A New Song Called Fearless

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.

With fearlessness.

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. 

Five Minute Friday – Dive

5-minute-friday-1 It’s Friday!

I missed the last Five Minute Friday… the day, the week, the whole month of December… flew by. And here I am, almost missing it again.

But not.

I watch so many people… myself sometimes too… standing on the edge of everything beautiful and good and true. Seeing that, within reach, lie our hopes, our dreams… thrills that usher life into our hearts and souls.

Yet our feet stay rooted.

Because those dreams and hopes are within reach… but first a step is needed. One small step. And it happens to lead off of a cliff of all things familiar, known, and comfortable. This step becomes a dive into a sea of all that we’ve longed for.

Fear nails us to the stoney edge. The wind beats at our faces, tells us that to let go and dive in will lead to ultimate ruin, disappointment, failure. Because who are we to have what we hope for?

Inadequate. Insufficient. Insecure.

What would happen if we could actually live the life we want? Ruin? Sabotage? The wind is strong and convincing.

If we let it be. If we listen to its voice and agree.

But it’s a lie.

We must dive in! Who are we not to give it a try? Failure is no end… only an ushered step onto a better path… a guard rail that keeps us going the right direction. Closed doors are not rejection… no, they are direction. Our fears deceive us into thinking that the cliffy edge is a better place to stay… gazing upon our possibilities with hopelessness.

But not me, not this year. I want to dive in. I want to flail and fling and fail… so that I can get closer to succeeding. I want the doors to close like the formation of a grand arrow pointing me to my destiny… the purposes and plans for which God has already determined for me. How easily I would be distracted and lost if there weren’t bowling “bumper guards” of life to keep me from going down the gutter. Missing the pins altogether.

2013 will be a year of diving. Diving into a large city of other writers, strangers yet, to see how I can be stretched, grown, and mentored in my craft. Diving into teaching a Creative Writing course to missionary high schoolers… when I’ve NEVER been a teacher. Diving into new languages, new cultures, new experiences… all of which are terrifying and thrilling… knowing that there are so many opportunities for failure… for direction. For purpose.

Without diving in to the scary, uncontrollable possibilities of life… there is no purpose greater than the small, feeble ones we can manage on our own.

A fun video by Steven Curtis Chapman… Diving In 🙂

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hXqXIicm8uU?rel=0]

Transformational Thanksgiving

I have been the child who yelled out the injustices of my upbringing to a closed door- half hoping my parents heard what I really had to say, and half mortified that they might actually hear what I had to say.

The tables have turned.

I am now the parent on the other side of that door with a ranting child, loudly sharing opinions on fairness and right-parenting, proclaiming small-person authority to make the world right… at least in their own mind.

Thus, this post.

A week or so ago, one of my children was found in the midst of some natural consequences spawned by poor choices. This was evident to all, including to my child. Knowing that this “suffering” was the result of personal decisions was not enough to prevent the rant. My child went to their room, closed the door, and loudly began to whine about the many years of injustice, “like that time that dad…” and “It’s just not fair that…”

Remember that mingled feeling of mortification and glee that your actual thoughts might be heard? They’d been heard.

I opened the door.

“Really? You’re in this situation because of ‘the time that Dad…’? Oh no. If you want to throw a fit, throw a fit that sounds like this: ‘AH Man! Why didn’t I listen to Mom this morning when she warned me about the choices I was making?! BLAST! Why did I rush through that chore and leave it a mess? I wouldn’t be here right now if I’d only…’ THAT’S the fit you should be throwing!”

Silence.

Mortification.

Glee?

I closed the door and stood outside silently.

This child began again. Softly. Not taking my advice on the responsibility-claiming fit that I’d suggested. I wanted to run in there, throw my own fit, and force this mind to grasp the concept! Take responsibility, learn from your mistakes, and MOVE ON! Don’t find ways to blame it on everyone else! But alas, I knew my approach would not help.

Then it struck me.

Gratitude.

I learned a year or so ago that your brain can not possibly be anxious and grateful at the same time. Those two emotions occur in opposite sides of our brain and fight each other for the oxygen they need to function. This is also true for worry and worship. Can’t do them at the same time. Essentially, when you choose to be grateful, you join the tug-of-war in your brain in a battle-winning kind of way. You help drag the oxygen away from the worrying part of your brain and being grateful becomes easier. Oh believe me, the first seconds are a serious challenge- but the more oxygen that arrives, the easier gratitude will be.

All of this information came rushing back to me as I thought of my child- a child stuck in the ugly part of the brain. The only way I could effectively help this one get un-stuck would be to get ’em thinking gratefully.

I walked back in.

“Okay… you haven’t taken my advice on the kind of fit you should throw, right?” Shakes head. “Then I have a new assignment for you. I want you to write a list of fifty reasons that you are grateful for your dad. Let me know when you are done.”

Door closed.

This is what I got. (Click to enlarge)

No more ranting. No more raving. A heart changed. Gifts listed that my child is able to claim and name. Suddenly memories of a childhood not exclusively unjust (according to them) but fun trips, special outings, gifts, moments in time worth recapturing. And my child truly is grateful. SO grateful, that the paper is turned over and words are written that I wanted to hear from the beginning.

Gratitude.

It changes hearts. It changes minds. It changes lives.

Are there areas in your life that seem entirely bleak? Or other areas that cause in you the kind of worry and anxiety that lead to health or emotional disruptions?

Choose thankfulness.

And get your kids to choose thankfulness too!

*For a great book on how gratitude can change your life, read Ann Voskamp’s “1000 Gifts.”