Fearless

Fearless, OneWord365, Faith, Elaina Avalos,

As 2017 comes to a close, I started thinking about my word for 2018. Every year for quite some time, I have had a word for my year versus a list of resolutions (my resolutions were always quickly forgotten).

Somehow, the word always fits. There have been times I don’t know why that particular word finds me. Sometimes, it almost feels ironic. My word for 2017 was hope. This year brought a lot of dark times for me – sometimes feeling quite the opposite of hopeful.

But as happens every year, I see the ways in which these words are woven into my life and impact my spiritual growth and focus. Sometimes it’s in failure that I grow. A few years ago, my word was “intentional.” I was absolutely not intentional. About anything. I sucked at being intentional. But in failing at it, I learned a great deal about myself.

The year has been hard, but woven throughout has been hope. As I’ve chased dreams and worked harder at being intentional (a path I started down after failing at it a few years ago), hope found me.

Throughout this year, and in particular the last month, I’ve realized that much of this year was spent in fear. Fear of  standing up for myself. Fear of what others would think of me or did think of me. Fear of the future. Fear of being hurt. Fear of being alone. Fear of not being able to handle being a single mom. Fear I will always be single. Fear my health would keep me back from following my dreams.

I could go on and on. You can’t live a life of fear if you’re going to live a life of faith. So…this year, I’m bringing back a word. Fearless. After my Pastor’s sermon a couple of weeks back, I was pretty sure that was the word I needed front and center in my life in 2018.

I spent some time this week reading Bible verses about fear. I have a whole page in my journal of these verses. My hope is to memorize one a week for a while.

I’m sure I won’t always be fearless. I’m sure there are going to be some scary moments this coming year as I embark on a journey to being a foster mom. But I know that choosing to respond in faith is the better way.

When you want to react in fear, respond in faith. – Jason Brinker

If the idea of choosing one word for your year interests you, check out this website. There’s an entire community of people who do this every year. You can find others who have the same word as you or join the Facebook group for support.

What do you want your 2018 to look like? Do you have resolutions or goals you would like to accomplish?

Fear & Faith

faith, fear, anxiety, christmas story, virgin mary

I didn’t want to go to church last night. But I went. It’s a good thing I did. The last year has been incredibly challenging. I’m tired and worn. A few weeks back, leading up to last week, a series of events happened that have been the straw that has broken the camel’s back.

The events that started a few weeks back opened the door to a type of fear and anxiety I haven’t experienced in many years. I certainly experience stress. But fear and anxiety have not had a grip on me for a very long time.

But oh how bad the last few weeks have been. The story that has played out in front of me is not what I expected. As a result, I let fear overtake me. I have not understood what God is doing or the story He is writing.

When you want to react in fear, respond in faith. – Jason Brinker

My pastor last night talked about Mary’s story and the “plot twists” that surely must have left her confused, filled with fear, and anxiety about what God was doing in her life and family.

This Christmas season we celebrate the birth of Jesus. We have grown {maybe too} accustomed to His story, as my pastor pointed out. I think that’s certainly true for me. I know that in last night’s sermon, I looked at this story from a new direction. And one that fits my life so perfectly now.

An angel visited Mary and shared the “good news” that she would give birth to a child who would be called “the Son of God.” Yikes. Mary, a virgin, and betrothed to Joseph, was undoubtedly confused and fearful. Besides the obvious issue this raised in her relationship with Joseph, the culture she lived in wouldn’t exactly look kindly on news of a pregnant, unwed young woman.

This was not the story she would have imagined as a little girl. I can relate. She didn’t see her life taking shape in such a way. And yet, this was the story God was writing for her. He was writing her into His story of redemption and grace.

Below are the ESV and NIV versions of Luke 1:36-38 – which are the key verses for me, in this story.

NIV – “Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. For no word from God will ever fail.” “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.

ESV – And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

The news delivered to Mary was what I sometimes like to call “backwards bizarro world” {everything is flipped on its head, nothing makes sense, nonsense becomes logic, etc.}. That’s what the plot twists I’ve experienced have been like. If it had been me in Mary’s shoes, my response probably would have been something like, “SAY WHAT, BRO?”

That’s what my reactions have been like lately, as I walked into backwards bizarro world. But beyond that, I’ve also reacted in fear and anxiety. But instead of reacting in fear, Mary responds in faith.

She responds by saying, “May it be done to me according to your word.” So what’s the antidote to fear? It’s certainly not focusing on the issue that’s causing the fear in the first place. Choosing faith over fear is just that – it’s a choice. But it’s not just based in my own ability to pull myself up by my bootstraps to get through.

It’s based on who I am in Him and what He says about who I am. It’s based on His unchanging Word. Replacing fear with faith requires that I actively take my thoughts captive and focus on what is true and right and lovely.

I don’t understand what God is doing. But in the last few weeks, instead of reacting with faith, I have been consumed with fear and hurt.

When you don’t understand what God is doing, remember what God has spoken.         – Jason Brinker

Besides being incredibly thankful for my pastor’s teaching, I’m also thankful for grace. God is incredibly kind to me that He allows me to change the track I’m on. I share this with you today in case you too are facing circumstances that have left you feeling fearful or confused about the story God is writing.

Do you sense that God is asking you to respond in faith, though you’re tempted to react in fear? I will challenge myself to respond in faith, if you do!

 

 

Fearless

Fearless

Be fearless in pursuit of what sets your soul on fire. – Unknown

Are you looking for that push you need to chase your dream? There is encouragement everywhere if you dig a little. But, sometimes we need a dose of reality. The truth is, when you embark on that journey to pursuing the dream, there are roadblocks along the way.

I know! Who wants to hear that? But, the journey to the place we most long for – living out our calling or following hard after those dreams – is hard work. People talk a lot about walking through open doors. The idea being that closed doors indicate you’re on the wrong path. Oh hell no. There may be times you have to crash through that door, with all the strength you’ve got left.

Open doors aren’t always an indication you’re in the right place. That couldn’t be further from the truth. I’m convinced that you will encounter more roadblocks and closed doors when you’re on the correct path. Life is weird. But one thing I’ve learned the last 41 years, is that life isn’t easy.

There might be quick-steps to success. There really might. But I haven’t found them yet. What I know for sure is it takes a great deal of hard work and single-minded focus to get where you want to be. But . . . here’s the thing, to get through the roadblocks and challenging moments, you have to be fearless.

And I do mean fearless.

We all know the definition of fearless but I still looked it up. The word intrepid was used to describe fearlessness. Intrepid. What is the actual definition of intrepid? It’s “resolutely fearless; dauntless.”

Resolutely fearless. Dauntless. Fearless. If you’re pursuing that which sets your soul on fire, the ish is gonna get real. You’re going to struggle. There will be challenges. There will be setbacks. If there wasn’t, you wouldn’t need that fearlessness, now would you?

If you watch Game of Thrones, I hope (haha) one of your favorite characters is Daenerys Targaryen. That right there is fearlessness. Daenerys knows her calling. She knows her rightful place on the throne. She knows what her birthright destined her for.

But what has been in her path these last six seasons? Well, six seasons of struggle. Six season of a rocky journey towards her destiny. Season seven starts soon and since it’s the last, I think we shall soon find out if her pursuit is all in vain.

But, however it turns out, Daenerys Stormborn is a warrior set on one end. The odds aren’t stopping her. She stepped into her destiny, is working through the roadblocks, and refused to back down.

For you – the fight will be there. You will need to climb some mountains. The question is, how bad do you want this dream of yours?

How bad do you want it?

I let fear hold me down and hold me back for decades. Literally decades. My path isn’t yours. I have different dreams than yours. I have different obstacles. But obstacles I have. You probably will too.

But I’ll tell you this right now, pushing past the obstacles and fear makes the beauty of what lies beyond, that much better.

Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire, friend. Be fearless in the face of opposition, closed-doors, and struggles.

Be fear-less.