Sis. Brandi Denton
Brandi Denton calls Hendersonville, Tennessee, home. It is here that she and her husband, Jonathan, are raising their three kids: Carlie (the oldest and bossiest), and Harrison and Maddi (twins). Together they serve as Family Pastors of First Apostolic Church in Nashville, Tennessee. Their story didn’t start out too hot. As a young girl, Brandi gave Jonathan a picture of herself (bold move). Jonathan then took the picture to his mom and said he didn’t like her. Eventually Jonathan changed his mind, and this past February they celebrated 16 years of marriage. The Denton family has a special place in my heart. Sis. Brandi is such an inspiring lady, and you are sure to be blessed by her words.
What is a piece of advice that has affected your life?
A few months ago, we had a marriage enrichment night. A counselor, from White House, Tennessee, was there to speak. When she said this piece of advice, everyone’s mouth dropped. Her statement was, “Self-care is not the same as being selfish.” That really changed my life. She brought up the example of being on an airplane. When the crew is performing the safety routine, they always tell you to put your mask on first before helping anyone else. You can’t take care of someone if you aren’t okay. If you aren’t okay spiritually, physically, or mentally, you won’t be of any good to anyone else. Before this, I always felt like I was being selfish any time I needed to take a moment for myself or do something for myself. I felt like I needed to be home and that my responsibility was to my family. But you know, my responsibility is to myself as well. If I don’t take care of myself, who will?
What is a great piece of advice you were given as a mother?
My dear friend, Mandi Massie, told me this. She told me, the baby will not remember that you didn’t cater to them first, but the older ones will. When you have an infant or baby, if they cry you think they need immediate attention. Well... they don’t. They won’t die, it just strengthens their lungs.
Is there a boundary in your life that is non-negotiable?
I am a rule follower. I love rules, and Maddi is just like me. If Carlie or Harrison are ever breaking the rules, she is on them. As far as a boundary, anything that disrupts our home is a no go for me. By home I mean our marriage, family, children, etc. We don’t put ourselves in a position to be tempted. I don’t want to do anything schedule wise that would mess up our children either. I never want to put too much on my kids. I have a quote that I keep where I can see it every day. It is by Andy Stanley, and it says, “Your greatest contribution to the kingdom of God may not be something you do, but someone you raise.” My family and my marriage are a high priority to me, and I want to make sure they are guarded.
What scripture have you stood on in your life or has meant the most to you?
2 Corinthians 4:18 While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.
That’s kind of my life verse. We had a sweet couple in the church who wanted to know our verse. They actually ended up making us coffee cups with the verse on them. I think this scripture is a good reminder to not get caught up in things that are going on here. Our focus needs to remain on what is unseen because this isn’t our home.
Where do you pray? What are your study habits?
I kind of feel like I pray everywhere. I don’t have a specific spot. If I did have to pick a spot, it would be the chair in my living room. That is where I do my morning devotions. I like to do my morning devotions when everyone is still asleep. Luckily, I am married to a Denton and I have little Dentonites who all love to sleep, so it normally isn’t a problem. I don’t get distracted because everything is quiet in the house. I have a little table by my chair where I keep my study tools. I like to use devotionals. I get bored easily, so I have a few devotionals that allow me to mix it up. My Bible app has like 15 different plans going right now. I just kind of pick what I want to do each day. I also read books where each chapter is based on a scripture. When I read a chapter of the book, I like to go find the scripture in my Bible and read before and after it. Jonathan is really good at making sure we have family devotionals. We use RightNow media where we watch a video and answer questions. We also try to incorporate prayer into our daily lives with the kids. For example, if we see an ambulance en route, we will always stop and say a little prayer for whoever is inside.
What do you think makes a strong woman, and is there a woman who embodies that quality to you?
A strong woman is determined. She has a made-up mind. When I think about a strong woman, I think about my Granny P, my dad’s mom. She had four children, two boys and two girls. Her husband wasn’t a spiritual leader. She was the one that led the family, took care of them, and took them to church. She didn’t have an easy life, but she never gave up. I remember going to her house and hearing one of my cousins call another a fool. Well Granny P did not like that and immediately started rattling off scripture about why we don’t say that. When she taught us, she would always give scripture to show us why we should or should not do something. She was always determined to make sure her kids and grandkids knew Jesus. She had a made-up mind that this was her way of life.
Do you make free time for yourself? If you have free time what do you do?
Several months ago, I would have been like “What’s free time?” But after I heard the piece of advice from the counselor, I started working on making time for self-care. I take walks or go on bike rides, which most of the time is still with family, but it is exercise. I feel like exercise helps me relieve stress. Sometimes, I will tell the kids that I’m going to read a book, go on a walk, or do something by myself, and they don’t bother me. I think time for yourself is good, and it is not selfish.
Besides Christianity and marriage, what was the best decision you ever made?
I actually went to my doctor, who is a great Christian lady, for a yearly checkup. She told me that she had to screen me for depression; it was just required. So, she asked me a bunch of questions and then got to some questions about anxiety. She brought up a point about how when we wake up in the morning, the first thing we do is grab our phone. Usually because that is where our alarm is, but then we see our notifications and have to check them out too. Then we’ve started our day without even being aware, and our minds are immediately clouded by all of the notifications. I think the best decision I ever made was to start my mornings by quickly turning off my alarm and then immediately going into thanking God for everything He has done. Before I ever get out of bed, I’ve already started thanking Him for His blessings. Normally I would get to that, but it would be after responding to all the notifications. Starting my day being thankful before anything else was the best decision I’ve ever made.
Was there a season in your life that contributed to your strength?
If you want to know what I’m like, look at Maddi. She’s light-hearted, carefree, running through the daisies, and chasing butterflies. That has always been my life. I’ve never been a worrier. I don’t have a problem with faith or trusting God. Jonathan would sometimes say, “What are we going to do about this?” or “What are we going to do about that?” but I always said it will work out. It’s just going to work out; it always does. What do we have to worry about? But there was a period of time when I did get hit with anxiety and worry. I really do believe it was due to being overly connected because of social media and being involved in people’s lives. You get so busy and lose track and overschedule. I would sit and think, “Why do I feel this way when I have everything I have ever wanted?” and “Why am I not happy?” I really feel like it was an attack. Before I didn’t understand how people felt when they worried or had anxiety. I couldn’t relate to them because I hadn’t gone through it. But now that I have; I know that it is very real. If we can cut off the outside voices and the things that are pulling at us (at least in the first portion of our morning before the day begins) and get to a place alone with God, it will be a game charger. It may not relieve the worry and anxiety right away; I don’t want to make it sound easy. It’s not always easy to think yourself happy. But it is a choice every day. We have to make a conscious decision every day to say no to certain thoughts. You are enough, and with God all things are possible. Put scripture where doubt comes in. That was a time in my life that helped me grow stronger.
Strong women are transparent and real. That is the only way you can help people.
I just love Sis. Brandi; she’s one of my favorite people. She’s a joy to be around and brightens any room she walks into. When I think about becoming a mother someday, she’s someone I want to model myself after. She is full of wisdom and is truly after the heart of the Lord. I was personally challenged by her responses and have even decided to adopt a few of her ways. The first thing I do in the morning is turn off my alarm which is always followed by checking messages and social media. If I’m not careful, that could easily turn into an hour of simply lying in bed on my phone. The danger in this is I’ve just spent the first part of my morning connecting to other people and not to the Lord. I’ve spent my morning giving my “approval” to other people through likes and comments, instead of my thanks to God for my breath and heartbeat. Yes, we need connection to other people. But even more than that, we are wired for a connection with the almighty God. If we become too connected to people, and not connected enough to the Lord, we will find ourselves in a place of anxiety and comparison. This place will rob us of our joy. It reminds me of the old song that says, “I start my day with a prayer of thanksgiving. I start my day with a prayer filled with praise. I tell you I have learned the joy of living, and it’s based upon the way I start my day.” I hope you will take Sis. Brandi’s challenge and start your day with thanksgiving before anything else.