Friday, April 4, 2014

Miss Brenda and The Loveladies by Brenda Spahn and Irene Zutell

After Brenda Spahn nearly went to prison herself, she felt God calling her to prison ministry. After just a few visits to the Tutwiler Women's prison in Alabama, she knew God wanted her to do more...she just didn't know what. She found that many of the women she ministered to in the prison were repeat offenders. Meaning that soon after they got out of prison, they were back to their old habits and ended up right back at Tutwiler. Brenda thought this was ridiculous and looked into what type of programs were available for the women once they were back onto the street.

What she found surprised her. There were little to no programs available for these type of women. There were halfway houses that provided a bed and 3 warm meals a day, but they didn't offer any kind of counseling, or rehabilitation to get back on their feet. The women that entered these halfway houses often went back to their old friends, old ways of life, and eventually back to prison. Brenda knew there was a better way.

Her husband, Jeff was in real estate and Brenda owned a Tax company, so money wasn't really an issue. She and her husband had plenty to spare even though they had planned to use that money to retire. So Brenda decided to open up one of her homes to house the first 7 ex-convicts. This is where the book turned a little humorous at times. Like the time the first 7 women showed up to Brenda's house and she refers to one of the women as "Shaved Head" because she was so stinkin scary looking! She thought for sure she had made a terrible mistake and these women were going to kill her in her sleep.

But throughout the first year, she learned so much from these women. She learned that yes, she was helping these women get their lives back, but they were showing her something about herself that she never would have known about. And most importantly, Brenda learns the importance of letting God direct her paths instead of her just doing what she wants. After just a few years, Brenda's program is helping 450 women and children per day! What an incredible ministry!

From the moment I saw this book was available for review, I was interested in it. I found it to be a serious book, yet it was also full of humorous stories and conversations between the women. At times, the chapters were heartbreaking as they alternated between the points of view of Brenda and some of the different women including Shay (Shaved Head), Tiffany (Suga Suga), and Stephanie just to name a few. It was horrible to think about the abuse that some of these women suffered as children. It was interesting to see how many of those women were arrested in development at such a young age. So many of the women came to look at Brenda as their own mother because they had no relationship with their own.

It was encouraging to see how much God worked in each women's life while they were in the Lovelady House. Many of them were able to reestablish relationships with their children and in a way, were able to start all over.

I rate this book as 4 stars and would definitely recommend it. I received this book for free from Waterbrook Multnomah  Publishing Company in exchange for my honest unbiased opinion.

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