Archives for haleybrimmer

In Her Shoes

As we are rapidly approaching Bridgehaven’s In Her Shoes 5k Run/Walk, on Saturday, September 30th, I am reflecting on the whole idea behind the title of this walk. Our clients’ faces, stories, and circumstances come to my mind, and I am incredibly humbled by what it means to really walk in her shoes.

When I think about the start of the route we will be traveling on, I can see in my mind on our clients who so bravely walk through our doors every day to start the beginning of their journey. Sometimes, this looks and seems paralyzing. There is no way to even think about taking another step because of the deep-seated fear and anxiety that pulses through someone’s body with even the thought of a potential pregnancy. Sometimes, it feels exciting and joyful to walk through those doors to hear the news of a long-awaited dream and desire that has been placed on their hearts coming true. Sometimes, it feels like this was the farthest thing from their mind, but here they are, at this place, at the start of their journey, and they are seeking someone to come alongside them to help empower and give them hope.
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When I Stopped Trying To

Over the past month, I have had about five different people, in varying conversations and circumstances, share with me very similar messages. These messages all started out and sounded a little bit like this, “When I stopped trying to…”

When the first person shared this message, I was drawn even deeper into the conversation because this concept was very interesting to me. When the second and third person started to share this same message with me, I was like, “Okay, maybe I should start listening even more intently and become aware of the ways in which I need to work on this more in my life.” But then when the fourth and fifth people had spoken about this same concept, I was like, “Alright, God. Show and guide me to those deep places in my heart and soul. I need to work on these things even when it might be really tough and yucky to examine under a microscope.”
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About a week ago, I was in line for a coffee at the grocery store. After I ordered and was getting ready to pay for my drink, there was a woman who had just ordered her drink before me and was still standing in line. She had some extra change in her hand from buying her own coffee, and then she looked at me and said to the barista, “Here, put this change towards her drink”. That started the beginning of my permanent smile for a good half hour afterwards. I thanked her so much for her incredible generosity. As we stood there talking for a few more minutes waiting for our drinks, she shared with me the reason she loves being able to do that for people. When she and her family were going through a significant loss in her family and it was the day of the funeral, there was someone who paid for all of her family’s coffee drinks when she was waiting in line. She was so moved by that experience, she now pays for others drinks when she is able, in honor of that person, and the family member she lost.

After we departed, I just kept thanking and praising God for the way He connects people, the generous spirit He has filled inside of that woman, and how He allowed both of us to be able to share in one another’s stories. I also thanked Him for the way He always provides, even in ways we least expect it sometimes.
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Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. And let perseverance be perfect, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. –James 1: 2-4

Have you, or someone you love, been experiencing sadness, disappointment, anger, frustration, fear, loss, or heartache, recently? For me, I can clearly point out to you the areas of my life that these have been evident for me lately, and unfortunately, some of those I love, have been going through every single one of these trials listed, as well. Broken relationships, loss of a loved one, fear of what steps to take next, or the heartbreaking news that just feels too much to bear. These are real trials. They come with real emotion. And they require real effort to keep inching forward.
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Suffering into Hope

A little over a month ago, I was one of the five facilitation team members on our Rachel’s Vineyard retreat who was blessed to be able to witness how God can transform our deep suffering and pain into hope. Throughout three short days, we had four men and women who entered into the retreat opportunity full of heartache, shame, pain, and suffering they had been carrying around for many years from their past abortion experiences. During the weekend, they invested themselves fully in relying on Christ to guide them through each step of the intentional and purposeful healing process based on scripture. God has promised, “I will never leave you or forsake you…” (Heb. 3:15) — He will never allow us to go through our pain alone.

On the third day of the retreat, there is a very special time and moment that happens for the retreat participants through the honoring of the children they lost through abortion. It is a time and space in which the light comes back into their lives, the darkness is banished away, and the hope they never thought possible to get back, is instilled into their hearts again.
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Let the Healing Begin

“The environment was completely free of condemnation and judgment…I have never felt such acceptance, understanding and grace. It was incredibly powerful to just be accepted and, for once, be unashamed of who I am.”

“I was nervous and thought of many excuses not to face my fear. I followed God’s prompting to be open to this experience and he showed me unmeasurable faith and love.”

There is so much happening in the world around us right now. There are a lot of opinions, perspectives, and actions being taken. Regardless of what thoughts and opinions you have, I think we can all agree no one should have to suffer, or feel alone on their various healing journeys. However, there are still many, many, many people who do feel this way, especially when there are numerous triggers around them. They may not know what to think or feel, and may even become re-traumatized by hurtful things they see or hear. Both of the quotes you read above are from some very brave and courageous previous Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat participants. They both decided it was time for them to not suffer alone any longer and wanted to be in a space that allowed them to heal from their past abortion experiences.
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blog-picWait: A Journey to Discovering the Heart of God

“Desperately, helplessly, longingly, I cried;
quietly, patiently, lovingly, God replied.
I pled and I wept for a clue to my fate…
and the Master so gently said, ‘Wait’.

‘Wait? You say wait?’ my indignant reply.
‘Lord, I need answers, I need to know why!’
‘Is Your hand shortened? Or have You not heard?
By faith I have asked, and I’m claiming Your Word.
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Humbling Ourselves


“Humility looks a whole lot like needing the mercy of God” Heather Renshaw

Humility is one of my more desired, sought after, yearned for traits. My mind constantly returns to the idea of this. I have a longing to live out this immensely important virtue, but knowing that I fall short; a lot, in fact. Recent Sunday readings at church, and conversations I have been having with people, has encouraged me to dive a little deeper into this idea of humility. And let me tell you, it was a lot bigger of an idea than I had anticipated.

I know, in my humanness, I am not alone in this yearning for humility, nor of the awareness of constantly falling short of it. Let’s face it, we are all sinners and we will always fall short of living out every good virtue perfectly. I mean, we like to be right. We like to feel we are important to others. We like praise and honor. We like the approval of others. Wow, as I’m writing this out, it hits me–I have been trying to live out about half of these in the last 2 hours. See, this idea of humility is hard, challenging, and, again, a lot bigger of an idea than I had anticipated.

In her article, Choking Down Some Humble Pie, Heather Renshaw talks about what humility looks like to her and what it means, and doesn’t mean, when you are praying for humility.

“It’s important to understand that humility and humiliation aren’t the same things. Humility is a desirable virtue that predisposes me to holiness. Praying for humility isn’t asking God to embarrass or dismiss me. Praying for humility is seeking to know the truth of who I am, the truth of Who God is, and the grace to accept these truths. Specifically: I am not God. I need God. I need to be saved. Everything I have, and everything I am comes from God. He alone is the Source.”

I love the way she simplifies this overwhelming idea of humility in which I was finding difficult to grasp. “Praying for humility is seeking to know the truth of who I am, the truth of Who God is, and the grace to accept these truths…” Wow. What a prayer, right? This is something I want to try and pray every day because I know how in need of this that I am. I hope you can join me in these prayers as well.

The Lord is a role model many, many, many times throughout the Bible, exemplifying humility itself. He wants us to seek, find, and live out humility every day. A couple examples include:

“My child, conduct your affairs with humility, and you will be loved more than a giver of gifts. Humble yourself the more, the greater you are, and you will find favor with God” Sirach 3:17-18 NAB

“…For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted” Luke 14:11 NAB

So what are some ways you can start practicing humility in ways you never have before? What are some of those barriers or roadblocks that hold you back from living out humility to the fullest? What can your prayers look like today that will bring you into deeper desires for humbling yourself before the Lord and here on earth?

“When I grow in humility, I can recognize the truth: that I am a uniquely loved and unrepeatable child of the Most High God with gifts and talents meant to glorify Him. He alone provides everything I need.” Heather Renshaw

Haley BrimmerHaley Brimmer, Director of Client Advocacy

Director of Client Advocacy

Transformation and Hope

Never. Lose. Hope.
Transformation and hope. These two words encompass the immense and positive impact the Rachel’s Vineyard retreat had on all of those who took part in this healing opportunity Bridgehaven offered this past weekend. The participants came with different backgrounds, different ages, and different stories, but they all came with an open heart and mind which allowed the Holy Spirit to work in each of them in such an incredible way.

At the beginning of their journeys, they were filled with fear, anxiety, guilt, shame, anger, denial, and the inability to forgive themselves in regards to their past pregnancy decisions. Each of them came to a point in their lives where they were able to courageously reach out and accept an opportunity which could bring about the start of their journey to healing.

This journey to healing is never a completely smooth and easy one, no matter what you may need healing for. The same goes for this retreat experience. There are parts of the retreat weekend that may feel too much to bear; that maybe it would just be easier to give up and run from everything that is painful. But then something miraculous occurs…
There is unmistakable breakthrough.
There are glimpses of understanding.
There is profound joy.
There is abundant relief.
There is hope, when it seemed as though all hope was lost, for immeasurable amounts of time.
There are overwhelming feelings, which cannot be fully expressed in words, but there is knowledge that whatever these feelings may be, they are good and true.

These things are just mere glimpses of the goodness I was blessed to witness in each of the participants this weekend. The brokenness, which they felt upon entering the weekend, was so evidently transformed. You could see the broken pieces of themselves being sculpted back together again to rebuild a strong foundation in who God has created them to be. They left the weekend starting to regain their genuine smiles, knowing they are forgiven by God, and with the hope that they could begin to forgive themselves. They experienced freedom from those emotions which keep them stuck in thinking they are unworthy, or undeserving, and regained the beautiful gift of hope.

I wanted to leave you with the lyrics to the song titled Mended by Matthew West because I feel it speaks so clearly about how God works through the Rachel’s Vineyard retreat. Please continue lifting up in prayer those who experienced this past weekend in such a powerful way, and for those who may be struggling with a past abortion decision, that they can courageously reach out to find the help they need.

How many times can one heart break?
It was never supposed to be this way
Look in the mirror, but you find someone you never thought you’d be…
Oh, but I can still recognize
The one I love in your tear stained eyes
I know you might not see him now, so lift your eyes to me…

When you see broken beyond repair
I see healing beyond belief
When you see too far gone
I see one step away from home…
When you see nothing but damaged goods
I see something good in the making
I’m not finished yet
When you see wounded, I see mended…

You see your worst mistake
But I see the price I paid
There’s nothing you could ever do, to lose what grace has won…
So hold on, it’s not the end
No, this is where love’s work begins
I’m making all things new
And I will make a miracle of you…

When you see broken beyond repair
I see healing beyond belief
When you see too far gone
I see one step away from home…
When you see nothing but damaged goods
I see something good in the making
I’m not finished yet
When you see wounded, I see mended…

I see my child, my beloved
The new creation you’re becoming
You see the scars from when you fell
But I see the stories they will tell…
You see worthless, I see priceless
You see pain, but I see a purpose
You see unworthy, undeserving
But I see you through eyes of mercy…

When you see broken beyond repair
I see healing beyond belief
You’re not too far gone
You’re one step away from home…
When you see nothing but damaged goods
I see something good in the making
I’m not finished yet, no
When you see wounded, I see mended…

Haley BrimmerHaley Brimmer, Director of Client Advocacy

Director of Client Advocacy

If We’re Honest…

honestyThe song, If We’re Honest, by Francesca Battistelli has recently popped up in various conversations I have been having with others. The lyrics have such a powerful message in them, yet it can be difficult to fully grasp and embrace. The message of vulnerability comes with honesty. Honesty can be such a beautiful and wonderful thing when coming from a pure heart, but fear of vulnerability can paralyze healing and growth in very significant ways.

What are some of the reasons we aren’t honest with ourselves? Does fear become so crippling that it keeps us from moving forward? Does life pass us by in a rush causing us not to discern what may be really going on? Does the possibility of change threaten the dynamics of a relationship, or does it have the potential to run the risk of offending others?

With Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat, a post-abortion healing weekend hosted by Bridgehaven, occurring in less than a month, this song causes me to reflect on the strength and courage it takes for someone to be vulnerable and honest when there is an abortion in their past. Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat is designed to help men and women make the connection between present emotional stress to the past abortion; to rectify wounds and stress through a guided healing. Perhaps you have buried that decision and those feelings so deep that it’s been too painful to become aware of, or you have sought healing in some ways, but are still experiencing some symptoms.

While your experience after abortion is unique to you, there are common signs that abortion has caused emotional and mental stress. You may not experience all of these symptoms, and they may not appear all together. Sometimes people experience post-abortion stress immediately after abortion. However, other times symptoms do not surface for days, weeks, months, or even years following the procedure. Some symptoms1 of post abortion stress can include:

  • Guilt
  • Self-destructive behaviors such as eating disorders, alcohol and/or substance abuse, abusive relationships, promiscuity
  • Re-experiencing events related to the abortion such as memories or nightmares
  • Anxiety that leads to headaches, dizziness, pounding heart, abdominal cramps, muscle tightness, difficulty sleeping (It is important to pay attention to what your body and emotions may be trying to tell you)
  • Psychological numbing – your unconscious vows never to let anything hurt this badly again hampers your ability to enjoy an emotional, intimate relationship
  • Depression, which reveals itself through deep sadness, sudden and uncontrollable crying, poor self-concept, sleep and appetite disturbances, loss of normal sources of pleasure, even thoughts of suicide
  • Preoccupation with becoming pregnant again, an unconscious hope of replacing the child you lost
  • Anxiety over fertility and childbearing issues, fearing that God will punish you by not letting you bear children
  • Trouble in bonding with your other children, either by being overprotective or feeling detached from them
  • Anniversary reactions such as an increase in symptoms around the time of the anniversary of the abortion, the due date of the child, or both
  • If we’re honest, some of these symptoms, you may never experience. If we’re honest, some of these symptoms, you may experience on a weekly, or daily basis. If we’re honest, there may be symptoms listed that you are experiencing and this could be the first time making a connection with what has been going on that has never made much sense to you.

    As some of the lyrics state in the song, If We’re Honest, “…mercy’s waiting on the other side, If we’re honest,…It would change our lives, It would set us free, It’s what we need to be…”
    I understand how difficult this connection can be, but please know how worthy you are and deserving of receiving healing you may be in need of. You are so valuable, cherished, and loved. There is so much hope waiting for you, beyond your imagination. Trust and have faith in such a beautiful truth.

    1Healing the Hurt, Teri K. Reisser, M.S., M.F.T and Paul C. Reisser, M.D., Focus on the Family publication.

    Haley BrimmerHaley Brimmer, Director of Client Advocacy

    Director of Client Advocacy