30 Posts Challenge: #4 Me and Anthoni

Hey, All. Time to get another post done, and I have the joy of telling you about me and Anthoni… my son. Some of you know him by Lance, some by Tony, AB, and other given nicknames. One of mine and Anthoni’s favorite nicknames for him is when friends call him Antoni, like Mark Antony. Several of his teachers did the same thing. My grandmother called him Tone Tone. My mom called him her Rev, her little preacher. My favorite is… my gift from God. He absolutely was answer to prayer.
When I was 13 and in high school, I had a counselor warn me against the disadvantages of having a baby. It was a school for troubled kids that originated as a school for pregnant girls. I remember asking her who would want a baby. She started telling me how young girls want someone to love them unconditionally, to have someone to belong to, and someone belong to them. As she was telling me this I thought, “You know, That’s a pretty good idea, and if you don’t teach them anything about hate they will only know love. They will only learn what you teach them.” Now I started liking the idea.
I was sexually active and my friends were already having babies, and giving me grief for not being sexually active, nor having a baby. Even though they knew I was promiscuous, I was not as active as they seemed to think was required. I would dream of having a little girl. Finally when I had just turned 18, I would get sick… dizzy like. I went to a local women’s clinic for a pregnancy test, but it said no. I went a 2nd time… nope. When my family and friends kept giving me grief, I took a friend with me to the ER so that she could hear them say no. When he told me my test was positive, I first thought… positive… the test is good and clear… oh wait… this is a pregnancy test. My friend was laughing so hard the doctor told her it wasn’t funny. Defending my friend, I told him it was.
On a Friday the 13th in May, they were awaking me from having a Caesarian Section. They were telling me, “Miss Brookshire, you have a son.” I remember groggily saying, “A what?” I guess I was so sure I would have a girl. Everyone was letting me know he was beautiful, but some while adding…and he’s white! While some were guessing what his race was in this surprising tone. As I heard this, I though, “Oh yeah, I forgot about that.” I asked the nurse to bring him in so that I could see him. When she came back with this beautiful baby I said, “Oh what a beautiful baby! Where’s my baby. I want to see him.” When the nurse said he was my baby, I insisted, “He is so beautiful. He has to be someone else’s baby.” The nurse asked why I thought I couldn’t have a beautiful baby. I just remember trying to get her to take him back to his mom because she had to miss him, at the same time pleading to see my baby.
Once it was quiet, God whispered his name into my ear. Anthoni was his daddy’s middle name. Lance was my granddad’s last name, who had been my hero. It was also the family name so it would make my mom and grandmother happy. And Brookshire was my dad’s family name. Anthoni would be able to carry it on. I could call him Tony so that he would have his own name. He went by Lance until time to graduate from his elementary school. Then he decided he would go by Anthoni. The guys  at school called him Tony, as did my grandmother and the guys in our family.
When Anthoni came along, the Lord used him to change our family… on both sides… and friends… and so many people along the way. God was using him in two very important ways… to break race barriers… and to draw us near to God. On my dad’s side, the prejudice was so heavy that many were in the KKK. They majority of them lived in Hickory, Statesville, Taylorsville. They would threaten our friends, and even made it very clear to me at times how they felt. My mom’s side worked with black friends, hired black friends, but as I was told, “You don’t bring them home to dinner with you.” Anthoni found his way into the heart of all those who had been so bigoted. They were even going out of their way to visit, to shower with gifts, and taking pictures. He caused a lot of people to see they were only prejudice because of what they were taught, but being faced with someone they loved they began to change. I had nothing to do with it. God was doing this. They have all been so supportive of his wanting to be a preacher or being in ministry.
God has used Anthoni to change me!! I used to think that it was too late for me about God. But God would use my love for Anthoni to teach me about His love for me, and allowed this unique blessing for us to have in common. We were both single parents of an only son. I am not God, and I cannot speak for God. I know God is a Holy and Righteous God, but it was God who gave my son life, and it was God who allowed him to be my son. He entrusted me! And through all the ministry and love He brought Anthoni, I was blessed to receive it with him.
He used Anthoni’s preschool and elementary years to bring our whole family back to church, back to God, even our friends, coworkers, and different folks along the way. For years we had a family tradition of meeting at the church on Christmas Eve for our family Communion, and friends would meet us, kneel at that altar, take the communion, and pray. While the years and family have changed so much with so many being home with Jesus, God continues to use Anthoni to work in our lives, and He continues to bless me with this special relationship just between me and Him.
So I finish with the words I have always tried to teach Anthoni…
“Keep God first… above everyone… and everything… including me… including you… NO MATTER WHAT!

30 Posts Challenge: #3 Me and Writing

So you’re still here?? God is so good! I am glad you are because I get to continue telling you such wonderful things my God has done for me. I love sharing how loving He is. He deserves so much praise and adoration… and I am blessed to be able to do that through writing. He loves all of His children, and all of His children need to know that He does… and I am blessed to be able to do that through words. That is how God speaks to us, through His Holy Word. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. – John 1:1 KJV. So how does the Word Himself, the Author and Finisher of our Faith, use a little girl who comes from a fallen world to simply pick up a pen and allow the ink to speak? He chooses to.
I was 9 years old, in 4th grade, at a local school where I was living in foster care. I had just been saved and baptized a couple of months before. I vaguely remember the idea of a little girl being given a puppy for her birthday. Her parents had put it into a box with a bow. The box had holes for the puppy to breathe. I titled it A Surprise for Me, even though I really wasn’t thinking of me, nor wishing for a puppy. A few weeks later a teacher pulled me from my class, so excited, took me to the library and opened a magazine. My poem had been published in a children’s magazine. She had submitted it. I still didn’t grasp what she was saying. She had me read it in front of everyone, making such a fuss over it. Suddenly every kid was writing something. When it became something to brag about, I lost interest.
I didn’t write again until I was 13. I was home and in a different school, sitting on the steps, again off in my own little world doodling. I did that a lot. At times, my friends or classmates would see my poems. People started making such a fuss. Somehow, this did not disturb me. Instead it actually seem to either validate what I was already thinking, or show me something about myself. I was encouraged to send one to Reader’s Digest. It was used but I was not credited for it. My teacher said it was a lesson in copywriting.
I wrote one that got me into a lot of trouble. It was for a guy. Some of my friends said it was too good and accused me of not writing it. They were so upset at thinking I was lying that they literally wanted to fight me over it. For whatever reason they backed off, but not before the teaching staff had been brought into it. My favorite teacher, who was like a Mom to me, and was highly upset because she said it was pornographic. I genuinely thought Heat Wave was romantic. I could not understand why everyone was upset. The controversy actually opened my eyes to what I had written, and what was on my mind.
The writing bug was in me. Poetry was my love. My teacher’s would let me write in place of an assignment, or ask me to write more and give me extra credit. My friends would ask me to write something for their boyfriend, best friend, or different reasons, and put their name in place of mine. They would even pay me. I use to think, “When I grow up, I’m going to write cards and letters to sell. No one ever writes cards for specific occasions or writes them in a language we speak. I’m going to be a CEO by the time I’m 30.” As you all know, Hallmark beat me to it…. lol.
At 15, I had ran away from home (for the umpteenth time), and was put into a detention center. I noticed every time a girl cried, saying she was sorry, that she got to go home. So when a counselor asked me to write something, I wrote a poem that worked. When I began college and took my first English class, the instructor gave us poetry assignments. She called me Prolific. I thought she was insulting me. She laughed and told me I had innate ability to write. I didn’t know what innate was either. She told me I had ability to write in meter, rhyme, and structure without even knowing what they were. She encouraged me to write for the school paper. I did.
Soon teachers and students were complimenting me. Classmates I already knew were even asking for my autograph. I was put into several campus papers, magazines, and newsletters. One lady used one of my poems Teach to open her speeches as she went around speaking for a ladies’ organization all over North Carolina. I was totally surprised by all of this, but it was teaching me that my writing could actually put a smile on someone’s face, or console them with difficulties that I thought only I had, and even won the hearts of people who were so unfriendly with me for no reason at all. God was opening my eyes to a whole new world of purpose.
As I graduated from the community college and began the 4 yr college, God taught me how to incorporate His Word into my writing. I had staff who enjoyed reading my personal journals so much that they urged me to consider doing devotionals or a book. They were using my pain and struggles to encourage their days because they said they saw such an unchanging love for God amidst such pain and agony, a love they could only hope for, and were learning from me. These were Pastor’s wives… very respectable, faithful women of God. They saw beyond the words of a promiscuous, unwed teenage mom into a heart filled with pure love for a God that was growing that love to be stronger for Him and Him only each day. People’s responses to what He has whispered in my ear have been His way of confirming to me that His whispers are not just for me.
After graduation, my son had just graduated from his elementary school, and we had switched churches. I was given counsel on my spiritual gifts, so I brought them my writings, and they told me my testimony was inappropriate. Wanting to set a good example for Anthoni, I sought the Lord on the poetry. I went through thousands of poems and writings, tearing up quite a few. When I asked the Lord, “What about those who have copies, the ones already published, and the ones I have forgotten about?” He answered, “Then it will be a testimony… to what I have done in you, in your writing, and I will be there with you.”
As I continued to decline with my health around 2005, unable to get out, to serve in church, getting closer to getting bed-ridden, I struggled with having a purpose for God. That is when my church asked me to do a “writing” ministry… their words. Since I was already writing cards and notes to everyone for birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, weddings, new babies, etc., they asked if they gave me a list of birthdays and anniversaries, and supplied me with all the cards and stamps I needed if I would do it as a ministry. They had supplies on hand as they asked with a sticky note on top that said “writing ministry.” This was an answer to prayer. They had no idea I was asking God, “Am I a writer? Did you or did you not make me a writer? If you did, send me a sign that says exactly that somehow. If not, do you have a purpose for me?” God has always been so personal like that for me! I love it! That sticky note said, “Yes. You are a writer. You are my writer.”
I gladly did this ministry for 6 years, learning of  being an encourager… a genuine ministry… a genuine spiritual gift. I cannot put into words the blessing doing such a ministry was for me. Here God was having me to encourage, console, acknowledge, and share in the lives of loved ones, friends, and even strangers, yet the love and blessing was absolutely pouring both ways. In 2011, He led me and Anthoni to make a move that had to do with his bible college. When the Lord was letting me know the ministry was coming to an end, my heart was broken. So many people looked forward to those messages. More than once someone would tell me that I was the ONLY card or note they ever received on their days or at all, that they knew they could count on me. I was not the one who sent those messages, but I would be a part of breaking that trust. I was placing my trust in God.
God knew what He was doing. Not only have I moved twice more since then, having my things either stored or destroyed, but my memory and my health have declined so much more. I can’t remember sending a note that I have sent several times, so the person lets me know how insincere I was and how frustrated they are, so do not send anymore. Some grow weary or angry from my asking for their birthdates to be written down again and again. So while I may occasionally send a greeting or note, I generally do not anymore.
Nowadays, as I fight my health, anxiety, depression, and a failing memory, I struggle to get something written before I forget it. More and more I find him leading me to be who He has created me to be. My testimony may be offensive to some, but if it saves even one, or encourages, or comforts as many as God will allow I am trying to get it out while I can.
There is one poem God gave me years ago called Frozen Box. It has a line that reads, “He’s like the lightning in the sky each time I feel it near. The beauty of its pretty color sinks beneath my fear.” This is me and God. I want to reverently fear Him as He so rightly commands and deserves, but I do not want to be afraid to stand before Him and talk, to hear Him, to lay in His arms and hear His whispers, to feel Him gently draw near and smile with me. My earnest desire is that you will experience the same, that you will desire Him, and welcome Him, and feel His embrace, and know how much He loves you. If anything I ever write does that one moment for you… praise His Holy name! That’s what it is all for… that you know… God loves you!

30 Posts Challenge: #2 Me and God

Well hello, if you’re still with me on this new journey. I am so excited about this post because I will get to introduce you to the love of my life… Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior. Sadly, we weren’t always in love with each other. I didn’t even know he existed for a long time. I’m sure the neighborhood church that we visited at Vacation Bible School (VBS), and occasionally Sunday School (SS) taught us because a man named Mr. Farlow told me when I was 6 yrs old that if I memorized John 3:16 that he would give me a jump rope. I got the rope the next visit! For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life.
I had no clue what I had learned. To me it was like a story of this person named God, who loved someone named the world, that he had a son, and that was basically it. I had no way of understanding a big word like begotten. And in case you have never noticed or thought about it, “Jesus” is not mentioned in that verse. Oh the concept of him, and pronouns of him, but the name Jesus is not there. God would still use this later when I came to know him… whenever I was scared, or confused, or just thought on it. I did not even realize that I had not understood that verse when I memorized it until I was 37 and helping out at a VBS where my son was attending school.
I met Jesus when he met me. I was 8 yrs old and my mom had watched the Walton’s episode where the Hindenburg blew up. It scared her thinking about the fires of hell. She went to a local church where people screamed and hollered, as they also jumped from their seats a lot, sometimes with someone running up and down the aisle. When she went forward to be saved, she left us in our seats. I followed down behind her because I was scared of the people. As I was knelt behind her while she prayed, a lady named Molly came and asked if I knew what I was doing. When I told her waiting on my mom. She asked if I knew what she was doing. When I told her no, she told me Mom was praying to Jesus. She asked me if I knew who he was. Again saying no, she began to tell me of this person who loved so much that he died for us.
As she told me about him, I remember the first thing I thought was, “You mean there is an adult that wouldn’t hit us? Even when we deserve it?” I was so shocked, and so touched. But when she told me that we caused him to die, that broke my heart. I asked how he died, and she explained the cross, and about sin. My mom never knew for years that this had happened until I was telling someone because my mom was determined to obey the Lord and make it to that altar, giving herself to God, it allowed me to be there when Molly was there.
I would like to tell you that’s where our love story began with me being just as in love with him, but while I was touched by his kindness, felt so guilty about his death, I simply did not know him and his Father the way I eventually would. I know that my salvation was genuine though because when I struggled with it years later God would remind me of my thoughts when Molly told me of him, and the words of Pastor Ralph Sexton, Sr. when he was baptizing me just weeks later. I was standing in the water on my tippy toes, water up to my neck, struggling to keep my neck that high, with my dress pinned together at the knees. He held one hand on my shoulder and the other one up, sometimes talking to the people, sometimes in praise to the Lord, and he said, “Oh, Folks, I have to tell you about this little girl. She comes to the altar every Sunday morning, every Sunday night, and every Wednesday night. She prays for herself, her momma, her daddy, her brothers, her sister, and everyone she can think of.” He said more that I cannot remember, but the Lord has assured me by my testimony, spoken of another, my pastor at that, a very on fire for the Lord day and night man, that I understood enough that the purpose of my salvation was absolutely rock solid…. all pun intended. I just had to learn more about him, and that journey was just beginning.
My grandfather died (who was my hero), my mom told us that me and my little brother really weren’t my dad’s kids, and my brothers and I were put into foster care. It was at least a Baptist Children’s Home, so we did still go to church. But the filth, violence, and death I had always known was still ever present… even in foster care. When we came home, my mom used to tell us God was going to come after us for what we did to her. I am so ashamed to say this, but in being honest in my testimony with you it means to admit that I told her that I hated God and wanted nothing to do with him.
When we went back we did go back to the church where I was saved for awhile, but eventually that stopped. My mom at least kept listening to her gospel albums, so I would listen to them and learned them. Somewhere along that path, I did develop a love and obedience for him. I just didn’t know it or understand, as the world made it like our salvation was all built on behavior. I was a very promiscuous teen. I had my son when I was 18. He was such a gift from the Lord.
It would be my son, and a desire to want to give him back to the Lord, teaching him to love God more than me, and that I love God more than him, knowing the world would tell him that was cruel, that God used to change me inside out, my life, and bring up this little man who had a constant determination to be a preacher when he grew up. I assure you that was not my influence. I did not have a good opinion of Christians or Christian schooling. I did not think I was one, no matter how hard I tried, and all the Christian kids I knew that had went to Christian Schools hated God. I was scared Anthoni would hate God too. My son coming up in a Christian Daycare led to getting back into church, and going to a Christian School led to everyone of my family members getting back in church, our best friends, and several friends along the way.
When it was time to switch to his new Christian School, it was while I was finishing Bible College. We met a completely different world of Christians. They were so faithful, obedient, self-sacrificing, teaching others to fervently study God’s word, and always reaching out to Anthoni and his family. Now I am not saying we did not have them at the other places, it’s just that while one church laid the foundation, the other help to built a rock solid wall, and started his training for preaching. The PIT Crew is what they called it… Preacher’s in training. By the grace of God, I was able to glean from that teaching, as well as from his Christian Schooling there, all at a time that I had just finished college.
There is so much more to my journey with him. It would take a very large novel to tell you just a few of the things he has done for me, in me, and through me. There could never be a book big enough to tell you of my love for him. But with his help, I will share with you in these posts what he will allow, as well as the poetry. The writing… THAT will be next because it is the spiritual gift he has given me. It is not mine. It is his. Thank you for allowing me to spend some of your quality time telling you about a quality man… a quality love.

30 Posts Challenge: #1 Introducing Myself


Hi, my name is Gail. You should know that if you’re reading this, but it goes with the purpose of this blog post. I have accepted a 30 posts Challenge from a friend to share different aspects about myself. So as I embark on that challenge on a blog page I already have, I open the access to the page (during the challenge), and to me… and the most important thing you should ever know about me… gaillovesgod!
Being open is actually pretty nerve wracking to me, as I am a private person. I always make sure to tell everyone it is not about me. It’s all about my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! Yes I am very sociable at times, but there are several people who are frustrated to this day because they have yet to hear a word from me despite hours of class, church, or spending hours together in the same proximity. There are also those who would laugh at that and add, “If only I could get her to shut up!” Praise the Lord for those of you who may know one side or both (or the many sides of my personality) and love me all the more for being exactly who I am…. in love with Christ!
Today I turn 48. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME! More like THANK YOU, GOD, FOR GIVING ME 48 YEARS OF LIFE!! What a testimony to Him. If only you knew what He has brought me through, saved me from, how He has helped me to grow, the blessed souls He has brought into my life, and the glorious salvation that HE has wrought in me. But that is what the blogging is for…. huh? A testimony. That is what I have been trying to get done for quite awhile, but it is a love story that God wrote so it will be an adventure I assure you.
SO if you are actually willing to come along with me… even on all the bumpy rides, horror houses, haunted houses (and yes they are different), then I am willing to give you the access to take this journey with me on the 30 posts challenge. We will discover the most beautiful friendship! We will share such a wonderful Savior, and what He has done for a little girl He loved so much! He still does! And God loves you!