©picture by scribbles (Marye McKenney)

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Miss Brenda and the Loveladies

I cannot imagine the life that Brenda Spahn has lived. She has more energy than I have ever had, more gumption, more drive, and a propensity to jump in with both feet and never mind the sharks. When her tax preparation business went down the tubes and she nearly went to prison, she decided a change in career was the appropriate thing to do. She became an ordained minister, and started a ministry at the Juliet Tutwiler prison for women in Birmingham, Alabama. From that came the idea for a transitional home for parolees coming out of Tutwiler. Brenda does not believe that addictions have so much control over us that we can never completely overcome them, she believes in a God who can and will heal completely the diseases that we face. In setting up her "whole-way" house, she accepted seven parolees initially, undertaking how to teach them to live. One of the first things she had to do was to take them shopping at Wal Mart for "hygienes," showing them that they had choices in life that had nothing to do with drugs or other things that would get them into trouble.

It took a while to get her family totally on board with this new idea, this new ministry, this whole new way of life. One of her sons had trouble with the fact that some of these women called his mother, "Mama." He wasn't quite willing to share his mother that way. Her husband wanted her to have a more hands-off role in the Loveladies Home. Even her neighbors were quite against her endeavors.

Through all of the opposition and road blocks, Brenda overcame, and with her overcoming, her Loveladies overcame. One of her ladies put it in proper perspective when she said that the ones who failed to succeed were just not ready to quit the drugs.

Miss Brenda and the Loveladies recounts the trials and triumphs of a ministry that seems to be not very well thought out, and naive in its inception, but it turned out to be one of the most successful things Brenda has done. The lesson learned here is that God only wants someone who is willing to do the work at hand. Brenda, along with Irene Zutell, has the uncanny ability to pull the reader in and not let go until the story is fully told. It only took me one afternoon to completely read this book. To see what God is doing in the lives of these women who have fallen under the spell of their addictions is a treat, indeed. To see what God can do with willing hands is a challenge--when I read something like this, I want to say, "I can do this," without stopping to consider if this is what God wants me to do. However, I can pray for this ministry, and the more people who read this book, the more prayers are going up for the Loveladies and the ministry in which they are involved.

Five Stars, Two Thumbs Up, and a trip to Wal Mart.

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