Miss BrendaBrenda Spahn was a successful business woman. She held wealth. Her family would soon find retirement on Gulf Shores. Then Brenda found herself under investigation for tax fraud, a crime she did not commit. In the midst of her troubles, she prayed.

When the storm passed, she found herself at The Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women in Wetumpka, Alabama to volunteer. Her prayer turned into a vision.


Lovelady was Brenda’s maiden name. She prayed when her father died, to do something worthwhile and someday name whatever that might be after him. Overcoming enormous obstacles, Brenda welcomed seven newly released ex-cons into her home. This is the story of their first year together, including epic trips to Walmart. 

You will fall in love with Shay, Tiffany, Quincey, Terry, Annette, Melissa, Suzanne, Parthina, and Miss Brenda and their comedy of errors and great love. I love that the book includes thoughts from the lovelady’s themselves.


So beautiful is Miss Brenda’s ability to see these women; not their past, but who are they are deep inside and all their potential.


When all seems well, the neighborhood protests that ex-cons are living in proximity to them, insurmountable odds, even a bullet through the window. People sometimes fear proximity. They fear what is different.

And then there is God who is bigger…

A 280,000 square foot, four story old and abandoned hospital.


In 2005, the Lovelady Center opened, and is now recognized as the largest faith-based transitional center for women and children in the country.

Some of the women now work at the center. Including Shay…

Shay now greets our new residents- women just as scared and angry as she was- and tells them her story. And her words reassure them that with hope, anything is possible.

Comment below and win a copy of the book.

When you hear God do you listen, even when the odds seem impossible? 

7 thoughts on “proximity

  1. Wow, Lisa. This sounds like an amazing story. What a heart Miss Brenda has. And what divine vision. 🙂

    Honestly, I don’t always listen when God speaks. Sometimes it’s because I don’t realize it’s Him speaking. Other times, my doubt crowds out what He told me, convincing me either it wasn’t God or that it’s too big. But, nothing is too big for God, right?

    The times I have listened, I find that following what He’ s given me to do is never as easy as I would wish, but always more wonderful, worthwhile, and fulfilling in the end than I could imagine.

  2. What a great story! And it’s true! The best stories are.

    God sends me dogs. And yes, I listen, because I quite understand fear, pain, and loneliness.

    Pitunia JezeBull is a different little girl now. She’s secure, and a bit mouthy, and she and Bella have a great time yelling at each other. But if anyone would threaten Bella, Pitunia would be an ferocious defender.

    You make the difference where you can, I guess. This is where God’s told me to do it. It’s worth the sacrifice of all my previous dreams, to see the guys safe, secure, and happy.

    • I am, too. She’s a sweetheart, though not without attitude. She’s been welcomed by Ladron the Heeler (and roving goodwill ambassador) and Sylvia the Big Pit Bull (everyone’s dure mater…Latin for tough mother!)

      She feels wanted and secure, and that is the best gift for her – and us.

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