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courage stories

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.

Failing At Failure

What would my life look like without insecurity and the fear of failure? Who would I be? I asked myself this before starting an internal journey of uncovering what truly makes me who I am. Since then, I’ve been placed in situations that have caused me to analyze my life from a different vantage point. God’s point-of-view.

In the past 3 years, I’ve experienced a lot of changes, loss, and transition. This has caused me to question what I want out of life and if I’m even on the right track. Was I as creative as I thought? Do I really want to pursue the big dream of building a successful creative lifestyle and events business? Distrust in my ability to make big things happen in my life had subtly settled in. Last fall, after a particular bout of self-doubt and tears,  I decided that these feelings of defeat could not possibly match God’s perspective of who I am and what I am capable of.

On the final day of a conference I recently attended I had a breakthrough in my perspective. Ryan Leak shared about his experience with “chasing failure” and how it doesn’t mean anything more than the fact that you tried something. I finally understood what God has been trying to get me to understand for months if not years. I thought that failure was a something negative that you avoided at all cost. Rather, it’s a natural part of the process of success. When you really think about it, what is so bad about failure? What does criticism of others matter in the face of what God thinks?

I’ve realized that I’ve been holding back in areas of my life because of a sense of inadequacy that had gone undetected. From relationships to the pursuit of entrepreneurship, my perspective about myself clearly did not match who I truly am.

Here are some recent revelations:
1. I have never experienced lack in my life. It may not have looked or came the way I thought, but God has always come through for me.
2. You cannot help who you are not around. Despite all the ways I can fail people, I have to have grace for myself. I can make an impact in people’s lives if I get over myself enough to be present. The world is waiting for me to be who I am called to be.
3. Not having excuses is the scary part. Persevering and attaining my dreams is up to me and no one else. I have to recognize that I’m not in this alone and that God has given me the resources and support I need to do well. It can be done.

What would the absence of fear and negative ideas reveal about you? The things that don’t work out are not necessarily an indicator of the final outcome. Don’t be discouraged; brave on. God has set you up to win.  I leave you with the question Ryan Leak asked an arrested crowd of 8,000 people:

“What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?”

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.

Update: I’ll Trust You

Last month the women of Brave Avenue shared more behind our themes for 2016. One of the areas I have struggled with is the idea of not being good enough. As a result, I would take myself out of the game before I would even start. I want to update you on how I’m walking out my theme to trust God and say ‘yes’ to opportunities that scare me. Read on to find out what happens when you face your fears and stay in the game.

1. You become more confident.

In my last post I shared my process of learning to lead worship and how difficult it was. I had to humble myself and accept that it was taking me longer than I anticipated to become great at leading. In order to further develop my skills, I asked one of the leaders to mentor me. She graciously accepted and helped me during practice and then spent additional hours in the week with me. Doing this released anxiety and helped me to focus, which allowed me to lead at a greater capacity. Each time I worked with her, I got better. Preperation was a key to building up my confidence. Insecurity causes you to place your attention in the wrong areas-your own negative thoughts and what others may think about you. When you are confident, you can have more fun, be present and enjoy your adventure!

2. You can see the rare beauty of your process.

Choosing bravery means you choose to confront your fears wholeheartedly. With your whole heart, unwavering devotion, intense enthusiasm, with certainty, you confront your fear or challenge. Your process won’t alway be graceful, but He who is full of grace will carry you through when you wa nt to quit. Those who endure the process, have the privilege to see the rare beauty of finishing.

3. You inspire others.

When I see someone else living bravely it spurs something inside of me! It makes me want to get up and do something! Our bravery can change the course of a life. Think about the last time you were inspired to do something great. Who inspired you? What did they say or do? How did you feel? That feeling is what others feel when YOU choose to live bravely.

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” Nelson Mandela

So, what Brave thing will you do today?

Share in the comments section below.

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?

I stepped through the door and did a quick scan. There was one guy sitting at an elevated table with papers strewn about. He introduced himself and I did the same. We shook hands. I stepped back from the the table and took a deep breath. Here we go, you got this, I told myself.

I had never auditioned for anything before, and I was a little bit terrified. It’s scary to be put on the spot and have to perform. Sure, I got to prepare something in advance, but my hands were still shaking. I could feel the nerves work their way into my brain, almost causing the disappearance of a 1-minute monologue I had so faithfully rehearsed for the last few days.

To my surprise, I remembered all the words, the pauses, and the expressions. After the audition, I didn’t care if I got a callback or not. I was just so proud of myself for getting in front of someone and delivering lines that I felt I had already succeeded.

You might be wondering why someone who is terrified by auditioning in front of people would seek this out willingly. The truth is, sometimes the things we want are a little outside our comfort zones. We have to step out in order to reach them, even though the path might be daunting.

My experience in acting is somewhat limited. Although I did play several roles in my older brother’s amateur films, I’ve never acted for real, “because that would be too scary.” Then one day I had a surge of bravery and asked myself, Why am I letting fear hold me back from doing something I’ve always wanted to try? I couldn’t come up with a good enough answer, so I decided to take action.

Lights! Camera! Action! These three words are all too familiar in filmmaking. This is the cue for the actors to perform the scene–to portray the emotion and words envisioned by the screenwriter. The word “Action” is like a starting gun. It’s a green light. Without it, the scene wouldn’t get shot and the film wouldn’t get finished. It’s a no-brainer in the film world, and it should be a no brainer in the real world, too.

Action is a key ingredient to accomplishing your goals and overcoming your fears. It’s easy to be all talk and no walk, but the walk is what gets stuff done. Think of your own life like a movie. Each day is a scene, and in order to make a great movie, you have to take action. Don’t be afraid of a plot twist–they make things interesting. Make each scene count and commit to your role, no matter what.

Take a deep breath. Say it with me, “Lights, Camera, Action.No matter what your screenplay holds, go out and put your bravery in action today!

The Year of “This Is Me”

this is me

This is breakout year!  2015 had uncovered some untruths about my personal value. Hidden in a small shadowed place was the belief that I was only valuable to people for what I could do for them rather than for who I am. Unwittingly, I’ve managed to carry this idea around and view life from its lens for many years. This deep hurt came from past experiences growing up in the confusion of divorce and other factors that I hadn’t fully acknowledged. It’s caused me to shy away and sometimes hide the best parts of me.

My freedom came in the form of telling God that I wanted my self-perception to match His perception of me. In 2016, I am still making that request to God. It’s painful to admit, but I need to find out why certain things bother me so much. When God searches your heart, He leaves no stone unturned. Thankfully our amazing Father knows how to transform us by taking us through different seasons.

This year, or season, is about my identity. It’s not so much about knowing who I am, but rather, understanding what that means. It’s about fully embracing how I’ve been created without apology. It’s about the phrase “I’m too much” no longer leaving my lips. 2016 is a picture of me raising my hands, laughing without embarrassment, pursuing without comparison, and slapping fear with truth.

What would happen if I owned up to everything that makes me who I am and no longer held back? What would my life look like if I valued my voice and shared my thoughts in the workplace? How much more would my business accelerate if I didn’t shy away from opportunities because of a fear of rejection? The exceptional life I want is possible. I want to see it. I want to know it.  I want to live it.

I am finally in a place where I see my value. Now, it’s time to lay it all out there because I am created with purpose. What I have is needed whether I realize it or not. Where have you held back due to a lack of self-value? What stifling lies have you believed about what you’re capable of? Knowing yourself the way God knows you will radically change your life and those who have the fortune of being around you. Choose with me to break out of the mediocrity that fear creates and pursue the real you. The world deserves someone just like you.

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The Hard Way

Remember the hard things you’ve done in the last season to enable you to do the hard things in this season.

As we began our year of 2016, we each chose a theme. After starting to read the book The Entitlement Cure, I chose “The Hard Way” as my theme, and have realized more and more just how fitting it really is and will be for this year.

This past season, I had to make several hard decisions, all of which required hours of prayer, seeking wise counsel and advice from mentors and friends, and the sheer power of the Holy Spirit.

At the onset of this new year, as I chose my theme of “the Hard Way” for 2016, I grew worried of all of the hard decisions I would have to make and how tired and worn out I would be from doing things the hard way. It was like I was mentally preparing myself for a miserable year in lieu of all that had happened the previous year. I was trying to hold myself to an impossible standard of perfection, when all I had actually committed to was a decision making process that produces growth.

Thankfully, as I was nearly in tears on several occasions, I had several of those same mentors and friends who had been through it all with me, remind me of the hard decisions I had already made. I had already started to choose the hard way, braving the unknown over 8 months ago! I simply needed to be reminded of what had already happened and of what I was already capable. Instantly, I felt more secure and able to take on the challenges that I knew lay ahead.

Instead of worrying at the thought of whether I might mess up again, I now remind myself of the hard decisions I knew I had to make and the beneficial and freeing results that have followed.

I am not choosing the hard way because I like it, I am choosing the hard way because I like what it produces. And it produces peace, patience, discipline, security, joy, and so much more that I have yet to discover.

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You too can choose the hard way with me this year. The hard way is

“the habit of doing what is best rather than what is comfortable, to achieve a worthwhile outcome.”

What do you foresee as some hard decisions you will need to make this year?

How can you step forward in bravery to choose the hard way today?

Click over to our Facebook or Twitter and let us know your plans for 2016!

Guest Blog Story: Bravery Starts with our Yes

Three letter word, yes.

Bravery starts with our yes. We have a choice. I have a choice, a daily choice. I can be busy and get soaked in the weight of life or I can be still and commune with God. I can hear and experience the sweet voice and gifts that we are given daily or bypass them. As the new year comes under way, lets remember that we have a choice to be brave and create new friendships, a choice to say yes and embrace Gods great gifts, to dwell in the beauty or sorrow that moments in life may bring. Because being brave will not always look like rainbows and colorful bouquets of flowers , it will not feel like biting into that piece of decadent chocolate cake; it may hurt a bit, it may sting like a bee, but

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (NIV)

that’s where the beauty of life comes in. We have a choice to experience REAL hope, grace, compassion and mercy. Although a yes may mean we get to see and take apart ugly parts of ourselves- there is grace. Although a yes may mean we have to talk about uncomfortable subjects with individuals we hold dear to our hearts or those we are creating new friendships with- there is love. Although a yes may mean stepping into the unknown, there is hope that whatever and wherever the Lord has called you to will be greater and bigger than what you can imagine because He stands, before, after, and next to you. God is near and God sees your bravery. God acknowledges your bravery. I can say that I have seen the Lord in all of these and so many other facets on my move to Seattle last summer. These last 5 months have been tough- like REALLY tough, but because of faith, because of the immense love He bestows in each and every place I go to, I will continue to say yes where He leads. I will continue to trust and continue to find the many gifts that are present daily. I am learning to say yes.

Much love,

Anahi

Take some time to ponder on:

Where and in what ways can you take a moment and commune with God?

What are some of the gifts God is giving you?

How can you say yes to something new- daily/weekly/monthly/yearly?

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