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  • Writer's pictureBrandi Bourne

A+? More like a C-...

First off, sorry for the delay in posting. Life has been a bit hectic. But now that it's starting to settle down, I hope to move to having a blog up once a week. Bear with me on that! Thank you to all my faithful followers out there! I do hope these stories help you in your walk with God no matter where you are at in it!

Words cannot describe how happy I am to be out of the last season/4 months of my life! Things are finally looking up again. Ya’ll read some of this story already so take this as the recap.

I am grateful for that season. There were lessons I needed in it. I'll share some of that at the end. I saw a lot of things exposed in my heart & mind that I didn't know were still there. And I got to see just how strong my faith really was. I got to see how I behave when God doesn't answer the prayer. I am grateful for that storm though I sure did struggle to be grateful in it sometimes and I know another one will come.

But now I know the areas I need to be prepared in. You know it reminds me of physical storms. I'm not going to prepare for hurricane season by buying heaters. No, I'm buying water, flashlights, batteries, non-perishable food. I'm not going to prepare for a freeze (because that's a thing now...) by buying an AC unit. I'll buy some of the same items I need for other storms. Then I might buy things to insulate my pipes, buy a portable heater, etc. I will need specific items for specific types of storms. And, if I listen to the experts on these storms, or people who have been through it, I will know what I need. Catch that?

But there is a difference between a physical storm and a spiritual storm. In the spiritual storm, we will grow. A physical storm might leave us with some unwanted things. But a spiritual storm will often either A. Get rid of some of those things or B. Expose some of those unwanted things. Things that are normally not shaken are. Gratitude is tested. Patience is tested. Character is tested. Faith is tested. And at the end, we come out stronger than we were before. And now we know how to better prepare. But the best part isn't even that. The best part is now we know how to help others prepare. And that my friend is why all of this is out here today.

So, now that it's over (mostly) it's a testimony for the next person going through it! So here it is, my "dirty laundry”:

  • I didn't have a "stable" job for 3 1/2 months (and single mom=sole "provider" though I recognize God is our provider I don’t have another term to describe the person who goes to work to pay all the bills so yea.)

  • Bills were going unpaid; the mortgage was 2 months behind (it still technically is but that's being taken care of soon).

  • I kept getting calls from Lennon’s school about his poor behavior (which has literally been ONLY at school...homeschool is obviously not an option).

  • The car was having problems, yet it was my only source of income doing Uber/Lyft. (I had to finance $3000 to repair my timing chain so I could keep driving, brake pads, oil changes, spark plugs, etc. needed replaced).

  • I was working day and night so most days I only saw my son for an hour or less during the week.

  • Credit cards went from almost paid off to maxed out and I had to get another card which is also maxed out.

  • "Family issues" (aka unnecessary drama) were happening with multiple people and severed connections were happening in the midst.

  • I got some bad news about a family member’s health that I wasn’t expecting.

  • I randomly lost half a tooth and was in pain a few days out of every week but couldn't afford to pay the dental insurance through cobra.

  • My health was struggling, dealing with excessive exhaustion, headaches/migraines, dizziness, pain in parts of my body, etc.

  • I couldn’t even try to eat healthy while being on the road all the time (nowhere to heat things up, but I did eventually start packing salads).

  • I ended up with a giant hole in my floor right before an open house (which was temporarily fixed...) and the rest of the floor has soft spots all over the place.

  • I couldn't afford new clothes/socks/shoes/etc. despite needing them, for me or Lennon.

  • I couldn’t afford to do anything awesome for my birthday, and though the morning was amazing (getting to serve was definitely the ideal way to start the day and exactly what I wanted to do, and my outreach director was so sweet she showed up with a balloon & cupcakes! Shoutout to her for being one of those true friends too.), I spent the rest of the day alone when I really didn’t want to be, but pretty much everyone already had plans.

  • The house wasn't selling despite being on the market since last November (and I needed it to because of the mortgage being behind).

  • Trying to help someone wasn't going as well as I'd hoped. I’ll leave it at that for their sake.

  • I was dealing not having family around but watching others go have fun with their families and realizing that there is a difference between spiritual and blood family. (No offense to my brothers and sisters, but at the end of the day everyone is choosing the family you're related to through blood and that's totally understandable.)

  • I was dealing with loneliness but didn't want to reach out to certain people because I didn't want to interrupt their busy lives and didn't know how to share without complaining a bunch. And I also didn’t think that anyone would really “get it” aka understand what I was going through. And sometimes I didn’t want to hear advice and I knew if I called certain people, that’s what I would get. Then of course the whole being single thing just amplified all that. I also felt like I couldn’t share because other people were going through way worse trials than me.

  • I felt completely inadequate as a mom and provider and started to believe the lie that my son would be better off with a mom and dad who could provide for him. (Which is something that is set up legally if anything ever does happen to me, and it’s meant to be a relief in the case of anything unfortunate because tomorrow isn’t promised.)

  • I was fighting dark thoughts almost daily – yea, the end my life kind. It’s not easy to admit this publicly, especially since I haven’t had those kinds of thoughts in years, but a testimony is just that for a reason. I was trying my best to fight them in prayer, but a couple times I really just wanted to give up on all of it as I was out driving (And I’m ok now ya’ll don’t worry. God had me through it. But this is where God used my spiritual family, particularly FFC church fam, to speak to me...some of ya’ll don't even know the impact you had and I'm so grateful for that.)

  • Because of those thoughts I was convinced that I needed to step down from all ministry activities because I was no longer qualified, and if I shared some of those things that everyone would think I wasn't qualified. (All lies, thankfully I stuck it through)I was convinced I had bombed/failed whatever test I was in miserably. I kept thinking "did I do something wrong?" "Did I bring a curse upon my life somehow?"

  • I was obsessing over things to the point that I was convinced something was seriously wrong with me.

For a while I honestly started thinking we were going to lose everything and go back to square 1, me working fast food while we stayed at a shelter. I was trying to make peace with that because I told God “Even if.” Even if we have nothing, I will still praise Him. And that is still the truth. But literally every time I turned around something else was happening, something else was going wrong and I did not understand why. Every area of my life was shaking at once.

Amid all this, I was reading my Word. I went to church every week. I was serving and ministering to others. I was tithing and giving offerings. I was praising God. Not just at church either, I was worshipping in the car, at home, etc. Though there were a couple weeks where I was questioning Him and struggling to be grateful. My prayer life was a bit of a roller coaster, but I was speaking and declaring the Word over our lives. I was coming against the enemy and all the thoughts he was throwing my way. I was casting all my cares daily, but they didn't seem to want to go. I was doing the best I could to keep my eyes on Him and not the storm. Despite all of that, I couldn't hear God. And that right there is what almost broke me. I couldn't hear His voice. He spoke through some people publicly. But I personally couldn't hear Him. And I'm used to hearing Him often, especially given the gifts He has given me. This wasn't my first season of silence, but it was my longest.

I can honestly say out of my 6 1/2 years as a believer, this was the biggest storm to date. This wasn't a little hail and lightning. This was a whole hurricane.

When I heard His voice again in the middle of a sermon on Wednesday (June 7th) I just about lost it in the middle of service. Right at the beginning one of the Pastors hit home talking about God parting the Red Sea. He had us lift our hands and this whole moment with God happened. I could physically feel a weight being lifted off of me and I knew. God had just released me from the trial. Then another Pastor followed up with a phenomenal word from the Lord. (Side note through all this man am I grateful for our Pastors and their "yes" to the Lord and I cannot say that enough...and I kind of want to tag them but I won't) But the words I wrote down were - "I'm so proud of you. You didn't turn from Me. You turned to Me. You weren't perfect. But you passed." Right there in that service, God parted the Red Sea for me by breaking the silence. And by giving me a job the day before!

You see back in January, I was given a vision, and in that vision, I turned from God this year. Of course, I was like “no I’m not, no chance, not turning from the Lord after all this!” having my whole “Peter moment.” (For those who haven’t read that story, Jesus told Peter He was going to deny Him 3 times. Peter said he wouldn’t. Jesus said he would. Peter ended up denying Jesus 3 times. But later, he was redeemed from that mistake.) I honestly forgot all about that vision until God spoke those words.

I went home crying tears of pure gratitude. And within a week, literally everything is changing. And He has shown me today that a decision I made and was questioning was a key to unlocking even more blessings. Things aren't perfect. I'm still dealing with random issues like flat tires I can't afford yet popping up there’s a couple on that list that haven't been resolved yet. But that's OK because I have the overwhelming feeling and knowledge that everything is going to be OK. God's taking care of every detail. Everything is lining up exactly the way it's supposed to. And it always was.

I started a job that is even better than my last one. Same pay rate as my last job but as a starting rate and its salary (which is going to make tithing SO much easier now). Medical, dental, vision, 401K matching, paid holidays, a week paid vacation (2 weeks after the first year), it’s oil and gas so I have that job security. And I only do payroll, not all the HR stuff too. And only 20 mins from my house but AWAY from Houston hallelujah. Then something else awesome happened today that I'm not putting out publicly yet. I'm able to spend time with my son in the evenings again (we will be playing catch up together next week as he joins me for Door dash lol). My car is still running (and still for sale, with lots of new parts added and maintenance done – anyone want to buy it?). I have peace in my home again. The dark thoughts are long gone. I am focusing more on my health through exercise and starting to watch what I eat a bit more (and now I have a place to heat up lunch so I can bring a variety of cooked food). The list goes on.

Oh, and let me include the whole how I got the job story too. I was missing a lug nut in one of my tires, which we discovered on a failed attempt to change my brake pads over the weekend. I went back to the place that had broken a lug nut the last time I went there for a tire replacement/repair. They told me they were supposed to give me paperwork because they had stripped the spot the lug nut goes into, but they never did. The manager sent me over across the street to the shop there to have it repaired. That was taking awhile and I was a bit annoyed that I wasn't able to drive but decided to put in some more apps on my phone. One of those apps was for this company I work for now. Within an hour of putting in the app they asked me to interview for the next day. Tuesday I went in and interviewed and the whole thing was just fantastic. I completely understood the terminology as she talked about the job and knew that it would be very similar to what I used to do. She was very understanding about what had happened at my last job. I left there praising God and declaring that it was my job. 40 minutes later they called and offered me the job. TOTAL God setup ya'll. He sure can use those inconveniences I tell ya! If you get held up on something, know that God is working on something. Thankfully that was a lesson I had already learned so I was polite to everyone I encountered that day because I knew that God had a reason.

So, through all of this – what exactly did I learn? I may not fit all the lessons in here, but here are some of the main ones. I pray they help you.

1. Going through a trial doesn’t always mean I did something wrong. In fact, most of the time it’s a test and it’s for a purpose.

2. God’s timing is not my timing. God’s timing is 1000000% better than my timing.

3. My faith wasn’t as strong as I thought it was. I needed to check myself in having pride that I had strong faith. I started out the gate strong. But 2 months in I found that I didn’t have as much faith or trust in God as I thought I did. Sometimes it takes an earthquake to see how structurally sound the house really is.

4. I learned that even if I am losing everything, I will still praise God. But I also learned I better watch the way I talk to Him amid everything too. It’s ok to vent to God, but it’s not ok to doubt who He is or question Him because of my circumstances.

5. I had an unhealthy attachment to material things.

6. I found some bitterness I still had against the father of my son that needed to be removed. (Single parents – check your heart for this)

7. Be cautious/preventative about allowing certain thoughts in, because they will quickly spiral to levels that are not healthy. (Aka, I need more work in the “renewing the mind” area)

8. Work on the area of emotional regulation.

9. I can serve and help others in the midst of the trial. I didn’t qualify myself so I can’t disqualify myself from ministry. (Aside from doing something extreme that is)

10. Stop thinking I can’t reach out to others when I am going through things.

11. God is faithful no matter how I “feel” about it.

12. God ALWAYS has a purpose and a plan, and it’s probably not going to make sense until later anyway.

13. Don’t try to help everyone under the sun – listen to the voice of God on who to help, how and when. Otherwise, I can end up in a mess I created.

14. I do matter. There are people depending on me.

15. The people who show up aren’t always going to be the people you expect to. And the people who “see” you won’t always be the ones you expect either. But they will be the ones God sent.

16. Simple acts can make a world of difference. A simple tap on the shoulder can break a stronghold.

17. Reach out to the people I care about– ESPECIALLY the strong ones. Do more than pray for them behind the scenes.

18. God will end relationships in the way He chooses, and I need to be ok with that.

19. Things I go through aren’t all about me – check that selfishness and remember that the struggle is sometimes there to help others out of that same struggle.

20. Don’t ever give up and don’t entertain thoughts of giving up because they are pointless. Take one step at a time and trust God for each one.

21. Know that God is there in the seasons He chooses to be silent. The silence doesn’t necessarily mean I’ve done something wrong, sometimes the silence is a test of faith and endurance.

22. The greatest amount of growth will always be in a storm, and the shaking will test how much I’ve grown.

There are a few other lessons too, but this is all I will share for now. My prayer is that these help you avoid some of the pitfalls that I did. Or that they help you in the middle of your storm. If you are in a storm and it feels like everything is spiraling out of control, trust the one who is in control - Jesus. Praise Him in the storm. Be grateful. And know that your breakthrough is coming!!!

If you're not in a storm, take notes from your last one and get prepared. Let God show you the areas you need to work on and grow in. Let Him in those areas and follow His guidance. The word says to rejoice in the trials! I get it, that's not easy. But you got this! Keep moving and keep growing.

And if you need a friend to talk to who understands how tough it can be, I’m here. Please don't think you are alone in this! I promise I'm not going to judge you. And if you want to vent with no advice, I got you. If you need some tools to prepare, I'll give you everything I know/have learned. Comment here or find me on social media (the latter is probably quicker because I don’t always remember to check the comments here.)

I believe in you. Please don't give up. Someone out there is depending on you to keep going.

And in the words of our Pastor - "you're closer than you think."


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