I am overwhelmed by God.
I am crazy about a man named TJ Bragwell whom I get to wake up to and call “mine” everyday.
I am madly in love with two precious souls whom took on the form of a baby girl we named Autumn Daye and a baby boy we named Scout Walker.
These make up who I am.
Along with…I am a sinner. I am a disappointment. I am weak. I lose my temper and say bad things and make stupid choices. I am selfish and ugly and needy. But THESE are overshadowed when I realize WHAT I truly am…
I am Redeemed.
Because He loves me.
And because I have committed myself to becoming the Christian, woman, wife, mother, sister, friend, daughter, coworker, and influence who GOD tells me to be…I am free. I am forgiven. I am His child. I am changed.
So I have dedicated my LIFE, my HEART, my ATTENTION, my WORSHIP, my SPIRIT, my MARRIAGE, my PARENTING, my MIND, and MY ALL to being busy in what HE tells me to do.
Here I am. My name is Tressa Bragwell. It’s nice to me you
I obeyed the gospel of Jesus at a young tender age of 11. The full capacity of what that decision meant was not “clear” to me until I was 37 years old and BOTH of my children obeyed the same gospel. For 26 years, I “served” God and His Son they way I wanted. The way(s) I was taught. Not saying by any means I was not taught the truth because I was…I just received it “my way” instead of HIS. I played the part. I went to the services. I dressed appropriately. I sang the songs. I put the money in the tray. I ate the bread and drank the juice. I nodded my head in agreement. I was there “every time the doors were open.” I memorized the verses. I colored the pages. I filled in the blanks in the workbooks. I took notes during the lessons. AND YET when I, at 37 years old, realized that when God Himself asks me “Tressa, why did you do _____ and _____ or _____?” My answer was going to be…”because so and so told me to and it’s what I had seen done my whole life.” Really? That’s what I got? That’s the ANSWER I give to THE GOD WHOM CREATED ME AND GAVE ME A SOUL? When it HIT ME… my ANSWER OUGHT TO BE “Because YOU told me to Lord and I had a humble heart of obedience to obey You.”
So, the next “hit on the head” was I had NO CLUE what He said for me to do because I had been doing what I was told by OTHERS my whole life. I had been listening to the council and advice of HUMANS. I had been repeating patterns and traditions from 100’s of years and had NO CLUE WHY. Just doing it. Just blindly following. Oh I could be pointed to a scripture here and a scripture over there about “why we do what we do here” mentality. And I could be explained to why this means this and that means that and we do this based on this and this here doesn’t really mean this it means that and that doesn’t apply over here and in this time but it applies in this situation and this was only a command for those people back then but this is a command to all Christians for all times. And I had bought it. I was in. I was methodically and perfectly programmed. I was affiliated with a “group” of people who were in a certain “named” religion who practiced the things they did because they honestly and truthfully feel they should be. And I was out and about to “teach people why what they are doing is wrong and why what I am doing is right.” And NOW…that mentality makes my stomach turn upside down. That “way” of being a follower of Christ is sickening to me. I am shamed at how many souls I turned AWAY from the LORD because of my ignorance, pride, selfishness, and “traditions.” I am humiliated that I NEVER truly knew what I was doing, believing, practicing, and TEACHING OTHERS. I mean, from the outside looking in…I totally looked like the Broadway star of a “Christian woman.” My husband was a deacon, my children were obedient and well-behaved, my lifestyle was simple, we attended every gospel meeting the church we were members of would offer, we went to every outside function of the church, we were close with other people of that church, blah blah blah blah blah. Notice HOW we judge our CHRISTIANITY!!! The outside. The appearances. The attendances. The titles. God must KEEP a stomach ache as He looks down upon us.
Its funny how we sometimes do not recognize what God is doing while He is doing it…but later we’re all “ahhhhhhhhh-hmmmmmmm-I get it!”
When I fell in love with TJ, it was truly the first time I had ever experienced “that.” I knew. Immediately. He was THE ONE I was made for…he was mine. And upon knowing this…I began to pray and pray and pray and pray and pray “Lord let TJ love me. Let me feel for me the way I feel for him. Let him understand what I understand about us being made for one another. I cannot live without him. I do NOT want to live without him. Please, let him love me.” And for 3 years that prayed went “unanswered.” He didn’t love me like I loved him. And then just.like.that…in a moment of thought…then his feet hitting the ground…he did. He truly realized he loved me too. And that’s the very first time I ever had an “ahhhhhhhhhhh-hmmmmmmmm-I get it!” moment.
I realized upon TJ loving me that God had answered my prayer exactly like I had asked Him. TJ now loved me the EXACT way I loved him. He wanted to marry me. He wanted to build a life with me. He wanted us to “us.” And NO-THING had EVER made me any happier in my heart. And then I realized what He was doing…
God is the Creator of life. He is the giver of everything. And He created TJ and gave him to me. I now had the gift I had been desiring for over 3 years. So—what was I to do? TJ had never obeyed the gospel of Jesus. He had never committed himself to serving The Lord in his life. Would I willingly join my life with his for a lifetime on this earth if he was not a man who loved his God the way I loved Him? I could have had the “aw, he’ll come around once we are married” attitude…or even the “I could be the only person to ever lead him to Jesus” thought process. However, I made the conscious decision in my heart and in my soul (without EVER TELLING ANOTHER SOUL) that IF TJ had NOT submitted to God before our scheduled date of joining our lives…that I would NOT marry him. I told MY GOD Who had heard me, and listened to my cries, and saw my tears, and felt my heart break, that I realized that I canNOT love the gift (TJ) more than the Giver (God). I would be slapping Him in the face to B.E.G Him to answer my prayer and then WHEN HE DOES choose TJ over Him. How could I witness the POWER of God in answering prayer and then join my life to a man who does not put Him first? I promised Him this. Never spoke a word of this promise to TJ. I did NOT want to be the reason he obeys God…HE should be the reason for obedience. So…December 29, 1999 rolls arounds, the last Wednesday night service of the decade, our wedding is still 5 months away, and as we stand for the invitation song…TJ looks at me and says “will you go with me?” To which with MY WHOLE BEINGS EXISTENCE replied “YES!” So we walked the aisle together, which was THE most important walk of our lives, and he submitted his life/will/heart to the gospel of Jesus. I was witness to the pricking of my gift’s heart, the confession in his belief in Jesus, his repentance of his past sins and selfish life, and his baptism into Jesus’ death to bury the old man he was before JESUS made him new. THAT was the most important gift I could EVER physically receive from my Lord…a man who truly loves God more than he does anyONE else. A spiritual gift of a leader and a provider to be my head. A man who humbles himself in obedience to Him and leads his family down the narrow path that will lead us to righteousness.
Wow. God does hear and answer. When His will is sought after, He answers. His will is for TJ to be the man he is: humble, obedient, a leader, strong in faith, head of his wife, spiritual guide for his family, submissive to Gods authority, true to His word.
When I was praying “let him love You first or I will not join my life with his” God knew what I meant. Even though I really didn’t at the time.
So, our lives changed in that moment and we became dedicated spiritual beings at 24 years old and joined our lives as one flesh to serve our precious Lord on May 20, 2000 as our parents, family, friends, and Angels were witnesses to our union. It was truly THE most beautiful event. In more ways than the physical.
And so I became “His Wife…”
Come back and I’ll finish telling you about the part where I became “Their Mother” …