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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?

Confessions of a Recovering People Pleaser

In a previous post I talked about how 2016 will be the year of “This is Me”. My hope is to finally see myself the way God sees me and unashamedly live my life out loud. My turning point came after being pressed to look back at one of the most uncertain times of my life: My parents’ divorce when I was 10 years old.

The divorce shook my world. When you come out of a divorce as complex and volatile as my parents’, it’s natural to find ways to cope. In the aftermath, I felt it was my job to keep everyone happy.  I used to work hard to please both of my parents. When I couldn’t, I focused on pleasing one. Approval seeking became a way of life. If I didn’t get it from one place, I somehow sought it from another.

I had become a people pleaser.

I had become a people pleaser. It was the only way I knew how to navigate in a world that had become unrecognizable. People pleasers have a way of living in the open yet remain hidden at the same time. I never wanted to let others down and tended to hide my true feelings to keep the peace. It was a deep-rooted mentality that subconsciously ruled my life.

For a long time, I’ve sought the approval of certain individuals despite my desire to seek only Gods’. Now I can see the many times I’ve said ‘yes’ when I should have said ‘no’ out of fear of disappointing others or being perceived as uncaring. I know that I am capable of incredible things yet I have doubted my ability to be successful at them.  I’ve feared that I won’t live up to the vision that God has given me.

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It’s difficult to break out of a mindset you’ve lived out of for decades. Despite the sense of familiarity and safety in it, I decided to make a choice and allow God to challenge my thinking. To search my heart and reveal what has held me back from truly living out loud.

I’ve never felt freer than I do today. I value myself and choose to no longer play down my gifts. I understand now that my ‘no’ is just as powerful as my ‘yes”. I recognize what has been within me: bravery. I want to shout from a mountaintop “I get it now”! As a recovering people-pleaser, I invite you to break away from the approval seeking that comes from self-doubt. Allow God to bring truth and balance to your world. When you set your heart on what pleases God, everybody wins including you.

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?

[im]Perfectly Obsessed

Recently, after looking over my recent Facebook posts, my mother (the great reality therapist that she is) told me she thought I was acting a little obsessed about getting free food all the time.

If I’m not mistaken, she may have been the one to initiate and fuel my thrifty habits (obsessions), but while she may have given me the guidelines, this has been something I’ve taken and ran with over the years.

At a Leadercast talk this past year, Seth Godin said,

there is bravery in being obsessed.”

He started his talk with this example of how we all have these frogs in a bowl that keep trying to jump out and we spend so much time and energy trying to keep them in our bowl. What we don’t realize is that growth, change, and magic can come from letting some of those frogs jump out of the bowl. We need to stop trying to be perfect.

What I am realizing now is that when you are obsessed with something enough, you become brave enough to be imperfect (Tweet it!) in order to accomplish that obsessed about goal or reality. While I may not necessarily obsess about free food, there are other things that could be considered obsessions (others may call it passions) in my life that have made me forget my imperfections.

I used to be afraid of being imperfect, until I realized that I am actually NOT perfect—then I tried to make sure no one else was let in on the secret. (Actually, sometimes I am still afraid of people seeing my imperfections.)

Brenè Brown says,

“Perfectionism is a self destructive and addictive belief system that fuels this primary thought: If I look perfect, and do everything perfectly, I can avoid or minimize the painful feelings of shame, judgment, and blame.”

I’ve found something wonderful, something beautiful happens when I am doing something I love, something I’m “obsessed” with, which is not just free food by the way. I discovered that when I do these things–writing, helping another human being, listening to music–I completely forgot about how I look in the eyes of others, or whether or not a “perfect” person would do this or that—I just do it! (yeah Nike!)

So sing and dance in the rain, even if your hair goes flat, or curly, or whatever it is that you don’t want it to do. That’s kinda the point: losing yourself in the moment. “Owning it” as Seth Godin says, standing for something. Be just crazy obsessed enough about something to forget about hiding your imperfections. (Tweet it!) I think that’s when beauty happens, when we can forget about ourselves and just be. Be ourselves. It’s effortless and easy, it doesn’t take calculated thinking, or extensive planning. It may take some awkward feelings, and uncomfortable vulnerability at first. Soon, however, we can begin to see the beauty, even magic that can happen from being perfectly obsessed to forget about perfection and go for it.

We would love to hear from you! What are you obsessed about?! Are you still trying to find that thing to obsess about? We would love to hear that too 🙂 Comment below or post on our Facebook or Twitter!

Unleashing Creativity

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I love creativity. One of my favorite things to do is instruct craft workshops through my business. I originally thought workshops would be a great way to expose potential customers to the handmade gifts I make. Something unexpected happened. Over the past year, I developed into becoming a “Creativity Coach”. What started out as something fun to promote my business, became an opportunity to draw out the natural creativity in others.
It’s amazing how anxious some of my workshop attendees are when they’re first getting started. I have heard the words “I’m not creative” many times. To help with this anxiety, I give them simple ideas to work from then something extraordinary happens: they tap into a creative flow. Out of this flow I have seen unique items produced that shouldn’t come from someone who said “I’m not creative”. I love witnessing the realization that comes after seeing a project turn out better than expected.
Creativity produces something original and valuable that can either be tangible or intangible. What a phenomenon! Being creative is sometimes a matter of shifting our perspective. Here are some steps to unleashing your creativity:
1. Trust your natural ability to create. We are all creative beings. We can’t help but come up with creative ideas. If you’ve ever watched the show Shark Tank, then you’ve witnessed the countless ideas that came from everyday people.
2. Don’t compare yourself to others. You must let go of the deterring tendency to compare your brand of creativity to someone else’s. We are all different for a reason. If we were all the same, innovation would be impossible. Embrace the fact that you are unique and that there is nothing wrong with that.
3. Try something you didn’t think you could do. Creativity has more to do with thinking outside the box than anything else. There is an advantage to trying something new. You don’t have any rules to constrict your imagination. This can open the door to some jaw-dropping results.
4. See failure as opportunity. Failure is a natural by-product of innovation. It is simply a part of the creative process. If you’re not failing, it means you’re not trying anything new. Putting failure in the right perspective keeps fear at bay and propels you towards amazing results.

What are some ideas you’ve been sitting on? Has the fear of failure been holding you back? It requires some bravery but it’s essential to explore and realize our inherent ability to create. A life without creativity creates a life of mediocrity (Tweet this!). Stop holding back and finding reasons why you can’t do something. God has given you the ability to dream for a reason. You have much to offer. The world has been waiting for someone like you.

Why You Need to Give Yourself More Credit

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Time for caroling, ugly sweaters, never ending hot chocolate, and white elephant gift exchanges. This time of year also brings with it our beloved end of year reviews!

This week I had my year end review for my job. Before the review I had to rate myself on a scale of 1-10 in a few categories. The prep was nerve wracking!  In the pursuit of humility, I scored myself right in the middle or one point above the middle in areas where I know I could have scored higher. I went into the review with a positive attitude and high expectation that I would receive genuine feedback about my work outcomes and character. What I did not expect to receive was a shedding of the years of lies that I’ve told myself. All of this came out with one simple statement:  “You’ve got to give yourself more credit.”

For most of my life I chose to live under the radar and behind the scenes. I was so afraid to fail that I would try to minimize the risk of failure by saying no to opportunities that I was actually interested in. Whenever I did achieve something great, I would dismiss the achievement as if it was a fluke.

With enough lies you can silence even the greatest force of confidence.

When we dismiss achievements we are choosing not to acknowledge our God given gifts, strengths, talents, and abilities. You cannot be responsible for what you do not acknowledge, so that takes you off the hook of being a participant in the betterment of this world.

Every time my son (age 2) does something well, he acknowledges his achievement with two fists in the air and squeals, “I did it!” Every day and multiple times a day, we celebrate his achievements. When his little sister sees him celebrating, it inspires her to try the same thing. On the flip side, now that he has acknowledged what he is capable of, I know that I can ask him to do more. Not for the sake of doing more, but to continue unlocking the greatness within him.

As an adult it’s scary to acknowledge that, “I did it!” You don’t want to appear arrogant, but it also means you can’t back down from it. You have now shown the world that you are extraordinary and capable of creating something that will make a lasting impact. You have no more excuses; so let’s go!   Expect more opportunities for you to participate in making this world, your community, your home a better place. So go ahead and write the song, create a new process or system, say yes, and keep acknowledging the gifts you possess.
That is being confident.

That is being brave.

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