There are no words to describe the very first edition of Grace:UnFiltered other than “wow”.

Brenda Caley, the 1st guest host of Grace:UnFiltered gives a daring, vulnerable and powerful message of patience, love, commitment, and grace in one of the most unforgettable messages we have ever heard.

We are grateful for you being a part of this broadcast and we pray this message blesses you like it did us!

This broadcast is brought to you by the Live Mana Worldwide Foundation, powered by e360tv.

Be blessed!

Joshua & Jessica

Brenda Caley

What do you do when you’ve committed your life to God from childhood but still your Godly plans go all haywire? How do you keep a good attitude and keep hope alive?

 

As for many people, this has always been a major life Scripture for me:

 

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. – Jeremiah 29:11-13

 

It has always been one of my favorite Scriptures. I would sometimes think deeply on it, what does it mean in real life to “seek God with all my heart?” 

 

A couple of years ago I got a beautiful ceramic plate with the first line, and I had it displayed on a plate stand on the counter. It was very inspiring to me. 

 

Then one day it fell and broke in half when I touched it. At first I was devastated, but then it struck me as a spiritual lesson! I thought that I was following God’s plans for me. But His plans didn’t match up to what I had envisioned.

 

My life’s theme has centered around two major things: God and romance. 

 

I have been a Christian pretty much all my life. I asked Jesus to come into my heart when I was 4 years old as I prayed with my parents at bedtime. I have gone to church all my life, typically two to three times a week. When I was 16 in 1980, I prayed that God would refine me, no matter how hot or painful it became.

 

More than anything else, I always wanted to be a wife and a mother. Romance was what I was all about. I thought it would just happen. I had two dates in my teens, and they were both disappointing. I was single night after night, year after year, when most young women are dating, marrying, and becoming mommies. I cried myself to sleep hundreds of times. My Mom tried to reassure me. One thing she said was, “God must be saving you for a special man.” 

 

I shouted through tears, “Well he better be pretty darn special after all THIS!” 

 

I went to Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma from 1981 to 1984. I had many interests, and I changed my major several times, from TV broadcasting to elementary education to psychology. I left after 2.5 years because I ran out of money. 

 

Around 1986 I read two inspiring books. One was about finding “the one”, and the other was Fit for Life, by Harvey and Marilyn Diamond, which became my nutrition bible. It said rather than look for a man, become the kind of person who you would like to marry. I worked hard for three years, between 1986 and 1989, to lose 90 pounds, so I would be attractive to men. I was wearing a size 12 and I looked like a model! 

 

In 1988, I became involved in rescuing unborn children who were scheduled to die by abortion. We called them rescues, not protests, because our presence was literally saving the lives of unborn children. We blocked the path between a killer, a so-called doctor, and his intended victims, unborn children. Sidewalk counselors would talk with the pregnant mothers and at every rescue at least one mother changed her mind and chose life for her child.

 

At my first rescue in Paoli, Pennsylvania in July of 1988, I sat in a hot parking lot with over 500 other Christians waiting to be arrested. I had a deep connection with God’s spirit in that moment. While we were singing, “Here I Am Lord, is it I Lord? I have heard you calling in the night. I will go Lord, if you lead me, I will hold your people in my heart”, I prayed, “God, here are my hands. What do you want them to do? Here are my lips. What do you want them to say? Here are my feet. Where do you want them to go?” I believe God called me to ministry that day. 

 

I was arrested over 40 times, typically charged with trespass or disorderly conduct, and I was locked up nine times for periods of two weeks or less. I pretty much thought I had it all worked out by 1989, when I was 25 years old. I developed a heart for prison ministry, and I prayed that God would lead me to an inmate to correspond with. I wanted to bring some light into a dark place.

 

I was living in Eastern Pennsylvania and going to rescues several times a month in Paoli, Harrisburg, Philadelphia, York, and beyond in Pennsylvania. I even helped rescue babies in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, New York City and Binghamton, New York, and even twice in Atlanta, Georgia. My friends in Pennsylvania nicknamed me, “Slenda Brenda the Child Defenda!” 😂

 

When I spent three days in jail in Binghamton, New York, a man heard the pro-life women singing in the prison and he sent a note over through a guard asking for someone to correspond with him. His notes struck me with such sincerity and despair, and I felt the Holy Spirit’s nudge that this was the person I should correspond with, even though I had been looking for a woman to correspond with. Aaron later told me he was suicidal when he wrote that note. He was just starting what was to be a minimum mandatory ten-year sentence.

 

I started corresponding with him hesitantly, and I made it clear from the start that I was only interested in a platonic friendship. He agreed, and as time went by, I visited him occasionally first in Binghamton, then in Scranton, Pennsylvania, where he was moved. I corresponded with him several times a week. 

 

My feelings for him were growing, and it made no sense at all. Besides the fact that he was a criminal, he was a skinhead, and he was a fan of Hitler. What was wrong with me? I asked. Why was I falling for a man like this? 

 

One day on my way home from visiting him, I was thinking about the beautiful mountains around me when the sudden, unrelated, strong thought came into my mind, “You know, you would have a very devoted husband if you could just wait another 10 years.” 

 

“What??” I thought, “Noway! I didn’t lose down to a size 12 just to put myself on hold! I was sweet 25 and never even had a boyfriend, much less been kissed! 

 

I tried to put it out of my mind, but the thought was so not my own, and it was very prominent in my mind. I had to wonder if it was the voice of the Holy Spirit. Over the next two weeks, the thought came to me again and again, slicing through my normal thoughts, “You know, you’d have a very devoted husband if you could just wait another 10 years.” 

 

I was reading 10 chapters a day in the Bible, and I started sincerely seeking God to know his will as I read the Bible everyday. How on earth could I get an answer to a question like that? It made no sense. Why would God want me with a man who was anti-semitic and prejudiced against blacks?

 

Aaron wrote me a letter shortly after my feelings started growing and my thoughts were contending with me, “I need to say something to you, and it isn’t easy to say. I will understand if you don’t want to correspond with me anymore. Normally someone like me starts writing to someone like you to drink you like a well until you dry. But I can’t do that to you. You are so pure, like a fragile porcelain doll that might break with the gentlest of touches. I think I’m falling in love with you, and I know you said you want to keep it platonic, understandable. So if you don’t visit me this weekend I will know why.”

 

My heart was racing as our eyes met in the visiting room. My face was bright red as I stuttered, “I am starting to have feelings for you, too. But I don’t know how I could wait another ten years. I’ve always wanted to be a wife and a mother, and I’ve already waited a long time. Let me think about it. Because I don’t want to make a commitment to you unless it’s for the long term.”

 

Of course a lot more was discussed, and we left it up in the air. On my way home, I was talking with God intensely,” If you want me to wait for Aaron, You’re going to have to reveal it to me by way of smashing me over the head. Because this makes no sense at all. And I don’t want to do anything that’s not your will. 

 

God proceeded to reveal it to me by way of smashing me over the head! 😂🤣 it seems like every hill, every tree, and every car, all of the things around me, were backed by the hand of God moving me in the direction of Aaron! I saw spiritual lessons in everything as I went through my day. 

 

For example, I spent the day at Hawk Mountain, a beautiful U-shaped ridge, where people would go to hike and watch the hawks flying below the trail, because it was so high. 

 

I was so caught up in the beauty of it and my talk with God, that I didn’t realize dusk had come and soon I would not be able to find my way back to the parking lot. I forced myself to focus on the trail, and I found a spray-painted dot on a tree trunk. Just as I reached it, the next one came into view. I felt so worried that I wouldn’t find my way. Yet each time I reached the next dot, the next one came into view. 

 

The lesson God showed me through that was that he wasn’t going to reveal the whole path of my life all at once. I had to trust Him step-by-step, and He would reveal the next dot of guidance when I took each step in faith.

 

The hour I spent reading 10 chapters each day was popping with revelation as the Lord opened deep understanding of the Scriptures to me. As I continued to ask with every sentence I read what God’s will was in relation to me possibly committing myself to Aaron, these truths became clear:

 

God wanted me to be willing to give up MY selfish, temporal, visible, earthly desires for HIS eternal, invisible, heavenly desires. It wasn’t all about me – – it was all about Him. 

 

I noticed idolatry was a major theme throughout most of the Old Testament. At first I had an attitude of judgment towards the foolish Israelites, worshipping this statue and that. Until it struck me, ANYTHING I put ahead of God was an idol! Was it wrong for me to want to be a wife and a mother? To have a settled, comfortable family life? No, of course not. But maybe God was testing me, taking me up on that mountain like He did with Abraham and his promised son! Nah, God wouldn’t do that. He knows how important it was for me to have my own family. Idols were evil. Having a family was sanctioned by God. Was my determination to be a wife and a mother more important to me than God? Um, gulp, YES! 

 

Nooo, God, nooo, don’t ask that of me! There are plenty of free men in the world, good, Godly men who believe the Bible! 

 

“You know, you’d have a very devoted husband if you could just wait another ten years.” 

 

It was now the Spring of 1990. “God, OK, OK, you have revealed it to me by way of smashing me over the head! But the Bible says, there is safety in a multitude of counsel. So I’m going to talk to Brother Mahlon, and he will tell me how ridiculous it is for a Christian woman to be yoked with an unbeliever, skinhead, antisemitic, Hitler fan!”

 

I made an appointment with my new pastor, Brother Mahlon, and I waited anxiously for over a week. I broke down to him everything I just shared with you. I asked him, “Do you really think this could possibly be God’s will to commit myself to him??” 

 

His eyes were deep, sparkling, and full of the love of Jesus as he said softly, “This might not end in marriage you know.” 

 

I said, “Yes, I am aware of that.” I thought God was probably just testing me… Although my feelings of attraction were strong. 

 

With Brother Mahlon’s surprising counsel, affirming my understanding of the will of God, the next day, I dropped a brief letter in the mail to Aaron. I followed up on our previous discussion, saying that I would like to be more than friends.  

 

The next morning, I woke up feeling more wonderful than I had ever felt! I felt a light, joyful, powerful feeling in a super clear-minded way! 

 

I had sudden understanding of the Bible: It was all about relationships, first with God, then with other people! And I suddenly had a deeper understanding of human nature! Everyone had been hurt, and therefore, everyone had put up defense mechanisms. The solution was to love, love, love, with God’s endless powerful waterfall of unconditional love! All at once I had insight into people and could see what was in their hearts. 

 

I felt an amazing level of joy that I had never felt before! This feeling stayed with me for the next 10 days. I would go between laughing out of uncontainable joy to crying as God healed deep places in my spirit! I saw through His eyes! I saw a field of corn bright green and vibrating with life! I felt a sudden graciousness and over power and love for every driver on the road. Instead of feeling angry when someone cut me off in a lane, I found myself holding out my hand to usher them in front of me hahaha! 😂 

 

My Mom lived with me, and she didn’t know what was happening. She just saw her daughter go between laughing for no apparent reason to crying uncontrollably for no apparent reason, and she was upset! 😂 I was crying and laughing at the same time when I shouted, “Mom, it’s so beautiful! God is so wonderful! Can’t you see it?” 

 

“Brenda, do you need to see a psychologist?? There’s something wrong with you!” 

 

“Hahaha, no Mom, God is my psychologist! And He’s teaching me things faster than I can contain them!” 

 

I had a wonderful vision of standing by God’s side up away from the earth and looking down at it with Him. He let me feel His own love combined with grief for the world. That feeling has always stayed with me. 

 

Brother Mahlon had already set up a follow up appointment the next week. I came in his office bubbling and tearing as I told him everything that was happening. I said,” The power of God is so strong! I can’t contain it! It’s all so beautiful! What’s happening to me?!?!”

 

He gazed at me with gentle, sweet, fatherly joy and said softly, “This is a work of the Holy Spirit!” 

 

I yugly cried uncontrollably, “I feel like I’m supersaturated with the Spirit of God!” 

 

It was one of the most beautiful experiences of my life! I have come to seek the feeling of His sweet Presence more than anything else on earth. 

 

I didn’t ever want this amazing feeling and experience to end. It was a glorious confirmation and reward for my actions of demonstrating my willingness to give up my dearest earthly desire for a family. I gave Him my intense desire, and He gave me the true riches of heaven: His powerful love, deep insight, understanding, and wisdom! And best of all, He gave me an even more intimate relationship with Him. I felt like I was sitting on Daddy’s lap hugging Him eternally! 

 

After my glorious ten day connection with God, it was like waking up to the intense pain of surgery after the doctor removes the morphine! I laid in bed as I gradually came to consciousness. Oh my God! What have I done?!?! It was May 1990, and I was committed to be single, in effect, until 2000! It might as well be a lifetime! My first boyfriend was out of reach.

 

In that moment, my will to live gushed out of me like a popped helium balloon! I felt as strong as a limp rag doll laying in a puddle. Why should I get out of bed? Who cares about jogging three miles and lifting dumbbells when I was going to be waking up alone for the next decade? 

 

Sarcasm and hopelessness screamed through my talk with God. Good job, God! You let men ignore me the last few decades but that’s not enough for You to torment me! I hate life on earth. I don’t want to live if I’m single. I just want to be with You in heaven! Please let me die! 

 

In between my many tears, I always heard encouraging songs float through my mind, like, It’s gonna be worth it! It’s gonna be worth it!”

 

After we became committed as more than friends, Aaron’s letters dwindled gradually from one or two a week to one or two a month. The pain of loneliness engulfed me, and I grappled every day and night to make sense of my new situation. 

 

I lived out in the country with few houses around. I remember one day checking the mailbox to find it empty yet again, and I loudly screamed my heart’s pain to God. About 15 minutes later, the police came to my door, asking if everything was all right! Someone had heard me scream and reported it. It was so embarrassing, but I realized just how real my pain was and how much it was affecting my whole life.

 

My hour with God and reading the Bible every day took on a new depth and desperation. “God, what do you want from me? Haven’t I already given You my whole heart? Haven’t I already sought You with everything in my being? What is missing? Why am I so unhappy? Why would You so clearly lead me into this situation if it was just to make me miserable?”

 

I heard His still, small voice ask, “Do you yearn for Me the way you yearn for Aaron?” 

 

I thought about all the time I spent thinking about Aaron, imagining happy times with Aaron, just dwelling on thoughts of him. While I felt holy and righteous carving out one whole hour of each day for God. In my mind I ran down a list of thoughts and feelings towards Aaron compared with thoughts and feelings toward God. In that moment, I realized that God wanted my intense love. Even Aaron had become an idol, because I had desired him more than God. 

 

From that day on, I shifted my main focus of love onto God more than onto my man. My relationship with Aaron became a catalyst to lead me to a deeper relationship with God, more than anything else in my life. 

 

Daddy God was faithful to draw me deep into His heart of Love! His Love was vast, powerful, and so unfailing, stable and steady! He taught me lesson after lesson of the breadth, depths and heights of His Love! His unconditional acceptance steadily brought me deep inner healing. He taught me how to love as He did, through His power living in me and through me. 

 

Shortly after my beautiful flooding of God’s Spirit, He gave me a poem about the power of love. Another one of my friends in prison broke up with his girlfriend. He wrote and sent me a poem that ended, If this is love, then love is war! “

 

I responded with this poem I originally called, Go Ahead, Break My Heart. But I decided I should rename it. I have realized it is kind of lame, like an invitation to victimize me. And that’s not my intention. So now my poem is titled, Step Into My Heart: 

 

Step into my heart; see what you find

I offer all I’ve got, so please be kind

I open the drawbridge; here is the key

What you are seeing now is the real me

 

I make myself vulnerable; I’m fragile and tender

Inside I’m a child, and I’m weak at the center

I’ve stored lots of love up to give it away

I need to be loved, what more can I say?

 

I open up my heart; you hand it back in pieces

This pain never ends; this heartache never ceases

I slam shut the drawbridge, snatch back the key

The trust I offered you again will never be

 

I will build a wall and say forget it all

 

Inside the wall of me, I am safe and secure

You cannot reach me here; I am hidden and obscure

I am a self-sustaining castle, unreachable by pain

Loneliness is my only companion; fear is my only gain

 

Better to love and lose again, you see,

Than to suffer alone endlessly

When you give away something as precious as love

It’s never for nothing in the eyes from above

 

The best things in life are free, but they cost a lot

Things like wisdom and love can’t be bought

Opposites go in pairs, wisdom and mistakes

Can’t have one without the other – love and heartaches

 

To say love is bliss is to say humans are flawless

Next time I open up my heart, I’ll still be reckless and lawless

I will pour out my love with the carefree ardor

Of a waterfall smashing down on the rocks, like a martyr

 

Step into my heart; see what you find

I offer all I’ve got, so please be kind

I open the drawbridge; here is the key

What you are seeing now is the real me

 

I make myself vulnerable; I’m fragile and tender

Inside I’m a child, and I’m weak at the center

I’ve stored lots of love up to give it away

I need to be loved, what more can I say?

 

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