Deciding to live vulnerable with God
* A little ending that fits on almost any word to increase its cool factor.
Deciding to live vulnerable with God
* A little ending that fits on almost any word to increase its cool factor.
I recently finished a book I heard about and was afraid to read—but I read anyway. That was a small brave decision on my part because I knew it would touch some of my pain spots. The book is Leaving Cloud 9: The True Story of a Life Resurrected from the Ashes of Poverty, Trauma, and Mental Illness by Ericka Anderson. It is a biography with a happy ending but I feared the pain of the story because it is the pain I live with every day. My happy ending is still a long ways off. Did I really need to read the pain that I know? The story is the wife’s perspective on how her husband has overcome Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE). I never heard of this classification before but it makes sense to me. ACE is a real syndrome. It is recognizing how early traumas do impact the overall development of that person. This story also has a beautiful middle part of Jesus redeeming what was taken away from this man’s younger years. There is the beautiful Jesus part and then the hard work part to cling to the truth no matter what your brain is telling you. […]
There is a thought stirring in me that I must give air too. I’m hoping it won’t be as scary if I can give air to it. Keeping it inside my head is scary. I wonder if one of our sons will ever be in relationship with us again. He doesn’t have to. We have no legal tie to him. We just started raising him when he was around 12. We have given him a safe home and unconditional love for over 25 years now. His story is my story. Photos of him are everywhere. We have also had seasons of when we don’t hear from him. Years. But he always returns. Then he wanders away again. Then he returns. We are in one of those times when we don’t hear from him. But I’m wondering (is fear speaking?) that at age 37 he will make the final decision to separate from us. Will he want a fresh start away from us? I hope that also means away from his birth family but that is complicated. Too complicated for me to give sound advice on. Is he tired of disappointing us? Of making me so sad? Is this the time […]
Romance is not dead. It has never been dead. Despite all of the whining you may have heard. If you have found romance again, it’s not because romance has become a “thing” again. It’s not because you are finally with someone who knows what romance is. It’s’ because you have stopped contorting yourself to make a non-match relationship work. Romance is rarely about gift-giving, spendy restaurants with ambience that makes both of you glow, and sweet poetry written for you by text message. Romance is the awakening of the heart. Romance makes you feel connected to someone in a deeper way, definitely past friendship. Romance is the gestures, both big and small, that make you feel especially pursued, wooed and cherished by your other. This is why you have declared romance to be dead. In your past relationships, you have accepted half-assed moral behaviors and half-assed faith commitments. You have even justified why this person is the way he/she is! You have justified (despite what your gut is telling you) that this person is good enough for you. You have compromised your soul to keep this one—all in the name of love. No wonder romance is dead. Your heart is […]
I mean that title literally. This is my loving warning to you. A big part of dating is coffee and meals together. Coffee and food provides the perfect ambience to get to know another person. The perfect ambience to have deep conversations. The perfect ambience to make memories together. (Taste is our second strongest sense in forming memories. Smell is our first. Food tastes and smells soooooo good.) I hope you have learned by now how fattening those fancy coffee drinks are. That is a lot of calories we are drinking and not chewing. As for the food, you know the battle. When you are on dates you tend to go to better restaurants. You definitely eat out more than when you were single, You tend to order a cocktail before the dinner more. And because you are so blissfully happy you order dessert more. Maybe it is a dessert to share (which is sooooo cute) but you are still eating more dessert than you ever would allow yourself normally. Then especially for us Christian daters, we wisely try to find things to do out so we don’t have a lot of alone time with that one who is making […]
At the church I serve we do this wonderful tradition of worship music and Good Friday prayer stations. The prayer stations are created by the teens and some adults. John and the worship band just play for two solid hours. People can come and go and have a Good Friday reflection using all five senses to experience what happened during Holy Week culminating with Good Friday. It is a wonderful experience if I do say so myself as the coordinator of the worship service. One of the prayer stations focuses on the crown of thorns. The sense of touch is used to feel the thorns. The sense of taste and smell is used to taste and smell red wine vinegar as a representation of the painkiller Jesus declined to take while hanging on the cross (Matthew 27:33-34). The participants were asked—now that they’ve experienced that Jesus chose the pain of the cross—when pain can be beautiful. These are some of their responses. From real people living real lives. Pain is beautiful when we can see what God can do with each and every part of our lives. Pain is beautiful because I find out that I’m stronger than I thought. […]
I have a neighbor friend who is an older lady. We truly are friends after volunteering for so many opportunities in our town. She is Catholic and I am not but we talk about our shared faith all of the time. Right now her beloved granddaughter is in the early process of adopting a baby from foster care. This is the granddaughter who shows up every week to help her do the things she needs done so she can continue to live independently. But their special relationship goes back much further than that. I love this young lady too. Her faith has grown so much through her 20s. This granddaughter has suffered at least eight miscarriages. I know because she tells her grandma first who then starts praying and invites me in to pray with her. I’ve lost count of how many times we’ve had to talk through the inevitability of losing the baby, barely ever getting past 6 weeks. Two years ago the granddaughter signed up to do foster care with the hope of adoption. I know this too because her grandma tells me every time she and her husband have taken in a child. She asks me to […]
Do you have one of those people in your life who showers you with attention? The friend who brings you your favorite coffee every morning. The friend who is over-the-top complimentary to you—which is appreciated but always feels like there is a catch to it. Oh wait, is this you? The catch is the expectation that is created that everyone is going to return this attention back to you. That you will be the recipient of such love. That you will feel “enough” from this expected attention. When the love bomb is not returned to you–as you expected–you are disappointed. Sad. Maybe even angry. And once again you have proven to the world that no one appreciates you. The truth is, you love bomber, you are setting everyone up to disappoint you so you can be a martyr. Ouch. Please stay with me through this because I’m just revealing a numbing behavior you are using to protect your heart. I know you think you are a genuine person as you are doing this but really you are hurting inside more than you realize. So you love bomb others to protect yourself from this painful truth. So no one can really […]
John recently told me a sad and amazing story about a longtime friend of his. He’s always been a bitter victim of life yet he somehow has made a name for himself in the big world. Randy (not his name) has long known he’s been adopted. Knowing that his mother gave him up for adoption has made him this angry and bitter victim. (He’s also had his high school sweetheart and then his wife die of cancer. This is a sad true story, folks.) It hasn’t helped to have his own adoptive father tell him they paid $9,999.00 too much for him. Guess how much the adoption cost was? (This is a sad true story, folks.) When Randy got older he put a lot of effort into finding his birth mom. He posted notices all over. For years. He never got even a lead. Eventually one of those people who are good and paid for finding birth parents offered to help him find his mom for free. Her results were that he was a black market baby. He was stolen and then sold. He already knew that the exchange for his adoptive parents to receive him happened with an exchange […]
Rejection is an issue I’ve had to wrestle hard with over the last three years. Every time Rejection and I had to face off in the boxing arena, I would always end up slammed and pinned down. In boxing, you have ten seconds to get yourself up before the game is over. For me, it took months before I could even peel my head off the floor. On its face, it can appear that no two rejections are alike. Some are painful stings that last momentarily and can be quickly soothed. Others begin as an ache that continues to throb and flare up over a long period of time. I have friends who barely bat an eyelid if a date went badly, but would sob over pints of ice cream when their job application is turned down. Now that we’re in a season where we have to apply for clerkship and grad offers, we hear more about the rejections emails than we do the acceptance calls. In the writing world, I see people mourning the rejection of their book deals and constantly asking for feedback on their pitches. For me, it was the area of romantic rejection that caused the […]
The Vatican may soon approve changes to one of the most popular prayer there ever was—the Lord’s Prayer. Yes, the Vatican. The Vatican who rarely changes to keep up with the time. The Vatican who is hardly culturally relevant. Before you are filled with despair that even the Vatican is compromising scripture to be appeasing to the Millennials, the Leftists, the women, or whatever meme news you have read, let’s remember that this is the Vatican. And Pope Francis, I believe, has a valid point to make to initiate this change. It will change how you see how God is for you. The Italian Episcopal Conference (go Italy!) has reportedly sent changes to the Vatican (which they seem likely to approve) to change the line “lead us not into temptation” in the Lord’s Prayer to read “abandon us not when in temptation.” During a television interview, the pope reportedly disputed the translation of the phrase, lead us not into temptation saying, “A father doesn’t do that, a father helps you to get up immediately. It’s Satan who leads us into temptation, that’s his department.” Wow. That is so correct. That changes our view of God, right? Temptations are the devil’s […]
Brenda has been teaching the messages of Bravester for over 25 years. She is available to come to your group event. People have found her vulnerability and storytelling mixed with the Bible to be inspirational and life changing.
“You have had a significant influence on how I view brokenness, forgiveness, and the role God plays through all of that through a very difficult time in my life. Since that year at CRC, I have taken significant steps to getting bitterness out of my heart… You have had a significant impact on my life. I really do not think I would be the woman I am today if it were not for the lessons you taught me. You are a strong instrument of God and his word.” –Sara, former camp counselor and now inner-city missionary
Brenda can be joined by her husband John. They have a back-and-forth dialog that mixes in John’s beautifully written music. John is also available to lead worship for the event.
From Brenda’s 35 years of youth ministry experience, she has become a Brave Dating Coach. She has a lot of good things to say to help her many grown teens be coached into marriage. She is also available to teach on these many good things for your group event.