Redwood

It’s hard to imagine how he started out.
Little farm boy playing in the fields around.
I wish I knew how he began.
How did he get here, to be my Dad?
And did anyone see it? Did they recognize?
Seven times seventy skies, 
passed over til that shaft of sunlight
fell on the seed of a redwood. Fell on a little farm boy who believed in something good.

Because he’s a calming landmark in all our lives. 
Like an anchor in the forest, rising high. 
We rush around, and we forge ahead. 
But he stays to mark the path where we’ve been. 
So out there when we feel alone, 
we just look for him, and we’ll find home.
He’s like a redwood. He’s like a song calling out something good.

It doesn’t matter, through fire or sleet. 
Highs or lows, he holds steady. Peace, his own heartbeat. 
When the smoke clears or the winter’s done, 
he’ still there, still firm and calm. 
It’s his pulse that keeps us all alive. 
His cadence of growth, his own design. 
He’s like a redwood. He’s like a song believing in something good. 

Cut him open and count the rings. 
See the seasons he’s worn thin, the seasons he weeps. 
The years where the joy made him grin, 
and the stretches where the growth was within. 
Seven times seventy lives. 
The ones’s he touched, the ones he’s multiplied. 
He’s like a redwood. Keeps humming along a song of something good.

Steady as the rising sun. 
Looking upward ’til the day is done. 
Arms hold high the silver sky,
he drinks up the rain to keep us all dry. 
His branches are the covering, 
so what’s beneath is always flourishing. 
So that there are more redwoods. So there are more songs pointing to something good.

He reminds me of the One who spread His own arms wide; 
the One who now reigns from the skies. 
Palms raised, dripping the blood that gives life. 
Water flowing down the red wood to change us inside. 
Forgiveness seven times seventy had, 
a love that made it all the way to my Dad.
And made him a redwood. Made his life a song of something good. 

The kind that hangs on, the kinds that boasts none, the kind that covers every offense.
The kind that holds up, the kind that bears all, even when we're struggling.
The kind that stays strong, the kind that stays calm, the kind that gives all that it has.
The kind that loves all, the kind that prays long, even when he's suffering.

Now he digs the holes; he plants the seeds. 
He waters, bends. He pulls the weeds. 
So the ones around him can grow. 
So they can thrive, so they know. 
The meaning of red wood. Just what it means to be very good.

He is a redwood. His life is a song of something good.

*The title and certain lines in this poem were inspired by the song Redwood, by Stephanie Quick.

Prophetess

“Brianna, the Spirit of the Lord says ‘Daughter, I’ve put within you a Miriam anointing. I’ve made you as a young woman that is going to carry authority, a young woman that will lead. I’ve made you as a young woman that will prophesy, and a young woman that will dance and sing . . . I’m going to hook others to your left and to your right. Daughter, I’m going to bless you, just because I love you’ says the Lord.

And I saw where the Spirit of the Lord has put creativity into you, on the inside. I even saw a pen or a pencil in your hand that you have an ability to display, an ability to bring a reflection of other things. The Spirit of the Lord says ‘I have made your life like that for me . . . Daughter I am bringing forth my dreams in you. I am bringing forth my ideas on the inside of you. You are going to be a woman where the creativity is going to flow, but at the same time you’re going to be a woman that is going to be able to stand.‘”

I was ten years old, a shy, small girl, the day these words were spoken over me. At the front of a little church, my parents next to me, a woman named Sharon Stone shared with my family what was given to her by the Holy Spirit. We had never met her before, and at the time, I had no idea what to make of what she said. I’m still not sure I do. I listened politely, and as most young children do, promptly forgot the things said that night.

But God didn’t. He brought them to pass. A few years later, living in a different state in a different house with a different world around us, God began to give me songs. At twelve or thirteen years old, I would write little ballads. Prayers set to music, mostly. I’d sing them to myself, write down the words, spend hours plunking out a few chords on the keyboard. Pure and tenderhearted psalms, the offerings of a child innocent of the world and all the things it would bring to my life.

And then one day, as quickly as they came, the songs stopped. I grew up, got a driver’s license and a job, and turned my attention to things like good grades and college essays. And I set aside my little songs, girlhood fading as I stepped forward to fill the shoes in front of me.

Adulthood came like a flash flood, and I grew up fast. A teaching job and college degree just after my 20th birthday, married a few months later, baby at 23, and three more to follow in the years to come. I was so busy teaching classes, raising littles, and trying to be a good wife to notice all that God was doing in my heart.

By 29, I had another new baby in my arms; life in yet another new house after yet another move. Three kids, homeschooling, and a husband who’s business was precariously adjusting to our new life circumstances. That’s when God woke me up–grabbed ahold of that heart He’d hemmed to Himself and opened my eyes to see His word in new ways.

Truth upon truth, line upon line. I devoured His word like never before. With righteous greed, I read the Bible straight though, cover to cover, in a month. I inhaled any text or commentary or book I could get my hands on. I took every class I could manage, listened to every lecture and podcast out there, and spent hours and hours studying, learning, digesting what He was revealing to me. How I managed to learn what I did in the all-consuming season of small children, pregnancies, and multiple moves I will never know. All I know is that when the Spirit speaks, you’re compelled to respond.

The apcoloyspe of my faith went on for years. Truth told, it is still going on. I am still up to my eyeballs in the Scriptures, studying, learning, praying, teaching, leading. Still mystified and in love with my God, with His son, with the story He’s working in this world. He has burdened my heart with so much that it overwhelms me. There is so much to share, to teach, and give to others. And even though I usually feel inadequate and underprepared, somehow He gives me the words when I need them. He guides me, humbles me, and teaches me what to say to inspire goodness around me.

So, when I began writing The Family Prophecies project, I had no lack of truth to proclaim over the beautiful family God has blessed me with. Their individual poems and prayers, their ballads and blessings all flowed from my fingertips with ease, line after line falling into place. But as I considered the collection, I realized it wouldn’t be complete without including a prophecy for myself. And that has been the hardest piece to write.

I stared at blank screens for hours, praying the words to come. But they didn’t. Nothing, for weeks. Then months. I was lost. How do you forecast your own heart, speak truth over the person have yet to become? The person you’re not sure you can become? I asked for His imagination to see myself as He does, but I came up empty every time. As usual, I seem to be able to see the needs and read the hearts of everyone but me.

But God is faithful. In the deep hours of the night, I woke up and the words were there. As they always are. And I realized they were words He gave me long ago, recalled from the corners of my mind and from a 25 year old transcript my mom had saved. I had long forgotten them, the prophecies He gave to me through the songs of my youth and the words of Ms. Stone.

In the stillness of my bedroom, all the lyrics, melodies, and meaning suddenly made perfect sense. And I should have known they would. Because long ago His servant spoke truth over my life. She told me what goodness lay inside of me and how God would use it for His glory. Even though I may have forgotten her words until recently, He didn’t forget His plans for that dark haired, dark eyed little girl. He nurtured that tender heart, cultivated that Miriam spirit, gifted that young woman, and taught me the lessons I would need to be the wife, mother, teacher, mentor, daughter, sister, and leader He is raising up within me.

The truth is that He has multiplied the prophecies of a woman I met only once and never saw again. He has breathed them back to me, because the songs I wrote way back when are the anthem of my life now. I have lived them out, unaware of their power and truth when my little hands first wrote them down.

And that’s how I know His prophecies are real. Because they are not a fortune-telling crystal ball, not a mystical prediction of my future. They are the evidence of His goodness of in life: His mercy, His grace, His plan, woven and spun through my many short-comings and mistakes; my many failures to be the covenant partner He desires. I have failed, but He has not. He has materialized the words He spoke through His servant, Ms. Stone, and answered prayers I sung over myself as a child. He has blessed me without merit, multiplying His goodness in me when poor choices and a hard heart were all I had to offer.

So today on my birthday, I don’t know that I have ever been more grateful for His grace. Because He could have let me go. He could have hidden His face from the simple faith of my child’s heart and handed me over to what I deserved when I came of age. Because boy do I ever deserve it. But instead, He looked at me with imagination.

And I think that may be the hardest part to accept. I never asked for the gifts He’s given me, and sometimes on the hard days, I wish I never had them at all. It’s easier when you don’t see the truth; easier when you just don’t care. It’s easier to be normal, to be satisfied with average, easier to blend in when His story doesn’t stand out in every blooming detail of your life. It’s easier to sleep when the words are not staring back at you in the dark.

But He never promised it would be easy. It’s no accident that a prophetess handed down His blessing to me when I was barely old enough to comprehend it. It’s no accident that He woke me up to remember. And it’s no an accident that the words just come. They always come. They remind me why He woke me up and why He’ll wake me up again.

Now more than ever I am convinced that The Family Prophecies is a story He began and left me to finish. And so when I sat up in the dark a few weeks back, I knew it was time to write the final stanza of a song I started as a child, but left unfinished. He gave me the words then, and He gives me the words today. And I only hope that I can live up to the gifts Ms. Stone saw me in all those years ago. That I can be blameless, humble, and brave enough to live out the future He is calling me into. Like I said, He’s always been faithful to me.

          Sing me a sweet melody
          with words that have wings
          to carry me through each day.
         Compose me a symphony
         of Your great plans for me.
         Make me a singer of Your song.
         And when the last note is played through
         start up again with a prelude.

        Plant me a garden
        with soil unhardened, but rich and brimming with truth.
       Teach me to till it, help me to fill it
       with the grace and justice of You.
       And when the harvest is not it's best
       water me with Your righteousness.

       Make me a tree planted by a stream
       with waters cold, and deep, and true.
       A source of life for all who seek You.
       And all around me, let seeds surround me.
      May they grow tall and point straight to you.
      And when my season is over and done
      May they be the ones who carry it on.

      Because You were the One who gave me the song.

The Song of Sweet Ayla Rae

The Song of Sweet Ayla Rae.
Lyrics by Brianna Tittel set to the melody of The Old Therebefore by Maiah Wayne.
La, la la la
La la la
la la laaa la la
La la la.

You came in the summer
Brought beauty and wonder, 
two sides of a coin, the same.
And the oak in the meadow
smiled at the willow
when they heard the sound of your name.

Fairies will dance
when they catch a glance,
when they spot your love
your tender, a dove.
‘Cause myths or real creatures
you love all their features.
They cheer at the sound of your name.
Singing songs, my sweet, Ayla Rae.
You’re strong and your brave.
Mighty, leading the way.
You’re kind and you’re good,
try to do what you should.
And you see every part,
you’re a work of ART.
Magnificent, the sound of your name.
Bright songs of my sweet Ayla Rae.
But one day it will fade,
all the magic you’ve made
and you’ll be run down.
Your head on the ground.
And you’ll sink in the shade
when tears burn your face.
When you can’t hear the sound of your name.
Lost songs of my sweet Ayla Rae.

But someday when I’m gone 
you’ll sing on this song—
recall all the truths,
the things you once knew.
When you’ve found every part,
when you given your heart,
you’ll praise the sound of His name.
Sing on, my sweet Ayla Rae.

Can you hear it now?
Trees dance with their boughs
when they hear the sound of her name.
It’s the song of my sweet Ayla Rae.

The Dream You have Become

On the day you were born I held you,
baby filling up my little arms.
Grin so wide my jawline swelled, pride bursting through my cheeks.
I couldn’t wait to tell the whole world
that my baby sister, she’s pink as a whisper
and gold as the summer's dawn.
We’ll be lifelong
friends.

Cause this life, it’s a treat. And this world is rosy.
She’s lovely and sweet, so tender and cozy.
One day she’ll know how much I love her so.

You grew strong and tall,
found words and a song.
Caught the magic hidden in life’s mundane,
and only poetry soothed when it couldn't be explained.
Stained glass cathedrals in the littlest things--
calling you forward, drawing you outward.

But this world, it’s cruel. And this life is scary.
You’ve taken some hits. No wonder you’re wary.
But one day you’ll see, you’re the work of art.

Shadows creep in. You squirm in your skin.
Doubt filling up all your safe spaces and corners.
Do you have what it takes to offer something that’s yours?
To leave a mark that opens some doors to the light?
Dust on your mantle and broken chair pokes your back,
yet the light seeps in through the tiniest crack.
Soaked right down through your skin, flooded your heart deep within.
Gave you strength to stop the swirling and get back on track.
Like water to ice cubes and flour to cake
The work of soul-building, it’s not for the faint.
One day you’ll find, the doubt is all in your mind.

Cause this world, it’s rough. And this life takes grit.
You’ve weighed the hard things. Had to fight for all of it
But today you’ll show up, and you’ll be the best self you’ve got.

Crystal from dust, and sparkles from rubble.
A jeweled montage from all of life’s troubles.
You sought out the divine
and found your own design.
Like a tapestry woven in you
His love and abundant life.
A gift to your family, your glorious ways.
Magnificence staring you back in the face
when the mirror shows you, a reflection of grace.

Tomorrow brings joy 
and trials aplenty
You ask for a reason, 
I’ll give you twenty
For why you must know…

That this world, it’s rich, and this life’s a journey.
To choices and truths, you’ve yet to face many—
Enchanting milestones, broken heartbones, 
Sundrop dune rays, cracked mirror displays,
Life in the minor key. Joy more than you thought it could be.

But I hope that in this great maze, 
through the seasons and doubts and the haze,
I hope that one day you’ll see, 
you’re already who you dream to be.

The Wedding Blessing

He made you and formed you from the flecks of the earth,

dust and divine together, pressing.
And He chose her for you,
and for you, God picked him.
Together to live out His blessing.

Each of you grew tall in wisdom and stature.
But apart, never knowing the other.
Until He said, “Now it’s time,”
and He brought you to find
a love that stirred your hearts for each other.

Because Hallie, He knew who you needed.
He knew how you waited and pleaded.
And He blessed your faith, and walked you with grace
to the man who will love you for life.
It’s a gift to be his wife.

And Kent, he’s prepared you for her.
Shaped and refined every part.
She’ll give you her all,
and stand firm by your side,
so that you can hold her heart.

The journey together will test you.
It will sting and strip bare your spirits.
And when those tests come,
may you remember to run,
to the One who will see you straight through it.

Because together is the place
where His plans have no end.
A place where life’s meaning is clear:
to have and to hold, and yet lay it all down,
to know and be known without fear.

So today as you vow
and today as you say
“it’s you forever, my love,”
may His favor shine on your beautiful story,
and may someday your children reflect all His glory.
Because today, the two become one.