Hi, Family, Friends, Fellows and Females…
THE THEME IS “GO”
Tijuana, Mexico… This afternoon!
We are taking 330 people from our church for 4 days of drama, dance, percussion, and street preaching in the evenings… and hard work to bless churches and orphanages in the afternoons!
7 of us Braswells are going! Gonna be GREAT!
Please pray for us!
THE THEME IS STILL “GO”
In May, six of us Braswells (kely, jen and the 4 youngest of the clan) are going for one month to Peru, leading the students who are in kely’s church planting training school.
We will be leading people to follow Jesus, then training them to lead their own house churches.
The long-term plan is a church planting team moving there full-time — in about a year and a half! Woohoo!
We have added about 200 people to our church here in San Diego in the last 7 weeks.
Chaos! But fun chaos!
Yall will be happy to hear that none of kely and Emma’s (13yo) Barnes and Noble dates have included chasing down purse snatchers, nor being bitten by them.
In fact, all kely’s bloodwork (checked because of the human bite!) came back clean. No hepatitis, no rabies; no nasty side effects!
Nor has Jen been put in the back of any more cop cars.
We know. We lead a boring life.
Yall are awesome, in our opinion.
kely, jen, jeffrey, maddy, emma, caden, elli, coulter
How ain’t the point, boy.
How ya sound, or what ya say, it ain’t.
Ain’t if it’s good.
Don’t have to be in perfectly said English words, or Swahili or Spanish or Turkish. Groans and sighs, it might be. Or in no words at all.
Don’t much matter if it’s sittin’ or kneelin’ or standin’ or lyin’, or even spinnin’ ‘round in tiny little circles.
Nor if it’s mornin’ or evenin’ or before bed or midday. Might be throughout the day. Might be little eruptions all day long, boy.
Just start talkin’. And talk and talk and talk, you should. And listen and hang out.
If you asked a parent, “How should that kid of your’n approach you when they wanna talk to ya?” you’ll probably just get a befuddled look, or an answer something like, “I don’t know; just want my kid to talk to me. Don’t much care how.”
Ain’t no differnt with God, I don’t think. He just wants you to talk to Him.
Rocket science, it ain’t.
Dear Family & Friends!
We Braswells come to you with thankful hearts! God is good!
As North American Turkeys suffer for our thankfulness, we encourage you to do what us Braswells have been doing for about 17 years…
Take one hour on Thanksgiving morning and make a list of what you’re thankful for. It’s a FANTASTIC way to start Thanksgiving!
HALLOWEEN HARVEST FEST
Our church had a block party…
It included… Eritreans, Cambodians, Chinese, Nigerians, Mexicans, Americans, South Africans, Laotians, Vietnamese. And many more.
This is the neighborhood we have church in. And it is more AWESOMEDADGUMTASTIC than you can imagine!
The party even had a Vietnamese translator dressed in a Garfield suit. (Just told you that to make you jealous.)
We gave away approximately 300 pounds of candy, and about 25 people raised their hands to say they wanted to follow Jesus! And we all had a grand evening!
OUR BUDDING WORSHIP LEADER…
Elli (5yo) has vision to be a worship leader when she grows up. She regularly studies one of our female worship leaders on the Sunday morning stage, in order to perfectly mimic her style and her moves.
A couple of days ago, while Jen and Elli were driving in the van and singing, Elli suddenly burst forth with, “Mom, can you stop singing?! I can’t hear me!”
Maybe a little attitude adjustment is in order before she hits the big time?
This next year we’re sending new long-term church planting teams to Thailand, Brazil, and As-Yet-Secret-Country!
We’re also sending short-term teams to 5 countries next summer.
So cool, ‘cause that’s what we’re all about!
SERMONS ABOUT RUMPS…
kely preached last Sunday on How to Avoid Being a Rump (or 365 Days of Thankfulness). If ya wanna listen, here’s the link: http://messages.allpeopleschurch.org/2012/11/dont-be-rump-be-thankful.html
There’s even a reference to Duck Dynasty.
(You can also get our app: All Peoples Church)
Every one of you, of course, knows that the Baylor Bears defeated the #1 team in the country last Saturday night. Not that kely said anything about it on facebook or Twitter (@kelybreez).
After his barrage of live tweets/status updates during the game, one of his dearest and oldest lifelong friends unfollowed him on Twitter…
The price we pay for fanaticism on behalf of our alma mater.
A PRESENT BAYLOR BEAR…
Jeffrey (our 19yo son) comes home tonight for the first time since he left for college. We’re a little excited around here.
A FUTURE BAYLOR BEAR…
Maddy (our 17yo daughter) got accepted to Baylor on the strength of a 33 on her ACT. This score guarantees us at least $60k of the tuition. Of course, 4 years tuition at Baylor is $140k.
I literally had 7 leaves in my front yard the other day. Fall has officially arrived in SoCal!
The Braswell Bunch is thankful for YOU!
kely, jen, jeffrey, maddy, emma, caden, elli, coulter
Dear Friends and Family:
Coming at you from San Diego, where the fib still exists that it never gets hot… Last Friday it was 112 degrees when Jen picked up the kids after school… Our lack of air conditioners was astounding!
WE MOVED (in case you hadn’t heard)
3 months and 26 days ago we left Knoxville amidst tears and a whole bunch of friends we still miss!
The Penske broke down twice… The nice Penske people came and fixed it really fast both times, and gave 20% of our money back. That was nice of them.
We stopped in a (very hot) rest area somewhere in Arizona, and 5yo Elli came running back to the van and said, “I just saw some rattlesnake poop! But don’t worry, I stepped around it!”
That look on your face is exactly the same one that was on mine.
WE STARTED NEW THINGS
— Jen and I loaded up the family truckster (well, really it was a rental car) and took the eldest Braswell offspring to Waco, Texas and Baylor University. There were so many tears shed (by kely and Jen) that we’re a little embarrassed…
Jeff’s loving it, by all accounts, but the rest of us have noticed how small our family feels without him!
— Maddy (a senior), Emma (8th grade), Caden (1st grade) began new schools. Using the word “difficult” would be an understatement.
Although all of them have friends and are making phenomenal grades, it’s just flat out hard to change schools and leave friends you love. I’m so proud of their attitudes!
A NEW DAY
The missions training school kely directs is in full swing. We just returned from Arizona State University, where we gathered new people for our 1 year old church plant in Tempe, and 2 people decided to follow Jesus right on the spot!
This summer there were trips to Thailand, the Middle East, France, Indonesia, Miami, Mongolia and beyond!
This year we’ll send long-term workers to Thailand! Our first workers from San Diego!
Things are going swimmingly!
OUR NEW CHURCH…
… Has about 600 people on a Sunday. And EVERY SINGLE SUNDAY there are several who decide to follow Jesus.
At least a third of the church are people who have become followers of Jesus through our services, and that’s an amazing gift from God!
Sunday, we had a Baptism Bash in the Pacific… 25 people baptized, followed by picnic comestibles!
One of the baptizees was Caden, our 7yo — kely has now baptized Jennifer, Jeffrey, Maddy, Emma, and Caden. So one wife and 4 of our 6 kids! 2 to go!
Caden, last night, in the back of the minivan, was singing a recent Matt Redman worship song, “10,000 Reasons…”
Except he confidently belted out “10,000 raisins for my heart to find…”
And with that profound bit of amazingness…
Knoxville, we miss you!
San Diego, we love you!
The Braswells (kely, jen, jeffrey, maddy, emma, caden, elli, coulter)
(P.S. Like I always say, if you don’t dig this update, just email me back, and I’ll lop you off our mailing list… In the most loving way, of course!)
So, several months back, my wife and I were in the shop for some fine tuning.
Which is to say, we had developed some downright unhealthy ways, after 21 years, of relating to each other… Unhealthy. And unhelpful.
Especially me, of course. ‘Cause, I don’t know about you, but I can sometimes be very talented at ugly.
Don’t misunderstand. We weren’t in any danger of leaving each other, or jumping ship to another person, or anything like that. But it was still bad, ‘cause we were hurting each other.
And like a lot of husbands who are very accomplished at doing the “being a guy” thing — which is to say, “being a clumsy oaf in the emotional china shop” — I had gotten very adept at blaming my wife for just about anything.
If finances were tight, it was pretty much her fault.
If I was a grouch, it was pretty much her fault.
If I wasn’t leading spiritually, it was pretty much her fault.
Which was very convenient for me, since that meant pretty much nothing was my fault.
Yep. It was hard to blame myself for all my bad choices, because that would be… well, basically… that would be sort of like owning up to my responsibilities and and other lame stuff like that.
So, it was just easier to blame someone else, and she was always so handy, since she was generally the closest person to me.
THEN, the marital refinement guru we were seeing — a nice man named Eddie, who I would recommend to anyone, as long as you don’t mind someone who’s gonna say it like it is and isn’t afraid to get in your face and tell you that you need to shape up — Anyway, then, Eddie said the following words, which changed my life…
“Kely, when you stand before Jesus, Jennifer’s not gonna be there to blame.”
Ummm… You mean, I’m responsible for all my own choices, actions, moods, words?
His statement was EXACTLY the one I needed to hear, and it landed in my guts like a ton of flaming bricks covered in soldier ants.
Something in me broke, and suddenly I saw some things more clearly.
And although I’m not all the way there yet, I’m way more there than I used to be, if you get my drift.
My wife’s not to blame.
My wife, Jen (I love her immensely), has run the Knoxville Half-Marathon 5 years in a row.
For the last 4, every year, she wanted to break 2 hours. But hills, or blisters, or a bad day kept her from it. One year, in the middle of the race, she began to realize the nausea she was feeling was peculiarly similar to the nausea she had felt with our other 5 pregnancies… Yep. Pregnant.
So when she stepped to the start line last Sunday, she knew it was her last chance. (We’re moving to the Left Coast in May.)
I had agreed to meet her 2.5 miles from the finish line and finish the race with her.
For 10 miles, she was right on pace, even under it.
And then things went South, just as I met her with 2.5 to go. She started to slow, especially when she went up hills. It was gonna happen again. She was gonna miss it.
“Just pick out someone’s back up ahead of you, and try to stay up with them,” I told her. We tried that for a while.
“Just look at my back and focus on nothing else,” I told her. We tried that for a while.
She was fading. She had begun to not care all that much, because of the pain.
She had forgotten all about the finish line. She didn’t know where it was.
But I did. And I love her.
So I said, “Jen, if you wanna do this, take my hand, and run the same speed I do.”
And that’s exactly what we did. We must have looked a little funny, but neither of us cared.
And she made it. Every step, under her own steam.
I was tremendously, emotionally proud of her. 1:59:07.
Maybe you’re tired. You’ve lost focus. And you don’t know where the finish line is.
God says, “I love you. I’m pretty strong here. I know right where the finish line is.
“Just hold My hand and keep running.”
Top of the mornin’ to you, all our good friends and family! Following are a few of the latest happenings in the Braswell chaos called everyday living…
WARNING: THERE ARE JOKES ABOUT BOTTOMS BELOW… (You have to read to “the end” to enjoy them. Pun completely intended.)
SAN DIEGO OR BUST…
We have 2 months to go. Jeff will graduate… Maddy, Emma, Caden will finish the school year 4 days later… Emma will celebrate her birthday with her Knoxville friends one last time…
… And we’ll hit the road.
You know those Brain Teasers?
How does kely get all his household furniture and belongings; six kids; one wife; three vehicles (two of which have a very good chance of not making the first 200 miles); one dog, one cat, one Japanese fighting fish, two guinea pigs, and himself 2183 miles away to California? That’s $1483.85 in gasoline alone!
Any brain teaser solvers out there?
So blessed! That’s what we are…
A young family here at our church in Knoxville approached us last fall… “When y’all move to San Diego, we think God wants us to buy your house.”
We were (and are) amazed at God’s ways.
And they’re buying it!
SAN DIEGO CASA…
Three weeks ago, Jen and I went to San Diego and furiously searched around and around in circles for a house, for 4 days.
Found one, put an offer on it, negotiated — and it’s now under contract to close on April 30.
COLLEGE? REALLY? HOW DID WE GET HERE?…
How our 4-pound, 9-week premature, accidentally-Siberian-born-on-a-mission-trip baby boy, Jeffrey, is now 6 feet tall (with a short little daddy) and old enough to go away to college, is beyond us!
He departs for Baylor in the Fall, with a full-tuition scholarship he earned by writing a powerful essay.
In the meantime, his sister, Maddy, who says she’ll also attend Baylor a year later, just made perfect scores on her English and Reading sections of the ACT. Smart kid. And a lovely lady.
THINGS HEARD LATELY IN THE BRASWELL HOUSE…
— 2 year old Coulter came up to kely yesterday, with a concerned and surprised look on his face: “DADDY, MY BOTTOM BURPED!”
— Conversation overheard between Caden (6yo) and Elli (4yo), around the question of what causes thunder… Caden, almost falling over with giggles: “HOW LOUD COULD GOD TOOT?!!” Elli, mortified at Caden’s sacrilege: “GOD DOESN’T TOOT!”
— One day, in conversation, Kely said, realizing he’s not a spring chicken anymore, “I’m 47 years old.” To which his sweet wife Jennifer responded, surely hoping to give comfort, “So you’re more than half dead.”
And that’s all for this version of the Braswell Follies.
Blessings to you and yours,
kely, jen, jeff, maddy, emma, caden, elli, coulter
P.S. As we always say, if ya don’t wanna be agitated by these Braswell updates, or if jokes about bottoms offend you, just reply and say, “Please put me out of my misery! Stop sending these!” We’ll take you off with no questions asked!
The other day I saw on Real TV where the magazine, Churchianity Today’s, religion correspondent was doing a round table discussion with several people.
I came in late, so it took me a few minutes to figure out who everyone was, as the interviewer lobbed questions around the table…
There was a guy who was obviously very successful, nice suit, great hair; a floozy with a red dress, not covering enough, lots of lipstick, smacking gum; a little kid with obvious physical and mental impairments; a Pharisee; an IRS guy; and a pretty unassuming guy in a pair of cargo shorts and a t-shirt.
My favorite question was this one: “Which ones of you go downtown to First Church on the Corner?”
The guy in the suit said, “Oh, yeah, they love me down there.”
The floozy in the red dress said, “Are you kidding? They won’t even look at me when I walk by.”
The little, impaired kid said, “No, I’m too much trouble, and I make the parents of the other kids uncomfortable.”
The Pharisee said, “I’m there every Sunday. I’m very well-behaved.”
The IRS guy said, “They don’t take too kindly to me down there. They kinda hate me because they don’t like anyone telling them what to do with their money.”
The guy in the cargo shorts just kind of sat there until the interviewer turned to him and said, “So, Jesus, how ‘bout You?”
He sort of had a mischievous grin and a twinkle in His eye.
“No, they don’t much like the way I act. They’ve seen me too many times talking with the lady in the red dress.”
(P.S. Please remember, I am writing this story just as much to MYSELF as to anyone else.)
Whitney, tragically, died a few days ago.
And although we don’t know for sure what the immediate cause was, it seems that it had something to do with a broken spirit.
And here’s the thing…
All around you, there are people who feel just as broken. Just as crushed by life. Just as sad.
There are people, ones you know, right beside you, who feel the same. Every day.
They may smile. They may joke. They may sigh, and stare into space, when no one is looking. They may cry in their room, late at night.
And they may wish — probably more often than you would imagine — that it could all just end, so they wouldn’t feel this way.
(And probably, someone who is reading this feels exactly what I’m talking about.)
What the person next to you needs is kindness.
And, no, your kindness won’t be what heals them, not completely. It won’t fix everything.
But it might help fix a few things.
Because every single one of us is carrying something heavy.
Most of you like to read…
Some of you consider books on the level of emeralds, diamonds, Nutella, Diet Coke, Talladega.
No secret that I love to read.
And when I say “love to read,” I mean, if I couldn’t read, I’d rather you take my tongue and cut out my navel and poke me in the eye like Moe of The Three Stooges… and stuff like that.
But I just gotta say to us all…
The Bible is different. Amazing. Stupendously above all those other books.
Because — lest we forget —
Every time you pick up the Bible and read it, it is presently alive, with the Holy Spirit speaking to you directly, AT THAT MOMENT in time.
No other book can do that. I mean, we can learn from them, and sometimes learn a lot, and sometimes God can even speak to us through them. But not every time.
God, talking to you.
Sometimes, all a guy can say is,