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Brave the Trail

Guard Rails

I’ve been thinking about guard rails. And now that I’ve been thinking about them, of course I’ve noticed them everywhere! Bike paths, walking paths, bridges, interstates, stairways, etc. They seem to be everywhere I look. I haven’t just been thinking about physical guard rails though, all kinds of guard rails in life. Things that help bump me back on the right path and help me avoid danger. And now since Googling guard rails, I  see Andy Stanley has a bible study series called Guardrails that I’m going to have to read!

There are times in life I feel like I’m heading in the right direction, the direction I feel God is calling me, and then for whatever reason I begin to drift. I get preoccupied or distracted or just get lazy, and I begin to drift off the desired path. Drifting can result in hitting a guard rail. Sometimes I slam into them and it feels like my life is overturned and a wreck. Other times guard rails offer a gentle bump and it’s a reminder to take back control and get focused on the direction I’m going.

People can be guard rails. Someone of influence can say just the right thing get my attention and cause me to change. A good friend, pastor, counselor or mentor can give encouragement right when it’s needed most. A stranger who offers a compliment, smile or act of kindness can instantly restore my hope in humanity and remind me to smile and keep moving forward.

 

 

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Big Sioux River-IA/SD border

I have friends, mentors, and definitely my husband that I know will speak truth to me anytime I need it. They are my inner circle and I go to them first when I know I need bumped back onto a better path of thinking.

Experiences or new places can act as a guard rails. Traveling to new places has expanded my vision and changed my perspective on the world. The beach or mountains help me relax and dream! Traveling and changing my surroundings always helps me get a clearer picture of what I want in life. As a busy mom, extracting myself from the chaos of life from time to time and relaxing is a great guard rail for my mental and emotional health. It doesn’t have to be a international vacation (even though those are my favorite!) but intentional time to explore new places and experiences is a good guard rail.

What I watch and read are guard rails. Good counsel and positive messages can change my perspective. Hearing a message from a podcast or video at just the right time can give encouragement and hope. Reading something that I feel was written or posted just for me at just the right time can help bump me back on the right mental path.

For me, the best guard rail is the Bible. Even one verse a day, to start my day, can act as a reminder and guard rail as I go through my day. I’ve created the habit of not opening anything on my phone until I’ve opened the YouVersion Bible app and checked the verse of the day and spent time meditating on it and thanking God for another day.

Other guard rails for me are books and podcasts. I love audio books so I can drive, vacuum, or pull weeds in the garden with good motivation or encouragement coming through my headphones! Hearing the stories of other people that have been brave and walked through storms in their life and come out stronger is encouraging.

 

We all need guard rails. Without them we drift and drifting leads to feeling lost and uneasy. The enemy loves nothing more than for us to feel off track and anxious. He wants us to worry and overthink everything and feel like we are spiraling out of control. If there are no guard rails there to catch us…then what? We fall. We fall off the edge and our life is a wreck.

Have you ever been there? Feeling like things are a wreck and spiraling out of control? If you have or are there now, know there is hope. A guard rail can show up anywhere at anytime. They can be big and unexpected, or they can be small and subtle. Keep your eyes out for them. And, if you run into one, and it keeps you from danger, be thankful for it! It may have been sent there by the biggest guard rail of all, Jesus.

Whether you are accelerating, coasting, drifting or spiraling out of control in this crazy life, you can always call out to Jesus, and if you believe He is there, He WILL be your guard rail.

Brave Means Moving

April was a blur. Lots of commitments. Lots of leadership. Lots of serving teams and hosting events. And then at the end of April, we moved. AGAIN.

Eighteen months ago we moved down the road to what we thought was what we had always dreamed of. A big house, with a big yard, beautiful landscaping and country scenery. PEACE. What we got instead was uncertainty, indecision, restlessness and seclusion. Something just didn’t feel right.  So at the end of April, we moved back. The decision wasn’t based on feelings or impulsive raw emotions, but instead on hard family discussions, re-evaluating what we really wanted, and PRAYER.

It’s not like God took us on a move across the world (honestly I can see the other home from my back yard) but He was definitely at work navigating these moves. Neither home was the problem. WE were the problem. It wasn’t the roof that needed fixed or the yard or the deck. It wasn’t the number of bedrooms or bathrooms, or the paint color. It was us. We needed change. Our priorities, our goals, and our perspective.

The trail God has us on is still uncertain but as long as we keep our eyes on Him, we will end up where we are meant to be. I know we were called to move. And I fully believe we were called to return. God has done some incredible things in my life in the last 18 months. He brought me to my knees with anxiety in the middle of this process and humbled me. I’ve never experienced anything like it, but a full on panic attack got my attention. I can’t do this life on my own. I need Jesus and I’m a mess without him.

When God calls you to move, go.

When God calls you to return, go.

The trail that leads you back home may seem awkward. It may seem like an uncertain round-about where no one knows if you are coming or going.  It may feel like you are waving a white flag of surrender, but really that’s what God wants. He wants you to surrender. Give it all up and follow him. Give up the control, the worry, the doubt, comparison and greed. Give up the constant yearning for something more. More doesn’t fix your heart. Jesus does.

Don’t get me wrong, if you are moving or building a new home, or business, good for you! We’ve been there, done that. Do it for the right reasons though. And take my advice, if you are feeling discontent, pray about it. Moving isn’t just a physical thing either. Moving can apply to so many things.  If you are called to move, be brave and go for it! If you are being called to return to someone or something, be brave and go. Go home. Go apologize. Go work it out.  Or if you are being called to leave someone or something, go. Leave the abuse. Leave the stress. Leave the addiction.  Don’t sit stagnant with anger, regret or guilt. MOVE.

Moving is not easy. It takes hard work and a clear focus on the future. You have to be brave. You might even need some family or professional help from others to help you move and stay on the right path. If you feel stuck along the way just keep going and pushing forward. Don’t stand still. Move closer to the One who created you and He will direct your path.

Brave means moving.

“TRUST IN THE LORD WITH ALL YOUR HEART; DO NOT DEPEND ON YOUR OWN UNDERSTANDING. SEEK HIS WILL IN ALL YOU DO, AND HE WILL SHOW YOU WHICH PATH TO TAKE.” PROVERBS 3:5-6

 

 

Brave Means Starting (Pt. 2)

So I feel the need to expand. I started this blog and I don’t know anything about blogs. I just know I was suppose to start. And I know there’s more to come. Here’s the crazy part, I almost didn’t share the blog…with anyone. I posted the first post with my thoughts on starting and then hit publish. I thought that meant it would be on my site. And if no one knew about my site, then I was just fine with that. I did not realize when I hit publish it actually went somewhere. Onto this WordPress platform where blog posts are shared. So I did what seemed logical. I panicked! I saved it to my notes and deleted it! And then I sat back and thought about my ridiculousness.

I started a blog about being brave. But I was not brave enough to share it…with anyone! I just wanted to check it off my “to do” list and be done. I knew this was ridiculous, so I posted it again. And then shared it on Instagram and went on about my day.

That night my husband, Todd, asked how anyone would know about my blog. I told him I shared it on Instagram.  He gave me a disapproving look and said, “I’m not on Instagram. Are you trying to hide it from me?” I tried to defend my position that I really didn’t care if anyone saw it but him, and I had text him the link when I posted it, so what was the big deal.  He again gave me “that look.” And said, “What are you scared of?”

Hmmm….good question. He always has a way of saying just what I need to hear. After a few moments of me feeling the complete opposite of brave, I shared it to Facebook.  He was right. I was scared. Scared of what people might say. Scared of condemnation or judgement. Scared of someone thinking, “what qualifies her to have a voice.” It’s ridiculous. But it’s reality. And it’s just a blog.

People, including me, are scared to speak up and have a voice. We hide behind a curtain and only review half truths. And half truths are lies. I’m not sure why I felt one social media platform was safer than another. It’s probably because I felt fewer people would see it and it was less risky.

Here’s the thing though, today I’m sitting here wondering why we do that. Why we only share with some what might be meant for all? (Now be careful…not everything is meant for all. Just look at social media and you know what I mean!) But why half truths?

What are some of us hiding? From a spouse, a significant other, a friend? Why won’t we tell our doctor, therapist, pastor, the whole truth? Why do we compartmentalize our life and act one way with some and another way with others? Why do we hesitate and second guess our value or significance?

Brave means being honest and not shrinking back from reality. Brave means moving forward even when you’re scared. “Let your faith be bigger than your fear,” is so true. And holding something of value to yourself or only sharing with some, not others, is selfish.

Take the trail that until this point has been unknown. Share your story.

The trail might be bumpy or filled with roadblocks. The trail may take some nasty turns or lead to a dead end. But if you know it’s the direction you need to go, then go.

What if the trial leads to freedom? Freedom from worry, stress, anxiety. Freedom from pain or regret. What if it leads to new opportunities? If you don’t start, you’ll never know, so get going. Brave means starting.

“Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will never fail you nor abandon you.” Deuteronomy 31:6

Brave Means Starting

DCAD34EE-9A6A-4A1A-A9CC-D2ED7390A8BCWell, here it is. The first blog post on this site. This site that has sat on a parked domain for two years. Two years of the word brave continually showing up. Two years since I spoke on a large stage to women about being brave. Two years of God continuing to nudge me and me continuing to resist. Two years of my husband teasing me (in a loving way) about my blog, which again was just a domain. A domain that he bought for me and continued to renew because he believed I was suppose to write on it.

Two years of me taking pictures every time I seemed to be standing on a new trail. My Google photos is filled with paths and trails that over the past two years I seemed to be standing on. And every time I thought of this blog. And I thought of you. The people reading this that are currently living brave and your stories need shared, and those of you that need to find your brave. You need encouragement and a friend to tell you not to give up.

So here it is, Brave the Trail. I’m not sure what direction it will go or what topics I’ll share about, but I do know God does. He’s designed this moment and He’s designed my life to bring me here today.

My husband may be the only one who reads it, but if that is it, that is enough. I told him I would start this, so here it is. And since God continues to nudge, I will be brave and follow. I don’t desire to be a blogger. I desire to be disciple. Following Jesus. Following the call on my life to make a difference in the lives of others. And may all that I do lead others closer to the God who created them, the Savior who died for them, and the bravery within them.

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