A friend of mine gave me a shirt that has the words, “Be Bold. Be Brave. Be Fearless. Joshua 1:9” on it. I love this message. It is all throughout the Bible. Do not be afraid. Do not be discouraged. God is with you.
There have been so many times over the last school year when we have had to rely on this promise that God is with us and we shouldn’t be afraid. And God has shown up every single time. If you don’t want the recap, simply scroll down to the MAIN POINT paragraph below. But I think you would miss out on seeing God in our lives.
In September, Ellie severely sliced both of her feet and required more stitches than we could count. It was very painful for her to walk with the stitches going from the top of her feet all the way to the undersides. It happened only two days before her first scheduled public school volleyball game. Was it easy for a homeschooler to walk onto tryouts at a public school? No. Was it easy for this homeschool mama to drop her oldest off at the public school for the very first time? No. Was it easy for Ellie to train and recover and miss her first three games of the season? No. But….Was she brave? Yes! Was she bold? Absolutely! Was she fearless? Mostly. Was God with her every painful step of the way? Without a doubt! She recovered very quickly and was a starter for her team. And they even won the Conference Championship.
In October, the whole family was sick with strep and numerous other freak infections, and Ben even spent the night in the hospital for how severe his asthma had gotten This was all just 2-3 weeks before we left for the month mission trip to Guatemala. Was it easy for us to prepare for the trip while all so severely sick? No. Did we trust that God had a Master Plan for it all and was with us every step of the way? Yes!
November we spent loving up on some of the most amazing children in Guatemala. It took a LOT of faith and boldness to commit to such a trip, and our kids did amazing. Was it easy to be away from home that long? No. Did it take a ton of faith that no one would need medical care while we were there? Positively. Did God ever abandon us? Not once!
December found us back home in the States, but in the hospital again, as we have previously blogged about with Sammy’s parasitic ‘souvenir’ he brought home from Guatemala. He has since fully recovered with the only lasting complication being his lactose intolerance. Were we bold when we answered each medical professional about WHY we had spent a month in a third world country? Yes. Was Sammy brave when he got pricked and tested and prodded over and over again? Yes. Did God leave us fearful and alone in the hospital? Nope!
Thankfully, the New Year brought us a little respite from the craziness and a brief taste of normalcy again. This was a time of reflection and thanksgiving for us.
But by February, we were bravely back in Guatemala again, but only for a week this time and with our team from our church. Upon our return, we made the courageous step to start this website and blog, sharing our stories and hearts about mission work locally and abroad. Was it frightening to put our intimate thoughts out for anyone in the public to read? Yes. Did we feel called to do it anyway? Yes. Did God encourage us throughout it all? Totally!
March and April marked the start of spring sports season. All three of our children had to rely on their God-given boldness in one manner or another. Sammy wanted to play up an age range with his big brother and has had to toughen up being the youngest and one of the smallest players on the team. But does he let the size of the giants around him discourage him? Not usually. Does he add to his team’s dynamic? Without a doubt.
Ben bravely tackled the required running of soccer season while learning to manage his asthma and allergies. He practices outside of practice like a man on a mission. And in addition, he has fearlessly said “yes” to joining a swim team this summer. (This is an answered prayer for this mama who has seen an innate giftedness in him for years in this sport. He had to finally see it in himself before he could be brave, bold and fearless.) Is it easy for a preteen with multiple allergies and breathing difficulties to play two intense cardiovascular sports? Not at all. Do those around him see the challenges he has to overcome to do so? Not typically. Does this mama know how hard he works to achieve his goals? Yes and I am so proud of his dedication!
And Ellie, our child who still gets foot and leg pain on a regular basis from her September injury and club volleyball winter season, did the unthinkable. Despite her distaste for running, she boldly tried out for another sport, track and field. I encouraged her to at least try out, and she made the team as a sprinter and the only girl high jumper. Did she battle pain the entire season? Yes! Was it easy to be yet again the outside homeschooler on a public school team, and this one coed even? Not at all. (As a side note, a public school bus filled with middle school athletes proved to be more of a culture shock to my daughter at times than a third world country. Think on that for a minute!) Did she dig deep into her faith to do her best? Yes. At one of her last track meets, she texted me after her high jumping was over and before her 200m race was to begin. She said her back was in a lot of pain, from missing the high jump and hitting the bar pretty hard. She was already covered in KT tape on her shins and an ankle brace as well. She texted me from the field and said she was considering dropping out of her 200m race. The mama and coaching instinct knew she was in mild pain, but also knew she was simply battling fear. It’s not easy to lose in a sport, especially after being one of the best in another. I texted back. “Be Bold. Be Brave. Be Fearless.” I sensed she could battle out another 200m and not have any lasting physical repercussions. But to NOT TRY was going to defeat her more than losing another sprint. Did she run? Yes! Did she win the foot race? No. Did she win a life race? Absolutely! And did I cheer for her the whole time? You bet I did!
THE MAIN POINT…….God is going to ask us to do things in life that will cause us pain, that won’t feel good at the time, that will look silly or stupid to those around us. People may mock. People may question. People may doubt our abilities. But……there is no better place to be in life except the very center of God’s will. For my family, it meant battling the enemy’s attacks and still proceeding with our mission work. For my children, it meant learning to claim their faith as their own and to fight through pain or discomfort. For me, it meant releasing my fears to a God who tells me not to fear. There is freedom in the release. Our success may not always look like worldly success. Sometimes we will win the game, sometimes we won’t. But through each battle that we bravely, boldly, fearlessly engage in, knowing that God is with you is a mighty thing. It’s priceless. And each little victory builds a little more confidence, not in ourselves, but in the God who created us and guides us, and who has a purpose for our lives.
Friends, what are you discouraged about today? What fear is holding you captive? Release those fears. Be Bold. Be Brave. Be Fearless. If God has asked you do something, don’t you think He will keep his promises and be with you while you obey? Absolutely! And also, look around. There are people in your circles who are battling fear and hopelessness. They need someone to encourage them to keep running. Perhaps, God has put you in their life circle for just that reason. Be bold in your encouragement. Don’t fill them up with empty promises of success, but do fill them up with the truth about the God who will never leave them despite their failure or success. If you need someone to encourage you along the way, we are here for you. Reach out and we will join you in praying for you to see the God who holds your hand.