Brenda Warner is the wife of NFL superstar and Dancing with the Stars alum, Kurt Warner. By all outward signs, she lives a charmed life, to be sure, but only a few years ago, she found herself living through any woman’s nightmare: a healthy baby tragically injured in the bathtub; a sudden end to a career she loved; betrayal and divorce; poverty; public humiliation; a deadly natural disaster that destroyed her foundation and shook her to the core. One shattering phone call at a time, Brenda Warner’s life came to resemble little of her dream.
Brenda shares her story in her new memoir, One Call Away: Answering Life’s Challenges with Unshakable Faith, which offers real-life advice to single moms, parents of children with special needs, people who are grieving or dealing with unexpected deaths, and other struggles in the face of difficult circumstances.
As Brenda points out in her book, each time her plans fell apart, she faced a choice: to collapse in the face of tragedy or press forward and survive. She chose to keep going. In the process, “I wrote my book because I wanted my kids to know why I am the person I am,” she said. “I also think it’s important to give other women who have gone through similar issues as I have had hope, especially when it’s only, as I say, “one call away” to a merciful and loving God.”
All American Girl
Brenda describes herself as a “typical American girl next door,” with parents who worked at the local John Deere plant in a small town. She was a cheerleader and a “Jesus freak” in high school. She wanted to go to college, although she didn’t want to burden her parents with making tuition payments, so she joined the Marines. Inspired by a family relative who had been a Marine drill instructor, she chose that as her career goal.
After finishing high school, she shipped off to boot camp. While still in the service, she met the man who would become her first husband, Neil, a fellow Marine. The two soon married and had a son, Zack. When Zack was just four months old, Brenda’s husband called her while she was at work. Zack was breathing funny. It was only the first of many phone calls she would receive that would turn her life upside down.
“We took Zack to the doctor, but even after he had been there for a while and examined, my husband hadn’t told anyone what really happened to him,” Brenda said. “After some time, he finally confessed that he had accidentally dropped Zack in the bathtub. As a result, Zack became permanently brain damaged and blind.”
Gone with a Flash
Brenda is a beautiful blond with a sunny disposition and a quick smile, even when she discusses her trials and tribulations. The reason? “It wasn’t until a lot of these things happened in my life that I realized that whatever happens, God is always there. All I have to do is ask, and He is there for me. That gives me confidence now that whatever comes my way I can handle [it], because I know He is there.”
Interestingly, Brenda traces many of the events in her life by the phone calls that she received informing her of the news. An example is when a pony she received as a child, Flash, had been hurt and blinded in an accident.
Despite his handicap, Brenda still loved the pony, and even with his blindness, he trusted her to navigate him through the world around him.
Another phone call that Brenda received that was especially difficult was when her parents were killed when a tornado struck their community, destroying their home and everything surrounding it. Their home’s foundation was all that remained after the tornado ravaged their small town, yet even after seeing the damage in person, Brenda didn’t want to believe her parents were gone.
That’s when Brenda had a talk with God. “I remember telling God that even though I knew he was powerful enough to create a tornado, why didn’t He leave the people? I knew that everything is possible with God, but that wasn’t what was happening in my life.”
Brenda’s worst fears were confirmed when she was asked to visit the local morgue to identify two victims that were thought to be her parents. After confirming the worst, she knew her parents were gone. In fact, the only possession that ended up being saved from their home was a 6th grade picture of Brenda that had been found at a nearby convenience store.
Walking the Talk
“The thing that kept really bothering me was that I had always been taught that when I lived my life with honor and integrity, the things that the Marine Corps teaches, that things would turn out well for me,” Brenda explained. “The trouble was, I was trying to do that and nothing was turning out well for me. The trouble was that I was putting my faith and trust in things that the Marine Corps taught, not in the things of God.”
In addition to enduring numerous devastating incidents and many challenges in her life, including her first husband’s infidelity and their subsequent divorce, years of poverty and food stamps, a new relationship with a promising football player named Kurt Warner, and the pressures that his sudden success brought to bear on a new and growing family, Brenda came to realize that God is always just one call away.
Walking with God
“I hope that my story will give women everywhere hope that God is close and that He will provide,”
Brenda said. “I hope that my story provides hope and encouragement for anyone who is facing difficult challenges in their life. Our circumstances don’t define who we are, nor are they a measure of the love God has for us. God has a plan for each of us, even when our plans crumble and fall apart. I think that if my life proves anything, it’s the fact that sometimes the best dreams are not the ones we create for ourselves, but the ones that come true when we least expect them. All we have to do is to remember that God is only one call away, and to trust Him when he answers our prayers.”
Today, Brenda is a speaker, philanthropist and author. She and her husband, Kurt Warner, are the parents of seven children. They make their home in Scottsdale, Arizona.