Destiny In Bloom

Embraced by Grace

Embraced by Grace

posted on April 16th, 2012 / by Brittani Riggie-Vannoy / 63 Comments

This is my story.

By the time I was 17, my second dad—the man who raised me—had abandoned me. When I hit the prime of my troublemaking years, there was no dad around to discipline me; only a brokenhearted mom. I could get away with just about anything. And I mean anything. I was that fatherless girl—scandalous, reckless and unruly—the untamed kind your momma said to stay away from.

I am leaving out the dirty details. One, because they aren’t the point, and two, it would take all day. These are the ugliest, most dreadful parts of my story. But it’s the damage left behind by my senseless, unmanageable behavior that makes my redeemed heart that much more beautiful.

In August of 2008, that careless, rebellious girl moved away to college with no supervision in sight. I made my own rules. Nobody was there to control me or place boundaries on my dangerous path toward destruction. I immediately caught the attention of the guy across the hall (let’s call him ‘G’). And we were in a relationship from that very first week until just a few weeks before school let out for summer.

*Insert dirty details here. I’m sure you can imagine the trouble I found when I got to live my rash and risqué lifestyle with no restrictions. Whatever awful mess you’re imagining, I probably did it.

The entire year is really just a blur of sex, drugs and alcohol. And no big surprise, one Thursday morning in April, I was staring at that weird plastic stick. It was screaming PREGNANT before I was even done peeing. ‘G’s’ only response, other than a blank stare was, “Why are you crying, Brittani? It’s fine!”

FINE? Really?? I was anything but fine; I have never felt so mortified, overwhelmed and weak. I was pregnant and my life seemed forever wrecked. I was convinced that I became garbage, and nothing could rescue me from this tragedy.

At this point in life, I rarely went to church—maybe once every 6 or 7 weeks. But I went to church that Sunday. I will never forget the vivid memory of the end of that service, standing with my head bowed and eyes closed, desperately begging God to hear me:

God, PLEASE, please make this baby die, if it is even a ‘real baby.’ Just do it right this minute so by the time I get home I’ll be bleeding and know that I’m okay, my life isn’t over, and I will be able to be happy again. Please, God. I am begging you.”

Interrupting my pitiful cry, Pastor Robert declared that famous one-liner, “If you died right now, are you sure you would go to heaven?” Great timing, right?

Well, okay, God; I probably won’t go to heaven NOW, since I asked that. I guess if you have to let it (if it’s a real baby) stay alive, I am going to need some serious miracles here. Because, God, I absolutely do not have the strength to handle this. I just can’t do it.”

Two weeks later, ‘G’ broke up with me. I’ll never forget the exact words he said: “Sorry, Brittani, but I want to have a life.” Have a life? I wanted to ‘have a life’ too! The kind he was referring to. One that a knocked-up girl just can’t participate in. But I couldn’t see right then that if anyone had a life, I did. That precious, innocent life inside me was bringing a bigger, better life than I had imagined in my wildest dreams.

In those next days, I had to deal with ‘G’ moving on to another girl. I can’t even begin to describe the pain of watching your boyfriend get together with some other girl minutes after dumping you. ESPECIALLY WHEN YOU’RE PREGNANT WITH HIS KID. Every minute was an hour, and I had nobody, absolutely nobody. I genuinely felt that there was nothing I could do, nowhere could I go, and I was destined for absolute misery for eternity. I could not escape the heartache and frustration of watching everyone else carry on with life while I sat fully crushed, broken and defeated. I repeatedly cried out to God:

“Why are You doing this to ME? Would you just solve ONE of these problems? Take just ONE of these punishments away from me? Please.”

After making it through the most devastating weeks of my life to that point, I ended up moving home. As months passed, I became less frightened of being pregnant and most of the torture began to disappear. But I still felt alone, unwanted and desperate.

All my life, I had been set on having an abortion if I ever got pregnant. I am so thankful that God’s plan is a million times better than my own. When I ended up pregnant, it was none other than a miracle from God that abortion didn’t cross my mind. I wasn’t at all opposed, and probably would have been first in line. God was right there protecting my daughter, and me, too. God saved that baby’s life, so she could save mine. Without her, who knows when I would have met Jesus or where I’d be right now.

When I was 7 months pregnant, a friend told me about a group for unwed pregnant girls called Embrace Grace. I had nothing better to do anyway, so I thought I might try it out. I was so anxious, I probably turned around 20 times before I actually got to the meeting that first night. I couldn’t grasp the idea of any church group for broken, knocked-up sinners like me. I figured it was a bunch of ‘churchy’ old ladies, pretending to like me but who would never see me as anything more than a slut. But, desperate for anything to hold onto, I went anyway. I had no idea when I walked in that Monday night I would never be the same again. My life and my destiny were completely changed, and with it, the life and destiny of my unborn baby girl.

There, I could escape being ‘that pregnant girl’, and just be Brittani. It didn’t matter that I was pregnant, or that I had made so many messy mistakes. These people simply wanted to love me. In our meetings, I heard familiar stories of God: about hope, forgiveness, and grace. It sounded pretty and perfect, but I felt sure those things didn’t apply to a girl like me. Of course, God forgives and Jesus died to cover it all, but I wanted to tell them, “You have no idea just how much junk I’ve got to cover!”

When I first saw God, it was when these brave, bold women of Christ chose to reach out and rescue me from my hopeless misery. They showed me God’s unconditional love and grace, and His huge plans for me despite my mistakes. They were brave enough to love the unlovely—that hopeless girl who I once was, and those usually shamed by society, especially church society.

One special EG testimony night, women came and told their own dirty details, and showed me that when they were damaged, lonely and knocked-up messes—God met them right there. I saw real miracles in women like me; they had happy families and husbands and babies. It was hard to believe at one time they were just as afraid, devastated, and pregnant as I was. I realized if God gave them a beautiful ending, maybe He would do that for me too. I finally understood that the God stories I had heard so many times counted for everyone, even imperfect disasters like me. Just maybe, He could remake this wild-child and let me be His child.

After that revelation, I was determined to see Him for myself, read with my own eyes, and experience Him on my own. I bought a Bible and spent nearly every minute left of my pregnancy in my bed reading it. The words that had seemed so meaningless and confusing all my life now made perfect sense; as if God wrote them just for me. I sought Him, and He found me. Right there in that frightening and hideous place where most people assume God would never go. His word made things perfectly clear—Jesus was mine and He would have died just for me—despite my cracks and stains. He completely loves me. Unconditional means NO CONDITIONS. He gave me a brand new heart and I was a brand new woman.

By this time, I had collected a million baby names and I changed my mind a hundred times a day. But, God called my baby girl by name before she was born. Only, months after she was born I realized exactly why He called her Scarlette.

[Scar-let: Adjective/ skarlit/ of a brilliant red color.]

I can’t think of a more brilliant red color than the color of the blood of Jesus. It’s that very blood that will allow me to spend eternity with my baby girl in Heaven. His scarlet blood…that’s my Scarlette. He planned for her to draw me to Jesus before she was ever born. SHE WAS BORN TO BREAK THE CHAINS. He didn’t deal me death for my sins; He blessed me with life instead.

Today, I’m 21, finishing my bachelor’s degree, and a very proud Momma to a gorgeous two-year-old princess. I teach Embrace Grace now, the same group that rescued me from the devastating darkness when I was pregnant. When I got pregnant I felt my life was completely shattered and I was sentenced to an eternity of feeling miserable and worthless. I was so unbelievably wrong. The promises of God have NO EXPIRATION DATE, and my hopes and dreams of a fairytale ending are not destroyed. His promises don’t change just because you get pregnant; actually, His promises to me became bigger and more beautiful when Scarlette’s life began. Now I get to experience each blessing with a beautiful little girl by my side. My God knows how to make beauty from even the ugliest ashes. And here I am nearly three years later—holding Jesus by one hand and my sweet baby with the other—and I am living a life more beautiful than anything I could ever have imagined.

About The Author

Brittani Riggie-Vannoy

Brittani is almost 22, and a single mom to the cutest, sweetest and spunkiest 2 year old in the world. Her favorite thing to do is dress up her baby girl in girly clothes and the biggest hair bows she can find! When not caring for her sweet daughter, she is juggling her homework and school projects. Brittani graduates with her bachelor's from Texas Woman's University in a few weeks, and plans to go back for her Masters. She is also a leader for Embrace Grace, a support group for single and pregnant girls. She loves encouraging and uplifting girls that have an unplanned pregnancy and sharing her own story of how God used her own pregnancy to save her! She loves to see miracles happen in girls in the shoes she's once walked in! She loves having fun with her girlfriends and she absolutely loves to LAUGH!

Brittani Riggie-Vannoy

63 Responses to “Embraced by Grace”

  1. Brittani is so inspirational to everyone she meets. Scarlette is truly her world and they're both a joy to be around! Love love love her!

  2. Wow!!! Your story is amazing. I hope many girls read it and get inspired!!

  3. Brittani, you are one of the strongest people I know. I'm amazed by your thoughtfulness, kindness, and optimism every time I see you. You are incredibly brave and that's what it takes to answer your calling, God's calling. I'm so very proud of you, and you are truly inspiring. Thank you for sharing your story and I'm so blessed to call you a friend

  4. Brilliant!! I can't tell you how proud I am to have known you through the years, and to have seen you grow into the amazing woman that you have become. You're awesome…

  5. Oh my sweet Brittani Megan ! I love you so much and am so proud of you- have always been will always be here for you and hope now you too realize what true unconditional love is and that your never alone- i knew from the day you were born that you would accomplish great things and touch so many lives. I thank god everyday for you and scar- she doesn't know it yet but has a one of a kind momma. I live you britty – mom

  6. Oh my sweet Brittani Megan- I knew from the minute you were born that you would accomplish great things in your life. You have always been such a people person and it's heart breaking to read how alone you felt- you can always depend on my unconditional love- as I know your realizing with Scarlette- that there is no love that's greater than the love a mother has for her child. I am proud of the mother you have become and the support you show to those who feel like you once felt. I have been so blessed by you and precious Scarlette and want to thank you for the loving woman, daughter, mother, sister and grand daughter you are. I LOVE YOU MORE- Momma

  7. I am crazy about this sweet friend of mine, and love her beautiful heart! I am always amazed at the way she has turned her world upside down and let Jesus mold her and use her for Him in every way possible. Her bravery is inspiring, and I know girls everywhere are being encouraged and lifted up by her story and her influence.

  8. I cannot be more proud of you. Happy tears are streaming down my face. I love you so much!!!

  9. Moved to tears!!!!!! Brittani is my hero and a walking example of the beauty that takes place when we fully accept and receive GRACE! She is an amazing friend, leader, encourager, and mother to Scar! This article was written so beautifully! I love the transparency written out here. Thank you for sharing it anf i know it will minister to many! God is so good!!!!

  10. Wow Britt! This is completely awesome. Have I told you lately how much I love you and Scarlettte? God has truly turned your ashes to beauty! Only eternity will reveal the true value and impact your life has had on so many "knocked-up" girls…just like you!

  11. Beautiful story Brittani!

  12. Brittani, you are a true woman of God. I LOVE you!! And I love how you share your story. You are a true inspiration to me and many others. Keep shining beautiful girl! Love you, Michelle

  13. I absolutely LOOOVE your story! You are amazing Brittany!!

  14. Beautiful. I can't tell you how blessed I have been to be able to watch this miracle unfold. You are amazing, Brit. You have the unyielding spirit of an overcomer and once that caught hold of Jesus? Well, there's just no stopping you now girl. No stopping you.

  15. I'm so proud of you Brit, so much love and compassion the Father has pored out on you, so you can pour out on others. I'm blessed to serve in this life with you. HUGS

  16. Such an amazing story and picture of Gods love!!!

  17. Wow Brit! You and your story are just simply amazing! You are such an awesome person and I am so happy to have you and Scar in our lives! Love you guys!!!

  18. Brittani is the most beautiful and graceful woman inside and out. Jesus shines His love through her face and touches everyone's heart when she speaks. Love you brittani and your story is incredible!!! You are so humble and full of grace. It's beautiful <3

  19. What an amazing, inspirational woman you are Brittani! You are my hero!

  20. Brittani you truly have a gift with words! Your testimony is beautiful and inspirational. I had to fight back tears reading every line. Undoubtedly God is not finished writing your story and I am excited to read the future chapters He helps you write. What a beautiful story Scarlette is also going to get to share with her friends someday too.

  21. BEAUTIFUL! Just beautiful! I love reading redemptive stories…they're so beautiful and encouraging! Thank you for boldly sharing your story that others may be encouraged! I cannot wait to see where the Lord takes you….your story is (to say it one more time) beautiful and I love how He has opened the door for you to share it! :0)

  22. I love you!! I'll never forget that testimony night….you could literally see the light bulb go off above your head. Do you have any clue how many bridesmaids you'll have when the Lord has you walk down the aisle?!?!? We are all so proud of you…for choosing the Lord. You are such a great example of the Embrace Grace ministry!…and to all of us pre marriage prego chicks. LOVE YOU LOVE YOU LOVE YOU!

  23. Brittani your an amazing mom, friend, daughter, sister, and christian. You have overcome so many obstacles alone and will continue throughout life but remember always to hold your head high because God can get you through anything (as shown). Love you sister friend!

  24. Such a beautiful story! With a baby on the way I really can't wait to see how much my life changes and to experience the love of a child! Your definitely an inspiration, keep up the amazing work Britt!

  25. Brittani,

    I had no idea you suffered this much so soon after high school, but I’m so happy to see that you realize that dark period of your life was a blessing in disguise. You have always been super fun and open minded, and I am happy to see you are another one of the million great mommies in the world. After all, not all of us have the luxury of having a great mom on stand-by! It is so exciting to see a beautiful girl work for herself, exceed past her own goals and TRULY be independent. BTW, You should keep writing!!!

     

  26. Brittany,your life is such a beautiful example of God's extravagant love! I am beyond blessed to call you friend. Thank you for for sharing your story with such transparency and allowing the father to use your life in such a real and tangible way. Love you sister girl!

  27. Tears of Joy flood my soul Brittani. Thank you for sharing your beautiful story.

  28. Amazing story!! It brought tears of happiness to my eyes! So happy for you Brittani!!

  29. I’ve known you for many, many years and your writing is such a great testimony; During your high school years, I WAS one of those mom's that told my daughter== “stay away from Brittani”. You have grown into a Special person and God has planted a seed in your heart – - always listen to your "heart voice" and He will give you direction and fulfill your dreams!

  30. I am so happy you shared your story with us. I never knew the struggles you went through. You are a tough young lady! Keep doing all of your good work! God bless girl!

  31. Brittani tears are streaming down my face as i read this. I am overwhelmed with joy at how our perfect and loving heavenly father swooped down in the darkness and picked you up and said "you are mine!" This isn't just a story of a young mother who "figured out a way" its a story of redemption by the King and Creator of the Universe who choose you and scarlette to call "my daughter." Your story displays the meaning of the cross… Jesus physically took on all of our pain, hurt, sin and shame and gave us a new life reconciled to him forever. I am so incredibly blessed by getting to see this life transformed just as he did with me. Thank you so much again for sharing

  32. Love your story and love you Brittani! Such an inspirational testimony to others of God's power and love in your life!!!!!!

  33. Wow looking at you I would have never thought you went through all of that right out of high school. Your a very strong woman and a great mother :) Your story made me cry, you need to keep writing I really think this is a gift from god also <3

  34. Brittani! Out of everyone in our graduating class I don't think there is anyone we could be more proud of. You are such an amazing woman and Scarlette is such a lucky little girl to have you as her mom. You're beautiful from the inside out and there is no telling what you can accomplish!

  35. You made me cry too, beautiful and well written testimony!

  36. I am proud to call U friend, you're so beautiful & I'm thankful to have shared a bittersweet time in both of our lives ( the beginning of a NEW life in Jesus! ) together. Beautiful, raw & the transparency helps us all to see how lovely our Father really perceives us to be. Hugs!

  37. Words can't express how proud of you I am! I hope I am half the mom you are one day. I love you so much <3 Can't wait to watch your fairytale play out with my own eyes.

  38. I agree with Katy, this story shows that you have become a kindhearted and compassionate person, a transformation that shows the power of God. I am happy that you have found such peace and love in your life and wish you all the best!!

  39. Brittani-your story is going to impact many, many lives: your AUTHENTICITY is the key! Thanks for keeping it real and showing us a real life story of His grace. I think God is writing your story down in heaven-He's got great plans for you!

  40. Thank you so much for sharing! I got pregnant at 19 and now have a BEAUTIFUL 13 year old :) It's hard, but without my daughter, I'd probably be dead :) Lol!

    If you ever need anything, my name is Heather. I go to Gateway and even if it's just advice, I am here. My email address is heatherproughbrown@gmail.com.

  41. Brittani… I haven't known you very long but I do truly believe you're an amazing girl… I hate to read that you felt so alone but I'm so glad you realize you're not now!! You are a young mom and even younger when you had that beautiful baby girl & it's awesome the role you've taken on and are so good at it!! The world needs strong women and you make us all proud to say we know you!! Keep going strong and know that you're beautiful inside & out :) Tracey B

  42. Wonderful. Just wonderful. So blessed that you are part of God's Forever Family!

  43. Me too kels love you tthanks for being britts rock

  44. Brittani…I am so proud of you. Let me say the easiest part first. You are a writer! Your words are packed with power and art. Now the big deal…You are stinking brave and powerful. Scared girls everywhere need to stand up and take note: The truth WILL set you free, and you just put it all out there. So beautiful the way you share your story as a way of changing the story for others. Without hesitation and with real grace (of course I know where you learned that…) you told a real story and stood down shame and accusation to declare God's goodness in the midst of your…stuff. Hold your head up, and keep changing the world! I am proud to know you.

  45. I love that our God loves the messy, broken, and helpless because no matter our stories- ALL of us are! This testimony is a modern-day Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers and repeatedly shows evidence of God's constant sovereignty over our lives. Well done, good and faithful servant!

  46. Lovely story of God's grace and redemption! And what a wonderful ministry Embrace Grace offers! Not to mention how beautifully written this is! Many blessings Brittani!

  47. Brittani, I don't know you personally. I live in New York. I'm a Twitter follower and Facebook friend of Bob Hamp. When he said you were his new hero, I had to read your story. I was moved by your testimony and what God has done and continues to do in your life. I look back on my own life and wish there had been a group like Embrace Grace. That in and of itself is a miracle ministry. I praise the Lord for your joy and willingness to be transparent –pointing the way to how we can KNOW God's grace extends to us, too.

  48. "I finally understood that the God stories I had heard so many times counted for everyone, even imperfect disasters like me"
    THAT is my favorite sentence!! It is like a song I want to sing to everyone…. That's WHO Jesus died for. Brittani, YOU are amazing, Thank you for sharing your story!!!! Every time I come to EG, you always make me smile.. girl you have the world at your feet.. Keep loving Him, loving that precious girl, and loving yourself!! There is sooo much ahead for YOU!! Hugssssss and love Kerrie

  49. Wow….I am blessed beyond measure with your testimony. Thank you for your courage in sharing it!

  50. Brittani! thank you, thank you for sharing your heart, your SOUL, your life with us!
    Everything everyone has said is true, and I could never expound any better.. But I will concur: you are an amazing woman of God and I am honored to know you and sweet Scarlet!! Love you and keeping you and your wonderful future in my prayers!!

  51. Brittani,

    So beautiful and brave hearted! I loved hearing your story and the bull horn the Lord has put behind it to bring hope to many.

    I went with Mel that testimony night, I remember your demeanor and face … today I can truly say … HE has made you radiant and you shine as a woman marked by her God for greatness!

    Thank you so much for trusting us (DIB) with your story and your heart!

    Great Love! ~ Marissa

  52. Wow !thank you Brittani !

  53. Thank you so much for sharing your story!!! It is such a blessing to hear how God has blessed your life!!! He has amazing things in store for you and your beautiful Scarlette!!!

  54. Brittani,

    You are an amazing young woman and I am so blessed to have you in my life!!!!

    As always I am very proud of you for sharing your story!

    Love you,
    Tina

  55. Brit I love you and never get tired of hearing your story. Keep up the great work. Chrissy and chloe

  56. Brittani,

    I had no idea the sorrow you suffered that blossomed into an intriguing, inspiring, and beautiful story! I love you & Scarlette! Praise God!

  57. In tears reading your story and knowing the power of God to transform any woman who will turn to Him. Thank you for transparently sharing so others can know the love of Jesus.

  58. Love what God has done in your life!

  59. I love you so much Brittani!!!! You are one of the strongest, most beautiful women that I know and you are the most incredible mommy to Scarlette!! I will never forget the night that I met you and I instantly knew that God had a great plan in mind when He introduced us! I am honored to call you my friend and sweet sister in Christ!

  60. LOVE your transparency Brittany!!! You are my hero!!! Talk about a true princess story!! Your DADDY(God) resuced you!! Thank you for sharing your story, lives are being transformed bc of your willingness to share your story, not as a victim, but as a strong princess warrior willing and ready to show her battle scars to others to let them know that God loves them right where they are!!

  61. I am so proud of you! It took much vulnerability and courage to put pen to paper, and share all this! Love how you brought light, so beautifully, to God's unbelievable faithfulness, love,and grace. LOVE YOU! BELIEVE IN YOU! EXCITED TO SEE WHAT GOD STILL HAS FOR YOU!! :)

  62. Brittani,
    Your story is a picture of redemption!! God came in and totally redeemed you and washed you white as snow. You portrayed your life in a way that we could truly glimpse and see what you had to encounter. I am so so so proud of you and the beautiful transformations that God has done in and through you. You are such a beautiful mommy and such an encouragement to the other new mommies around you. Scarlette is such a blessing and so thankful you both are in my life to get to love on!!! Such an honor! "Sweep me away in your love" is what you do! Just like Kari Jobe's song you encourage others to be swept away by God's love where nothing else matters but you and Jesus and you trust Him that He will be all you ever need! I saw a Haverty's truck the other day with this sign on it… I wrote it down and held it in my heart… and it is for you too… "You can have your fairytale ending!" Love you dearly!!

  63. Wow! This is one of the most inspirational stories I've ever read. This is completely beautiful. You chose life along with Jesus. You stepped out in faith and made a choice, relying on God to lead you. Now, he's blessing you as you bless others. Your choice for good is reaping a huge harvest of good for other women and children. Amazing story!