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Just Do Something

Just read something.

The voice echoed in my head as I rolled over in bed, contemplating what or IF I should read my Bible that morning. Why had this grown to be my morning routine? After weeks of busy, non stop days from early morning to almost midnight most days, my body, mind, and heart was growing accustomed to shutting down and going on autopilot. This day was different however. As I lay there and told God my reasons why I couldn’t grab the Bible right next to me and read. Eventually, he won with that simple “read something”-anything really, just read. Something is better than nothing he seemed to whisper.

Something is better than nothing.

Often we seem to lack the motivation not because we don’t want to do the thing, but because we want to do it well and end up not starting at all out of fear that it won’t go perfectly as planned. For me, that can manifest in several ways: a homework assignment, a tough conversation, or getting up and doing the thing I desired and determined to do just the day before.

With my theme of choosing the Hard Way this year, I’ve realized that in order to get the most out of life and to GIVE the most to my future self, I just have to do something no matter how imperfect or lackluster I think it may be. I have to be able to take a risk in order for any real change to occur.

Indecision is a decision not to decide.

It is still a choice when you choose “not to choose”. There is still risk involved, and it is the risk of not knowing what would have happened had you actually made a real decision. Either way you risk.

That’s kinda what this is all about. That word none of us like but all of us will encounter at some point in our journey. RISK. Which is greater? The risk of making the wrong decision, or the risk of making no decision at all?

When I finally made the decision to just read something that morning, I was blessed and encouraged, something that would not have happened had I chosen to get a few more minutes of sleep. It wasn’t a perfect devotional and journal and prayer time, or even super in depth. It was simple and sweet, and just what I needed. While it wasn’t much of a risk, it was the first step-among many-on the journey to conquering fear. One small victory over indecision, one more step towards a braver me.

Receiving Grace

Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep. The alarm clock went off and I fumbled to quickly silence and get those last few seconds of peace before another hectic day begins. As I started to wake up, I soon realized that this was my backup alarm and I missed my workout, the second time in the past week. Now, if you’re any normal person, this is not a big deal, you dust yourself off and go on with the day. For me that morning, however, it was a bit of a meltdown. I couldn’t believe how I had failed yet again and that this was totally NOT living the hard way (like I had committed to do here), and how was I ever going to reap those long term rewards if I couldn’t even get up for a simple workout. As I ruminated on this, the stress of other events came into my mind and I connected my failure in waking up late to having a negative effect on the rest of my life as well, like my studies, work, relationship, and overall wellbeing.

Stress can do this odd thing to people, where it makes them crazy and overreact to everything. I did it to myself. I was getting too stressed that I forgot that I was blessed. I had tried too hard to lean on my own understanding and my own power, that when I failed, I had no where to go except to beat up myself and “try harder next time.” My closest friends and family told me I was being too hard on myself, and I excused it away in the name of being “disciplined.”

I couldn’t accept the grace that was extended to me, because I couldn’t even give myself grace. It was like I was unworthy of grace and kindness because I had failed. The grace that God offered, and the grace that his children were offering me was undeserved. But that’s kind of the point.

Sometimes you have to be brave enough to humble yourself and receive. Receive the grace that others have to offer, even when you can’t give it to yourself. Receive the service of others, because sometimes you have to be served instead of constantly serving. Receive the love and joy that comes from the forgiveness and kindness of others, especially when it is undeserved.

Receive the grace… even when you can’t give it to yourself.

When I could finally accept that God and others could have grace for me, I was able to have a little more grace for myself. Life is hard and gets stressful sometimes. However, that we can still accept the grace that is extended us to live out this brave journey we are on.

This journey is not meant to be lived alone and most definitely not within your own power. The grace of God and others can bring such joy and depth! Accept the grace today. You don’t have to have it all together.

When the Hard Way Gets Hard

“I was wrong.

I was weak.

I am sorry.

I chose what was comfortable instead of the Hard Way this time.”

This year, the theme that I chose is “The Hard Way.” After reading a book on entitlement and experiencing a hard year in 2015, I knew that living the hard way now would set me up for greater success in my future and a way to live easier in the long run. Creating disciplines and habits now would be hard, but this had the potential to set me up for the rest of my life.

Like any new endeavor, it started off well, and though it was hard, it seemed that it would pay off because I had that vision of the long term in mind. Fast forward a couple months and a week with little sleep and I thought it could get easier soon. However, after a few more weeks with lack of sleep, I started to fade, and the desire to seek comfort grew.

As a result, I chose the easy way, I dumped responsibilities that were mine onto a friend and made her stressed and confused in the process. I chose to have the attitude of entitlement, that for some reason, because I had a “busy schedule” or “lack of sleep,” I had an excuse to not handle my fair share of the responsibility. Anti-entitlement (choosing the hard way) thinks of others first, and understands how personal actions impact other people. (Tweet that!)

By me not choosing the hard way, I made it harder for other people.

My lawyer neighbor while I was growing up had this saying on his wall and every time we would go into his office we would read: “Poor planning on your part, does not constitute for an emergency on my part.”

Yet so often, as entitled people, we think the opposite is true. We say, “Because I didn’t plan well, you will do the work for me.” We push our own responsibilities onto others.

After realizing the hurt and stress I had caused my friend, I knew what I needed to do.

Sometimes bravery is admitting we were in the wrong, exposing our vulnerabilities or weaknesses and asking for forgiveness from those we hurt. I had not chosen bravery. I had chosen comfort and what I thought seemed to be easiest at the time, yet it ended up wounding the relationship with my friend, causing the need for some repairs.

Thankfully, she forgave as soon as I apologized, and we are on good terms, but I can’t help but think what it could have been had I chosen the Hard Way to begin with.

It’s YOUR turn!
When did you choose comfort over “the hard way”?

How have your actions of entitlement affected other people?

Is there someone in your life that you need to make amends with today?

2016: Review and the New

Review:

As the Founder of Brave Avenue I (Candy) am truly thankful for the opportunity to curate Brave Stories from women who can speak into our natural ability to rise up and live passionately. “What’s your story?” has been my go-to question when I’m in a room full of strangers or simply just getting my oil changed. I have always loved hearing people’s journeys, but I never thought a platform would open up for me to actually share with others. Brave Avenue seemed to happen by accident. I was at work listening to Pandora when a group called Boyce Avenue came on. I was digging the song and went to find out more. I mistook the name as Brave Avenue and only found a street name located in a few cities I had never visited. After Google failed to give me a complete answer I went to the source. God let me know he was challenging me to be brave in 2015. To say “yes” when I wanted to say no to discomfort. When I was pregnant with my daughter I had asked God to help me raise a confident and brave girl who would grow up secure and fearless of any challenge. Of course, it’s only natural that he would present me with uncomfortable opportunities for me to tap into bravery. My daughter has an example that she can look up to everyday. We’re only 6 months in and I must say I am proud of the impact Brave Avenue has made. We’ve grown to four regular Contributors, the Brave Stories have been shared in multiple countries, and our Guest Bloggers and Contributors have been impacted by the amazing feedback they receive, even inspiring some to move forward in their passions. Although we are the foundation, we still get motivated to take the next step after reading your comments!

This experience showed me four things:

1-Women need empowered women to lead the way for our younger generation.

2- Our voices matter and are valuable. 

3- Our thoughts and Brave Stories are important and needed. 

4- Saying “yes” can lead you to incredible opportunities only found in your dreams.

The New:

We are so thankful and blessed for all that has happened in this past year. As we review 2015, we are also excitedly anticipating all that will come in 2016 and how we can bravely face it together. As the co-founders of Brave Avenue, we would like to share our intentions and some themes that we have chosen to focus on for this new year.

Ella: “The Hard Way”

In 2016, I will live the hard way. I will not retreat to a cave of easy comfort but will climb the mountain, no matter the weather, becoming stronger each day along the hard way. Clearly, the hard way will be difficult, but I will choose to deny present comfort for future reward while living a life of focus and purpose. “Happiness is a by-product to enjoy, not a dream to seize,” John Townsend.

Jennifer Diane: “This Is Me”

I am finally at that long-waited point of fully embracing who I am and everything that goes with it. Every day, I will openly and unapologetically express, laugh, create and pursue. When the fear of rejection rears its ugly head, I will punch it in the throat and side step it at every opportunity. I am confident that 2016 is a breakout year for me.

Candy: “I will pursue trust.”

This past year has taught me that I have a quiet strength that has the ability to greatly influence change that is bigger than me. In 2016, I will stop breaking promises to myself and confidently trust in Gods promises. It’s time to stop down-playing who I am. When fear attempts to take hold of me with its excuses or reminders of the past, I will boldly call it out. I will no longer be bound by the fear of actually seeing good outcomes.

Stating your intentions for 2016 is not just writing down your to do list for the year. It is about creating healthy lifestyle habits that develop and reveal the authentic you.

Your perspective on how you do things is everything. Your perspective comes from your ‘why’. Why do you want to do more in 2016? Why are you choosing that specific word or theme? Inwardly focused goals are not strong enough to bring about a powerful game-changing outcome. It is when we can step outside of ourselves and see the bigger picture and purpose of our actions when we realize we can truly make a difference and find happiness.

It’s YOUR TURN!

If you are ready to bravely achieve more this year, we challenge you to answer the questions below. Invite a friend to join you.

  1. What is your intention/theme for the year?
  2. How do you plan to accomplish that?
  3. What obstacles/fears do you foresee standing in your way?

 

Be brave and empowered on your journey!

-The Brave Avenue Bravenistas

It’s the Little Things

When you start a new venture on bravery, prepare yourself for the opportunities that will arise. It’s funny how that happens, the day you set your mind to be brave, you will have the opportunity to live it out, putting your intention into action.

Recently I’ve had some life situations that have required me to step out of my comfort zone. However, these were temporary situations where I had the option to choose to remove myself. While this was courage in action, these trials were things I was easily rid of. Some things are not so easy to bravely step away from. Some things like depression or cancer, abusive situations or homelessness cannot be escaped so easily.

Individuals with those circumstances have to bravely face each day with courageous fire in their eyes and a shield over their heart, bracing themselves for whatever is thrown their way next. Living a lifestyle of bravery, consistently waking up each morning, they determine to live bravely no matter their present circumstances-no matter how permanent the situation may seem.

Some circumstances are temporary and may be eliminated if we make one brave decision. But a lifestyle of bravery requires several small choices to keep going, living, breathing, and hoping.

One day-you will be free from your chains. Today, you can take that step.

Luke 16:10 says, “one who is faithful in little will be faithful in much…” The same can be said of bravery: when you are brave in the little things, you will be brave in the bigger things.

For me lately, those small choices have come in the form of saying no to things that will over-commit and overwhelm me mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. I have made small decisions to get up earlier, even though that may be the hardest decision to make, it helps me be more productive and feel more at peace.

Whatever it is, you can choose bravery today and not let your circumstances determine your life or your attitude.

If you dare to live a lifestyle of bravery, we would love to hear from you! Maybe you are still in the struggle. Maybe you are one big brave choice away from your breakthrough. You may be several little brave decisions away from that bigger. Let little brave acts be repeated and your fear will be defeated! (Tweet that!)

What is your brave moment? Where are you along your brave journey?

Visit our Facebook and leave a post on our wall or Twitter at us @braveavenue so we can hear about your brave moments.

Uncomfortable Bravery

Sometimes being brave means speaking the truth even when it may temporarily hurt the person to whom you are speaking. While it may hurt at first, you know that in order to fully heal or grow, they need to know the truth, acknowledge the truth, and deal with the truth.

This past week I had the opportunity to get real with an individual, in a less than comfortable situation. Though I tried at first to glaze over the root issue, she blatantly asked me to tell her the truth. I did not like the fact that I was going to have to say something difficult and although it would not be easy for her to hear, I knew that I would be the only one to speak this truth to her.

Out of love and genuinely wanting to help, praying desperately that God would give me grace with her response, what gave me courage to speak the truth was this verse:

Proverbs27.6

Just a few months ago, the reverse situation happened to me. I had people who loved me deeply tell me the truth about some things in my life that were so excruciating to hear, but were realities that I knew deep down were true. I knew they had my best interest in mind. It was the most loving thing they could have done at the time and it takes real bravery to choose love over comfort. However, it did require that I go through the uncomfortable process of humbling myself and listening to their wisdom.

I am so thankful that I had the examples of sincere friends who were not afraid to inflict that small little wound to spare me further intense pain in the long run. It helped me do the same this past week, taking that small brave step to love outside of my comfort zone.

I’ve realized more and more lately, that being brave is staying true to who I am, speaking truth, and not shying away from uncomfortable situations. In a world where most of us are scared to become vulnerable, as it may appear weak, we are longing for someone to take that first brave step to have a conversation that matters.

Is there an unpleasant truth or reality facing you or a loved one that needs to be brought to light?

Today you can choose genuine love over comfort and inspire others to do the same.

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