2018 was my year of Brave.
In December 2017, I chose “Brave” as my word for the upcoming year. I made a promise to myself and to the Lord that I would try to be brave in every circumstance I found myself in.
For the most part, I kept my promise. There were a few times fear came and courage was fleeting, but hey, nobody’s perfect!
This blog is dedicated to sharing my year of brave with you. I hope you are ready for a long one.
Here we go.
Act of Bravery #1: Leaving Ministry.
This decision was a difficult and unpopular choice, but it was what God wanted from Joshua and I. Through His grace and strength we have learned so much in this year that I know we wouldn’t have had we not been willing to follow Him on this unbeaten path.
Unpopular choices that are made under God’s direction can be one of the HARDEST decisions in life, but oh, the reward He can bring when you have the courage to do it anyway.
Act of Bravery #2: I turned 30.
Now, I know I didn’t choose to turn 30, it was coming whether I wanted it to or not, but in bravery, I chose to embrace it.
To be honest, 30 hit me hard. I know it is because I thought my life would be in such a different place by the time I hit 30, and it wasn’t. In fact, I was nowhere near where I wanted to be. Thankfully God showed me so much during this time. Mostly that His ways are not my ways and that He is pleased with any life that is serving and worshiping Him. Circumstances like jobs, weight, the number of kids you have or where you live should not play into your worth. I faced 30 with a bravery that depended on God for reassuring words of being enough right where He had me.
A front row worship session with Casting crowns didn’t hurt either!
Many of the next acts of bravery came on an amazing trip with our best friends, Joey and April.
We went on this cruise for our 10 year wedding anniversary.
It. Was. Glorious.
There were many circumstances that arose during this trip that forced me to choose bravery instead of running in the other direction.
Act of Bravery #3: I snorkeled. In open water. I’m still shocked I did this.
I am terrified of living things touching me, swimming around me, being near me, all of the above. But I knew if I didn’t swallow the fear and jump in I would always regret it.
So I did it. I jumped in.
I spent most of the first snorkel session on my friend April’s back, but I did it. By the end of the week, I was swimming alone with no fear. This act of bravery was one I had to ease into and master moment by moment, especially when we saw those barracudas…
Yep. That happened.
Act of Bravery #4: I held a huge stingray.
Massive. Gigantic. Epic creature.
Notice how the guide is really holding her?
It’s because I kept letting her go. Especially after he lifted her tail and showed me her poisonous deathly barb…
I was NOT about to make that stingray stay with me if she didn’t want to.
But I did it.
I’m calling this one a victory. My hands are under that gigantic thing. I dare you to challenge me on this.
Another act of bravery came on this trip, but it wasn’t a fun one.
Act of Bravery #5: A hard conversation.
During the cruise, I had unknowingly said something that hurt my beautiful best friend and we needed to talk it out.
I was ruined.
I wanted to run and hide. I just knew our friendship was over. We both decided this wouldn’t be the end and in bravery, we had a tough conversation. I am so glad she forgave and forgot. We both triumphed that day.
I love you April. Thank you for your gracious forgiveness.
Having hard conversations like that is not my favorite pastime, but in life sometimes they are necessary. We have to have the bravery to push into the uncomfortable. It’s the only way we move forward in relationships. I think April would agree, we gained a new level of friendship that day.
Bravery won and fear lost on a beach in the Caribbean.
Ok, so where am I at now?
Act of Bravery # 6 : I rode a horse.
Maybe I should have named this blog, “The year I got over my fear of animals!”
Riding a horse might not seem like a huge feat to some, but oh my, it was for me.
As you read earlier of my fear of living creatures swimming around me and the terror of holding a huge stingray, you have to know I would have fear riding on an even bigger animal. Plus I am not a small human. I was scared I would hurt the poor thing.
Authenticity people. Embrace it.
But my daughter wanted one thing for her birthday, a horse riding adventure with her family. I wasn’t about to be the reason she didn’t get it.
So, we booked a horse riding session and they brought out a Clydesdale for me.
That’s right. They brought out the biggest horse they had.
Wow. Thanks for making this so easy and not embarrassing at all.
Insert eye roll.
I laughed it off and
heaved climbed on to this beauty.
It was embarrassing, hard, funny and wonderful. I’m so glad I faced it all for a wonderful memory with my family because I almost didn’t.
It was SO worth it.
Act of Bravery #7: Weight Loss Surgery.
Gracious, this is a hard one to write about. It scares me to death to tell the world about this part of my year because so many people have opinions about it.
“It’s the easy way out.”
“Why can’t you just eat less.”
“Well, if you struggle now, you will just eat through it.”
Oh wow, I have heard it all.
So sharing something this personal is difficult for me. I don’t want to look weak or create a situation where people are mean, forming opinions about me based on the smallest amount of information. However, I have reached a point in my life where I know who I am and why I made the choices I did. Believe me, this choice was made with LOTS of prayer and counsel. I made the best health decision for me.
In August I had a Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy. They basically just took out a portion of my stomach.
Picture for reference, so you can understand better what that looks like.
Let me tell you. TOTALLY NOT the easy way out.
It was one of the hardest roads I have ever walked down. I didn’t eat regular food for seven weeks. I had major surgery and went back to work after a week.
It was NOT easy.
Let me tell you though. It was the BEST decision I could have ever made for my health.
So far I have lost 85 pounds on this journey and I feel like a new person. I can move like I never thought I would be able to again. I can run and play with my kids with ease. I am making great choices with nutrition and my relationship with food has changed immensely.
Also, I bet the next time I ride a horse I won’t need a Clydesdale…haha!
This decision has helped me so so much. I didn’t realize how unhealthy my outlook on food was. I was using it to fill areas of my life that God should have been filling. This surgery and journey made me start to look at food the right way – for nutrition and sustenance.
Complete life change.
In a one hour surgery, I felt like I was given so much. It was hard, painful, mentally and emotionally challenging, but I faced it with a bravery I didn’t know I had. I’m so glad I did it.
Act of Bravery #8: I applied to start my Masters of Teaching from Liberty, and got accepted!
This is an act of bravery because I will be pursuing my masters while working a full-time job and being a mom and wife. Not to mention I am not the best at academics. I was looking at my transcripts and was more than a little concerned about this upcoming journey. Academics do not come easily to me so I will have to work really hard to achieve my goals in this area. Thankfully I have an amazing husband who pushed me to go for this dream of furthering my education and has committed to help me along this journey.
I am so grateful for the partner he is.
Joshua has helped me through every single one of these acts of bravery. He has walked each one with me and encouraged my heart to move when it needed to. He also gave me a necklace at the beginning of this year that had BRAVE engraved into it. I wore it so often throughout 2018 as a reminder to be brave in everything that came my way. After God, Joshua was and is my number one encourager.
Thank you for all you do for me honey ❤
Act of Bravery #9: A God ordained trip and an “all in” decision.
This last act of bravery was one that Joshua and I shared. For a while now we have felt that God wanted us to do more for Him. To do whatever He wanted, whenever and wherever. We surrendered our lives fully to Him, we just needed someone to call us and we would go. Then we remembered Logan Wolf had called us about 6 months ago and asked us to come to visit Utah. When he had called, our hearts were not ready. We had just been let go from our jobs, had no home, and no money to visit.
But God sparked a match in our hearts, that now seemed to be a small flame.
We knew we had to go.
We took what money we had, bought two plane tickets and went.
This forum could not hold what God did in our hearts that weekend. He answered prayers we thought were too much to ask. He had been preparing our hearts months in advance for what we experienced in Utah that weekend.
Joshua and I left knowing we would be back. God had made things so clear.
We decided to go all in for God and say “yes” to move across the United States and be witnesses in a dark place for Christ.
This was one of the bravest, scariest, hardest decisions of our lives. Saying yes to God means leaving all that we know. This decision will inevitably bring sorrow to our hearts at times, it already has.
We will miss our family tremendously.
But God never said taking up your cross and dying to self would be an easy task. We look to Him every day for the strength and comfort to keep pressing on. He gives more grace than I can comprehend.
These nine Acts of Bravery were my highlights of the year. There were a few more that aren’t entirely mine to share where God used circumstances and conversations to change the course of the year and really my life.
He took this simple word, “Brave,” and birthed in my heart a way to live. To live out each day making conscious efforts to choose bravery when I wanted to choose comfort or retreat. My life is forever changed because of this year and the choices that were made.
I am looking to my 31st year of life with great anticipation and hope.
My word for this year is going to be “Trust.”
The definition of trust in the dictionary is “firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.
The synonyms of trust are confidence, belief, faith, certainty, assurance, conviction, reliance.
I am choosing this year, to focus on trusting my life fully to the Lord.
It’s as simple as that.
Hopefully, just like last year with “Brave” God will work with “Trust” in ways I can’t even imagine. So, as life comes my way this year, I will choose to trust in all things, not just the easy circumstances.
Jeremiah 17:7-8 –“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.”