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Finding Light in the Darkness

Quarantine Diary featuring Brandee Alexander

 

At one point you considered yourself as someone who was broken.  What hard truths did you need to sit with during that season? 

Well 2019 was one for the books wasn’t it? I definitely placed the “broken” label on myself towards the latter part of 2019. There were some relationships that ended during that season and I can tell you I was totally unprepared for what God was about to do in my life. I blamed myself a lot and was forced to look inward with a magnifying glass and pick apart pieces of me that I thought were no good.

A few Hard Truths that I had to face:

  • Brandee is NOT perfect, and that is absolutely OK,
  • Brandee likes things Burger King style, I want to have it my way a lot of the time, all the time honestly and that’s selfish.
  • Brandee doesn’t love herself. This one was hard, I put a lot of pressure on myself to perform, or be somebody that is easy for others to accept, when in reality I was not designed to be accepted by everyone and that’s ok.
  • God still loves me even when the key players you think you need walk away or hurt you. This was a hard truth for me because I didn’t want certain people to walk away from me. I didn’t think God loved me anymore, people were walking out of my life. I thought there MUST be something wrong with me, and God must have left with them.

How did brokenness reveal itself in your life and how did it affect your identity?

Brokenness revealed itself in suicidal thoughts/ideations, shame, and condemnation. I wasn’t working, and honestly nothing was happening for me. Everyday I sat around crying endlessly, there was a point in this journey where I contemplated ending my life. I hid myself, I was ashamed, when I did try to go out and see familiar faces I felt as though people were asking me how I was doing out of pity. It was at this point where I realized I cared way too much what people thought of me and not enough of what God thought.

I let relationships with people define who I was too much and when those ties were severed I was forced to learn more about who I am. More importantly WHOSE I am.

What surprised you and/or other people the most about how you handled yourself during a season of difficulty and uncertainty?

So I get to talk about how God blew my mind!! What surprised others watching me was how quiet I became during my season of struggle and humbling. What surprised me was how swiftly God answered my prayers. I asked God to relocate me from my prison which was unfortunately my favorite place to be, home.

He did that and so much more. I went from not having a job, to being offered multiple positions to choose from and selecting the BEST option for me. The company moved me to my new state, and all my needs were met. They even called me on my BIRTHDAY to offer me the job of my dreams! I was done for; I did the ugly cry that no one should ever see.

God also surprised me by sending women who needed to heal so I started a private women’s healing group. My inbox was flooded with women who had experienced some of the same things I had and just never talked about it. It’s important for us as women to connect with one another especially with our seasoned women to gain that wisdom. I’m forever grateful for these women and their honesty.

How do you define “glow up” and what steps can we take to get there?

During this season when I finally decided to stop the tears, wash this face (thanks Rachel Hollis), and take charge of my life I was told that I had this glow. Women are often told we’re glowing when we are pregnant or in love. I seldom remember hearing it after going through a storm but God is good!! The storm inspired me to coin the phrase “Let Glow and Let God” which came from Daniel 12:3 MSG

“Men and Women who have lived wisely and well will shine brilliantly, like the cloudless, star-strewn night skies. And those who put others on the right path to life will glow like stars forever.”

Glow up can be defined as living wisely through the storms of life, shining brilliantly like the night sky and becoming a beacon of light on the journey to healing.

Simple Steps you can take to get your Glow On:

  • Be Ok with NOT being ok
  • Be Honest with yourself
  • Be mindful of what you feed your spirit
  • Feel It by being a STAR (Stop/Smile, Take a deep breath And Relax)

Please take note to how I didn’t define these simple steps. Why?  Because this is your unique journey and only YOU can define your glow.

God Bless and Remember to Let Glow and Let God!

BIO:

Born and raised in Omaha, Nebraska Brandee Leigh Alexander has a passion for helping women see themselves as whole, fearfully and wonderfully made, and of course glowing. Brandee is currently an Associate Executive Director for the YMCA of Greater Kansas City and hopes to one day open up a YMCA as the Executive Director. Brandee has a private healing group for women on Facebook and is currently in the process of finishing her first book to continue encouraging women all over the world to embrace their glow!

Instagram: mzzbrandee06

Facebook: Brandee Leigh Alexander

Twitter: mzzbrandee

What happens when we run towards the danger.

Last night I had the opportunity to hear from national best selling author Donald Miller at the Hope Center for Kids gala. His presentation was a God-wink from Heaven. The term God-wink became popular in 2002 thanks to a book called, “When God Winks.” It is basically what some people would call a coincidence or a moment of certainty.  I knew this was a God-wink because what he was sharing helped me tie together the story I had planned to share on Brave Avenue today.

Donald Miller spoke eloquently on how we have the choice to wake up everyday and write the story that we want to live. He likened our lives to the process of writing a movie. Movie writing is basically a recycled story-line that can be told with four different perspectives.

  1. Victim- this character does not change or evolve, their part is very small and not memorable.
  2. Villain- villains are characters who do not process their pain and as a result they are constantly seeking revenge on the people who hurt them.
  3. Hero- this character is usually broken, filled with self-doubt, and not sure if they can get the job done. They also learn from their pain.
  4. Guide -this is the most important role! This character has already won the challenge and their mission is to help others transition from victim to hero to guide.

As I reflected on Donald’s talk, I thought of my kids favorite character from the movie, “Home.” It is a little alien named OH.  In the movie you get to see how OH was taught to not care for others and to run away from danger. Essentially, he lives like a victim until he meets a brave little girl named, Gratuity Tucci. I have watched this movie a trillion times yet I always cry when OH has an ‘ah ha’ moment about his life and chooses to do something that instantly changes his story.

…..he runs towards the danger.

When you choose to run towards danger (emotional pain, tragedy, uncomfortable situations, etc., you are showing your willingness to confront pain or situations head on. This takes a great deal of risk, but the good waiting on the other side of the pain is worth defending the process. When you look back months, weeks, even years you will see that the pressure from enduring the process was so small in comparison to what you actually received. This is something God continues to show me through the healing process of my miscarriage. I am in awe to still be learning so much from the experience months later. God knew losing my baby would hurt me, but He has been so faithful to me in the process as I intentionally run towards the danger (pain). I know that as I continue running, I will be able to help other women who endure the same pain.

As we go into the last quarter of this year, I encourage you think about the story you are writing for your life. Do you want people to know you as a victim or someone who sees the setup for their pain as a way to help others rise up?  I am choosing to be a guide in my story!

What story are you writing for your life today-are you the victim, the villain, hero or the guide?

 

What if we were real?

We all love to share stories of our good news. We tweet, snapchat, and update our statuses with good news everyday. This is especially true for pregnancy announcements. We search on Pinterest for the best way to share the good news- Prego bottles, ultrasound pics, family photo (that’s what I did). On the flip side, bad news is not always easy or fun to share. I didn’t search Pinterest to figure out the best DIY craft to announce our miscarriage. In fact, I was too ashamed to go back and tell everyone after posting our good news. But, what if we were real?

I remember lying on the exam table waiting expectantly while the ultrasound tech prepared to show us our next little Zollicoffer. I was so excited to have another baby and it appeared to be the perfect timing. We decided after our daughter was born that waiting two years would be ideal for our next child. My husband and I watched the screen as the tech moved the tool all over my growing belly. “Let’s try another way.” She prepared the other option to view our baby and then silence….”I’m sorry but I think you may have miscarried.” My heart sank. I didn’t prepare to hear bad news. Her words remained with me for the next four days after I was told to come back the following week to check again, maybe it was too early to tell. Needless to say that was the longest week of my life. The firefighter term ” hurry up and wait” fit perfectly with what I was experiencing.

Have you ever been excited about something and then told you have to wait for it? It’s like when your friend tells you, “Ooo remind me to tell you something later.” You’re just left thinking, okay why did you even bring it up?? [GUILTY]

The next four days were difficult. I cried a lot but remained hopeful that everything was okay. When I woke up the day before our scheduled appointment, I immediately noticed that I wasn’t nauseous and the sharp cramping was no longer there. At that moment, I knew that Baby Zollicoffer would not be joining us in December. I heard the Lord whisper “restore” and that was it. I woke up my husband and cried the rest of the day.

We often tell God what we’re going to do with our lives. We create our vision boards, and write our goals for the year, which are all good things and have their purpose. In our planning, I believe we forget that the process to obtain what we desire is not always as easy and exciting as it looks in the picture or the words we write down. Yet, the wonderful thing about process is that God prepares us for it. Oftentimes we don’t recognize His preparation until after it happens. On May 23rd, my doctor told us that we officially miscarried. On the same day, a former mentor shared a Facebook memory about her first child who was born on May 23rd. She had an eptopic pregnancy. This year her son would have been in the 6th grade! To date, she’s had eight pregnancies total with three of those children still living. I gained so much hope and strength from her story as I endured 11 hours of intense labor pains to deliver my baby at home.

I am no expert when it comes to loss but I have learned a few things with this experience that I hope will encourage you.

1. Lean into the pain.

“Pain is a growth opportunity. Lean into pain, that’s where bravery lies.” Navy Seal Denver Rourke.

At LeaderCast 2015 Denver shared the inspiring story of his wife delivering their baby. She wanted to delivery naturally without pain medication. As you can imagine this was very painful, but it’s what she wanted. In order to see that precious baby she had to lean into the pain.  We often set up our lives to avoid pain, but pain is absolutely necessary for growth.
2. Seek out support. 

“I am on your team, be on mine.” Emily Lanphier, Lanphiers Remember

We have to remember that women are powerful when we come together. We need each other . When I started sharing with other women, I discovered that so many women in my circle had experienced loss during their pregnancies and wanted to support me. It helped a great deal to know that I wasn’t alone in this. I had a team.

3. Let go and embrace hope. The word “quah” is Hebrew for hope and means “To look eagerly for, to lie in wait for.” Oftentimes when disappointment shows up, my first response is to figure out why it happened. Sometimes God’s answers come swiftly, and other times I’m wondering did He even hear me. Trust me-He hears us and in time He will reveal what we need to know. In order to embrace hope we have to eagerly apply patience.

4. Choose JOY! Laughter was sooo good for me this week! It allowed me to be present and reminded me that God is present with me. 1 Peter 1:6-7 says “So be truly glad.[a] There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.”

So, what if we were real?? What if we stopped hiding our pain and invited each other in?  We truly have nothing to lose and so much to gain when we let go. Where do you need to release the power of shame in your life? Find someone you can connect with this week. I believe our stories of brokenness will be used just as powerfully as our stories of joy.

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