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Brave Avenue: “Who is your Leader?”

 

 

Obedience = “to hear” + “under”

Obedience means to listen first and it includes the idea of submission. 

How do you define a good leader?

How can submission be a partnership?

  • It’s about going somewhere, accomplishing something, together. 
  • God is perfect leader to partner with!

What hinders you from listening to God?  

  • From submitting to God?  
  • From trusting God’s leadership?

How do you sense God’s leadership?

  • Little pressure, pressing, nudge in a direction? (Dance example)
  • Pay attention to the pressure! 

There is freedom in submission. 

We can trust our ability to follow, without the fear of missing the nudge or step.

What signs indicate who you are following?

  • Sometimes we need to slow down; we can’t hurry faster than the one we are following. 
  • Worry and anxiety are antithetical to trust and submission. 
  • It’s freeing to know that we don’t have to pull it off!!
  • The work is to believe. 

Psalm 37:5 “Give God the right to direct your life and in the end you’ll find that he pulled it off perfectly.”

Matthew 11:30 “For My yoke is easy and my burden is light.” 

Resources:

  • Secrets of the Secret Place, Bob Sorge
  • The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry, John Mark Comer
  • The Life You’ve Always Wanted: Spiritual Disciplines for Ordinary People, John Ortberg 

 

Brave Avenue Unscripted: Who Are You: Identity

 

Episode 3: IDENTITY: Secure in my identity: Who am I?

Identity and security go hand in hand. Our security is linked to knowing who we are, but do we really like what we discover?  Join us as we dive into this complex topic on our journey to discover true freedom. Don’t let others’ negative opinion of you become your reality.

Identity: how do others describe us? 

How do we describe ourselves?

What are the significant roles that we play, and which ones do we get our identity from?

How does God define us?

“Not my mirror, nor my filter.” Others words and opinions are not, but God‘s word is.

Ephesians 6: We get dressed each day, and put on the belt of truth. Throughout the day, we need to filter every thought through the truth of God’s word.

Identity and security go hand in hand. Our security is linked to knowing our identity.

“Identity is the foundation on which individual uniqueness rests. It secures that which satisfies the deepest longing of an individual‘s life.”

-Terry Wardle

True freedom is having an identity grounded in Christ, and not being a target for others hurtful words or actions. True freedom is having nothing to prove. True freedom is knowing who you are and not being able to have that taken from you.

We can speak the truth with compassion, from a place of vulnerability. We can speak the truth out of a desire for the best for others, reminding people of their true identity.

Beliefs > Identity > Behavior

Our behavior flows out of our identity, but it’s not the same thing. Sometimes we act out of character, we forget our identity and act in a way that does not reflect who we truly are. We have to remember that that behavior is not our identity, it does not define us. We have to remember our true identity.

What do your behaviors say about your identity? About your beliefs?

What have been your most significant identity shifts? How have these identity shifts changed your behaviors? Relationships with others?

Do you identify with any of these statements?

  • I am a victim. 
  • I am not worthy. 
  • I am not enough. 
  • Other examples.

What does God say is true about you?

[Verses about identity]

2 Corinthians 5:17  Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

1 John 3:1-3 (TPT) Look with wonder at the depth of the Father’s marvelous love that he has lavished on us! He has called us and made us his very own beloved children.  The reason the world doesn’t recognize who we are is that they didn’t recognize him. Beloved, we are God’s children right now; however, it is not yet apparent what we will become. But we do know that when it is finally made visible, we will be just like him, for we will see him as he truly is. And all who focus their hope on him will always be purifying themselves, just as Jesus is pure.

Resources:

 

Brave Avenue Unscripted: Surprised by Struggle

Episode 2: Surprised by Struggle

Welcome to Episode 2, where we discuss the surprises of struggle, and overcoming. Below you will find our show notes.

 

Unexpected struggles arise for everyone:

  • Struggle of new motherhood.
  • Struggle of capacity for motherhood and work balance.
  • Struggle of not knowing.
  • Struggle of where we are in life not matching expectations.
  • Struggle of taking on too much.
  • Struggle to admit we could use help or support from others.
  • Struggle of life not going as expected.

We don’t know we’re unprepared for these struggles until we see our responses.

What is your usual response to struggle?

  • Shame
  • Guilt
  • Try to make small changes, take single steps forward
  • “Float in grace”
  • Journal
  • Be vulnerable with others
  • Other?

What is the underlying fear stealing your joy?

What do you feel like you need to prove?

Who is your support network?

Who in your life can you walk alongside through struggle?

How can you struggle well?  How can you struggle bravely?

  • Talk to a trusted friend
  • Be vulnerable
  • Check on strong friends
  • List what you are thankful for today

2 Corinthians 12:9 “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness…”

James 1:2 “Consider it pure joy…whenever you face trials of many kinds…”

  • Joy is deeper than happiness.
  • Joy can be found in struggle.

Romans 12:12 “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”

Philippians 4:6 “Tell him every detail and his wonderful peace will make the answers known to you…”

Resources:

Brave Avenue Unscripted: The Intro

Welcome to Brave Avenue Unscripted! Two years ago, I felt the push to start a podcast as an extension to our blog so our audience could hear our conversations on life and what we experience on our brave journeys.  This episode is an intro into who we are, what is Brave Avenue and what it means to be brave? 

Highlights from this episode:

 “Not the absence of fear, but pushing beyond fear. 

 Little brave decisions – “Bravery is a bunch of small decisions you make every single day, not just the huge life-changing ones.”

-“Living in your comfort zone is not a safe place, it can actually work against you…it can keep you from growing… you’re not going to get far.”

“Bravery is the audacity to be unhindered by failures, and to walk with freedom, strength and hope in the face of things unknown.”

“Courage is the ability to do something that frightens someone.“

“Do it afraid.“

Reflection Questions: 

  1. What does it mean to be brave?
  2. The power of no: What do you need to be brave to say no to?
  3. What is your motivation for being brave?
  4. Values-based decisions: Thinking about the values-based decisions, what is the next brave decision you need to make?

Scriptures: 

Psalm 27:14 Stay with God! Take heart. Don’t quit. I’ll say it again: Stay with God.

Isaiah 41:10 Don’t panic. I’m with you. There’s no need to fear for I’m your God. I’ll give you strength. I’ll help you. I’ll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you

Additional Resources:

Featured post

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

“This my dear is bliss…”

*This is what came of my time with Jesus this morning. I pray you will be encouraged or at least feel inspired to steal away with Him before you rush off to your next thing.*

My husband always jokes that giving birth makes a woman more holy. (Is there scripture to back this up- I can’t remember?) I never found his statement amusing until today, because I did feel kind of holy.  🙂 After dropping him off at work this morning, it was my turn to do the school drop off with the kids. It was a typical morning, Nyomi had some diva demands that I just couldn’t seem to satisfy. Kaiden asked the same question a million different ways and I patiently answered it, even trying to use a different tone to keep things a little interesting.  After the drop off, I had planned to just go ahead into work and get started on some projects before my only meeting of the day.  That’s when I felt the beckoning of the Holy Spirit say to my heart, “come away with me…” My heart melted when I realized that Jesus wanted to spend some time alone with me before I rushed off. I love moments like this.

I said, “wait, let me grab my bible and journal from the house…” He replies, “no, you brought your laptop that’s all you need.”  Where should we go? I drive in silence for a few moments when I hear the word…”bliss…” Well, the only place I know with bliss in the name is Aroma’s. He even had the nerve to tell me the exact location, “downtown.”  #relationshipgoals  #comeonJesus 

So, here I am with my almond milk iced chai tea and vegan lemon donut with hibiscus glaze waiting for what’s to come. 

“Let’s get real,” He says. You have had some heartbreaking moments over the past year- losing a child, trying to raise a child who did not come from your body, trying to understand your strong-willed daughter, while also being a great wife and leader in your work and neighborhood. I’m so sorry that this pregnancy has been difficult- many sleepless nights, constant daily pain, medicines that you weren’t prepared to take, anemia. You have handled it well my daughter- I am very proud of you. No one can really see the depth of pain that you are enduring every day, but I appreciate that you have found moments of joy and gratitude during this time.  Thank you for being obedient to slow down when I asked you to. I know it was hard for you, your Dad is right, you are a woman on the move, a road-runner! Trust me, there will be a time when you get back to moving at that pace and even faster. I have not forgotten the glimpses of dreams that I have shown you through the years. Trust me, my timing is perfect.

Now, back to being real. I need you to continue on the track that you are on with tending to your heart. You have wounds from people that are close to you that have never healed. Partly because you keep letting them open up again. I am your ultimate healer and although you wish for a sincere apology and closure from the one who hurt you, you might never receive this from them. I apologize to you on their behalf. I am sorry that they hurt you and continue to try and hurt you. I am fully aware of their motives even before they attack. Daughter, I need you to be strong and courageous because your response to them is your weapon, your protection, your line of defense. I am not saying you will never be hurt again, but I have given you the tools that you need to not only survive the hits but THRIVE! You are no longer an “easy target”. You no longer have to live in their hurt.  Don’t change who you are because of how they are.  I need my Spirit to shine through you because there are people I have called you to. The way you live is going to help others come to me.  Daughter I see you as a flower constantly blooming in every season. Your soil is good, but you have to keep tilling the ground and cutting away what is dead. For far too long, weeds have tried to overrun your garden, but no more. I see in this year a woman who is stronger than ever, rising up in her rightful position. Change the narrative that you are telling yourself. Be in expectation of some sweet surprises this year with your family, your husband and your calling. I have not forgotten you. I know exactly what I’m doing and where I am taking you. Trust me! The next time that this person tries to hurt you, I want you to LOVE….love even when you feel uncomfortable or like they don’t deserve it. Love anyway, because you are not perfect. You also have your flaws. You too have hurt people whether you realize it or not. LOVE because you know it’s what I would do.  LOVE is what will change their hearts, and guess what, you still may never hear that apology. That is not why you’re doing this. You are loving because it pushes out fear and drives out darkness. There is much darkness surrounding them. So LOVE, everyday, every person and be on guard with your heart. Stop reliving your past in your head and focus more in the present and taking those next steps towards the glimpses I have shown you. I am creating a legacy of brave women that you will help to raise up. Will you join me in this? I want you to be a part of it because you are so unique. People don’t really know the depth of who you are, you don’t even know yet, but when you do, oh goodness daughter, it will be explosive!

Thank you for spending time with me this morning, thank you for being obedient. I love you and I love who you are and where you’re at in this season. Remember to take it easy, enjoy this pace, and enjoy being taken care of.  This my dear is bliss…

 

Brave and Free,

Candy Z.

 

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?

 

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