Today, I am so excited to share with you a fun interview with Amy Brady. You may have seen her mentioned in our Instagram stories last December, when I was doing her Advent devotional (printed by Horacio Printing). Her Zoom sessions brought me joy in the middle of uncertain times. I am so grateful she took the time to share with us. She speaks to us about the awesome books she is reading, her healing journey, and how yoga has helped her prayer life. Check out her beautiful ministry and powerful vulnerable story below. Thank you, Amy!!
Modern Witnesses (“MW”): Hi Ms. Brady! Thank you for being with us today. Tell us a bit about how you grew up and your childhood:
Amy Brady (“AB”): I grew up along the Gulf Coast of the USA. I spent the majority of my life in Florida but lived in Mississippi and Louisiana as well, during my childhood and as a college student at LSU. Geaux Tigers! My father was a Minister of Education in the Southern Baptist denomination, and my mother worked in various jobs. My parents created a loving home and taught me about God and Jesus. I don’t have an incredible amount of clear memories of my childhood due to the fact that I suffered a deep personal loss at the early age of four. I was raped by a neighbor and kept that secret for over 27 years while experiencing many other forms of sexual abuse or harassment throughout childhood and adolescence. Because of my abuse, I struggled with lots of dark thoughts, confusion, and loneliness. I was very creative and had a vivid imagination. I loved to sing and play the piano, color and draw, and write short stories. Even as a child, I was drawn to those who others didn’t seem to notice and loved being with people who were different than me.
“Even as a child, I was drawn to those who others didn’t seem to notice and loved being with people who were different than me.”
MW: When did you first encounter God, and how did you encounter Him?
AB: Oh I love this question! In spiritual direction, we call this a core faith experience. And I was able to finally articulate this about two years ago during my spiritual direction training. I’ve always been drawn to sanctuaries. Especially those that are more classic in their structure and look more like a chapel–small, warm, welcoming. When I was a little girl, in the summers I would go with my dad to work, from time to time. It was my favorite summer activity. I would either peck away on his secretary’s typewriter while she was away or rummage through his drawers of endless and fascinating office supplies. But my favorite thing to do was to sneak into the sanctuary and go to the piano and play and sing out loud or go to the pulpit and pretend to preach. Or be a little more adventurous and climb up into the baptistry and put my feet in the water and splash around. The reason this is unique for me is because I struggled with fear and anxiety because of what happened to me at such a young age. It was rare that I felt safe away from my parents. But when I was in the sanctuary I felt safe. I felt safe as a child in that space like no other place on the earth. God was my playmate, and sometimes, I would even lie down in the pews and take a nap feeling so safe in His presence. That’s the first time I remember encountering, what I now know, was God.
“God was my playmate, and sometimes, I would even lie down in the pews and take a nap feeling so safe in His presence.”
MW: What is a particular moment or memory in your life where you saw God’s faithfulness in a dark time?
AB: Almost 11 years ago, we brought home our first daughter from China. We prepared in every way, but nothing, and I mean nothing prepared us for the journey we have been on for the last decade as adoptive parents. Both of our daughters are adopted and have special needs and with that comes a whole other lifestyle of learning and doctors and hospitals and therapies. That type of intensive caretaking, even though I had already been a mother of two active boys for 10 years at the time, was like nothing I had ever experienced. Combined with the fact that our daughter had undiagnosed autism, which we struggled to make sense of until just a few years ago, was the undoing of me. I have never been so spiritually, emotionally, physically, and psychologically depleted all at once. I fell into a depression, which in retrospect for me, was a catalyst for growth. Because it led me to a life of contemplative and spiritual practices that have set me free and nourished me in so many ways. God was faithful to me and patient. My life had changed so much. It looked nothing like it did before– lots of activity, a national speaking career, and author of Bible studies. And so, I struggled to know who I was, and frankly, where I was on my journey. Holy Spirit began to whisper to my heart, “I’m OK with where you are.” That whisper of my gentle and lowly Savior inviting me to come to him and find rest for my weary and burdened soul, began a healing journey that still continue to today.
“I fell into a depression, which in retrospect for me, was a catalyst for growth.”
MW: You are a spiritual director. What advice would you give to young women who want to pursue this path?
AB: First of all, I would say the world will never have enough spiritual directors. But I encourage anyone who is considering becoming one to enter that decision under the cloak of prayer, asking the Holy Spirit to help them discern God‘s will for their life. If you’re praying about being a spiritual director you first of all need to have one. Start by being in a relationship with a spiritual director yourself so that you can have guidance discerning if becoming a spiritual director is for you. And should you pursue it, you will have built integrity as a spiritual director by placing yourself in that practice personally.
MW: Tell us about Evergreen Soul Wellness. What inspired this project?
AB: The name Evergreen Soul was inspired by an Ed Sheeran song “Thinking Out Loud.”
The song references its lover as having an evergreen soul. I thought that would be about the best compliment anyone, lover or friend, could give me. All my services are about helping women to learn the secrets of keeping their soul fresh and evergreen no matter what season of life they are in. Helping them to maintain wellness in their body, soul, mind, and heart, even in the difficult spaces of life, continuing to grow, blossom, flourish, and ultimately bear beautiful fruit. The services I offer all reflect this: spiritual direction, ceremony creation, therapeutic/trauma informed yoga, contemplative yoga, my podcast, and my writings. It’s a place where I offer things from my soul to yours.
“All my services are about helping women to learn the secrets of keeping their soul fresh and evergreen no matter what season of life they are in.”
MW: What Biblical passage is inspiring you, in this season?
AB: So many verses are speaking to my soul right now because God has me on a fresh journey of healing. But I would say the verse I keep coming back to over and over again is Matthew 11:28-30, specifically in The Voice translation. Right now I’m dissecting it and meditating on it regularly, discovering things I never saw before.
Come to Me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Put My yoke upon your shoulders—it might appear heavy at first, but it is perfectly fitted to your curves. Learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble of heart. When you are yoked to Me, your weary souls will find rest. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.Matthew 11:28-30 The VOICE
MW: You are a yoga instructor. How has yoga helped you spiritually, as a follower of Christ?
AB: Yoga transformed my prayer life. Growing up as a pastor’s kid many well-meaning but extremely misguided adults had it in their head that I would automatically by either osmosis or genetic composition know how to pray. I never felt comfortable doing it. However, ever since I began a regular yoga practice, prayer just lifts from my heart easily, praying feels more comfortable and free, like a natural way to express the overflow of my heart. I was told by four different doctors that yoga would help my depression, so I gave it a try. Because it was meditative, it became the one place in my life where I could literally push everything off of the mat that was plaguing my heart and focus on something else. There’s stillness involved in yoga. My heart naturally turned towards the Lord during that time, and I began to realize this was a great space for me to begin dialoguing with God again, as I was struggling with that at the time. I Googled Christian yoga and found my dear friend Caroline Williams on YouTube. Her yoga videos were so good. I would listen to the way she incorporated God’s word into it, and it began to open up my heart again, bringing me to tears every time. I had finally found a holy space where I could rest. That led to me becoming a yoga instructor and incorporating this transformative and beautiful act of body prayer into my life.
MW: What are you currently reading (and what has it taught you?):
AB: I’m one of those people who read 4-5 books at a time. Currently, I am reading The People of the Lie by M. Scott Peck, and his classic work The Road Less Traveled, which is completely blowing my mind. I’m also reading through Gentle and Lowly by Dan Ortlund, which has been revolutionary. I just got through reading Mothers, Daughters, and Body Image by Hillary McBride, and I will honestly say it has been life-changing for me. My daily devotional currently is a little tiny book called Dare to Journey with Henri Nouwen by Charles Ringma. I just ordered To Bless the Space Between Us by the late John O’Donoghue, because I dearly love liturgy.
MW: What are your top three essentials you don’t leave the house without:
AB: My water bottle, my phone, and a sweater (even in Florida in the summer, because we love our A/C).
MW: How did God speak to you recently?
AB: Just this morning I was in a time of meditation with Father sorting through some fears and some lies that still crop up in my life begging to be believed. He reminded me that I had forgotten that I will not walk into that battle alone, that He will be with me. Before me, behind me, above me and below me. He will soften the blow with His love. As I went about my day and began to listen to music on a random Spotify playlist every song had something to do with not being alone or hHm being with us. I knew He was making his point again, this time through music. I love that He speaks to us in so many ways.
“I will not walk into that battle alone, that He will be with me. Before me, behind me, above me and below me.”
MW: Who is your favorite person in Scripture and why?
AB: That’s a really tough question. Honestly, any display of the tenderness of God‘s heart whether it be by God himself or Jesus is my favorite. I also love Moses and Joshua because they were pioneers, and it was their relationship with God that gave them vision and courage. Esther is my favorite female because she was simply a total badass bucking the system in the name of what was right.
“It was their relationship with God that gave them vision and courage.”
MW: We are a global community, and we love learning about traditions. What is a special tradition you and your family engage in or keep:
AB: I have been lovingly accused by my family of having way too many traditions because I just love ceremony. But the most consistent tradition is gathering together as a family, reading Luke 2 on Christmas Eve, to start our Christmas festivities. Someone different reads it every year. Even the youngest child just beginning to sound things out is welcome to have a turn. When we are done with our reading, everyone gets a new set of PJs that reflect their personality. My kids always pretend they have no idea it’s coming. 🙂
MW: What is a question you will ask when you get to heaven?
AB: “Can I get a cuppa tea?”
MW: What thing do you want to raise awareness about?
AB: In the past, I’ve been an advocate for anti-trafficking and special needs adoption. Currently, I’m passionate about women learning to love their body as a sacred space and living an embodied faith.
MW: What does your morning routine consist of?
AB: Depends on the morning, honestly. Structure is hard for me. But in general, I wake, and spend time with Jesus and tea. I might do yoga, read Scripture only, use a devotional, bring out my finger labyrinth, use my Protestant rosary, journal. I try to ask the Holy Spirit what direction to go in and let Him be the guide.
MW: What is on your nightstand?
AB: A copy of Streams in the Desert, at least four pairs of readers, icy hot, lip balm, earplugs, and pens. And in my nightstand is my secret stash of Mommy chocolate.
MW: If you had to define Christianity in one sentence, it would be:
AB: We are diligent Followers of the Way, eager Apprentices of Jesus, and a “community of astonished hearts”.
MW: Thank you, Amy!
For more Amy, click here.
Until next time, keep witnessing!