When you’re married to a grad student

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My husband started his PhD program 8 months after we married. We thought it would take 3 years, max. It took 5 years, and then some. We thought it would be a low-stress environment in which to start our married lives (what with flexi-time, and all that). It wasn’t. We thought we’d finish up grad school before we had kids. We didn’t.

And so, when I was asked: “Do you have any advice to give young married grad students?”, I flinched a little. Those five years of early marriage in grad school were intense, and it is hard to distil the things I learned which were true of sharing-grad-school as opposed to the steep-learning-curve-called-marriage; because we did them simultaneously. However, if you’ll forgive me smooshing things together, here are some of the things I’d want to whisper to other spouses of a grad student…

1. Grad School is more than a 9-5 job.

Grad students don’t come home from a long day on campus and get to sit down, grab the remote and “switch off” for the evening. They feel tremendous pressure to come home, eat a little, and keep working. After all, their lab mates are working, their professor expects them to be working, there are papers to be published, papers to be graded, books to be read, funding opportunities to research, and that’s just for starters. They are competing with motivated, mostly single, grad students who have room mates with whom they share responsibilities and bills; not a spouse with whom they share life. I, on the other hand, expected his “work life” to stay at work, and for him to be present when he was home.

My grad student spouse needed me to acknowledge the pressure he was under, and we needed to agree on when we would spend time together, and also allow time when he could work at night or on weekends without feeling guilty.

…but… Grad School is easier to manage if you treat like a job

Our youthful selves can all handle 24 hours of intense work, or even a week or two of 16 hour work days. Exam season, or mid-term season sometimes calls forth extra bursts of energy. But grad school is a LONG-TERM commitment: it requires YEARS of sustained effort, and no-one can work around the clock for years and stay healthy.

Even though grad school often required my spouse to work nights and weekends, he did better – WE did better – when we still aimed to treat school work as a job. We allowed for weekends away. We cherished vacations. We knew there had to be time for other things: hobbies, friends, dinners and the general shenanigans that make life fun.

2. You will not understand much/most of what your spouse is studying

My husband liked to joke that a specialist is defined as “someone who knows more and more about less and less until he knows everything about nothing.” PhD’s are by definition in a field of study which no-one else has ever thought to think or write about before… i.e. it is NOT in the “public interest” (yet). I spent more hours than anyone in the world trying to understand what my husband was doing – but I just didn’t get it (and I didn’t really want to, and I had to beg him to stop trying to explain: “honey, the likelihood that I will understand it better if you explain it just one more time is exceedingly slim… so please can we get some sleep?”)

…but… You need to understand enough to give an elevator pitch answer about their studies

My spouse thought about his thesis topic in a great amount of complexity and detail, and anyone who asked him what he was studying was likely to get a complex, detailed answer. My role as president-of-his-fanclub and first-line-of-social-defense was to jump in with a 30 second layman’s explanation. I may not have understood it all, but I understood it better than anyone else not in his field.

3. Your spouse needs your encouragement more than your (constructive) criticism

Five years (or even two years) is a l-o-o-o-o-o-n-n-n-g-g-g time to keep going in an intense grad school program. At times it may have seemed like it was falling on deaf ears, but my spouse needed to hear that I believed in him, that his work was making a difference, that I was proud of him, that he was conquering the world. He needed to hear that when he was ‘succeeding’, but especially when he was discouraged. At times of discouragement, an “I love you, and you can conquer the world” did more to help him than “now let me help fix your schedule for you.”

4. Try not to hate their advisor

In our case, my hubby’s supervising prof was a particularly awesome guy; but the issue of “hating on the boss” came up often in our little grad school community. A frustrated grad student would share the frustrations of the day with their spouse, and the spouse would then fume or mentally “fix” the situation for days… long after the grad student had returned to the office in relative peace. Try to remember that the supervising professors really WANT their grad students to succeed – they’re on your spouse’s side, so try to forgive and forget.

5. Life after grad school is more like grad school than you realize

One of the surprises of finishing grad school was how much our routine stayed the same post-grad-school as it had been in-grad-school. The bad habits we had developed thinking “oh, this is just while we’re under pressure now – it will be different when grad school is over,” turned out to be bad habits we had to face later. The priorities we set, the way we managed our time, the way we shared household responsibilities, the way we volunteered at church, the way we communicated remained substantially the same after grad school as it was during.

So my advice is this: create the marriage and life you want DURING grad school, because it’s the marriage and life you are likely to have after grad school. Love each other well, work hard, play well… and on the day when your loved one gets capped, know that you as the spouse got an award too: Spouse cum laude.

Do you have any tips to share? Leave them in the comment section below!

And do you have a question? Click over to the “Ask Bronwyn” page 🙂

On making new friends

Dear Bronwyn,

I finished college, got married and moved to a new community two years ago. We’d heard that making friends after college is hard, so we found a church, joined a small group, and said “yes” to as many engagements as we could. We have met some wonderful people, I would even call them friends.

That being said, Friday nights roll around, or my husband has work when I don’t, and I (or we) find ourselves at home wondering what to do. The college answer of “call your friends and see what they’re up to” doesn’t seem to work. We have one couple we feel we could just call up, but their schedules often differ. Many have kids, and others I am hesitant to call because I feel like they already have their friends and we are just an obligation as part of being “welcoming”.

Is this just the slow reality of developing friendships after college, or am I missing something? Do I need to push harder? How do I do so without being obnoxious?

– Need Friendly Advice

dinner party Dear NFA,

My hubby and I had been married for 6 months when we moved half way across the world so he could start his PhD. Six. Months. And for this gal, who had led a rich, friend-filled, socially-hectic life in Cape Town – those were some of the hardest months of my life. I was lonely, I was bored, I was newly married and trying to figure out so many new things: a new identity, a new community, a new routine, a new room mate (!). Sounds like you are going through a similar set of changes; and I remember praying tear-filled prayers that I would find friends too.

You have two big challenges facing you.

The first is the challenge of making friends after college. College, for all its challenges and existential angst, is still a relatively easy place to find friends as there are a few thousand people of exactly the same age around,and they have similar interests, similar availability, and a similar need to make new friends. Added to that – there are a host of on-campus communities that always make it their sole ambition to find the “new people” and get them “plugged in”. Really, you get the opportunity to just shop for the community you feel most comfortable in, and then the rest is a little like Swiss Miss Hot Chocolate: with a little bit of action on your part, everything gets mixed up and sweet pretty quickly.

Post-college has none of those guaranteed points of similarity: ages vary, schedules vary, interests vary, and there aren’t as many people around who are as desperate to make friends as you are. It takes longer. You have to try harder. In many ways, making friends post college feels a little like dating: you have to take risks, arrange meetings, start conversations. I remember wanting to make friends with my daughter’s pediatrician after we’d met a few times, but feeling like I didn’t know whether I was allowed to make friends in what was, for her, a professional context. Broaching the subject of “would you like to get together?” felt like I was asking her on a date. (For the record, she said yes, and we are still friends). But it was terrifying and it felt risky.

It sounds like you are doing so many healthy things for this life stage: saying “Yes” to invitations, joining a church, and finding a small group. Keep it up. Say yes to opportunities to be with others, and even better – to serve alongside others. And take people at their word: if they say they’d love you to come, don’t second guess whether this is a “politeness” offer. If you like them and would like to be friends, act on it. You have so much to offer as a friend, and they need good friends in their life as much as you do.

Inviting people around and saying yes is not being “obnoxious”: it’s relationally healthy. Keep up your efforts, and as time goes out you will find that the fatigue of always-having-to-explain-the-back-story will fade away: you’ll be able to tell your new friend that “John called and he said he’s coming home for the holidays”, without having to explain that John is your wayward brother, or that his coming home for the Holidays means Walking On Eggshells around him. In time your new friends will know your back stories, and your shared experiences as meals, adventures and service together will build a new web of shared community.

However, you have a second challenge in making friends: you are a newly wed.

The first year of marriage has many challenges, and making friends with a newly wed couple can be challenging because people fear that newlyweds are pretty much constantly in bed, that they would NEVER call you on a Friday evening for fear that they might be “interrupting” something. For sure, the number of “just dropped in to say Hi”, or “just phoned to see what you were doing” calls PLUMMETED once we got married. People assumed we were “busy”, and they wanted to give us “space”.

To counter that – you have to figure out as a couple whether you want an open house/open calendar mood to your marriage, and you will have to work hard to persuade your friends that you still really want them around (and that you don’t spend every minute at home wearing skanky lingerie. Seriously – I had friends that thought that.)  Many single friends fear that their newly married friends won’t want them around (wrongly assuming they only want to be friends with couples now), and so they need extra encouragement that they have a welcome place in your life.

Also, there are the new challenges of figuring out his friends vs my friends vs OUR friends. If someone befriends you, are you available to be their friend, or are you and your new hubby a “package deal”? These kinds of questions are tricky for you as a couple to figure out, and tricky too for those in your community who want to approach you.

Again – this takes a little persistence on your part. There are some couples who prefer to hibernate at home together in the evenings, but if you and your hubby are wanting to extend your circles and deepen your fledgling friendships – encourage your new friends to come round, tell them you are thankful for them, use your words and your invitations to communicate that even though you’re a young-couple-in-love, you also two people who want to make friends and be friends… and you want to be their friend.

Being a newly wed and being freshly out of college requires some new habits in making friends, and is also means some new expectations. This is the “new normal”, and it DOES take more time to make friends. But you will.

And in fact, it sounds as if you already are.

Help, I’m asking the question I’m not supposed to ask.

20131129-104201.jpg“Dear Bronwyn,
I’ve been in the church long enough to know I’m not supposed to be asking this question. I feel a HUGE amount of guilt about it, but I have to ask: “Why?” Life is ridiculously hard sometimes. Why doesn’t God save us and bring us home to him? Why doesn’t he just get us out of here? He can do it. He is able. He already knows the end of the story (who will come to him or not) – so why doesn’t he just make it happen? I know I shouldn’t be asking this question, but my soul is crying out for an answer, and every pastor I hear speak on this seems to be giving a cop out answer. I’m not asking why bad things happen – I know we live in a fallen world. I am asking why we have to live here in the first place when it’s so awful. My non-believing friends ask me this question and I think “hmm, good point” and give them the cookie cutter answer I know I’m supposed to say. But I’m sad, and confused. Maybe I’m just weak.
– Signed, Judge Me or Judge Me Not.”

Dear JMoJMN,

I cannot judge you, and I cannot answer your question either. Why God allows suffering at all, and why He allows it to continue, are questions which fall into the “I don’t know” category. With tears and sadness, I’m sorry to say I don’t know either, and say that cop out answers make me angry too. We cannot explain the purposes and mysteries of God, and while He has given us some clues as to why suffering sometimes happens (due to sin, discipline, disobedience, or even because he has some glorious purpose to work out, like when he let Lazarus die so he could raise him again) – the fact is He almost never tells us which of those reasons (if any) applies to our particular situation.

I don’t know why He allows it, and I don’t know why He hasn’t come yet – but as with so many things in my faith, I find myself faced with a choice when I feel like despairing. I have to choose to cling to the little I do know, or to walk into the great and painful void of things I don’t know.

When I’m hurting and praying for things to resolve, these are some of the verses I cling to:

“The Lord is near to the broken hearted” (Psalm 34:18)

“But as for me, I will trust in you.” (Psalm 55:23b)

“Your promises have been thoroughly tested, therefore your servant loves them.” (Psalm 119:142)

“Jesus wept.” (John 11:35)

“and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:3-4)

But I hear you: in the midst of clinging to those promises, sometimes my heart breaks that the pain still continues for now. However, I don’t believe you are a “bad Christian” for asking these questions. Indeed, the first century believers repeatedly prayed “Maranatha! COME Lord Jesus, (1 Corinthians 16:22)” a prayer for speedy deliverance if ever there was one. To beg God to make it end quickly, and to despair over the brokenness of the world is not a sign of being a bad or faithless Christian – it seems to me to be a deeply biblical response.

But it’s hard. It’s oh-so-hard. I find myself coming back to two stories in the gospels again and again when I find myself bewildered by the lack of answers. The first is in John 6, when Jesus had been doing some hard teaching. His disciples challenged him: “This is a difficult statement; who can understand it?” (verse 61). In response to his answer, “many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore.” (v66). John tells us that Jesus then asked the twelve: “You do not want to go away also do you?” Simon Peter answered him: “Lord to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have believed and have come to know that you are the Holy One of God.” (John 6:67-69)

The second account is in Mark, where Jesus comes down from the Mountain to find the disciples floundering after failing to heal a boy possessed by an evil spirit. The father of the boy asked Jesus for help, saying “If you can do anything, take pity on us and help us!” Jesus replies, “IF you can? All things are possible to him who believes.” And immediately, the boy’s father cried out “I do believe! Help me in my unbelief!” (Mark 9:22-24)

I come back to these passages often. I find myself bewildered and hurting and wondering if I can accept the answers I’m hearing, or if God can do anything about it and have pity and help us. My words are the disciples’ words, the boy’s father’s words. And I hear Jesus’ gentle answer to me: “IF I can do anything? Are you also going to walk away because this is hard?”

In those moments, I have to reply with those first believers: “I do believe, but HELP me in my unbelief. And besides which, where else shall I go? You have the words of eternal life.” I cannot even begin to tell you how often I’ve come back to these two stories. I don’t know the answers, but I know enough to know I have no better option than to lean into him when I’m hurting.

It’s okay to not know. We are called to be witnesses to what we know, not what we don’t. Over the years, one of my favorite hymns has become the Celtic classic “I cannot tell” (to the wondrous Londonberry tune – lyrics and music video below), which makes this point most beautifully: there are so many things we don’t know and understand. So many things that hurt and confuse and overwhelm us, mysteries beyond us. There are things we “cannot tell”. But then there are the things we do know, and it is those we cling to and sing of and in which we place our hope.

I’m praying for you, friend. Armed with an “I don’t know” for the mysteries, we cling to that which we know. We DO believe, may He help us in our unbelief, and comfort us as we wait.

I cannot tell why He whom angels worship,
Should set His love upon the sons of men,
Or why, as Shepherd, He should seek the wanderers,
To bring them back, they know not how or when.
But this I know, that He was born of Mary
When Bethlehem’s manger was His only home,
And that He lived at Nazareth and labored,
And so the Savior, Savior of the world is come.

I cannot tell how silently He suffered,
As with His peace He graced this place of tears,
Or how His heart upon the cross was broken,
The crown of pain to three and thirty years.
But this I know, He heals the brokenhearted,
And stays our sin, and calms our lurking fear,
And lifts the burden from the heavy laden,
For yet the Savior, Savior of the world is here.

I cannot tell how He will win the nations,
How He will claim His earthly heritage,
How satisfy the needs and aspirations
Of East and West, of sinner and of sage.
But this I know, all flesh shall see His glory,
And He shall reap the harvest He has sown,
And some glad day His sun shall shine in splendor
When He the Savior, Savior of the world is known.

I cannot tell how all the lands shall worship,
When, at His bidding, every storm is stilled,
Or who can say how great the jubilation
When all the hearts of men with love are filled.
But this I know, the skies will thrill with rapture,
And myriad, myriad human voices sing,
And earth to Heaven, and Heaven to earth, will answer:
At last the Savior, Savior of the world is King!

Photo credit: scripturelady.com

Help, I’m newly married and pregnant

Yes, this is a photo of a stick with pee on it.

Yes, this is a photo of a stick with pee on it.

Dear Bronwyn,

I just found out that I am pregnant and have only been married 5 months! We were diligently taking birth control, I am in the middle of my graduate program & my husband makes very little money. How are we to handle such a big change that we did NOT plan on having for another 4 or 5 years?                                   – Not Ready

Dear Not Ready,

I well remember feeling so broke and afraid of getting pregnant when we first moved to the US. We were newly married, had no money and very little support and I couldn’t afford any health care at all. I think I would have collapsed on the floor weeping at first if that pregnancy test had two positive little lines.

It is a BIG surprise. And it means BIG changes for you. But this is one of those classic examples where we have to say that while man makes plans, The Lord ultimately directs our steps. And the things we know to be true about Him is that He is good. He loves you. And He calls us, just like Jesus said to the disciples in the boat in mark 6 when the waves were threatening to engulf them, to not be afraid, but to have faith.

Jesus will lead you through this.

I remember a few years into our marriage doing some reading and being convicted that I had had some very wrong thinking about marriage and kids. I realized I had been making pro and con lists about whether and when we should have kids. And then at some point it was as if God said to me: “Bronwyn, I have said that children are a BLESSING. By definition that means they are a PRO. why are you making pro and con lists when I already told you which it is?” It was hard to hear at first, but actually greatly freeing for me.

God has obviously decided that right now you get to be blessed with this pregnancy. He intends it for good. You are definitely old enough. You are married enough.

You are ten years older than Mary was when God chose her to be the mother of Jesus.
And you have more marital experience than she.
And you have better health care.
And you have the spirit of the living God jnside you.
You are going to do GREAT. Have faith: if God has called you to this, He will equip and provide!

As far as feeling ready or prepared for parenting…. Well, let me just say that I don’t think we are ever really READY to be parents. It’s a huge big surprising adventure in grace. God gives us pregnancy months not just to grow a baby, but also to grow us. By the time baby comes, we are as ready as we will ever be – and in God’s grace, it will be enough. We don’t get a second shot at anything in parenting: we are never ready for babies, or for the first time our kids sass us, or the first time they really hurt themselves, or for them to be teenagers. Parenting is all about living in the moment by Gods grace.

On a practical note: your ob-gyn may not see you for several weeks. A doctor may consider your home test sufficient proof and only schedule a first visit and ultrasound at around 10-12 weeks, so it is possible you will have a few weeks to wait. If so, here’s my advice:

  • Take pre natal vitamins. Start this TODAY and don’t delay. The big thing with prenatals is the folic acid which, in the first weeks of baby’s life, eradicate the possibility of spina biffida. If you get nauseous taking them, try taking them with food or at different times of the day. But do take them.
  • Even if you’re planning to keep this a secret for a while, tell a handful of people. The first trimester is sometimes easy going, but sometimes rough. It is exhausting physically, especially around weeks 8-11, and you may need help and grace from friends. Also, if something does happen with the baby, you will need support. Trust me on this: we had one miscarriage and I was glad I had told just a few people. I needed them.
  • Finally, look into state sponsored prenatal care, which may cover many (if not all) your prenatal costs, and possibly also your baby’s healthcare for the first year of their life. If you already have health care, state health care will pick up the co-pay/deductibles etc. In our case, we were only be able to apply after the first ultrasound as we had to take in the picture to prove your pregnancy, but it was totally worth the red tape and the wait. We were SO THANKFUL for it. The state support for young families made us all the more willing to pay tax dollars in the years that followed.

You are going to be okay! There is a community of older, godly women which God has prepared JUST FOR YOU to give you all the advice, help, nurture and encouragement you need. He will give you more mothers to bear you up as you set out on this new journey of being a mother yourself.

I hope this helps. You and your husband are starting out on a grand adventure. You may not be ready to hear this yet, but CONGRATULATIONS!

3 Tips on Rest for Super-Busy People

3 Tips on-4

I suppose I am not surprised that the first two questions I got when I said “ask me anything” were questions about finding time to rest. We are chronically exhausted people. The most common response to the question “How are you?” seems to be “Busy!”

One reader wrote:

“Do you have any thoughts on how Moms of little ones can find time to rest? The cycle of sleeping, waking, diaper-changing, feeding, burping, rocking, and then back to sleeping, waking, diaper-changing… is relentless.”

Another wrote this:

“I’m a college student and am thrilled that I just got a part-time job to help cover expenses. My grades are going okay, but I feel like I’m missing out on the stress-relieving fun things I used to have time to do. It’s weird not having that emotional outlet, and that creative side of me is crucial to who I am as a person. I don’t have a clear-cut question per se, but in essence – is this adulthood? Or is there something I can do about it?”

What a great question: does adulthood mean all work and no play? Is this just the way it is? Does being a grown-up mean we climb onto a hamster wheel and just keep running until it’s our turn to stand before the Pearly Gates?

I don’t believe that adulthood means constant work and exhaustion. However, the proverbial hamster wheel does keep turning, and so adulthood means we need to take responsibility for our work and rest cycles. The wheel won’t stop, but we can choose to get off every now and then.

I know you’re busy, so I’ll keep this brief. I’ve been a grad student and I’m now a Mom of three kids 5 and under, so I’m not about to suggest taking a day per week to sleep in as late as I want, followed by a 2 hour massage and a leisurely walk in the forest. That kind of rest is just not available to me in this phase of life, but here are my 3 top tips on trying to find rest in the midst of a cyclonic calendar.

1.  Understand what rest is.

God made us to be people who both work and rest. Mentally, spiritually, socially and emotionally, we are designed with a need to be productive, and we also need to take a break. We cannot do the same thing 24/7/365 and expect to keep functioning at top capacity.

We were made to work, but we were also made to rest. Daily, we need sleep. But we also need conscious time for REFRESHMENT, RECREATION and REFLECTION. Rest does not simply mean dropping into an exhausted heap once we can’t keep going any more.

Rest includes active, awake time where we get to enjoy the fruits of our labors, relax in the presence of loved ones, remember who we are and Whose we are. We NEED time like that. It isn’t laziness, it isn’t frivolity. It’s healthy and it plays a huge role in helping us LIVE the life we’re living.

2. Plan time to rest.

Rest time doesn’t just “happen” in my life. There’s always something to do. There’s always a need to meet. There’s always something that could be cleaned, put away, better organized. If we wait until we are “done” with our “to do” list to rest – it won’t happen. We need to rest not because we ran out of things to do, but because it is time to rest and it’s important. So for me, I need to put “rest” onto my “to do” list, and it takes a little planning.

When I was in grad school, I chose to rest on Sunday afternoons and evenings. However, that means I often stayed up LATE on Saturday nights finishing assignments that were due on Monday to protect that rest time. When I was in full-time ministry, I used to take Fridays off – and at first I would schedule all my errands and personal business for Fridays, but then soon realized that personal “work” was just as tiring as office “work” – and so I needed to plan my errands for other times so that I could protect that rest time.

Now that I’m a Mom, we still try to rest on Sunday afternoons and have a “family nap time”. We get take-out for dinner or I pull out left-overs so I don’t have to cook. I don’t clean or tidy up. I don’t pay bills. We make time to play and go outside, and we try to take a nap. Sometimes the children are obliging. Sometimes they aren’t – and there has been more movie watching or co-sleeping on those days. But we plan around that time, and thus far it is working for us. We get a change of pace, and it is refreshing.

There have been seasons in life where regular rest just wasn’t possible: in the first weeks with a colicky baby, when family emergencies arose, when tragedy struck – those times demanded our full attention hour by hour. However, once the immediacy had passed and we were figuring out the “new normal” after the crisis, we needed to recalibrate our rest time too.

3. Figure out what is restful for you

When talking about the Sabbath and the concept of rest, Jesus made this revolutionary statement: man wasn’t made for the Sabbath, the Sabbath was made for man.

In other words, rest is about finding what is spiritually, mentally and emotionally refreshing for YOU. It might be reading, doing crosswords, hiking, hard physical labor (my husband finds hacking at things in the garden tremendously refreshing after 6 days of sitting in front of a computer), spending an unhurried lunch with someone. It might be picking up a musical instrument, or a paintbrush, or taking a walk. But whatever it is,  it should BLESS you and leave you feeling more full of life than you did when you started.

P.S. tempting as it may be to “rest” by vegging out in front of a screen and trawling the internet, can I suggest that this is often less restful for us than we think? Watching Facebook refresh is not, in fact, refreshing. If that’s your default way of resting, perhaps consider switching it up.

The wise man in Ecclesiastes said that there is a time for everything. There’s a time for scattering stones, and a time for gathering them. There’s a time for being born, and a time for dying. There’s a time for weeping and a time for laughter. Our calendars are busy and our “to-do” lists are long – but there is time to work and there IS time to rest.

Sometimes we just need to put life on hold for a while, so that we can truly LIVE. We may need to think creatively about how to make that happen, but it’s always worth it.

How do you find time to rest in your season of life? Have your resting habits changed? What difference has it made to you? I’d love to hear your comments.

A New Page

Every so often, I get a message in my inbox which reads something like this: “I was wondering if I could talk to you about something… I have a question.”  Usually, the email also says something like: “I know you’re busy and I hope it is okay to ask, but I didn’t know who else to talk to.”

ask-question-1-ca45a12e5206bae44014e11cd3ced9f1My heart always expands when I get emails like this. I want to invite them over, get comfy, make tea, and have a chat. Shared troubles are often halved troubles. A listening ear has done my soul much good in the past, and where I am able to offer it to others, I am thankful. If part of my story or the lessons I’ve learned as God has helped me hobble and wobble through life are of encouragement or help, I’m grateful.

And so I never mind being asked questions. It is not inconvenient, and it is not a bother. If I am able to comfort with some of the comfort I have received (2 Corinthians 1:3-7), then that’s a ministry I’m thankful for. At the very worst, I can say “I don’t know, but I’ll pray.” And I believe even that helps.

So today unveils a new chapter on this blog: an “Ask Bronwyn” page. It’s up on the tabs at the top of the page. If you have a question, or know someone has a question, and perhaps I can help – then drop me a note. I’ll answer some of them in (anonymous) blog posts, and perhaps some of them in private emails – but I’ll do my best to be faithful. And I know that God is faithful.

So here goes. A new page. Feel free to click over and check it out, and to share it with others.

Photo credit: en.hdyo.org