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. 

Sisters… Thanks to My {Dad}

“Nark, Nark, Nark!” chanted all the girls in my fourth grade class.

Ears blushed red.

Tear-stung eyes.

Head bowed low.

Disgraced.

An innocent attempt at finding my place in the soft-ball line up led to this awful moment.

The moment when I decided girls were not good friends… and never to have any again.

The moment when all of the boys took pity on me… ushered me into the shadow of their wings and offered all that the brothers I’d always wished for (but never had) could…

And I became one of them.

Sorta.

For the next ten years (at least) guys were my best friends. Then in college, my dad began encouraging me to find a girl-friend. I was ready to try it again… and did! I ended up with all best guy-friends… and one girl-friend. It was a start!

Life carried on… and for the sake of not appearing “boy crazy” (I’d never dated one of my best friends… or any friend for that matter)… I began to spend more time with girls.

Then I got married.

Then I needed women.

In a way I’d never experienced before.

This man… my husband… just couldn’t relate with me on every level… and I needed a woman’s heart to confide in.

Well, beautifully enough, my dad has adopted LOTS of children… and I have a great number of sisters. He began to introduce me to them… and, well,  I love them.

Drama and all.

Well, I don’t love the drama… but I love the women behind the drama. Because my dad has taught me how to love in spite of discomfort, pain, frustration, personality differences… and to hope for the same from others when I’m the one being difficult to love.

Confession: Because I took the risk (it sure felt like a risk when my dad asked me to get to know and love women)… I have some of the best relationships with my sisters I could ever ask for.

And they are all over the world.

Some I see daily, some on Skype, some only on Facebook… but I love them as much as I did during the seasons of life when I lived with them.

[slideshow]

Joanna and Christine in Canada.

Sofia in Sweden.

Liz in Paraguay.

Hava, Christina, Kara, Laura, Heather, Brittani, Dawnette… in various states around the U.S.

Sisters 🙂 Dorina, Chris, Heather, Maari, Lisa, Jamie, Debbie, Bethany, Amy, Cori, Bergann, Stacie, Leslie, Jessica, Lisa, Sarah, Regina, Katie, Beth, Trae, Allison, Mindy, Rachel, Niki, Raquel, Devon, Colleen, Jill…

My little sisters: Laura, Wendy, Promise, Stephanie…

My big sisters: Michelle, Serena, Caroline, Kim, Lucie, Susan, Kathryn, Chris, Gail…

Newest sisters: Susan, Kara, Debbie, Cammy, Melissa, Nina, Lesley, Staci, Melody, Jennifer, Allison, Ashley, Elva, Elena, Brandi, Viane, Lara, Valerie…

This list is by no means exhaustive… and it’s late so I’m probably missing some of the most obvious ones… but the point is… I have the most amazing circle of sisters because my dad knew I needed them in my life.

And I took the risk.

The risk of being shamed, slandered, abandoned, betrayed, separated (by distance), deceived, hurt…

And found love.

And love sometimes hurts. But if it’s true… then it doesn’t depend on being in the same place at the same time.

And it can love through pain.

Until healing comes.

And it’s worth it.

I would do it all over again. Because they make me smile. And cry. They hug me when it’s hard. They trust me with their deep places. They let me help when I can. And they are generous with their time, resources, and energy when I need it too. They love my children like only aunts can do… and have provided “sisters” for my own daughters… delightful little friendships that make my heart smile deeply.

They invite me in.

And it’s a precious trust. To be handed the key to one’s deepest fears… and not use it.

This is the joy I have.

And one I hope for you.

That as a woman who has felt the searing pain of a broken friendship, the betrayal of another woman’s unfaithfulness to friendship and the thing that makes it sacred, the deep loss and grief of goodbye…

I pray you find the strength to try again. To love relentlessly. Laugh contagiously. Soak the shoulder with your tears when you need to.

Take the risk. Choose well.

Sisters make our time on life bearable.

Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art… It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival.

-C.S. Lewis

To learn more about 31 Days in 2012 or view other 31 Dayers blogs, click here.

I’m spending 31 days writing about my confessions and the lessons {Dad} has taught me. This is day 13 of 31 Days in 2012.

The Value of Pain (Feelings From a Thinker’s Perspective Part 2)

(Read Part 1 here.)

I’ve been thinking about my last post and how it relates to my purpose of providing inspiration and encouragement to my readers.

It’s always good to hear how another person views a particular subject… especially if it’s different from your own. I know I personally love to have conversations filled with depth and rationale and understanding one another. My purpose for righting about feelings from a “Thinker” perspective was to give voice to the many of us who can only be validated in our feelings by having someone understand how concretely we view them. On the flip side, we Thinkers have to be keenly aware of weight feelings carry for our “Feeler” friends and how unnecessary an explanation is. 🙂 I know that I have personally (and unintentionally) wounded friends by being so rational and logical about feelings instead of just accepting them regardless. Equally, I’ve been hurt by people wanting to talk about my feelings with no consideration of how I wound up with them!

May we each strive to love and accept the differences among ourselves- to cherish them in such a way that we are willing to learn the other “language” for the sake of friendship and the kinship of our humanity.

Speaking of hurt, I wanted to process some thoughts I’ve had regarding pain.

A friend was sharing in my Bible Study the other day and said something to the effects of “Pain is only valuable if God is allowed to use it for His and our own good.” Now, even if you don’t believe in God, I’m sure that as you read along, you will still be able to appreciate the way that pain can drive us toward betterment if we allow it.

Let’s consider the Flu. Or any cold. Unpleasant. Uncomfortable. Normally doesn’t kill you. The flu is actually a sort of a natural cleanse. It cleans your body of all of the nasties that have built up, albeit through some orifices you’d have rather left alone. Not only does the flu clean out your system, but it sends your immunity to bootcamp. An untrained immunity will be a weak enemy for real battle (i.e. much larger diseases and illnesses). Your body’s response to the flu virus is also a way of altering you to a foreign adversary is on the premise and works to rid your land of it. So, you can choose to see sickness as a horrible attack on your system or see it as an opportunity for you body to strengthen, prepare, and clean, though uncomfortably.

How true this is of emotional pain too! Feelings of hurt or anger or sadness are all indicators that something is not well within us. A red-flag that danger to our psyche is at bay. It would be easy to simply wallow in those feelings believing that they in and of themselves are the end-all/be-all. But really, feelings and emotions are so often just a reflection of the true issue at hand.

My husband, a person like so many who is very familiar with pain, reminded me of a quote: “Pain is the acid that cuts through the walls of denial.” Pain can get to parts of us that no one else can. It can speak to us on levels that nothing else can reach. The acid could destroy us if we didn’t know how to use it.

So how do we use pain? If you believe in God… this is a little easier. You trust His Word which says that His plans for you are to work all things out for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). To give His creations a hope and a future and not to harm them (Jeremiah 29:11). To trust that God is allowing pain in order to “glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us” (Romans 5:3-5). C.S. Lewis said, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” It’s in our pain, when we are desperate to end our suffering, that we are finally willing to listen, to be changed. It’s not God’s mean way of making us something different than we are. Instead, it is God’s kind way of directing us away from those things that would harm and destroy us and ushering into a land filled with choice milk and honey. The way a Shepherd gently guides the sheep along the path… allowing them pain if it will teach them to stay the course and flee from cliffs, wolves, and thorns. This God, in His great love for us, allows us to trip, get poked, and encounter “the wild beasts” of the field to teach us the hard lessons that only experience can teach us.

If you don’t believe in a God who loves you, protects you, and ushers you, then your path looks a little different. It becomes a task greater than trusting God…but of trusting in yourself. In your ability to step outside of the pain and see it objectively- as the tool that it is. As we are imperfect and completely unable to be completely objective of our own life journeys, this is a daunting task. You must reframe your pain and choose to use it as something that improves you. Instead of swearing off all men because one man deeply hurt you… decide to learn the lesson of heartache and promise to be as honest and genuine with others as you can be to spare them what you have felt. Or challenge yourself to experience the satisfaction of being the “better” person and continue to “love” that person with kindness, patience, forgiveness, and peace. They, too, are learning on the curves of life and, unfortunately, you were an instrument in their own growth as well. See it as such and don’t let pain destroy you. Rather, let it build you. Better yet, choose to believe that there is a God who loves you and wants the best for you- and follow Him.

This concludes part 2 of how a Thinker views Feelings… in light of pain. I hope that whatever your life experience, today you can choose to look at the pain you’ve experienced and see how it has made you something better than you were… more mature, more kind, more compassionate or understanding. Perhaps you’ve let it tear you down a little…and make you cold or hard or distant from those who love you. My hope and prayer is that you will be able to find it within you to look at how you’ve let pain influence your life… and choose to use it for the better… and not the worse.

Blessings in your endeavors!


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