Wednesday, December 24, 2008


There is nothing that distracts Americans more than stuff. We live in the land of stuff. Never before has a people had more stuff than we do, and there is nothing that competes with Jesus more than stuff. Stuff is the anti eternity. Stuff is instant, it is now, it is touchable, tangible, and controllable.

We learn about stuff at a very young age. People start getting stuff as soon as their little, dimpled hands can clutch something and it doesn't stop until their hands no longer have the strength to clutch.

They have wills written so that other people will know what to do with their stuff.
This has to be done or else the people who are left behind will fight over this stuff.

Moms and Dads watch their children’s eyes closely to see what stuff makes them smile and do their very best to put that stuff within reach starting the first rules of the “Game of Stuff”.

“Reach and grab until you die.”

Some people have one pocket in their shirts to put stuff in but others have four because they need to put more stuff in them.

Pants have pockets to hold stuff also because some stuff has to be close to us at all times.

Most women have purses so they can carry stuff with them. Even some guys have begun to carry purses for their stuff.

Cars have glove boxes so they can hold stuff and trunks are much bigger and hold much more stuff.

Suite cases are getting larger and sturdier so that they can hold more stuff. Airlines have to impose weight limits on stuff, or the planes would never get off of the ground because of all the stuff we would take. We have to take as much stuff with us as we can before we feel comfortable leaving our homes behind that hold all of our big stuff.

Even as children we get so much stuff that by the time we get ready to start our own separate stuff pile we have to leave some of our stuff with our moms and dads.

We first get a small box to put our stuff in but as we get more stuff we need a bigger box to put stuff in and so we build a bigger one and then a bigger one. These boxes are called houses and some boxes are bigger and better than others but they are just boxes to hold stuff.

These boxes have doors and windows that lock. Why? Because there are actually people who want our stuff and will steal it.

They don’t ever steal our junky stuff but always take our new, shiny or electronic stuff. This leads to a business called security and a field of medicine called psychiatry to keep unwanted people out and to get other people’s heads straight that worry about things like that too much.

Some people don’t have enough stuff so they actually go to other people’s houses and buy some of their stuff in garage sales. They get so much stuff that they need more closets and shelves to hold all their stuff. They put stuff in basements, stuff in attics, stuff under stairs and stuff in drawers.

There is actually a booming industry based on the idea that people have too much stuff called “storage.” Big hollow boxes with locks to hold stuff that people just can’t seem to let go of.

People have stuff that has absolutely no value to them but they know that it is coveted by someone else so they keep it with the intention of trading it for other stuff that they covet later.

At first garages were to park the family car in but now they just mostly hold stuff.

Boxes get bigger and the stuff continues to pile up.

Do you know that stuff even gets old or that there is a term applied to stuff called “out of style?”
This is stuff that works fine, but it has become the wrong color or shape. We get bored with this stuff and so they have businesses that will take that kind of stuff and give it to people that don’t have much stuff like Goodwill and Salvation Army.

Stuff that people finally thinks has absolutely no use to anyone gets put in a stuff graveyard called a dump.

Would you believe that even there you can find people, who have a lot of stuff already, digging around for more stuff? A kind of stuff reincarnation.

People dig in the earth for stuff. They drill holes hoping that they hit a hidden pocket of black stuff down there so they can translate it into other stuff up here. Stuff can also be found on the bottom of the ocean and so you find people who risk their lives to go down there hunting it.

There are different seasons for stuff. Some stuff can’t be legally used until certain times of the year. So it sits in storage until that stuff can be used for a few short months. People practice with this stuff a lot and talk about it a lot but most of the time this expensive stuff just sits unused. Stuff to hunt with, stuff to fish with, stuff to be on the water with, stuff to fall down in the snow with, stuff to hit, stuff to catch, stuff to swing, and stuff to throw.

It has been said that “Americans have lost their souls so now they are trying to save their bodies.” Exercise stuff, diet stuff, tanning stuff, curling stuff, tucking stuff and lifting stuff.

Christians like stuff as much as sinners do. They call it, “Blessing.”

They have stuff in storages and stuff in closets. Stuff in basements and stuff in attics. Then they go to church and sing, “This world is not my home, I’m just a passing through.”

They bow down at the altar with all sincerity and ask God for more stuff. “Bless me Lord.” When they lose some of their stuff, they think God is mad at them, “Why did you take my stuff?” “Please show me that you aren’t mad at me… by giving me more stuff.”

We honor the ones with the most stuff, and we pity the ones with the least amount of stuff.

And then we get to the stuff season, (This is it) Christmas… Jesus used to be the reason for the season, but Santa Claus brings the stuff, so … “Santa’s the man!”
We wildly dive into the pursuit for “Holiday” stuff. Stuff in stockings, stuff to wrap, stuff to eat, and stuff to decorate with. Admittedly fun stuff, I personally love this stuff… but stuff can’t crowd out Jesus… stuff isn’t the reason for the season, is it?

I wonder what it is going to be like when the Archangel blows his trumpet. Is there going to be a groan from the American church, “So soon? Now what will we do with all of our stuff?”

I wonder if Peter and a crew of angels with hammers and chisels, squeegees and scrapers are going to be ready for us?

I don’t want to walk through the gates of pearl and hear the angels say, “Can you believe that they have names for all this stuff that is caked on them? Yuk! What a mess some of these saints are. Do they know that they can’t take this stuff with them into heaven?”

A question begged to be asked.

Do Christians think like they act that God is going to hand out rewards to the guy with the most stuff? I know it is called “blessing” down here, but is stuff always a blessing by heaven’s way of seeing things?

Do some think they are going to walk up to the throne with a great sense of accomplishment and point back to a burning world and say, “Lord did you see all of my stuff before you burned it?”

God might say, “Yes I did. To whom much is given much is required.”

Written by Jeff in 1997

Friday, November 28, 2008

Thanksgiving at The Homeplace

There is no place like The Homeplace. We have special times there all throughout the year but Thanksgiving Day is always a favorite. We all know what we are to bring, and do the same thing every year. The turkey, ham, dressing (in the famous dressing pan, but that is another story), sides, deserts, cassaroles... what a smooth operation. It always works out just fine. It usually starts Thanksgiving Eve Night. This year we all played a game of Scrabble and it was a blast. TS & MBS were winning until Jordan and Mom soared ahead. I think Jeff and I would have won but he was doing something else the first half of the game. It was a good game. I don't think koy is a word, is it Kori and Reagan??? Then came 'the' puzzle. The yearly puzzle is always a highlight for my family. We LOVE to do puzzles.

Thanksgiving day is always sweet. We are surrounded by people we love. Memories are being made. I'm thankful for my Alexandria family. I will miss the 143 steps to The Home Place.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Kenny Mabrey would have been celebrating his 65 birthday today. He was a great man. He was a great husband. He was a great Dad. He was a great Papa. He had a ton of friends. I learned a lot from him, things I use everyday of my life. He is gone but will never be forgotten. I wish there were more people in the world like Kenny Mabrey.
I miss him and am looking forward to the day when we will see him again. I'm sure he's up there with TR McDonald, Crystal, Kenny Brady, and they are having a good time.
Happy Birthday Dad. I love and miss you.
Bren...(that's what he called me)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A Tale Begins... Again

We find ourselves in a familiar place. We have done this before, this missionary thing. It has been said, "Once a missionary, always a missionary."

Many days that statement can be a blessing and some days it seems to be a curse. Though it is usually only a curse when one tries to avoid it. To embrace it is to be blessed.

Oh, the blessings! If life is a journey, and it is, then the way a missionary takes is marked with mountain tops of the highest kinds, preceded by valleys of the lowest.

Very few days are forgettable, leaving either landmarks or scars, but whether one or the other, they somehow seem precious when placed in the hall of memories. They are memorials all, times when victory came through blessing, or victory came through breaking.

We could speak of the wonderful people we were privileged to work with there. Or how many were filled with the Holy Ghost, that never ceased to thrill. We could talk of how easy it is to make a difference in a person's life, a time when $100 turned a pastor's life around or a pair of shoes given to a minister's wife brought tears of joy, or the coat of paint on the little concrete walled church brought on a community celebration. These and more, are some of the joys about missionary life. But they aren't what we miss the most.

The greatest benefit of living that life is the rhythm. (It may sound strange to read, it even sounds strange to write, but it is true nonetheless.) The rhythm of sacrifice and blessing. The constant contrast between what you don't have, and what God provides.

It is the soul nourishing dance that is forced upon you when faith is your walk, and feeling after God is your sight. It is the delicious savor of the harmonizing flavors of human need and divine provision.

Missionary life is the hardest and the best. It is the most disappointing, and the most thrilling. Reaching, saving some and loosing some, weeping and laughing... it is the surprising reward that comes when you give up something good and miraculously gain something so much better.

The rhythm of leaving and gaining, and doing it again tomorrow, and again the next day.
The rhythm of saying, "I can't, but He can." What an addicting intoxication!
So here we are again. Some may get weary of our going, but don't blame us.

This is simply our rhythm.
Written by Jeff

Young girl being delivered in the Philippines-Jeff took this clip

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Ann Wolfe

I was saddened when I heard the news last night that Ann Wolfe passed away. She was such a sweet lady. So classy. I am praying for Jim. I am praying for her son and daughter and grandchildren. Beverly is also in my prayers. TS & MBS, we're praying for you also. I lost my dad to cancer 7 years ago, and life suddenly changed. I will never understand all the 'whys'. I do know that God will sustain them in the days to come.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

K.R. Mabrey

It has been 7 years since we put Dad to rest. Oh, how I miss him. It has not been an easy road for our family. So many things have changed. Although he is gone, I can still hear his voice in my mind. Sometimes I just sit and reminisce. I can still smell the scent of fertilizer in the ole hardware store. I can even see the uneven slats in the floor with the stuff hanging from the rafters. I can see myself riding next to him in his pick up truck. Even in my adult years I still enjoyed riding around with him in his truck. He was so cute. He loved my mother so much. He loved his 'home'. And my Mother created an incredible cozy home. He was a good man. He loved God with everything in him. He loved his family.

Jeff, Morgan, Jordan, Kori , and I all miss him. His memory lives on in our home. Things he taught me and my children will forever be etched in our hearts and minds. And someday we will see him again.

I love you Dad!

This is one of his trucks we used to ride around in.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Jordan's Missionary Trip

Jordan and Jeff went to the Philippines over 3 weeks ago. Jeff preached at the Region 1 Conference in Manila. Then stayed for a crusade where awesome things happened.
Jeff came home and Jordan stayed there to do 'missionary' work. He loved it and was able to go up north to Baguio, all by himself. Pastor Banez and the church family up there were so hospitable and Jordan was so impressed with all that they have going on up there.
He played golf, basketball, and they even got him to go bowling. He sang, played the piano, and even spoke a few times. They took EXCELLENT care of him while he was there and for that I am very grateful.
Then he came back to Manila and the Rios family went above and beyond the call. They were SO thoughtful and generous and Jordan will never forget his days with them.
The Martinez family, such dear friends, took Jordan around and fed him at their son's restaurant and coffee shop. He said the coffee and food was wonderful.
Then Jordan stayed a few days at the bible school in Manila and ministered at the Pestano's church. Jordan spent a lot of time with the Pestano children when we lived in Manila back in the late 90's and he really appreciated restoring the friendship with them.
His schedule there was almost non stop. And of course he didn't get enough sleep. He called from Manila the night he left and said he was very sick. He had a fever and was week/dizzy. Well, we get a call from Guam saying they were taking him off the plane because he was too sick to fly. I asked if he could make the 7 hour flight to Honolulu, at least his Papa and Granny Mallory could be with him. They said he couldn't do it. He was taken by ambulance to the ER and spent the whole day there. There was a period of a few hours that we didn't know where he was, where he was going, or who was with him. We had a contact of a local pastor there and Jeff called and immediately he was up at the hospital with Jordan. After Jeff talk with Pastor Deguzman, he felt better. Jeff's first impression's of him were very positive. His actions and kindness that followed validated Jeff's impression's. He is a 'take charge' kinda guy. He and his wife have 4 kids around the same age as Jordan. They made sure Jordan's passport, Macbook, Ipod, and other things were secure. We called up to the hospital and talked to the Filipina nurse that was taking care of him, she told us he was 'stable", and he was hooked to an IV. They took blood and he waited while they hydrated him. Pastor Deguzman kept us very informed. I'm not sure what I would have done if we didn't have that contact. Well, I DO know what I would have done.....I would be writing this from Guam right now. The diagnosis was the flu and severe dehydration, he was realesed and checked into a hotel there. All he did was sleep and drink. The Pastor kept us informed on him. THANK GOD FOR PASTOR DEGUZMAN AND FAMILY. Pastor Deguzman's daughter works for Continental Airlines so she was able to confirm the rest of his itinerary. As I am writing this he is at the airport checked in for the 7 hour flight to Honolulu. He is there for an hour or so and then on to IAH (Houston), then home to AEX (Alexandria). I'm praying that he can make it all the way HOME!! God is faithful. Even though Tuesday was a rough day for me, I still felt a calmness and a peace. I thank God for my close friends and church family. TS & MBS----what would we do without you????

The Hospital in Guam

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

This is what I know

I know that a fiercely loyal husband is priceless.
I know that my kids are my treasures.
I know that my friends are invaluable.
I know that God loves me more and more....
I know that life is not fair.
I know that flowers are pretty in the Spring.
I know that the red bird I notice every day is telling me a story.
I know that peace is better than money.
I know that Iced Coffee from McDonalds is the BEST!
I know that prayer changes things.
I know that money can’t buy love, a sound mind, and grace.
I know that Kori likes Sushi more than anything.
I know that pedicures & manicures are a must!
I know that my life is blessed and I LOVE it!!

Friday, March 14, 2008

For those asking for pictures of the kids, here they are.
Morgan, Jordan, and Kori. God has blessed us with 3 totally different wonderful kids.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

This is a great day to be alive

There is no substitute for God, family and good friends. Thankfully, we have all three. God has been so gracious, and so good to us. Our family is walking in blessed days right now. Our friends have meant the world to us. What more could we ask for?
We are taking a step, a large step for us, into full time ministry. Hearts Heading Home is a family ministry we are excited about. We have a seminar book, (for lack of a better description) that contains some very good resources for families, marriages, children, moral purity and the like.
Missions, missions, missions. At the same time, while we base out of Alexandria, we feel compelled to reach beyond. Harvest time is here, and in our latest trip to the Philippines it was thrilling to see what God is doing in that country. Our brothers and sisters over there are representing the gospel well. Through their faithfulness, they have allowed God to position them for unprecedented harvest.
A word to spiritual investors, invest in the Philippines because it is going to pay off big time!
A word for POA. You are an awesome church with tremendous leadership! What God is doing in these 21 days of fasting and praying is an experience we will never forget. We know that years from now we will be reminiscing, "Remember when we were in that 21 day fast? Remember how it was, thousands of people sacrificing and praying all at once for three straight weeks?" This is a great day to be alive.
From Jeff

I'm a blogger!!

Hi! I finally did it. I'm a blogger. When you have family and friends that live thousands of miles away this is a good way to stay connected. Our life is far from boring, as we have a very active family. Jeff and I both will contribute to this blog. When you read the deep hearted stuff-that will come from Jeff. The light stuff will come from me. Can't say I'll blog everyday, but keep checking back and no tellin what you'll find on here. I'm glad you found us.
From Brenda