Today, Brooke speaks to us about some pretty awesome books she is reading, her voice, and gender roles and seeing scripture accurately.
Tell us a bit about how you grew up and your childhood: I grew up in a Christian home, the oldest of two kids, and was homeschooled all the way through high school. I grew up on the southern coast of South Carolina and spent many a day on the beach, jumping the waves with my brother. My family had a lot of fun together, but we were also in a legalistic, behavior-focused religious environment, so parental control, strict rules, and shame were strong themes in my life. I received salvation as a young child and have been well-versed in theology my whole life, but my journey out of the striving legalistic life and into the wide space of God’s grace began in college about 11 years ago.
Inspiring biblical passage of the moment: It’s not a specific passage, but I’m currently reading through the book of Acts, and I’m amazed all over again at how the Holy Spirit works through people to accomplish the will of God. The Holy Spirit moved in mighty ways to establish the brand new church, and it’s the same Holy Spirit who works in us today, as members of the same body of Christ.
“The Holy Spirit moved in mighty ways to establish the brand new church, and it’s the same Holy Spirit who works in us today, as members of the same body of Christ.”
Spiritual growth focus at the moment: I’ve been particularly focused on being attentive to the prompting of the Holy Spirit in my heart and mind. When I’m active in reading the Bible and watching expectantly for God to work through me, I see the Spirit move in so many more ways in my everyday life. Whether He directs me to the exact verse I need in a moment, or prompts me to introduce myself to someone new, or tells me to hold off on something, I can see so many little ways that He is directing me when I actually pay attention.
Profession: I stay at home right now with my two boys, ages 4 and 1. I’ve worked both in event planning and corporate recruiting in the past, and I’m working to develop my writing now.
If you wrote a memoir, what would the title be? That is hard! Let’s borrow a line from the first question and call it The Wide Space of Grace. My story is about finding freedom in the gospel of grace. It’s not the freedom to live lawlessly, but it’s freedom from striving to fulfill the law. A beautiful paradox.
When did you first encounter God and how did you encounter Him? The first encounter with God is one of my most vivid childhood memories. I was 4 years old and was lying in bed one night before falling asleep. I was deeply aware of being a sinner unable to earn God’s favor, and I knew that Jesus died on the cross to forgive my sin. I was distraught at my sin and prayed over and over again, “Jesus save me, Jesus save me.” I remember overflowing with joy when I was done praying and I ran out of bed to go tell my parents.
What has helped you grow spiritually in this season? I’ve been reading a lot of faith-based books lately that have been like fertilizer for my spiritual growth. Even if I can only read them in small increments because of having young kids, going at whatever pace I can has been so fruitful. The biggest turning point came for me a few years ago when I read From Good to Grace by Christine Hoover. God used that book to remind me of the true gospel of grace in a time when I felt like I was never a “good enough” Christian.
Just read/currently reading (and what has it taught you?):
Ok, prepare yourselves, I read a lot! Just read: Half the Church by Carolyn Custis James. I’ve recently begun a journey to discover God’s full vision and purposes for women because the messages I was always taught about women were so restrictive. This book talks about God’s global vision for women, which extends beyond their work within the home (as valuable as that still is).
Currently reading three: Gender Roles and the People of God by Alice Mathews – a far deeper study on the roles of women in the Bible than I have ever been exposed to. Many of the controversial Biblical texts about women are misinterpreted today due to not understanding the full historical and cultural context in which they were written. This book is absolutely blowing my mind!
Surprised by Paradox by Jen Pollock Michel, where we wrestle with the both/and paradoxes of the Christian faith.
Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes by E. Randolph Richards and Brandon J. O’Brien, where I’m learning how to identify the cultural predispositions I have that may skew or limit a more accurate interpretation of Scripture.
Top three essentials: A good book, Lipsense lipstick, and yes, coffee!
How did God speak to you recently? The day before I was invited to do this interview, I was thinking through my desire to reach more people with my writing without wanting to strive apart from God in my work. God reminded me to stay faithful in my writing and to trust Him to bring the right people to read it. I felt peace in that, and the next morning I was invited to do this interview. It was God’s way of encouraging me to stay faithful in my work no matter how small or insignificant I feel my voice may be.
Hobby: I live on the coast in the PNW, so relaxing on the beach and hiking in the mountains are two of my top favorite things to do.
Top three practical tips for staying spiritually strong:
1. Stay in the Word of God. Even when it seems dry, even if it’s only a verse, even if you don’t think you “got” anything out of it.
2. Ask God to grow and strengthen you. I used to feel a lot of pressure to “stay spiritually strong” because I thought it was basically all up to me to prove myself to God and produce good fruit for him. Of course, personal responsibility is involved, but know that the Holy Spirit will produce his fruit in you as you seek him. God works even more than we do.
3. Find a community of united believers and dig deep into life and God’s word with them. The members of the body of Christ each have their own strengths and giftings that God uses to accomplish his work. Be a part of that with your gifts and let God work in you through other people as well.
Favorite person in scripture? I’ve always been drawn to Joseph in the OT because 1) he had some serious family issues and 2) he was misunderstood and falsely accused, but God worked through those really bad situations in his life to use him mightily. I have similar themes in my past, and my prayer for my life is that God would use my story for great kingdom work.
What do you want people to learn about God when they look at you? I want them to see His grace and goodness in me. I want to be so secure in the grace I’ve received in Christ that it spills over to everyone around me.
How do you leave your mark on your community? I’ve started sharing my story of freedom in Christ with the hope of helping others who come from similar backgrounds. A lot of the messages I was taught about women and about how the Christian life should be lived out were so damaging to me, and I know to many others as well. I want to speak against those false messages and bring brothers and sisters along side me to heal and grow in truth together.
Favorite holiday? Easter! The hope of the resurrection is the most exhilarating and celebratory thing I know. (And the hope of warmer weather is something to celebrate too.)
A goal you have? For the past two years I’ve kept a list of the books I’ve completed, and this year I had a goal to read 20 books. I’ve completed 17 so far, so it will be exciting to get to exceed my goal.
A special tradition you and your family engage in or keep: I know this isn’t unique to us, but we love going to a Christmas tree farm every year to get our Christmas tree. We search and analyze to find the right one, the kids help cut it down, and we have such a great sense of pride over it for the rest of the season.
Question you will ask when you get to heaven? Why were Paul’s NT passages about women written in such a way that they’re so easily misinterpreted? I’ve learned a lot so far about how to more accurately interpret them, but I wish it didn’t feel like such a puzzle.
Thing you want to raise awareness about: I’m passionate about learning and teaching God’s full purposes for women. I do not believe that God intends women to be restricted to only supportive roles, but that they are called to partner equally with men in God’s work.
“I do not believe that God intends women to be restricted to only supportive roles, but that they are called to partner equally with men in God’s work.”
What does your morning routine consist of? I drink a glass of water while my coffee brews, then I sit with my coffee, Bible, and a book and read for as long as my kids stay content. Then we have breakfast, I take a shower and get dressed for the day while they watch a show, and we move on into the day.
What is on your nightstand? A lamp, a vase with flower stems, magnesium spray that I use on my skin before bed, a coaster for my water, and my Bible and whatever book I’m reading.
Define Christianity in a sentence: Christianity is receiving God’s redeeming gift of salvation and then living our lives modeled after Jesus Christ.
For more Brooke:
Until next time, keep witnessing!