Death shouts finality

death-losing someone you love What seem to be steel walls are closing in around your body, slowly but all too quickly. The air is thick; breathing is painfully panicky, your lungs gasp for oxygen but it is as though their elasticity has vanished. Your lungs are trapped, there is no room for expansion. An iron fist is actually clenching your very heart. Hope exists only in escape, escaping your very own skin. And that escape doesn't seem right.

Soon it hits your soul like a sledge hammer: the walls closing in are not steel at all, but are walls of reality. Life has crumbled on top of you leaving despair, confusion, brokenness in replace of confidence.



The nightmare is reality and the one you loved dearly has vanished from the earth. You knew it was coming, or maybe you didn't, and yet death's shock is more than you ever expected. Your heart hurts in a literal and physical sense. It is unexplainable. The memories unfold like a video tape replaying itself over and over again in your mind. One moment you're fine and the next you're shedding tears of grief. Whether a [grand]parent, a sibling, a friend, a miscarriage...death shouts finality and it ushers in angry agony.

john 1133-35 jesus wept

Lazarus died. Death gave its sting, his family was mourning, and the walls of panic were closing in. And Jesus wept. He didn't try to sugar coat his death, even though He was about to raise Lazarus back to life. Jesus didn't throw cliche pick-me-up phrases at this family in an attempt to make Himself feel better. Jesus didn't see it necessary to try and fix their pain with words of comfort; He knew that their pain ran so deeply within their veins that sympathy words would do no good. No, Jesus wept. Jesus mourned. Jesus felt the agony with them, He co-suffered, He had compassion. And co-suffering [weeping with those who are mourning] takes pressure off when you realize you do not need to share sympathetic words that may only hurt more. Instead of filling the thick air with well-intended-words that actually deepen the hurt, let your heart go to the place of pain with them and weep. Mourn. Feel. Pray. Ask Jesus to fill the air and to be close and to give comfort; He will.

And if you're the beautiful soul with walls closing in [breathing becoming difficult] and the desire to curl up in a ball and never leave your bed? That is okay. You are okay. You have permission to mourn and to weep and to feel. Let those feely feels free; scream into a pillow. It may take months, years, to completely process this loss. And that is okay. Shower tears are the best tears because they blend right in with the water. The bathroom door is locked and tears are washed away as they fall from your eyes. Invite someone into your heart whom you trust; someone you know will mourn with you, feel with you, co-suffer with you...pray with you. Invite them in and give them the honor of feeling with you; I assure you, it is their honor.

Jesus wept.

That is the ultimate permission for us to weep.


An Average Week for Brenner Bunch

Many things have happened in the last 8 days. That's usually how life goes; it is lived. Each day seemed to be a week within them-self. I am surprised by how many times people ask me what I do with my time. What a loaded thing for anyone to define. Here is a little week-update from the Brenner Bunch; this is a good rough outline of what our week may or may not look like, depending on all things life. Monday was our normal sabbath, our day of resting from all things work-feeling. We love our sabbath, we cherish it, we delight in it. Almost always I begin my sabbath day reading this passage from Isaiah:

Keep the Sabbath day holy. Don’t pursue your own interests on that day, but enjoy the Sabbath and speak of it with delight as the Lord’s holy day. Honor the Sabbath in everything you do on that day, and don’t follow your own desires or talk idly. Then the Lord will be your delight. I will give you great honor and satisfy you with the inheritance I promised to your ancestor Jacob. I, the Lord, have spoken! Isaiah 58:13-14

I love that it is to be a day to fully delight in The Lord. I am honored to spend this holy day with my husband, both of us delighting in Jesus and His rest for us. So often, "my own interests" involve {attempting to} changing this world around me and getting things done. I am a getter-done girl: I make lists and I check things off the lists and I get things on my agenda done. But it clearly says not to do that, but to keep it a holy day to delight in Jesus. So whatever I do, may I restfully delight in The Lord.

We spent some time strawberry picking that day and we were so blessed. Davis Family Farm has u-pick berries for only $1.10/lb, so we spent about $17 on strawberries and filled 5 1-gallon zip lock freezer bags! We attempted one jar of jelly, very simple - only strawberries + sugar. It tastes like Heaven!


Mahi {Tacos} Monday has become a thing in the Brenner household, and I would just like to say that I love it. You can find one of those recipes here.

Tuesday.  Tuesdays begin with staff meeting and are our main office-work-print-everything-office-things day. There are a total of 8 people filtering in and out through the day, using it, and it's great. Busy and tons of laughter and joy and jokes and Keurig coffees and no water. It's great. I love it.


For the first time in too long, I made time before youth group to make something for dinner besides fruit or eggs. Loren & I decided on Monday that we should get back to eating delicious meals every night, like "the good ole days..." Tuesday we ate stuffed bell peppers! So. Tasty. But next time we need to have another dish with it; maybe some salad.

Quick bell pepper recipe used: •2 bell peppers, seeded + tops cut off •1 cup quinoa cooked •3 strips bacon, cooked crispy + cut up into baby chunks •1/4 lb of ground turkey cooked in the bacon grease •cilantro •provolone cheese grated on top

Bake @ 350 for 15 minutes and you're good to go! It was tasty, friends. I suggest eating it in a bowl.

Tuesday night youth group was a gem of a night. Two weeks ago a kid names Jony was walking by while we were playing crazy games outside. He was called over by one of our newest students to join us, which we were all so welcoming while throwing hot dogs around. He ended up staying the entire evening, and has been coming since. How cool is that?! We are honored that Jesus is trusting us with these precious lives. We pray to be honorable with His trust, and not to be flippant about it. Another sweet something is that we have 3 guys learning to lead us into musical worship, every week, with Mark {CC's worship leader} discipling them. I am so ecstatic to see them flourish in the way God has gifted them. Nothing gets me more excited. Except baptisms.

Wednesday. Our day started with 8 am coffee moments - discipleship is what we call it around these parts. Basically we get together with amazing and beautiful humans, talk about what's going on in our hearts and our life, and open the Bible. We read out loud, planning to get through a chapter or two, but normally only get through about 10 verses in an hour. Because friends, the bible is THAT good. And talking through scripture with another person has so many advantages: you get to share brains and insights and thoughts and heart things. It's beautiful and I highly recommend it, even if it feels awkward.

Lunch time arrived and a friend was coming over for her lunch break. That lunch date spurred this post here, about identity. Do you ever just carry shame? Even though you don't have to? Goodness me, I do. And that's just real life. But it doesn't have to be like that.

After lunch I had a few errands to run, picking up miscellaneous things for Sunday morning's service. I finished up a few expense reports and prepared for my girls small group, which ended up being cancelled! Let me take a brief moment to encourage you that this world isn't headed completely to the pits:

Our girls were all volunteering their time, with extreme excitement, to be in a video for the House of Engedi. This video will be used in churches and on their website; it highlights 2 different girls growing from a youngin to an 18t year old. In the video, one girl is caught up in human trafficking, the other leads a normal life.

Watch one of their videos HERE.

Also, one of my girls shared with me a beautiful piece of her life: her 13th birthday was last month and she asked her friends & family to give her cash instead of gifts. The cash would go to House of Engedi. She exploded joy all over my face in telling me she spent all $350 birthday money at Target on the house's registry. I What? I know. BLESS. Beauties, people, pure beauties.

For dinner I made these lettuce wraps which were the best, because the lettuce was huge and the leaf didn't break: it's because they were leaves from the cauliflower plant in the garden. We made the rest of the ground turkey, some bacon, bell peppers diced, green onions, and of course, shredded provolone. Was tasty, friends.


The awesomest part of the evening was Worship + Prayer. Every week I am deeply blessed by that time. It is usually a small group under 10, but has been up to 20+. Mark leads us into musical worship and Loren usually leads us into a time of prayer. It is such a gift of a time, because whoever is there will pray out and call to Jesus. We lift up personal requests, we call upon Jesus for strength + renewal, we ask Jesus to use us in this city. So many beautiful hearts. So much blessing. It is difficult to explain, because it is simply so great.

Thursday is the beginning of Loren's 2nd job's shift: he works at Trillium Farm Home Thursday, Friday, Saturday. I am so deeply grateful and cannot express how proud I am. He has been there 2 years now, and the turn over rate is much like an Assisted Living: every 3-6 months. While Loren is hanging out with very hurting, dangerous, angry, and overly-medicated kids all day who are threatening dark things to him, I get to spend time taking girls and females of many ages to coffee to talk about life & Jesus. I get to invite people into our home and sew and bake cookies and make cards for others. I get to open my heart, taking risks with vulnerability, praying that they may do the same and together we can pursue Jesus and discover freedom. Talk about blessed and loved and spoiled. Thursdays are usually spent with 2-3 different girls, doing just those things.

Thursday, Loren and I planned a date to one of our favorite places ever made {that we have experienced}. It is called..dun dun dunnnn...Gathering Together Farm! We put this specific special date on the calendar to celebrate being DEBT FREE! {You can read that post here}. GT Farm sells tons of their produce at Saturday Farmers Markets all over; Newport, Albany, Corvallis.. They are in Philomath. They also have a restaurant on site and it is the best tasting food in all the land! The sad thing was that I forgot to make a reservation. I called Thursday morning and they were BOOKED. So sad. I'm not normally one to get caught up and hung up in something like this, but I was bummed! I had even got a new dress from Ross for this very occasion. First world problems, I know. When Loren got home he casted a vision for the evening: order take out from Block 15, ride our bikes downtown, pick up our order, walk to the river front and eat. Walk around, hold hands, kiss on the cheek, talk big dreams, and ride back home. Walk to Market of Choice, buy komboocha + German chocolate, walk back home to make a fire and roast s'mores. So that's what we did and it was a time of friendship and I loved it.

Downtown Corvallis, waterfront park


Date night, down town Corvallis

Friday morning I kissed my man off as he rode his bike 4 miles to work and I headed off to the first coffee date with a youth leader. We talked about Ephesians and identity and television and Jeremiah and insecurities. It was great. After that I headed to another coffee date-meeting at another coffee shop.

What I love about Fridays is this newish routine I have going on: going to the laundromat with a new mama, this time 2! I have been going to the laundromat every Friday for almost a year, and recently I invited a friend. She has a 6 month baby so I figured I could hold the baby or do her laundry. This last week her cousin came, who also has a little 5 month baby. So fun. I look forward to this time every week.

I try to let Friday afternoons be my home-cleaning time, before Loren gets home from work. It has been going pretty well - some Fridays I make more time than others.

Both of our evening meetings/coffee dates were cancelled on us, which gave us another evening with each other! I had started feeling really sick, so I was grateful. Loren went for a 10 mile run because our 25k is in TWO WEEKS! I stayed home and caught up on some of my blog-reading. We ate gluten free chicken enchiladas! I had prepared most of it before the sick came. You can click here to see the recipe I used. They were too good, because Loren asked me to make them a regular and well...the prep time took 35 minutes and that's a lot of prep time! But I do love my husband.

Saturday was unusual. Normally I would invite a girl or 7 to join me at the Saturday market or for a hike or to come bake cookies, while Loren is at work trying to keep kids calm and watch Frozen. But this Saturday Loren took work off for my Great Grandma's funeral. We woke up at 7 so we could go to the Saturday market -- Loren hadn't gone to our Saturday market since June of 2012! TWO YEARS! He has worked every Saturday since, and if he isn't working then he is doing something else. So we were completely blessed to hold hands and smell flowers and sip coffee and walk around downtown together. We headed up to Monmouth, picked up Hannah and drove the Wilsonville to enjoy lunch with the Newbold clan. What. A. Treat.

Downtown Corvallis, simple ootd

Coffee Culture; iced toddy

Mahogany Driftwood


Grandma's funeral was special. I wasn't extremely close to Great Grandma Ann, but I am to her daughter, Grandma Donna. I won't spend a lot of time here, out of respect, but I'll let you know it was a special time.

Loren & I were blessed big time. Since Great Grandma Ann no longer needs her earthly possessions, Grandma Donna set a few things aside for us. She gave me a ton of quilting things and fabric and all sorts of goodies that I have never bought; so that was a big score. Then we were offered to snag anything we saw in the apartment we needed/wanted. There were about 10 people in that small apartment and I couldn't help but feel a bit uncomfortable. All of us sifting through Great Grama's felt odd in my heart. But Grama Donna assured us it helped her. I slowly scanned the small and unnoticeables. Here are a few finds that Grandma Donna was so excited that I wanted:

Lucky for us, Great Grama loved red! We love love love red, so we finally were able to have more of it in our home.

We end our weeks {or begin them?} with Sunday mornings with the best bunch of people around! Corvallis Church. So good, so blessed, so looking forward to that tomorrow. Our lives kind of in a big sense revolve around these people, so I am always so blessed by Sunday mornings when I get to be in a room full of each and every one of them. Nothing beats worshipping the amazing and almighty God among your friends and family and beautiful humans. We also are having our first picnic potluck tomorrow after church!


20140609-190109-68469875.jpg Any time we have the fire rolling, this guy and his friends and siblings will visit us. This week we introduced him to s'mores. Also, he is dying to make something with the sewing machine and he helped me fix our rice sack.

Loren and I have both been setting our alarms for 5:30 am every day except for Sundays + Mondays. We try to be up by 6 am to read our Bibles together, but separately, sip coffee, and pray. This has been going well for awhile and it greatly blesses us. We close this time in prayer together, as a launch pad for our day. We don't do this because it makes us good or gives us salvation -- it doesn't. We do this because it reminds us of who we are and that we need Jesus; without Him, we perish. If you don't have a routine to spend time like this, I greatly encourage you to! It is difficult to build a habit, but the blessings and harvest of right living that follows brings joy {Hebrews 12:11}.

There is a quick update on our life from last week. If you have any questions, you can click the contact link above and email us! It is always such a joy receiving emails. How was your week? Do you have any meal planning or dinner ideas to share? We are slowly getting back into clean eating - for us, that means cutting out most dairy and corn. {In addition to gluten}.