All posts by vickibruening

Living Intentionally-Taking care of YOU

One of the things I feel like I have finally learned how to do is to live intentionally for myself.  Like engage in the things I enjoy.  And find my passions and actually do them.  I feel like I am in a season of finding myself, figuring out what I am meant for.  It’s weird, I know.  Maybe it’s a 30’s thing.  I don’t know.  But as mama’s and women I feel like we don’t take a lot of time to nurture our souls.  We just go, go, go taking care of our men and our children and our work and every other volunteer obligation under the sun.  We don’t even know what are passions are because we don’t have an ounce of time to figure out what being “me” looks like.  I say we need to start being intentional with ourselves.  Because when we are doing well and we love ourselves and we think we’re pretty awesome, then everything just goes so much better. 🙂

So maybe we can start by remembering what we enjoy.  I love, love love to read and to write. I always have ever since I’ve been little.  So I started to blog again.  I am not great at it but I enjoy it so I feel like God says go.   I have a huge stack of books to read and I intend to carve out time to just read.  Because I LOVE it.  It is ok to take this time for ourselves, it is healthy and necessary.  But maybe you are like me and you either don’t or can’t make the time or you feel guilty taking the time for yourself.  But I think we are too important not to. We have an identity beyond our kids and our husband and we should find it and live it out.  What makes you tick, what is your passion?  Find it and then pursue those dreams, those fires burning deep in your soul.  I am so so passionate for the least and so I love to learn and know about all the ways my family can make a difference in the world.  It is what drives me and I know that as I pursue it God will use my open arms for his kingdom.

Matt and Vicki at LC party 2

We have to be whole.  Our soul has to be well.  When we are well, when we don’t have our junk cluttering our hearts and minds then we can move forward into all that God has called us to be. We need so many things in order for this to happen.  We need to know what we enjoy and take the time to enjoy it, we need to pursue our passions and we need other people building us up.  Our people give us feedback, they help us deal with our junk.  So make time to have conversations with your husband and chats with your girlfriends and couple time.  WE NEED EACH OTHER.  It helps make us whole.  I think I am just dumb and living in a bubble, but I have just now started to figure this all out.  I didn’t even know what JOY looked like for a long time. Please don’t be like me.  Don’t wait, just go for it.  Put yourself out there.  Meet people. Invite EVERYONE over ALL THE TIME.  Write a blog.   Read a book.  Take pictures.  Do whatever you love.  And make the time for it.  It is so important.  Be FOR yourself.  It is the best thing for your soul and your people.  It is a life lived intentionally and full of joy when we live fully whole as God created us to be.

“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.” -Maya Angelou

Write 31 Days

I am taking on the challenge of writing all the days in October! I will list the links to each post below.  Thank you for following along with me as I write from the heart about what God has taught me about living intentionally.

Day 1 -Living Intentionally-Arms Wide Open

Day 2-Living Intentionally-Taking care of YOU

Day 3- Living Intentionally-Your Kids

Day 4 -Living Intentionally-In the World

Day 5-Living Intentionally-Staying Organized

Day 6-Living Intentionally-Giving Generously

Day7-Living Intentionally-Embrace the Struggle

Day 8-Living Intentionally-Your Spouse

Day 9-Living Intentionally-Making yourself small

Day 10-Living Intentionally-Do Scary Things

Day 11-Living Intentionally-Reading

Day 12-Living Intentionally-Finding Beautiful Things

Day 13-Living Intentionally-Time

Day 14-Living Intentionally-Perspective

Day 15-Living Intentionally-Interrupted

Day 16-Living Intentionally-Dealing with the crazy

Day 17-Living Intentionally-Adoption

Day 18-Living Intentionally-Being Authentic

Day 19-Living Intentionally-Simple Life

Day 20-Living Intentionally-Encouragement

Day 21-Living Intentionally-On earth as it is in heaven

Arms Wide Open

Day 1-Living Intentionally with Arms Wide Open

Matt and I often process our life and call ourselves bi-polar.  We are constantly changing our mind or thinking up new things to try.  We ebb and flow all the time. And I think this is normal. And healthy.  But maybe it looks a little crazy.  You see we aren’t afraid to adopt 3 boys, move six months later and then move again 8 months later.  We aren’t afraid to put foster care on the beam and then take it off when God says no.  We aren’t afraid to try this ministry and that ministry and find what fits.  We aren’t afraid to color outside the lines.  The best thing about this is that God in his infinite mercy and love gives us this freedom.  He gives us the freedom to run wherever we desire, to run where our hearts are.  And then in his wisdom and mercy he gently guides, he says no this way, or yes that way.




I like to call our “crazy” living with Arms Wide Open.  It is the best way to live!  But recently as I was laying in bed and praying I clearly felt God say that my fists were clenched tight.  What!!  Ugh!!  That is so hard.  God I live with arms wide open all of the time.  I know what that means.  Can’t you see our crazy!!  But do we live ready to to do the really hard stuff, like be pruned off of our yuck and then live REALLY free and just be who we are.  Do we live free enough, with arms wide open enough that we really don’t care what others think? That we don’t conform to religious rules or rules of the world?  Or are our fists clenched tight?.  Yeah, God said mine were clenched tight. So he does the work of prying our arms open.  He whispers to us, do this, live like this.  Even I, who thought I lived wild and free with arms wide open, wiling to do whatever crazy was next, even I was schooled by our great God.  He said I can’t use you if you don’t know your worth in me.  If you are so focused on all that is wrong in your life and you keep speaking negative over yourself, I can’t use you.  He said I am going to tell YOU what to do and you have to go that direction even if it’s not a majority vote in the world.  I am going to tell you what to put on the beam and what to take off (read Jen Hatmaker’s For The Love to learn more about “the beam”).  And I want you to be ok with it even though it might feel weird and different and against the grain.  Jesus says have you seen my life, I didn’t exactly do what was expected, I kind of lived a little wild and off the cuff, just follow me and go with it.  Arms wide open child!!  Alright, let’s try it.  Because I’m always ready for new things man.

So living like Jesus, what does that look like?  Jesus is SO INCREDIBLE.  He walked around breaking all the religious rules and didn’t give a lick what anyone thought.  He was bringing the kindgom.  I think following Jesus looks like loving the poor, loving our neighbor as ourself, loving the orphan and the widow, forgiving everyone, and giving unending grace all of the time.  It is reckless and fun and wild.  It is being able to never judge but only love.  It is giving your money away freely. It is being open and accepting to everyone’s ideas, to learning and seeing new and different ways of doing things.  It is loving others even when it is hard. It is reconciling and forgiving freely.  It is making your space safe for others to be welcomed into. It is truly ARMS WIDE OPEN!

“Welcome to this place.  I will show you everything.  With arms wide open.”  -Creed

Just Listen to It

At the end the lead singer of Creed stand on top of the mountain with his arms wide open.  Man that’s how I want to be always. I want to live free and wild.  I want Jesus to show me everything as my arms are wide open to his goodness.  And I think mostly he is saying, child I just want you to be joyful and free.  And to KNOW and BELIEVE that.  I don’t need you to DO anything for me.  I just need you to live in grace and freedom and allow others to do the same.  And as your ARMS ARE WIDE OPEN, I will move through you.

Let’s stand on that mountain today arms wide and free rejoicing in this crazy life we are blessed to live!!!!

Running the Race

So I am a doer!!  An I have to be busy ALL THE TIME kind of person.  I am constantly running to the next thing, the next ministry, the next way to give, the next person to help.  And I will ALWAYS do this, because God doesn’t stop, the world doesn’t stop spinning and we need more LIGHT.  But sometimes, sometimes I feel like God says Whoa! Take it down a notch Vicki.  Because you see I will feel guilty if I’m not doing all the things.  If I am just cleaning toilets and folding laundry and helping my husband run his business, that’s not good enough.  I am supposed to be doing more, more kingdom things, more things that really matter.  But God says stop it.  He says you are doing kingdom things. Every thing you do is kingdom work.  Because God and our lives and the earth and all the peoples, we are one thing, intertwined for his goodness.  And so whether we are changing diapers or picking up toys or vacuuming or entering payroll, we are all good enough and we are all doing kingdom work.  And we should never feel guilty.  Not for one second.  That’s just dumb.  And I am so thankful that God knocks me over the head and teaches me that lesson.










2015-Bruenning13-160And I know that as mom’s of littles this can be a lonely time and we can feel not good enough.  All day long you listen to your littles and you clean for them and cook for them and you don’t have a ton of adult interaction and so you feel a little but less than.  You long to do more with your life, for your life to MATTER.  But God whispers in our crazy mom heads that we are good enough and worthy enough.  That whatever work we are doing is beautiful and amazing and for him.  Because we are enough just because we ARE.  He created us and said we were good.  He lives in us and that is enough.  We can just be.  We don’t have to strive to be something more. We are FREE to be who he created us to be.  And so we need to run our own race.  Just ours, not anyone else’s. And if that involves cleaning pee off the floor or teaching a bunch of kids, it is ALL GRACE and ALL GOOD.

There are times when we have to run our race looking straight ahead, not focusing on what others are doing or saying to us but focusing only on what God speaks to us.  We need to find our JOY and worth in HIM not from others approval. Because face it we live in a broken world and people will always let us down.  But there is grace for that.  My sister and I were talking about the seasons of life and how we need to be FOR each other and CHAMPION each other in every season. So whether it is raising babies, moving to different places, getting involved in new ministries, any and all changes in life, we need to celebrate each other in this.  We aren’t all the same, we aren’t supposed to be.  It is so fun to sit back and watch God work through his people and feel free to BE who you BE and celebrate everyone else.

So thankful for God’s grace and freedom.  Let’s run a good race today.


But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.  1 Corinthians 12:24-26

Give Grace

“From his abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another.” John 1:16

Give Grace.  Those words have been heavy on my heart lately as I watch the news and read through my facebook feed.  We are bombarded with so much negativity these days.  As I read scripture and think about how Jesus longed for his kingdom to come, I think of love and unity.  We have to show the world our love and unity.  We have to give grace and love to issues of race, sexual orientation, refugees and politics.  We have to truly understand and get to know people and situations before we judge and take sides.  In fact it is our not our job to judge, we just get to love.  What a freedom that is.  Jesus takes the hard stuff and just asks us to love.  So we need to bring light to the world by loving well, regardless if others are different from us.  I am raising three black boys and my heart hurts at the things of the world that they will need to know.  You might be seen as scary just because you are black.  You might be more easily targeted because of your skin color.  You will probably be lumped into a category called “black people” instead of people getting to know you.  How do I even explain the injustices and craziness of this world to my sweet babies?  Can you see that we need to build each other up?  Give grace in every situation.  Love like Jesus would.

IMG_3605 (4)

And as women, we need to champion each other.  We need to be FOR each other.  It doesn’t matter if you homeschool or send your kids to public school, it doesn’t matter if you work outside the home or take care of your babies, it doesn’t matter if you have a lot of kids or just one, it doesn’t matter if you have a big house or a small one, it doesn’t matter if you go to church or not….all that matters is that we get into each others lives, celebrate each other and LOVE WELL. We need to be a generation that rises up and CHANGES the world.  We are called to be more, give more, love more.  And to keep moving forward every. single. day.  Let’s not allow ourselves to get comfortable but let’s be brave and do the hard things that bring the kingdom to earth.  I think we can start by learning about other cultures, creating relationships with people who are different than us.  Diversifying the authors we read, the music we listen to.  Educating ourselves on topics of the world. And then allowing Jesus to do his work and we do our work, which is to LOVE and GIVE GRACE.

The key to overcoming darkness is to turn the LIGHT up…to keep it going and getting BRIGHTER.”  -Jesus Culture

Check out some of my favorite resources to study and learn from and buy things 🙂

Latasha Morrision is a great resource on racial reconciliation

Happy Hour podcast.  I cannot encourage you enough to listen to this podcast.  Addresses issues of race in a grace filled context

Best book on Grace EVER

Follow This Woman and read her book For The Love

Shirt from Scarlet and Gold

Small World

Days after the image of the three year old boy washed up on shore in Turkey my heart is still aching.  Aching for a world to shine their light.  Aching for the Syrian refugees to have HOPE.  My prayer since I saw that picture was that God would open our eyes to the needs of the world and make our hearts ache.  Because our hearts need to be broken for the things that break his.  Every single day. And my prayer is that our hearts will be broken and we will press forward and bring hope to the world.  I have been thinking that it is so easy to just BE in our own little small worlds.  I live in a small town and I am safe and at peace everyday.  I can easily take care of my house, do my work, go on vacation and be oblivious to the things of the world.  I was for 30 years.  And then JESUS opened my eyes to see the brokeness that he wanted Matt and I to enter into and to fight for every day.  He longs for us to bring his kingdom to earth.  We are the answer to the prayers of the poor, the orphan, the refugee.  We have so much abundance and we are called to share.  As I was sharing about the Syrian refugee crisis with my children, I asked them if they would want someone to help them if they were in a similar situation.  If you were an innocent victim of a deadly war and you were fleeing to safety, would you want someone to open their home to you?  Would you want all the NGO’s and nonprofits funded so that they can help you without worry?  Would you want all the supplies ready and available for you when you came to a new country with nothing?  If we love humanity at all we must do unto others as we would want them to do to us.  My prayer is that we will work together as churches and prayer groups and families and that we will rise up and meet the needs of these refugees.  I am so encouraged by the outpouring of support that is already happening.  Let’s continue to march on, shine our light and love people well.  I pray our worlds don’t stay small but that we open our eyes to ALL THE THINGS and we do something.  Ways to help include prayerwelcoming refugees, and giving to reputable organizations.  We will be goodness to all the people, we have to be.