Sunday, June 26, 2016

What's Stopping You?

"Welcome to the (graduate school name) Counselor Education Program."-Email

"Wait, what?...WOW!"-Me *Proceeds to read email four more times...

"I GOT IN BABY!!!!!!!!" -My Text To My Husband

"Funny part is, you could have gotten in anywhere. And I knew that you could. lol. Not sure why you doubted yourself." -Text From Husband

May of 2016,  I had an overwhelming feeling to apply to school immediately. So I hopped on my computer, looked at deadlines from two different schools that I was interested in and the deadline for my first school of choice was June 1, 2016. I had TWO weeks to get my application completed, send transcripts, send GRE scores, get 3 recommendation letters, and write a personal essay.

As I began to apply to my school of choice, I realized I already had an UNFINISHED application with the school dating back to May of 2013. Three years ago, I attempted to apply to graduate school, BUT DID NOT FINISH the application. "Why?" you may ask. Because I doubted myself and fear of the unknown (what will school be like being married, working a full-time job, and knowing my GRE scores wasn't that good) hindered me from moving forward.

APPLICATION COMPLETED, May 31, 2016 at 5:57 PM. At this point, I had charged all fees to my credit cards to apply to school: the $45 fee to submit my application to the school, the $27 to send my GRE scores, and the $16 to send my transcript from undergraduate school. See, money was an issue. It wasn't CONVENIENT at the time to take that amount of money out of our bank account.

The three amazing people I asked to write my recommendation letters that I look up to, so willingly completed the recommendations and sent them in before the deadline. My dear friend who previously helped me update my resume, so willingly read over my personal essay. It was like everyone was in my corner, truly supporting my decision to go back to school in a strict timeframe.

Sidebar: During the two weeks I was applying to school, I never told my husband or mother. Why? Because those two very supportive people have heard me say for YEARS that I was going to go back to school. I was so tired of TALKING, that I was ready to PROVE what I really wanted out of life.

Fast forward to June 17, 2016 the day I interviewed for the counseling program at my school of choice. I wore business-casual attire that I was comfortable in, and that best represented myself. I stepped out of my car with my black wedges on, and said, "Okay, Jesus. Lets do this!" I wasn't nervous at all. See at this point, God wanted me to be there. My GRE scores didn't match the school's requirement and the school couldn't locate my official GRE scores that were sent on May 20, 2016. GOD'S MERCY AND FAVOR!

So, literally three days before my 26th birthday, I received an email stating I've been accepted into graduate school to begin a journey in an area that I'm extremely passionate about, counseling.

(The selfie I took after I interviewed for grad school! GOD IS SO FAITHFUL!!)

WHAT'S STOPING YOU FROM FULFILLING THE THINGS GOD HAS PLACED ON YOUR HEART? Do you have a desire to relocate, travel, start your own business, or go back to school? What's stopping you?

God isn't the author of fear. If you are considering doing a good thing, but KEEP talking yourself out of it, that isn't of God. I had convinced myself for five years that my GRE scores weren't good enough, and I was going to wait until I had the money to take the test over again. Well, I used that same score from five years ago and was accepted into school. Satan is the author of fear. He places in you that you aren't perfect or capable of fulfilling the desires that are in your heart. HE IS A LIAR! Don't let satan win in your life by postponing your dreams. THERE IS A YES WAITING FOR YOU!

2 Timothy 1:7 "For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind." (NIV)

As of today, I don't know how I'm paying for graduate school. Just being honest. God is Alpha and Omega, knowing the beginning and the end. I TRUST GOD. I pray that the fear of how you will pay for that desire in your heart, doesn't trump your obedience to the Lord. Most likely, the thing you are believing God for is BIGGER THAN YOUR BANK ACCOUNT ANYWAYS! THERE IS PROVISION WAITING FOR YOU!

Philippians 4:19 "And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus." (NLT)

My Pastor said, "Your faith is in something at all times." Most times our faith is on the negative. How something won't work. How you can't do it. How the timing isn't "right." So I'm encouraging you to be intentional with your faith. Put your faith on how well it will work, how you can do "it," and that the right time is NOW! You're believing in something anyways, might as well believe the good! GOD TAKES CARE OF AND IS PLEASED WITH THOSE WHO HAVE CRAZY FAITH!

Hebrews 11:6 "And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him." 

Don't let fear, finances, or your wavering faith keep you from the promises of God. You have a YES waiting for you on the other side of your obedience! Let your children, bills, or even death in the family be the reason for doing what God has told you instead of those things being the reason you haven't gone after every goal in your life. I'm a wife, mother, full-time employee, and have additional obstacles...BUT GOD STILL HAS A PLAN TO COMPLETE THE WORK HE STARTED IN ME AND HE HAS EQUIPPED ME WITH EVERYTHING I NEED! 
I'm moving forward, and I pray you do the same. 
 Matthew 6:25-34


Brittany Bradley

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Our Story: Young & Married

June 11, 2016 - Our 5th wedding anniversary! 

For those of you who do not know JB and I, we grew up in the same town. We didn't know each other until high school and started dating April 9, 2006 (the day after JB's senior prom)! We attended the same college, and on January 1, 2011 (last semester of undergraduate school) JB took me to the YMCA field in our hometown and proposed with a beautiful heart shaped diamond ring. We decided that night after our engagement party, we would get married in just 5 short months. We got our degrees in May of 2011 and were married on June 11, 2011. I was 20 and JB was 23. All I knew was that I loved him, and I wanted my wedding to be on the beach. We had internships to go back to after our beautiful wedding in Orange Beach, AL, and our honeymoon in the Bahamas. Internships, ya'll. Summer internships at that. We had all these dreams and plans of moving to Atlanta, GA, but didn't have jobs or potential jobs, and our lease was ending at our apartment complex. I think we were jobless for two weeks before we both landed secure jobs. From years 1-4 of marriage, we went through many transitions. We have gone from a studio apartment, to a one bedroom apartment, to a townhouse that we currently own. We have gone from two functioning cars, to both of them acting stupid-thousands of dollars spent on repairs, having to get rid of one car, buy a new car, just to have the other car we have not work. Financially, we have seen overflow and favor, to dry and weary, to we doing alright. And then the Lord decided to BLESS us after 3.5 yrs of marriage with a beautiful baby girl; Makenna Jo!

(Makenna Jo with her favorite stuffed animal at daycare. She's 17 months old!)

What I failed to mention in our story above is how we almost quit on each other during year 2 of marriage and that I suffered with depression during that time. And to be perfectly honest, physical intimacy was non-existent and our emotional and spiritual connections suffered. I'm not sure that you could call this thing we were doing in life together, marriage. And lets not talk about credit card debt, student loans, different bank accounts and the "my money" issues we had!

I had gotten so disgusted being married that I hated to even look at my husband. My hair was falling out (seriously, alopecia ya'll),  and I was having anxiety attacks probably twice a day at one point. Then one day, I just left.  I met two friends of mine at the beach to "get away." Well that didn't work so well because I couldn't mask the pain I was feeling. At this point in my life, even my family members were noticing how unhappy I was.

My mom sat me down and talked with me like any good mother would, and in the middle of our conversation and me crying, I heard God say, "I didn't tell you to leave your marriage."- God
"Wait, what? I'm miserable, clearly he's not the person for me." -Me
"No Brittany, get your stuff and go to your husband. I did not tell you to leave your marriage. Go home." -God

Ya'll, I could have punched Jesus at that moment. I was livid that God wanted me to be miserable. Little did I know, I was fighting the one thing in my life that was solid; our COVENANT I made between God and my husband. I was fighting a PROMISE that everything would be alright, and I was fighting AGAINST the very thing I should have been fighting FOR.

We were comfortable during year 4 of marriage with good jobs,  a nice home, an amazing baby, amazing support, then the Lord decided to make us uncomfortable as he began to share his will for us. Our good isn't good enough for the Lord. God is challenging us in our finances, our prayer life together, our health, businesses, and simply moving forward in any area of our lives that we are stagnant. So cheers to this new phase we have entered into during our 5th year of marriage. The year of pursuing EVERY thought the Lord places on our heart. Not asking any questions, or delaying our obedience as we both pursue the will of God for our lives individually and as a team! 

I would like to share 5 life changing lessons I have learned from being married 5 years.

1) DEAL WITH YOU! I had some issues that I assumed were my husband's fault. The Lord had to show me that I was unhappy, because I was choosing to be unhappy. God showed me that my husband wasn't responsible for my unhappiness. You must deal with YOUR demons (ex. anger, self-consciousness, depression, addiction, father and purity issues)...or they will show up in your marriage and it usually manifest in unrealistic expectations you place on your spouse. Your spouse is not responsible for your insecurities! FIGHT YOUR DEMONS, OR YOUR DEMONS WILL FIGHT AND DESTROY YOUR MARRIAGE.

2) GOD RESTORES. News Flash: Trouble and pain does NOT last always! Yep, ya'll may not like each other right now, and I know all too well what that feels and looks like BUT the storm will calm, the winds will become a breeze, and the rain will eventually cease. If you close your eyes in the middle of the storm and quit, you will never see the rainbow and the promises of God. STAY THE COURSE AND WAIT FOR RESTORATION.

3) IT'S NEVER ABOUT "WHAT" YOU ARE GOING THROUGH, BUT HOW YOU GO THROUGH YOUR TOUGH TIMES. You can either be nice, or mean. You can choose to be hateful, or helpful. You can choose to pray and intercede for your spouse, or bash and disrespect them. You can choose to communicate, or continue to make assumptions about each other. I'm going to leave you with this: You are one in your marriage, so what you do to your spouse, you are doing to yourself. You are as good to yourself as you treat your spouse. Do good to each other no matter what ya'll are going through.

4) STOP TRYING TO FIX YOUR MATE. I remember being so mad at JB one time and the Lord told me not to say anything to him and to pray. I felt like I needed to tell JB about himself, but I didn't. I casted every care I had about the situation on God and was very open with God how it hurt me what JB had done/said. I kid ya'll not, that night JB came into the room and apologized for EVERY detail of my prayer that I said to God. Ya'll can not tell me that wasn't Jesus. God can do more with a truly repentant heart, than you can with your complaining. LET GOD CHANGE YOUR SPOUSE. PRAY FOR THEM.

5) GOD'S PLAN THROUGH YOUR MARRIAGE IS TO MAKE YOU BETTER. This is not about your spouse. This is about you; your mouth, your actions, and how you handle disappointments, and your character development. Cheers to growing. Pass the many test of marriage, so that you become a better person! Every issue is working for YOUR good! (Romans 8:28)

BONUS: NEVER IDOLIZE OTHERS' MARRIAGES. This fairytale life between a man and woman who are married, is non-existent. Marriage has both its highs and lows, and the moment you begin to compare your marriage to someone else's marriage, you will become miserable. You will begin to think only you two have certain issues. No, every marriage have their issues. PEOPLE JUST DON'T POST THEIR ISSUES! They post fun, family, and vacation pictures...which they are suppose to do. Just because JB and I don't post an argument on social media, doesn't mean we don't have them. Fix your eyes back on your marriage and make it what you want it to be.

(Hiking with the hubby two weekends ago!)

Happy Anniversary Baby! I truly appreciate you never leaving my side as we went through so many transitions being young and married. Sometimes you were silent, but ALWAYS there. Thank you! And now, cheers to being intentional with quality time, tackling challenges together, going on adventures, and pressing towards every promise God has for our marriage in year 5!

I love you forever!

Mrs. Bradley 

Sunday, June 5, 2016

The Turtle: Your Assignment From God

Today while walking at a park near a busy highway, I saw a man slow his truck down, turn around in the median, then get out of his truck. I observed him looking at the ground.  I soon found out he was watching a turtle cross the street. The man got something off the back of his truck to help assist the turtle cross the road. Well, the man only got the turtle to the median then drove off. About 30 minutes later, cars were slowing down and I noticed a couple get out of their car and was looking at the turtle who was trying to cross the street again in the direction of the pond at the park. At this point the turtle was in the middle of the street and cars were swiftly passing the turtle on both sides. Cars continued to slow down as the couple got the turtle across the street to the grass by the pond. The turtle went into the pond as the couple walked back to their car.

An "AHA" moment happened as I reflected on this interaction between the turtle and the people who assisted the turtle. Three things resonated in my heart:

1) MOVE. We have a destiny to get to and many assignments to fulfill. Sitting still looking at how "dangerous" or "impossible" it will be to get where you need to go will never get you to the places God has planned for you. MOVING was key to the turtle making it to its' destination.

2) GOD PROVIDES PROVISION. Nope, don't look for a handout. What I'm sharing here is that when others see the manifestation of what God called you to do, the right people or things will enter your life to help you fulfill the ultimate goal. Also note, the provisions will be unexpected, but there when you truly need them. The turtle in this case had help twice. The first person only had enough resources to get the turtle to a certain point. It took another "ram in the bush" to help get the turtle to where he actually needed to be. **Sidebar: Don't get mad when who you expected to "help" you doesn't come all the way through for you. God will send who and what you need with the right resources to fulfill the ultimate goal.**

3) GOD'S PROTECTION IS REAL. It's going to cost you something to get out there and do what God has called you to do. Fear will seem real and debilitating. Hard times will come. And failure will seem more real at times than God's promises; making you doubt if you heard God right. Well, let me tell you. God is blocking people, places, things, and demons from hindering you from fulfilling the calling he has on your life. Continue to move forward knowing God is protecting and fighting for you.

Consider This: The Lord is rooting for you! The Lord has placed a desire in your heart knowing that he has it all figured out and knowing that you are capable of getting the task done. (Jeremiah 29:11) Let the Lord use you. Whatever has been tugging at your heart, do it and don't look back! When you move in the direction God has called you to, he will provide provision and protection and ultimately God will get the glory and your life will be forever changed!

I stepped out on faith two weeks ago and did something God placed on my heart to do for years, and I can't wait to share it with you all later! My heart is bursting with excitement as I anticipate his protection and provision as I fulfill the calling he has on my life. I'm moving and I'm rooting for you as you take a step to move in the direction God has called you!


Brittany Bradley

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