He Chose Her Before She Was Born


Writer’s Note: Today marks the 27th anniversary of the glorious day that God made me a mom. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate the birth of my one and only than by re-sharing this post from three years ago. It started out as a post bragging on my baby girl and turned into my testimony, a story of God’s grace and His passion and compassion for all of us; His talent for using all things for the good of those who love Him. All that said, I must include a warning for those of you who know me. There may be things in this post that you may not know about me, things that I am not particularly proud of; however, as I continue to watch God take both the good and the bad and weave them into the most incredible stories–such as the story of my little girl–I think it is important to be real. Our world today is too much in need of hope to not be real and to show how God is always and in all ways looking out for us. Even when our situation looks like a complete mess, God is busy behind the scenes. What looks like rubble to us are building blocks for our Creator. We just have to get out of the way and let Him work! Thank you, Jesus, for being the cornerstone of my life and thank you for Billie. I am blessed beyond deserve.

Billie was far from an ordinary kid. To tell the truth, she has never been ordinary a single billie preachesday in her life. Even before she had made it out of the womb, this wee little girl had begun spinning a story of goodness and love that, looking back, could only have been penned by the master author Himself. Not to say that God doesn’t leave His fingerprints on all his creations, but with some it is just a little more obvious. Such is the case with my daughter.

Just the knowledge that she existed had lifted me out of the downward spiral my life had taken when I turned 30. Always the responsible, level headed one, something about turning 30, combined with a devastating turn of events in my life, had put me on a path of self-destruction. Alcohol. Gambling. Even drug experimentation and unprotected sex. Things I never thought in a million years I would do. But, for a short while, as a lost soul trying to find my way, I did them.

It wasn’t that I didn’t believe in God. In fact, with the help of my college roommate, a sweet and kind preacher’s daughter, I had accepted Him as my Lord and Savior back in college. But that’s about as far as it went. I did consider myself a good person and, upon occasion, would even shoot up a prayer or two when things got tough. Saved or not, however, sitting in a pew was not a place you would find me on Sunday morning at that time in my life. Churches, I felt, were just too full of hypocrites.

And, in my heart, I fully believed that to be true as that had been my experience with the church when I was growing up. Being pushed to the altar by friends who had just the night before drank themselves into a stupor made absolutely no sense to me. Not to mention that it seemed like the preacher was always preaching about hellfire and brimstone; the fearsome, formidable God he painted in his sermons not leaving much room for the loving God of reality.

Yeah, I believed in God, but I didn’t truly know God yet and I certainly hadn’t learned what it meant to fully give my heart and my life to Him; to have a personal relationship and to walk with Him in complete faith.

From my limited perspective at that moment in my life, I was—as I had been for some time—alone. My earthly father had been killed when I was just a little girl and I didn’t yet understand the extent of love, forgiveness and purpose my Heavenly Father had for me. In my mind, I had no other choice but to take care of myself and to be my own safety net. Seeking God’s guidance for my life wasn’t even a consideration at that point.

Fortunately, God intervened anyway.

Enter Billie—the answered prayer that I didn’t even know I needed.

Having veered so sharply off the path, it seemed as if baby Billie truly was God’s way of reeling me back in, bringing the poor choices I was making in life to a screeching halt and replacing them with proof that He could take the most troublesome of situations and use them for good. This yet-to-be-born baby was was a living example that would continue to prove this most wonderful promise over and over as the years went by.

I pretty much did a 360 and began trying to live as healthy as possible, following my obstetrician’s advice to the tee. I quit drinking, smoking and any other dangerous habit I had been dabbling with for the past few months before her conception. I quit not because I thought it would keep me out of hell, but because it was the right thing to do. I had a baby on the way; a life that depended solely on me to survive and I didn’t want mess that up.

I even agreed to marry her father, though we had known each other less than a year. I just seemed like the right thing to do. I can’t really say that I loved him, but I figured I’d eventually fall in love with him. After all, we were having a baby together.

Needless to say, without going into details, our marriage was like the house built on sand. When storms came that first, emotionally-charged and stressful year as I also dealt with health issues and worries about getting Billie into the world safely, the marriage collapsed and we gave up on one another.

God, however, did not give up. Not only did he bring Billie into the world and keep her safe, but He made it more and more obvious that He had a plan for her. And, like David of David and Goliath fame, He had no plans of waiting until she was an adult to use her. Truth was, He started using her before she even exited the womb, making sure that this new baby gave both her dad and I exactly what we needed in our lives at that point. Billie’s dad actually credits her arrival for finally facing and defeating his own demons.

All that said, I still didn’t attend church as Billie began to grow up. Until, that is, the heart-wrenching devastation of Sept. 11, 2001, a day that rattled me to my very core. All of a sudden, I realized that not only had I been holding God back in my own life, but I was keeping the greatest blessing He had ever given me away from Him as well and was compelled to do something about it. We began visiting churches, but none felt right. They didn’t feel welcoming, which I equated to being full of hypocrites. I didn’t yet understand that many people attending church were just as confused and lost as I was; and that it wasn’t necessarily hypocrisy they exhibited, but the same ignorance and stubbornness I had been carrying for years.

Long story short, I continued to search for a church for both me and Billie, who was now in second grade. We ultimately made our way to Harvest Church and—from the moment we crossed its threshold at the Ramada Inn where it was meeting—I knew that we were finally home.      It was an easy choice to make sure that she and I were there every time the doors were open and, with Pastors Jim and Jen as our teachers, we both began growing UP. Billie loved the kids program. She adored the Pink Carpet and her carpet leader, Mrs. Mary. We both loved learning about and getting to know God.

Truthfully, I couldn’t believe the difference it made to know God personally versus simply knowing of Him. He started showing up and showing out in both our lives and it was exciting. It’s still exciting. Even though He has performed and showed me many miracles over the past decade and a half, I still cherish those early God moments that changed my life forever.

Indeed, Billie did grow up at Harvest and I will be forever convinced that Harvest was always a part of His plan for both of us, and most especially for her. In fact, this morning as I watched her—now 23-years-old and the head of the church’s Children’s Ministry—give the message in the main church service for the very first time, my mind rewound itself to a Sunday about 13 years ago when my 10-year-old baby girl leaned over while listening to Pastor Jim preach and whispered this into my ear: “Mom, I know what I want to do when I grow up,” she said excitedly. “I want to preach.”

Well, my sweet baby girl, you did it and you did it good!!!! I love you and I love God for picking me to be a part of your story and, most importantly, for allowing both of us to be a part of His. I thank Him for making you a living, breathing example of how miracles and beauty can come from even the darkest, seemingly hopeless situations. I thank Him for Harvest Church and for making His presence so obvious in the church as well as in both of our lives. May we all continue to fulfill His will and purpose until His Kingdom comes. Amen and Ehmen.

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” – Jeremiah 1:5

Stopped In Their Tracks: It’s Going To Be All Right.


Writer’s Note: I first recorded this blog entry in February 2016. It was during a time of storms and health scares and God showed up to comfort me in a miraculous and undeniable way. I share this again because God guided me through this same health scare yesterday as well as a series of other storms that have occurred over the last month, bringing my mind back to this very event as He continues to comfort me and let me know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that He is right here with me and it is indeed going to be all right. I don’t necessarily know the details of how it will all work out, but He is PATIENTLY teaching me that I don’t have to know. I just have to know and TRUST Him. If you are going through anything at all right now, if you feel scared, alone, or simply need something to boost your faith, I hope you will read this. God loves us, y’all. He really, really does!

deer image for amenandehmen

Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.—Hebrews 11:1

What a beautiful, hope-inspiring verse. It flows like honey from the lips of whomever recites it and gives comfort to all who struggle with the troubles and tribulations that are guaranteed to come as long as we continue to live and breathe this side of Heaven.

However, when you are in the midst of those troubles, most of us would be less than truthful if we said that we did not ever doubt. Indeed, sometimes our confidence in what we hope for DOES wane. Sometimes we’re NOT so assured that the things we cannot see are fully under the control of a loving God who will use them for our good.

The fact is, sometimes, when life gets hard, uncertainty will often fuel fear instead of hope and, if you are like me, it becomes more about survival—just putting one foot in front of the other—than it does about resting in peace and hope. It becomes more about drifting in seclusion and fear than living in the presence of God and trusting His promises fully and completely.

Truth be told, as much as I love God and as much as I know in my heart that He is always present and always worth trusting, I have still loitered in a self-imposed seclusion at times; wandered aimlessly through shadowy valleys where cares and concerns take the form of dark and menacing shadows hell-bent on blocking the light in my life. In fact, over the past few months, it feels like I have stood frozen and wrought in fear more than I have walked in peace and rested in trust and faith, even though I absolutely know better.

Thank God I know better. Thank God for the proverbial and omnipresent life-line that He continually invites us to grab hold of and uses to pull us back to a place where we can see Him, hear Him, and feel Him. Thank God, He never gives up. No matter how many times we drift away and lose sight, He just keeps offering Himself to us over and over and over, repeatedly reminding us that He is right beside us and worthy of our trust.

So, as I continued to occupy that valley between fear and worry and complete trust in Him, God started pulling me back to Himself. And, just as He often does when there is something He wants me to really hear, He began putting the subject in my path so many times and in so many ways that it was simply impossible to deny. It seemed that He used practically every thing I read and heard to assert the same truth. Trust Me, He said again and again.

And, trust me, I had heard quite a few messages in the last couple of weeks. Realizing my spiritual and prayer life was collecting dust, I had recommitted myself to the daily habit of spending my half hour drive to and from work either praying or listening to podcasts by various preachers and teachers. It’s something I had enjoyed for several years and I was hoping that it would get me reconnected and out of this cycle of fear and worry which I had fallen into. And, of course, never one to disappoint, God Almighty, the Teacher of teachers, showed up and picked up right where we left off.

Now, I don’t want to say that He harped on and on about that one thing that I was obviously needing most at this point in time, but I will say He was quite persistent. Days turned into weeks and podcast after podcast, sermon after sermon, in one way or another, all dealt with same subject: trusting Him; living in His presence; walking and dwelling with the Holy Spirit; not fearing; and, finally, believing in His good plan for my life, no matter what.

Everyday. It didn’t matter who was delivering it, the message was the same. Steven Furtick. Andy Stanley. Joyce Meyer. Louie Giglio. Over and Over. I couldn’t hide from it. Though, truth be told, I really didn’t want to.

I wanted nothing more than to honor God and find that place of peace for myself where my trust in Him is unbridled. And, so, on my way home one day, after hearing Joyce Meyer preach on the Holy Spirit, I turned off my radio and began to pray. From the Eisenhower exit to Hartley Bridge, I prayed for God to once again heighten my ability to sense the Holy Spirit as well as my ability and desire to follow His lead. I asked to hear His voice loud and clear and to once again be able to trust that everything in my life would be used by Him. I asked for reassurance that it—that I—really was going to be okay. “God, show me that it’s going to be okay,” I pleaded.

As I rode along praying from the deepest reaches of my heart, I suddenly became overwhelmed with this feeling that I was in danger. Completely out of the blue, I sensed that there were deer in the woods parallel to the interstate I was driving on and that, at any moment, that they were going to dart in front of my car. I can’t explain it, but it was so real and so intense that I began to feel panicked.

My first instinct was to brake and slow down, for I figured that slowing down would either keep me from hitting them or, at the very least, lessen the impact. However, when I looked in my rearview mirror, there was a car practically tailgating me, rendering that plan null and void. Next, I considered changing into the middle lane, thinking that I could perhaps put a little more distance between myself and them, but, yet again, a car was fast approaching there as well.

Finally, I did the only thing I could think of left to do, and I blurted out the following plea, “Lord, please just stop them in their tracks! Stop them in their tracks, Father!”

Just like that, the feeling of looming danger dissipated just as quickly as it had started. I took a deep breath and thanked God for this unseen, but deeply felt occurrence. The sense of danger had been so real, but, thankfully, this peaceful, safe feeling felt just as real. That in itself was enough, yet my impromptu lesson on trust wasn’t quite over. Just as I was exhaling a breath of relief, my eyes were almost magnetically drawn to the woods just beyond the road’s shoulder. I couldn’t believe what I saw. There, standing tall, his body half in the woods and half out, was a deer! Head held high, looking in my direction and poised like he had literally been stopped in his tracks!

Though I would have been content with the feeling of relief I experienced a split second earlier, God knew that I needed to see it with my own two eyes. In fact, if you recall, I had just asked Him to come close and to show me that it was going to be okay; that I was going to be okay; and He did just as I had asked! Astounded, I immediately began to gush words of thanksgiving and praise.

Oh, how very much he taught me in those precious seconds and in the hours that followed as I recounted this beautiful experience.

For one, my initial response, as you may recall, was to try and do something myself. I checked the rearview mirror to see if I could slow down and then checked the side mirror to see if I could change lanes. Then and only then did I call out to our Lord to take control of the situation. I don’t know about you, but I do that all the time. I try everything in my power first, when I could save myself a whole lot of trouble by just asking God for help to begin with.

Secondly, I fully believe the woods are symbolic of things that have been going on in my life. Unknown things, such as my health, have been weighing heavily on me and causing angst. But, in just a few moments while driving down I-75, our beautiful Father in Heaven sent me a reminder that just like He controlled that deer in the woods that He was also in control of my health, my future and anything else that I might not be able to see. All I have to do is call out to Him.

Lord, I will never be able to thank You enough for answering me when I call out to You and for being relentless in Your pursuit of me. No matter how many times my trust falters, You never, ever leave my side. Thank you for SHOWING Yourself to me when I need it most and doing so in such a way that I know, without a doubt, that it is You. I shall never forget the image of that deer standing on the roadside, half in the woods and half out, obviously stopped in his tracks just by my asking. Your word says, “Ask, and it shall be given; seek, and you shall find; knock and it shall be opened to you.” And, as always, you are true to Your word. My dear sweet Jesus, I promise to work on trusting in You completely; to remember that You see everything that is going on—even the things behind the scenes—and that, no matter what, you will use it all for my good, all because I’m your child and I love you. Thank you for loving me so and for teaching me to look at everything through eyes of faith and trust. Oh what a difference it makes. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen and Ehmen!

When Fear Holds Hands with Faith…


Isaiah 41.132

Writer’s note: As I forge ahead in writing the story that God has written me into, I must face with honesty the obstacles that I have allowed to slow me down and sometimes bring me to a screeching halt. For me every obstacle, no matter its weight or size, has been constructed of fear. It’s something I’ve battled my whole life. It’s something, I still battle every single day. Including today. What I’m learning is that it is okay to treat fear as a caution light and check whatever it is saying to me against what God is saying…both to me and about me. When I allow faith to hold hands with my fear, faith and God win every time. This is a little un-edited snip-it from what I’ve been writing of late. I can’t really share the story behind this little editorial excursion as that story needs to be told all together,  but I felt the need to share this as I continue on this purposed path….as a reminder to keep going and as I way to create more accountability in my life. Keep me in your prayers as I pray for all whose eyes land on any words I may write. May God bless you and keep you today and always. Amen and Ehmen.


Fear.

Unless it’s the healthy kind which shows awe and reverence to God, it’s just plain destructive and crippling.

It’s what led me to reject the mantle with which Jesus was trying to clothe me and it’s what convinced me to reject the gift which He tried to personally hand me.

Fear is a lie which the enemy is all too happy to plant and which I ultimately transformed into an excuse to justify my disobedience and, if I am completely truthful, my lack of trust in God. That last part, by the way, is where the real sin comes in, because, let’s be real, shall we? At the very root of it all, fear is sin. Period.

I know this and, yet, this sin was so deeply rooted in my spirit that it became like another gear in my autonomic nervous system; a non-OEM part supplied by someone other than the original manufacturer.

For those who may have skipped out on biology like me, the autonomic nervous system is essentially our body’s version of autopilot. It is the system that controls our heartbeat, our breathing, and our digestive processes—all those important life sustaining functions that we do not consciously direct. It also includes another wonderful system crafted by God to trigger our fight or flight response when we are in imminent danger.

I’ve actually experienced this a couple of times in my life, one of the most memorable being as I traveled on a very busy street one sunny afternoon. A car accident happened right in front of me and I escaped being a part of the collision by mere inches. In an instant, adrenaline was racing through my veins and, without so much as even a pause, I jumped out of my car, and ran over to the driver’s door of the car directly in front of me. Her door was crumpled and jammed and the car was filling with smoke, but an uncommon strength allowed me to rip open the door and lead the driver to safety. I didn’t know I had it in me, but was sure glad that I did.

However, I’ve also experienced this fight or flight phenomena when there was absolutely no danger in sight. It was years before I figured out that I was having panic attacks when this happened. Fortunately, those days seem to be behind me, but the memories are still there. If you have ever had a panic attack, you know why. They are absolutely terrifying. I can’t help but wonder if undiagnosed and sinful fear was at their root.

I suppose it’s possible, as there has always been plenty of fear in my life. From the time that I was a little girl and my family was forever changed by the murder of my father, my life has been filled with moments and events that either ripped or threatened to rip my security blanket from my hands. This, in turn, created a perceived need for me to turtle up; to pull back into my shell and emerge only when I absolutely had to. Internally, that is.

On the outside, I became very skilled at covering up my fears and worked very hard at playing whatever part made me most acceptable, most liked and, of course, most self-sufficient. I told myself that if folks didn’t know my weaknesses, my fears, and my secrets, I could hold onto my self-constructed security blanket a little longer. I did not yet understand that true security comes in Christ and once you have accepted His gift of Salvation, nothing but nothing can snatch it or you away. (John 10:28)

Truth be told, I’m still learning the expanse of His great love and promise, but I have definitely come a long way. Not of my own doing, mind you, but by His sheer grace. I also have a really long way to go as He so poignantly pointed out in both Andrea’s dream and in mine.

After all, I did run from Him. Twice.

“I know his name, child, and he knows Mine.”


               

Writer’s Note: Today marks four years since my brother drew his last breath, and three since I wrote this post. Today as I spent some time thinking about him and reminiscing, I felt comforted all over again. Please, if you have not accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior, consider taking that step today; if not for yourself, for your loved ones. Don’t take a chance on leaving them to wonder if they will see you again, for that grief is a grief like no other.


 

September 7, 2016               

One year ago today, I heard your voice for the last time.

I miss you, dear brother.

Truth is, I have missed you every day since you left us, but as we move closer and closer to the one year anniversary of your death, it has been especially hard.

               Gary  May 9,2010 While the grief process continues and I have taken many strolls down memory lane remembering your life, these last few days have found me especially reflective of your death. Those were dark days, brother. Painful days. It was so hard to watch mama as she realized she had to let you go. No mother should ever have to bury her child.

                It was hard to watch the interaction between you and Karen. It was obvious that she was the love of your life. As dim as your eyes became, the soul-depth love you had for her burst forth like a beacon in the darkest of nights. It was heartbreaking and heartwarming all at the same time.

It was hard for all of us who loved you to say goodbye, but we didn’t have a choice. All of our days on this earth are numbered and, ready or not, one day the last day will come for all that have ever drawn breath. Still, I can promise you none of us were ready for it to be your time.

At the time, the worst part of it all, Gary, was not really knowing your spiritual condition; not being sure that you had accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior. Not being sure that you would soon enjoy everlasting life with our Father in Heaven. I know that it was said many times right before and after your passing that a man’s faith is a personal matter and that one doesn’t have to talk about it, but that just isn’t true. No words will ever be able to express the extreme heartache not knowing levies on the hearts of those who struggle with the thought of never seeing their loved one again.

It is the same wrenching heartache that I felt a few years prior when I, as an adult, began to deal with the tragic death of our daddy decades before. In talking to mom one day, I discovered that at the time of dad’s death, she wasn’t certain of his salvation. Like you, he was a man with a heart of gold and a man of great respect and humble attitude, but, unfortunately, they had never talked about it. Having been only eight when dad was taken from us, I never really got to know him. I can only hope for another chance on the other side.

But, back to you. Your last days were heavily laden with prayer, by me, by family, by friends and the church. Though I didn’t really get the opportunity to talk to you directly about God, our cousin Patty did. Still, we weren’t sure where you stood and that hurt more than anything. But, then something happen. I was getting ready for your memorial service. It had been an emotionally charged week and I really wasn’t thinking about anything. My mind and emotions were taking a well-needed time-out when, out of the blue at exactly 7:53 a.m. September 10, 2015, the following words floated into my mind. As clear as the spoken word I heard Him say: “I know his name, child, and he knows Mine.”

Now, Gary, that’s not a phrase that I had ever heard and I knew instantly that it was the still small voice of our ever-loving God. Powerful words swaddled in that unsurpassed comfort and peace that can only come from Him. I just knew and it’s all I needed.

I was so excited and relieved that when got to your memorial service, the first person I hunted down was Patty; and when we hugged, I excitedly whispered the good news. She, too, began to grin from ear to ear.

“Brenda,” she told me. “I prayed all night and all the way up here, begging God to show either you or me that Gary was with Him.”

Sigh. What a beautiful gift. I can’t tell you how much easier it made it to say goodbye. You know it rained during your service that day and I can just remember thinking that it was apropos. In fact, I think it was Heaven’s way of helping us mourn our loss while celebrating its gain.

Now, what about dad?

Though I have spent the last several years hoping and feeling like he is probably with you in our eternal home in Heaven, I have never received such certain reassurance as I did with you. Until this week. Enter another cousin. This one, Debbie, one of Uncle Don’s daughters. She had read a recent post about how hard it was to hear that daddy’s salvation was also unknown to those who loved him most. It spurred a memory that she shared, probably a nudge from God, if I had to guess.

As you know, Uncle Don also left this earth way too early. He died in a car accident when he was in his early 30s, leaving behind a beautiful bride and two beautiful young daughters. Daddy always made sure to stay connected to them and our families were quite close, I am told.

What I didn’t know was that Aunt Vera Lee, Uncle Don’s widow, had spent some time in the hospital visiting daddy during his last days. Debbie relayed a sweet story that her mom had shared before she passed about how they sang a hymn together and that daddy had been the one to start the singing. She also relayed how she had felt the presence of Uncle Don in the room with them, so heavy, in fact, that she said she actually spoke his name out loud.

“Brenda, Mama said that she was convinced that she felt Daddy Don’s presence so strongly because he had come to show Uncle Billy the way,” my dear cousin wrote in a note this week. “And we all know the devil doesn’t send someone to comfort and guide you on your journey home.”

Sigh. Another beautiful gift. We will see you both again! And Uncle Don, who I never knew. And Grandma. And Granddaddy. And our beautiful aunts, Aunt Hazel and Aunt Vera Lee. You are all there waiting for the rest of us and celebrating every moment with our Awesome and Beautiful Creator. I can only imagine, but boy oh boy do I enjoy imagining that day!

But, until then, I still miss you. And, yes, there are still tears, but they are no longer all sorrowful. They are also intermingled with tears of joy knowing you are enjoying everlasting life and that one day we will meet again.

Until then, to you and all of our loved ones previously departed, much love from earth to heaven.

Amen and Ehmen.

Knock, Knock…


Note: I hesitated to post this personal prayer journal entry from earlier this month, telling myself that it probably wasn’t of interest to anyone else. However, in reality, I think it was more that I was waiting to see if He would really show up as I set out to wholeheartedly seek His face; if He would really open the door when I knocked.

Spoiler alert: He DID!

Just as He always does and will again and again until the end of time, He SHOWED UP and SHOWED OUT and then some.  My asthma is back under control; I am writing again; and the voice and miracles of the Holy Spirit have resumed. Woo Hoo! More on that in future blog posts. God is so very good, y’all. All the time, He is so very good. –Brenda.


ask and it will be given scripture image

August 5, 2019

Lord, I feel Your Presence this morning.

Actually, I’ve been becoming more and more aware of Your closeness over this past week or so. Thank you for sending the D-group Bible Study girls into my life. I see You working throughout the entire group and know that You are using each of us individually and together for great things.

Thank you, too, for the lady you sent to lay hands on me and pray for me in Lowe’s while standing in the air filter section. I know THAT was you. You knew I was struggling greatly with asthma, but she didn’t. She just showed up and the next thing I know she was speaking healing over me.

Give me the unyielding faith to BELIEVE that healing is already mine. I’m already feeling better. Keep me in this faith space, Lord.

Help me, too, to get back on track with my writing and to be obedient. I miss those times of miracles, just from listening to Your voice and following each prompting of the Holy Spirit. I want that again, Lord. I want YOU, Lord.

Your Word says ask and you will receive. I’m asking, Lord.

Your word says seek and you shall find. I’m seeking, Lord.

And, Your Word says, knock and it will be opened to you. I’m knocking, Lord. I’m ready to beat down the door, in fact.

I love you, God. With all that I am, I love You and praise You! Thank you for loving me without cease.

Amen and Ehmen.


And in my spirit, these are the words that I heard…

Dear Child,

You are so very special to Me.

I wish that all of you knew just how much you mean to Me. You are each a pivotal part of all Creation.

I need you to understand that, Child. You are NOT an accident and you are absolutely NOT insignificant. You and everything that I purposed for You is critical in bringing My Kingdom to fruition.

You must take that seriously, Child, but don’t take yourself so seriously. There is a huge difference.

Stay in MY Presence. I’m always with you. Listen for My Voice at all times. Even when it does not make sense to you, be obedient.

This is the ONLY way you will ever move My Purpose for you along. You cannot do any of it alone, but you can and will do it with My help.

Oh, the journey we will take together, Child. You just don’t know. The joy. The love. The peace. The impact. It’s going to be GOOD, my dear one.

I can’t wait to share it with you.

Have a beautiful day and take the time to just breathe it all in. You are healed.

Proverbs 2. 1-6

It’s His job!


 

This was written a few years ago as my job struggles were intensifying. I post it today as it speaks to me yet again and I know it will speak to others as well. We all have troubles.  Fill in the blank with yours and KNOW that He has it and you…always and forever. Amen and Ehmen!

Writer’s Note: Some of you who know me, know that I have some pretty major challenges and important decisions facing me regarding my employment. It has been a most dear goddifficult couple of weeks, through which I have had a host of prayer warriors praying on my behalf. I, myself, have been talking to God…a lot…and to others even more…so much so that I didn’t leave much room for listening. This morning when He woke me up for some one-on-one quiet time, that changed. My Lord and Savior never, ever fails to amaze me. Below is our exchange from just a few hours ago. 🙂

June 25, 2016 5:30 AM

I am here, God, and I am listening.

Brenda, my child, have I not always been there for you? No matter what has happened in your job, I have worked things to your benefit and I will again.

But, you, child, must keep the faith. You must not look away at the storms around you, lest you sink, swallowed up by the sea of your own disbelief, discontent and weariness.

You can’t do this on your own. You know this and yet you fret and stress as if you can; as if it is your responsibility and within your control.

I have given you the freedom to make choices. With this comes great reward, but also great risk; for when you let that freedom become what drives you and you leave Me out of the equation, it becomes a snare. You begin to walk a very thin line between choice and self-reliance and it is easier for you to take your eyes off of Me. This becomes stressful and that stress pulls you further away from Me and the vicious cycle continues.

Choose Me, child. I am your Helper. Redeemer. Savior. I love you and care for you and want everything that is best for you. I will never leave nor forsake you. I will never ask you to fight battles in your own power, for those battles will never be won. You must choose to keep your eyes on Me. You must choose to take Me with you into every situation.

And that includes your job. I have this, child. You must choose to trust Me. I will give you the right decision; the right things to say and the right timing; if you will just choose to honestly and completely cast your cares on Me. I will give you clarity. You will KNOW what to do. Just rest in Me. Let Me take this from here. Write your stories. Consult with Me and then send the emails and make the calls that I tell you, when I tell you. I have this.

Go read Exodus 4:12

46A542F5-A195-4875-88C8-BD056C9754EAOh, my sweet, sweet Father. Please accept the tears that are falling at this moment as tears of praise and gratitude for Your great love. It is overwhelming, because I know that I don’t deserve it. I am so ashamed of how many times I focus on my weaknesses instead of the unstoppable power that I have in You. Lord, thank You for continuing to be patient with me. I am so much like Moses who also wrestled with similar struggles. But, I guess you already know that as what You sent me this morning were actually Your words to him when he was having difficulty understanding that You were with him in the mission that You were sending him on; that it was about Your power, not his.

Jesus, thank you. Thank you for never failing me. For being there and giving me such clear answers from Your Word when I seek and listen. I say this every single time, but I have to say it again. I will never get over You planting a scripture address in my mind and heart and me turning to that one verse that speaks the most applicable and perfect words into my situation. That ONE perfect verse out of 31,173 verses. And, in this very case, the NINETEEN most perfect words out of 807,361. I don’t care what anyone says, but that is not, nor will it ever be, a coincidence. That is all YOU! May I never get used to this beautiful gift. May I never forget that You have chosen me. Help me to always choose You. I love you, my dear Father, will all of my heart and soul. I commit this situation to Your capable and powerful hands. My eyes are on You. Please help me to keep them there. Amen and Ehmen.

 

Step-by-Step


Note: Thank you, Lord, for sending these written reminders to me; for leading me to just the right blog post or journal entry; for walking with me everyday and being available for intimate and wisdom-filled exchanges anytime I want.  It’s up to me to lace up my shoes and open my heart and my ears to you.  I love you and our time together  Amen and Ehmen!

As I stepped outside, the sun just peeking up from beneath the covers of the horizon, I couldn’t help but breathe a sigh of relief as a cool morning breeze greeted my skin.Beautiful flowers and driveway in neighborhood 7.2017

It has been really hot lately. And humid. So humid, in fact, that it feels like Mother Nature wraps me in a warm, wet blanket every time I step outdoors.

But not this morning and, as the cool air energized my spirit, I couldn’t help but send audible thank you’s heavenwards.

Man, it felt good to feel good. It felt even better to sense Jesus’ presence by my side. I’ll be the first to admit that I am not always in step with my Maker, but today was different. The heat and heaviness of life did not exist in this moment and off I went feeling light on my feet and loved in my heart.

I’m pretty sure I had a bounce in my step and I definitely had a smile on my face as I stepped from my driveway onto the asphalt in front of my house. I turned to the right as I have so many mornings, but instead of tucking earbuds into my ears, I decided to listen for God’s voice. Prayer, after all, isn’t always talking and presenting requests to God; it is a two-way conversation which requires us to sometimes close our mouths and open our ears.

He didn’t disappoint. As we strolled along, He began to whisper words of comfort and direction deep into my spirit. He told me that this time and situation were not a punishment, but rather a gift. That this was my time. Our time. A time for reconnection and reinvention. A time of complete trust and dependence on Him. Himdependence, if you will. The time and place our lives intersect; the very place in which His will meets my purpose.

His words washed over me like a comfortable garment. Oh, how long I have waited for this moment. The moment that I could truly take hold of this purpose and dream that He has placed within my heart. How I have longed to harvest what He has so carefully planted.

I breathed another sigh of relief as the mantle that had once felt too heavy to bear, now slid over me like a breeze and rested gently upon my skin. I was surprised at how soft and comfortable it felt. He spoke again. “This, my child, is what I mean by ‘my yoke is easy.’

At this word, I felt the urge to stop and, as I stood in the middle of the road, I noticed that I felt surprisingly relaxed, unlike two weeks earlier when I had felt too uncomfortable and restless to stand still, afraid that someone might see me and wonder what on earth I was doing. I had always felt that I needed to be moving or else I must be wasting time.

But not this day and, as I stood still, He led my eyes to a beautiful flower standing proudly in the distance amid trees and weeds. It was obviously not planted by human hands, but it was unbelievably breathtaking under the spotlight of the morning sun. How could I have not seen this before? How could I have missed this beautiful thing? And, as I stood there and questioned myself, He stood right beside me ready to answer. “See, my child,” I heard His Spirit whisper. “This is what I mean when I say ‘be still and know that I am God.’”

“You, my child, are to be like that flower amongst the weeds,” He continued. “You are to be a hope among the desolate. A flower for which I can bring the winds and scatter your seeds, giving birth to new growth and new hope in places you have yet to see and some you may never see with your own eyes.”

As His words trailed off, we resumed walking. He nudged me down a path I’ve never taken before; hard to believe since I’ve now lived in this neighborhood for a decade this very week. What a creature of habit I can be!

He whispered that sometimes we must get off the beaten path to discover new things about ourselves and about Him. Routine, He declared, can bring death to creativity and creativity is one of the most effective ways to express love and to reflect who He is. “Look around,” I heard Him say. “I am doing a new thing.”

Although the last time I had taken a new route, I had run into a not-so-nice canine, today, I felt a peace in my spirit as I walked along; probably because I was accompanied by the King of Kings. The trees were beautiful and the aroma of honeysuckle chased after me, encircling my senses and making my heart sing. I couldn’t help but smile as I caught myself humming. I was practically skipping along. It didn’t matter that I really didn’t know exactly where this path would lead or what I might find along the way. I was just enjoying being with The Father.

I felt like a young girl in love. I marveled at how blue the sky looked; how green the trees and grass; how beautiful the birds and animals; a little bit of heaven just a few steps off the same road I had traveled so many times. But, almost as soon as I had gotten lost in the newness and beauty of the excursion, I realized the new road had come to an end and I was now standing in a cul-de-sac. I wasn’t ready for it to be over. Had The Father not just said that we sometimes need to get out of our routine?

Sensing my disappointment, He answered quickly. “Just remember, child, even what feels like an ending will always be a setup for something greater when you are walking with Me. I use every step of every journey to teach you and mold you; to open your eyes a little more.”

I drank in His words, knowing in my heart that He was not just talking about this morning’s walk, but instead about the current concerns regarding my life and career. God has been so good to me through my latest situation and, today—almost two months after the unexpected and abrupt end of a 22 year career—I am actually quite enjoying learning to trust Him completely. I am finally making choices based on what I feel is God’s desire for me as opposed to my natural tendency to search for the secure and the safe.

Back on the main road now, I turned to head home. The morning was gaining momentum and the heat was rising just as fast as the sun. I picked up my pace, ready to get home before it got any hotter. Thank goodness this homestretch was shaded by the many majestic oaks for which the street was named.

Again, however, I felt another nudge to stop in the roadway. And while I felt a little more than distracted as sweat began to roll off my forehead, my eyes were drawn to a tree just a few feet away from me. What? Are you kidding me?

I stood in awe as right there in front of me–growing on a random tree on the fringe of the woods–was a grape vine loaded with young grapes. How had I not seen this before? The flower earlier on our walk was pretty far into the woods. Had the sun not shined its spotlight on it, I may have Grapes along side of road 7.2017missed it. But this vine, filled with clusters of grapes, was growing wild right along the path I have been walking for months. What’s more, I know grape vines. I have one just like it in my yard. In fact, He has used it to teach me throughout the decade I have lived here; so much so that I have often wondered if the grapevine is the reason God made this my home in the first place.

“You haven’t seen it before, because you weren’t looking.” God’s spirit said to mine. “To you, it was just another vine. It wasn’t until you really opened your eyes and the fruit started to emerge that you took notice. You, my child, are like this vine. You grow and prepare, I prune and tend, but, it isn’t until the fruit begins to materialize that people really begin to take notice. This is your time, child. Get to work and watch me multiply the fruits of your labor.”

Ahhhhhh. Happy sigh. Thank You, Jesus, for this walk; for this day; and, most of all, for this opportunity to be a part of Your plan and purpose. You gave Denny and I a very important assignment several years ago and I know that I know it is time to make it happen. Not ten years from now when I retire; not next year when things slow down. But now. I am honored, humbled and grateful. Help us, Lord, to stay in step with you as we continue to journey into your will and purpose.

We are ready, willing and—with your grace and help—I know that we are also well able. Amen and Ehmen.

For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:30

For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland. Isaiah 43:19

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10

“Be strong…Be strong…and get to work, for I am with you, says the Lord of Heavens Armies, My Spirit remains among you, just as I promise…So do not be afraid.” Haggai 2:4-5

Celebrating Mom: Another Year Beautiful!


Writer’s Note: This was written on a Mother’s Day past, but bears repeating. Beauty of a mother only grows as the years go by. Here’s to my mom, now in her ninth decade and another year beautiful. Happy Mother’s Day!

As I scoured my computer for the perfect photo of my mom on this Mother’s Day, I found Mom, Then and Now MD 2015 Dry Brushmany pictures, some old and some new. Having a hard time choosing between one from her youth or one more recent, I decided to create a “then and now” and was quite happy with the results. I actually had a hard time taking my eyes off of the pictures, giving credence to the old saying “a picture is worth a thousand words.”

Actually, I think a picture—at least these two pictures—are worth more than a thousand words. In fact, I’m not sure there would be enough ink and paper on the planet to do them justice. On the left, a beautiful young woman looked bright-eyed and full of hope. I felt pride in how radiant and striking the woman, who would eventually become my mom, was; and I totally get why our society gets so hung up on youth and beauty. But, then my eyes were drawn, almost as if pulled by gravity, to the more recent photo. Although I just saw my mom in person yesterday, I couldn’t seem to get enough of this hastily made snapshot in time.

Studying the photo closely, I quickly decided that this is the definition of true beauty. Sure, her face dons a few lines now, but today as I looked more closely at those lines—those tattoos of aging that I have come to despise as they began to take up residence on my own face—I saw something different. Oh the stories that lay between these ever-so-gentle wrinkles in time; the love that bloomed and grew; the happy times that made us smile and Happy Mothers Day art phillipians 4.19 for blogthe sad times that made us cry; the joy that lit up our days and the pain that sometimes seemed too much to bear, all of which our amazing God masterfully blended together into a most beautiful life.

Yes, today, I finally see what true beauty actually is and it’s not in trying to look young at all costs. It’s understanding that—when we let our lives and our faces be a canvas—true beauty actually grows as we get older.

Look at my mom! Isn’t she simply gorgeous?! Happy Mother’s Day to my beautiful mom and to all the women so wonderfully and skillfully made by God. Amen and Ehmen!

gray hair crown of gloryAnd our Father in Heaven says…

Proverbs 16:31 ESV

Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained in a righteous life.

Proverbs 20:29 ESV

The glory of young men is their strength, but the splendor of old men is their gray hair.

The Unfiltered Truth!


As I began to edit a photo I had just taken with my phone, I quickly noticed that the original was, by far, the best and most colorful option. It was then that I heard God whisper this in my ear: “True beauty,” He said, “needs no filter.” Enough said. Thank you, Jesus…and Amen and Ehmen!

“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. ” — Psalm 139:14 (NIV)

YOU are beautiful…man, woman or child…embrace your beauty today! 🙂