Planting Life

a simple faith in a complicated world by jeannie Bruenning
Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a person sows, this he will also reap. Galatians 6:7

Science refers to it as Cause and Effect; for every action there is a reaction. The entire universe operates on the Law of Sowing and Reaping. Agriculture is the best example. Even the financial world invests with hopes of reaping great dividends. 

This law is an absolute, it is also the road map for our lives. We love to think that when we do good, good is going to return to us. But not as excited to think that we often also plant seeds of unpleasantness. 

Sowing the negative is not always intentional. It comes naturally to most of us. Why is it so easy to pass judgment on other’s when we are on the outside looking in? It is in those moments of quick judgement and criticism that we set a future course for our own lives. 

How often in the midst of our own unpleasant circumstances, are we reminded of a time where we lacked compassion for someone else walking a similar path. It’s like watching a rerun  except now we have been cast to play the role.

Is it even impossible to live a life completely void of judgement and criticism? Control such thoughts on our own is exhausting! When we apply it to our own lives, the Law of Sowing and Reaping becomes overwhelming.

But God always provides a safety net.  

It is called forgiveness. Forgiveness is one of the most powerful tool available to us. We complicate it with excuses; Why we shouldn’t offer it? Is it really deserved? Do you know what they did? 

Forgiveness comes with no expectations, no requirements. In fact, no one needs to hear us say it. Once spoken, these two little words change our circumstances and ourselves. 

“I forgive.”  

Forgiveness of others frees us to love, forgiveness of us ourselves frees us to live. 

A conversation among friends

“What did I do to deserve this?” he asked jokingly.

“If you think hard enough, I’m sure you can remember,” I said and we both laughed – and then a weird quiet took over.

“Did you remember?” I asked leaning into him. He nodded. 

“SAY THE WORDS!” I shouted much louder than intended. “Say the words and stop the crazies!” Closing his eyes, I read his lips, “I forgive.” 

“Who?”, I asked. “Who needs the forgiveness?”

“Me.” He said, “Forgive me for being so judgmental.” 

Like magic, the weird quiet exited and we both felt the world change. 

This is an excerpt from, A Simple Faith in a Complicated World, expected to release in Summer of 2022.

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Down and to the Left

We had a kitchen faucet that leaked. It was a slow drip. The only way to stop it was to move the handle slightly to the left when turning it off. We lived with this special faucet for approximately seven years – which was 6 years, 11 months, 3 weeks and 6 days too long, but we survived.

Down and to the left became a normal response when we found a guest standing at the sink unsure how to stop the gentle flow of water. 

Down and to the left was the instruction given to the grandkids when they grew tall enough to reach the handle.

Down and to the left was our normal.

Then one glorious day, my husband and son installed a new faucet. It was a new day! A new dawning! I was certain there would no longer be the need for down and to the left. 

And I was correct. Those five little words were successfully removed from our vocabulary. However, it did not changed our behavior. When not in use, the new faucet is in it’s old familiar position – down and to the left. 

We have a new vocabulary now. Ouch! This water is too hot! You have to adjust the temperature! The problem? Down and to the left is the new hot. Really hot. Our sink is directly above the hot water heater, a direct line. It’s instantly hot.

Our old faucet forced us to learn a behavior the new faucet doesn’t require. Learned behaviors can be difficult to unlearn. It’s been 3 years since that new faucet was installed. Three years of mindlessly following the down and to the left rule. Three years of hot water blasting out of the faucet and 3 years of Ouch! This water is too hot! You have to adjust the temperature!

I am certain I have a lot of down and to the left kind of behaviors in my life. Things that I do on a regular basis that were once essential to my existence and are no long required. The problem? I still do them. Sometimes, I have to scald my hands a few times before it dawns on me that I could possibly be the cause of my own pain.

There is a couple of ways to fix this. We could switch the hoses and have the cold be hot and the hot be cold. My father and father-in-law did this once when installing a toilet. When you flushed, steam rose from the bowl. 

We could get a new faucet, the kind with two handles. That would certainly bring an end to the down and to the left. 

Or we could just learn to do it differently with gentle reminders that we don’t have to do it that way anymore.



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Hey Mom, I’m Just Like You!

My mom and I share a common trait. It is refer to as white coat syndrome. This is when you go to the doctor and the people in white coats, which really doesn’t exist anymore, takes your blood pressure and everyone get concerned because you are a few seconds away from a stroke or perhaps even your death.

Last week I had a follow-up appointment to make sure my pneumonia was all gone. I had put this off since there isn’t any sign it’s still around. However, I did have soreness by my rib cage and I wanted someone else to tell me that I had bruised a rib during one of the thousand coughing spells I lived through and that it wasn’t something more serious. The soreness had grown to a pain over the past few days and was poking me in the side, which prompted me to make the appointment.

After arriving 10 minutes early, filling out minimal paperwork, I sat down to wait for my name. Breathe, I kept repeating to myself. Relax. The door opened and I was invited to enter. Once through the open door I was directed to the scale which clearly said being sick the months of November and December had taken it’s toll.

“You can sit here,” she instructed.

“It’s going to be high,” I instructed. “It always is when you take it.”

She put the cuff on and the air began to fill. The machine stopped as if taking another breath and kept going. The pressure was enormous and I thought my eyes were going to pop out of my head.

“Is it going to stop?” she said quietly. I laughed, closing my eyelids to hold them in.

It finally did and I waited as the pressure slowly released. “Wow.” she said.

“How high it is?” I asked.

“200 / 100,” she replied.

“Wow! It’s never been that high.” I think 200 / 100 is close to death… glad I lived!

Five minutes later she took it again and it had dropped, not to the You’re one healthy chick! level, but it did drop.

“I’ll take it again after you see the doctor,” she said. I was a little concerned they wouldn’t let me leave until it was safe.

The doctor entered, pulled over a small cart and spread my file out. He check my heart, my lungs and all was well. Then he felt my ribs. “You’ve injured them,” he confirmed. “It will take a while to heal.” I nodded and smiled.

“Your blood pressure is high,” he said.

“It’s really high!” I said “But it does that in the office.” I explained that I have had times where I had been borderline but with diet and exercise I had brought it down to safe levels. “I’d like to try again before you put me on medication.”

“Make an appointment in 6 weeks,” he instructed in his doctorly tone. “Take your blood pressure 3 times a day and record it.”

“I will I promised.” Three times, I thought, I’ve never had to take it three times.

Just before I left, they checked one more time, it had dropped again.

I left defeated. “I’ve been here before, why am I here again. When am I going to figure out the importance of diet and exercise. I fell asleep dreading the next day and starting yet another time, a diet.

In the morning the light had made a difference, as it usually does. This is the first time in my life that I don’t have to change my lifestyle cause it’s too stressful! I thought. I’ve eliminated all of that and I think I’ve learn to keep it at bay. This is now a new lifestyle that I will have until I die. (I’m planning on 40 more fun filled years!)

Fast forward one week. Right eating, daily exercise and all readings are well within the safe zone and going down.

I’ve had a few reminders and discoveries since that doctors appointment.

Two weeks prior Jeff and I were reading about one of our favorite actresses who had lost 100+ pounds. She simply said, “There is no magic pill. You have to eat right and walk more.”

I was reminded that one week prior I had asked God to help me with diet since I couldn’t seem to find the key. He always answers pray and sometimes (most of the time) it’s in very creative and humorous ways.

The soreness in my ribs that forced me to the doctor in the first place almost vanished the next day. If we listen, our bodies find ways to get our attention when something is wrong. For me it was as if it was poking me in the side, telling me to make an appointment. Not that my rib was an issue but it brought me to a place that shined a light on a real problem.

What so amazes me is that well before I knew there was an issue, the solution was making it’s self know. I love how life works when we listen.

Eating right and daily exercising is no long something I have to remember to do, it’s what I do. It’s not because my life is stressful. It’s not because I’m not disciplined. It’s simply because my Mom, who turns 90 this year, and I share a few common traits…


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Feb Release



I’ve been thinking (and talking) a lot about inner tubes in the past few months. It’s an image that we use in the book Living Unstuck and it’s an image that has etched itself into my brain.

The idea of living life as if we are resting on an inner tube and gently floating through life is a great image but what does it really represent? What is the inner tube and where do I find the stream? This is the very discussion I had with myself last weekend.

These are the answers that my smarter-self had to offer:

The inner tube is our life. The image I have is a large, oversized, black inner tube.  It’s an inner tube for one, such as our lives are. We interact, get connected, we get involved, but at the end of the day, we have been given, are responsible for, and live ONE life.

The stream is the current we choose to propel our inner tubes. There are a million streams! There are streams named anger, jealousy, and resentment. I think these streams carry a lot of sickness and disease and when we choose to float down them we are at risk of contamination. There are streams known as, self-doubt, insecurity, and self-centeredness.  There are streams of instant gratification, striving for success, and prosperity. If you can think it, there’s a stream for it.

We are all currently floating down a stream in our inner tubes of life. We can try and pass the blame onto someone else for putting us in our stream, but if we are honest, we are all in the stream of our own choosing.

I don’t know about you but these words have suddenly messed up the lovely image I had in my head a few moments ago of an oversized black inner tube allowing the current to take me through life.

So what can we do when life suddenly sweeps us away and we find ourselves in a stream of yuckiness?

That’s easy! We simply stand up, pick up our tube, and go back to the gentle stream. We set our tube in the cool water and careful get on board. We breathe deeply as we release the yuckiness we’ve carried with us and  once again begin to learn to trust the stream.

The more I think about life as an inner tube, the more I fall in love with the idea of it.


Feb Release

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Sand Dollars

There is a large glass vase that sits on my fireplace. It has the words Lest You Forget etched into it. It’s meant to be a marker, a way of remembering.

We need markers in our life to help us remember. As young parents we forget what it was like to be a kid. As parents of teens we forget the stupid stuff we did that taught us life lessons. As mature adults we forget the mistakes made that allowed us to become mature adults.

When we first moved to California, I spent a lot of time collecting sand dollars, seventy to be exact. They weren’t just any sand dollars, they had to be perfect; no cracks or missing backs. I brought them home, wash them and let them bleach in the sun. Then, I carefully laid them in the jar. This jar and its 70 perfect sand dollars was a marker to me of life prior to California.

Two Fridays ago I had an nagging feeling all day that I had forgotten something. It wasn’t until evening when it dawned on me that exactly ten years ago on that day, I had flown into San Luis Obispo, CA for the first time. A decade, my mind immediately began recalling all that had happened in those ten years.

It wasn’t an easy decade by any stretch of the imagination. There was an enormous amount of change, health issues, loss of career, financial loss, and family tragedy. The images that filled my head were not of celebration but of pain. And then suddenly, there was the image of a large glass vase filled with sand dollars and it no longer marked life prior to California, rather our first decade here.

The next day we packed a small cooler, a shovel, and a large glass vase filled with dusty sand dollars and Jeff and I headed to the beach.

We parked and Jeff took the shovel and began digging a hole while I retrieved the cooler and poured two glasses of wine. When both tasks were complete, I pick up the glass vase and held it for a moment as if placing all the sadness I had been reminded of into it. I then carefully tipped it over and seventy, once perfect, sand dollars spilled out.

As the last of the dollars landed I couldn’t help but notice the perfect, white, brilliant ones that now laid on top of the pile. “And there it is,” I thought. “That’s the full circle.” Surrounded by faded, dusty and broken sand dollars were beautiful white perfect ones, so breathtaking that I had to stop myself from retrieving them.

I had been remembering the loss and had forgotten that it was only because of the loss that life is now more amazing and wonderful than I could have ever imagined…and I have a big imagination.

Jeff covered the hole and we toasted to the past, to lessons learned, and to all that lay ahead of us in 2018 and beyond.

…There is a large glass vase that sits on my fireplace. It has the words, Lest You Forget etched into it. It’s meant to be a marker, a way of remembering…it’s waiting to be filled.



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Feeling or Fact

I heard him say, “I just can’t forgive myself. I feel so guilty…”

I’ve heard others say this very thing but on that day his words hit me in an odd way. What would cause someone to not accept forgiveness? Why would anyone want to hold on to the past that badly?

“I feel guilty…” I played it over and over. Then it dawned on me, maybe guilt isn’t an emotion. Maybe it’s just a simple fact.

There are two reason why we feel guilty. The first is that we are super sensitive, insecure, and feel like everything that goes wrong in the world, in our lives, and in the lives the people around us must be our fault. We have caused all the evil, bad luck, and devastation in the world and are resigned to carrying the guilt and responsibility until the day we die. To those I simply ask, “How’s that working for you?”

The second reason we feel guilty is that we are. We did something – that cause something – thus we are guilty. In this case, guilt isn’t an emotion, it’s a fact. We are guilty!

This should not be alarming to anyone since we are all guilty of something. Even God says we are all guilty. So why do we pretend we aren’t? Why do we prefer making this fact into a feeling and carry it through life with us?

Once we flip the switch from feeling guilty to admitting that our guilt as a fact, we are free to accept forgiveness. Whether that’s God’s forgiveness, the forgiveness of another, or forgiving ourselves. It can only be accepted when we admit we were wrong.

Guilt is a fact, not a feeling.

I’m quite sure a jury never came to the conclusion that the defendant felt guilty.


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