An open letter to my youth leader, mentor, second momma, friend, & precious sister in Christ:
(aka – Momma ‘Nise),
Our conversation a few days ago reminded me how absolutely important it is to say thank you specifically and often to those who have invested in my life. Although I have been blessed with many who have influenced me to know, love and obey Jesus more, there truly are none who have done so more profoundly than you. I look back on the thirteen years that we have been blessed to do life together and cannot stop the tears when I see the magnitude of ways God has used you to shape who I am becoming. As I think back my mind is flooded with memories of moments, words, situations, life experiences that are all part of what God has used to mold me into this person who is growing to look more and more like Jesus.
So I say THANK YOU!!
Thank you for the day that I walked in to your Sunday School class. A nervous, nerdy, insecure 13 year old who you without hesitation embraced into your group, your family, and your heart. Thank you for the Disciple Nows, summer camps and retreats where you sacrificed free time, vacation time, money, etc. so that you could pour into students. I will never forget those memories of being able to get away and spend time with you. Thank you for the conversations, the laughter, the wisdom that were abundant in those times. Thank you for reminding me a million times to “put my armor on”. You would not believe the times those words still ring in my mind as I walk out the door of my house! Thank you for the way you responded the day I had to look at you and tell you about a mistake I had made. I remember the fear, shame and guilt that I felt as I shared with you something that now seems so trivial – but I will never forget the way you responded. “Brandi, go home & memorize Jeremiah 29:11-13.” And I did. Looking back it’s crazy how much since then God has used that verse to change, challenge and encourage us!! Thank you, Thank you, Thank you for the way you allowed God to use your home. I wish I had words to convey how loved it made me feel to know that I could always stop by, always hang out, always bring a text book by for homework help, etc. etc. etc. Many of my most cherished memories & safest places are within the walls of your home. I will never forget the wedgie fights, impromptu dinners, pre-dnow cleaning parties, trips to the grocery store, watching your precious children play sports, pay-per-view wrestling parties… you & Andy knew the value of providing a place for real ministry to happen and I am living proof that all the stains, holes, broken stuff, late nights, large cable & grocery bills, seemingly endless conversations and a whole lotta patience were just a small price to pay for the way God used you in not only my life but many others along the way. Last, but certainly not least, thank you for living your life as an open book to me. There were times when you could have hidden from me the rough parts, the ugly parts, the hurt, the sin… Yet you chose to be transparent through it all. You exemplified for me a God who offers abundant grace, restoration, beauty for ashes, who is making all things new.
And now, 13 years after that 13 year old girl walked into your life I find myself here realizing that all of that was preparing for such a time as this. Learning what it means to do ministry with teenage girls because of the way God used you to change my life! I truly cannot imagine myself doing anything different than what you did for me, and I pray that God would use me even half as greatly in the lives of these precious girls that He has entrusted me with. Thank you for giving me the gift of the only thing worth pursuing, the only thing that will last, the only thing worth investing my life – the gift of knowing Jesus, loving Jesus and obeying Jesus.