The Ugly Beautiful (Speech for Women’s Retreat) Part 2

So how has this worked out for us, this trusting in God?

Well, we had lived in the city of Fort Worth all our lives, but we long for the country.  It’s a dream we believe that, like many others in the city who wish for the same, will never come true.  Both Dan and I have aunts who live out in the country and have many acres to play and explore on.  When we are growing up we are never happier than when we are there.  I walk down that long gravel driveway, the crackle of the gravel underfoot, with towering pine trees rising up along one side and a cow pasture on the other, nothing but scenes of nature all around, a reflection of the tall pines in the pond, the gentle moo of the cows,  the large garden with its plump red tomatoes rising up, my aunt hanging clothes out on the line and the white sheets swaying with the breeze, my uncle always in his cowboy attire with his thick tanned skin, my aunt’s hard working hands…  Growing up, I never feel more at home than I do there.

We don’t understand then that these dreams deep down inside us, the dreams that we rarely entertain because they seem unattainable, far beyond anything we believe we can ever grasp…   These dreams are planted inside us by none other than Almighty God. I don’t understand that the longing of our hearts is none other than God’s plan for our lives.

So we push the dreams aside, calling them foolish and unlikely if not impossible.

Then, some of our friends boldly move out to the country, 100 miles away.   We go to visit them, not expecting anything more to come of it.

But then.  We start to jokingly toss around the idea of moving out there.  We laugh at the foolishness of it.  However we soon realize that when we dwell on it there is a joy, a peace, an excitement that is lacking when we think of staying in Fort Worth.  As we began to pray about it we find God is most certainly in it.  We laugh at the craziness and wonder of it all.  We know we are embarking on the adventure of our lives.

We visit Cottonwood Church and know it’s home, and I’m at peace knowing a church family awaits.

Then begins the longest 7 months of our lives as Dan searches tirelessly for a job out in the country.   I remember that May of 2010 walking across my bedroom with a feeling of discouragement all over me.  Clearer than I have ever heard God up to that point, He says, “You won’t be here long.”  I know I have heard the voice of God and the discouragement melts away.  Hope fills its place.

Within that month Dan is offered a job at the school he has loved most from the beginning of the job search, but it is only as a teacher’s aide.  This is a pay cut for us for sure, but God is saying this is the way.  I’m sure many people think we are crazy to pack up and go for such a job.  So we move in a mobile home on our friend’s land and live off of faith.

It is a sweet time of growing in trust in the Lord at a rather rapid pace.  We know God is calling me to homeschool, something just a couple years before I thought I would never do, but turns out to be something I can’t imagine living without.

We know God has brought us here and He will provide.  And He does.  Money shows up in the mailbox, and is given to us anonymously at church several times.  It is the happiest year of our lives up to that point.  And we are far far below the poverty level, but as God is the One who provides for us and not Dan’s job, we have more than enough.

The following school year he is promoted to a teaching position that has opened up.  Just before he is to begin, Dan comes across a home for sale online, a home on 11 beautiful wooded acres.  I think he’s crazy and believe there’s no way we can be approved for it.  We find that we cannot get this place out of our minds even though we’ve never seen it.  We head out on a walk, asking God that if it’s not the place for us that He will help us to let go of it.  Dan hears the Lord clearly say to Him that it is the place He has reserved for us.  Dan even struggles to believe this.  Tears come to my eyes because I know it’s ours and am overwhelmed with God’s goodness.

Then we find out there’s a contract on this place, and our realtor (believing it foolish to pursue that land) continues to send us pictures of other homes for sale.  We are not interested!  Dan tells her boldly (after some encouragement from me ;)) that God has told us this place is ours!  So finally she digs deeper into it.

Things appear hopeless for several months, but long story short, God moves and the place is finally ours.  And the day we sign the papers just happens to be on my 31st birthday.

The following year, after just one year as teacher, Dan is promoted to Principal, and still is today.  Yes, this guy who dropped out of high school as early as he could, spent years on drugs, and finally came to the Lord at 19.

God delivers.

So now we have more than we dreamed possible.  All while I am at home with my family, doing something that is more fulfilling and more full of purpose than I ever conceived.

God is the One who births dreams and so He provides a way.

He transforms marriages, delivers us from ourselves and the pressures of the world, and is the author of dreams.

Are there longings buried deep inside you because of unbelief or because you’ve listened to the world rather than God?  I believe God wants you to revisit those dreams, to talk to Him about them, to give them over to Him and trust that He will do amazing things, beyond what you can imagine.

Does your marriage need new life or to be raised from the dead?  God’s in that business too.

Is it time that you shut out the voices of the world, and bask in the freedom that comes when you listen only to God?

It requires intentional living to tune out the voices.  Everywhere we look we are told we are not enough.  Not thin enough, not smart or educated enough, not successful enough, not sexy or beautiful enough, not spiritual enough, not a good enough mom, our home is not pretty enough.

Ann says, “It’s the same lie from the very first ever told.  That one back in the garden.  The serpent spoke.  And she listened.  God is withholding from you.  You are not enough.”

These pressures will rob your peace, joy if you listen to them.  You forget who you are in God and cannot come close to freely loving Him and loving who He created you to be.

But when you begin to abide in God, delight in Him, you will hear God..  truth sinks in and freeing peace with it.

Henri Nouwen sums it up well:

“I have called you by name, from the very beginning.  You are mine and I am yours.  You are my Beloved, on you my favor rests.  I have molded you in the depths of the earth and knitted you together in your mother’s womb.  I have carved you in the palms of my hands and hidden you in the shadow of my embrace.  I look at you with infinite tenderness and care for you with a care more intimate than that of a mother for her child.  I have counted every hair on your head and guided you at every step.  Wherever you go, I go with you, and wherever you rest, I keep watch.  I will give you food that will satisfy all your hunger and drink that will quench all your thirst.  I will not hide my face from you.  You know me as your own as I know you as my own.  You belong to me.  I am your father, your mother, your brother, your sister, your lover, and your spouse… yes, even your child… wherever you are I will be.  Nothing will ever separate us.  We are one.”

Let’s pray.

God I ask that this will sink in deep with each of these women.  That they ARE enough.  That you accept them and adore them and love them infinitely RIGHT WHERE THEY’RE AT.  Not just in the future when they’ve rid themselves of bad habits, not once they feel they are spiritual enough, not when they become more loving, but NOW.  Thank you that you take us by the hand wherever we are and love on us to our very core.  And You gently guide us.

I ask that you will open every woman’s eyes here.  That you will show us any areas of our lives in which we are listening to the world rather than your all knowing, all powerful, always loving voice.

Open our ears that we may only hear You, and change our hearts until Your voice is the only one that matters.



  1. Wendy Cunningham

    Brandi, what an awesome speech! God will bless you for being so open & candid. Thanks for sharing, love you much!

  2. Tasha Miller

    I loved reading your story Brandi. Satan sure knows what he does, and we all fall for his lies at one point or more….I know I have!! I can relate to you on many struggles. My only wish, is that I would have known our powerful God at the time. Fortunately however, God doesn’t leave in the ditches; that’s not our God! He can always turn around something terrible & use it for good, and I know he has done that with me. I am so grateful. Thank you for sharing, it isn’t an easy thing… 🙂 xoxo

    Perhaps one day soon, I will relaunch my previous website and re-share my own story under the premise of, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?”

  3. Lauren

    Thank you so much for this. I’m reading this at 1:00 in the morning with tears in my eyes and the wind knocked out of me. You have an amazing gift with words. Thank you for being so open about your affair. My husband had an affair a year ago and we are just back going through the motions. He thinks that time will just make things better but nothing has changed. He is complacent and we do nothing to better our marriage. I feel the pressures of the world with homeschooling also. Last year we really did nothing in school and now I feel so hurried to “catch up” that it just sucks the life out of our days. I desperately just want to let go of that feeling and just enjoy my children and have fun days learning naturally but I am constantly feeling the pressure of “being behind.” This spoke to me in so many ways. Thank you so much for taking the time to write this. May God continue to bless your family.

  4. Lauren

    Thankyou so much for taking the time to write this. Your words are beautiful and it spoke deeply to me. It makes me want to go off and rediscover that path within me xxx Thankyou again

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