BRAVE: Why It Takes Courage to Yield

It’s an inverted triangle.  A street sign.  It can keep you safe as you drive but you have to obey it.  If you are in a hurry and ignore it, chances are the outcome could be messy.

Yield.  In the rush, a yield sign makes us slow down.  Stop.  It makes us pause.  It makes us consider someone or something else. Another car coming.  A pedestrian.

Some days I hate yielding.  I don’t want to stop when I’m in the groove.  I don’t want to think about someone else when my own agenda is pressing me on.  I think people who yield are not just law-abiders but they might be very brave individuals.

Yielding your car for another vehicle is certainly the smart thing to do.  If you don’t, at best, you’ll be on the receiving end of a very angry driver.

Yielding in our personal lives is a whole other matter.  It takes courage.  It’s intentional because you have to stop.  Collins dictionary says that to yield means to surrender or relinquish.  Hmm.

I remember being in a Beth Moore study a number of years ago.  I can’t say for sure which study but I have a note about yielding in Stepping Up.  Anyway my memory is this; Beth speaking about yielding to one another.  Listening to God because He’s asking us to “Submit to me on this.”

Submitting to God is brave.  I hate submitting.  I’m a grown-up, strong-willed child and I don’t like being told what to do. Relinquishing is hard.  Especially if I feel like I’ve worked hard for whatever it is.  Yielding is brave because it means trusting God with something that is probably important to you.  Occasionally it means coming in second rather than first.  The part of the video that stuck with me was Beth talking about letting others go before you.  Like in areas where you are talented.  This is hard for all of us, not just women.  We compare.  We compete.  So we let our competition go first?

Yes, if God is asking.  For me, that is one of the bravest acts ever.  I have stumbled over this repeatedly.  (There in the back of my mind, is Beth saying,“Yield!” at the most inopportune times).  I haven’t yielded well, which is why I think it’s brave.  Some people I admire most are people who have yielded.  They live victorious.  Free.  Brave.

Surrender is really about trust. Can we relinquish our dreams to God?  Trust that He will do what’s best for us?  It’s standing aside so someone else can have a turn.  I think this is a message for all ages.  Both young and old.  Life is a series of give and take. I don’t think God always asks us to yield but sometimes He does.  I wonder if He wants to know how tight a grip we have on what we want, compared to how tightly we are holding onto Him.

I’ve been reading about David and Jonathan in a devotional by Beth Moore, Portraits of Devotion.  It reminded how Jonathan was brave. In every sense of the word.  A warrior.  But he was also brave in so many other ways.  He never wavered in his devotion to David.  His competition.  It never ceases to amaze me.  Jonathan was the rightful heir to the throne.  Yet he saved David from his dad, Saul.  Jonathan willingly stepped aside because he knew David was God’s choice. I don’t know if I could have done that.

Do you think Jonathan ever questioned God about that?  Why not me?  He must have wondered.  Jonathan was human after all.  The bible doesn’t tell us but I’m sure he had some conversations with God.  I know I would have! Whether he did or didn’t, Jonathan obeyed God’s yield sign. He willingly gave up the throne.  He didn’t try to cling to it.  He trusted God to work out His plan.  That takes much bravery.

I have always been sorry to know that Jonathan died before David took the throne.  I always wondered what would have been, if he’d remained alive.  I think it would have been radical.  Turned the kingdom upside down.  However it wasn’t part of God’s timing or plan. It was yielded for a future King.  The One True King.  The rightful Heir.

In trusting God in our yields, we get the joy of participating in the kingdom plan.  Like Jonathan.  David.  Inspiration to stop, listen and relinquish.

The Move to Change

Three years. It’s seems like yesterday at the same time, I feel like I’ve lived several lives over that period.  It’s been that long since we tore our family from the longest roots we’d ever made and moved away.  As I’ve mentioned before, it wasn’t easy. Besides being a mother, it’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.

Leaving.  These are not the faces of happy campers.
Leaving. These are not the faces of happy campers.
Moving truck.  Was glad the boys were at school.
Moving truck. Was glad the boys were at school.

As with everything, time does it’s work.  In our many moves, we’ve always found that three years is kinda the magic mark.  It takes about three years to feel like you know the city you live in and can drive to just about anywhere and have some idea how to get there.  Relationships start to form around the three year mark, roots shooting down and grabbing hold.  The house or apartment doesn’t feel like a hotel where you are staying temporarily.  Some cities are more challenging than others but overall this has been our experience.

This move was different in respect that we had children and we were moving from a place that we had lived for almost eight years.  It was the longest my husband and I had lived anywhere.  Reflecting back, there are some things I’d do differently if I had it to do over.

I’d recognize there is NEVER a good time to move kids.  Unless they are under the age of three.  People told us it was a good age to move the boys, who were seven and nine.  They weren’t teens yet.  I’d hate to see what it would have been like if they were teens because it wasn’t pretty.  The grief, hurt and trauma they went through was staggering.  Why did I expect any less?  Kids are resilient but only up to a point.  Like any human they have feelings and emotions too.  I sold them short.

It has taken three years to work out some of those issues.  They’ll be more.  Communication is key and we have listened and talked to them about our old home and old lives versus our new ones.  After reading a book on moving by Susan Miller, I recognized they were grieving a monumental loss of everything they ever knew, so we let them mourn it.  Talk about it.  My youngest and I will never get over leaving our old backyard.  It will always be bittersweet.  You know what?  That’s okay.

This is only half of it!  It was so big!
This is only half of it! It was so big!

The second thing I would do is change how we approached the move.  I really had good intentions.  I wanted them to be excited about the adventure God had for us.  I wanted them to understand how God has plans for our lives and this is part of it.  I wanted them to have the understanding of an adult and a mature faith.  It doesn’t work that way.  They are kids.

Some ministry families think it’s a package deal.  We are all in ministry together.  It’s how we approached the move with the boys.  It was the wrong thing to do. Reading Barnabas Piper’s book, The Pastor’s Kid this past year, gave me a wake-up call.  Piper makes a very good point that the parents, (hopefully both) decide to go into ministry but the kids do not.  They just ended up being born into a ministry family.  They didn’t ask for this.

Our boys have only understood on a very basic level why we moved.  It was practical not spiritual.  The more we tried to explain the spiritual aspect, the more their hearts hardened.  It made them more angry at God for making them move.  It totally backfired on us.

I would love a do over on that one.  I wouldn’t spiritualize it and I wouldn’t put it in context that we are all in ministry together. It would be a conversation on practical terms only and I’d answer the spiritual questions if they had any.  I wouldn’t try to fix the pain by spiritualizing it. I would let them work through the pain and hopefully trust God with the rest.  He’s God after all right?  Why I am trying to do His job?

I just want to make a further point on the ministry family.  Because I know there are those of you who disagree and that’s okay. We don’t have to agree.  In our family, our kids get to choose ministry if they want to.  It’s not a package deal.  Mark and I are in ministry.  Our kids are not.  Until and if, they choose to be.  We include them in the good stuff. It’s fun to show them how God moves and teach them truth.  But that’s it.  It’s their choice.  The other thing?  Until they are adults, they don’t get to see the mud.  The damage is otherwise too devastating.  That’s my rant and now back to the blog.

Third, I underestimated my own response to the move because I had moved many times before this one.  However in the previous moves, I wasn’t leaving my twin sister or friendships that were almost a decade old. I wasn’t leaving school roots and a community we had become a part of.  This was different and I never saw it coming.  I was worried about the boys and I didn’t recognize the signs of grief and loss in myself.  Now I know.

I thought that moving back to a city near where I grew up and was familiar with, would be easy.  Been there, done that.  No. It’s true, you can never go back.  Because people change, circumstances change and places change.  What had been familiar no longer was. I was in a city I once knew but now was a stranger.  It took some time to get used to that.

There are lots of awesome things about moving.  I love the purge.  I love starting with a clean slate somewhere new.  Learning new ways of life.

Moving brings change.  It’s not always bad.

We’ve learned that when things aren’t working, it’s time to change them. You do not have to settle for mediocrity. Changing our kids school is still one of the best decisions we have ever made.  It wasn’t even ours.  It was a divine intervention that has radically changed our lives.

Which brings me to my last point.  We shouldn’t fear change.  It can radically transform us.  It brings out the junk we need to deal with, quite effectively I might add.  It finds the courage buried deep within and coaxes it to the surface.  It makes us brave.

Change refines and sharpens us. It’s certainly not comfortable by any means. Even good changes.  It helps us get to know ourselves better.  To find out what we are made of. If we’re really willing to get honest and open,  it can bring us face to face with God.  To finally acknowledge we are at the end of our own abilities to accept the invitation to draw closer.  Get to know intimately the God who does have it all under His control.

A move.  Change.  It sets the stage for transformation.  Growth.  Into the person we were created to be.

Brave: Getting Back Up When We Fall Down

Have you broken your new year’s resolution yet?  Skipped your workout because it was too cold to walk from the house to the car?  Did the chocolate dessert woo you to the fridge and then actually call YOUR NAME?  Have you yelled at your kids and spouse even though you swore you’d stop?

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To be honest the chocolate would not tempt me.  Not a chocolate person.  Lemon, yes!  I love winter but I have skipped my walk because -30 degrees even makes me want to sometimes huddle under a blanket!

I didn’t make any resolutions other than to frame my year with the word BRAVE.  That doesn’t mean that it’s been perfect around here.  Ugh not even close.  I have been snarky with those I love.  I have daydreamed about what I’d like life to be like rather than be thankful for what is.  I have chosen my idols over God.  It’s what, January 14th?

I’m not going to write about brave every post but it’s what’s on my mind at the moment.  The brave filter I’m looking at life through is still fresh.  Like new glasses.  Sometimes things are clearer than before and then it’s making me dizzy.

Today I was thinking about what brave has do with broken resolutions, sin and the general ick that is sometimes our lives.  What if being brave means getting back up after we’ve fallen?  Again. Recognizing that our lives are a mess.  For some of us we are back in the pit we thought we’d left for good.  For others, we’ve dug a new one.  The hope?  God loves us still within the mess.  The brave part? Accepting that love.  That we are lovable even covered in mess.  Letting that love wash us clean, heal us and transform us.  Getting back up to start again.  Because God is all about second chances.

One of my favourite books from childhood is Anne of Green Gables.  Anne is always getting in scrapes and she talks about tomorrow being a new day with no mistakes in it.  It’s not an exact quote but you get the general gist.  I have always liked that idea.  It’s a good thought because it’s gives hope of a new day, a second chance.

But it also sets us up for failure.  At least for me, the challenge isn’t about second chances, I make it about being perfect.  Keeping that day with no mistakes in it: all twenty-four hours.  It’s impossible.

What if being brave means accepting each new day as fresh and pure?  No mistakes in it.  But also, understanding that it isn’t going to stay that way because mistakes happen.  Drinks are spilt.  Tears flow. Words are said.  But the brave part?  Accepting the grace offered to get back up and start again.  Fresh.  A second chance offered repeatedly until we have served our purpose.

I’m not saying that we stay in our ruts, our sins.  That’s not it at all.  Part of life is transforming into who God created us to be.  To be more like Him.  Change is good but we can’t do it on our own.  It is only through God that change happens.  He may bring it about and through many sources.  But He is the one in control.

What I’m saying is that to change we need to be brave.  To get up when we fall and accept His grace, His love and His forgiveness.  To know no mess or circumstance is too big for Him to help us through.  To put aside hiding because we feel too dirty.  To stop believing the lies we are told.  To stand back up and keep doing it, as many times as it takes, to start fresh.  To take that baby step.  And the next and the next. Until we are running in freedom, in truth, in Jesus.  For me, that’s brave.

Coffee-for-Your-Heart-150

BRAVE: Into the Unknown

I’m not sure if you’ve had the same experience but whenever I’ve made a decision to do something or make some kind of change, it’s always so much better if you’ve got company along the journey.  I subconsciously look for people who are in the same circumstances or journeying along the same path or better yet, have already been there.

The bible really is a great place to look for people who have already gone through stuff.  His Word is so wild.  It’s a love letter to us but it’s also a history of His people.  It’s a call to remember God through their experiences.  To be a witness to all He has done and will do.

If you make a declaration that your word for the year is Brave, well, you can be sure that everything you have ever been afraid of is going to assault you in the next forty-eight hours!

TodayI was thinking about brave people.  (Because what I really wanted to do was hide away!)  I thought of Ruth.  I’m not sure why she was foremost in my mind.  I’m not particularly fond of Ruth.  I did a bible study on her a loooong time ago and it wasn’t very good.  It made her into a super saint.  When anyone becomes too saintly for their own good, I’m outa there.  Not a fan of Ruth.  I’ll admit she got a bad rap from that study.

So I tried to think what was brave about Ruth.  She married a Jew.  She was a Moabite.  Jews were only to marry other Jews.  Although at the time, she was living in her homeland of Moab.  It was her husband’s family who were aliens.  Then her husband died.  Ruth was still young.  Her brother-in-law and her father-in-law passed away.  Her mother-in-law, Naomi was heading back to her Jewish homeland and her two widowed daughters had decided to go along.  Naomi sets out and tells the girls to go back to their homes and families.  Ruth refuses.  She is devoted to her mother-in-law and to her foreign God.  So Ruth goes with Naomi to Bethlehem, where Ruth is now the foreigner.  They are two widows who have nothing.  Yet Ruth is determined to make it work for herself and her mother-in-law.  She is brave.

The call to follow God to a foreign land or city takes a tremendous amount of courage.  Just ask any missionary or pastor. We’ve never been missionaries so I don’t pretend to know their stories.  But as a pastor’s spouse, we’ve left our home province to go to serve in a new province.  It may still be the same country but our regions are very different in climate, culture and food, just for starters.  It was still a culture shock.  Following God’s call for any ministry, sometimes means leaving behind family and friends, some of whom, don’t understand the decision you have made.  Why leave what you know for something different, foreign?  Why leave the comfort of your home, your job security for discomfort, trials and most likely, an uphill battle?

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I’m sure Ruth’s mother wanted her back in her home and married to a Moabite.  I think her family whispered and talked about her sanity or lack of it.  She faced immense pressure to do what was expected of her.  But God had other plans.  The crazy thing was, this Moabite, who grew up worshipping other gods, decides to follow YAWEH, even though it makes no worldly sense.  Ruth recognized Him, for who He was.  The ONE TRUE GOD.  She made her plans accordingly.  Ruth was brave.

Here’s a thought.  God called Ruth to be brave because He knew she had it in her.  He had created her after all.  He knew what He had planned for her.  He had given her all she ever needed.  Her bravery came in her obedience.

Today as I just want to crawl back under warm blankets and stick my head in the sand, I remember Ruth.  I’m sure she thought to herself, once in Bethlehem, “What am I doing here?”  But she did not crawl under a shawl and hide.  She took care of her mother-in-law and followed a God she trusted.  Ruth was brave.

BRAVE Not-so-New World

Happy New Year!  I hope you have had a great celebration over the last couple of weeks.  I took a little time off.  I hope you had the chance to do likewise.  However it’s back to school, back to work and back to routine.  So here I sit.

I’m not sure I really want to write this.  But if I don’t exorcize these words spinning in my brain, there will be no peace.  It will keep writing itself in my head.  Better to get it down in black and white.

The start of the new year causes all kinds of talk about resolutions, changes.  It’s a sweeping out of the old and ushering in a fresh start.  Blank calendars full of beautiful pictures.  I’m not sure what’s more pretty, the pictures or the blank spaces! A new semester of school.  New classes.  Clean slates.

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I don’t really get caught up in it anymore.  I don’t make resolutions.  I didn’t need another reason to disappoint myself! How ‘bout you?  Over the last few years I’ve heard about praying for verses and one words that God gives you for the upcoming year.  They become your theme or motto for the year.  It’s intrigued me.

A couple of years ago I prayed for a verse and God gave me this one from Mark 5:36.  “Be not afraid, only believe.”  If it is familiar it’s because I’ve used it here before.  It’s been a theme in my life over the last couple of years.  Then the last year or so it was just Believe.

As the calendar pages flipped through 2014 there was rumblings of change.  I wrote about it last spring and summer.  As the year ended, a word was extended to me.  A silent engraving on my mind.  It was a God-thing.

I must admit I tried to run away from the word.  Which is so ridiculous when I tell you what the word is.  My one word for 2015 is Brave.  I’m running away from the word brave!  I didn’t want that word.  Because the fear sets right in.  If that’s my word, what scary thing is coming that I need to be brave for?  This word is so wrong for me!

I’ve spent the first few days of 2015 in fear, not bravery.  I thought I’d wait until the end of 2015 to write this.  Because then I’d know what the year had brought about.  It was the safest bet.  Yet as I walked through Sunday that word cleaved to me.  It is my word.  I need to own it.

There is still fear.  Being brave doesn’t mean absence of fear.  Yes there could be scary things in 2015.  Things I don’t want. Ignoring the word isn’t going to not make it happen, like some talisman.

What does brave look like?  For me, besides the worry of the unknown, there are some things in the future I need to deal with bravely.  On the horizon is something that can go either two ways.  I can fail or I can succeed.  If I fail, I need to fail bravely.  To not let it defeat or define me.  My response must be brave.

On the flip side, succeeding requires courage.  I will have to go way out of my comfort zone, bravely.  It scares me just thinking about it.  It’s one of those, “You’ve got the wrong person” moments.  I’m looking around for the other woman who will do a much better job.

This year will be shaped by the word Brave.  There will most likely be some blogs about it.  It’s a complex word.  We think we know what it means but I think it goes so much deeper than the surface meaning.  I guess I’ll find out.  And you?  What are you shaping your year around?  Is there a word or a verse that will be your compass this year?

As I’m writing this and flipping through my journal, I find a verse from January 2010.  It wasn’t my verse that year but I think it is this year’s verse.  Exodus 33:21  God said, “Look, here is a place right beside me.” (Solo Remix devotional by Eugene Peterson)

I think I can be Brave when He’s inviting me into that place right beside Him.

If you have a word or a verse for 2015 please feel free to share in the comments section.  I would love to hear about it!