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Interview with Brianna VanderWeide, Founder of MakingMeNew Ministries

Updated: Jul 25, 2023

HS: Tell us a little about yourself, your dreams, and your purpose.

B: I recently turned 40, and I'm just now beginning to really see things about myself that have been in me all along; the passion and personality that God has been developing in me since I was a little girl. I've always been very sensitive and empathic, wanting everyone to know they are seen and loved. I told my husband recently that really the most accurate title for me on a business card would be “Friend.” I just want women to know they aren’t alone. I've spent the last 20 years working in both addiction facilities and in the local church to lead and shepherd women. Then, seven years ago, after a devastating experience of rejection and betrayal in a church, I felt led by the Lord to take these various experiences and birth a new thing: a nonprofit called Making Me New, which would be a local women’s ministry in Arizona where we seek to create a place of safety for all women to pursue a relationship with Jesus. I'd be lying if I didn't say that this journey has required a long boot camp in the wilderness. It turns out God was training me for this very year to launch my ministry dream, seven years later, but 40 years of preparing me for such a time as this!

HS: When did you delight in how God worked in your life? OR When did you delight in God’s favor in your life? What was the situation?

B: For years, I have felt God continually speaking Joel 2:25 to me, “I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten.” But what I especially love is the word usage in the NASB for ‘repay’ which is make up to you. I have been betrayed by man, but my God says He is going to make it up to me?! That part grips me. So I'm currently delighting in the truth of those words and seeing this come to fruition. I was driving down the road the other day with happy tears flowing down my face as I realized that some of the women in my ministry wouldn't be in my life if I hadn't gone through the wilderness because I met them IN the wilderness! I've come to cherish and delight in the God of the wilderness. This is where the fruit grows. This is where our character is tested. And I was determined to be crushed for His purpose, to become sweeter, not bitter.

HS: How did this make you feel? How did you respond emotionally? Physically?

B: I'm just so overwhelmed with gratitude. God still had a plan for me, even when I didn’t know if I could still see it. There were days the depression hit me so hard, I really wanted to give up. He was testing me. Would I wait on Him? Did I see His heart for me in making me wait? I feel like I've worked hard to maintain a healthy heart and a healthy spirit, and by that, I mean I am a big believer in seeking professional counseling! What I am currently discovering is how painful experiences affect us physically. I'm starting to scratch the surface of the physical healing process, dealing with chronic pain that has been living in my body as a result of the wilderness season beating me up quite a bit. And I know God will use this pursuit of physical health to make me a better and more compassionate leader to those who are also going through the journey of discovering how our bodies have been with us through every trial. God designed it that way: everything is connected.

HS: Did you experience any challenges or questions in the middle of this situation?

B: God forces us into storms, but then He meets us there. This is what Jesus did with His disciples, and that's what He has done with me. Graham Cooke says it perfectly, “God allows in His wisdom what He could easily prevent in His power.” This entire season in the wilderness has been a place that has required me to ask myself if I believe that the wisdom of God comes from His great love for me. He is making me more like His son and preparing me for the calling of leading a ministry crowned with compassion. That required a lot of pruning that I'm genuinely grateful for.

HS: What did you learn from this experience? About yourself? About God’s character?

B: I learned that suffering and grief are not talked about enough in the body of Christ, in my opinion. So that's become a theme I feel compelled to teach to women so that they will see God in their stories, in both the wilderness and on the mountaintops. So that they will understand what it means to truly pick up your cross and follow Him, and to do this for the joy set before you. Personally, I have learned that I have had a bit of a Messiah complex, and God had to address that so that I could be a healthier leader of women. It's interesting to me how many of us leaders can get really caught up in people-pleasing, and that's exactly the opposite of a healthy shepherd. A healthy shepherd doesn't bend down to ask the sheep if they like her. We are called to feed them, care for them, and lead with confidence and compassion because we are following the Great Shepherd ourselves. “Follow me as I follow Christ,” Paul says. I really want to live a life that echoes the words of John the Baptist: “I must decrease, and Christ must increase. I am called to preach the Word of God and introduce women to Jesus; that is all. I am not their Savior. (Insert my deep breath here, ha!)

HS: What truth or takeaway would you want other women in a similar situation to know?

B: God is good. It always comes back to whether or not we believe that. Since Genesis 3, the enemy’s greatest tactic is to challenge us if we really believe that our God is good. So we have to start there. And then we have to ask ourselves if we believe in His love. Maybe sometimes, we must beg that He will help our unbelief here! Because He desperately loves us. And there's nothing we can do to change His mind about us. And that same God allows trials to come about for our good, to make us persevering, mature, and not lacking anything. And then He promises to make it up to us. I can’t wrap my finite mind around Him, but I am so thankful to Him. And all I want is to please His heart in return.

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