Friday, December 28, 2012

A Married Woman's Advice To The Single Young Ladies

This is not your typical advice.  It has nothing to do with "how to land a man".  It's simply a suggestion in what to look for.  Of course, it is not the most important thing, and you may have your own very well thought out list of qualities that you want to see in your Prince Charming.  So, here's the advice:

Make sure he has a good set of tools and knows how to use them, including power tools.  Yes, this is important, in my opinion.  He can work wonders with those tools and save you lots of money.  Plus, when he builds you a big, beautiful walk-in closet with shelves, racks, and plenty of drawers you can throw your arms around him and say, "oh Honey, it's wonderful!"  Sure you can hire out, and for some jobs it's necessary, but he will feel so much more appreciated if you marvel at his work rather than some other guys.

I have a friend who's husband barely lifts a hammer.  If she needs something done around the house she has to call her dad.  How frustrating! 

And don't give him a hard time if he seems to spend a lot of time at the hardware store.  He's thoroughly thinking out his projects; carefully choosing the right supplies and tools. Not only that, but the amount of tools and the boxes that contain them is insignificant.  He knows what he has and it's just the right amount for him to do what he needs to do...unless he needs to do something new (and needs a new tools for it, which is justified).  You don't want him to say you have TOO many shoes, do you?

Why do I feel the need to share this advice?  Because I have grown to appreciate the value of my very handy husband.  It is a gift.  It's part of what makes him special.  Every time he paints a room, puts up a shelf, fixes something broken I love him that much more.  Yes, he loves the hardware stores and can spend many hours in them.  I've been known to give him a hard time for it, but again, it's part of who he is and I love him so dearly.  This love did not develop on its own.  It has grown through the years and through prayer; a prayer that I would see him as Christ sees him; a very special creation to be loved, respected, and cherished. 

Ladies, anytime you go to the Lord and ask Him to help you see your spouse the way He sees him, your love will grow stronger.  I guarantee it!

Oh, and I also recommend that he be able to back up a trailer.  Very handy, indeed!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

So, Christmas is over... Now what?

I recently heard someone say, "December 26th is the most depressing day of the year."  What a sad statement.  However, I can see why someone might think that.  Think of all the excitement and activity that happens between Thanksgiving and Christmas: the decorations, the Black Friday shopping, the food, the parties, the fun and festive music, the GIFTS!  All that build up, all that excitement, with the climax coming sometime between the dark night hours of Christmas Eve and the morning hours of Christmas day.  The dust settles…or shall I say, the wrapping paper…  You look around your living room, no more packages bulging out from under the tree, mess and clutter littered about, perhaps your thoughts scan your own personal wish list, "did I get what I wanted", or you might think, "well, time to clean up, it's over…"  That warm and fuzzy feeling of doing "good deeds" and giving fades.  When that infamous day, December 26th hits we know what comes next, and days, weeks, months later the gifts are a distant memory… 

Yes, I suppose that can be a depressing way to look at it.  BUT…it doesn't have to be that way.  Christmas should be more that just a day of the year, or even a "season of giving".  It should be a feeling;  a compelling love that is powered by the very Spirit of God within us.  That is, if we choose to make Christ our Lord.  If we realize we are nothing without Him, if we repent of our sinful thoughts and actions, if we truly have a desire to turn from those sinful thoughts and actions and to turn our hearts to the desire of the Lord.  Then, and only then, can we feel the true Christmas "feeling" ALL YEAR THROUGH!

I have to share this with you…this Christmas season could be classified as one of the worst Christmases we Brauns have had in a long time.  By the world's standard of living (which is very shallow and superficial), I would be quite justified in that claim.  Our family has been house bound for many, many days with illness.  We've missed some pretty special Christmas events; parties, church services, Christmas at Heritage Hill, the Old World Christmas at Elkhart Lake…and the list goes on…  We've also had some pretty challenging times with our business.  "Cutbacks" get made here and there.  But with all that said, I can honestly say this about the Christmas of 2012…it has been one of the BEST!  Why?  Because if it was about trusting God more and relying less on my own ability, then so be it.  Just being together as a family had so much more meaning.   Our focus was on growing…through prayer, patience, and simple trust in God's plan.  In the process, He blessed us with special memories as a family that will forever be cherished.

So with that, would I do this Christmas over if I had the chance?  Yes!  Not because of the decorations, gifts, food, or any of that temporary stuff, but because of the lasting and growing love I have experienced from God.  It's a celebration that lives forever, not just a day!  His love NEVER fades, we just have to turn to Him.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

The Family That Works Together...

...Stays together.  It goes something like that.  But there really is something to be said for those times when our whole family is working together on a project.  Today was one of those days.  It was "Family Work Day".  In other words, time to get outside and finish up any last minute yard work before the first snow hits.  Today we worked on the burn pile.  All those piles of leaves are finally gone and that land can welcome in its blanket of snow.

These opportunities to work together really aren't about the job that needs to get done.  That's more of a bonus.  It's about teaching a work ethic and an attitude of "work is fun, especially when we work together."  So with that said, everyone has a job; a purpose.  We are all needed and appreciated.  Well...if you're under the age of two you get to stand around and sip hot chocolate and look cute...and maybe fall into a pile of leaves once in awhile.

But for the rest of us...we get the job done and we work as a team.  It's also an opportunity for Dad and Mom to reflect a positive attitude about work.  These days,  it seems that "work" is a dirty word.  "TGIF" and "oh no, it's Monday again" are the norm.  Hey, I like my day of rest just as much as anyone.  I'm so glad God gave us that day!  But the feeling of accomplishing a good job is so rewarding and it is so important to teach that to our children.

"And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men."  Colossians 3:23

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Hootenannies! A.K.A....Little German Pancakes

It's a Saturday morning tradition in our house to have pancakes, waffles or french toast...but THIS takes it to a whole new level.  And...Oooohhhhhh, the possibilities of fillings are endless...fresh fruits, jams, cinnamon apple sauce, or even a scoop of peanut butter and honey fills them nicely!

1 cup milk
6 eggs
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. orange zest (optional)
1/4 cup butter, melted
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Blend first six ingredients (milk thru orange zest) in a blender.  Be careful to see that any flour clumps get well-blended.
  2. Blend in butter a little at a time in order to temper the eggs.
  3. Grease muffin tins well and distribute batter evenly between 24 tins (I did more like 18. Gimme Some Oven’s tins were slightly less than half-full.  I used a 1/4 cup measuring cup and filled it almost full.) Bake for 15 minutes, or until puffy and golden on top.
  4. Served with your favorite toppings. 
Recipe from 

Friday, October 19, 2012

What If Everything Was Taken Away...

Is Jesus enough?  If everything else in my life was gone, if tragedy struck, would Jesus be enough?  The only way to know the answer to that is to fully submit to Him now; to give Him my all.  "Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you" - James 4:8.  I don't need the things of this world.  I can imagine living without them, but I can NEVER imagine living without my Lord.  Never.

I freely give up the FaceBook, the Starbucks, the Nordstrom, the ungodly TV, the movies that don't edify, the books that take up wasted space in my brain, the music that turns me away from the Lord.  I...don'!  And if the loves ones I cherish so dearly were gone tommow, I would still trust Him with my life.  I just need You, Jesus!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Signing Off Of FaceBook!

Well, I guess that got your attention!

It's won't see me there posting, commenting, liking, least for the next 40 days.  I'll be using the time for prayer and "fasting" from FaceBook.  To some that might sound silly.  To others, they might be thinking, "Yay!  Jame won't be posting anymore annoying political or religious posts!"  But the truth of the matter is...I've become a bit of a FB addict.  There...I've said it!  It has entered too much of my thought process, especially during this passionate election season. 

Here's what I will be doing:
Using the time to PRAY.  That's it!  Anytime I have the urge to click on that little blue "f" on my browser, I'll be "logging on" to prayer instead.  I've even deleted the app from my phone.  WOW!

What will I be praying for?
1)  A deeper relationship with Christ. You can never go too deep, in my opinion...
2)  My husband; his faith, our relationship, my willingness to be his helpmate (or lack there of sometimes..."eh-hem"...).  
3)  The faith of my children. They NEED me...more of me.  I'm not just their mom, but also their teacher!  And I'm suppose to be an example of righteousness...YIKES!
4)  Our nation and this political season we are in.  I'll be praying for the president (yes, I do pray for him...sometimes...and, no, I don't pray that he get struck by lightning).  I'll be praying that he seeks wisdom from Christ, that he rises up to be the Christian he claims to be, that he turns back to the Bible, and that he leads his administration in doing so.  
5)  I'll be praying for friends and family who do not know Christ yet and do not have that personal relationship with Him that He offers to us all ("I stand at the door and knock" Revelation 3:20)  I'll be praying that those friends repent, put their trust in the Lord, and turn to His Word for the truth.  I'll be praying that lives be changed for the glory of God.

I'll also be praying that this election will be the start of a new revival in this wonderful country.  I'll be praying that we turn BACK to God and that we concern ourselves less with offending each other and care more about offending God.  I will be praying...fervently...  At times, I'll be on my knees, at other times I'll be praying while doing the mundane day-to-day tasks.

So why do I feel the need to do this?  Do I think my little prayers will impact the entire nation?  Well, all I can say is that I am doing this for a deeper faith.  I already know that the Lord's plan is in place.  He appoints the leaders (good and bad).  Remember when the Israelites whined about not having a king?  (1 Samuel 8-9)  Well, He gave them one; not a very good one, but they got what they asked for.  So, I'll use this time to strengthen my trust in Him.  If our country rejects God as a whole, so be it.  I, personally, will keep my eyes on the Lord...not the world.  His plan is good, even if I may not see it right away.  Even if the election outcome isn't what I personally hoped for.  He is faithful to those who trust in Him.

After the last election I was physically sick over the outcome.  I was terrified that this would mean the demise of every hard working small business person, including my own husband.  But you know what?  It wasn't.  Our business didn't shut down.  We didn't lose our shirts.  Our children didn't starve.  We survived and the Lord provided.  I feel a bit convicted now over the way I responded to that outcome.  I certainly didn't portray myself as a pillar of faith.

I'm not saying that I have already accepted that this election will not turn out the way I personally want it to.  I am just preparing myself for what God has planned and the promise that His plan is good no matter what.  His return in imminent and I want to be ready.  There will be struggle and strife, but His faithful followers will rise above it.  In the end we will see Him and that's all that matters.

Why did I choose to do this for 40 days?  Well, 40 is a significant number in the Bible.  It's the number of days Christ fasted in the wilderness (Matthew 4:2).  It's the number of years the Israelites spent wandering in the desert (Exodus).  I believe that will be a significant number of days for personal progress.  And I do want to see progress!  I also believe that the Holy Spirit has placed this on my heart.  I spend too much time on that blasted FaceBook!  I'm looking forward to breaking the "habit", and in the process, turning my attention to spiritual growth and a closer connection to my family. Oh...and it just happens to be 40 days until the presidential election!  ;-)

You are welcome to join me!  I may not be spending time on FaceBook, but I do plan to share whatever the Holy Spirit reveals to me here on this blog, and how this time of prayer is impacting my life.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Tasting Blood

That's what happens when I bite my tongue and I've been doing a lot of that lately.  I go on Facebook quite regularly and I've been known to be a bit outspoken about my beliefs and political views, but lately I seen so much political opinion being shared by others that it would take me all day to respond to it all if I really wanted to.  Truth is...I usually do want to, but there is a still, quiet voice inside of me that says, "don't".  In fact, many times I've typed something out, sat there and read what I typed, and then (a bit begrudgingly) hit the backspace key.  It's not worth it.  I've come to realize that I am not going to change anyone's political view.  I can have a few moments of "touche", but that's fleeting and it's just part of the vicious cycle of bi-partisan politics.

I'm learning all this as I go.  More and more the Holy Spirit guides me in what is "throwing pearls to swine".  The only way to impact the beliefs of another person is to let Christ do the leading.

The most disheartening part of it all is seeing how many people truly are deceived. 
My people perish for lack of knowledge. Hosea 4:6  
These are people that develop their views from the world rather than The Word of God.  Sure, they may take the scriptures that they like, the warm and fuzzy ones that get twisted and taken out of context so they "tickle their ears", and then they ignore the real meat that could save them from a fiery eternity.  Denying the scripture is SERIOUS business!  We MUST believe it ALL...or the truth is, we don't really believe it!

I really like the analogy about the path being a straight and narrow one.  We walk a straight line.  If we take our foot off that line it might not seem like a big deal, but as we walk we deviate away from the path a little more, and then a little more.  The next thing we know, we are so far off the path that we can't even see it anymore.  It's too late.  We are then knee-deep in deception!

If only people could really come to realize what is really happening:
For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine (that "sound doctrine" is the Bible, by the way). Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers (there's plenty of false teachers selling a lot of books and doing lots of t.v. appearances these days) to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. 2 Timothy 4:3-4
So what does this have to do with the election season we're in?  Well, it's like one corner you have a man who calls himself a Christian, yet has not proven to be one (that would be the current president).  Then, in another corner, you have a man that is a Mormon.  The problem is, unless you truly know what the Bible says, you vote for the wrong man.  As a Bible-believing Christian, I have to look at who is going to adhere to biblical principles, not at what they say they are.  Who is going to respect God's definition of marriage, rather than try to rewrite it into something that is clearly NOT natural?  Who is going to protect unborn babies, rather than be an advocate for killing them?  Who is going to stand with Israel?  Who is going to encourage people to be self-reliant, rather than put their trust in the government to take care of them?  If you truly see yourself as a follower of Christ, you will know who the "wolf in sheep's clothing" is.  You will have discernment from the Lord.

I write this, not for the person who hasn't accepted Christ as their Savior, but for the person who calls themselves a Christian, yet has not chosen to truly GIVE their life over to Him.  Maybe you think you have.  Ask yourself a few questions...  Do you take the WHOLE Bible as the Truth or do you take bits and pieces?  Do you accept the Truth that Christ is the one and only way to salvation or do you accept the world's view that "all paths lead to God"?  Do you "draw nearer to Him so that He may draw nearer to you" (avoid sinful practices as outlined in the Bible) or do you find yourself being entertained by worldly desires that do not edify you or glorify the Lord? If you answered "yes" to the second half of any or all of those questions then you are just like I used to be...before I accepted the Truth completely AND decided to live my life completely for Him.  It changed my life in so many wonderful ways.  I know that I know 1) who God is, 2) that He is real, and 3) without Him, there is no hope to eternity in Heaven.

Time is short.  We never know when that moment will be when we stand face-to-face with God....

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Choice Is Ours

courtesy of Teen Challenge
 Teen Challenge

I was so blessed to hear testimonies from men with Teen Challenge yesterday at church.  Each one was so encouraging.  However, I couldn't help noticing a trend with all their stories.  The stories all started with the fact that they were raised in Christian homes.  They all went to church (some even on Wednesday - oh, that's when we get really holy, right), they knew Jesus, knew some scripture, etc, etc, etc.  Wow!  That is a wake up call!.  How naive we can be if we think that just "raising" our children in a so-called Christian home seals their future as something righteous and holy.

I, of course, used this opportunity with our 14-year old daughter.  I asked her if she notice something that they all had in common.  I then pointed out the fact that they all grew up as "Christians" yet, they still had to make their own choices (usually around the age of 12 or 13).  It's not up to parents or church or anyone else.  We are all responsible for how we live out our faith, if at all.  We are responsible for the choices we make; for the friends we choose, for the things we fill our minds with (t.v., movies, books, music, video games), we are responsible for our decision to trust the Lord with our whole life.

What a great teaching opportunity we had!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Scenes From Summer

There certain scenes that I just love: kids running full speed down to the water until their bodies fall into it, grandparents building sand castles with their grandkids, boats being backed into the water getting ready for a day of fun on the lake.  These are the scenes that make me say, "ahhhh, summer...".  I cherish them because like so many other things in life, summer is temporary (and too short).  Winter comes and all this easy breezy bliss will be just a memory.  Does that mean that when it is over that we must be sad.  No, not at all.  Our hapiness need not lie in the temporary pleasures of this temporary life.  Our true happiness is in walking with Christ, living obediently, and receiving the full reward for it.  Knowing that gives me a joy even in the midst of the thought that summer will end.  And also knowing that the Lord's love and grace will never end.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Christians and Gay Marriage

There is an awful lot of talk about gay marriage these days. Especially since the man that has been deemed our president decided go against his "Christian" faith and show support for it. As a Christian, I feel it is important to clarify that I do not see him as a true Christian. He chooses not to live by the Word of God, and so that makes his so-called faith null and void. If we, as Christians, suddenly excuse any sin that the Bible clearly outlines then we might as well say Christ died in vain.

Sadly, because of people like our president who have an outlet to publicly push their "brand" of Christianity, others eat it up like a Krispy Kreme donut. "We are to treat everyone as we would like to be treated. It's the Golden Rule." Yes, I agree that we should show love to others. However…love and accepting blatant sin as "good" do NOT go hand in hand. I have friends that are gay. I love them dearly, but I also want them to realize the seriousness of choosing sin. I care about their eternal life and I want them to live in freedom!

Then there's the argument, "Well, it's not like anyone would CHOOSE that lifestyle. They were born that way. They can't help it." Sorry, but that is a lie straight from the devil and if you believe that you are also deceived. Scripture is VERY clear, and you don't have to go any further than Genesis to find the answer. It started when the first man decided to sin. He doomed all of humanity in that one choice. That is when the world fell into a tailspin. That is why we now have disease, rape, murder, child abuse, lying, cheating, stealing, and every other sin. And in Romans we are reminded that "we ALL fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). We all have sin that we struggle with. It's also why we see innocent life, like children and unborn babies, brutally murdered…all because of the moment when Adam and Eve made that choice. My sin may be different than someone who practices a homosexual lifestyle, but that does not mean that I am anymore deserving of God's love than they are or that I will be guaranteed entrance into Heaven. What matter's most is the choice I make in accepting Christ's sacrifice for my sins and allowing the Holy Spirit to control me. Because we have the Holy Spirit, we have the power to overcome the urges to sin. It doesn't mean we are suddenly perfect or better than anyone else. It just means that we suddenly have an Advocate in Christ.

With all that said, as we approach another election season, I could not bring myself to ever vote for a person who deceives others into going against God's Word. Especially since I know very well what the Bible says about deception. It is Satan's greatest weapon. Stick to the Scripture and defeat him at his game.

And continue to love others, regardless!