I met Author Lauren Brandenburg at an ACFW conference years ago and she’s graciously offered to share her story of how they went bankrupt as part of the Let Resilience Arise Series. Her hope is to encourage us all to look less at stuff and more at the things that matter—and find hope wherever we are on the journey.
By Lauren Brandenburg
We knew it was coming; we tried to prepare, but we had no idea how bad it would be. Heavily invested in real estate, in 2008 we began our descent into the hold of a crumbling economy. We were in such a financial hole that a 9 to 5 job would barely cover our immediate needs, let alone the newly amassed real estate debt left to us by a fallen market. My husband fought to keep us afloat—unique business opportunities, investments, contracts—one big win and we would survive the fate before us. He sunk deeper inside himself, holding in his fears as the enemy whispered the word failure. He contemplated life . . . and death.
During this time I hid in the Word of God. I dug through the pages of my Bible looking for peace, comfort, and provision. So much so, that the idea manifested inside me to create a fictional series for children that would make them see the power of the words within the books. In the midst of it all, I unearthed a verse I had heard preached more times than I could remember, but this time, it held a deeper meaning: Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? Matthew 6:26
On the day the verse spoke so clearly to my heart, my husband walked into our bedroom. I laid down on the bed beside him; he explained the hard reality of our situation. In that moment, the Father told me to tell him what I had just read. I asked him to look at God as our Daddy—a loving Father who would never let us go. I told him that I loved him and that we could live with his parents for the rest of our lives. None of the “stuff” mattered anymore. If we had our children and each other, we would be okay. We prayed that day, on our knees, in complete submission to God’s will for our lives.
Several months later I learned my husband had planned to take his life the day after our bedroom conversation, but the Word of God had pressed upon him so intensely, and he knew even though we were losing all of our earthly possessions, he would not lose his family.
In a matter of months we went from vacation homes and trips abroad to filling our refrigerator with items donated to our church food pantry. Our vehicle was repossessed one night while we slept, and our home went into foreclosure. I dug through free clothes bins for my children and learned the art of eBay. We had plenty of family and friends who would have willingly helped out, if we had told them—those that figured it out, gave in abundance. To the rest of our circle, the Brandenburgs carried on as usual. When I finally let it slip, we felt free of our secret bondage. We went on to tell our church family, our close friends, and our immediate family. Some were sympathetic, others not so much.
Under the advice of a mentor, we surrendered our grip on the lifestyle we thought we wanted and turned to serving those in need. We established community dinners, free clothing centers, after school help for struggling students, salon days, and even a project to dress and fluff girls for prom. In our time of need, we served others in need. We saw need in all of its various forms—shelter, nourishment and in most cases, love. We learned, we grew, and came to an understanding of how we wanted our future to look. Life took on a different meaning, and had it not been for it, our fall from fortune, we would have never seen a better side.
I sought God in one of our family’s darkest hours, and He showed me a truth. As parents we made sure our children were fed, educated, clothed, clean, entertained, and loved on. We would do whatever it took to make sure they had everything they needed. And as His Word promised, God was doing the same for us through various, often unconventional, but miraculous means. He provided for us and used us to provide for others.
Eight years later, our lives are a mere glimpse of the people we once were. We are happy, loved, and under the grace of a Father who tells us that no matter what happens, we are going to be alright, because He is our Father, and we are worth more to Him.
I am so moved by Lauren’s story, and remember years of moving from rental home to rental home during our recovery after the wildfires, when the owners (not us) kept going bankrupt. We’d wake up to notices on the front door and felt that the same lessons were so important to take to heart in rebuilding our life after tragedy. And the same kindness of others’ help which made such a difference. If you’d like to keep in touch with her, here’s a bit about her wonderful middle grade series and upcoming adult contemporary work too!
Lauren Brandenburg is a speaker and advocate for home education, as well as author of the middle-grade series The Books of the Gardener and creative writing curriculum, The Engaged Writer. Her novels are recognized as a “Top Safe Read” and “Top Read Aloud” for young readers in the homeschool community. Her fourth book Orlo: The Created released in December. Lauren and her husband, Jamie, live in Nashville, Tennessee with their two children.
Connect with Lauren! She loves to share her stories and updates, and does the most amazing writing challenges for teens and tweens on her website, too!
What is the Let Resilience Arise series all about?
Elizabeth Van Tassel is a wildfire survivor who lost every possession and her home in 2007. Since that time, she’s been cultivating fiction and nonfiction projects of her own to inspire kids and adults alike with her lessons. But she’s also developed a wonderful network of amazing authors in all different genres and professions who have compelling stories to boost you or perhaps a friend you know who’s struggling with a similar challenge. Subscribe to this blog (on the home page HERE) for these articles and a monthly newsletter to come to your email or stop by again for more amazing stories. Also have your teens and tweens check out their own page and posts HERE. Want to share your story with others or have Elizabeth share hers with your group? Contact Elizabeth HERE and she’d love to discuss bringing lessons of hope and new beginnings to your group too.