By Dan Merica, CNN
Washington (CNN) – In a stadium filled with 8,000 evangelical Christian women, one person near the stage stands out.
Sporting short salt-and-peppered hair, broad shoulders and a high-collared shirt, the man sits calmly as ballerinas flutter across the stage, women tell jokes about menopause and the event’s emcee announces that almost all the men’s rooms at the Verizon Center in downtown Washington have been converted to female restrooms for the night, provoking a round of applause.
For Kurt Warner, former quarterback for the St. Louis Rams and Arizona Cardinals and two-time National Football League MVP, this is about as far away from the testosterone-driven world of the gridiron as you can get.
Onstage is the reason Warner’s here: Brenda Warner, her angular face and close-cropped blonde hair radiating in professional lighting, telling the audience about God’s plan for her life.
For years, Brenda was known as Kurt’s uber-supportive wife – a woman whose unflinchingly defense and championing of her superstar husband sometimes made news in it its own right.
Today, two years into Kurt’s retirement, those roles are changing.
My Faith: What people talk about before they die
Brenda has become what some call "Christian famous" - a renowned evangelical speaker who tours the country with the likes of the 2012 Women of Faith tour, which will reach tens of thousands of Christian women with a message of hope and faith. As one of the tour’s headliners, Brenda will travel the country each weekend until November to tell her story – one of heartbreak, love and growth.
Through much of it, Kurt will be there with her, sitting in the audience as his wife does her thing before throngs of adoring fans.
“Brenda Warner is no longer Kurt Warner’s wife,” one awestruck woman says after listening to Brenda’s story at the Verizon Center. “Kurt Warner is now Brenda Warner’s husband.”
‘We need each other, we all have a story’
Brenda Warner’s story is a tear-jerker, whether or not you accept the God part.
When she was 18, she joined the Marine Corps, a job that took her from her hometown of Parkersburg, Iowa, to bases in Japan and in Virginia Beach, Virginia – where she would marry another Marine and give birth to a baby boy.
When Brenda begins to explain her life to the crowd in Washington, women applaud for the lines about joining the Marines and having baby Zachary.
Then the story takes a dark turn.
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While working one day in Virginia Beach, Brenda got a phone call that changed her life. Her husband had dropped Zachary on his head, an accident that would leave their toddler legally blind and developmentally disabled. Speaking in Washington, Brenda recounts the scene at the hospital.
“Zachary had a seizure – they worked around him trying to stop it,” she says. “I did all that I knew to do – I called out, ‘Jesus, Jesus, let this be the last seizure.’”
A hush has fallen over the stadium. Women wipe tears from their cheeks; one has pulled her pink T-shirt over her eyes.
She and her husband struggled to make things work with Zachary, Brenda continues. She got pregnant again, she tells the audience, but when she was a month from her due date her husband told her he had feelings for another woman. “I got out of bed, I called home and said mama come get me,” she says. “He doesn't love me, after all that we have been through.”
Brenda became a registered nurse, largely to learn how to better cope with Zachary’s condition. To make ends meet, she stood in line for food stamps and moved out of her parent’s basement and into low-income housing.
Then, another bombshell.
One night in 1996, Brenda’s sister called to report that their mother and father, who had retired to a cabin in Arkansas, had been killed in a tornado. Their house had been wiped off the map.
“They were always my soft place to fall,” Brenda tells the crowd.
At this point, the woman with her head in her T-shirt is a sobbing headless body. But as quickly as she has just dropped the mood, Brenda builds it up by telling the women that God brought her through it all.
“I married that football player,” she says, gesturing toward Kurt. “He adopted my two and we have five more.” Tears are giving way to applause.
Kurt and Brenda Warner first met when Kurt was playing college football at University of Northern Iowa.
CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories
Near the end of the speech, Brenda brings Zachary out to say hello to the crowd.
“If you have ever felt like life has cheated you, stand up with me,” Brenda says. “If you have ever felt disappointed in life, stand with me. If you have ever received a call that changed your life forever, brought you to your knees and took your breath away, look around, we are all in this together, we need each other, we all have a story.”
Afterward, many women say they saw themselves in Brenda’s story.
“She is just a normal everyday mom raising a family just like everybody,” says Sena Hohman, her two daughters accompanying her to the event. “Hearing these stories, you find out she is just like me, with ups and downs in life, with peaks and valleys.
“To be able to see somebody has overcome” what she has, said Judy Gerlitz from Centerville, Virginia, “shows me that I can do it.”
Super Bowl champion, philanthropist
When she’s offstage, Brenda and Kurt often operate as a team in their faith-based work.
On the recent Friday morning before Brenda addresses the Women of Faith conference, the couple find themselves in a small, bland conference room in downtown Washington.
Kurt takes notes while Brenda’s eyes stay fixed on the architect who’s briefing them. The topic: plans for a multi-apartment home for developmentally disabled young adults that the Warners want to build in their hometown of Scottsdale, Arizona.
The project is inspired by Zachary, now a 23-year-old high school graduate.
“Zach has probably impacted more people than all of us combined because there is something unique and special and honest about these individuals that see it like it is and call it like they see it,” Kurt says.
Zachary lives in a group house in St. Louis. The Warners are modeling the group home they’re building in Arizona, called Treasure House, on the St. Louis Life concept for independent living for those with special needs.
At the meeting in Washington, Kurt is very much in control, with the architect and a consultant urge the Warners to use Kurt’s celebrity to help raise funds. “Leverage your history,” the consultant says, looking at Kurt and talking football.
Kurt’s story, like Brenda’s, includes some letdowns. After going unselected in the 1994 NFL draft as a quarterback out of University of Northern Iowa, Kurt became a Hy-Vee grocery store stock clerk to make money. While stocking shelves, he signed with the Iowa Barnstorms, an Arena Football League team in Des Moines, Iowa. With his big arm and accuracy, he became an AFL star.
After a short stint with NFL Europe, Kurt became the third -tring quarterback for the St. Louis Rams for the 1998 season. In 1999, after an injury to the Rams’ starting quarterback, he got his chance. Leading the Rams to a Super Bowl XXXIV victory, Kurt won both the league and Super Bowl MVP award that year.
Kurt Warner drops back to pass in Super Bowl XXXIV, a game his St. Louis Rams defeated the Tennessee Titans, 23-16.
Brenda was there through all of it, from AFL to NFL. She and Kurt met while Kurt was attending college in Cedar Falls, Iowa, at a country bar where she was taking line dancing classes. She worried he wouldn’t be able to handle the fact she was divorced with two kids.
When he showed up the morning after their first date and said he wanted to meet her kids, Brenda says, “I feel in love with him before he fell in love with me.”
When Kurt led the Rams to their 1999 Super Bowl victory, not only was Brenda there - she became part of the story.
Brenda was vocally defensive of her husband when he had a bad game, even calling into radio stations to criticize the Rams coaching staff. That zeal and her on-camera postgame kisses for the star quarterback had some fans calling her the Yoko Ono of football.
Throughout his 12-year NFL career, Kurt was known for both his skill and overt faith. “Well, first things first,” Warner told a reporter after his first Super Bowl victory. “I've got to thank my Lord and Savior up above — thank you, Jesus!”
The interview provided a name for Kurt’s foundation, First Things First, which is “dedicated to impacting lives by promoting Christian values, sharing experiences and providing opportunities.” The group raises money, taking advantage of Kurt’s NFL connections, and organizes events for ill and developmentally disabled children.
Today, Kurt spends much of his time on such work. It’s why he’s talking building schematics instead of defensive schemes.
“My retirement isn’t quite like what people think about with retirement,” Warner says. “I am very busy and have a lot of things that I am active in. It is not a complete 180 from being gone every day to being home every day.”
But talking about civil engineering in a drab hotel conference room is a long way from the National Football League. The common thread: Brenda and their religious faith.
Bonded by faith
Kurt says he had wanted Brenda to pursue her speaking career for years. But while he rose to superstardom, Brenda was a stay-at-home mom.
Now that Kurt is home more, he says, Brenda is free to pursue her dreams.
“What we have realized is there are seasons in all of our lives and dreams take sacrifices but they become family things,” Kurt says. “Dreams are family dreams.”
Brenda and Kurt now work closely together planning the couple's newest philanthropic venture – Treasure House.
Armed with her story and the star power that comes with her last name, Brenda has carved her own path on the Christian speaking circuit. Asked about the Warners at the Verizon Center’s Women of Faith event, only a few of the attendees know about her famous husband.
The tour is marketed to evangelical women to “celebrate what matters,” and also features appearances by female evangelical authors and media personalities. The tour is like a conference, with sessions on different challenges women face.
Kurt and Brenda see their changing professional seasons as part of God’s plan for them. “I don’t think that is the way that I would have written it, but I see that God has worked it out for good,” Brenda says. “I can see how he has been faithful. I can say now I am grateful.”
Telling her story has become second nature for Brenda. She has become expert in pitching God as the cure to heartache.
“He called me by name, he loves me and he won’t leave me,” Brenda repeats in her speech. “God was true to his word that he wouldn’t leave me.”
And neither, it seems, will Kurt.
The Bible is a fraud. It was put together by the evil Constatine in 325ad. It's so sad to see people believe in this nonscence.
Speaking of nonsense ...
You are a sad individual and I pity you and your so-called thinking.
It is you who is sad. Those who believe know it is not nonsense. And so what is it to you anyway??? This is a free country and we are free to believe what we want.
@janey33, knowledge is a very difficult thing. One may fairly easily believe what you say, but claiming that they know is quite a leap. If you say that they know, they should easily be able to demonstrate why it is not nonsense. There is plenty evidence that suggest that the bible is packed with inconsistencies, yet you say that you know that it makes sense.. How do you harmonize the two?
NoTheism...it is called faith. But you have no knowledge of that. And the Bible does not contradict itself. There are some things that are very hard to understand, but if you do some searching you will find that it is not inconsistant. If you don't believe in God or the Bible, that is your buisiness. I am not going to say vile things about you like some of the posters who can't stand Christians. They lead very sad lives if they can't tolerate those who disagree with them.
Faith is a powerful thing, just as powerful as any delusion might be. The question is whether you need delusion to function, or whether you care about the truth.
NoTheism...God IS truth to those who believe. He is the ultimate truth. But since you don't believe, I woudn't expect you to understand.
So, you believe that there is truth (god) but you don't know what this truth is.. You can't tell what it is that he really wants from you or why he allows for evil in the world...
Ok, good luck with that.
janey33, if you don't expect anyone to understand then why are you even making comments here?
I bet it's because you know you can't explain anything about your religion in a rational way and so, of course, no one can understand your religious babbling. If that's the case, then I quite agree that to someone outside of your delusion, your words will appear nonsensical.
Crazy stuff is not usually understood, is it?
Your god does not exist, so any claims to your imaginary deity being any kind of "truth" is very silly.
Why don't you try praying about it some more? Then you can jump off a cliff and your god will save you or something.
Go on. We don't need your imaginary god here. Take it with you and don't spread it around. It's crazy stuff.
NoTheism...HUH??? I didn't say I didn't know. Try reading the Bible. It's all in there.
Friends, these kinds of people challenge our ability to stay polite, I know.
However, I would say this to you; their lack of intelligence does not give atheists' carte blanche to derogate. They don't know any better and they do not understand what you are saying.
Take your message and common sense to your community, to your family, to your friends.
Be bold! Move the atheist agenda forward in First Life.
I love how people profess a religion then ignore its teachings. Did she "turn the other cheek" when she phones sports radio shows and flipped out becuase they were saying bad things about Kurt?
Regardless of how biased she may have been, she was only voicing her opinion. Unless she was using profanity, I don't see why this is a problem.
Did she turn the other cheek?
What I honestly want to know–honestly, no rudeness–is why my fellow Americans believe what is in the bible. It just leaves me cold, always has. Even a child I knew fiction when I read it. Why on earth are these other people so willing to take it seriously. I just cannot figure it out.
I agree! I was always amazed that my mom insisted the stories in the bible were true. I always thought they were just stories to get a point of teaching across.
Well, the Bible is a reliable collection of historical doc.uments written by eyewitnesses during the lifetimes of other eyewitnesses and reports supernatural events. That means if an author wrote something untrue, or even a stretcher, the other eyewitnesses would have called them on it. Just one of many reasons why you can trust the Bible ...
Topher, you are such a simpleton.
Don't tell me you're another atheist with no better argument than to call names ...
Yeah, that's what I thought.
Religion fulfills several basic human needs from a psychological perspective.
People need to feel like they belong...to groups, families, etc. Religion offers a huge group of people who can share a common interest, regardless of how silly it may seem to Atheists or Agnostics. That's why churches have cookouts, bands, choirs, summer camps, etc. It's as much about belonging to a group as anything else.
People also need to feel freedom from fear. In a sense, a lot of people fear what will happen after they die. Oddly, expressing faith can allay that fear by assuring people they will go to heaven (illogical as that may seem). Have you noticed that people seem to become MORE religious as they age? Again, another basic human need being partially met by religion.
Yes, I'm oversimplifying this, but the general premise is sound. Religion helps people cope with life. Those who find different coping strategies find they don't need religion. It's not so different from AA, for example. Maybe we just need to help people find less "creative" coping methods?
Thanks for this link. Enjoyable to read. I think there's little coincidence that history begins around the same time young creationists believe the universe was created.
you mean when we the invention of the written word began
which s the greatest invention man has ever done
I have no problem with the beliefs of others as long as they don't impact the non-believer, but they do! Hey, I don't care if one proclaims from the highest mountain that they believe in something that ironclad science has proved invalid but understand that it truly does fly opposite to rational thought! God is a supposition not a reality because NO ONE can claim actual proof of his existence PERIOD! I challenge them! I just find it hard to say that this woman's life was enriched by absolute tragedy that she showed the strength to live through. She did the right thing with her own personal belief to help her as the Muslim, Hindu, Catholic, Pagan, etc would have done. No specific god just belief.
Ok. So Kurt and Brenda are sharing perhaps 5 brain cells between the two of them and they use and manipulate people to give them money and support. How can that be bad?
So.... you belittle Kurt and Brenda saying they're lacking braincells. I think you must feel very insecure with yours. Those who attempt to belittle others in such way are hiding their own inadequacies.
BTW, you can never understand what they have, friend! They have l i f e you know nothing about..Life of Christ within their souls. You do not!
I love Obama. He is my GOD and I want to cuddle with him!
You did not love your mama, hindu ID thief, how could you be in love with Obama,
from the original.
It's fine to give testimony concerning God in your own life ~ and this couple has triumphed in the face of various adversities, especially Brenda. I just have a problem when people get super rich over something involving God ~ and I'm not saying this couple has ~ but clearly some others have and live very lavish lifestyles. And when that happens, then it becomes nothing more than being in the 'God Business' ~ and that's when I tune them out.
This might be your best post yet...
I really am shocked how religious this country is... it amazes me that one of the top GDPs in the world has 42% of its population think the earth is less than 10,000 years old.
Get over it, no one binduism, believes in 10000 year's hinduism, absurdity, unless a person is hind, sunk in hinduism, absurdity of book of Mithra ism, pagan ism called bible. For more visit http://www.limitisthetruth.com/ and click on word Choice to open file.
I know a lot of Christians and none of them believes as you have stated
I know many christians that believe that the earth is indeed just 7 to 10 thousand years old. How crazy is that?
@Hez- according to a recent Gallup poll, 42% of Americans do indeed believe the young earth theory, and do not accept either evolution or that the earth is older than 10,000 years. obviously polls are not perfect, but it's scary none the less.
mister-filthy MIthra and Hindu have nothing in common mithra is Persian and Greek
and according to the bible its just 6000 years old
which is still funny
this cuts off everything from Circa 3500 BCE: Egyptian calendar when the Egyptian started writing things down
for get about the stone age and our other 2 Ho.mo bros they don't exist yup no Denisova or Neanderthal
after much thinking the calts called the Denisova the Elves (the children o Danu) and the Neanderthal the Fomorii(children of Danu) we were hums (the children of MIll)
in their mythological text making the pretanic religion older and with a biblical story of the creation making them closer to the true religion,... what the mahabharata is an older text what the book of Tets has an even older creation
some one stop me I'm falling back to the ice age and cave drawing oh no heresy i can see Mitochondrial Eve now and what she worshiping a carving of Nature under an elder tree 200,000 years ago in Eden
oh no the true religion is some animistic, nature orientated , what the word, Pagan religion
Their is truth absolute 360*, foundation of existence and no one can survive without truth absolute, not secretive but visible, proven by science, AND TRUTH ABSOLUTE IS GOD. See, see they not, hear, hear they not, they (hindu, ignorant) do not under stand it. Mathew 13:13. They are dumb, deaf and blinded, Quran, Chapter 1, for more visit http://www.limitisthetruth.com/ and click on word Choice to open file.
does CNN just rent out this name "hinduism source of hindufilthyracism." and then anyone can write anything they want? I see no consistency whatsoever from posters using this name.
@OldBen – I was just noticing the same thing. What's up with this?
I have no idea but it seems to take drastic turns and of course, often is filled with jibberish rants.
A hindu, ignorant from hindered gutter called india, uses other's ID to confuse message from original person, sacred to see his hinduism, absurdity as a religion exposed. From original. for more visit To learn hinduism, corruption of truth absolute by hindu's, denires of truth absolute, please visit http://www.limitisthetruth.com/ and click on word Choice to open file.
Traveling saleswoman, instead of mary kay, she peddles one of many gods.
The Mary Kay products actually exist; therefore, they are more likely to produce the desired results.
some people need alcohol, some need drugs and some need a religion. whatever gets you through life comfortably.
@TC, I agree with that in principal; however, it is when they take the belief in their god to the extremes that I begin to have my disagreement. It is when their religion begins to infringe on the rights of others, when they seek to take away rights, or when they seek to force their beliefs on others, THEN I have a problem.
Is there a god? I don't know and I really don't think it's important enough for me to find out. What I will say is if he does exist, then he should make his presence known. Most religious people rely only on faith that god exists – I need more than that. Until god physically appears on this planet, in whatever form he/she/it chooses, then agnostics and athiests have no reason to believe that god exists.
Well said. Why is the Christian god, and most every other "god" so secretive? What do they gain from such Mystery? NOTHING, I say and until a god, any god, speaks to us and convinces us that he exists, I will NOT be tricked into worshiping NOTHING.
Their is truth absolute 360*, foundation of existence and no one can survive without truth absolute, not secretive but visible, proven by science, AND TRUTH ABSOLUTE IS GOD. See, see they not, hear, hear they not, they (hindu, ignorant) do not under stand it. Mathew 13:13. for more visit http://www.limitisthetruth.com/ and click on word Choice to open file.
To Galaxy Prime and thecollegeadmissionsguru;
Yes, God, our Father in heaven exists – we all are His children. Jesus Christ is our Elder brother and our Lord and Savior. We lived with our Father in heaven before we came to this earth and were taught life's lessons. We were sent to this earth to gain a mortal, physical body and had our memories of our pre-mortal existence hidden behind a vail. Having no knowledge of our pre-mortal existence of life in our Father in Heaven's home we are here to live by faith.
Heavenly Father has given us sign and hints – a sunrise each day, the change of seasons, the beauty of this earth. His hints come to us as feelings or glimpses into our pre-earth life (feelings of dejavu), the feeling we have met someone before when we know we never have.
I know God, our Heavenly Father lives. I speak with him in prayer each day. He answers through modern day prophets and apostles and through His Holy Spirit as answers come to my mind and I know they are true.
We are all on a journey here. God and Jesus love us each individually and desire to have us be worthy to come back and live with them again so we may continue our journey with them.
From Alma, chapter 32 in the Book of Mormon;
21 And now as I said concerning faith—faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true.
22 And now, behold, I say unto you, and I would that ye should remember, that God is merciful unto all who believe on his name; therefore he desireth, in the first place, that ye should believe, yea, even on his word.
27 But behold, if ye will awake and arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon my words, and exercise a particle of faith, yea, even if ye can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of my words.
Thanks and peace to you.
Too funny all the little whiny atheists who bombard a belief blog with absurd comments. I guess I'd be angry too if nobody took my opinions seriously and i lived in my moms basement :(
Boohoo you little whiny shlts LMAO.
"I guess I'd be angry too if nobody took my opinions seriously and i lived in my moms basement"
Do I smell a disgruntled ex Evangelical Fortune Cookie Co. writer ? ? ?
Could it beeee?????
Yes it is :):)
Problem with your analogy is that I am an atheist, I am not angry and others take my opinions very seriously, further I have NEVER lived in my parent's basement because in SC they don't have basements. We come on these "faith blogs" because they are NOT faith blogs, but are blogs where religion should be discussed. I know that Christians do not want to be challenged on any of their nonsense, but Atheists feel otherwise. Get over it.
The one time I lived in a basement was in college, in a city where I had no family, and I paid rent. That was over 25 years ago.
I honestly don't care what you believe, as long as you don't try to foist it on others. I comment on this blog because it is an open blog, and the First Amendment guarantees my right to free speech.
I guess you just feels the need to belittle others because you are afraid of people who don't believe exactly what you do. Considering that there isn't any proof to support the existence of any god, I don't blame you for being afraid of discovering that what you believe just might be wrong.
Hey Bootyfunk.. you being an Atheist claim to know the Bible? The Bible does not say to KILL G_ys, Disobedient children and anyone working the weekend. You are Ignorant, nothing else withstanding.
Completely agree, he clearly is not very intelligent. The best part is that he claims to be all knowing.
Psalm 137:9 – Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones.
I would like to see "Pat" or "True" back up their childish claims – that is about the poster that they are ranting on without even replying to this person.
So it's been shown that your first claim is false, so now let's see examples of where this "Bootyfunk" claims to be all knowing. Yeah – I'm not going to hold my breath for immature trouble-makers such as "True" and "Pat".
@Pat – uhhh.. yes it does! "If a man lies with a male as with a women, both of them shall be put to death for their abominable deed; they have forfeited their lives." (Leviticus 20:13 NAB)
I have a feeling "Pat" and "True" are "truth be told" and lost some earlier argument to Booty. I've see this behavior before.
If you don't own a Bible, you can read it online for free. Do some research and get back to us.
You do know that in the Old Testament God dealt with His enemies several, don't you? But you use the verse you quoted as if He is the one who is evil!
When the day of His Judgment comes, He will deal much more severely with His enemies.
God demands JUSTICE. It is by His mercy that He saves us, NOT His justice. His justice is reserved for His enemies. Without Christ to cover us, you and I would get His Justice. Don't tempt God, provoking His Justice on you! You'll be sorry, friend!
ops wrong one
Typo (first line) – *several* should be -" severely"
The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.