Today, Brianne speaks to us about motherhood, finding new ways to put our hearts into worship and some great books to add to your list.
Tell us a bit about how you grew up and your childhood: I grew up in Southern California in a Christian household with 2 parents and a younger sister. It was relatively standard and ordinary, I think, growing up in suburban United States. I started playing softball around the age of 7, volleyball around the age of 12, and got into show choir in the 8th grade.
I was a relatively active kid, always playing outside, but I didn’t have many friends and struggled with being comfortable in my own skin. It doesn’t help that kids are pretty cruel, and I was an easy target. My parents became Christians shortly before I was born, so I grew up in the church but with parents who were brand new to faith. I think we all did a lot of learning together.
The beginning of my life was pretty volatile. My parents came from varying degrees of dysfunction and coupling that with being brand new to faith, brand new to marriage, and brand new to parenthood (I came 13 months after their wedding) created a lot of tension that would build until it exploded. But my later years were pretty calm, I played sports and sang in my high school choir. My dad spent every day with me in the backyard playing catcher, so I could practice pitching, and my mom would drop dinner off at my choir practices a few times a week during competition season. So my childhood was as chaotic as it was unremarkable which is, to be honest, something I’m still processing and working through in a lot of ways 30 years later.
Inspiring biblical passage of the moment: I don’t have one passage that’s coming to mind, but I did just read through Song of Songs in the Passion Translation. I love how it’s such a tangible reminder of not only the passionate way in which God loves us but also the way in which God created us to passionately love each other.
Spiritual growth focus at the moment: Prayer. God’s been challenging the depths at which I reach out to Him and spend time with Him.
Profession: Executive Assistant at a software consulting company in New York City.
How do you incorporate your connection with God into your daily, secular work? I just try to be an authentic representation in all I do. When people ask about my weekend I don’t skip over going to church. I try to be honest, kind, and forgiving in all things. I try to lay every aspect of my day down at the feet of Jesus before I even enter my office. When I need to ask for forgiveness, I do. I try to be a living example of Jesus every moment, even if people don’t know that’s what I’m doing.
If you wrote a memoir, what would the title be? It would definitely have something to do with having kids. Probably something like, “Please Eat Your Boogers in Private: A Modern Mom’s Guide to Almost Nailing It”
When did you first encounter God and how did you encounter Him? I’m not sure I can pinpoint the first time I encountered God. I can remember being gripped with fear at certain points during my childhood and crying out to God for comfort and feeling that come.
I can remember a few of those “mountaintop” experiences when I was younger at camp and a few other times when God’s voice seemed clear and very present. I think probably the most poignant, tangible encounter I can point to with God was right after I had a miscarriage almost 10 years ago. I remember laying in bed after that horrible doctor’s appointment crying and asking God, “why?” and pleading with Him to not take my baby away. And then, in the middle of the deepest part of my grief and pain, I felt him promise me that this would not be the only time I would be pregnant and that He would redeem this moment. I clung to that promise for the next 3 years until I became pregnant with what is now my oldest child.
What has helped you grow spiritually in this season? My husband and I went through a hard season a few years back. It was one of those seasons that starts in one year and proceeds through the next. It took us a good year and some to feel like we were through to the other side. I think still processing from that and the constant good fight on our knees with Jesus has bolstered us and prepared us for this new season of building we’re in. We’re still working through a lot of the pain we experienced, and God is constantly showing us corners of our hearts that we thought we gave Him but are still holding onto and the intense, soul-punching, heart work we’ve done has given us both a new platform to stand on and really helped us mature spiritually in a lot of ways, not to mention bring us closer to the One who is good in the midst of all things.
Just read/currently reading (and what has it taught you?): Currently in the middle of 2 books, How to Worship a King by Zach Neese. I’m only a few chapters in, but it’s been a lot of context around how we were created to worship, and he breaks down what that means and what it looks like. It has really made me stop and think about how seriously (or not) I take worship and how I carry that out daily. Worship is not just singing in church, it’s in how we carry ourselves daily as a royal priesthood.
Also, Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race, by Reni Edo-Lodge. I picked it up while on vacation recently, and while it’s about race relations in the UK, I’ve been able to draw some strong parallels to the state of things in the U.S. right now. It’s been truly eye opening and sobering, and I highly recommend it.
“Worship is not just singing in church, it’s in how we carry ourselves daily as a royal priesthood.”
Top three essentials:
How did God speak to you recently? God’s been speaking to my heart lately about the woefully inadequate ways in which the church interacts with the world, and He’s been pushing me deeper and deeper into a new kind of love for His people. I feel Him pulling me to His feet to sit and listen, to Him, to His people, and to remain in that posture awhile. It’s only at the feet of Jesus, at the foot of the cross, [that] we even begin to understand His deep and enduring love for us and from there is the only place that we can begin to love His people in the way we should.
“It’s only at the feet of Jesus, at the foot of the cross, [that] we even begin to understand His deep and enduring love for us and from there is the only place that we can begin to love His people in the way we should.”
Hobby: Anything outdoors really.
Top three practical tips for staying spiritually strong:
Do the needful – Read your Bible, listen to Podcasts, read books – whatever it takes to learn what you need to in order to better understand the Kingdom and what God has for you in each moment.
Find what works for you – There’s no one formula for doing Christianity. Whether it’s listening to the Bible through audio book, reading it on an app, or reading the real pages. Or if it’s praying in the morning before everyone gets up or at night after everyone goes to bed. Maybe it’s listening to podcasts or reading books. God speaks to us all in different ways so figure out what works for you and deep dive into that. Don’t feel the need to try and experience God or hear from Him in the same way everyone else does.
If your hearts not in it, don’t do it – Look, Jesus is after your heart, and we were given free will for a reason. God’s got stuff he wants to give you at all times, but if your heart is elsewhere, then He’s not forcing Himself on you. He’s just not that into it. So if you find yourself in a rut, pray about it, and take a step back. Lean into why you’re having a hard time, fight through it, then pick back up where you left off. I’m not saying reject the Bible and church, I’m just saying stop forcing yourself to do something that’s become formulaic and find a new way.
“[S]top forcing yourself to do something that’s become formulaic and find a new way.”
Favorite person in scripture? I’ve always been a big fan of Peter. I identify with someone who just couldn’t seem to get it right, and I find so much hope in the fact that God still redeemed him by setting him as the foundation of the church.
What do you want people to learn about God when they look at you? I always want people to see the all consuming love of God when they look at me. I want them to understand that God loves them free from judgement and condition.
How do you leave your mark on your community? I would love to be someone who people feel seen and loved by. Someone who helped bring joy and authenticity to every aspect of life.
Favorite holiday? Thanksgiving – all that food, hanging out with friends.
A goal you have? To plant a church abroad.
A special tradition you and your family engage in or keep: Every Valentine’s Day, instead of my husband and I dating each other, we take our kids out – I take the boys and he takes our daughter.
Question you will ask when you get to heaven? I might just ask God all the things He thought were funny in my life.
Thing you want to raise awareness about: Right now, my big passion is parenting, specifically being a mom. I want moms to know that it’s ok to not love being a mom every day, it’s ok to need time for yourself, that you’re not always going to like your kids, and that if they only eat cheese quesadillas every day and refuse to eat fruit that it’s all going to be ok.
I want people to see the every day normal side of parenting, not this highly idealized version that’s out there that makes people feel like parenting should be this sunny, rosy walk in the park all the time. It’s not, it’s hard and messy and frustrating. But it’s also fun and amazing and wonderful. You can hold both sides in tandem and still find a way to exhale.
“I want moms to know that it’s ok to not love being a mom every day, it’s ok to need time for yourself, that you’re not always going to like your kids, and that if they only eat cheese quesadillas every day and refuse to eat fruit that it’s all going to be ok.”
What does your morning routine consist of? Usually, it’s waking up late, pretending I’m not late and staring at the ceiling thinking about how the minutes are ticking by but remaining in complete denial before I realize it’s too late to get everything done and jumping out of bed, then helping my husband get the kids dressed, showering and getting myself dressed, making sure everyone [has] brushed their teeth, and running out the door to either drop my son off at school or the 2 little ones at daycare before heading off to work. So basically, my morning is pretty much all stress. I’m terrible at mornings.
What is on your nightstand? I don’t actually have one but if I did it would likely have a book or two and my cell phone.
Define Christianity in a sentence: Love God, love your neighbor, be the Kingdom.
For more Brianne B:
Until next time, keep witnessing!