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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“GO!”: A New Look at a New Year by Heather H.

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“GO!”: A New Look at a New Year

Hello 2016, Happy (belated) New Year! It’s that time of year when everyone starts reflecting back on the year they’ve had and looking towards the future. You may have had an amazing year full of cheerful and blessed moments, accomplishments, and milestones. You may have had a really tough and tumultuous year full of heartache, pain, setbacks, and maybe even tragedy. Most people have a year full of both triumph and tragedy, joy and pain…just like life. You sometimes have to taste the bitter with the sweet. Whether we like it or not, time marches on. For some time may have flown by too fast. For others it may seem as if time is crawling by so slowly. Time goes on, it doesn’t stop for anyone or anything; and as much as we would like to pause it, slow it down, rewind, or fast forward all we can do is let it play until it stops. Well, regardless of what your year has looked like in 2015 we all look to the future with hope of something better in 2016.

Let’s talk about one word that we ALL hear right about now, some of us may use this word frequently with good intentions others maybe sick of hearing the lame excuse for motivation that just falls short…you know what I’m talking about, RESOLUTIONS. That’s right “New Year’s Resolutions” those ever-so-famous little standards and marks we set for ourselves every January. The classic ones: To lose weight (for some it may be to gain a little weight; hey don’t judge!), To eat healthier and exercise more, To quit and drop bad habits or addictions, To spend more time with loved ones, Read more often or Read the Bible more often. Those are some common ones we’ve heard before. This type of year gym membership sales, cookbook and self help book sales tend to soar.

Well let’s think about the word “resolution”. According to dear ole Webster, “resolution” means “the act of finding an answer or solution to a conflict, problem, etc. the act of resolving something. an answer or solution to something.” Now I can see where people use this word in the case of addictions or bad habits they want to break. I don’t know about you but when I hear the word “resolve” I automatically think that there’s a problem that needs solving. Well what if you don’t have a “problem” but just want to do better? The reality is there is a problem…it’s a problem we all face because we live in a fallen and imperfect world: the root problem is SIN. But that problem was “resolved” many years ago by Jesus Christ dying on the cross. If we focus on our problems they can consume us, just like we can easily let sin consume. If you’re looking for a way to tackle your “resolutions”, the first (and really only) “resolution” anyone should make is to follow Jesus. Let Him take over, confess your sins, ask for forgiveness, and let Him mend the broken pieces. No one is perfect, but Jesus is.

The next thing I want to tell you may just blown your mind: throw your resolution ideas out the window because we’re gonna talk about another word: GOALS! I personally like goals better than resolutions myself, they seem more attainable and honestly more positive. Back to ole Mr. Webster again; the word “goal” means “something that you are trying to do or achieve”. Another definition puts it this way; “the object of a person’s ambition or effort, an aim or desired result.” In one of my previous blog posts “What Drives You and Who Defines You” I discussed and elaborated on Jeremiah 29:11 says “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord; ‘plans for a hope and a future, not for destruction.” The future is something we look forward to in hope but we have no idea what it will bring. We can make all the resolutions and goals we want, but without God they fail and fall apart. Proverbs, the book of wisdom has quite a few verses that sum up this logic; “Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.” (Proverbs 16:3) and then a few verses later says “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” (Proverbs 16:9). We can have goals, dreams, and ambitions but if we don’t seek God first they won’t even make it off the ground. Every man, every woman, every boy and every girl has specific dreams and desires in their heart that God has put there for His specific purpose in your life! Girl, you better believe the King has big plans for His princess daughter! Psalm 37:4 says “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Without Him, we are nothing. With Him, anything is possible.

So look at the first two letters of “goal”: that’s right, G-O! Go. Plain and simple. 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. Whatever it may be: 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, pick up your bible and start reading, don’t be a afraid to go on a date, take the time to cherish your family and friends, whatever it is! Be spontaneous, Be courageous, Be adventurous, Be fearless, but always Be Faithful! The letters in “GO” also remind us of one very important thing: God Oriented. We must place all our desires, dreams, wants, needs, all the happiness and all the pain at His feet. Place your heart in His hands and it will be lead in the direction of your dreams. If you had a heartbreaking year, full of pain and disappointments; grieve and let it go. There’s the word GO again, it will take time. So go ahead, make your list of goals, or your “bucket list”: pray over it and take it a month at time, a week at a time, one day at a time: grace upon grace. Don’t worry because something is “new” that it can be intimidating and scary. Isaiah 43:18-19 says “Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?” He is doing a NEW thing! I have always said “Forget the past, but not what it has taught you.” With all this being said, tell me where is there any room for excuses? Goals. God-Oriented. Grace upon grace. Now, what are you waiting for? GO!

 

With Love, Courage, and the spirit of Adventure 😉
your sister in Christ, Heather