I wanted to have so much to say.                  Words and anecdotes pouring out of me.
And I think the sentences are in there. Tucked away but bouncing in anticipation.          Sometimes I just can’t pull them forward.
Sometimes the words just stay squeezed in spaces and shrunken in cubic inches when they should be littered over acres.

I came together, with numerous ladies, huddled around a red couch of lovely sisters speaking bravery out loud. Annie F. Downs wrote another book. And there had better be more (not out of demand, but out of knowing God has so much to say through her Southern heart and I want to hear it).

Let’s All Be Brave“, she beckons,
leading the pack with humor, vulnerability, realism and empathy.

Today was our day to link up together, writing on our own homes-for-words and sharing with one another. I wanted to have my post written and up first thing this morning. Like the dedicated bloggers who do this for living and aching, I should have written it early and scheduled it so I could meet my self-appointed deadline.                            But I didn’t.              And last night plans changed suddenly and I didn’t want to pass up the chance to see good people.

       For all the procrastination that gathers around my attempts at writing – it’s supposedly never too late to start. To click keys or stroke pencils over pages and just….get the words out. Discover along the way.
And so for bravery…
Annie is so tender and talented at encouraging everyone who listens and reads and says “yes” to pairing up journeys together. She challenges but she leads the plunge and doesn’t ask anything of you. She, instead, shares the glory that awaits the courage. She highlights His promise and character and she reveals her own experiences and she looks through the font into your eyes and declares that you can lead the way too.
        If you were to open up my copy you’d see lines drawn and sentences circled and swirls and confessions and thanksgiving and remaining trepidation because I wish I could be cured of all hesitation but oh…I can’t.
But with each beautiful support-giving exhortation, I get a little closer to valiant.

I’ve been me long enough to know that I am not someone to be believed in. I screw up. I hurt people’s feelings. I care too much about some things and not enough about others. I get lost. I am not perfect. And I don’t want to pour my hope or trust into someone as faulty as myself. (p.37)

Don’t believe in yourself in such a way that you think you can accomplish anything on your own. You can’t. To believe in yourself means to believe that God made you and there is no one like you, that you have a unique call to courage, and that you can do the thing that is staring you in the face. Got it? (p. 42)

She says the first, and yes! I, too, have been me so very long enough to know my hubris and weaknesses and know that I am not one to be placed on any pedestal because I will fall right off.
And then she says the second and it’s truth I wish I could hold onto in confidence (like so much of her book) and own and nod my head in agreement. Because she makes me want to believe it. And I already know it’s true…..it’s true of others all day long. When will I start being able to own the others’ inheritance as mine?

A few of her anecdotes brought my memory back to Massachusetts. My years on the East Coast were so many things. I learned more than I can chronicle and gained riches innumerable and was bruised deeper than prepared for.
I was left a little and judged a few and shushed and put in a box. I was loved beyond belief and welcomed and met my kindred sister whom I’ll never give back.
I matured and stood taller in the face of that which almost broke me. I was blessed and forced into awareness of how the Body is supposed to work in the times where I was poorest and weak.

There was transcendence and there was struggle.
It was one of the best journeys I could ever ask for – hard and hilarious, warm and lasting.

“I don’t know all the whys of Nashville [near Boston/Lowell in my story] but I see in my life every day that the story God [told for that season was] best set in this town, personally and professionally. I came to this city reluctantly brave at best, a total wimp in al honesty.” (p. 56)

I could write so long on this, now that I’ve started, the loves of what I read are falling out.
Suffice to say, she got me.           She gets you.              She admits that only He really gets us all.
She invites us to walk alongside others in their messes and leaps and humor and humility.
It’s how I’ve always wanted to live life. Immersed in others’ stories, telling them together and learning from one another.                  I am so thankful for choosing this book.

More than with every other word you’ve read in this book, I hope you remember this: The road to courages is lit by God’s wisdom. His word in the Bible and through the Holy Spirit to you and through others is how you know. You tap into that. You ask for that. You dig into that. His word is a lamp for your feet (Psalm 119:105). Your feet. Right under you. Look down. Take that step. It’s right in front of you. (p. 120)

Doesn’t that inspire you?

…be brave enough to love the people around you, even if it looks like sacrifice and feels like loss. (p. 135)

Doesn’t that challenge you?

Your life is Jesus’ reward for his suffering — your brave yeses, your courageous noes, hanging on, letting go, going there, staying here, all of it. I hope you’ve already done it. I hope you’ve already taken that first step because I am sure, like I’ve rarely been so sure of anything before, that your people are waiting and your God is watching with expectancy for you to see where your map is going to take you.             And today I pray peace for you. (p. 200)

Doesn’t that scare you?
It does me, though I’m pretty sure that’s the opposite effect Annie wants.
I just mean that it’s so daunting because it’s the thing you remember right before you choose. To move or to ignore the nudges.
Read this book.
Get in the Word – the living, breathing love letter of promise and freedom.
How I want to join the ranks of the battle-ready, bravery-brimming.         With everything I have.

2 Comments on “Always Learning Bravery”

  1. Amazing how one step of Faith over the side of a fishing boat, was a start of one man's walk of his life!! Sometimes God is waiting for us to take that first step of Faith so He can exponentially germinate and bring to full bloom that tiny mustard seed…….

    Really enjoyed this post Leigh!!

    Hope you are really doing well my friend 🙂



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