Tag Archives: Redemption

How The Light Gets In

10 Oct

Dear One,

I know you’re tired.

I can see it in the dark half-moons under your eyes, and they way they’ve lost their shine.

I see you when you lie awake at night, wondering how you got to this place.

I know you’ve tried so hard.

To keep your family intact.

To keep your head above the rising waters.

To hold yourself together.

I know a part of you just wants to give up, to slip into the cold waters, letting the chill embrace you and consume you.

Letting the darkness swallow you up.

I know, it feels sometimes like the only option,

Like you can’t keep treading anymore.

You are sick of the forced smile plastered on your face.

You can’t even bear to look at your reflection.

The voices, constantly barrage your senses, void of reason or meaning,

“If only I had….”

“I will never be loved.”

“It’s all my fault.”

Let me tell you something:

Something so true it resonated before the earth was born….

It’s NOT your fault. 

You were meant to be loved.

You deserve it.

You were created for someone to know you fully and love you so completely and totally.

(And I do.)

You deserve to live like you did when you were a child,

With joy as your reality,

Wonder and amazement your friends.

I want you to feel like the world is bright and in front of you

Like anything is possible

To be free and feel like you are beautiful

And to know you can do anything.

This may feel like a distant memory from someone else’s dream,

But let me tell you,

I want to take you back to that place.

Back to the garden of possibility.

Back to the shoreline, to feel the warmth of the sun on your face

To know, everything will be alright.

To know your brokenness isn’t a curse,

But how the light gets in.


So please, I beg you.

Don’t ever stop fighting.

Not in the sense where it feel like the weight of others are on your shoulders,

But in the sense where you know you’ve just got to take one more step,

For you.

For your children.

For the bright future.

For love, again.

One day it will be better.

One day you will see Me

and know I redeemed all of this.

And it will be your story,

The pages you’ll recite to your children’s children,

On how you walked through hell and came out the other side.

It’s my miracle,

Let me write the ending.

What to do When the World Falls Apart

17 Apr

1. Turn off the news and go outside.

Get lost in the woods.

Or even better,  your lover’s arms.


2. Be honest with yourself. If you hate the world right now, say so.

Let the cynicism rise out of you, your words creating a spiritual detox until you’re drained.


3. When you are finished, replace the void by drowning yourself in hope.

Do whatever you can to remember that there is still goodness in humanity. 

Play with a child.

Use your imagination.


4. Anger is necessary, but you must breathe out the toxins before it turn into bitterness.

Only you know that moment. Catch it and then let it go.


5. Do something good for someone. Anonymously.


6. Put your hands in some dirt and feel around. Splash water on your face.

Trace the lines on the back of someone’s hands.


7. Lose yourself in a beautiful song.


8. Scribble a picture or write a poem.


9. Eat your favorite food. Taste every bite, with no guilt.

Think of nothing but the miracle of your taste buds.

The miracle of life.


10. Pour another glass!


11. Let yourself laugh.  Or weep.

Or both at the same time.


12. Ask yourself, “Where is redemption happening right now?” When you find it, rest your eyes there for a while. 


13. Know you are loved.

And tomorrow is another day.






An Open Letter of Apology (To Anyone I Gave Religion Instead of Love)

7 Feb


It’s me, Brooke. I am a gorgeous mess, an abstract soul, a work of art some people can’t decipher.

In the past I was full of fear and insecurity. I hated myself. I remember making a mental list of all the things that would have to change to become “normal.” Some things were in my power to fix, some were out of my control. I was only five or six years old.

I always knew God was real, and that he loved me, but somewhere along the lines I adopted the suffocating belief system that he would love me more if I was better.

If I was holier. If I was normal.

Given the option at eighteen to pick between the dirty, crooked, path I saw myself heading down, and the pristine holiness I thought was attainable, I took the latter. I threw myself into a lifestyle of dedication and purity,  of prayer and sacrifice.

I just wanted to be better.

I just wanted God.

I know during those roller coaster years of losing the parts of me I hated, and reinventing myself to be who I thought I needed to be, I alienated you.

For this I am deeply sorry.

I am sorry for thinking your sin was worse than mine because it came out in your actions instead of just dwelling alone in your head.

I am sorry for judging and giving you a formula prescription instead of really listening to your story.

I am sorry for believing my righteousness was connected to my rightness.

I am sorry for giving you law instead of love.

I  am sorry for blindly following others, for allowing myself to become a robot.

I am sorry for being afraid of truth that dressed a little differently then what I was used to.

I am sorry for making it “us vs. them” and for putting you in the “them” category.

I am sorry for preaching Jesus’ love but living like a Pharisee.

I think about how I used to view the world, and it seems like I don’t even speak the same language.

Before, everything was cause and effect, an eye for an eye, reaping and sowing.

Now, I know there is nothing I can do to make me better.

This is the Good News.

It’s not persuading someone of some historical facts, or convincing someone they are broken and need fixing.

We are all beyond broken.

We are dead.

Then life comes in, and everything changes.

This life is purely gratuitous.

It’s more than we could ever need. We don’t have to polish it up. We don’t have to add anything to it.

We miraculously become complete.

Believing this is how I finally learned to love myself.

So, while I can’t erase those years of living under bondage  and putting chains on you with my words and actions,

By grace, I will now write and speak only of freedom and grace.

Where you go from here is up to you.

Sometimes these things seem too good to be true, but that’s exactly what makes them true.

So please, forgive me.

Please, throw out anything that doesn’t bring life, especially religion.

Embrace Jesus who is love and grace, and be free.




My Heart Is An Open Window

10 Sep

My hands are ready to create something new
My soul is open to all that is true
Come in however You wish please do

Thousands of miles across the world
New colors paint streaks in my head
Red, green, and gold overcome cobwebs
This goes against all I have been told
This story of beauty and joy is possible

I am aching for a new way to say
How this flower is blooming again
I am longing for a new script to this play
And believing all the world is a stage

Come to me truth, run into my arms
Embrace me and whisper the secrets of old
I don’t have the answers anymore

Windows flung wide open I hear streets below
Calling out for justice and peace
Beckoning my pen to come alive with stories dying to be told

My eyes are ready for a new scene
My heart is thirsty for grace found in You
Come in however You wish please do

Distant lands the beautiful
Faces pass I see one, finally one
”Wherever you are, be all there”
I have searched my whole life, now I am done

Welcome contentment this is your home
Now I am happy
Now I am loved
Now I know I am never alone

New scents ride on the wind and I breathe them in
I allow them to imprint tracks on my memory
Here will be forever a part of me

My hands are ready to create something new
My soul is open to all that is true
Come in however you wish please do

Morning’s here again and I throw back the
curtains and let the light shine in
Laughter visited me last night in between awake
and a dream

I have never felt a joy so real
And it’s all because I know You
Only you can create something so new

My eyes have found new scenery
My heart has found grace in you
You have come in and stirred up my world
Shook me through and through

*This poem can be found in my book All Things are Becoming New.

Even If This Is the Zombie Apocalypse

2 Jun

I was talking to someone the other day about grief. I was relating my experience in India, and while I had seen tragedy before, something about it changed me, struck me deeply.

Even as I write this, it seems almost silly if I try to compare.

I have always been at an arm’s length from true tragedy.

Right now a couple I have known for years are grieving over their baby girl. She died in her mother’s arms, only three hours old.

A few weeks ago, a plane crashed killing four young men, while one brave and beautiful girl survived.

When I say I can’t imagine, I really can’t.

How do you see what you see and experience what you experience and still find joy?

How do you hang on to a faith that seems at times to be unraveling like an old knitted sweater? Frail. Chilly. Hardly keeping you warm.

You feel like you should be getting stronger the more you go through, but at times the reality of your situation knocks you off your feet.

Maybe it’s not the death of a loved one, or a loss of innocence.

Maybe you are just tired. Tired from the day-to-day monotony. Tired of never seeing your dreams come to pass.

Tired of feeling like you’re sitting on a bench, like your trapped in this time warp while everyone else is moving forward.

Maybe you’ve been fed a lot of bad news, it surrounds you when your phone rings, when you hear or read the local and national news.

I mean, people are eating each other’s faces off.

How are you supposed to find hope in a society like that?

Small children are being kid-napped and sold as sex slaves.

Good people are going through crushing heart-break.

You wouldn’t be human if you didn’t occasionally have that voice, that awful whisper when you are lying in bed at night, or shocked by news of another awful tragedy,

Where is God?

It’s a question maybe you’re afraid to ask.

A question you think is only for the weak of faith, the skeptics.

It’s a question that probes so deep, when left unanswered can change you, make you into someone you never imagined you would be.

It’s a question that haunts everyone, and I dare say, it must haunt everyone.

If you don’t delve into those words, embrace them at the core of your grief and your questions, their will be a deeper void then even the experience that brought up this question caused.


In India I met a man who spent his life loving people dying of AIDS. The hospital was run by Hindus, and at first they wouldn’t let him in because they knew he was Christian. He came back time and time again, begging them just to let him in to volunteer.

“I’ll do anything,” he said desperately.

“Anything?” They asked.

He spent the next couple years doing terrible tasks, mainly driving out wild pigs from the hospital’s sewer system.

Finally he had their trust. They let him inside the hospital just to be with the people dying.

After I talked to this man and heard his story, and spent the day with the orphaned children of these people he had sat by as they passed away,

I lay on the rooftop of the house I was staying in, another emotionally draining day, overwhelmed.

I looked up at the stars and thought of the suffering I had seen around me. Children locked in mud huts left to starve. Girls selling their bodies night after night.

The question surfaced, deep within, surprising me.

I was listening to my Ipod on shuffle and a song by Death Cab for Cutie came on.

“And it came to then that every plan is a tiny prayer to father time…


It describes waiting in a hospital room. Then the bridge came,

“Love is watching someone die.”

I choked, eyes welling up with tears, at the same time sensing an overwhelming Love around me.


The answer came.


I know by now it is not God who causes tragedy. I have grown to dislike when people throw out the phrase,

“God is in control.”

Ok. So, he controlled these babies dying, these women getting abused?




We’ve done a great job messing things up pretty badly. Whether it’s human’s doing or just the broken world we live in, God is continually doing an even better job redeeming all things. 

That is why I write.

That is why I go on.

That is why I still believe.

And that is why I am not afraid of those three words anymore.

A friend of mine once said,

“What if we just woke up every morning and asked God to show himself in everything?”

And He will.

He is always good. He is always love. No matter what.

And if that’s all I know, I am fine with that.

Even if the prophets and skeptics are right and all goes to hell tomorrow.

Even if for reason’s unknown, I have to walk through unspeakable grief.

Even if this is the beginning of the zombie apocalypse.

Love will always win.

Redemption will always happen.

Because God is Love.

He is redemption.

Know this above all else, and life will always be worth living.

Part B: The Redemption of Jekyll & Hyde

22 Dec

This time of year everything is magnified.

All of the year seems to come to a head.

The good done.

The bad that still exists.

The ugliness of consumerism.

The beautiful idea of gifts given with no strings attached.

(Is that possible? Can a gift really be a gift? Can we, who thrive within a system of reward and punishment, truly understand grace?)

This Christmas, It would be good to acknowledge that I have no love outside of the love of God in me.

My attempts are always rooted in self-gratification.

There are no naturally pure motives.

I cannot give without wanting to be given back to in return, or to have people see my gift and think I am a good person.

I cannot love without desiring that person to make me feel good, to fulfill my emotions, to boost my ego.

I cannot even write without wanting people to read these words and think of me as spiritual and humble.

The truth is, I am selfish to the core.

I look out for number one.

I see myself as apart from others, as capable of creating my own world around myself.

Me, left to my own doing, will destroy myself.

There is no love in me.


It doesn’t stop there……….

The tables have been turned.

I am not left alone to destroy myself.

By an insane grace I cannot even begin to express through my writing,

I have been saved,

from myself.

from the wretched and lonely idea I have to make it on my own.

from the disgusting belief disguised as religious piety that I can somehow conjure up some kind of love, some kind of godliness.

And that, that is my new reality.

At times I feel split, a regular Jekyll and Hyde.

Image by Jean-Thomas Louvier

How could I taste such Pure Love one moment and such bitter humanness the next?

How could a vessel so filthy be filled with a Spirit so pure?

I know myself, I know my motives, I know my deep dark hidden thoughts.

(But they are known greater by Someone greater.)

This christmas, it would do me good to remember there is nothing good in me apart from Christ,

but I am not apart from Him.

That’s where the story continues.

It doesn’t stop in my own pain, my own grossness.

It isn’t the truth because maybe you are impressed I am being this self-deprecating, this vulnerable.

(Even that can be another boost to my ego. Ewww.)

It doesn’t end at a realization of my own poverty.

I can’t just believe God to be everything and me nothing, it can’t end there.

Or I will stay in the gutter.

I’ll never be the person God made me to be.

I’ll never be Jesus to the world.

You see, the end of the story matters just as much as the beginning.

Part A:

I once was lost.

I once was blind.

Part B:

But now I am found.

But now I see.

This is the grand paradox, the tension we all live within.

We come from dust and return to dust.

We are poor, filthy, wretched beings,

and somehow

We are light,

We are glorious eternal creatures.

We are unstoppable, indescribable beauty.


He came.

He walked.

He loved.

He died.

He lives in us.

So we could realize our nothingness in ourselves and our everythingness in Him.

This is it.

This is my story.

This is my song.

This is Christmas.

Some Sort of Belonging

21 Jul

It all begins with a newborn’s first cry. I guess if you are going to begin somewhere, there is not much further back you can go.

She enters the world, not understanding why this warm space she’s been taking up is fading away. The room she enters is cold, sterile, unfriendly.

I wanna go back! She yells, the moment her lungs are clear.

Which way is home?

In the arms of her mother, she senses relief. Warmth. Familiarity. This is where I belong.

(Fast forward 10 years.)

Screams of another kind fill her head.

You are strange.
You will never be like her.
You will never be good enough
Your toes are funny shaped
Your knees are knobby
You have that weird bump on your nose
Your eyelashes are too short.
You get nervous when you try to speak.

Panicking, frantically, she asks whoever made her to allow her to grow into someone beautiful, someone normal, someone wanted.

She decides to run away, though it’s not like the books she reads where the orphan gets beaten with a broom handle by her evil aunt. She doesn’t really have a good excuse, she knows her parents love her, at least most of the time. She almost wishes she had a good reason to leave, but something else beyond logic, beyond what she’s read about, beyond feeling unworthy drives her.

She runs into the forest, as fast as she can, catching herself from nearly tripping over logs with her long legs, hands in front of face avoiding jagged branch right at eye height.

She sees a clearing and falls, exhausted.

Sitting in the still woods, surrounded by live things taller and stronger then her, trees that have stayed planted, that know who they are, who pushed their way through the ground towards the sunlight, who know stand proudly.

I am lost,

She whispers, even though she can easily find her way back.

(Skip ahead another 10 years.)

She stands, finally grown into herself, among a crowd of peers. She’s moved four times in the past two years. She’s opened her heart, her bed and her mind, only to find herself left aching and alone. She’s tried to connect, to define herself within a context of a man’s words, a group of friend, a good education.

Yet she feels like a branch that has been snapped off the tree it came from.

Which way is home?

At the point of losing it all, she finds herself in another forest, tall buildings planted around her, the offices of successful, “happy”  people. Buildings that were planned, wanted, designed to be aesthetically pleasing. She runs, past throngs of people, people who she perceive know exactly who they are and where their place in the world is.

She runs, oblivious to shouts and stares around her. She runs till her legs give out and she finds herself on the pavement, knobby knee skinned, red dripping out, and then comes the rush of tears and she feels like she’s 9 or maybe 3 and she wants nothing more then for her mother or a man with a kind face and genuine heart, to simply put their hand on her back somehow let their touch bleed through into her aching heart.

I am lost.

She whispers, even though she is kneeling outside the park she frequently walks in.

Just then,  she senses relief. A feeling of some sort of…. Belonging.

Warmth. Familiarity.

An air too fresh to come out of the city.

Something ancient, something alive, stirring the green leaves of a tree standing in front of her.

Somehow she knows there is a love that won’t leave, that won’t find a single fault in her,

that might even be her home.

Why Write?

20 Jun


Yesterday I wrote a guest post for my friend Jeff Goins, on  why writers need to enter into the stories they tell. Jeff  is an excellent communicator and offers tons of great advice on art, creativity, blogging and making a difference in the world. I recommend his blog to everyone interested in writing. You need to check out his Writers Manifesto. The Writers Manifesto is a call for all writers to abandon the notion of fame and glory and write simply because they must. It captures the heart and soul of writing in a punchy simple declaration that is sure to leave you challenged, inspired and ready to create. It reminded me why I bother to write in the first place: not in hope of fame, but because I believe the act of writing itself is sacred. I was reminded that I am not alone in this.

This is something I have been pondering a lot lately.

Especially since I’ve found myself at a place in life where I am literally doing nothing but freelance writing.

Last night someone asked me what that meant. I replied, “It’s just a nice way of saying I am a starving artist!”

This weekend I was at a party and this older gentleman asked me what I do. I told him I was a writer and he gave me this smile and look that seemed to say, “Awww how cute.” He then looked at me all serious and grandfatherly and asked, “Is that something you want to do with the rest of your life?”

I smiled at him and said confidently,”Yes sir, it’s the only thing I could ever see myself doing with my life.”

Sometimes, I still  hear the voices in my mind that say, “This is stupid, you can’t ever make a ‘career’ out of this, who are you kidding? Your spelling and grammar is a mess, you’ve never even been to college. You know nothing. Go do something useful.”

But those voices are death.

I am slowly getting to the point where I really don’t care if I am “good” at writing or not.

It’s like asking if I am good at breathing.

I need to write. Even if no one reads these words but me, ( and my dad and boyfriend, two guaranteed fans no matter what.)

I need to partake in this act of creating. The act of words appearing out of thin air. Squeezing out thoughts and ideas into being. Entering into someone’s story and telling it.

I can’t live without this.

I read in Shauna Niquest’s book Bittersweet yesterday, (I swear that woman is my soul-twin. Is that creepy? Probably.)

We stay in our chairs (writing) and fight the urge to fold laundry, desperate for something to control, something orderly and safe instead of the wild, untamed world of our own secret feelings and imagination. And we do it because it makes us feel aware and alive and created for a purpose more then anything else in our lives.


I write because it makes me feel aware and alive and created for a purpose more then anything else in my life.

I can’t not write.

And the act of writing itself is sacred.

Here is a quote from the guest post. This is something I developed when I was in India as sort of my “Statement of Belief” about why I write:

Storytelling is much more then an ancient art around a campfire, or a group of kids in a circle at the library.

It is much more then building your platform as a writer or fame and glory. It is eternally important .

The daring act of speaking truth or putting it on paper is courageous. It is lighting a candle where there was only darkness before. In doing this, we bring a little bit of heaven to earth.

I must continue day by day to feebly attempt to express the inexpressible.

I must put words to these things.


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