Abide 

  Abiding is such an old word that I don’t hear often enough. This word used to scare me to death. Growing up baptist, I thought God had a list of rules I had to abide by or I would get punished. I was terrified of everything that heavy word meant. It wasn’t until I switched churches, I realized God didn’t mean that word to use as a punishment for us.

Abide by definition means: follow structured series of spiritual instruction, exercises, prayer and encouragement to heal the hardest parts of your life. To heal the hardest parts of your life. I think of the hardest parts of my life and I think how much I want to be healed from the situations I’ve been in and am still battling every single day. There are days when you want to be someone else or be somewhere else. There are some days where you want relief and want to crawl in a hole just to hide from the hardest parts of your life. As I prayed over this post to help someone, I hope it helps me as well. I get it. There are days when you aren’t feeling like yourself. There are days when you pray to God to end your suffering. It won’t always be like this. I wanted to dig and dig and figure out what the Bible says about abiding. In John, Jesus talks to his disciples and says, “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.“
I’d like to think Jesus meant don’t let your head run wild in search for answers by trying to solve your own problems. Just stay calm and stay close. A branch can’t produce fruit without the vine. You can not face your problems and come up with solutions without Jesus. Instead of worrying and feeling anxious about what’s to come, whether it is financial stress, relationship issues or just the grind of every day life. Abide. Place your feet on the ground and stay with him. You deserve good things. You deserve all the blessings that God wants to shower you with. But dear, how are you going to look for and get those blessings if you are trying to grow fruit in a garden with no vines? In a life where Jesus isn’t the front runner of your race?

Only in the darkness do you know light. Maybe you’ve listened to that sad country song one too many times. I don’t know what battle you are facing. Maybe you feel left behind or forgotten. Maybe you’re sipping coffee reading this and wondering if God will ever show up for you. Maybe you can’t feel him like you used to. It’s okay if you don’t feel whole right now. It’s okay if you feel lost or confused. Just keep fighting the battle. I pray you abide in Jesus so he can abide in you. Stay so he can stay with you. 

Always in your corner, 

-B

Hello 2016, it’s me…

I hope everyone reading this has had more love, joy and unpredictability that 2015 could possibly offer. As this year draws to an end, it’s hard not to think about what 2015 brought. For some people you might hate to see it go because you can’t possibly think of another year that could top this one. For others, you might have helped 2015 pack its bags, dropped it off at the airport and never looked back in the rearview. Whatever your situation is, I hope 2016 leaves you humble and speechless. I hope you find so much love and give so much love that you look back at this time next year and thank God for 2016.

I usually think of things I want to accomplish come this time of year for the upcoming one. But this year, I got married, I bought a house, I’m in good health, all of my family is still living, I got a new job and started this wonderful messy blog. I can’t think of anything else that I need or want. So I thought about contentment. I thought about how scary that word is. How there’s so much gray to it. On one hand, you don’t want to be so content that you stop moving and shaking. On the other, you don’t want so much chaos that you wouldn’t know what contentment looked like if it was looking back at you in the mirror. So there’s an ultra fine line when it comes to being content. My version of content is to not fall into comparisons death trap. It can steal everything from you if you let it.

This year i will unfollow things that leave me wanting more. Things that leave me feeling a little less worthy of being happy. Trust me; you are so worthy of being happy. You are beautiful and wonderfully made. It is in our human nature (thanks to Adam and Eve) to want what we can’t have. It is so easy to get caught up in the idea if you have XYZ then you’ll be happy.

I want you to slow down. I want you to be content with what you have. That doesn’t mean to settle and not push yourself to be a better you. I don’t want you to compare your life to others. Unfollow people on social media if you have to. Work towards becoming the happiest you. With contentment comes letting go and that’s a hard concept for many people. I hope you leave all the things that were bad for you behind in 2015. I hope you let go of that relationship that makes you feel second best. I hope you let go of that dead end job that won’t ever promote you when you’re all too deserving. I hope you let go of that toxic friend that drains you. I hope you let go of feeling the need to look like a Victoria’s Secret model. Say yes to the ice cream.

This year, I hope to spend more time with God. I hope to be less impulsive when the world comes pressing down on me to have the latest and greatest thing. I hope you ask yourself before doing something, “how will this serve you, God?”

I started reading what the bible says about being content and this stood out:

“Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.”- Philippians 4:11

 

“..in whatever situation I am to be content”…that is a hard one for me. I know I have had too many situations where the last thing i’ve felt is contentment. I hope this year I will learn to be content no matter the situation.

This year, I promise to fall flat on my face. I promise to make messes and clean them up. I promise not to let the world make me feel unworthy. I promise to realize we all fall short and it’s okay to not get it right. I promise to cut myself some slack and not be so hard on myself. I will show fear that love ALWAYS wins. I’ll show up for my family and friends. I’ll really see people for who they are, not who i expect them to be. I’ll chase after the life I want, no matter the cost. I’ll help others along their journey of 2016 because no matter who you are, we’re all just trying to make it. I hope you show 2016 what you are made of. You are cherished, loved and completely rad. I hope you promise all the above to yourself and so much more.

always in your corner,

B

 

 

Not being okay is okay….

I have been wanting to write about this for a while. But every time I sit down to write it, it seems to fall short of everything I want to say. I hope I can give this topic justice. Mental Illness. I see it every day of my life in my job and in myself.
The thing about mental illness is no matter which strand of it you may have, it still will affect every other aspect of your life. Your job, your relationships, your well-being and everything else stems from your mental health.

As I have been going to therapy a lot recently to figure out why on Gods green earth I can’t sleep, it makes me wonder how many people are hiding behind a therapist. I could go see said therapist and no one ever know. There’s a stigma that people put on mental health that people get embarrassed about. It has got to stop. I have heard people SO many times say, “I don’t get depression, why can’t people just be happy?” REALLY? How about you try telling a cancer patient to just not be sick anymore. That’s the thing, mental illness is a sickness. It is not something someone chooses, I promise.

Can you imagine feeling so hopeless that you can’t make it out of bed in the morning to start your job that the rest of your life (i.e. bills, food, survival) requires you to attend, but you just. can’t. Or feeling your heart about to beat out of your chest because you walked into a crowded room and felt like you just couldn’t take the heat, even if no one else noticed you. You may feel like this occasionally, but mental illness isn’t occasional. Imagine going through this every day. Now imagine someone telling you to “just be happy” or to “man up.” Mental illness doesn’t discriminate. It isn’t racists, sexist and doesn’t base itself on geography.

I knew when I started this blog that I would be writing about this eventually. That someone needed this. I am not here to tell you to run to the nearest therapist door and spill out your problems. I’m just telling you it’s okay if you do. I’m just telling you that it’s okay to not feel okay. That it’s society that makes you feel like less of a person. You aren’t. I’m just telling you that you are so brave. And if you don’t have any demons that run through your mind, thank God! But, try to be a little less critical of someone who is anxious or depressed. You never know what someone is going through. It doesn’t come draped on their clothes like a big red A. It’s silent and dangerous.

I am not a therapist by any means. Having a degree that majors in people’s minds or suffering from PTSD or a sleeping disorder does not make me a professional. But it does make me aware and knowledgable and have empathy. Maybe you don’t want to talk to a therapist but just need a little extra love. I will give it to you. If you are struggling and need some words to grasp, I will be there. Simply email me. Whether I know you or not, I will send light to your inbox. I don’t know what you’re going through and I don’t need to if you don’t want to tell me. Just email me with the subject, “love letter” and I’ll show up.

Brooke_trent@icloud.com

always in your corner,

B

love me like Jesus does

i wrote an entire blog and erased it. It felt so fake. It was everything I wanted to say but it wasn’t. It was sugar coated. So i’m starting over. I don’t ever want to lie or tell you things just because you want to hear them. That’s not reality.

Bookstores, coffee shops, car rides after midnight and you. That’s my church. I’ve felt God more in those 4 things then I have in a pew in a very, very long time. My preacher last Sunday told us that he would not talk about what is going on in the world regarding homosexuality, transgender, abortion or the killing of animals. He talked about why he wouldn’t talk about those things and I could feel the tension in the sanctuary shifting. They wanted to hear those things. They wanted to voice their opinion and hoped the preacher shared the same one. I was proud of him.

But on the drive home I was thinking about how those things are relevant but it does not make you relatable.

If someone’s completely heartbroken, your view on equal marriages is not going to mend their shattered organ. I sometimes think God allows certain things to happen in your life so you can help others cope when it happens in theirs. They need a shoulder. They need one more piece of you when you think there isn’t a piece left. Heartbreak happens and it takes you off your pedestal for other people. They need you to love them like Jesus does. That’s what we should be teaching in church….

The Jesus I know didn’t go around hosting political campaigns or wait for a jury of peers to make a decision. He simply asked…

Do you love me?

The questions of sexuality, equality and religion will never heal a broken heart. But loving Jesus will. And loving other people like you love Jesus, surely will. In a world consumed by what’s going on in the news, be a light they can find their way home to.

always in your corner,

B

it keeps no record…

I am changing. Slowly but surely.

4) Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5) It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.-1 Corinthians 4-5.

I have read this verse a dozen times over the past decade. Always skimming over it. Always acknowledging the words but not digesting them. Until one morning, “it keeps no records of wrongs” smacked me in the face. You see that’s how my brain works. It will bring up intense things I HAVE to share while just drinking my coffee and it won’t leave me alone until i do it justice by writing about it.

I may be non confrontational but I can remember you trying to cut my hair with scissors in the first grade. I will hold you accountable even if i’m the only one. I realize a lot of my relationships have failed because of this. My, “how could you do that to ME?” fight was no better than us working through it and me bringing it up 5 years down the road..

I have had an argument in the past that literally went something like this…

Him: “why won’t you come to see me?”
Me: “because you didn’t come come see me 2 years ago when i asked..”

Back then i thought i was doing the right thing. I thought I was winning. The, ‘i’ll make you regret doing that to me’ ego that most people have will not let you win. I have hung up the phone thinking i showed him….No. I have showed him that I am too immature to stay silent when no words were needed. No jabs to the throat were needed. That is not love. Holding someone accountable is God’s job…I’m not saying to let people run all over you but this is not your job. How can you ever focus on yourself if you have a mental tally system going on in your head of every time someone doesn’t live up to par for you? You have enough to worry about. This is not love. Love keeps no records of wrong. Try it for a day. Then try it for a week. Then a month. Stop punishing people for the same sin they’ve repented for years ago. I promise it will make you less stressed. There’s a valuable lesson to be learned when you forgive and don’t bring it up years down the road. It’s called peace.

Someone told me this was good…this was good that I knew how to change. I hope so…

Stay focused. Slow it down. Stay humble.

xo

B

Salvation and Marriage

Marriage season is fast approaching and there are tons of things I could say and talk about to help people suffering from cold feet. But as i kept typing, i kept thinking about what I wanted my upcoming marriage to be like.

People have tried to talk me out of getting married next month, they’ve tried to make sure i’m ready for the big day and for the rest of my life with one person. It started making me think, “is anyone ever ready for anything?”
I think this best things in life, you won’t be ready for. To be ready is to stay in the norm and I am not a fan of that. To be free and willing is to trust God.

Am i ready to be married?
the answer is no.

Will i be ready to have children one day?
probably not.

Will i be able to watch them walk down the aisle to the person of their dreams?
honestly, no.

But those things I listed above can serve as the most rewarding. Let me go further into this before you start thinking, “why is she getting married if she isn’t ready?’ 

Marriage, in this bible belt that I live in, is normal. I am not normal. I did not have my wedding planned out from the time i was 7. I did however have my career planned. I would line up my Barbies with a dry erase board and as them how they were feeling. (no joke, ask my cousin.) So this wedding planning is uneasy territory for me. I’ve had to rearrange my plans in my head to plan a wedding that i have no clue how to. The norm for me would be to travel in solitude or focus on my psychologist career. Now i have to share that passion with someone and that’s scary. We could be more financially ready, more mentally ready, but what is even better is that i am ready for someone to come along for the ride. I am ready to spend my life with someone who hasn’t left my side since the day he walked in it 5 years ago.

Michael and I have taken some time a part in the past and even then, he would have done anything for me. I get the age old question that, “well it didn’t work the first time…” the thing about that is i wasn’t ready to be a wife. I wanted more from him then i was willing to give in return. How did this change? Why am i different now? Read Proverbs 31. I read that and it was like God spoke and said, “you have prayed and prayed that Michael be the man you need as husband but you are NOT the wife he needs.” So i changed. I started praying that God would make me into the wife that Michael or whomever i marry needs and deserves. My life changed drastically. I saw God work in ways that i haven’t seen him do so before. I will pray that prayer every day and as long as i am praying that, i will never have to worry if Michael will be the husband i need, because God has that covered.

My uncle (who is marrying us, cool right?) told Michael and myself that if we have anything we need to get out in the open, now is the time to do it before we say the “i dos”. People have told me their marriage horror stories and how it failed and what not to do. I hope that in thirty years, i won’t give someone that advice and I will tell he or she that marriage is the greatest gift on the planet. I want to compare it to my salvation.

I know salvation is a lot different from marriage. Marriage can not get you into heaven unlike salvation, but bare with me as I talk about this. I got saved at a young age at a body building competition at Christ Fellowship (i know, not a normal salvation story) but i got saved nonetheless. There are days when i fail Jesus miserably. But, the great thing about that is i will never be unsaved. I know that i will never lose my salvation and no matter how upset i make Jesus because i am born again in him. In my marriage, I will fail Michael and he will fail me because we are human. But as much as we will fail each other, we will never have to go back to the day where we are single sinners again. I will never have to go back to the day where I don’t know Jesus and (Lord willing) I will never have to go back to the day before i’m married. I have a partner in my eternal life and a partner here on earth.

The best advice i could give someone is consider your marriage like you do your salvation. Strive to please the other person, learn from your mistakes and ask forgiveness for your faults. God forgives me everyday when I am so underserving and I hope I have a marriage that offers forgiveness and purity and hope that no matter what happens, we will never have to go back before that day we said our vows. God doesn’t ditch me when i treat him horrible and i want to reflect that kind of love to my husband when he doesn’t live up to par and i pray he does the same for me. God protects his children, just as you should protect your marriage and spouse. Always, always, protect what you love.

XO,

B

(brooke_trent@yahoo.com)

I believe…

I believe that the sun is the best form of therapy. I believe to follow your heart over your head. I believe in being innocently wild. I believe you should learn the difference in holding a hand and chaining a soul. I believe you’ll regret every chance you didn’t say yes to. I believe you’ll find yourself more in a foreign country than at a 9-5 job. I believe that failing is not always failure. I believe in books and being alone. I believe that luxury doesn’t mean wealth. I believe that something that burns the soul is hard to forget. I believe women should inspire each other. I believe we stress because we forget we aren’t God. I believe in a good cup of coffee. I believe the way you see the world can change your life. I believe nothing can substitute expierence. I believe there isn’t a person you wouldn’t love if you didn’t know their story. I believe for every bad thing in the world, there is 1000 more good things. I believe you should wear what you want and don’t feel guilty about it. I believe we have more fire in us then what we want to believe, even if we don’t see it for ourselves.

XO,

B

Eat Carbs, Drink Champagne and Forget Valentine’s Day.

This may be the single most important piece i’ve ever written.

Everyone puts the biggest emphases on this holiday. Whether it’s someone being bitter about this money driven holiday or some white girl tagging how lucky she is on insta with her new Michael Kors watch, this holiday is either dreaded with a bottle of jack or welcomed with over priced flowers.

When I was in high school, on Valentine’s Day, you could buy a rose and send it to someone within the school. I can not for the life of me remember if i got a rose any of the four years of my high school career. I’m so sure at the time I secretly wanted one but ten years later, WHO CARES if Nick from Algebra got you a dollar rose!??

My little sister is 13 and she is so much smarter and wiser than i was. At 13, it is so hard to realize this is not what matters in the long run. I wish I could go back and tell myself and tell her how one day, Valentine’s Day will matter only because of the person God chooses you to be with. That no amount of flowers and candy in the world will compare to the nights me and my future Valentine will be in bed at 8:30 on Valentines night.

This time last year i was in Atlanta with my best friend. It is perfectly okay to be single on Valentines Day. Actually, it was one of the best weekends i’ve ever spent with her. Don’t take yourself too seriously and let me say this ladies and gentlemen, it is better to be alone than with someone you know you can’t marry or trust.

Hindsight is 20/20. If you’re single, ENJOY it!
Live alone–you can do whatever, whenever you want! it’s awesome.
Quit your dead end job–trust me, you won’t get to when you have two mouths to feed.
Travel–and don’t tell a soul.
Eat well–Eat that pizza at 2 am with no one there to judge you.
Take trips with your bff–go somewhere fun and shop, eat and party.
Splurge–buy that dress, that xbox, that concert ticket. there will be plenty of time for bills and joint checking accounts later.

Some people live their whole lives and never get married? Guess what? Life isn’t about getting married, life is about being who God called you to be. God will fulfill you, not someone texting you at midnight because he or she is cold (yes, girls do this too.)
I just happened to find a pretty cool guy to spend the rest of my Valentines days with..but i promise, if i didn’t, i would not be sulking about it. Timing, timing, timing.

Even if you are in a relationship, remember that anyone can get you a ring and anyone can say the right words but God will lead you to the right person. Marry someone with a purpose. Don’t take me to a fancy restaurant, show me where you plan to be in 5 years. Marry someone with goals and dreams and someone who puts God first so he can love you like he loves Christ. When you do that, you don’t have to wait for Feb 14th to celebrate your love for one another, you can celebrate each other 365 days a year.

XO,

B

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Eat. Pray. Travel.

“It is better to see something once than to hear about it a thousand times.”–Asian Proverb

My life right now is crazy, I have 348 things on a plate that only holds 10. Between working a full time job, planning my wedding, working out, moving to a new house and trying to launch my new business, life just gets in the way. So, I decided I would write about something I love, traveling.

My favorite possession is my passport. I think of it as a key that can unlock just about anything. I was so excited that I got to use it for the first time last August for Mexico!
Before I talk about that trip, I’m going to tell a story.
My junior year at college, I had this professor, lets call him Dr. S. Dr. S. was the biggest douche bag I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. I loathed this man. He made me cry, he made me mad, he made me think, he made me question, he made me a more knowledgeable person.

So, my final for this class was a one on one with me and Dr. S. It was going to last 50 minutes and he would ask me one question of his choice and I had to tell him why I felt the way I did. I racked my brain, thinking the question would be about God or abortion or why I ate processed meat. Nope. He asked me the simplest, yet complicated question in the history of mankind. Here is how this final oral exam played out.

Dr. S.: Brooke, you didn’t speak much in class, so I’m curious to your answer to your final question….if you could do anything on earth right now, what would make you the happiest?
Me: (thinking to myself, ‘that’s it?!?! this crazy man wants to know what makes me freakin happy?!’) well…i would travel.
Dr. S.: Travel where?
Me: Everywhere.
Dr. S.: Then quit school.
Me: But, I need money to travel. This will be the hoop I jump through to travel.
Dr. S.: There are plenty of poor people who travel. Get a work visa. I know you’re religious, what if you travel to India and it changes your outlook on “God” (yes, he quoted it.)
Me: Well, school is important to me and my family too.
Dr. S.: Just like God is and the places you travel won’t believe in the same things as you and you will question the way you’re raised. Do you still think traveling will make you the happiest Brooke?
Me: yes sir, I do.

This conversation went on as to why I believe the things I do and surprisingly really did last 50 minutes.

I didn’t drop out of school to travel…shockingly. I have a degree and I travel some place new once a year. I don’t believe we aren’t meant to stay in one place. I yearn for new sites and new people. I remember seeing the Mayan Ruins in Cozumel and thinking how have I’ve missed so much of this world because I was set on going through the motions. I remember driving down the streets in the Cayman Islands and seeing children playing and thinking how small my problems seem. For years, I have stared at the ocean, last year, I was in it snorkeling. I’ve looked at surface for so long that I missed the point of it. I remember walking back on the beach after spending hours swimming with fish and turtles and feeling so accomplished that I got to see a whole different form of life I had been missing. I couldn’t believe that it had taken me 23 years to realize how big the world was.

Going to another country didn’t change my religion though. It made me understand the God I serve even more. That the same God who made me and my little world I had been surrounded by, made that weird purple colored fish I just touched underwater and he made the guy who made my margarita too strong. It fascinates me and makes me want to understand Him even more.

My fiancé proposed to me in the dark, in the front of the ship, in the Caribbean Ocean under millions of stars. I wouldn’t trade that moment for all the money in the world. I will never be the same after seeing those stars.

It doesn’t matter where you go, whether it’s Mexico, California, or an hour away, go some place you’ve never been. It’s worth any cost and sacrifice. If you wait to have money or for someone to come with you, you’ll never go. It’s a matter of courage and adventure. The world is cruel and we are so quick to think how bad it is, but the people I met while in Mexico last year, gave me hope. You don’t realize the people you’re missing out on or the places until you just go. One day, you won’t have the time.

Here is a couple of pictures from Mexico and The Cayman Islands!

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Stay tuned to see our honeymoon ones! Next stop; St. Thomas!

XO,

B

The Haunting

So…today in my lovely daily calendar it read, “Do your heart a favor and forgive the one who’s hurt you the most.” Of course, without hesitation, i know exactly who the one was. Flash back six years ago, this 17 year old girl just left her hometown to move 3 hours away to a new school without anyone i knew!! SCORE! I remember being so excited that I finally got to be on my own. So much went on that year. It was one of the hardest, yet, most rewarding year of my life. At TN Tech, I wrote an essay and out of 2,000 people, I won. I won a huge scholarship that I didn’t tell anyone about. This is actually my first time mentioning it, ever. I knew then that I could write. That I could be more convincing on paper than with my tongue. Where my words fell short, my hands didn’t.

I also fell in love that year, for the first time in my life. It was my first love and it was indescribable. So was the heartbreak that followed. I learned that you can’t carry that heartbreak to new relationships if you want them to last. I lost one of my very good friends and almost my brother to a tragic accident. I learned to not take the ones you love for granted and to tell them you loved them every freakin day. I won’t go into details on any of these in this blog post but six years later, I didn’t realize how innocent I was. I thought I knew it all…I didn’t. I know that in six years, I’ll look back at 24 and realize I knew nothing now as well. And thats perfectly okay. If I didn’t move away, I wouldn’t have grown. I also wouldn’t have the chance the forgive the person I’m oh so haunted about. The living can haunt you more than the dead.

But, I realize in all my years growing and and learning, that forgiving is one of the hardest damn things I’ve learned to do since not eating 6 donuts in one sitting. I realized a long time ago that you shouldn’t let something that is long gone, control you. That you forgive not because that person deserves it, but because you deserve peace. I had a irrational dream and I woke up with my heart pounding and fighting mad. A dream I couldn’t control, tried to control me. I thought about throwing my coffee cup because I couldn’t yell at who I wanted to (I realized the cup had cupcakes on it so I decided against it). I wanted to be angry. Angry. Is. Easy. Forgiving isn’t.

Things like this, can control you if you let it. I started thinking about all the things I do wrong and my flaws and how God forgives me everyday. How I have to be more like Jesus and forgive even when I want to throw my coffee cup in a fit of rage.  I’ve learned a lot since those days in my cracker jack size dorm room but one that stuck is that you should forgive yourself. Forgive yourself for not having the foresight to know what now what seems obvious in hindsight. I’ve prayed for peace and patience and it seems like God shows 10 people that have wronged me all in the same day just to make me realize if I want a peaceful life, this is what I have to do. You never have to forget what people have done to you, but if you have peace in your heart, you’ll know you’re on the right path to forgiving them. Just think, nothing annoys someone more than you being silent when they expect you to be enraged.

XO,

B

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