Brenda Bradford Ottinger
About the Author

Brenda is wife to the husband of her youth and mom to three sons who grew up overnight. A writer who enjoys encouraging women in life and faith, she has a tender heart for authentic community and belongingness. Lover of all things southern, her happy place is any porch, anywhere.

(in)side DaySpring: things we love
& you will too!
Find more at
(in)side DaySpring:
things we love
& you will too!
Find more at
Recent Posts

Reader Interactions


  1. “Why are we so prone to denying ourselves grace?”, what a profound question, that really hits home for me! About five weeks ago we moved from our home in Indiana to plant a church in Georgia. Although we are assured of His will and excited to see it come to pass, I find myself anxious to find my new “normal” and my thoughts are filled with the loving church and ministry we left behind. Stuck in the “uns” is exactly how I feel. Unfamiliar, uncertain, uninvited…. but God is good and through His Word He is drawing me close and teaching me how to find my greatest joy in Him. Thank you for sharing your words of grace, its another avenue God has used to encourage me. I have only recently found this website; the blogs have been sucha blessing to me!

    • Wow, such a fresh move for you. ((Hug)) Will pray for you to get past the “Uns” quickly, and settle in well. Hope you love Georgia as you grow a new ministry and new friendships there. (We spent about a decade in Indiana. 🙂 ) Happy Thanksgiving to you. *hug*

      • And a wonderful Thanksgiving to you & yours as well from Donnie O’Brien your newfound friend who is a disabled Navy Vietnam war Veteran who served his country proudly n honorably & would do it again if I wasn’t 64 years YOUNG!(:+0)!!!!
        PEACE BE WITH Always & Forever n ever, Amen! (:+0)!!!

  2. Brenda,
    Oh so tickled, sweet friend, to be reading you here on (in)courage. As I read, I kept saying, “Yes, yes, yes!!” I/We meet out grace to everyone else in large portions, but when it comes to ourselves, we somehow think that we not only need to rise above, but we need to shine. We are quick to deem the days we stayed in our pajamas all day as failures. What if, like you said, putting our feet on the floor and putting one foot in front of the other, is indeed, rising above?? The beautiful scripture promises of God’s faithfulness that you referenced, may we hold them up in the face of the “Uns” and boldly say, “Get behind me!” to the enemy. My thanksgiving this year will not resemble a Norman Rockwell painting. So thankful that God is in the business of redeeming pain. Thanks for the encouragement that my “getting through and offering praise and thanks” is truly rising above.
    Blessings and have a wonderful Thanksgiving sweet friend,
    Bev xo

    • Hey friend. 🙂 Thank you for sharing these wise thoughts this morning. I’m sorry your thanksgiving won’t be Rockwell-ish this year. ((Hug)) If there’s anything I can do, let me know. Prayers for y’all. xoxo

  3. This is an amazing reminder that being strong doesn’t mean looking perfect to those around us! Being strong means relying on God’s grace when everything is falling apart. Keeping God as our hope and our peace during these times is what we are called to do! Thank you for this reminder as we enter into Thanksgiving this year 🙂

    • “Being strong means relying on God’s grace when everything is falling apart.” <—— Love these thoughts of yours, Nicole. Thank you for sharing. Happy Thanksgiving! 🙂

  4. I could picture the table and special chair. Yes, that’s class. 🙂
    Transitions are hard and not feeling like you have a place yet is a struggle. When we have to cling to God even tighter, that’s where all the goodness is found!

  5. Hi Brenda!!
    Love this reminder!! “All doesn’t need to feel well to be well!” Holding into that today!! So exciting to see your work here!! Happy Thanksgiving fellow Hope*Writer!!

    • Hey, Leigh! 🙂 I think a lot of us are holding onto that disguised blessing today. (Says the crazy chic whose lost her ever-livin’ mind and has to go to the grocery store this afternoon. The day before Thanksgiving! Ack. 🙂 ) Thanks for sharing, Leigh. Happy Thanksgiving! 🙂

  6. In all of our “Un’s”, He has an opportunity to show forth His glory. My most fond Christmas memory as a child was when my own mother was in a state of un. But in the rooming house full of men, we had our one quiet room, table top tree and love abounding. A beautiful time it was. Thanks for sharing your heart.

    • That’s so often the case, isn’t it, Tyra? 🙂 The simplest things are the profound things. How easy it can be to forget that in the rush of a full life. Thanks for sharing this sweet memory, Tyra. Happy Thanksgiving to you! 🙂

  7. “The disguised blessing in life is that all doesn’t need to feel well to be well.”. Just this morning God was talking to me about hoiw feelings lie. Its a message He’s been working in me this year. I love how he affirms His messages to me through others. Thank you for being His vessel today.

  8. Brenda, this so resonates with me on so many levels. Family, school, ministry, Thanksgiving…… Can you spell overwhelmed? I know I have been “called” to do this, but all that this encompasses, and not in the perfection sense, oh no, not perfection at all, is a lot. But living in this Grace will help, and keep me centered. I will remember the Grace, and live to please Jesus Who gives Grace. To live imperfectly, and to live in the Thankfulness of Jesus Who gives me all things. You’ve blessed me today, I can feel the tears of how I feel, and also the tears for the timing and appreciation of your devotion today. Well timed. Joanne

    • (((Joanne))) Prayers for you, sister. I can spell overwhelmed well…all too well. I hear ya. Love these words of yours, “…Jesus who gives grace to live imperfectly…” Your words have blessed me right back. 🙂 I pray the Lord will meet you in the middle of it all this Thanksgiving and give you peace in His presence. ((Hug))

  9. Thank you for this. “…isn’t it just like God to tuck divine lessons into the most ordinary of life?” Currently 5.5 hours from home and 5.5 hours from our planned Thanksgiving destination, sitting in a hotel room next to the car dealership while a new transmission and water pump are installed in our vehicle. I’ve been wishing for and missing some quality family time with my husband and infant, and the Lord has granted that request in an unusual way – two nights here while our vehicle is repaired.

    Your post was so timely. Thank you!

    • Oh my goodness. Well, feels strange to say — glad you had car trouble — but, yay…for car trouble. 🙂 Love that you’re finding God amidst your detour, HK, thank you for sharing. 🙂 Hope everything goes well for y’all. Happy Hotel-Table Thanksgiving. 🙂

  10. My darling daughter shared your blog with me, saying, “The Lord said share this with you, mom, I know it will encourage you, like it did me.” She was (as usual) right. Thank you for penning these words of encouragement. I put on my brave face every day as I go to work, leading a group of ladies, some saved, some unsaved, trying to be a blessing to those who are struggling while trying to help earn a living for their own families, go to the nursing home to care for my mom who is on hospice, take care of my home and my husband and my other daughters and all of those “mom” things we all do, while internally flogging myself for failing to “shine”. I especially love your ending reminder “Because we know He’s in the business of redeeming the days of affliction.”
    And Redemption always rises above. REJOICE! and again I say REJOICE!

    • (((Lori))) Thank you for candidly sharing the vulnerable. I know so many of us can relate. Sounds like you have a servant’s heart. Prayers that you’ll uncover pockets of rest this holiday and be refreshed. *hug* (((sweet blessings))

      • Thank you Brenda! Your blog is a pocket of rest for my soul. I appreciate your kindness.
        Hugs back to you!

  11. Brenda, thank you for a peek inside a memorable time for you and your family. My whole life feels like a card-table Thanksgiving where I’ve placed too much concern over the outside of the cup and not enough on what I’m putting into it. But God…don’t you just love those two words? Surrender to God is the key. He knows what we need when. Under His mighty wing, all will be well.

    • “But God” makes all the difference, doesn’t it? When we’re in the “un,” He’s busy in the “but,” making a way where there seems to be no way. Love Him. Thank you for sharing, Gleniece. 🙂 Happy Thanksgiving to y’all.

  12. How is it we women get so tired? We just give out more than we get sometimes, and while we are in a time of thanksgiving we also nee His peace and rest, so however we celebrate, going out, cooking up a storm or even turkey sandwiches, as long is the Lord is invited, it will be a blessing.

    • “…as long as the Lord is invited, it will be a blessing.” <—- Amen, Rebecca. Love that. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. 🙂

  13. “Those days when we wake up overwhelmed, yet pull off the covers and put our feet on the floor anyway, we’re rising above.” – Thank you for this!! I so needed to hear this today :).

    • Truth be told, Mandy…I did too. Those covers came off heavily today for me too. We rose above together, sister. Thank you for sharing. Happy Thanksgiving. *hug*

  14. Brenda, beautiful! My family and I experienced a Christmas much like your Thanksgiving. Moving to Okinawa, Japan three weeks before Christmas was lonely and upsetting. Living in a small room on base, with no tree and no family to celebrate the holiday. But you know what? My kids still talk about that Christmas. Memories made in the “un”. Thank you for sharing.

    • Hey, Michele. 🙂 Christmas in Japan in the “un,” sounds like a sweet memory. 🙂 It’s often the things we don’t dress up that seem to mean the most to our kids, isn’t it? 🙂 Thanks for sharing. 🙂 Happy Thanksgiving!

  15. I loved this post, Brenda. You reminded me that all is well because God is faithful and that’s more than enough. It’s only now that I write these words that it strikes me that this fits so well with my #oneword for the year: enough. Imagine that! This is the lesson that God has been whispering to me this entire year: His love is more than enough for me. I pray it is for you too!
    Happy Thanksgiving!

    • “Enough.” I love that, Marva. Would love to read a post about how He’s used it in your life this year. Love reading those end-of-the-year posts about our words of the year. 🙂 His love is such a mystery to me, but—you’re so right…it’s more than enough. (And, now I shall have that song “Christ is enough for me” playing in my head for approximately 22 days. 😀 ) Thank you for sharing, Marva. Happy Thanksgiving. 🙂

  16. THANK YOU for speaking words that brought comfort and a glimpse of hope to my weary weary heart. Maybe I am, mysteriously and unrecognizably, rising above. And thank God that we can trust that Redemption always is.

  17. Brenda, I loved this encouragement to find the blessings in our “un” times. Rising above by keeping my eyes on Jesus! Thank you for sharing your heart and a peak into your life, sweet friend. xoxo

  18. Thanks for this great post! We’ve had to add funny chairs to our table for a special dinner because more people showed up. It is true, that we were okay, because we figured out how to fit them in and how to make it work. Although, at the time I didn’t think of it that way. Maybe now, I’ll remember your post the next time I think I’m in a tough situation. Thanks!

  19. Yes, sometimes getting out of bed is success and we are rising above. Why do we judge ourselves so harshly? We all want the traditional picture perfect Thanksgiving (or whatever event), but the ones we remember the most are the ones that are out of the ordinary. the ones that are so different than normal. I love you having Thanksgiving on a card table and folding chairs. Scandalous, I know, but something you will never forget and it will turn into a wonderful family story. We visited my dad in his very small apartment one year over Thanksgiving and I managed to cook a whole Thanksgiving meal in his small kitchen with barely any counter space, and then we ate the meal on a fold up vinyl card table and folding chairs. It was the company and time together that made it perfect. My dad died last year and boy would I love to eat one more Thanksgiving dinner again in his small living room on a card table.

    • Theresa,
      I’m so sorry for your loss, and understand how much it can affect you, especially during the holidays. It’s good to hear such a sweet memory of your dad, and the special time that you shared together.
      Prayers that you have a blessed Thanksgiving with new memories to share,


  20. BRENDA! Thank you for writing these words that are also my current life, except first Thanksgiving living in a motorhome. I felt like we alwere sitting together! Needed those scripture truths also.

  21. Brenda,
    While we have already celebrated Thanksgiving in Canada, I am thankful you have shared your encouraging words.

    What a comfort: “The blessing disguised in life is all doesn’t have to feel well to be well, …..His security is sustainable because His promises are faithful.”

    I hope that you all have a very blessed & Happy Thanksgiving,


  22. Thank you for this….it so resonated with me as we celebrate Thanksgiving in South America where the temps are up and the culture doesn’t even know today is a holiday. But we are going to keep looking to God to fulfill the needs of our hearts, and know that the turkey couldn’t do that anyways. Best to you in your transition!

  23. Brenda,

    My Thanksgiving this year started at the assisted living eating a nicely prepared turkey meal with my aging dad. Then I took him for a short walk. Back to his room & got him ice cream & a soda. The place was decorated attractively. Then on to eat with in-laws, hubby, nephews & great nephews. No Normal Rockwell or even Martha Stewart-just good food with good company. That is what Thanksgiving is all about.

    We need to give ourselves grace when life gives us the Uns. I have been in an up and down cycle with my aging dad & his dementia for two years. My life was unpredictable. I rose up each day and treaded into work praying and hoping no phone calls. With God’s wonderful grace and mercy I made it through that time. Now my dad is healed back to his normal. I work a part time job, thanks to God & still have time to visit my aging dad 4 times a week.

    Blessings 🙂

  24. Poignant and so powerful Brenda. Thank you for sharing this post Bev. Brenda, I am always encouraged when I read the words that God has put on your heart. I love how God knows just what we need. I received some unexpected news last night. I know God is faithful and I will trust Him. I thank Him each day for the unmerited grace He bestows on me. Thank you for sharing such a thought provoking story and giving us a glimpse of your story of faith. Have a fantastic holiday weekend and may God bless you both and your families..

  25. I love that God meets us where we are even when we feel un-everything. This was just the message I needed today when I woke up feeling un-grateful among other things. Thanks Brenda!

  26. I’m sitting up a little straighter here thinking about those times I have “risen above,” and didn’t even know it. Thank you for reminding us to be gracious to ourselves as we are to others. I’m also remembering holidays of years past, in new homes that just didn’t feel right. A sense of familiarity was missing–such a big part of the warm and cozy atmosphere associated with this time of year. We missed our previous home, the church family left behind, and the traditions unique to that congregation. Yet we “rose above,” and celebrated anyway as best we could. Thank you, Brenda, for your words of encouragement!

  27. This was delightful, Brenda! On Christmas Eve we savored tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches with my in-laws. It was sweet, simple and without stress. I’m still in process with extending myself grace. I’ve lived a lifetime as a performer… weary I am 🙂