365 Because of 1

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ONE YEAR, people. One year of this miracle is upon us.

Jason’s heart attack was February 19, 2016, and we decided the best way to celebrate was to go back to the place where we all gathered those fateful days. This time, to say THANK YOU. And also, this time Jason will be AWAKE.

So we’ll be gathering on the lower courtyard between the two towers of PIH Hospital on Sunday, February 19, at 2pm, where so many meals and prayers were shared that week, to share again. First with each other via hugs and stories and food (potluck style). And then with the hospital as we put together a love gift for our amazing nurses.

If you’re local, it’s open invitation. An RSVP here would be great, but not required. Please bring these things:
– food to share (potluck style)
– your stories/memories
– your praises
– $ to go towards nurses’ thank-you gift (suggested donation: $10)

Another way to say THANK YOU, especially for those that are not local, is to donate to the Hospital directly – PIH is a non-profit hospital, which still blows my mind. We asked them to set up a donation page dedicated to the Critical Care Unit and would be honored if you’d consider giving. 

Because what they do every day is why we’re coming up on 365 extra days.


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Be Mine

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Be mine. To have and to hold. To love and to cherish.

Be mine. Six little letters that speak a books’ worth of life and love.

I mean, we were only breaths away from this Valentine’s Day being a graveside visit. Instead, I got to throw down six dollars (SIX!) on a thin piece of cardboard that captures my heart in six letters.

BE. Because it’s not a given –  it is a gift.

And MINE. Holy wow, that word. Also not a given. Also a gift, one we get to choose every single day – to have a “mine”, and to be one.

Happy Valentine’s Day, friends. May you celebrate both the BE-ing and the MINE-ing in your world today.

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2017: Let there be LIGHT

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This is my anthem for 2017. My fight song. Let there be LIGHT. I’m really struck by the word let. Because I wonder how often I just … don’t.

And let here is not about us somehow giving God permission to be God, to be Light, because He already is. No, this song isn’t about that. It’s about letting that Light be true in us. And through us. And me thinks I probably stand in the way of that more times than I know.

One thing I definitely know to be true about light, about life, about good, is that sometimes we have to first face the dark, the loss, the ungood. That’s why I wrote Friday’s Rain – because grief is the way we work out what has found it’s way in.

While Jason and I worked hard together on writing and releasing Friday’s Rain last year – with a chapter in process about Martha and Lazarus when Jason had his heart attack – yes, for reals … sorry, I digress. Anyways, THIS YEAR, we are opening it with new eyes and new hearts and, honestly, new griefs too. Actually, I haven’t yet met someone who isn’t carrying something pretty major from 2016 …

So if you’re like us, and realizing that 2016 brought some stuff IN that you’d like to work OUT, well, I want to invite you to join us.

Grab your spouse, your friend, your best. Every order placed this week for Friday’s Rain will come with a FREE second copy. Because let there be light. And let us find it TOGETHER.

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Thankful fistbumps

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A few years ago we developed (and confessed) our childless fistbump: The fist-bump about celebrating the as-things-are-right-now moments.

This year, that’s how I’m thinking of Thanksgiving. This year there are some big, OBVIOUS things on my gratitude list. Only the easiest year ever to answer “what are you thankful for?” There are also some less obvious griefs. I know Thanksgiving tables everywhere will be filled with equal and sincere doses of gratitude, grief, and granax (Xanax-induced-gratitude). 

My friends at Homefront Magazine invited me to write about how I learned to give thanks in all things, something I had to wrestle to the ground in our unplanned unparenthood – or better said, something that had to wrestle me down. Also, that’s very different than gratitude FOR all things. So very different. Tuck that one in your back pocket because it’s name is grace.

So I thought I’d share the article this morning because maybe as you head into a day of thankful fist-bumping, maybe a little reminder wouldn’t hurt that gratitude and grief are not exclusive of one another. That the thankful-fistbump can be an expression of both. And that practicing gratitude is practice – we get better at it the more we work that muscle.

So, my friend, thankful-fistbump to you and yours, whatever you’re bringing to the Thanksgiving table today. 👊🏻

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Homefront Magazine excerpt (Unplanned Parenthood, November issue)

 She’s got angel’s hair – so blonde it’s almost white. With an angel’s face to match.

She’s four. And precocious. And already carries a fierce stubbornness that is going to make her a challenging teen but amazing woman. She’s in her question-asking stage – Why this? How that? I know some of the answers, but not all.

As we sat together and watched Up, she narrated. He likes balloons, she’d say with a grin. Her giggle was infectious as the love story of Carl and Ellie unfolded.

When they started painting the nursery, she turned to me with a conspiratorial smile and half-whispered she’s going to have a baby. I then saw her head go sideways when the next scene shows Ellie sobbing in the doctor’s office: why is she crying?

Ah, this answer I know. She’s really sad because she isn’t going to have a baby, I answered. Why can’t she have a baby? Well, not everyone gets to. She let that answer sit – I could see that it was brand new information for her brain.

But did she get happy again? Yes. Yes she did.

How? Well, she had a different adventure.

Contended, my niece snuggled in and took a deep sigh, as if the breath she’d been holding had depended on how I answered that question. I marveled (and chuckled inside) at how simply her child-heart had accepted that answer. Because it was an answer my grown-up heart had wrestled with for years.

See, I had set out to be a mom. Instead, He taught me about being His child.

I had waited and watched for the day my womb would be full. Instead, He entrusted me with emptiness.

Owning, living, and braving our story of unplanned unparenthood meant learning how to thank the God who gives and takes away.

Even though I knew I was to “give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thess. 5:18), I spent many days ready to punch the next person who reminded me. And barrenness can take so many shapes and forms, but mine was literal, and my tears were fresh on the day I came across this odd instruction in Isaiah: “Barren one … go enlarge your tents and strengthen your stakes” (Isaiah 54:2). It sounded kind of, well, cruel. And confusing. Two things that I know God is not. So I simply asked Him “what does this mean?”

I looked at my ‘tents’, the rooms in my heart. I looked to expand when I wanted to shrink. I made more time for friendships. I signed up to be a counselor at a camp for foster youth. I dug into Scripture and discovered loss doesn’t have the last word. I turned to my ‘stakes’ – my marriage. I looked for ways to strengthen it. To invest in it. To fight FOR my man and not with him as our hearts wrestled with an undefined future. I guess you could say I began practicing gratitude before my heart knew what it was doing.

And this passage in Isaiah – this odd instruction to expand when everything in your world says to shrink – goes on to tell us that God has compassion on us the same way we have all the warm feels for newborn babies. [Insert eye-roll about God using a newborn baby metaphor to speak to a barren woman, but I digress.] And THIS is where we find the freedom to give thanks in every circumstance – whether our tents are small or large, our stakes are strong or weak – we are His babes. YOU are His child before you are anything else … before being a wife, or a mom, or a non-mom, or a businesswoman, or a ministry leader, or any of the many labels we can carry.

I love that we get to practice gratitude even before we understand it – and even on days we want to punch the next person who suggests it. That we can encourage each other to ‘enlarge our tents’ and ‘strengthen our stakes’ because we know that fullness and emptiness can exist at the same time, and that we don’t have to carry empty, barren spaces silently – be it an empty womb, an empty heart, or an empty place at the dinner table.

You mamas amaze me. You have been entrusted with the sacredness of fullness, even when it means nights empty of sleep. Your tents are stretched and pulled on a daily basis (and I’m not just talking about breastfeeding). Your stakes are tested by the hour. And they hold. I think most of you know what a sacred role you’ve been given as MOM. I love that we get to remind each other that the sacredness is there with or without that title. Because before we are anything else, we are His beloved littles. Having all kinds of different adventures.

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On Being Enough. And being Beloved. (spoiler alert, you’re already both)

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When I wrote A Girl and Her Heart, I was listening. Finally. To the still small voice that was fighting through all my noise and hurts and was asking me if I really believed I was enough.

And here again, on the most beautiful of mornings, with incredible things to celebrate like, oh you know, LIFE and BIRTHDAYS and BOOKS, I have to pause and hear that voice again. Because it’s still saying the same thing. Do I really believe I am enough? It’s tricky, the more you put a message into the world, the more you have to fight to believe it.

Because there are just so. many. other. voices. And they tell us that we need to BE … something. Something more. Something else. Something ‘better.’ Something _______. It’s an ever-moving target.

Last month I had breakfast with a very successful and well-respected Attorney here in Orange County. He was telling me a story of an earlier ‘failure’ in his career. He started to say, “I’m embarrassed to tell you this …” and then stopped himself and said (“No, I’m not embarrassed. That’s not my name. I’m Mark, the Beloved.”) as if in a parenthetical.

At the time, I thought it was kind of a corny exercise – especially to do out loud. In front of a stranger.

I’ve been doing it ever since.

Because oh my goodness, THAT is the word the Father’s voice is speaking. And it already tells us exactly what we need to be. Be loved. Because you are. Without anything extra. Without anything you can add or do. You are so, so loved. Because I am. I am so, so loved. Without being something else, something more, something ___________________. We are BELOVED.

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And we need to hear it over and over again. And sometimes, we need to hear our own voice repeating this truth. Out loud. No matter how corny it might feel.

We need to practice this Big Truth and preach it to ourselves, even if it sounds silly: “No, I’m not Brooke the Author/Wife/Friend/Boss. I’m Brooke the Beloved.”

I’m not ________, the Athlete, I’m the Beloved.

I’m not ___________, the Straight-A student, I’m the Beloved.

I’m not __________, the Mom. I’m the Beloved.

So participating in today’s giveaway is going to be a bit harder than the rest – a bit more risky, a bit more vulnerable, and a lot more powerful: It will mean being this voice to each other and to ourselves. Practice telling yourself that you are already enough. You are ______, the BELOVED.

I’ll be practicing and preaching right along with you.

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And also, I think giveaway competitions can be kind of corny too. But I’m trying them this week because they are a tool, and because I want to get this message to as many big and little hearts as possible. And because I want a way to say THANK YOU to everyone who’s helping spread it. So in that spirit, here’s how to enter TODAY’S GIVEAWAY:

  • Share this Big Truth on your Facebook or Instagram. You can use this image or a selfie.
  • Use this caption or something like it: “In a world with so many competing voices, I’m listening to the One that tells me the Truth: that I am enough. That I am the Beloved.”
  • Use the hashtags #iamenough #iambeloved #agirlandherheartbook
  • Tag girls who you want to tell: YOU ARE ENOUGH. YOU ARE BELOVED. One extra entry for every friend you tag – and when you tag them, they are automatically entered to win too.

Entries close at 9pm (pst) tonight because … vacation. And now, I’m going hiking.

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So there’s this Girl [new book giveaway!]

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So there’s this Girl. And I love her. And I’m so excited for you to meet her.

I met her about six years ago as I was living her story. The story of a Girl who needed to remember some big things. Some big truths – like who she is, Whose she is, and what makes her heart truly beautiful. She needed to remember that she’s enough without any of love’s trinkets. Because love itself is already hers. Priceless love. Without cost. And timeless beauty. Without expiration.

So I took this Girl to meet an artist friend of mine, the amazingly talented Jenny Lewis. And she loved her too. And she poured that love onto page after page of beautiful hand-drawn illustrations.

And now, thanks to the cheerleading of countless friends … A Girl and Her Heart is ready to meet you! This is the first illustrated storybook of a series I’ll be releasing under Big Truths for Little Hearts – and it’s only right that this first one starts with the core, the heart of everything, reminding us that love and beauty don’t start with us: they are gifts we receive and share.


This Girl is ready to bring those big truths into the hearts of all the littles – and bigs – YOU love. She releases on October 23, 2016, in honor and celebration of my Jason’s (miraculous) birthday.

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So it’s BIRTHDAY WEEK! Which means GIFTS – I’ll be drawing a name each night to GIVEAWAY an autographed copy of A Girl and Her Heart! Watch every day for how to enter.

ENTER TODAY’S GIVEAWAY:

One entry for each of the following:

  • Comment below
  • Share on your Facebook or Instagram
  • Tag girls who you want to tell: YOU ARE LOVED, SO LOVED, JUST FOR BEING YOU!
  • One entry for every friend you tag – and when you tag them, they are automatically entered to win too! (Be sure to tag me too so I can count it!)
  • Entries close at 7pm every night (PST). You can also skip the wait and GO PRE-ORDER HERE. Books will ship immediately after October 23 and I’ll personally sign every pre-order 
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That Walk Around The World: Dreams > Plans

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Ten years ago today we started a walk that took us around the world in 225 days.

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Sometimes it seems like yesterday. Other times like someone else’s life.

But as the sweet naïve babies that we were (look at that natural hair color, I mean come on!), we hiked up our backpacks and set off. We had one-way tickets and dreams that were much bigger than our plans. We wanted to see the world. And it was before the days you wanted the world to see you back. We were anonymous. Our cell phones didn’t work where we were headed, we took pictures on actual cameras, and WiFi was still relegated to Internet Café’s. Blogs and Facebook were barely a thing, and Instagram/Twitter/SnapChat weren’t even a sparkle in Social Media’s eye. Sounds nice, doesn’t it? It was.

I remember surrendering my phone to a friend as she dropped us off at LAX and snapped this picture. I remember thinking I felt a little lost without it as we wandered into the airport and I knew I’d be without that lifeline for the next eight months. And it was a flip phone.

So, my hair color isn’t the only thing that’s changed in the last ten years.

And I decided that in honor of this ten-year-mark, I’ll be recounting our steps, wandering back down the cobbled streets of Istanbul and Jerusalem and re-climbing Table Mountain and the Great Wall and remembering the sights and sounds and, yes, even the smells of that walk. Because I need to remember that dreams can be bigger than plans.

So I invite you to join me over the next 225 days – I’ll post some old photos, some old blog posts from the trip, and every now and then some current perspective. Some of the what-I-know-now stuff that I would tell my sweet 27 year old self. Though Lawd, I don’t think I’d tell her everything. I wonder, sometimes, if she would have wanted to know that ten years after strapping on that backpack, she’d know the loneliness of an empty womb, and the rythym of a heart monitor. Or that she’d see life restored in both of those places. That she’d be living a miracle. Or that she’d be living in a terrifying SNL skit about the 2016 Presidential Ballot.

I think she would have curled up into a fetal position. I know that’s how she felt about just reading up on Dengue Fever and the other diseases they were told they might encounter in their travels. Which they did. Fears came true. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Because today, today is about those dreams. Those sweet doe-eyes of ours that dared to dream of a year spent walking around the world. And then did it. You guys, it was so fun. And so hard. And so great. And so tough. And so something I’d like to talk myself into again. It could happen.

Our plans were about as simple as they come. We sold our stuff. Filled our backpacks. Bought a few one-way plane tickets to places where we knew some faces. We didn’t even have all the places mapped out. We just knew our first few stops. We bought our plane tickets in stages, once we knew when and where we were headed. Yeah, I wanna do that again. For reals, though. Who wants us to come visit?

From the very first inkling of the idea, we knew we wanted the trip to be about people, and a puzzle started taking shape that involved missionaries and teachers and ex-pats and locals and different faiths and very different foods and, well, maybe one of the most beautifully relational years of our lives.

And today, this week, this year, I just need to remember that dreams CAN be bigger than plans. That plans are good and right and responsible things, but they are also inherently smaller than what we can dream. Because a plan is something you can figure out. A dream is usually something you can’t.

So I invite you to join me. In re-living one dream and exploring others. In asking yourself what dreams are bigger than your plans? And if you don’t have any, to open your heart to something that’s bigger than what you can figure out. Because maybe, just maybe, I’m not the only one who needs that reminder today.

Because the plans were oh so small. But it was the dream that took us around the world.

 

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Wonderland

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We did it. We took a vacation. In a post-crisis reality, this is a big deal. You better believe there was some big celebration of what before was taken for granted. Because post-crisis, there are a lot of things you say goodbye to. Some forever, like naivety. Some for a short while, like vacationing. And because of Hank, this much-hoped-for vacation was not green-lighted until the day before we actually left. And oh my goodness, for those who didn’t see the update ala Facebook and Instagram, Hank is a wuss and NOT a cancerous tumor!

So as we come up on the six-month mark after Jason’s heart attack, we jumped a flight to Alaska and joined up with besties to explore Wonderland. It delivered. We rested. We played. We danced in the rain and shine. And I only had 2-1/2 panic attacks.

But seriously, what a wonder-full world. And even on the rainy days, we carried the sunshine in our pockets.

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His name is Hank.

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There’s a new threat in town. His name is Hank. We don’t know much about him yet, except that he’s most unwelcome and potentially the culprit behind Jason’s mysterious clotting. Maybe even behind the heart attack itself.

Hank is a mass snuggled up against Jason’s kidney and abdomen. He was discovered yesterday when, on a loooooooong shot, one of our amazing ‘ologists ordered CT scans to rule out a rare syndrome where tumors can be associated with clotting. He didn’t expect the scans to find anything. They did. They found Hank.

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Hank is between the size of a golf ball and a baseball. He is not jagged, but appears to have a rim, and hard to say yet whether he is solid or liquid. So the next step is an MRI, and then a meeting with an Oncological Surgeon. Yep, all those words strike fear to my heart, even though at the moment we are in the limbo land of “maybe it’s this, maybe it’s that”, and at least some of the maybes are not dire. But some are. And sympathy is a terrifying thing to see on a Doctor’s face.

And miracles are allowed to be scared.

So we want to ring the bell without sounding the alarm. Because fear is not the boss of us. We’ve seen the power of prayer and know the greatest Physician of all, the ultimate Head of Household who can evict Hank with a single vote (that one’s for you, Jared!). I’d love it if we showed up next week and they couldn’t even find Hank.

In the meantime, we are amen-ing the heck out of the long road.

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Also, someone stole Jason’s computer. So there’s that. And without further proof, I’m blaming Hank.

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Friday’s Rain Bible Study: now in paperback. And real pretty.

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Ah friends, it’s Friday number fifteen. And I could not be more excited to tell you about the new paperback version of Friday’s Rain: revealing what grief washes away. It’s real pretty.

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Some of you joined in on last year’s e-version release and I can’t thank you enough for the amazing feedback. This summer, not only is it available in paperback but I’ve ALSO added a week, making it a summer-friendly six-week bible study, great for individuals or groups.

And I know grief is a scary topic, but as life teaches us how to lose things, let me dare you to pick up this book and find Life from Loss.

Also, the new week is, no joke, on Martha and Lazarus. I was in final edits when we started living our miracle. Never would I have dreamt that Martha and I would walk such a parallel path, being asked to declare who our God is in the midst of the darkness, and standing in awe as the stone of death was rolled away.

If you are ready for a summer of cleansing, healing Rain, if you’re standing on the edge of a storm – perhaps yours or maybe someone else’s, if you want to feel even more of your heart beat, I promise you that Friday’s Rain brings refreshing truth as it washes away facades and reveals what is most true:

we are deeply loved, by a wild Belover.

 All this month, I’ll be sharing more about this study that brings a part of my heart and soul to your table. I can’t wait to hear how God reveals more of Himself to you through it.

ORDER HERE, and be sure to use the code FRIDAY15 for free shipping this week!

xoxo,

print only Brooke Mardell

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“I highly recommend Friday’s Rain to anyone who has walked through grief, heartbreak or unanswered prayers. Grief is such an ugly word with so many negative connotations and unknowns. It is often journey that is taken alone and not talked about. As a society we like to avoid the elephant in the room because grief doesn’t have an easy “fix”- we wait until enough time has passed and then maybe bring it up, holding our breath hoping it is over. But the reality of grief is that it is never really “over” and the beautiful part about Friday’s Rain is that it allows space for processing while speaking truth that God has promised in His word. Brooke is transparent and speaks from a position of understanding. It is evident she has allowed God to take hold of her entire story and challenges each person embarking on the journey to do the same. Prepare to be challenged, encouraged, inspired and assured in how great God is. I went through the study and left feeling hopeful and a part of a community. The most important piece is realizing you are not alone. There simply are not enough words to express the impact this has had in my life. Do yourself a favor, step into the discomfort and embrace Friday’s Rain.”

– Hannah H.

 

 

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