Lessons Learned In The Week Of Tears

img_3576

I have cried a lot last week.

I had to of gone through every emotion you could think of. I felt like I was drowning and the more I tried to come up for air the further I sunk. If you don’t mind sitting for a spell while I pour out my heart a little bit here as a kind of partner post for Water The Flowers.

To be honest with you and myself, I have felt angry. Angry at pretty much everything that was out of my control. Angry that I felt like my life was on hold and not able to move on  to the next season. At one point I think I cried out, when will it be my turn?

I feel that it is important to balance the positive with a touch of reality. Trying to remind yourself that not all rainy seasons are bad, is tough. Especially when you feel like you are in a downpour that just won’t let up. Sometimes this comes in one of many forms and sometimes in all of them. Either way, no matter how positive you try, sometimes you feel like you just ran into a wall. It stings. All the “I’m Okays” and the “Look at the good” feels like a slap in the face. How long do I need to wait for my life to go in the direction I want it too? Is it up to me? Up to other people? How can I trust God with this? I firmly believe in and stand by what I said in the post linked above, but to be honest, some days are just harder then others.

I remember taking the picture above. I picked a throwback on purpose. I was 18 maybe 19. It was in the time where mirror selfies were done with a camera and flash. In this picture, I thought I had an idea of where I was going. What I was going to be doing. I have my natural hair color, the white tee shirt I loved to wear then. Probably barefoot or wearing those ridiculous sneaker wedges I thought were cute. I was with someone I thought I was going to marry, have babies and the farmhouse I had always wanted. The girl in the picture thought she knew. However, few months after this photo was taken, I ended the relationship, stopped wearing those weird shoes and asked myself, what now?

Life is full of “what now?” questions. You can’t really avoid them. Because we change on a constant basis and our lives change right along with us. Sometimes it is drastic, other times it happens so quietly that when you look in the mirror you almost have to reintroduce yourself to yourself. It happens. It is life. Sometimes life brings tears. That has been this past week. It has been a season. A season that sometimes feels like it is never going to end. However the truth is that it will come to an end. It takes time, faith, and the word that is most difficult to swallow: trust. It is hard to trust what we can’t see.

There was a time where Colin and I went to the King and Queen Seat at Rock State Park. It is 100 feet and 200ft from Deer Creek below. I never considered myself to have a fear of heights, but as I stood at the top, I made a huge mistake. I looked down. I know, I know, what was I thinking? I thought I could handle it. I thought “Hey, I have no fear and it won’t bother me to take a peek..” I ended up slowly moving towards a rock that was away from the edge and sitting. Looking at the trees and calming my racing heart. That is what this week for me has been like. Sometimes when we feel like we are falling, we make the mistake of looking down instead of looking up. When you look down you look at the fact there is nothing you can really see. It is scary. But when you keep your eyes up at The One who has had you the whole time.

That is the thing. We often forget that we are being held. That when we feel like we are falling it’s not as drastic as we make it seem.

The Lord is good, a refuge in a time of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him.”

Nahum 1:7 NIV

We have a place to run to even when it feels like it’s too far or not there at all. He is there. I know I have shared this poem before and I am feel it is fitting for this too.

The poem was written by a Jewish prisoner at a concentration camp. Scratched on the wall that housed someone’s nightmare, was a poem.

I believe in the sun,

even when it isn’t shining.

I believe in love,

even when I am alone.

I believe in God,

even when he is silent.

Maybe it is because we live in a world of social media where everything is documented, but I feel that even when I think God is being silent….He really isn’t. In fact it’s the outside noise that is making it hard to hear. In other cases it is the voices of our addictions, our illness…. that causes us to go deaf. Then there are times where silence is an answer. If I am honest, I don’t really understand why.

I love hymns, the one that has been on my heart recently is Because He Lives. There is this one part that I have been repeating to myself often this week is “Because He lives, I can face tomorrow…” I needed to be reminded of that. To be reminded that even when I feel like my life is dark and falling apart, that I have an anchor there. I have always had an anchor. I just had to toss it out into the stormy seas and simply be still.

~Bee

 

 

 

 

 

Turn the Page and Leave the Jug

It is past midnight and I really should be asleep. I seem to always get a nudge to write in the middle of the night. Ironic because I am way more a morning person. I love mornings (now don’t stop reading, I like sunshine and coffee.) So here I am. Ready to pour myself out and hope that someone will be encouraged and will in turn encourage someone else. A real chain reaction as we all grab each others hands and say “It’s okay, you are not alone.” It is lonely to be out in this world because we are content in our little corners. No one wants to step out and call out the ugly for what it is: UGLY.

Back in March I shared the passing of my pastor’s wife Lisa, if you have not read my post you can here  Dear Lisa   

I share this other post because this post here is going to be in a sense a conclusion of the thoughts that have ran through my head in the past months. I didn’t actually think I had more to say. I have grown spiritually in the past few months and I want to share my heart with you.

For as long as I can remember I have always loved stories. I love writing them, telling them, reading them… and I enjoy living them. My life is a story unfolding chapter by chapter. I came to a point where I looked at the person in the mirror and I didn’t want to blog, I didn’t want to write anything. I think that loss has a way of doing many different things to many different people based on your relationship with that person. I kinda felt lost. What I mean by lost is simply put, I needed to grow up spiritually. In life as the chapters end, sometimes the pervious chapter was so good, and beautiful, and you never want it to end. I was enjoying the last chapter and to be honest I didn’t really want to turn the page, because turning the page was scary. I will not be heading up the fan club for change anytime soon. The new chapter to be blunt was the Lord really taking my heart and showing me the imperfections that needed to be addressed. I couldn’t stay the same. The storm raging in my heart needed to be calmed, and while I am being honest here, I was clinging to the side of the ship. During this time I was going through 100 Days To Brave by Annie Downs. As I worked through it, I saw piece by piece as the puzzle of the problem and my disconnect was becoming clearer. I needed to take courage and walk through the open door of change. I needed to be more caring and compassionate. I needed to love more, be meek and humble. Not because I am complacent or weak, because I drew from the well of everlasting water that only Jesus can provide and come out with strength through Him.

So I challenged myself to read from older and wiser women and men. Cue in Elisabeth Elliot, Amy Carmichael.. to name a couple. If I couldn’t find books for free, I watched YouTube videos, and read quotes. I realized very quickly the main problem: TRUST. I am going to be blunt; I simply did not trust God to come in and carry me through my stuff, to lead me where He wanted me to go, to prepare me, equip me….because I put my identity in the shame I felt, the pain, the words of lies spoken over me…because that was “easier”. Ha! Joke is on me because like Christian walking through with his burden strapped to his back, I was walking around with all this junk and it was so heavy.

Then I found a kindred spirit in the woman at the well in John chapter 4. Here was a woman who carried her stuff around. What we see is a woman, who lived a lifestyle she wasn’t proud of. She went to the well when no one was around, probably to avoid the judgmental stares, the whispering and the added shame. She meets Jesus, and He offers her water through Him, water that will quench her thirst eternally. He brings to light her past and offered redemption from the past identity and offers her a brand new one. In verse 28, do you realize that when she went to tell people about Jesus, she left the water jug she had been carrying. She left it behind. She no longer felt the need to keep it. I came to the realization that I, Brandy, liked to go back and pick up the water jug where I left. This girl was micromanaging. I needed to put that jug down. Once I set it down and said no to picking it back up, I tasted the freedom that comes with letting go.

One author I have grown to admire and adore is Elisabeth Elliot. I have always enjoyed her writing but I started to see her in a different light because if you know anything about her story, through what had to be terrifying and hard, she still trusted God and believed that His will was perfect and it wasn’t her place to question His will. The more I read in the Word of God, the more I started to see the jug for what it was. No longer relevant to my story. No matter what was going to be thrown my way, the way I reacted is totally up to me. I needed to learn to say ‘God, I don’t feel okay, but I believe Your will is still perfect despite it.’ We don’t get to pick the circumstances in life but we go get to pick our reactions. I want to be a complete nobody trying to exalt Somebody. I needed to see that the world will see me as a nobody, because my identity does not come from the world. It comes from the One who calls me ‘beloved’ (Romans 9:25). I needed to remember the world will never appreciate me, but that in everything I do I need to do it from the heart for the Lord not people (Colossians 3:23).

 

So here I am. I dropped the water jug, and I turned the page. The story that God is writing for me is simply perfect, with all the scars, tears and mess. My life is far from perfect, total perfection will come when I enter Glory. Trusting God’s will is not always easy. However it is always worth it. Because as Elisabeth Elliot beautifully put into words, God’s story never ends with ashes.

*photo: brandy strong word editing done on Word Swag.

~Brandy

The Calling I Hid From


Hello and welcome to my little home here on the internet! I am so glad you stopped by! 

I hope you don’t mind my soul sharing but I want to talk about callings. Specifically the one I have been hiding from. 

“How does one hide from their calling?” You may be wondering…well here is my realization.

When I felt God speak to me and tell me I was going to be a Pastor’s wife, that wasn’t scary to me. I was fully prepared to be someone’s side kick. To encourage my husband from the pew as he got up to the pulpit. Easy right? 

God had to have laughed. Today I am married and my husband is licensed to preach, a deacon at our Church and looking at seminary. The calling to be a Pastor’s wife was easy because I didn’t listen to the still small voice saying “ Okay Brandy, now that you know what your husband’s occupation is, let’s talk about how you are going to serve me.” I went about my business. Then I kept feeling the nudging of the Spirit and the opportunities that were open and I didn’t take because I had the following excuses:

1. I am too anxious

2. I don’t know how to start

3. I felt like I was going to drown before stepping into the water

They were excuses. God can use us no matter where we came from or who we are. It’s no secret to Him if I’m shy and introverted. He created me! But He created me to step out of my comfort zone despite my introverted ways. 

This blog, writing, sharing my heart through written word and spoken words are gifts and talents He has given me as a mission field. The disinterest, the fear… I hid from writing because it was easier to do then to step out on faith and allow God to take control. I was being a control freak. I liked controlling my destiny.  When in reality, I had no control at all. 

In the beginning of February, I approached my Pastor and my Pastor’s wife about my anxiety. I had been plagued for months with intense anxiety. I got to a place where I felt I couldn’t hear God and I couldn’t discern His voice. We had made arrangements to meet up after Church on Sundays. I started the devotional 100 Days To Brave. Then before our meeting to discuss what I had gleaned from my first week Lisa, my pastor’s wife, passed away suddenly. A part of me honestly felt that I couldn’t go on with it. You know though, I had already had break through moments and I felt the anxiety dripping away. Why put back on the chains? I continued on. The past week had been about callings. As I prayed, for the first time with listening ears and I committed to doing whatever was asked of me, I felt God open my eyes to my writing. 

I don’t know where He will take me but the point is; I am done hiding from it. There is a quote from Elisabeth Elliot that I love and I believe is fitting: 

“ This job has been given to me to do. Therefore, it is a gift. Therefore, it is a privilege. Therefore, it is an offering I may make to God. Therefore, it has to been done gladly if it is done for Him. Here, not somewhere else, I may learn God’s way. In this job, not in some other, God looks for faithfulness.” -Elisabeth Elliot

What is the job, the calling you are called to do? Don’t hide, do it. If you don’t know your calling, seek Him. He will reveal His job for you to do. Then when you you find it, do the next thing (another Elisabeth Elliot reference). 

– Brandy

Your Brokenness Is Welcome Here


Hello! Welcome to my little home here on the internet!

Instagram for me is a peaceful happy place. I have more control over the content that shows up on my feed who I follow, who I interact with. I have family there, I have people that I admire, Musical’s I follow… but mostly people who are believers. I found Jordan Dooley, gosh, I don’t know if I can remember the exact moment that I discovered her blog and Instagram page.. but anyway; I love her posts. Then I saw that she started a movement with these sweatshirt’s that say Your Brokenness Is Welcome Here.”  You can check out her site Soul Scripts for the sweatshirts, shirts, Bible Studies.. You’ll love it! 

I am an introvert who desires to share more about the love of God with others on top of that I am more shy by nature. I have been working on being more friendly and open. I loved the message because it invites conversation and it is a reminder that at one point I was broken but when I received the beautiful gift of Salvation through Jesus, and I have been made whole. There is no beauty in brokenness, but beauty can come from brokenness. There is a solution to brokenness. Why wouldn’t I want to share the solution to brokenness. I want to open my heart to those who feel broken and simply say that I have been there. I know what it is like to be broken. At 15 years old, I sat in a Convention center listening to someone talk about Jesus almost 12 Years ago. I was in a pit, I felt lost and confused. I was broken and felt unloved, unwanted. The man speaking talked about all the things that I was going through then offered the solution, simply going to Jesus and handing it over. I did and I am so glad I did. I wasn’t promised a perfect painless life, but the pain of some the seasons I have walked through have been an easier when I can cast my cares and worries and hand them over to someone who wants my stuff. I still struggle with anxiety and depression, but over time as I learn to let go, I am being redeemed. I am being refined. 

If your broken, whole, regardless of where you are; you are welcome here. You are loved, you are wanted by a God that doesn’t ask you to do A-Z before He will offer you love and acceptance. He did A-Z on the Cross so you don’t have to, all because He loves and wants YOU! 

Pretty cool right? 

Here is a little side-note for my Sisters (And Brothers too):

Let’s love those around us!! 

We are called to love others, not judge and condemn them. We need to as the Church step up and say “Welcome! Come as you are!” The Father welcomes all who come to Him, so why wouldn’t we welcome those who look at us as ambassadors of Christ. Let’s be examples of who God really is, not the one religion crafted Him to be. 

-Brandy

Prayer Journaling: Part 1

Hello and welcome to my little home here on the internet! 

Tiny update: I am going to start posting on more of a schedule now. I am not set on a schedule as of yet, but I am going to try and post more. Once I have set posting days that I like and know how often I’ll make a little post about it and share my heart with you. 

With that being said let’s talk about something that I am passionate about: Prayer Journaling. I am going to break it down into two parts. Part one will be why we should use Prayer Journaland part two will be my favorite Prayer Journaling essentials that I have found that makes Prayer Journaling fun and something I look forward to doing. 

So you may be asking why use a Prayer Journal?  

I think the best way to answer the why is to share a little about my journey with Prayer Journaling. Before I was saved and became a God-Lover (Any Christy Miller fans?) I use to keep a diary. I found writing to be therapeutic and I also found it easier to process what was on my mind when I wrote it down. Then at the age of 15 when I asked Jesus to captain my ship, I struggled with just sitting there and simply praying. My mind would wander and sometimes I would have so much to pray for that I found it hard to know where to start. Then I discovered Prayer Journaling. When I say Prayer Journaling is a journey, it really is. Some say it’s a crutch but if you look at the Psalms you see chapters of Prayer. So if David, who was not only a king but was called a man after God’s own heart can write his prayers whether in song form or simply just written words; so could I. There are some Prayers that are easier to write down because you just can’t get the words out. I have been there. I still have those days. 

I have found that the more I practice written Prayer, my audible prayers are easier because I find that I pray the way I write. Prayer is essential to our walk, I can not stress that enough! The importance of communication with our Savior. Reading His Word and Prayer go hand in hand. We are here to glorify God. There is a shift in my attitude and my overall outlook on life when I pray. It’s a practice that is a great tool to learn to pray for more then our wants but for requests and our thankfulness. 


The more you read the Word the more you will understand the importance of prayer. Not to mention all the examples of prayer and communication with God that is in The Word. 

I know I mentioned above somewhere that my prayer journaling has helped with my audible prayer life. They go hand in hand. My prayer journal is a tool for the prayers I pray while I am doing studies, to open my heart to learning His Word. I also use it when I feel overwhelmed and I can’t speak. Thank God for a God who loves it when we come to Him no matter the method. Whether you prayer journal, or you use audible prayer, or you do both; He loves to hear from us! 

Let’s talk about prayer! If you have a Prayer request (you don’t have to actually share the details; you can simply say “Unspoken”) comment, I would love to pray for you! Till next time! 

Brandy

A Year For Me


It is February and I am just now writing my first post of the year. I tried writing many times about what my goal for this year would be. I’ll be honest I didn’t realize my goal until a few days ago. 

I’ll be honest I have been struggling with loneliness this year so far. I have been feeling incredibly lonely and isolated. I don’t feel as though I have a Tribe to speak of. This has caused me to rethink some things in my life. So this year I am going to make it a year to get healthy. Not just physically, but emotionally, spiritually, mentally. Learn how to make friends and keep intouch with those I feel would be good for me. I want to challenge myself to try new things, accomplish goals and to be able to love who I am and to see God’s purpose. There are things I have said I want to do or want to try and I am going to try. I am going to stop worrying about what others think and putting my value in what I think others want of me. I am going to embrace who I am. I want to write the blog posts I want, learn to love the One who values me more than anyone in a new way. I want to step out of my comfort zone and just learn to live. 

So here is to this year and for me to discover all that God has in store! 

~ Brandy

Bless This Mess

Fall has to be one of my all time favorite seasons. Although the lovely state of Maryland has Bipolar days. 

Maybe it’s all the colors on the trees but I just want to create things. Whether it is baking, writing, crafting.. I just want to just create and spread creativity. Mainly I have only written and baked. All my craft stuff is in storage at the moment. 

My life the past few weeks would make for novel that is for sure. When you think that everything is falling into place and then you find out that those pieces are scattered. It’s hard to hold on to your dreams when you feel as though every door just keeps shutting. Then I look up from the mess and see the door open. 

Sometimes when life becomes to hard or unbearable, I tend to shrink back in terror of the mess that is coming my way. I like plans and chaos is disorganized. But it’s been in the messiest of times I see the beauty God has to offer, because that is what He does, He creates beauty. 

I realized, I needed to change the way I view the mess. There is so much to learn, see and experience. Including changing the chapter when it’s time. Big girl decisions need to be made at times and there are journey’s I have yet to embarke on. Thankfully I don’t have to go alone.

Brandy

Refining 25

This year, as I have said many times, has been a real refining year. For me, 25 has been a refining age. It has been painful, I’ll be honest. Incredibly painful. I have had to come to terms with where I am in life and be okay with that. I have had to face past demons that I have allowed to stick around for far to long. I have had to go through tough stuff right along with joy. There have been days I have white knuckled days and days I have laughed through. One thing that has been made clear, is that I am tired of the surface faith I seem to have. Funny how the toughest moments can make you question the depth of your faith. I took a long look in the mirror and saw a stretched thin stressed afraid woman, I did not see a strong prayer warrior and saved joyful person. I allowed my circumstances to just smack me around. I was ashamed to be honest, because you read Matthew 6:25-34 and Jesus tells us not to worry, yet I do. Instead of taking it to the Lord in prayer, I just clutched it in my fits unwilling to let go. I desire depth and whine and complain when I don’t have it. Let’s be honest here, I kept myself from that depth. What legacy does whining leave? Not a good one. Why was I okay living a life of mediocre faith when I have been saved by grace. Someone took the baggage and I demanded to carry it. 

So here’s to letting go and letting God do what He has already done. 

Brandy

Dare To Be 2016

  

Where do I begin?

This is my second time attending Dare To Be. Last year was really good, but this year… Was better. You really could feel the Lords presence in the arena. I also got to attend this event with my mom. 

Coming in, I had a broken heart. I don’t talk to much about my fertility journey, because I never really know how to talk about it. There are never enough words to describe how much each month that doesn’t work out breaks my heart. I have been putting band aid after band aid. Yesterday as I was getting myself ready, I felt the all to familiar cramping and knew that this month was yet another month that the answer was “No.” I took a deep breathe and I was just going to put a band aid on it. Then I heard a voice whisper in my heart to come to Him as I am. Heartbroken, and feeling like a failure, to come to Him in honest worship. To sing from my heart and allow Him to heal the scars. To allow Him to comfort me. The first song we sang last night was ” How Great Thou Art” and as I sang completely exposed before my King, I started to heal. I have been robbing myself of an intimate encounter simply because I felt like I could just bandage it up. 

And just when the walls started crumbling down. I had to face another issue in my life that has been an older friend then unexplained infertility. The theme for the conference was Known. And in the beginning we were giving a card in our program that said “Dare to be Known as..” And towards the end we were asked to fill out the name in which we need to remember God knows us as and not what the enemy knows us as. Charlotte Gambill started listing some lies that we may believe about ourselves. Then she got to the one name that I have believed for many years and it felt like a wreaking ball on my heart. I have spent years believing that I was never enough. For years I have heard comments like: too skinny, goodie, needs new hobbies, reads to much..ect. I struggled with feeling like I was never enough. I have walked around for years feeling though I would never be good enough for anybody, because I allowed myself to claim the name Never Enough, and I identified myself with that name. A name given to me by my enemy. 

So as I stared at that card I wrote that I was going to dare to be known as : enough. That the pain I have been paying into, the enemy is now paying because God looks at me and tells me that I am enough. Not only am I enough but I am beautiful, precious, loved,chosen.. Those names are what we need to know ourselves as. Those are our true names not the ones that the enemy wants us to claim. 

As we sang the chorus of Ever Be after seeing almost every single woman in the building receive Jesus and the rest were recommitting themselves. I sang those words as the name God has been calling. It was a moment of absolute beauty.

A moment that was also filmed and will be in select theaters on March 16,2016. If you couldn’t make it to the conference, go see it in the theater. It was an honor to be able to be a part of an event that will change so many lives. 

Daring to be Known

~ Enough. 

ReLearning to Love Music

So much for blogging yesterday! 

As soon as I got my blog post up on Wednesday, everything got hectic. Between a death in the family to my brother’s first choir concert.. It has been a busy couple of days.

Last night I got to snap this picture:

  
I snapped it just before it darkened. I started a new book about handling change (Hope to do a review once I am finished!) and I realized just how much I really don’t handle change very well. I like change when I am in control of it, I don’t like being forced into it. How can accept change in my life and actually see it as a blessing or to learn to trust God more? I am looking forward to being challenged.

|Speaking of Change|

I have found that as I have changed, so has my worship. When I got saved and worshiped as a believer for the first time after I said ” I Do” to God and divorced my old ways, it was such a beautiful moment. Music and writing always made me feel closer to God. I loved writing lyrics and worshipping. 

Then I met a boy.

He loved music as much as I did and I thought we would get married and make music together till the day we died. However, very quickly that part me died when I didn’t feel good enough, when the music we wrote seemed to glorify a past I longed to forget. When he made me feel like I would never be anything without him. I lost a part of me and my love of music died with it.

Fast forward to the present.

I am married and have learned the difference between the lies I believed and the truth. I never faced the other part. The part that was keeping me from worship indepth.

The first time I felt prompted about my love of worship was at a Hillsong Worship Concert. There I felt God just take my heart and start to mold it. Then I attended the Dare To Be conference and felt the continued molding.

Then I enrolled in WorshipU online. I wasn’t sure what God was going to do with my heart this time but I quickly found out. 

He wanted me to fall in love with music again. Not just music but reconnect with Him in song, a language that was ours. 

As I have found my love of music again, my worship is richer. My heart is open and I see the beauty in creation again. 

~Brandy