Be BRAVE.

          2018. Four simple numbers. These numbers that add up to the next chapter in my book: life. Our lives are made of years, each year a chapter. Those chapters are full of moments and seasons. Seasons of joy, pain, growth and change. Life is measured by moments and memories. Happy (belated) New Year y’all! 2018 is my new chapter. We all hear “Happy New Year” the next word that comes to mind, is “resolutions”. Quite honestly, I’m sick and tired of New Year’s resolutions. (If you’ve been keeping up with my blogs the past 2-3 years, my first blog of 2016 was about resolutions and goals: “GO!”: A New Look at a New Year posted January 2016). I prefer to set goals and find new adventures, especially trying new things. Trying new things can be intimidating and scary but that’s what makes it fun and makes life beautiful too. So, I’ve heard many people now choosing a “word for the year” each year instead of “resolutions”. My friends and I have been doing this for a few years now. My dear friends on the She Matters Team were briefly discussing it last night at our meeting. The word I have picked and prayed over had been bouncing around in my brain and stirring in my spirit in the latest season of my life. My word I chose is BRAVE.
           BRAVE. Five simple letters. Bold, Radiant, Adventurous, Valiant, Endurance. These are words that just popped into my mind when I think of attributes related to bravery. The definition (according to Dictionary.com) of brave is “possessing or exhibiting courage or courageous endurance”. When used as a verb, it states “to defy, challenge; dare”. I’ve always loved a challenge and growing up with boys I rarely turned down a dare. You better not tell me I “can’t” do something. To me, the word brave means stop letting things hold me back. Fear used to be something that crippled me but no longer has a place of residence in my life. Brave and bold to me means trying new things, new goals, new beginnings, new adventures, and new chapters. Stopping procrastinating and excuses. As a little girl who dealt with fear constantly… I dealt with anxiety, shyness (that was a very brief season in my life), and nervousness crippled me at times. I would find excuses and let things hold me back. When I was a teenager, the anxiety had weakened but depression was more on the forefront. I would get nauseous at the thought of getting up to speak or even sing in front of an audience. Fast forward ten years later, I speak and sing and teach all the time now. It’s as natural as breathing. I went through short periods of depression on and off throughout years, I’d be happy and cheerful on the outside but cry when I was alone. God conquered my fears and doubts with growing my faith. Fear and faith can’t exist in the same dwelling place. God has been teaching me throughout the last few years that change is a normal part of life. In the past few years, I graduated college, changed careers, lost loved ones, and blessed with a beautiful relationship with an amazing man who loves Jesus, laughed, cried, struggled and became more brave. Life is full of change. How we adapt to change is how we learn and grow.

          To me, in the latest season of my life “brave” means making changes and stepping out in faith: Two years ago, I left the retail and restaurant industry and went into child care, the world of early childhood education and preschool. Last year, I took a promotion as position of assistant director. I accepted a dream position of children’s director at my home church. Now, by the end of 2017 I had accepted a new job and a new direction at another child care center. Sometimes in life you have to step into uncertainty and trust in God’s direction when all you have is faith. In 2014, my last semester of college I went on a mission trip to Costa Rica: my first flight, my first mission trip, my first trip out of the country. On that trip, I was out of my comfort zone speaking Spanish, learning a laid-back culture, helping the poor and serving alongside brothers and sisters ministering through a church vbs and local church family. On that trip, I literally took a leap of faith and jumped off a zip line platform hundreds of feet in the rain forest canopy through the mountains and over the beaches in Jaco, Costa Rica flying about 40 mph about 600ft. What an exhilarating feeling! Crazy, scary, adrenaline-pumping, freeing and so much fun. Something I would have never known if I had let fear grip my life.

      So, being brave doesn’t have to mean zip lining through the rain forest. Brave could mean taking the initiative to do something different, to say hello to the neighbor or help someone who needs it, making better choices daily, making changes, taking a new direction. Anything that encourages adventure! So this year chase your dreams, knock out your goals with passion and fervor! Be FEARLESS! Don’t ask God to guide your footsteps if you aren’t willing to move your feet! You have to make the first step after seeking Him and praying, to step out. Sometimes being brave means having the courage walking away from something that was not meant for you. Sometimes being brave means facing whatever storm, for example battling cancer, head on like a warrior.  Whatever it may be (in light of resolutions and goals) going to the gym, grabbing a salad or fruit instead of that burger or candy bar, walking more places, start writing that book, start that blog (like I did), go back to school finish that degree, put down your addictions and habits one day at a time, travel to new places and adventures, apply for that dream job, go on a mission trip, don’t be a afraid to go on a date, pick up your bible and read it, take the time to cherish your family and friends, whatever it is! I’m knocking things off my bucket list in 2018! Be spontaneous. Be adventurous.

        Joshua, was one of the only two out of twelve young men who weren’t afraid of the so-called “giants” in the land that was promised to them. Joshua and his bestie, Caleb were leading the rest into uncertain territory. They gathered their armor and gear, all they knew is that God said this land was theirs and that He said go get it! I can’t imagine every thought, excuse that said nah man turn around but courage had set in. So I leave you with, Joshua 1:9 my verse for 2018 “Be strong and courageous, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Be courageous, Be fearless, but always be faithful!

Be BRAVE.

With love, and the spirit of adventure,
-Heather 

A glimpse at a new hobby Wes and I found to do for a DIY date night: woodworking and engraving. [Joshua 1:9] 

I had already decided my “word for 2018” but just for fun one day I took this quiz and I kid you not, it confirmed what I already knew: my word was BRAVE. Listed below is a screenshot but go to www.dayspring.com/yourwordquiz

Once again, Happy New Year! #2018 

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