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Brave Stories

A Brave New You!

nicole-honeywill-407158.jpgFor most of my life I have carried too much.  My emotions, the issues of others, stress. I have reluctantly said yes to people/ projects, I have silenced my voice, doubted my greatness, and even started and never finished great ideas….the list goes on. In 2017, my Husband and I welcomed a baby boy (I’m obsessed) and postpartum depression hit me hard. I struggled to find balance in my various roles which led me to more of Jesus and even some healthy counseling.  Part of my healing came from releasing people, thoughts, and unhealthy habits that I learned over the years.  Once I decided to release these hindrances, I was able to grab hold to my promised future, at least a corner of it. This is an ongoing process that requires focused intentionality every day. 

It’s Day 1 of 2018- what are you willing to release so that you can invest your time, energy, and heart in the right direction? This year I am choosing to use my voice to empower others.  Expect to hear much more from me and other authentic women in 2018!

Brave Tip: If you want to maximize your life you have to minimize the load you are carrying.

I am looking forward to us living Braver in 2018!

Candy

“This my dear is bliss…”

*This is what came of my time with Jesus this morning. I pray you will be encouraged or at least feel inspired to steal away with Him before you rush off to your next thing.*

My husband always jokes that giving birth makes a woman more holy. (Is there scripture to back this up- I can’t remember?) I never found his statement amusing until today, because I did feel kind of holy.  🙂 After dropping him off at work this morning, it was my turn to do the school drop off with the kids. It was a typical morning, Nyomi had some diva demands that I just couldn’t seem to satisfy. Kaiden asked the same question a million different ways and I patiently answered it, even trying to use a different tone to keep things a little interesting.  After the drop off, I had planned to just go ahead into work and get started on some projects before my only meeting of the day.  That’s when I felt the beckoning of the Holy Spirit say to my heart, “come away with me…” My heart melted when I realized that Jesus wanted to spend some time alone with me before I rushed off. I love moments like this.

I said, “wait, let me grab my bible and journal from the house…” He replies, “no, you brought your laptop that’s all you need.”  Where should we go? I drive in silence for a few moments when I hear the word…”bliss…” Well, the only place I know with bliss in the name is Aroma’s. He even had the nerve to tell me the exact location, “downtown.”  #relationshipgoals  #comeonJesus 

So, here I am with my almond milk iced chai tea and vegan lemon donut with hibiscus glaze waiting for what’s to come. 

“Let’s get real,” He says. You have had some heartbreaking moments over the past year- losing a child, trying to raise a child who did not come from your body, trying to understand your strong-willed daughter, while also being a great wife and leader in your work and neighborhood. I’m so sorry that this pregnancy has been difficult- many sleepless nights, constant daily pain, medicines that you weren’t prepared to take, anemia. You have handled it well my daughter- I am very proud of you. No one can really see the depth of pain that you are enduring every day, but I appreciate that you have found moments of joy and gratitude during this time.  Thank you for being obedient to slow down when I asked you to. I know it was hard for you, your Dad is right, you are a woman on the move, a road-runner! Trust me, there will be a time when you get back to moving at that pace and even faster. I have not forgotten the glimpses of dreams that I have shown you through the years. Trust me, my timing is perfect.

Now, back to being real. I need you to continue on the track that you are on with tending to your heart. You have wounds from people that are close to you that have never healed. Partly because you keep letting them open up again. I am your ultimate healer and although you wish for a sincere apology and closure from the one who hurt you, you might never receive this from them. I apologize to you on their behalf. I am sorry that they hurt you and continue to try and hurt you. I am fully aware of their motives even before they attack. Daughter, I need you to be strong and courageous because your response to them is your weapon, your protection, your line of defense. I am not saying you will never be hurt again, but I have given you the tools that you need to not only survive the hits but THRIVE! You are no longer an “easy target”. You no longer have to live in their hurt.  Don’t change who you are because of how they are.  I need my Spirit to shine through you because there are people I have called you to. The way you live is going to help others come to me.  Daughter I see you as a flower constantly blooming in every season. Your soil is good, but you have to keep tilling the ground and cutting away what is dead. For far too long, weeds have tried to overrun your garden, but no more. I see in this year a woman who is stronger than ever, rising up in her rightful position. Change the narrative that you are telling yourself. Be in expectation of some sweet surprises this year with your family, your husband and your calling. I have not forgotten you. I know exactly what I’m doing and where I am taking you. Trust me! The next time that this person tries to hurt you, I want you to LOVE….love even when you feel uncomfortable or like they don’t deserve it. Love anyway, because you are not perfect. You also have your flaws. You too have hurt people whether you realize it or not. LOVE because you know it’s what I would do.  LOVE is what will change their hearts, and guess what, you still may never hear that apology. That is not why you’re doing this. You are loving because it pushes out fear and drives out darkness. There is much darkness surrounding them. So LOVE, everyday, every person and be on guard with your heart. Stop reliving your past in your head and focus more in the present and taking those next steps towards the glimpses I have shown you. I am creating a legacy of brave women that you will help to raise up. Will you join me in this? I want you to be a part of it because you are so unique. People don’t really know the depth of who you are, you don’t even know yet, but when you do, oh goodness daughter, it will be explosive!

Thank you for spending time with me this morning, thank you for being obedient. I love you and I love who you are and where you’re at in this season. Remember to take it easy, enjoy this pace, and enjoy being taken care of.  This my dear is bliss…

 

Brave and Free,

Candy Z.

 

What happens when we run towards the danger.

Last night I had the opportunity to hear from national best selling author Donald Miller at the Hope Center for Kids gala. His presentation was a God-wink from Heaven. The term God-wink became popular in 2002 thanks to a book called, “When God Winks.” It is basically what some people would call a coincidence or a moment of certainty.  I knew this was a God-wink because what he was sharing helped me tie together the story I had planned to share on Brave Avenue today.

Donald Miller spoke eloquently on how we have the choice to wake up everyday and write the story that we want to live. He likened our lives to the process of writing a movie. Movie writing is basically a recycled story-line that can be told with four different perspectives.

  1. Victim- this character does not change or evolve, their part is very small and not memorable.
  2. Villain- villains are characters who do not process their pain and as a result they are constantly seeking revenge on the people who hurt them.
  3. Hero- this character is usually broken, filled with self-doubt, and not sure if they can get the job done. They also learn from their pain.
  4. Guide -this is the most important role! This character has already won the challenge and their mission is to help others transition from victim to hero to guide.

As I reflected on Donald’s talk, I thought of my kids favorite character from the movie, “Home.” It is a little alien named OH.  In the movie you get to see how OH was taught to not care for others and to run away from danger. Essentially, he lives like a victim until he meets a brave little girl named, Gratuity Tucci. I have watched this movie a trillion times yet I always cry when OH has an ‘ah ha’ moment about his life and chooses to do something that instantly changes his story.

…..he runs towards the danger.

When you choose to run towards danger (emotional pain, tragedy, uncomfortable situations, etc., you are showing your willingness to confront pain or situations head on. This takes a great deal of risk, but the good waiting on the other side of the pain is worth defending the process. When you look back months, weeks, even years you will see that the pressure from enduring the process was so small in comparison to what you actually received. This is something God continues to show me through the healing process of my miscarriage. I am in awe to still be learning so much from the experience months later. God knew losing my baby would hurt me, but He has been so faithful to me in the process as I intentionally run towards the danger (pain). I know that as I continue running, I will be able to help other women who endure the same pain.

As we go into the last quarter of this year, I encourage you think about the story you are writing for your life. Do you want people to know you as a victim or someone who sees the setup for their pain as a way to help others rise up?  I am choosing to be a guide in my story!

What story are you writing for your life today-are you the victim, the villain, hero or the guide?

 

The Hard Way after 9 Months

I have now decided that I am a firm believer that boundaries can unlock freedom and creativity of the mind and spirit. If we were just handed everything, there would be no innovation, no struggle to find a better way, and no victory! Because people are unsatisfied with the way things were, we have so many great inventions, tools, businesses, technology, websites, and services. They learned the Hard way, and decided that they wanted to create a future that didn’t have to deal with the same hard realities, but would learn and discover new ways to improve and build. Those individuals wanted their ceiling to be our floor, and for countless people, it has been just that. However, while the general population seems to be quick to learn technology tricks and standards from the previous generations, we tend to forget the spiritual, emotional and relational battles that the generations before us have already fought. We find ourselves in the same positions as many who came before us, and often end up worse. Why is this?! 

We don’t let someone’s hard way become our easy way. We have to do it the hard way ourselves. Now some of this is human nature, I get it. We have to try and fail sometimes and eventually we learn what it takes to succeed and are better and stronger because of it. However, what if I actually listened to my mom or observed the way she grew and progressed emotionally and spiritually and set my floor at her ceiling? What if I stood on her shoulders instead of trying to look her in the eye? What if I used the wisdom she gained and applied it to my own life?

We do too much talking, instead of asking questions of our elders and listening! 

I’ve tried to do this more in the past week. Asking and listening. Learning and making wise, but necessary changes. It’s hard! 

While I have had my losses and victories of living the hard way the past 9 months, the question within me is this: how can I live a “hard way” lifestyle and still stay sane? 

I am reminded of the quote that we heard at the global leadership summit, “learn from everyone, live like no one.”

We can all learn from each other in some way, but none of us should try to copy the way another lives! For a while, I tried to live the hard way how someone else knew and described it. Now, I think I am finding my own hard way. What is yours? 

To Be Or Not To Be…You

This year has been about pursuing “This is Me”, my identity. Since I’ve invited God to show me who I am, it’s been a heavy battle of letting go of what I’ve believed about myself in exchange for the truth of who He has already created me to be.

If I’ve always been who He says I am, then the question I have to ask myself is: What has kept me from fully embracing it all this time? I believe that false humility has played a significant role in my denial of who I am. False humility hides behind an incorrect perception of humility. False humility is pride cloaking itself as humility. For example, do you often disagree with people when they pay you a compliment or have some kind of rebuttal? Yep, that’s false humility.

I think there is a constant underlying fear of either being perceived as arrogant or not being good enough. In reality, true humility admits the truth. Pride blinds, distracts, and slows down the process of growth. I’ve said in the past that it’s not the truth that hurts but the removal of pride that leaves a powerful sting.

While reading a book called ‘The Marketplace Paradigm”, I realized that I never gave myself permission to be successful. Some part of me withheld the possibility of actually seeing my visions come to pass. It was a turning point in my thinking. I decided that I’m finished pretending I can’t have it all. I am supposed to dream big and have the audacity to believe it can be done. I’ve had to admit that I’ve placed limits on my God-given potential.

It is never too late to get it. God has been waiting for this moment. He has been waiting for you to align yourself with the truth and allow it to set you free. In this freedom you don’t count yourself out and decide that someone else is more qualified. In this freedom you assume that He has set you up for success.

I finally admit that I am a gifted artist and speaker. I challenge you to no longer ignore the compliments and affirmation that come your way. People notice what you are good at and have a tendency to tell you. Ask a co-worker, friend or family member to tell you what they see in you. There is nothing that you lack in gifts. They point you to who you are.

What visions have God played on repeat all your life? What are you passionate about? Take a moment to wholly accept who you are and give yourself permission to just ‘be’. Don’t let false humility get in the way. It’s time to finally admit how truly incredible you are.

Say What You Need to Say

Fear is a funny thing. Sometimes it’s rational. Like if there is a bear standing in front of you in the wilderness, fear would be pretty appropriate. But more often than not, fear is irrational, and irrational fear keeps from doing a lot of rational things. One of the rational things that irrational fear deters us from doing is saying what we need to say. Why is it so scary to be honest? Well, in relationships, we are usually afraid of how someone might react. We go through all the scenarios in our head and try to figure out if that person will be angry, sad, annoyed, emotional, confused.

I get it. Confrontation is not pleasant. It can be hard and sometimes painful. But it’s worse to let things go on how they are and push your thoughts and feelings under the rug. I’m all too familiar with this process. I don’t want to deal with stuff so I’ll just pretend it’s not there and usually distract myself with the busyness of life. Spoiler alert: It shoves its way out from under the rug eventually and I WILL have to deal with it. UGH! So annoying, but so true. In a relationship, it will surface again if you don’t deal with it now.

Every stage of dating comes with a decision to be completely honest and up-front, or to alter your behavior and dialogue to keep someone interested. From the first date forward, you either decide to be yourself or who someone else wants you to be. It’s so easy to do this when you like the person sitting across from you. But the problem is that neither of you will know if you’re actually a good fit unless you say what you think. I have struggled with this time and time again. My dating experiences have historically been full of trying to impress a guy instead of being the woman God created me to be and being OK with it. Not everyone is going to want what you have to offer, but that’s a good thing.

Know what you stand for, speak up for what you want, and if your S.O. breaks up with you because of it, they weren’t right for you in the first place. Do what is right for you, and the right person will love you even more for it. Be brave, ladies! Stop letting fear of a negative reaction deter you from saying what you need to say.

Bittersweet Beginning

Have you ever had one of those moments where you just surprised yourself? You go about your life each day, probably doing the same thing, the same way until one day you make a conscious effort to go off the beaten path and you find an unexpected joy! That is exactly how I felt after completing the first semester of the Fashion Ambassador Program through Kleveland Clothing.

I remember talking with my husband about the class. It was the night after our miscarriage and for some reason I felt like it was time to go off the beaten path. I had allowed fear to make many decisions for me. Often those decisions left me feeling dissatisfied, but not that night. I made a conscious decision that I would no longer hold back when it came to my gifts and talents. In that same breath, bravery replaced fear and I registered for the class. Every weekend I was immersed in a class where I learned how to design, sew, and given the freedom to simply create. It was truly the highlight of my week during a difficult season. Through loss, something else was birthed- the creative being that has been waiting to come out for years.

What about you? Is there a fire kindling slowly in your heart? Maybe it’s time to fan the flame a bit more. You are a creative being with gifts that are waiting to explode and bring joy to those around you. My Brave sister, it’s time- time to give yourself permission to be you, to make mistakes, to try the things you’ve always been interested in. It’s time to give yourself permission to actually BE great! I promise, if the dreams will not stop it’s because they were meant to be. We can never evade them. Let’s dare to go deep and trespass beyond the walls of our fear to find the glorious, unexpected, adventure in our lives.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s our Anniversary! 

Brave Avenue was officially established on this day last year!!

I started this blog as a way to start living my Brave adventure inspite of obstacles and deep rooted fear. I wanted my daughter to have an example of a brave woman to learn from and hopefully be proud of one day. This year has been marked by incredible moments as well as challenging (growth) moments. We’ve read and shared stories from beautiful women. We’ve laughed and cried together. Someone once said it is powerful when women get together and I wholeheartedly agree.  New things are coming to close out 2016; thanks for staying with us.

In honor of our anniversary we are hosting a giveaway. Share your bravest moment of 2016 for a chance to win a Brave Avenue gift box!

1. Follow us on Facebook or Instagram.

2. Share your story and tag #braveavenue in your post. 

3. A winner will be chosen next week!

Be BRAVE with your life,

Candy 

What if we were real?

We all love to share stories of our good news. We tweet, snapchat, and update our statuses with good news everyday. This is especially true for pregnancy announcements. We search on Pinterest for the best way to share the good news- Prego bottles, ultrasound pics, family photo (that’s what I did). On the flip side, bad news is not always easy or fun to share. I didn’t search Pinterest to figure out the best DIY craft to announce our miscarriage. In fact, I was too ashamed to go back and tell everyone after posting our good news. But, what if we were real?

I remember lying on the exam table waiting expectantly while the ultrasound tech prepared to show us our next little Zollicoffer. I was so excited to have another baby and it appeared to be the perfect timing. We decided after our daughter was born that waiting two years would be ideal for our next child. My husband and I watched the screen as the tech moved the tool all over my growing belly. “Let’s try another way.” She prepared the other option to view our baby and then silence….”I’m sorry but I think you may have miscarried.” My heart sank. I didn’t prepare to hear bad news. Her words remained with me for the next four days after I was told to come back the following week to check again, maybe it was too early to tell. Needless to say that was the longest week of my life. The firefighter term ” hurry up and wait” fit perfectly with what I was experiencing.

Have you ever been excited about something and then told you have to wait for it? It’s like when your friend tells you, “Ooo remind me to tell you something later.” You’re just left thinking, okay why did you even bring it up?? [GUILTY]

The next four days were difficult. I cried a lot but remained hopeful that everything was okay. When I woke up the day before our scheduled appointment, I immediately noticed that I wasn’t nauseous and the sharp cramping was no longer there. At that moment, I knew that Baby Zollicoffer would not be joining us in December. I heard the Lord whisper “restore” and that was it. I woke up my husband and cried the rest of the day.

We often tell God what we’re going to do with our lives. We create our vision boards, and write our goals for the year, which are all good things and have their purpose. In our planning, I believe we forget that the process to obtain what we desire is not always as easy and exciting as it looks in the picture or the words we write down. Yet, the wonderful thing about process is that God prepares us for it. Oftentimes we don’t recognize His preparation until after it happens. On May 23rd, my doctor told us that we officially miscarried. On the same day, a former mentor shared a Facebook memory about her first child who was born on May 23rd. She had an eptopic pregnancy. This year her son would have been in the 6th grade! To date, she’s had eight pregnancies total with three of those children still living. I gained so much hope and strength from her story as I endured 11 hours of intense labor pains to deliver my baby at home.

I am no expert when it comes to loss but I have learned a few things with this experience that I hope will encourage you.

1. Lean into the pain.

“Pain is a growth opportunity. Lean into pain, that’s where bravery lies.” Navy Seal Denver Rourke.

At LeaderCast 2015 Denver shared the inspiring story of his wife delivering their baby. She wanted to delivery naturally without pain medication. As you can imagine this was very painful, but it’s what she wanted. In order to see that precious baby she had to lean into the pain.  We often set up our lives to avoid pain, but pain is absolutely necessary for growth.
2. Seek out support. 

“I am on your team, be on mine.” Emily Lanphier, Lanphiers Remember

We have to remember that women are powerful when we come together. We need each other . When I started sharing with other women, I discovered that so many women in my circle had experienced loss during their pregnancies and wanted to support me. It helped a great deal to know that I wasn’t alone in this. I had a team.

3. Let go and embrace hope. The word “quah” is Hebrew for hope and means “To look eagerly for, to lie in wait for.” Oftentimes when disappointment shows up, my first response is to figure out why it happened. Sometimes God’s answers come swiftly, and other times I’m wondering did He even hear me. Trust me-He hears us and in time He will reveal what we need to know. In order to embrace hope we have to eagerly apply patience.

4. Choose JOY! Laughter was sooo good for me this week! It allowed me to be present and reminded me that God is present with me. 1 Peter 1:6-7 says “So be truly glad.[a] There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.”

So, what if we were real?? What if we stopped hiding our pain and invited each other in?  We truly have nothing to lose and so much to gain when we let go. Where do you need to release the power of shame in your life? Find someone you can connect with this week. I believe our stories of brokenness will be used just as powerfully as our stories of joy.

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