemed story it is. I want to trust Him to finish the work He has started.

This chapter has taught me my 'busyness' blocks me from experiencing all of these things I so desire - life to the full, with a hope and a future - and instead leaves me a weary, easily offended, a closed off shell of who I am meant to be.

How many of my troubles have lingered because I have focused my gaze downward in frustration rather than looking up to see His presence in my story?

Joanna ends this chapter with so much encouragement and hope.

He longs to reveal his love to you. But you won't find it shaking your fist in his face. You won't find it by barging into his presence and demanding to be treated fairly. You'll find it by sitting at his feet and remembering who he is. [pg. 29]

Let's talk about it.....

If you feel led, please comment below about all or just one of these items. We will focus on this chapter all week, so please jump in any day you find time. Also, please feel free to respond to others who have commented, let us encourage each other.

1. Which of the 5 Strategies for Fighting Discouragement on page 21 do you think might be most helpful for you?

2. Study Question #6 highlights Psalm 103. Which of the many truths about God's love mentioned in this Psalm do you find most prevalent in your walk?

3. What spoke most to you from this chapter?

I look forward to hearing form you :)

- brook.

* All quotes mentioned above are noted by page number and are taken from 'Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World' by Joanna Weaver.

** Find out more about Joanna's ministry and how to purchase her books here.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

The Tale of Two Sisters - Mary Heart / Martha World [Week 1]

Nurturing your spiritual life seems like one more duty - one more thing to add to a life that is spilling over with responsibilities. [pg. 2]

Wow! If she didn't take that thought straight from my heart!

I know having a daily quiet time is important. I even crave time to sit and receive from the Lord, but still - it is difficult for me to fit it into everything else in my day.

On the surface, I am a 'Martha'.

"Where's Mary? Has anyone seen Mary?" she asks a servant scurrying by. If Mary changed the sheets, Martha might have time to fashion an ark from the cheese and carve the fruit into little animals marching two by two. [pg. 4]

Hahaha! Every time I read this illustration Joanna wrote of what might have been going through Martha's heart, I laugh out loud.

I laugh because I so relate to her, building such high expectations for myself.

"If I preform perfectly - I will be satisfied, right?"

"If I go the extra (10) mile(s), it will be worth it, right?"

Right? :) I want to be able to say yes to these two questions, but the reality is the answer is almost always 'no'....actually, I feel tired, worn out, taken advantage of.....and even worse like I have missed out on the heart of the moment.

Joanna's writing in this first chapter encourages us to look closer at both sisters. Yes, there were two for a reason. Of course, we see ourselves as either more Mary or more Martha, but the Bible includes both, because in fact there are lessons to be learned from both.

Both sisters felt the full weight of Jesus' presence. They each react in their own way to how important He was to them.

Mary, like a magnet to His side, sat ready to soak in whatever He was going to say.

Martha.....kicked into high gear to honor Jesus with the best her home and homemaking had to offer.

Joanna's perspective pulls out a greater depth to Luke 10:38-42. It isn't that we shouldn't prepare food and our home for guests, but more that we should seek to understand the difference between what is 'nice' and what is 'needed'.

How nice would it be to offer the above mentioned efforts on our table?.....An ark of cheese and fruit animals! A+ Pinterest effort.

But really...all of that was not needed to make Jesus feel welcome. He came seeking her fellowship, not her fancy homemaking.

Joanna writes...

He isn't looking as much for workers as he is looking for sons and daughters - a people to pour his life into. [pg. 10]

What spoke most to me from this chapter is that Jesus seeks my heart not my ability.

My 'Kitchen Service' should flow from His anointing. And the only place I can receive His anointing is through 'Living Room Intimacy'.

Even though, by nature, I am a busy worker bee - not all on my to do list is 'needed' - there is space for me to make myself available to heart opening fellowship.

Even though I am naturally more of a 'Martha', I must choose the better part and meet with my Heavenly Father, as Mary did.

Let's talk about it.....

If you feel led, please comment below about all or just one of these items. We will focus on this chapter all week, so please jump in any day you find time. Also, please feel free to respond to others who have commented - everyone loves encouragement :)

1. Question 2 of the study guide asks what inanimate object best describes how your life currently feels? What is yours?

2. Who do you identify more closely with? Mary? Martha?

3. What spoke most to you from this chapter?

I look forward to hearing form you :)

- brook.

* All quotes mentioned above are noted by page number and are taken from 'Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World' by Joanna Weaver.

** Find out more about Joanna's ministry and how to purchase her books here.

January 10, 2015 - [Ten on Ten]

Capturing beauty in the 'regularness' of life.
Ten photos taken one an hour for ten hours on the tenth.

For some reason, there is a 'drink theme' to this set :) Didn't notice that until I collected all the photos together :)
You can see others participating in the Ten on Ten project this month ------- here.

- brook.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Snail Mail 2015 - Free Printable Round-up

Hello, there.

Each year, I renew my commitment to send more hand written snail mail. I love receiving personal hand written stuff in the mail and I think it is safe to say that pretty much everyone else does too.

For your convenience, I have include some of the free printables I used in 2014.

They are free.

They are safe to download (I have downloaded and used them myself).

And they are free!

There are some for the various holidays throughout the year and some for 'just because'.

I hope you find something you can use.

*Click the link below each image to access each file.

**You can also find these links and many more on my Stationary and Cards Pinterest Board
Lark & Linen
Skip To My Lou
Camille Styles

My Muse Comes and Goes
Poppy Talk
The Sweetest Occasion
The Pretty Blog
You may also like to check out my Free Valentine Printable Round-up from 2014.

Thanks for reading.

- brook.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Winter Reading List 2015

Hello, all you avid readers. I have composed another Winter Reading List :) for you to reference if you need book ideas.

Disclaimer :) I have not read all of the books on this list, I am highlighting them as potential reads. So if you read one that is not your favorite, please keep this in mind - they are 'suggestions' made to me by some of my good friends and Mama Bee No E readers.
Couple of things...

  • they are not listed in any particular order 
  • thanks to Beth, Leila, Sarah, Jane and Joney for the suggestions.
  • the links lead to where I pulled the cover images....this may or not be the best place to purchase - personally, I check them out from the library :) 
  • if you have a title to suggest, please leave a comment below (or on Facebook) and I will add the cover to the next reading list. 
  • Happy reading!

St. Simons Trilogy: Book One

St. Simons Trilogy: Book Two

St. Simons Trilogy: Book Three

You may also enjoy the 2014 Winter Reading List.

- brook.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

2015 Resolutions

2015. It is 2015.


Because it is a New Year - like a moth to the flame - I set resolutions :)

First, I wanted to share a status update on where I am with my resolutions from 2014.

I did somewhat succeed in 'Take Better Care of Myself'.

I have for several months now, washed my face everyday (twice a day, even :).

I, for the most part, worked out 3 times a week. This included completing the 'Couch to 5K' training and running in my first 5K.

This was a big one for me, not only because I have never been a runner - I mean NEVER (The only other time in my life I have run a mile was in elementary school when I had to for the 'Presidential Fitness Evaluation'), but also because I learned the value of partnership in working out. Partnership and support will continue to be key for me moving forward in physical fitness.

Another resolution from 2014, 'Send Birthday Cards' also went pretty well.

I sent out many a Birthday Card this year, even though I will admit that some may have been late as the year progressed :) and the last one I sent this year was a text - not just a text, text.....but a picture of a Birthday Salutation I hand drew. Either way, everyone on my list, heard from me on their birthday.

On a more unsuccessful note......

I flat out did not 'Make a Slow Cooked Beef Stew' (I did, however learn to use my rice maker and made a KILLER braised brisket :)

NOR did I complete a 'Jesse Tree' (I do have the scripture outlined for this, but all other parts are left undone).

Both of these things I am still determined to do. Who knows?.... maybe 2015 is the year.

Now for with last year I set out to 'Try Something New', 'Do Some Things Better', and 'Keep Doing' others.

Try Something New

1. Low Maintenance Photo Albums

I have too many photos hidden in iPhoto. It is time for them to come out to be enjoyed. This year, I hope to set a system for photo albums that can be maintained fairly easily and inexpensively. Here are a couple of inspiration shots along the lines of what I am thinking.

{Soule Mama}

{Manda Townsend}

2. Complete My First Cross Stitch

On our trip to Navarre this past year, my neighbor cross stitched the entire time. Throughout the week, she would teach me different things about cross stitching and share little hints and tricks. When we got home, she gifted me a cross-stitching starter kit. Immediately, I started on a (pretty large, ambitious) piece that I hope to finish this year.

Do Some Things Better

1. Daily Rest

I don't mean sleeping at night, daily rest. I mean rest during the day, daily rest. Taking time, every day, to sit in, pray, or maybe just sit :)

2. Working Out

In the past, I have focused intensely on one form of working out or the other and have not been very well rounded in my weekly plan. This year, I would like to mix strength training, running, and dance/step cardio every week. I would like to run another 5K this year. Also, I want to complete all 90 days of Tracy Anderson's Metamorphosis (which will probably take me the entire year).

3. Snail Mail

In addition to Birthday Cards, I want to send out more 'just because' mail. I am shooting for a measurable goal of once a month with this one.

4. Hand Lettering

I have always like to hand letter but have never intentionally set out to learn about it or expand my ability. This year, with the encouragement of my husband, I am going to work toward bettering my skill at hand lettering.

I have swooned over this book for quite some time and Josh got it for me for Christmas :) I have looked through it cover to cover several times already. It offers loads of inspiration for me.

Keep on

1. Blogging

Writing and sharing here on Mama Bee No E is still a joy for me. I have new writing goals for this year that may or may not come about. Either way, I will keep at it.

To all of you, who are still reading after almost two years....thanks for following along.

I hope 2015 finds you well.

- brook.