Friday, January 27, 2012

Courage: 2012 Word of the Year

As a kid I didn't consider myself to be very brave.  I thought myself to be a bit reserved--always the one following the rules and playing it safe.  I never pushed myself, especially where academics were concerned.  I walked a (fairly) straight line and wasn't an overachiever.  I was deeply concerned with how people saw me and what their perceptions of me might be.  You might say I was obsessed with this.

Looking back on my adult life, however, I can recall events where courage emerged from me when I least expected it to.  In my 20s I found myself brave enough to break off a wedding engagement when I came to the realization that he wasn't "the one."  I then married a man whose culture is quite different from mine. In my 30s I went back to school to finish my nursing degree, I underwent infertility treatments, and I gave birth to 3 children in 5 1/2 years.  I also did 4 triathlons and a half marathon.  When I turned 40, I felt my insecurities subsiding even more, and I was filled with greater courage to just be myself, no matter now goofy or ditzy that may look at times.  I also found the courage to laugh at myself.  Often.

Last year God called me to a ministry in the church as the Christian Education Director.  It's been almost 12 months since I first sat in that office, stared at the walls, and said, "Now what?"  The last 11 months have been peppered with many soul-filling highs and several gut-wrenching lows since that first day in March, and as I look forward to celebrating my first year "on-the-job," I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the courage God has gifted me with to not only accept the position, but to keep on keepin' on in spite of the stumbles and challenges.  Isn't that what Jesus did in his ministry?

Our bible study group has been studying "The Purpose Driven Life."  It occurred to me during our most recent discussion that sometimes when searching for our purpose, we will need to be courageous for we have no idea where God will lead us when we ask Him that question, "What am I here for?"  He could lead us on a completely different path than the one we are currently on...a path that is new, untraveled, and scary.  That's where the courage comes in.

What have I learned about courage over the course of my life?  For some of us, being courageous takes...well...courage!  I believe that some people emerge from the womb without a fearful bone in their body.  I have a friend like this, and I am in awe of her boldness, her focus, and her ability to "go for it" in all aspects of her life.  Then there are others who often wake up in the morning needing to make the conscious effort to step out of the boat, take that leap of faith, and stand firm in whom and what they believe in, either because of circumstances that God has put in their lives or simply because of how God has made them.

While I'm delighted to see my courage level rising over the last few years, I still see myself as someone who needs a constant reminder to be courageous.  As a wife.  As a mom.  As a Christian Education Director.  As a sister and daughter.  As a friend.  That is why "courage" is my mantra this year, and Joshua 1:9 is my new life verse (the verse is in the sidebar).   Because who am I not to be courageous since it is what my God has commanded of me?

And believe me when I tell you that I am clinging to the fact that courage doesn't always equal success.  Sometimes courage just means taking a deep breath and going for it.  We may fall flat on our face.  It could turn out disastrously.  But if I believe I'm being guided by the Holy Spirit make a change or do something bold, then He will honor that no matter what the outcome.  Thank God we aren't called to be successful.  We are called to be faithful.

“Courage does not always roar. 
Sometimes courage is the quiet voice 
at the end of the day saying, 
'I will try again tomorrow.”
~ Mary Anne Radmacher

Monday, January 23, 2012


I cannot believe it's been about 5 months since the last post on this blog.  There's just so much to tell that I don't know where to begin.  Really, I just don't know where to start.  The new (but not anymore) puppies?  The growth (both physical and maturity) of our kids?  The struggles-yet-intense-JOY of my new job at the church (but it's not really new because it's almost been a YEAR!)?  The profound peace-yet-disorganization that is our family's life?

Yeah, I don't have that much time.

So for now, I'll just start with last night...Sunday night.  Our pool has been completed since Christmas Eve, and the kids wanted to play in the water as the January evening was a balmy 65 degrees.  My first inclination was to say, "NO!  Go shower and get ready for bed before Dad's done with the burgers on the grill!"  Didn't they know it was a school night?  Didn't they know that bedtime was looming and that they needed to be asleep at a decent hour to ensure an easy morning for both them and for Mom?  Didn't they know that this would mean more laundry piles for me?

But, for some crazy reason (perhaps it was our pastor's sermon about keeping the Sabboth holy and not working on Sundays) I gave them the "thumbs up."  It started with the kids wading in the pool.  That turned into a full-fledged swim in their jammies.  The puppies joined in the fun and waded into the pool....only to race around the ungrassy yard in the dirt...necessitating a deep-cleaning for the both of them.  The kids ended up dining pool-side--soaking wet and shivering cold.....and declaring last night one of the "best nights ever."

Sometimes cutting loose and letting the rules bend just a tad is all it takes to make an ordinary night an extraordinary night.  Sans any electrical gadgets.

I need to remember to do that more often.  Here's to a year full of "footloose" moments and memories.