THE HOPELESS PLACE
This has been a crappy week. We lost our second girl at the aftercare house in a month. She was 2 weeks from graduating the 9 month program & left. This was her second time in the program & I didn’t doubt her success for a minute. I’ve been Her spirit and brilliance radiated. I couldn’t wait to see her share her testimony and minister to other women walking through the fire.
The other one that left was in my class. She was an eager student from the beginning. She had a heart for learning and a love of people. I knew that once she found her voice and confidence, God was going to do great works through her. And then, I showed up one day and she was gone. No clue where she is now.
And so, I sit. I sit and I ask God if this is all really worth it. Is the work that he is asking me to do worth it. How can I be following his will and purpose if these people keep turning from Him. How can he be leading me away from my kids, husband, and job to do work that is fruitless? How is this truly His plan? I feel helpless today. I feel empty. I feel hopeless. I feel like the literal life has been sucked out of me. Its one thing to see people struggle, but it’s another thing to wonder if even God can pull them out of the insane state of Hell that they’re living in. It’s this crazy cycle which is a direct result of their trauma. I don’t have a license in this department. I just see the aftermath & it sure is a difficult situation for those of us trying to speak life into it.
My only saving grace is that I have to focus on God’s grace for us. All I can think is that We, God’s children, disappoint him every day. We make poor decisions and leave him disappointed. Regardless of the extreme parameters, this is the same with the people I work with. There will inevitably be more bad days than good. We just must persevere & know that above all, He is God. He is mercy, grace, and love.
THE HOPE-FULL PLACE
Ms. D: The first time I met her was when I took dinner to the house. She was quiet and withdrawn but joined us at the table. She kept her head and eyes down and only glanced up occasionally when someone asked her a question or passed a dish. After finishing her meal, clearing her plate, and thanking me for dinner, she excused herself to her bedroom for the rest of the evening. I gave her space and didn't push. My only hope was that she could eventually see Jesus through me and feel loved, welcome, and safe. Over the course of the next few months, I was able to see her blossom like a flower. Each week, she became a little more open. And, then one day when I showed up, she was sitting outside in the sun, looking radiant, and smiling ear to ear. She hugged me and told me all about her new job and how great everything was going.
Ms. A: I came to the house one Wednesday afternoon excited and anxious to be meeting two new girls that I would begin a weekly class with. I came in and sat down in the living room ready to get to know the ladies. She sat there silently drawing in her binder and not looking up. I finally asked her to tell me what she thought about the book as well as the upcoming class. Her response was "I ain't ever had no boundaries, nobody never taught me no boundaries, and I don't need to read a book about boundaries." The following week, I returned to teach the class, and after just two chapters, had a completely different student sitting before me. As I walked in, she excitedly told me "Miss Brandi, I love this book! It's changed my life. I wish I would have had it fifteen years ago!" And, she carried that excitement throughout the rest of the book!
A PLACE OF HOPE
As time went on, I built a great relationship with both ladies and relished watching their journeys unfold as God truly restored them.
Then, last night, I was able to see the beauty of God's work in action. We, celebrated their graduation from the 9 month program. The church was filled with staff members, volunteers, fellow church members, advocates, and the ladies' families that traveled hundreds of miles to be there.
We listened to their accomplishments and kind words spoken about them. We saw them fully transformed as they shared what this journey meant to them. But, the most beautiful sight I may have ever witnessed was seeing them both with arms stretched high, worshipping a God that never gave up on them. With tears streaming down their face and music playing, they praised a God that loved them and chased them before they ever knew him.
There will inevitably be more times of hopelessness along this journey. There will be more days of heartache and feeling the pain of helplessness. But, in those times, I will cling to the image ingrained in my mind of those ladies, arms stretched high praising my God and I will HOPE.
But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope:
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
"The Lord is my portion," says my soul,
"therefore I will hope in him."
Last year at my company's convention, I had the privilege of hearing Kristen Brown speak about The Happy Hour Effect. Since, then, we've been "friends" on social media and she was kind enough to let me interview her for the Power Project Podcast. We followed it up with an amazing meal of charbroiled oysters at Dragos and had a great evening in New Orleans.
You're going to be inspired and motivated by what she has to say. In this episode, we hear from Speaker Kristen Brown, author of The Happy Hour Effect. She is a self-proclaimed occasional know-it-all, sometimes workaholic, and frequent wine aficionado, but more importantly, my friend & mentor. Kristen uses her world-class industry expertise and research into human behavior to motivate exceptional business leaders to elevate their brand and skyrocket their performance for maximum impact on results even during change and stress. She has shared her expertise with clients around the U.S. such as Target, Women Presidents Organization, Live with Kelly, and many more. But, today, she's sharing with us her approach for overcoming obstacles, interrupting your thoughts, and taking action in your life.
You can follow her as your very own virtual accountability partner on:
Facebook: Kristen Brown Presents
For speaker coaching, podcast interviews, or speaking appearances, find her at www.kristenbrownpresents.com
At the Power Project, W stands for Wisdom. Wisdom is the intersection of knowledge and experience. We can have all the knowledge in the world, but it's not until until we put that knowledge to use and apply in order to gather experience that we gain Wisdom. Mattie will share with us how she organically built her community through trial and error. She not only possesses the knowledge of how to navigate You Tube and Instagram, but she also exhibits Wisdom well beyond her years.
Instead of sitting back and waiting for followers to come to her, she went out and built a community of devoted followers that engage with her. Wait... do you mean I have to go out and actively engage and build a community? You better believe it. But, Mattie can teach you just how to do that.
You can subscribe to Mattie's You Tube channel: jungshook jams
Follow Mattie on Instagram: @mattie.yt
Learn tips and tricks about studying a new language on Mattie's study gram: @shookstudying
As always, if you like what you've heard, do us a favor: follow along, subscribe to the podcast, write a review, and share on social media. Thanks so much! I'll love you forever Friend!
I launched The Power Project vlog March 8, 2018 on International Women’s Day with the sole purpose of having a platform to spotlight women living a purpose filled life. I wanted other women to be inspired and know that they can do whatever they put their minds to. I had been working on launching the blog & podcast for 2 months.
I had never heard of Rachel Hollis until a friend told me about Girl Wash Your Face. She told me I had to check it out because the girl reminded her of me & the title is so relevant to my business. *The one where I tell people wash their faces.*
I started listening to the audible the day I ordered the book & had finished it by the time GWYF came in. I was so excited that someone else out there “got me”. She said all the things that roll around in my head. We have the exact same views on most of life. We were both raised Pentecostal. Neither of us have degrees but are still successful business owners, and we both want women to know that they were made for more!
And then, it happened. The fear crept in. The realization that someone else was already doing exactly what I was working towards terrified me. And, she was doing it on a massive scale! She beat me to it. Cue the self-doubt.
And so, the Podcast & blog we’re both put on hold. I wrote & recorded but couldn’t bring myself to publish because someone else had already done it better than I could ever imagine doing it.
How could I *compete* with Rachel?
And then, I realized, there was only one ME. I will praise Him because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Only I can say what it is that HE wants me to say, and someone needs to hear what it is that I have to say.
There are more people in the world that need to be inspired and empowered than there are of us going out and sharing the message. The World needs More. More good. More empowerment. More inspiration. More purpose. More. Of. US.
So, whatever it is that you’re doubting yourself about, whomever you are comparing yourself with, whatever is holding you back.. SHUT IT DOWN! That is Satan's voice & that bastard is a liar!
You are fearfully and wonderfully made. Psalm 139:14.
You were Made for More!
I did it! I finally launched my podcast! And, I might just throw up now. Why on earth has this one simple goal been so hard for me to accomplish? I've poured over this EIGHT months!!!
First, I bought the microphone. Then, I created a podcasting account. I plugged the microphone in so excited to start this podcasting thing... I mean, after all, God gave me a voice and I might as well use it. Then, I could not for the life of me figure out how to play the audio back that I was recording. I decided that was okay, I could learn the technical side later.
I then decided I would set up my podcast page on the platform I had chosen. That should have been simple enough. I just had to write some descriptions and upload some pictures. I do that every day on social media. No big deal. But, I could not master the accurately portioned image for the cover. Don't even get me started on layout choices. And, I hadn't even began to get into the technical issues.
So, the microphone sat abandoned on my desktop...taunting me... daily. The podcast profile page stayed unvisited, the description was left wanting, and the cover image remained a distorted wide lens view of what would ordinarily have been a great profile pic.
For. Eight. Months. I've talked about this podcast with others. I've told them that I'm working on a podcast. However, the term working was used loosely to say the least. I've let myself be afraid of the actual act of launching a podcast.
What will I talk about?
What if I run out of things to say?
What if no one cares what I have to say?
What if I say the wrong thing?
And then, I'm reminded that His plan is so great, that not even I can screw it up!
Eph. 3:20 “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably are than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.”
I knew that I was passionate about speaking into others and empowering others. I knew that I was supposed to be talking to others but didn’t know what He wanted me to talk about.
After praying and searching for several months, I was sitting in church one day, and our pastor said “You already have whatever it is that God needs you to have to do whatever it is that God needs you to do.”
That’s it. You have a talent, a special gift that is uniquely yours. You just have to tap into it, and that unique gift may not even look like a gift to you. Mine is my voice and I can’t stand the sound of my voice. I am well aware of the nasally rasp of my voice, thanks to a lifetime of allergies. I’ve also been told my entire life that I talk too much. I know this to be true. But you see, that was my power. That was the gift God gave me to share with others.
What are you “hating” that might be your gift?
Your shoulders? They may be the shoulders that someone needs to cry on.
Your sensitivity? That may be the tender heart that needs to share compassion with the world.
Your infertility? That may be the womb that mothers the orphans.
Your quietness in crowds or shyness? That may be the ear that needs to listen to others.
Your bull-headedness? That may be the strength that carries you through the fire and makes the impossible possible.
Where your passion and God’s will for your life intersect is where you will find your purpose.
To that Mama scrolling through Facebook today, seeing everyone's beautiful family pictures and celebrations, while struggling to find your own joy, I see you.
Last year, I was on the other side of the world, multiple time zones away from my kids. I had Mother's Day dinner in a restaurant surrounded by everyone else's family celebrations. I hadn't seen my kids in 13 days. My heart ached. I felt so incomplete and empty, and wanted nothing more than to hop a plane and go home to see their smiling faces and hug them. And, it made me think about those Mamas out there who struggle every Mother's Day. Those who can't scroll through social media today because it makes them feel so very empty and incomplete.
To those Mountain Moving Mamas out there fighting for your child's very life, I see you. To those Warrior Mamas who have suffered unthinkable tragedy and lost your children, I see you. To those Overcomer Mamas that have fought through Hell and back for both you and your children, I see you. To those Survivor Mamas whose womb has never been filled, I see you. To those Fighter Mamas who may not have a relationship with your children right now but won't give up until you do, I see you. To all the Mamas out there who can't look at the picture of my smiling family on Mother's Day without your heart breaking in two,
I SEE YOU.
I don't for one second take it for granted, nor do I post without considering how painful this day may be for each and everyone of you. I see you and I love you. I'm aware that tomorrow, those of us celebrating today will go back to life as we know it. We'll rush kids out the door and off to school, yell at our children to stop picking on their brother, and shuttle kids to baseball practice, gymnastics, cheer, etc... And you, will continue life as you know it, a life that none of us can imagine and pain that none of us have experienced. I wish there was more comfort I could offer you. But, for today, know this. I SEE YOU and I LOVE YOU!
"Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all."
~2 Thessalonians 3:16
So, it’s a special day, dedicated to love, romance, and spoiling your sweetheart! You’ve gone out, picked up a gorgeous bouquet of flowers and a sweet card, possibly even a box of chocolates. You’ve made reservations at that fancy restaurant your boo has been hinting about and you’re looking forward to a special night out!
You pull up to your date’s house, walk up to the door, and are greeted by a dressed to the nine Valentine! “Tonight is going to be perfect! I’ve thought of everything” you think. But, wait... there may be a few things that you haven’t taken into consideration, so let me share them with you this today.
1. Most likely, you will not be seated at the exact time of your reservation. The wait staff and hostesses can not control how long a table “camps out”... and, they all tend to not be in a hurry on V-day. Be considerate.
2. If you do not have a reservation, prepare to wait! A very long time! Actually, you’re lucky if you get a table at all. Go to the bar, have a drink, relax, and enjoy each other’s company. Also, consider eating at the bar. Be patient.
3. There will most likely be a fixed menu offered for V-day. Choose that option. The kitchen will be busier than normal and this is your best hope of getting properly cooked food quickly. Be flexible.
4. If you order the fixed menu option, this will
most likely be a surf and turf option or something else more upscale than you would ordinarily order. Budget accordingly and TIP accordingly. Be generous.
5. Your server DOES NOT want to be at work on V-Day. They would rather be spending the day of Love with their loved ones and not yours. Your date will be more impressed with the kindness you show your server than the orders you bark out at them. Be kind.
6. While your server may be spending the day celebrating everyone else’s love, they may not have someone of their own to celebrate with. Show them a little love. Thank them for making your evening extra special. Tip them a little more. Be thoughtful.
7. While it is fully acceptable to pull your phone out to snap a selfie of the two of you or capture the beauty of the perfectly presented meal, otherwise keep your phone on silent and put away. Look into your date’s eyes and talk. Look at your server and respond when spoken to. Put the phone away. Be present.
8. While it is understood that you may not regularly go out to eat and dine at nice restaurants, keep in mind that the staff is there day in and day out. The kitchen knows how to best prepare your meal. The hostess knows where and how to seat you. The server knows how to best serve you. And, the bartender knows how to wet your whistle. Sit back and enjoy. Let the experts that do this everyday take care of you and your lovely date. Be thankful.
9. Even the best laid plans can go awry. Reservations can get lost. Restaurants may be full. Items may sell out. Steaks may be over cooked. If and when the plans change, Be Open.
10. And finally, if you’re going to propose on V-Day, while the staff is more than happy to help you pull off the big surprise, might I suggest that you choose to do this in private. Rather than put your love on the spot in front of a restaurant full of strangers with a ring delivered to her on a dessert platter, wait and pop the question when the two of you are alone. Pour words from your heart and let her cry and kiss you with just the two of you in attendance. Be in Love.
Happy Valentine’s and God bless the entire restaurant industry today! This day is a reminder of how thankful I am to no longer be doing what you do. I will peacefully be enjoying my steak and lobster at home, with no wait, in the comfort of my close friends and family, celebrating a day devoted to Love. Remember the love thing? Show some to each other today!
Depression doesn't always look like doom gloom, and despair. It may not hide behind dark glasses, baggy clothes, and a disheveled appearance. It may not lock itself up indoors and not come out amongst society.
It may be put together perfectly and hiding behind a gorgeous smile and flawless appearance. It may sit across from you at a table and chat life, love, and family without ever introducing itself.
It may very well be the person on the other end of the phone, the receiving end of a text, or the last "like" on a social media post.
It is no judge of persons and doesn't have a certain type. It may invade the mind of a middle class, well educated, christ following, beautifully talented, devoted wife, mother, daughter, granddaughter, cousin, sister, aunt, and friend.
Depression doesn't want you talking about it. It wants to stay tucked away in the dark shadows, where it can tear lives apart and no one will notice until it is too late.
It is time that we take a stand. It is time that we TALK about it. In a world where we are oversharing on social media daily, telling people how we "feel" and what we had for breakfast, we have to choose to bring mental illness to the forefront.
For far too long, we the church, have treated mental illness like a lack of christianity. We have told those that suffer that they should pray more and draw closer to God. Any struggle with mental illness has been treated as if that person isn't walking in faith. While praying and drawing closer to God are crucial in this struggle, seeking help, reaching out, and knowing that it is okay to ask for support is critical. We christians must begin treating mental illness in the same manner that we would treat cancer: aggressively! We have to let those that suffer know that they can talk about it. They are not pariahs nor are they any less of a child of God. They have to know that they can stand in Christ's presence and ask for support, love, and mercy from their fellow believers.
We have to stand and say that we will be those Christians. We will be the hands and feet of Jesus. We will be the shoulder to cry on and the support that they need. We will love without passing judgement. And, we will look the enemy in the face and call him out of the darkness.
"The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." ~ John 1:5
The world lost a beautiful soul this week. You are missed dearly my friend. But know this, because of you, we will have the conversations. We will be aware. We will know that it is okay to ask for help, just as we will know that is our duty to offer help.
It's a hard read, but you need to hear it. I've put off posting this for over a week but feel that it's incredibly important for all of us to hear:
Your child knows about porn.
If they don't, they will. How will you handle that? We have to become a proactive society instead of a reactive one. Not talking about hard things does not make them go away. We can't be surprised by the type of men our society is producing if we're not equipping our sons with the truth to handle what our society will throw at them.
I sat in church two weeks ago next to my 11 year old 6th grader, listening to our pastor teaching on how to be Brave. While teaching, he was discussing temptations that we as humans come in contact with and how to guard yourself against them. One such temptation was porn. He didn't go into detail, just mentioned it, and as he did, my sweet kindhearted, handsome young man, let out a sigh, rolled his eyes, and murmured "Oh my gosh" under his breath. This caught me off guard and I had no clue as to why this topic would elicit such disgust from him.
After we came home from church that day, when it was just he and I, I point blank asked him if he knew what porn was. His expression went totally somber, his eyes welled up, and his cheeks turned red. He reluctantly told me yes. I then asked if he had ever seen it and he adamantly told me no. He then went on to tell me how the older boys at school talk about it and have privacy screens on their phone so that their parents won't see that they've watched it. I took the opportunity to explain that for starters: that is not real, healthy, or what love looks like, that those girls in the videos are someone's sister, daughter, cousin, mom, friend. That they are not objects for men's pleasure and that the majority of them are trapped in that industry against their will.
Up until then, we had discussed that Mom was fighting to help free those trapped in slavery. They know that the people's basic human rights are violated, but that has been as far as we've gone. However, that day, I pointed to the A21 "BECAUSE" bracelet on his wrist and explained that the people in those videos that his friends are laughing, joking, & talking about are the same slaves that Mommy is fighting for.
He started sobbing, and after a while I was able to get him to use his words to tell me why he was upset. He told me that "He didn't want his friends watching that, didn't want people treating women that way, and never wanted YouTube if he ever did get a phone because kids watch bad things on it."
We then prayed that when faced with the temptation of watching (because that day will come) that God can give him the strength to resist temptation. We prayed that he can be a witness to his friends and share with them how this is a vile epidemic in our country that is tearing people's lives apart. We also prayed for his friends, that they would turn from the temptation as well. And then, we prayed for the slaves trapped in that industry, that we can help free them and bring an end to their misery.
My son will be exposed to Porn at some point. Whether intentionally or not. Whether by mistake, or out of weakness, he will be armed with the knowledge of how to handle it. Will yours? Have you talked to your children about this? Sticking our heads in the sand is only perpetuating the crisis. Have the tough talks. Back it up with scripture. Arm your children. I for one pledge that my children will be informed about the evils in the world, and they will not be exposed without knowledge. Not talking about the scary things doesn't make them go away. Your children are talking about it. Wouldn't you rather they have those discussions with you? At what point, do we stand up & say #notmyson ? At what point, do we #takebackourchildren ?
If you don't understand the ties between the porn industry and human trafficking, here are some facts to help you become more aware: https://www.google.com/…/the-internet-can-be-a-very-un…/amp/
So often we feel we have to have everything in order before "serving". We may feel that God is "calling us to serve"...
By the way.... if you're breathing, God has called you to serve. But, we feel like we have to get ourselves tidied up before saying yes. I think what we don't realize is that God just wants us to get into action. Serving doesn't look like what most people think it does. It's literally just saying yes and being obedient.
When God first led me to the Human Trafficking cause, I had no idea what he wanted me to do with it. I didn't know why he was calling me to that particular cause. I had no experience with abuse and have lived an incredibly comfortable life. Plus, it's dark and shady, and I just wasn't sure I could handle it. However, I kept hearing "Move your feet" and "Serve where you are." I tried to ignore it, but God kept calling louder until finally I had to say yes.
Last night, my "serving" looked like: making a batch of chicken spaghetti, having dinner, and playing Phase 10 with some beautiful souls. All survivors of trafficking & all with their own story to tell. But, most importantly, all with a new love for Jesus and the newfound freedom to hope and dream. As I listened to them share their goals and plans for life with me last night, I thanked God for bringing them to me, and realized, that it wasn't all dark and shady. There was beauty in the hearts of the women sharing with me.
Many of you reading this know what you're being called to do but you're getting in yours (and God's) way. You're thinking the same thing I did: What do I have to offer? How can I help put an end to such a massive crisis? Why me? Where do I start? How do I get involved? But.... I'm Scared.
2 Tim 1:7 "For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control"
Here's the clearest instructions I can give you.
1. Say Yes
2. Pray about it (not once, continuously)
3. Get involved (research, connect via social media & in person)
4. Find the people that want to get involved with you. (Scary things are less scary with friends)
5. Just keep saying yes and moving forward.
In the words of my pastor "You already have whatever it is that you need to do whatever it is that God needs you to do."
God needs laborers. He needs us to all take the prayers we've prayed and put them into action. He needs us to move our feet. Luke 10:2 "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore to send out workers into his harvest field."
Hi! I'm, Brandi, founder of The Power Project, and I'm so glad you're here! I have this crazy belief that we can all do anything we set our minds to! Sometimes, you just need to hear it from a stranger on the internet. But, we're not strangers anymore. We're friends now. Welcome Friend! I hope you find some inspiration, encouragement, and empowerment here.