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

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.

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

Step Back Satan; She’s Ready to Rumble


 

The Boxing Match Begins…Classic Vintage Boxing Ring Corner

     The journey that had brought me to this point had been arduous, a rollercoaster ride filled with slow crawls up the peak of a steep-rising hill followed by a plummet to the lowest of valleys below.

The difference in a rollercoaster and this life journey was that more times than not there didn’t seem to be enough momentum for my friend to climb the next hill and, as hard as I tried to hold on to her, she would break out so that she could stay in the valley a little longer.

It was so hard to understand what power this deep, dark place held over her, but the fact was it had become so familiar to her that she had begun to mistake it as her safe place. It was miserable. It was scary. It was damp and dark. But, it’s what she knew. And, as a bonus, she couldn’t fall any deeper if she was already at the bottom. Or so she thought.

Truth was, the bottom of this valley, this pit, was the final battleground. At stake was not only the rest of her life on earth and a God-given purpose that would increase and change the face of Heaven exponentially, but her own soul. 

Not since Job had satan been more conniving as he knew how important she was in God’s plan. He studied her intently. He learned her weaknesses. He knew just where to deliver the next blow. He knew who and what to use against her. He knew when to take the gloves off. But, like Job, he also knew he could not, himself, take her life.

She would have to do that herself. He had her trapped in the valley. She was trapped in the boxing ring. Now he just needed to get her to throw in the towel.

Writer’s Note: The above is an excerpt of a story that is still being written, both figuratively and literally. I share it today, because my friend is fighting her way out of the valley as I type and I know that I know that she will emerge victoriously.

Indeed, a woman of petite stature, she has never been particularly strong from the physical perspective. But, from a spiritual standpoint, it is a much different story. The problem has always been that she doesn’t really recognize her own strength.

Yes, even though there is no doubt that God has handpicked this woman to play a pivotal role in His grand plan, she is yet to connect the dots…until now. I pray for her constantly as she undergoes this time of sorting out the puzzle pieces of her life–some quite jagged and still very painful–to impact the world in a way only she can; the way that God designed from the very beginning.

Get behind us, Satan, for the gloves are off and you are going down. Can’t you hear Heaven’s roar? I can.

The Truth About Joy and Sorrow


Point To Ponder amenandehmen

Many think that joy and sorrow are opposites; that you either have one or the other. But, the older I get, the more I realize that they are actually inseparable, just like sunshine and rain.

You simply can’t have one without the other. Plants cannot grow without rain nor can they grow without sunshine. It takes the two, working together, to make the magic happen.

Yet, most of us, myself included, long for sunny days and would just as soon skip over or, at least, sleep through the rainy ones. But, the fact is, one without the other would be a real tragedy.

Lord, help me to accept and even learn to welcome the rain and to remember that you use every single raindrop, every single teardrop, to make new things grow. Loving you, Jesus.

Amen and Ehmen.

Live By Truth Not By Feelings…


Note: It has admittedly been awhile since I woke up and spent time with the Father via the blank page. However, He’s been waking me up a lot lately and this morning I decided it was time. I have been struggling and, for whatever reason, when struggling, I sometimes allow myself to become distanced from God. I blame it on needing sleep and wind up tossing and turning. This morning I turned myself back to His Voice. And, as per usual, He did not disappoint! Look at the scripture He gave me! I do not know the Bible that well; at least from a standpoint of where scriptures are specifically. But, when I earnestly ask, He always answers and it is always just what I need at that moment. I sure love Him. Praise you, Jesus! Amen and Ehmen!

September 30, 2015, 6:45 a.m.

Hi, God. I’m sorry it has been so long since I met you here on the blank dear godpage. I have definitely let life get in the way of our time together; which, I know makes no sense at all. It’s when life gets hard that I need this time with You even more. And, yet, I struggle to get here. I let the enemy use my health, fatigue, worry, frustration and despair to keep me from truly focusing on the only One that can give me peace. I know better and yet I let it happen. But, not today! Even though I only have about 10 more minutes before I have to get ready for my earthly responsibilities, I know that I know that You will use them in an incredible way, teaching me and directing me as I continue along my journey to You. Lord, I need You more than ever. I feel scared. Alone. Hurt. Unsettled. And I feel disappointed in myself for feeling those things for I know that with You that I am safe, never alone, cared for and that my future is secure. Remind me, Lord. Draw me so close to You that I can see and feel only You. I love you, with all my heart and soul. Amen and Ehmen.

Oh my dear, dear child:

Pick up My Word and read Romans 8:6.

“The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.”

Child, you must get out of your feelings and into My Truth. Your feelings are a product of your flesh and they can lead you far away from me. The enemy loves to trap you in them; to weld them together into a chain with which he can keep you in bondage. But, my child, never fear for I Am strong in your weakness. I can break any chain that holds you. You must let this seep in deep, deep into your spirit. You must let it take root in your mind. Yes, your flesh is weak, but I AM strong. Your flesh is weak, but it is in your weakness that My strength is made PERFECT. Just hold tight to Me, child. Trust in Me. It is human to feel this way some times, but don’t stay there. Allow Me to use it to draw you closer to Me. Breathe in My Spirit and exhale utter peace and joy knowing that I AM with you always. You are My daughter and I love you with all My heart. You are a part of My plan and My purpose and have been since before you were born. Before the foundation of the earth was formed, I knew your name. And like the earth and all that has ever inhabited it, I spoke you into being. You were a Word, a breath from My own mouth. Because I knew you before you were born, I know every, single detail about you. I know your beginning, your present and your end and it is PERFECT; not always easy, but PERFECT. Just wait until you see the big picture, child. It will blow you away and all of this; every single detail of your life will make glorious sense. But, for now, you just have to trust Me. Walk the path in front of you, keeping your eyes always locked on Me. And, if you do get distracted, never fear. Just reach out and I will be there to grab your hand. You will never sink; not on My watch. I promise you that. I love you, child. Go, go about your day and see Me in the little things. Feel Me. Feel My presence all around you. For in Me, you will have peace and fullness of life. Memorize Romans 8:6 and hold it close to your heart. Repeat it when you begin to feel anything but Me.

Cutting Through The Weeds of Life


lawnmower

It’s not just a lawnmower. It has a name and that name is…

The other day, a friend was telling me that he gets his inspiration while riding his motorcycle to which I quickly quipped that I got mine on my riding lawnmower. And while I said it jokingly, it’s really very true. Indeed, sometimes God speaks to us in the strangest places—and, for me, it is quite often over the roaring of a lawnmower engine. Perhaps He finds that it is easier for him to “cut” to the chase as the rapid revolutions of the engine and blades drown out all the other noise of my world and I become more focused on Him and His creation. It really is a special time during which, over the years, I have received a lot of great insight.

This past weekend, for example, as I carefully and—I like to think skillfully—maneuvered my fire-engine red Craftsman mower with shiny chrome wheel covers tightly alongside the landscape timbers that separate the grass from my flowerbeds, I felt him nudging me to take a closer look inside the beds. Much to my dismay, what I saw was more weeds than flowers. It is then that I heard these words in my heart; words that flowed melodically and in perfect harmony with what was now just a backup hum from the mower.

flower

Your Heart is like the flowers

The most fruitful of seeds

It will die if not tended

Choked out by weeds.

Stopping the engine, I immediately hopped off the mower and started tending that flower bed. I pulled, plucked and tugged every weed. And, with each weed I pulled, it was if God breathed new nuggets of wisdom into my soul. He explained that the enemy has one play in his playbook—to plant weeds anywhere He Himself has planted seeds. In the case of our own hearts, the weeds represent things like sorrow, regret and shame. The evil one knows all too well that if he can keep us focused on the weeds, he can keep us from growing into the creations that God intended.

But, oh no, you devilish one, you are quite mistaken. God is the gardener of my life. And where you sow a crop of weeds, God is always standing by to pull, tug and pluck every single one. In fact, Matthew 15:13 promises us that “every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots.’”

Indeed, as children of God, we should forgive ourselves and each other, just as God forgave us through His son, Jesus Christ. By forgiving, we pluck the weeds of sorrow, regret and shame and free ourselves to give love to and receive love from God and others, just as we are commanded in Matthew 22:37-39:

“And He said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”

By forgiving, we free ourselves to be more fruitful—to grow more and more into His image, the image in which we were created in the first place.

Ah, sweet Jesus, I have held this teaching close all week and, today, as I prepared to do my weekly mowing once again, I noticed those flowers and plants which I tended last week have bounced right back and are full of life. My heart is feeling pretty full of life, too. Thank You for loving me; for never giving up on me; for forgiving me through your Son and my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ; and for always being willing to tend the garden of my heart. Please help me to do my part so that I can produce fruit that will make You proud. Now, I’m off to hop on the lawnmower. You know, I’ve been thinking. Perhaps, I will give the ol’ Craftsman a name. Harley. That way I can tell my motorcycle friends that I, too, find my inspiration when riding my Harley! 🙂 Amen and Ehmen!

Have a blessed, weed-free day, y’all!