We first met Brenda when our kids attended preschool together. We have watched her take her idea of faith to an amazing and tangible level. We’re so proud of her!
xo Lisa and Liz
It was difficult growing up in a small logging town in Dallas, Oregon, where my mother moved my sister and I after our father unexpectedly died in a car accident. It was certainly a change after living in Hollywood California, but our little family of women had a strong foundation rooted in the love of the Lord, with a mother who never quit.
I found solace in my youth through music while singing in church, at school, and with local groups in the community. I soon discovered it was to not only be my calling, but my passion. Shortly after I graduated high school, I hit Hollywood by storm, coming home to place my footprint of life in the dirt with my music. Kids were not part of my plan…not by a long shot.
I soon landed the coveted role of Ashley Abbott on the long running series, The Young and the Restless, and this forever changed my life in so many ways. My “plan” was altered during those years at CBS, and soon after, I found myself married with my first daughter, Sophia.
Music still called, and after eight years on the show, I left CBS to sign with Sony/Tri Star Music, and found myself the opening act for Lionel Richie on his “Time” tour. I worried about leaving my four year old daughter while I traveled Europe to sing, and in the end, found a way to bring her with me. It was a struggle, but it was the right choice.
One of my greatest challenges has been fear: False Evidence Appearing Real. I thought after my oldest that I may not have any more children after suffering three miscarriages. My faith was strong as I trusted God with my unborn children, and He proved faithful.
I now have three beautiful girls aged 21-9, who simply amaze me each day with their ability to think beyond themselves as they face the daily struggles of living in LA where temptation, and an unobtainable set of standards, abound. I encourage my girls daily to look beyond themselves, and to love selflessly: that true beauty is found within. However this mindset didn’t come without its challenges.
The teenage years were the hardest. Sophia was always the perfect child, so when she hit those teen years I was shocked at how her sweet eyes that used to look at me with adoration, now looked at me with disgust. How did this happen? I kept reminding myself that I prayed to have her, and I would face these teenage years with joy.
Little did I know that the teenage terrors, which I often referred to them, would send me to my brink of lows. I tried hard not to take it personal, and would often shrug off her comments and words that were seemingly evil natured. The turning point was when I snapped one day, burst through her door which had just been slammed in my face, and unleashed my own anger on her. My screaming was so loud my husband had to come in and “break it up.” I can laugh about it now, but it is a horrifying moment to realize I was at war with my own daughter. Never had I hit a low like that before…nor did I ever go there again.
I fell to my knees and asked God for forgiveness and peace. Again, He proved faithful. He reminded me that kids learn by actions, not words. I made peace with my daughter, apologizing, and vowed never to behave so badly again.
During that time was rough, but it was also rewarding. My daughter, regardless of the differences we shared, also confided in me. The greatest challenge in being a mom is also being a friend. A non-judgmental friend that is a safe haven to be a sounding board, yet also provide good, strong advice when they will listen. I found that balance of advising, but I also learned to listen. Sometimes children just need to hear themselves say it out loud, and we as parents need to stay non-reactive. Even if we are screaming on the inside, kids need to feel they have that “safe place.” It’s much easier to check out and not engage out of fatigue or the business of life, but sometimes you have to beat the door down to come together again and find your common ground.
I often marveled that my daughter and I communicated best when I didn’t say much of anything at all. Sound weird? Perhaps, but it was so powerful. Why? Because I later came to realize that when I gave her that safe haven, she was communicating with me. What many mother’s don’t realize is that danger begins when our children stop talking to us. In order to keep these lines of communication open, sometimes the best thing to do is just remain quiet and listen.
Have confidence that if your child is brave enough, and smart enough to communicate with you, that you are doing a wonderful job and they will eventually with your love and guidance figure out the right path for themselves. At the end of each conversation I would simply hug my daughter, tell her how much I loved her, and remind her that I am always there for her. That fear would somehow melt away, and my daughter would always amaze me with her own insight and choices. We have the most amazing relationship now, and at 21 years old, she often tells me that when she looks back on life how much she appreciates that she knew she could and can, always talk to me.
I grew up in a family of women, and I have three beautiful daughters. I guess, it was only natural that God would use me to reach out to other women. In 2012, he whispered in my ear to start a women’s conference. Now, in our forth year, I am the founding Co-Director of the Ascend Women’s Conference (www.ascendconference.org). I am speaking, singing, and reaching out to women with the power of God around the globe. Each year, women’s lives are transformed. We have had speakers including CeCe Winans, Lisa Osteen-Comes, and former Congresswoman, Michele Bachmann.
I hope you join us this year, Ascend will be held at Bel Air Church on Saturday, November 5th.
If I were to leave you with one thing, it would be this: Kids will love you like you’ve never been loved and break your heart like it’s never been broken.
-Never stop asking questions
Bottom line motherhood isn’t for sissys, learn from your kids as they are learning from you and, be strong and very courageous.