Thursday, August 1, 2013

Brenna, my Friend, You will be Missed.

As I write, my friend Brenna Stull and her family are just arriving at their new home in Phoenix, Arizona. They will soon be starting a church plant and starting a movement of God in that city, a revival that God promised years ago. Please pray for them as they settle into their new home and begin God's mighty work there.

More than a few friends have asked me this summer how I was handling Brenna or the Stulls moving. I know that they asked out of love and understanding, but it made me feel a little self-centered, as if their leaving had anything to do with me. My laughing answer was always the same, "I am in complete denial about it. My brain can't accept that they are moving away." I even managed to miss church their last Sunday at First McKinney.

Several years ago, when our church was searching for an executive pastor, I heard that Chris Stull was the likely candidate. I said, "Oh, I know his mom!" I went to church with her when we lived in Oklahoma. A few seconds later, I said, "Oh, I know his wife!"

I met Brenna in 1987 when I started in the University Chorale at Oklahoma Baptist University. When the director placed us for the best blend possible, I was sandwiched between Brenna and her sister Tamara, and there I stood the rest of their time in Chorale. Needless to say, sitting beside someone for an hour every day allows you to get to be pretty good friends. Such blessed days.

So, yes, I was thrilled to know they were coming to First McKinney. It was a joy to watch as her ministry grew here, and soon her book Coach Mom was published. And a couple of years later, Brenna asked if I would re-design her website and take over sending out her monthly eNewsletter.

I wanted to tell her, "no," but I couldn't. I told her that I didn't really know what I was doing. I had only done one website for another ministry at that time. I told her she was taking a risk, and I might complete fail. But, she took the risk, and I'm so glad she did.

Over the next several years, our friendship grew richer and deeper because we were working in ministry together. We saw readership of her Newsletter double. We launched her revamped website ... twice. She had an idea for a new retreat topic, and that resulted in the start of my MomsAway Retreats ministry. She mentored me, as I started writing the Bible study God asked me to write. We prayed together through loss and illnesses, praised God together for answered prayers, and lifted each other up in prayer through many of life's challenges.

Another friend, Kim Heaton said that Brenna has the ability to make everyone feel so special that they all believe they are her best friend. That is the perfect description. I know how busy her life is, and yet she never hesitated to lend an ear. She never rushed a conversation. She never failed to stop and give a hug or say a prayer or extend encouragement.

I have pretended that it won't be that different now that they've moved. With the technology available these days, we can still easily work together, talk on the phone or even face-to-face on Skype. But truthfully, life here in McKinney won't be the same. Brenna (and all the Stulls) made such an impact on my life (and many others) during their years here. I never could have imagined how God was going to bless this community, this church, this family the day He called Chris Stull and his family to minister at/to/with First McKinney.

So, Brenna, my friend, you will be missed. I am so honored to have you as a friend. I am praying for you, as your new ministry grows. I am confident that God will do immeasurably more than we could ever imagine or ask for. I love you, sister.


Philippians 1:3-6

The Message (MSG)

A Love That Will Grow

3-6 Every time you cross my mind, I break out in exclamations of thanks to God. Each exclamation is a trigger to prayer. I find myself praying for you with a glad heart. I am so pleased that you have continued on in this with us, believing and proclaiming God’s Message, from the day you heard it right up to the present. There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears.