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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:

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

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 if we were real?

We all love to share stories of our good news. We tweet, snapchat, and update our statuses with good news everyday. This is especially true for pregnancy announcements. We search on Pinterest for the best way to share the good news- Prego bottles, ultrasound pics, family photo (that’s what I did). On the flip side, bad news is not always easy or fun to share. I didn’t search Pinterest to figure out the best DIY craft to announce our miscarriage. In fact, I was too ashamed to go back and tell everyone after posting our good news. But, what if we were real?

I remember lying on the exam table waiting expectantly while the ultrasound tech prepared to show us our next little Zollicoffer. I was so excited to have another baby and it appeared to be the perfect timing. We decided after our daughter was born that waiting two years would be ideal for our next child. My husband and I watched the screen as the tech moved the tool all over my growing belly. “Let’s try another way.” She prepared the other option to view our baby and then silence….”I’m sorry but I think you may have miscarried.” My heart sank. I didn’t prepare to hear bad news. Her words remained with me for the next four days after I was told to come back the following week to check again, maybe it was too early to tell. Needless to say that was the longest week of my life. The firefighter term ” hurry up and wait” fit perfectly with what I was experiencing.

Have you ever been excited about something and then told you have to wait for it? It’s like when your friend tells you, “Ooo remind me to tell you something later.” You’re just left thinking, okay why did you even bring it up?? [GUILTY]

The next four days were difficult. I cried a lot but remained hopeful that everything was okay. When I woke up the day before our scheduled appointment, I immediately noticed that I wasn’t nauseous and the sharp cramping was no longer there. At that moment, I knew that Baby Zollicoffer would not be joining us in December. I heard the Lord whisper “restore” and that was it. I woke up my husband and cried the rest of the day.

We often tell God what we’re going to do with our lives. We create our vision boards, and write our goals for the year, which are all good things and have their purpose. In our planning, I believe we forget that the process to obtain what we desire is not always as easy and exciting as it looks in the picture or the words we write down. Yet, the wonderful thing about process is that God prepares us for it. Oftentimes we don’t recognize His preparation until after it happens. On May 23rd, my doctor told us that we officially miscarried. On the same day, a former mentor shared a Facebook memory about her first child who was born on May 23rd. She had an eptopic pregnancy. This year her son would have been in the 6th grade! To date, she’s had eight pregnancies total with three of those children still living. I gained so much hope and strength from her story as I endured 11 hours of intense labor pains to deliver my baby at home.

I am no expert when it comes to loss but I have learned a few things with this experience that I hope will encourage you.

1. Lean into the pain.

“Pain is a growth opportunity. Lean into pain, that’s where bravery lies.” Navy Seal Denver Rourke.

At LeaderCast 2015 Denver shared the inspiring story of his wife delivering their baby. She wanted to delivery naturally without pain medication. As you can imagine this was very painful, but it’s what she wanted. In order to see that precious baby she had to lean into the pain.  We often set up our lives to avoid pain, but pain is absolutely necessary for growth.
2. Seek out support. 

“I am on your team, be on mine.” Emily Lanphier, Lanphiers Remember

We have to remember that women are powerful when we come together. We need each other . When I started sharing with other women, I discovered that so many women in my circle had experienced loss during their pregnancies and wanted to support me. It helped a great deal to know that I wasn’t alone in this. I had a team.

3. Let go and embrace hope. The word “quah” is Hebrew for hope and means “To look eagerly for, to lie in wait for.” Oftentimes when disappointment shows up, my first response is to figure out why it happened. Sometimes God’s answers come swiftly, and other times I’m wondering did He even hear me. Trust me-He hears us and in time He will reveal what we need to know. In order to embrace hope we have to eagerly apply patience.

4. Choose JOY! Laughter was sooo good for me this week! It allowed me to be present and reminded me that God is present with me. 1 Peter 1:6-7 says “So be truly glad.[a] There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.”

So, what if we were real?? What if we stopped hiding our pain and invited each other in?  We truly have nothing to lose and so much to gain when we let go. Where do you need to release the power of shame in your life? Find someone you can connect with this week. I believe our stories of brokenness will be used just as powerfully as our stories of joy.

Just Do Something

Just read something.

The voice echoed in my head as I rolled over in bed, contemplating what or IF I should read my Bible that morning. Why had this grown to be my morning routine? After weeks of busy, non stop days from early morning to almost midnight most days, my body, mind, and heart was growing accustomed to shutting down and going on autopilot. This day was different however. As I lay there and told God my reasons why I couldn’t grab the Bible right next to me and read. Eventually, he won with that simple “read something”-anything really, just read. Something is better than nothing he seemed to whisper.

Something is better than nothing.

Often we seem to lack the motivation not because we don’t want to do the thing, but because we want to do it well and end up not starting at all out of fear that it won’t go perfectly as planned. For me, that can manifest in several ways: a homework assignment, a tough conversation, or getting up and doing the thing I desired and determined to do just the day before.

With my theme of choosing the Hard Way this year, I’ve realized that in order to get the most out of life and to GIVE the most to my future self, I just have to do something no matter how imperfect or lackluster I think it may be. I have to be able to take a risk in order for any real change to occur.

Indecision is a decision not to decide.

It is still a choice when you choose “not to choose”. There is still risk involved, and it is the risk of not knowing what would have happened had you actually made a real decision. Either way you risk.

That’s kinda what this is all about. That word none of us like but all of us will encounter at some point in our journey. RISK. Which is greater? The risk of making the wrong decision, or the risk of making no decision at all?

When I finally made the decision to just read something that morning, I was blessed and encouraged, something that would not have happened had I chosen to get a few more minutes of sleep. It wasn’t a perfect devotional and journal and prayer time, or even super in depth. It was simple and sweet, and just what I needed. While it wasn’t much of a risk, it was the first step-among many-on the journey to conquering fear. One small victory over indecision, one more step towards a braver me.

Failing At Failure

What would my life look like without insecurity and the fear of failure? Who would I be? I asked myself this before starting an internal journey of uncovering what truly makes me who I am. Since then, I’ve been placed in situations that have caused me to analyze my life from a different vantage point. God’s point-of-view.

In the past 3 years, I’ve experienced a lot of changes, loss, and transition. This has caused me to question what I want out of life and if I’m even on the right track. Was I as creative as I thought? Do I really want to pursue the big dream of building a successful creative lifestyle and events business? Distrust in my ability to make big things happen in my life had subtly settled in. Last fall, after a particular bout of self-doubt and tears,  I decided that these feelings of defeat could not possibly match God’s perspective of who I am and what I am capable of.

On the final day of a conference I recently attended I had a breakthrough in my perspective. Ryan Leak shared about his experience with “chasing failure” and how it doesn’t mean anything more than the fact that you tried something. I finally understood what God has been trying to get me to understand for months if not years. I thought that failure was a something negative that you avoided at all cost. Rather, it’s a natural part of the process of success. When you really think about it, what is so bad about failure? What does criticism of others matter in the face of what God thinks?

I’ve realized that I’ve been holding back in areas of my life because of a sense of inadequacy that had gone undetected. From relationships to the pursuit of entrepreneurship, my perspective about myself clearly did not match who I truly am.

Here are some recent revelations:
1. I have never experienced lack in my life. It may not have looked or came the way I thought, but God has always come through for me.
2. You cannot help who you are not around. Despite all the ways I can fail people, I have to have grace for myself. I can make an impact in people’s lives if I get over myself enough to be present. The world is waiting for me to be who I am called to be.
3. Not having excuses is the scary part. Persevering and attaining my dreams is up to me and no one else. I have to recognize that I’m not in this alone and that God has given me the resources and support I need to do well. It can be done.

What would the absence of fear and negative ideas reveal about you? The things that don’t work out are not necessarily an indicator of the final outcome. Don’t be discouraged; brave on. God has set you up to win.  I leave you with the question Ryan Leak asked an arrested crowd of 8,000 people:

“What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?”

Receiving Grace

Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep. The alarm clock went off and I fumbled to quickly silence and get those last few seconds of peace before another hectic day begins. As I started to wake up, I soon realized that this was my backup alarm and I missed my workout, the second time in the past week. Now, if you’re any normal person, this is not a big deal, you dust yourself off and go on with the day. For me that morning, however, it was a bit of a meltdown. I couldn’t believe how I had failed yet again and that this was totally NOT living the hard way (like I had committed to do here), and how was I ever going to reap those long term rewards if I couldn’t even get up for a simple workout. As I ruminated on this, the stress of other events came into my mind and I connected my failure in waking up late to having a negative effect on the rest of my life as well, like my studies, work, relationship, and overall wellbeing.

Stress can do this odd thing to people, where it makes them crazy and overreact to everything. I did it to myself. I was getting too stressed that I forgot that I was blessed. I had tried too hard to lean on my own understanding and my own power, that when I failed, I had no where to go except to beat up myself and “try harder next time.” My closest friends and family told me I was being too hard on myself, and I excused it away in the name of being “disciplined.”

I couldn’t accept the grace that was extended to me, because I couldn’t even give myself grace. It was like I was unworthy of grace and kindness because I had failed. The grace that God offered, and the grace that his children were offering me was undeserved. But that’s kind of the point.

Sometimes you have to be brave enough to humble yourself and receive. Receive the grace that others have to offer, even when you can’t give it to yourself. Receive the service of others, because sometimes you have to be served instead of constantly serving. Receive the love and joy that comes from the forgiveness and kindness of others, especially when it is undeserved.

Receive the grace… even when you can’t give it to yourself.

When I could finally accept that God and others could have grace for me, I was able to have a little more grace for myself. Life is hard and gets stressful sometimes. However, that we can still accept the grace that is extended us to live out this brave journey we are on.

This journey is not meant to be lived alone and most definitely not within your own power. The grace of God and others can bring such joy and depth! Accept the grace today. You don’t have to have it all together.

Ending the FOMO

I’ve had several opportunities to be brave in my life. We all have, haven’t we? Speaking your mind, taking chances, and even talking to a stranger can be exercises in bravery. Recently, my biggest opportunity to be brave involved my post-graduation plans. After studying abroad and interning in New York within a year, all I wanted to be was home. New York was stressful and scary and hectic—and it terrified me. I wanted to spend time with friends and family, and be in a cozy little apartment where I had full control of my life and my environment.

After a summer off, my priority was finding a job. Unfortunately, opportunities seemed plentiful in the place from which I had come RUNNING back to Texas at the end of my internship—New York City. I decided to do one of the things that scared me most and move back. I had some contacts and went in hopes of getting a job within a month or so. The interviews were intimidating. Walking into the corporate offices of companies like Ralph Lauren and Estee Lauder was unnerving to me, but I went anyway. Believe it or not, I was even making my peace with the city. Six weeks and a dozen interviews later, nothing was working out.

Frustrated with the NYC job market, I began to toy with searching in Dallas. Going home might seem like a no-brainer, but I worried what people would think. I didn’t want to be that girl who went to New York with a big dream only to give up. I was embarrassed. I was also afraid of missing an opportunity. In millennial terms, the FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) was real.

The flaw in my thought process? FOMO is irrational. No matter where we are, we’re always “missing out” on something else. We can’t be everywhere at once, and that’s okay. It was time to let it go and be honest with myself about my real goal: to find a job. As soon as I deemed FOMO for what it is—(silly)—God opened a door. Within a week of applying for jobs in Texas, I got something.

Stop being crippled by the fear of missing out. Fear-based mentalities won’t help you achieve your goals. (Tweet it!) Instead, channel bravery in your everyday life. You will find the possibilities are endless!”

You can follow Rachel’s adventures

If you would like to share a brave story along your journey, fill out a contact form here!

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.

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