There are those years when the clocks strikes midnight, the fireworks explode, and the sense that you've lived well, loved well, and grown much settles on your soul, like the tide slowly easing its way toward the shore.
That's not how my New Year's Eve went at all. We were in a rental car, driving on the opposite side of the road, on the opposite side of the car, in a foreign country. Our plans involved us arriving at our destination in time to see the fireworks flower over the Bristol Channel between England and Wales.
Instead, our Sixt rental agent went home early, leaving us stranded car-less at the airport. (They said he was in the bathroom but we've decided otherwise). In any case, it's 11pm at night (midnight for our Germany-bodies), the buses have shut down, I'm on crutches, and we have no car. Fortunately, Europcar was open next door and rented us a ridiculously over-priced car for the night.
So, as it was, we were driving down dark country roads on the other side of the street when the clock struck twelve. We saw random splotches of fireworks around homes and tress. It wasn't all bad, and in fact, nearly mimicked the spirit of the WHOLE year... unexpected, unplanned, out of our control, and adventurous.
Lest you think I find those descriptors pleasant, I'll make it clear that except for adventure, I do not love unexpected, unplanned, or out of control anything.
I had hoped and anticipated a New Song.
And while I look at the circumstances of the year and try to hear the new song, I realize it wasn't in the circumstances at all.
The new song was really more of a spark, an invitation to step into disappointment, fear, insecurity, sadness, loneliness, and the unknown with bravery. With courage.
The song wasn't beautiful. It didn't quiet my soul or stir up joy. No, it stirred up fear. It stirred up my brokenness. It stirred up anxiety.
It was the song to call out all of the ugly insecurities that lurk in the shadows of my soul.
When I heard "new song" last year, I had a really different idea of how it would sound.
Nonetheless, the song has woven a note through every moment. Pulling out disappointment and carrying me to the cross. Calling out insecurity and carrying me to His heart. Drawing out fear and carrying me to the shadow of His wings.
Where I'd imagined a song sung over me, to quiet me with love, I found a crescendo so terrifying that I wanted to hide under my covers, as I did as a child listening to my Mighty Mouse record at its tense climax.
And while bed time songs are still preferred, I'm beginning to see why the new song of 2017 was less about being free of tension or drama or pain, and more about stepping into each of those with courage. Taking it one measure at a time. Trusting Him with the tempo and learning a new dance.
A dance of courage.
2018 shows no indicators of lightening up circumstantially. I tripped into it with a torn ACL and crutches, my RADish living untreated, numbered days in our home and SO. MUCH. CHANGE. on the horizon. New roles, new endeavors, new. So much new. New identities. So much unknown. So much opportunity to run in fear and hide. To disconnect, disengage, or, my preference, try to control all of the uncontrollable and burn myself out.
But I hear a whisper of hope. A whisper that began in a new song last year. A call to live brave. Live courageously.
To live fearlessly.
To look fear and anxiety and overwhelm in the face and say, "Step aside--I'm with Him." And then, with love, power, and a sound mind, choose to walk in.
This year, I'm living fearless.
Not because I'll never experience fear, but because I won't give fear power to determine my steps. My future. My family. My relationships. When I feel fear, I'll choose forward. When I feel insecure, I'll choose courage. When I feel disappointment, I'll choose bravery.
All are choices. Responses. Opportunities. No longer will I hide in my turtle shell until the storm passes, but I'll face it and wrestle it and make the storm bless me.
Whew! That's a tall order. I believe those words. I aim for those words. And I know I'll need you to remind me of these words. Because when the fear hits, it's hard. It's hard to step into dark places and choose courage.
For example, I distinctly heard God give me 3 steps to take to bring reconciliation to my marriage recently. It took me about 8 hours to complete the steps. Seven of those hours were spent in fear, in pride, and in a secret hope that He'd settle for the first two.
I know this is the work He's begun in me this year. A call to facing fear one breath at a time. And because of the times I've said "yes" to stepping in, only equipped with His promises of something beautiful on the other side, I've witnessed some deeply touching moments this year.
- A new picture book, According to Corban, which won a The Gittle List award in December.
- A chance to read my books to children at my elementary school in San Marcos in October.
- Being a guest author at Cologne International School for World Book Day last May where they decided I was "very famous."
- An accepted invitation to be one of ten guests invited to a publishing intensive with the CEO and staff of Self Publishing School last October.
- Starting a coaching business for children's writers and getting students!
- My reunion with Israel after 16 years, sharing that immense joy with my husband for his first time.
- An incredible trip back to Israel and Palestine, sharing our love for this land and these peoples with our children.
- Provision for our every need... a car to borrow through July when ours broke down, finances to continue our work here, a role at BFA that Jeremy loves, insurance to pay for my medical needs, on and on.
- Reconnection with friends and family this summer in CA.
There are many more gifts behind each fear that threatens to keep me limited and unconfident. Instead, I choose to step behind the curtain and trust that only because of God's gift of freedom, can I live fearless.
Won't you join me this year? Join me in believing more about your value, your worth, your security, your protection, your offering than you've ever dared believe.
Step into those places that threaten you with fickle lies and believe that you can live fearlessly, courageously, and daringly because He equips you and has so much more for you and for me than the enemy would have us believe.