Standing on Brave Shoulders–Plus a Giveaway

Plus a Giveaway (1)

 

Candles filled the concert hall and God’s Spirit hung heavy, but this was no ordinary night of worship. God was calling us out, writing our destinies into existence.

Only 20 years old, I stood alongside the other graduates in a special commissioning service. Our ministry mentors were instructed to challenge us, calling us by a new name.

When my turn came, Paula paused to think. Finally, she scribbled out a word, folded the paper, and passed it to me.

I wanted to accept this new name, embrace it, but another claimed my life. Everyone could read the name “Timid” etched across my life.

How could I live the word “bold,” the word she prayed over me so brazenly?

Sometimes it takes years for God to fan our prayers into flame. I lost that piece of paper, but over the years, I clung to the hope it gave me.

It took a brave woman to call out the brave woman in me. In fact, it’s taken an army of brave women.

Courage begets courage, doesn’t it? We learn bravery by seeing it in action.

For instance, I needed to see my friend Fran Geiger Joslin run a publishing company, after starting it on a leap of faith.

I needed to watch Mary DeMuth live the message of her books, while daring to imagine and set in motion the Re-story Conference.

I needed to watch Heather Creekmore choose endurance and faithfully steward the message God has given her.

Seeing my friend Lea Ann Garfias choosing to be brave and launch her must-read book, Rocking Ordinary, helps me stare down fear and slay my own dragons.

We all need this kind of inspiration. That’s why I’m excited to tell you and hopefully give you a copy of the American Woman’s Bible (Thomas Nelson 2016), a study Bible that includes stories of the brave women who helped make America.

IMG_4189

I know I don’t need to tell you about the many bold woman who, fueled by faith, shaped our country. Their stories speak about gumption, hospitality, and sacrifice.

Their stories, past and present, remind me to be brave—how one act of bravery ripples out into the world, inciting more bravery.

On days when we don’t feel courageous, snapshots of godly woman like Ruth Bell Graham, Rosa Parks, and Eleanor Roosevelt, lend us tenacity and strength.

Henrietta Mears had it right when she said, “Faith is caught rather than taught.” This quote and many others from woman like Flannery O’Connor, Emily Dickinson, and Dorothy Day inspire readers and fill the pages of this Bible.

IMG_4183

 

Bold woman speak the truth to each other. We borrow and lend courage. We help each other live new names and new stories.

The Giveaway

I have two copies of the American Woman’s Bible  that I would love to give you, one hardback and one leather bound.

Here’s how to enter: If you haven’t already, like my author page on Facebook and let me know in the comments below. In a week, I’ll put all the names in a hat for a drawing and contact you if you won.

Would you consider sharing this post on social media, maybe even tagging a brave friend, too? Thanks for being brave!

The Brave Song

cliffjumping

As I awake a tidal wave of anxiety rolls in and pins me to my bed.

I hear the kids downstairs, and that tone of voice means one thing—a fight will ensue. I pull the covers over my head and let the undertow of dread pull me under.

The kitchen needs cleaned. The laundry beast needs tamed. Church responsibilities loom. Is this my life?

I hear my husband break up the fight. The house quiets, but an unseen hand turns up the volume of negativity in my mind, lies amplified.

You’re a failure, the worst mom ever. Loser. Fat. Idiot. Hack. Poser. Socially Inept.

If “hope is a thing with feathers that perches in the soul,” as Emily Dickenson said, then my hope just flew the coop.

But then I hear it, my new war cry. An anthem I sing to myself when I don’t want to face the world outside my covers.

Be brave.

That’s all I say, but the whisper stirs in me courage to quit the bed and put feet to floor. I am brave, I tell myself. No longer a lily-livered girl, God made me strong, confident and full of faith.

I’m learning to speak kind words to myself—the words of God. These truth words don’t come easily. Sometimes they burrow through two tons of lies before they can settle in my mind.

On my darkest days these lies roar to me from my dreams. Singing the brave song helps. Faith quiets the lies like rain clouds part for the sun.

The Bible brims over with songs of courage. Some days I murmur these ancient brave songs to myself.

“Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits— who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases,

 who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion,  who satisfies your desires

with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s” (Pslam 103: 2-5 NIV).

Abraham knew about bravery. I can see old Abe leaving home when God said so, setting off for destination unknown. I see him stroke his beard and ponder. Does he overanalyze every bend in the road like I tend to?

I didn’t think so a few years ago. I saw Abraham as fearless—so patriarchal and perfect. I realize now perfect, is what I imposed on Abraham—it was the ideal I reached for. Perfect and fearless.

I’m sure Abraham had moments, seasons—maybe even years of doubt.

I can see Abraham having it out with God right there on the road to Canaan, maybe just like the fight I heard from my covers.

God, why are you making me move? Can’t you just tell me where I’m going? Can’t you see what a huge inconvenience this is for me?

Abraham, the father of our faith, probably knew better than anyone how belief and fear can mingle.

Watch him walk toward Mt. Moriah, wood on his back and his Isaac chatting innocently by his side. You think his heart wasn’t pounding out of his chest?

But somehow Abraham learned that faith is not the absence of fear. He learned to dance to the rhythm of his own fearful heart.

Abraham found his own brave song.

Maybe it was the sound of bushes in the wind mixed with the cricket’s song, the first time God appeared to him.

In the middle of crippling fear, faith can arise. It can be as simple as a tune that your heart hums and when all hope has vanished.

What’s your brave song? What tract do you play in your mind to overcome fear?