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No Longer an Easy Target

I remember sitting at my friend’s house crying again about something someone said to me. I hated how I let this person’s comments get under my skin but here I was again. This was nothing new. The person had exhibited the same behaviors for years, yet I had a propensity to face it as if it were the first time. I sat in my friend’s kitchen, frustrated and defeated as I re-told the story. They listened and were very encouraging but they also challenged me with truth. “You are an easy target.” My friends words shook me…she was right and it made me angry. Seeing myself from that perspective was all it took for me to get up and take my power back. I was no one’s easy target!

“The way you see is stronger than any calamity.” Mark Batterson

In order to see myself differently, I had to change the narrative I was telling myself.  When we allow others words to hurt us, oftentimes it is because there is something we believe to be true about ourselves. Maybe you believe you’re not a good daughter because you didn’t get your Mother the perfect gift for her birthday. Do you believe you’re unattractive because a family member often reminds you of how you could look so much better if you just changed this.  Or do you feel like you’re incompetent in your role at work because your Supervisor never likes your ideas. Do you feel like you’ll never meet the right guy because you have been romantically disappointed too many times? What do you believe about yourself that is not true?

For years, I let shots land in my heart about my loyalty, my weight, abilities and romantic relationships and every.single.time. I was left feeling the same way which caused me to believe I would never be good enough. I know none of those things are true. I have been processed by the truth of who God says I am and His truth causes me to grow. Each time I recognize a lie, I call it out and build onto the truth.

This is how we grow.

This is how we add maturity to our faith.

We no longer have to start from square one when we get attacked. Now we can recognize what the attacker is attempting to do and get out of the way! When you make the decision to grow, your attackers plans will no longer work.  

I want you to think about something. When a hunter goes hunting, they do not simply shoot and kill their prey.  Their attack is calculated. They blend in with their surroundings, they are quiet, silently watching, studying to learn their preys habits, weaknesses, and strengths. The hunter can sit for hours taking in all this information and waiting for the perfect time to attack.  Y’all we have an enemy that is strategically setting up challenges to steal, kill and destroy us.  He believes that you are an easy target. What do you believe??

The following week the same person that I let upset me attempted to rile me up again but this time I refused to let it anger me. I called them out on their behavior. They didn’t apologize but they quickly backed down and tried to pretend they were just kidding. The behavior continued a few more times, but each time it occurred, I spoke up with more assurance until finally it stopped.  What happened? I was able to see the problem with a greater perspective which allowed me to build upon the information that I already knew.  This made it possible for me to face the challenge with more tenacity. I was done!

Philippians 1:6 says, “God has already started a good work in you and He wants to bring it to completion.”  

God wants to build upon what He has already done in you so that you can have greater influence to empower others.

Brave Tip: “Let your yesterday be a building block for tomorrow.” Priscilla Shirer

Candy

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

Guest Post: Tamara McMillan 

Scars are such interesting things, and oftentimes the scars that we have tell a story…

I remember when I was pregnant with my oldest daughter…

I was using the restroom at my mom’s house when I suddenly began to feel dizzy. In hindsight, I see that I should have just sat there and waited until the dizziness passed. I could have even yelled my mom’s name to let her know that I was feeling dizzy. But instead, I decided that it was a better idea to get up by myself try and go lay down on the couch. On the way to the living room, I passed out and hit my head on my little sister’s doorframe. The scar that was left behind reminds of that day…

Sometimes, however, the scars that we carry are not as visible as the scar that I have on my forehead. Yet despite their inability to be seen by the naked eye, these scars can still tell a tale, or shift our minds back to a previous moment in time…

October is domestic violence awareness month….

As I’ve been reflecting on the emotions that are connected to that period in my life, I realize that, though I have physical scars on my body that serve as a reminder of the night that I was stabbed multiple times, it’s not my physical scars that remind me of the hell that I went through…

They say that hindsight is 20/20….

And I can clearly see that we were simply two unhealthy people, with unhealthy boundaries who were tied together by this by this unhealthy version of what we called…love….

Love…

What started off as something so exciting and new….

Became a compromise here and a compromise there….

I was compromising my peace of mind while clinging on to the unfulfilled promise of “it won’t happen again”

The wounds would heal and the physical pain would fade away…

But for a while the remnant of things spoken rode around on my train of thought…

And if I could have just done “this” and “that” differently, none of this would have happened…

Somehow I had triggered you and oftentimes I felt “trigger happy” because it seemed as if my mere existence triggered your anger and, at the very least, your hateful words…

What started off as something so exciting and new….

Became a compromise here and a compromise there…

Onlookers are generally quick to say “why don’t you just leave?” Yet they fail to realize that what started off as the whispering of “sweet nothings”…slowly shifted to screams that I “meant nothing” and you wanted “nothing” to do with me…

Yet like a dangling worm I had already been hooked and was tied to you by this unhealthy version of what he called love…

And I was clinging on to the unfulfilled promise of “it won’t happen again”…

I didn’t leave until I had reached my breaking point; once I had reached the point where I had broken free from the idea that things would be any different from the way that they were.

Once removed from the situation, I went to a domestic violence shelter and one of the residents told me something that really stuck with me. She told me “the way that he treated you was not okay”.

I eventually went to counseling and am very intentional about maintaining healthy boundaries in all of my relationships; but those nine words that she spoke to me, changed my entire perspective and ensured that I would never again enter into another abusive relationship…


Meet Tamara

I’m a pretty deep thinker and also very random. I am a storyteller and I love to draw you in so that you feel like you actually experienced it. Sometimes I rehash things from a comedic point of view, but I also like to give you a deep truth to meditate on. I am very passionate about making sure that people understand that they are loved and know their worth; I really dislike seeing people being mistreated or treated unfairly. I also strongly dislike when people are viewed solely through the lens of a label or stereotype. I am a lover of Jesus, people, random adventures, and laughter.

You can find more of Tamara’s work on her blog LadyTButterfly!

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?

 

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.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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?”

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