Grace. God’s Riches at Christ’s Expense

because sometimes your church is lucky enough to have a car!

I hardly ever get to sit through one of my husband’s sermons. For several reasons. One, I have a toddler.  Two, I have a baby.  Three, I teach Sunday school.  Because of a lack of a nursery and teaching Sunday school, I can’t hardly recall the last time I sat through one of my husband’s sermons.

Our church is a small international church that meets at the Sheraton hotel in Poznan, Poland.  It’s called Poznan International Church and was established in 1997. We absolutely love it!  My husband has been the lead pastor there since May of 2002 (the exemption being the year and the half we lived in the States).

On any given Sunday, you will find roughly 16 languages under one roof—all worshipping one God. That’s pretty darn awesome, right?! Right!

This Sunday we didn’t have church in the general meeting room where we normally have service because there was a conference also taking place on the same day. So we met at the restaurant downstairs called Someplace Else. It is a fantastic restaurant with a great atmosphere.The walls display hundreds of signed photographs or musical or sports memorabilia that the General Manager, Marco, has collected for the Sheraton over the years where he has been GM.

On top of that, it is a cozy area where we meet. And, guess what! Children are full-on in the same place where we are. Does that cause some disruptions? You betcha! I feel like half the time I spend reminding little voices to quiet down and little boys to stop climbing equipment. But, overall, there is something beautiful when we all gather together at the restaurant bar for church.

We sit next to each other. We converse in the service together. And, after church, no one is in a hurry to go. And so we share for hours with one another our lives.

It’s a blessing. And you will never leave with a frown. I guarantee it.

Back to Richard’s sermon for today. It was a a beautiful sermon for me to hear. It was on Grace.

Sometimes we hear this word and forget how powerful its meaning is. Richard shared an acronym with church.  Grace stands for:

G—God’s

R—Riches

A—At

C—Christ’s

E—Expense

You know. I think that as Christians we sometimes become too callous to grace. We think, “We have given our lives to you, God, give us grace!” It’s almost as if we demand it. And we shouldn’t. Because grace is a gift. It is undeserved. And it came at a great cost.

Grace—God gives it to us for free. But Grace came at the cost of Christ.

So, I would like to end by simply reminding you… Accept the beautiful gift of God’s favor undeserved through Grace—but never forget to appreciate that it, Grace, is a beautiful gift that came at a great cost.  And then go and live your lives in respect of this fact, glorifying God in all that you do.

Be beautiful examples of God’s grace here on earth.  Be a gift of grace to your family, your friends, your neighbors, your coworkers.  Set the world on fire for the love that God offers us through his son, Jesus Christ!

Amen.

The God-setting-things-right that we read about has become Jesus-setting-things-right for us. And not only for us, but for everyone who believes in him…God did it for us. Out of sheer generosity he put us in right standing with himself. A pure gift. He got us out of the mess we’re in and restored us to where he always wanted us to be. And he did it by means of Jesus Christ.   Romans 3:22, 23 (The Message)

I was Mt. Vesuvius and The McDonald’s Worker Told Me No.

So, I haven’t written lately. Truly a shame. Perhaps not as much for you (maybe for you, too), but definitely for me.

But just in case you thought I disappeared, here I am:

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No way!  You proclaim.  That can’t be you.  I remember you—you used to look like that woman on the FBI’s Most Wanted poster (see post here: http://and2makescrazy.com/2013/09/22/confessional-sunday-i-am-not-gisele-bundchen-say-what/ ).

Why, yes!  I was that woman.  She still exists.  Except, nowadays I am also this woman.  No longer fat, pregnant, and have enough energy to get up in the morning, get dressed, and walk 3 flights of stairs to go to work.

My hot husband and baby daddy approves 😉

On top of that, I have been busy doing something that I NEVER thought I would really get around to doing in my entire life…Planning.

Menu planning.

Grocery planning.

And rice milk making.

What does rice milk have to do with planning?

Well, when your son’s milk costs $3.00 per 1 liter, you better start figuring out how to make it or start planning how to file bankruptcy.   Yowzers.  Having a Nutty Kid will really kick you in the toosh called your grocery pocket.

That’s all fine and good, Brooke, but what does all of this have to do with Mt. Vesuvius or the lady at McDonald’s.

Oh, yes…

Well, I have been a volcano lately.  Literally, the other day I erupted.  It was a terrible sight in our home.  It was tragic and sad, and Mommy (me) went all crazy eyes ballistic on my husband and oldest child.  The 2 year old and 10 month old were spared as they were too young to understand.

I ranted.  I raged.  I stomped the halls.  My hands flailed wildly.

It.Was.Horrible.

My poor family.

It was one of my least fine moments in my life, and I am very sorry that I got to the point where my top blew.  I really think that self-control should be a big net around my body.  God, however, gives us the ability to practice self control.  And I did not heed his gift of free will in the best of ways.  I demolished my daughter and husband in one, big, bubbling, lava flow.

My.Poor.Family.

Well…That’s not all.  The lady at McDonald’s.  No, don’t worry.  I was not unkind to her.  Sometimes, it’s extremely sad, but we reserve our worst behavior for those we love the most.

The McDonald’s lady.  This has to do with being perhaps an Expat living in a foreign country.  But it was Wednesday a week ago.  On Wednesday evenings, my daughter has French lessons.  After French, we go through the McDonald’s drive thru for dinner, and then we all head to daddy’s office///Adelyne’s stationary library, and we pick daddy up for the evening as well as allow Adelyne to check out her books for the week.

Well, I got all the way to the window where you pick up the food at McDonald’s.  This is a miracle, because often they call us to the window where you pay to get your food since they can’t ever understand our Polish nor accent over the intercom.  But this visit was turning into a huge success.

I had been understood.  My order had been received.  I had paid at the first window, and then I pulled up to the second window.

And that’s when it hit me.  I forgot to order Adelyne’s ice cream that I told her I would get for getting a 5 on her spelling test (in Polish—this is a VERY big deal).  So, I politely said, “Oh, I am sorry Ma’am.  I forgot to order my daughter’s ice cream.  So, please also a large ice cream with chocolate sauce.”

“No!”  She replied.

Say what?

“What?”

“No!”  She said again.  “You must go around again!”

Say what?

“What?!”

“No!  You must go through the drive thru again!”

Oh please!  Sometimes I want to blow my cap.  That was the most ridiculous thing that I have ever heard, and then it reminded me of something I read Madonna saying once…What she missed living outside of the United States.  Customer service was her reply!

I could not believe the absurdity of the lady.  Go around again.  I am sorry—but JUST SOMETIMES!

Now, for those of you that live here and think, “What is wrong with that?”

Pretty much everything!  First of all, it was an accident.  Secondly…Customer Service.  Simply help a mom out.  And, really?!  How long does it REALLY take to make an ice cream.

Whoop.  Fill the cup.  Add hot chocolate.  Let lady pay while doing so.  And voile.  You are done.  30 seconds.

Me.  I was Vesuvius with my family.

The McDonald’s lady—she became my nemesis.

All in all, however, we are surviving.  Doing well.  Loving life.  And having fun.

It’s just that sometimes it is not always fun.

And I am not always nice.

And sometimes my daughter does not get the ice cream I told her I would get.

But, folks, I’m planning.  And making rice milk, and tonight is cauliflower soup.

Yep.  I am alive.  But I am not always the best example of Jesus.

Let’s end with a hashtag, shall we.  #thankfulforforgiveness

Have a great upcoming weekend folks, I now hear both of my babies.  Nap time is obviously over for this momma.

xoxox

b

*Well, nap time ended and obviously dinner ended.  And bedtime has ensued.  And Daddy is finishinghomework with the 8-year-old and I am just now getting ready to post this.  Life with kids. Oops.  Baby is now crying wildly.  Must post fast!

#wouldnthaveitanyotherway #superlonghashtag

xo again and again.  b

Do Everything With So Much Love In Your Heart…

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Source

I just saw this tonight.  It struck such a chord in my heart.  I want to live this life.

I want to be known by this life.

I want others to see this in my life.

Love.

I pray that you do too.

Live lives that become the epitome of love.

Love for God.

Love for family.

Love for friends.

Love for others.

Love for self.

Make it habit hard to break.

Be known by it.

Beautiful, glorious love!

 

Dear God…Thank you.

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Dear God,

Sometimes we forget two simple words…

Thank you.

And so, today, I would like to say thank you for these…

My husband and daughter that are on the other side of the world.

My baby that you gave us yet are keeping in your care.

My son that taught me about surrender, grace, and miracles.

And my belly that bounces!

For these, I thank you. 

Yours gratefully…

Brooke

I don’t love Jesus. Can we still be friends?

I don’t love Jesus.  Can we still be friends?

Dude!  Do you even know me at all?

Wait…technically, since this is a cyber world, it is possible that you don’t know me.

So let me introduce myself and answer that question for you.

My name’s Brooke, and I’m like a big polar bear.  But cuddly.  Not attack you type bear.  And actually not that big.  Unless a preggo belly counts?!

Anyhow, back to your super question, “I don’t love Jesus, so can we still be friends?”

And my answer is simple…Yes.

And this is why.  WWJD, man?  WWJD?

But hey, since you’re here, at least let me introduce you to Jesus that you don’t love.

Jesus was a man’s man…All tough and cool.   They depict him all wrinkle-free and pretty in pics, but let us not forget that he was a carpenter for 30 years.  Well, probably not 30.  But when he left his daddy’s workshop and went to work for his Father, he was 30.

Therefore, it’s safe to assume he was at least a bit weathered and worn.  And strong.

Richard’s grandpa was a carpenter.  And his hands showed the art of his work.  They were gnarly and tough.  And as strong as nails.  Yep.  There’s no mistaking the strength of a carpenter.

Much like Jesus.

But, you see, Jesus had this presence to him (let’s call it what it is—God) that drew people to him.

The interesting thing you should know, however, is that Jesus never forced a conversation, never threw a stone, and never backed away from being seen with people that others might deem “questionable”.  You know.  People like prostitutes and thieves.

Guess what else.  Jesus never demanded you listen.

He spoke words of wisdom and truth.  He shared food.  He performed miracles.  He loved.  He healed.  And he taught.   But the crowds always came to him.

One time he even went all Indiana Jones (except 2000 years ago) on the people in the Temple that were swindling the innocent by collecting money and “selling” religious sacrifices.  Turning tables and whipping a few.

And, oh yes!  Jesus could hold his own when it came to a verbal smack down.  But guess whom his debate adversaries were—those that found themselves most religiously righteous.  Yep.

Jesus didn’t come to seek and save the righteous.  After all, they don’t even think they need saving.

He came for the doctor.  And the lawyer.  He came for the tax collector and the fisherman and soldier.  He came for the healthy.  He came for the sick.  He came for the prostitute.  He came for the criminal on the cross.

And never once did he bind and gag someone, demanding they listen.

Nope.

Again.  He walked.  He talked.  He taught.  He loved.  He shared.  He healed.  He lived.

And, through it all, God was glorified.

I think Jesus is plain and simple AWESOME!  He’s my savior.  And I’m thankful for him.

But one of the greatest lessons I learned from Jesus was this:  he didn’t force anyone to love him.  He invited them to.  If they did.  Great.  If they didn’t, he didn’t chase them.

And that, my friends, is how I live my life.

I do, however, invite you to find out about this awesome Jesus—start in the New Testament.

But, if you don’t, I’m not going to tie you to a chair and force read the Bible to you.

That is definitely not “WWJD”.

Jesus is enough to stand on his own two feet.  He doesn’t need me to take karate chop action on people to introduce them to who he is.

In the end, you may not love Jesus, but he loves you.  Nothing you can do about that.  And, if you ever decide to have a conversation with him, I’m telling you now, he has time for you.

So do I.

In the meantime, big polar bear hugs and 3 Polish kisses thrown in for good measure.  Because hugging and kissing are always good things!  Like Jesus.

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When Maxwell nearly died last year but lived, we decided to have some fun. 

Our photo shoot theme, “Jesus is our Superhero!”   

Richard, Brooke, Adelyne, and Maxwell

(c. photo Erin DeZago)

Lying on the street in waste…

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(copyright photo Fundacja Bread of Life, Poland)

Unfortunately, Richard didn’t get his blog writing done…this time!  I’ll get him next time.  But, today, I’d like to share with you a short lesson that Richard was able to share with a group of Amercian teenagers that came to Poland this summer.  Hopefully, it resonates in your heart that we are to judge not…but love much!  God bless

***

Richard and a group of teenagers in Poland for a cultural exchange found a man lying on the street highly intoxicated.  He was covered in tattoos, very tattered, and dirty.

After attempting to help this man the best they could in his current condition, Rich spoke to the teens later and said, “That man…He had many “visible” signs of his sin. But you should be very aware, while that man’s sins may have been visible, never forget that we all have sin. Sometimes we are just better at hiding ours.”

Friends—it’s true—sometimes we are too quick to judge those we see in sin and forget to check internally into our own hearts and lives.

And, in the end, we have seen many like this man—literally lying on the streets in utter waste—become completely transformed by the Grace of God!

Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons!

2Corinthians 5:17, The Message

(This post is from a June post on B/L’s FB page)

Here came the discipline!

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I hope that you took the challenge to be bold in your faith and share the hope that you have in Christ.  Do it.  You are legendary.

Today, however, I’m going to be talking to men.  If you’re a woman, I’m sure that you can use today’s topic as well. 

My daughter and I traveled back from California on Sunday.  The first flight that we thought that we could take was full.  So we planned on taking the last flight out of Sacramento on Sunday.  This flight was scheduled to leave at 19:00.  We walked up to the gate just in time for the flight to depart.  And what we heard on the PA was a two hour delay.  Then that delay became a two-hour and forty minute delay.  Needless to say that by the time we arrived home it was after 00:30.  Tired we both went to bed. 

We both woke up early that Monday morning.  I got ready for work, and then I woke Adelyne for school.  We both had busy days with school and work. 

That evening Brooke went for a girls’ night out, and I stayed home with both Adelyne and Maxwell. 

We had a great time together.  I made dinner, we ate, laughed, and cleaned up.  Then I bathed Maxwell and got him ready for bed.  Adelyne took her shower while I finished getting Maxwell into his bed and down for the night. 

After Adelyne’s shower I asked her to get her pajamas.  She refused.  I asked her again and again.  She would change the topic and start trying to play with something else.  Again I asked.  Adelyne would say, “But, but, but.”  By this point my fuse was almost gone.  I told her to get her pajamas or she would be in big trouble.  Once again she flat-out refused and started to whine.  This went on for quite a while before I put my foot down. 

Here came the discipline!

Adelyne knew by this point she was in big trouble for refusing to do what she was asked.  I was tired, and I knew that she was tired.  But tired or not she still needs to do what she’s been asked to do. I had every right to discipline her, not because I’m harsh, but because it had been a long week of trying to get her to follow through with what her mommy and daddy have asked her to do. 

It was time for the discipline.  Just mere seconds before her discipline, however, I asked her a question.

“Adelyne, do you know what GRACE is?”  She looked at me with tears in her eyes and a strange look on her face.  She was probably thinking that I was talking about her cousin Grace that we spent the weekend with in California. 

“Adelyne, do you know what GRACE is?”  I asked again.  She thought for a second and said not really.  I explained to her that Grace is getting something that you don’t deserve.  It’s a gift of love.

I went on to tell her that because of her disobedience she deserved consequences of her actions.  But this evening I’m going to give her something different.  I’m going to give her GRACE.  We talked more about God’s grace that He gives to us. 

I’m thankful that God’s grace is given to me every single second of every single minute of every single day.  The very fact that I’m breathing is a sign of God’s grace in my life. 

But I’ve found that in my life I’ve never been the one to extend that same GRACE that God has extended to me to my own family (wife, children, and even the dog).

God has extended to you grace today.  Let that sink in.

If God can extend GRACE to me and you, then let us be men.

Go now and extended it to your spouse!

Go now and extended it to your children!

Go now and extended it to your neighbors!

Go now and extended it to your supervisors!

Go now and extended it to your employees!

Go now and extended it to your enemies!

Thank you, God, for extending us GRACE.

The Future…And My Present.

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Pregnant Brooke and My Guest Blogger…Richie!

I’d like to take today’s blog time to share with you the EXCITING news that next week we will have our first official Blogging Guest.  He’s my husband, Richard!

I can still call him a Guest, right?  And not make it sound like he was forced to do this or something…Right?

Well, that’s what I’ll call him, then…My unforced (wink) Guest Blogger.

I can’t wait to see what he comes up with—although I should probably be very, very afraid.  After all, you have read my past posts, right?

Yikes!

Before we get to the future, though (which means next Monday-Friday), I want to bring you back to our present.

We have been married nearly 13 years.

And, if you meet my husband, you’ll practically see a halo around his foreband (it’s what my daughter refers to as forehead).

And then you’d meet me.

And then you’d especially call him a saint.

But, I am here to tell you the truth…

My husband is very, very human.

Our marriage is very, very real.

In fact, our marriage is so real it’s a miracle that in a month we’ll be celebrating 13 years.

We’ve nearly ended our marriage twice.  Not once.  But twice.

There was one point in our marriage where I only saw darkness.  I saw no sliver of light.  I saw no hope.  I was certain that our marriage would become a statistic.

And yet, when the tunnel of darkness seemed endlessly long, we found a sliver of light.  We survived.

For many more years, that is.

And then I was certain that our marriage, no, that we, had come to the end.  The Final End.

I am not going to share the details of our relationship—because, if you are married, you know.

You know that marriage is about two people.

And neither person is perfect.

What I would like to share is this—we serve an awesome God.  And he has taught us endlessly about love.  He has shared with us endless grace.  He has given us endless mercy.  And, in our marriage, he has extended to each of us unfathomable forgiveness.

And because God did this for us—we, after a very long and painful road, came to realize that we too could offer this gift—forgiveness—to one another.

And, oh man!  Our marriage has never been more glorious.

Our relationship has never been more honest.

Our lives, as individuals and a married couple, have never been so free.

Not free to run and do as we want.  If you have kids, you know automatically that’s NOT a good idea.

Please, if everyone ran around doing what they wanted—instead of what they should—it would be a painfully destructive world.

Instead, we have discovered that we are free.  Free to do what is best for one another.  Best for our family.  Best for our lives as people that love God to the very core of our being.

Today, I am here to introduce you to my husband.

And I want you to know he is a GREAT man.

He appears saintly.

He appears angelic.

He appears to have it all together…

But he is a real as you can get—and we fight hard for our marriage.

Daily.

Together.

Because of the grace of God-and the beautiful, unbelievable gift of forgiveness.

Friends, I hope that you will realize that when in darkness, there is light.  It is found through the amazing grace of Jesus.  And, with Him, you can overcome.

We did.

See you next week.

(As a Reader—because next week I am not the Writer)

Ciao!