Monday, December 06, 2010

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Thursday, September 16, 2010

Surprised by Grief.


Can I share that I'm surprised by grief? I have not encountered it too often in my life yet. Last month, when my Grandma Hazel passed away, I was in for a surprise. I didn't think that my heart would be so broken by her passing because she was "ready to go" for lack of a better term. When my Mom called me to let me know that my Grandma had indeed passed away, I broke down. I was surprised. I sobbed, uncontrollably. Then for hours I would fine. Then back to sobbing. The next day on my way out to my parent's house, I was fine. While my Mom, Lauren and I went through her few belongings, I broke down. Not right away. We had been joking around, sharing stories, laughing. Then I found a little powder box. It held little trinkets that I would play with at my Grandma's house. I opened it up and the sweet smell of it broke my heart. Big heaving sobs. My Mom then handed me my box of flannel graph Bible figures that my Grandma had kept for me. I showed them to Josiah while I was crying and he started creating a Bible story on the couch with them and I was distracted. I didn't cry again until I got home. I know that at times I'm morose and tired from it.

This last Sunday at church we were singing worship and they started singing How Great Thou Art. The grief hit me. Like a bomb. I remember so many Sundays of sitting in an orange pew between my Grandma and Great-Aunt singing this song.

Grief has surprised me by the way it rolls in and out. Inundating me and then relinquishing it's hold so I can get on with the day. A knot in the back of my throat. A moist eye constant while functioning like  a normal person. I realize that I'm in the same boat as every other human being. Nothing new here. I must at this point emphasize hope. The singing of my soul. My yielding to God in a moment where I am unable to contain my praise for Him. He is indeed great, even when I feel awful.

The night that my Grandma died, I was asked the question "What will you ask Jesus when you see Him face to face in heaven?" I answered that I doubted I would have questions, that it would be a succinct fall to the ground in worship and gratitude. I heard Greg Laurie say in November that he felt like heaven was more of a reality now that his son was there. I feel that now. I look forward to that moment of bowing down and worshiping. No sign of grief. No sign of tears. Just me and Jesus.

Then I shall bow, in humble adoration,
And then proclaim: "My God, how great Thou art!"

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Pod People

There are 3 little "pods" in my driveway. While I would like to make a Invasion of the Body Snatchers comment, I don't really have one.  The Brewer clan is once again pulling up stakes, packing up boxes and leaving town. At this point we almost seem nomadic. This is our 6th move in 5 years of marriage (if you count when we moved into our apartment after getting married). The other moves have been to the same general area, near or in Orange County. This move is different, this time we're moving to a city with 3,831,868 other people.

We have given away bags of clothing, furniture, baby items and trinkets we no longer absolutely need. I never thought that at 26, with two kids I would be downsizing and moving into LA. Then again, most of my adventures with Cameron have been unexpected. Cameron and I were both challenged and touched at the story of Francis Chan & his wife downsizing (with 4 kids!) and opening their home to those who don't have much. For some reason, it just made sense to us. You know, in that Holy Spirit could only impress that on your heart sort of way. We don't know exactly where we'll land in LA, that's still up in the air (my hope: Silver Lake :)), but we're praying for a home to welcome people and to have relationships with anyone who comes through the door. The prodigious and organized housing tracks of Orange County sort of give me the creeps. I think the constant noise and distress of a city makes more sense. When I see us in the city, I see our home emitting warmth, glowing out from it into a busy, dark Los Angeles. A place where we are based and where Jesus is the King. Don't get me wrong, I'm well aware of the stress and hardship involved. I also don't think that the Brewers are going to "save" Los Angeles, or even a block of Boyle Heights. What I do know for sure is that Jesus is a transforming power and we're just one more little bit of the body at a church that is going into the city and loving them like they've never seen before.

I just read that only 25% of young people in America are actively involved in church and I'm proud to say that most of our church is young people. Not just in the pews either. They are ushers, parking cars, holding our children, praying with people and giving out information for community groups. These are the same people that meet voluntarily at a local children's hospital to pray for young girl who has cancer. These are no slackers, they are not apathetic, they are a living and active body of Christ in a city that many never consider a real place for a mission. They have a powerful love and desire for Christ that translates into a deep love for people. We've found our home here in an odd series of events that could only be divine.

I know it's confusing to a few of you, but God works like that. Not always appealing to our good sense. Sometimes He tells you to march around the walls with horns, sometimes He tells you to stay with your fiance who is knocked up but you had nothing to do with it (because she's carrying the Messiah) and sometimes He rubs mud in your eyes to make you see. Sometimes He tells you to downsize, get out of the suburbs and to get kicked in the butt daily for Him.
14"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. 15Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. -Matthew 5

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Forever Man.

C.S. Lewis said it best (of course, right?), "You don't have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body." These mortal transports are merely a blip on the map of our eternal journey. In our very original design, where God walked with us in the garden and we had a perfect communion with Him, we were every bit harmonizing with Him. Never separated, not left behind. Here and now where our broken and sinful natures exist, we are confounded and brutalized by death. If you don't believe that a reigning Christ is on the other side waiting with arms outstretched for you, it's a bleak and horrifying prospect to die. You realize that all of your earthly pursuits mean nothing and were a vain attempt to distract. That you've been so wrapped up in your sin to realize that God has been there the whole time offering you the very life that you've wanted.

Eternity has been set in our hearts (Ecclesiastes 3:11). We are "forever". We are to be restored and given a home with Jesus, which He has prepared. At some point in my life, my picture of heaven went from being golden streets and doing what I never imagined possible, to falling down and worshipping the Savior that claimed my soul and wrote my name in His book. I look forward to handing my crown right back to Him.

Whether we are believers or not, our souls cry out and ache in every way knowing that someone we love is gone. The only difference is the hope that a Christian has found in the blood of Jesus. I know that someday when I die, I'll see the people that I love the most in heaven. No one can take that away from me. So, today, if you're hurting because you don't know what to expect, let Jesus take care of that. Let Him give you every confidence that death won't sting because He is victorious over it.
and the longer i live
the stronger i feel a
creator put us here
and the day will come,
gravity will run
and we'll meet you in the air
where face to face we will wonder

as the mysteries come undone

and at the end of all our travels
we find our journey's just begun

- Forever Man, Newsboys

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Walgreens Win! Complete with Broadway Pizzaz!

Walgreens was good to me last night. When you're good to mama, mama is good to you. Sorry, I thought I would sprinkle my blog with a little Broadway pizzaz.

Here's what I did in 2 transactions to maximize my savings (you've got to be bold to be a coupon lady):

2 Boxes of Rice Crisipies 2/$5.00

1 Schick Hydro Razor $7.99

Purina One 60 oz Dog Food $1.99

Airwick Mini $4.99


-$1/2 Boxes of Rice Crispies

-$5/1 Hydro Razor

-Free bag of dog food coupon

-$4/1 Airwick mini

Total: $7.98 (before tax) Got back $4 in Register Rewards

2nd Transaction:

2 Pampers Jumbo Packs

2 Pampers Wipes

Plus 2 filler items: Peanut M&Ms for my loyal co-shopper, Josiah.


-$3/1 Pampers (from a mailer), $1.50/1 Pampers

-2 Free wipes when you purchase any Pampers diapers

-$4 in Register Rewards from first transaction

Total: $10.48 before tax! Got $3 in Register Rewards back

If I had walked into Walgreens to purchase all of this without coupons & sales, my total would have been: $59.52!!!

Instead I paid $18.46 and got back $3!

Couponing is very, very worth it.

Here's another bit of pizzaz, Broadway style!

(well, not really, I think this was in England, but still... it's Ewan McGregor and Jane Krakowski!)

Grandma Hazel

Francis Chan has been kicking my butt lately. Every.Stinking.Time.I.Listen.To.Him. The basic equation comes out to: Way more Jesus, way less me.

In that vein, I bring up a difficult situation. My Grandma Hazel is in her last bit of life here on earth. While I'm sad, I'm not torn up. I'm not torn apart. My Grandma believes in Jesus and I think that she's ready to go see Him face to face. I did have a dream about her last night and I woke up recalling sweet memories of being a child in my Grandma's little tiny single wide trailer. I've had to bring these to the surface and remember her for them. You see, my Grandmother wasn't the best Mom to her own children and she was not always the greatest to my Mom later in her life. I didn't know this until I got older and more aware of relationships. But- and I say this with confidence, she was a fantastic Grandma to have as a kid. I think she may have sought certain redemption in us grandkids that she needed after neglecting her own children.

Let me say that my Grandma taught me an incredibly valuable lesson that I carry in my heart to this day. I had a "Jesus Loves the Little Children" book at her house. There was a picture of a little Native American boy with his bow and arrow. I get sort of foggy when I think about what I asked or how it came up, but I asked about "Indians being bad". A very black and white stereotype that I had seen on TV and cartoons. Cowboys were good. Indians were bad. My Grandma Hazel's answer is still very crystal clear to me "It doesn't matter what color skin you have, it's what's on the inside. Everyone is different. Jesus loves them all and so should we." BANG! A lesson in racism from your Grandma! It was simple, it was Christian, it was suitable for my young heart. I couldn't have been more than 5 years old. Knowing now that my Grandma only ever had a middle school edcuation at best, I know that this was her heart speaking. Not anything that had been taught to her. What a simple summation of how to love others & that it's not our job to judge people based on the outside.

Other memories:

-She would make fried Cheerios when I stayed the night. Sounds gross, but it's FANTASTIC.

- Going to church with her on the Church bus. What a treat! No normal car ride to church for me! I'll take the bus with all the Saints Alive Seniors!

-I always slept on a fold out couch at her trailer and one night she sat on the end of the bed and fell through... haha. Awesome.

-She always sent birthday cards with $1 in them.

-When she bought me my favorite teddy bear, Smokey.

-Sitting in church with her and she would slip me some communion, even though I wasn't suppose to have it. Mwahaha.

- She always had Trident gum in her purse and always made sure we got a piece.

-Going to potlucks at her trailer park. Man, it's the best to be a cute little girl with pigtails at a trailer park pot luck and get all the attention from all the other Grandmas!

-When I got my driver's license I would drive her to hair appointments and to lunch dates.

I know that my Grandma was an incredibly flawed person who let her demons and desires get in the way of being the person God wanted her to be. I also know that she did love Jesus. I am glad she was my Grandma. She loved me and I loved her. Someday when we're all in heaven together, maybe she'll make fried Cheerios for me and Jesus.

Friday, August 20, 2010

A conversation between spouses. Part II

*Background: Our 5th anniversary is this October, so I jokingly sent Cameron a link to Fred Meyer Jewelers where we got our wedding rings from*

Just thinking.
yes you are
Me:I mean, I've managed to stay with you for five years.
well we'll see how it goes
Me:i'll get you one, too.
for your pinky

I've prayed for God to provide me with an awesome Pinky ring full of diamonds

Me: dear Lord Jesus, please bless this little pinky finger of mine with a plethora of beautiful diamonds to shine with your glory. AMEN.
Cameron: that was my exact prayer
just doing my "praying things into existence" time with God

Me: I love you for saying that.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Don't be like Lot.

That cat is mostly out of the bag. I mean, it's sort of lounging in it, cleaning it's paws, but everyone knows it's coming.

We're moving to LA. We've been called to minister to the city. It's a little bizarre. A family of four moving from the suburbs to the city, usually it's the other way around. We're downsizing & minimizing. Not exactly "moving on up". However, Cameron and I are both confident that we've been sent into the middle of a city that hugely influences the culture in the rest of the country to be a part of it and show it some love. We've found a fantastic church, Reality LA that LOVES JESUS so much. We were first invited to visit by two people at the Song of Solomon conference in February. They even enthusiastically said: "We even have a children's ministry! It's small, but we have one!" I owe these two volunteers a great deal with changing out lives.

I never thought that I would end up in a big city, they use to give me a huge sense of dread. Even New York City, for all of it's sights, gave me a sense of hopelessness. That would be precisely the reason our family is going to Los Angeles. Too many people are hopeless in the city. When we visit LA now I feel nothing but a peace and love for a town full of the homeless, Scientologist celebrities and people too wrapped up in themselves to care.

The other day Cameron shared with someone that we were going to move to the city. A Christian person. This person decided instead of encouraging Cameron that a slight warning veiled in Biblical imagery would be appropriate: "Just don't be like Lot and be LIKE the city." First of all, no one ever tells the missionary heading into the dark jungles of the Amazon this. When my friend Courtney told me her and her family were going to Peru as missionaries I didn't admonish her with a warning about being like the lost people of Peru. I cheered her on. Second of all, isn't a danger anywhere to turn into the people that you're trying to reach? For instance, if you minister in Orange County, please, for the love of God don't turn into them. They love money, self-importance and status just as much as an Angelino. Too many Christians are afraid of the city & of culture.

While I have no intention of turning into a pillar of salt, we are heading into the city to be the hands and feet of Jesus. Pray for us.