The Many Faces of Brave

I have a confession to make. I’m scared of a lot of things. Things like:

Cicadas and June bugs their clingy little feet just creep me out.

The bedroom closet door being open at night. Y’all I seriously cannot go to sleep with it open. Who knows what things lurk in there after curfew!

Car washes give me a full on anxiety attack. Although I did drive myself through one once to prove I could do it. And I did. But never again. My man lets me out, goes through and picks me back up. Bless him.

Snakes. No need for explanation.

Being in the middle of crowds. Some of you will get this. You are my people.

Not being able to get out. This is why you see me sitting on or near the end of a row. I always know where the nearest exit is and apparently if the need ever arises that we should have to exit quickly you will have footprints up your back if you get in my way. I apologize ahead of time.

Clowns. They just seem pedophile-ish to me. Sorry not sorry if you like clowns or are a clown or hire clowns for your kids birthday party. They are just creepy. Let’s move on.

These are not the things of a brave woman so imagine my surprise when everyone I talked to told me how brave I was when I would tell them I was going to Africa on a mission trip. I certainly didn’t feel brave. But that’s the thing of it. Being brave isn’t about not being afraid. Being brave is all about feeling the fear and showing up to face what’s in front of you anyhow.

So yes, getting on an airplane for 30 hours and traveling to another continent when the furthest you’ve ever traveled is Texas, takes some courage. Going to a country where their bugs and snakes make ours look like ants and garter snakes does take some fearlessness. That’s nothing compared to the women I met along the way.

Women like:

Irene (pictured above to the far right) who works in the ministry with Denford. She works tirelessly to organize all aspects of things including working with the kids in the villages.

Abigail (pictured in between Janet and me) whose feet were so swollen because of health issues she could barely get her shoes on but simply could not let 11 kids have nowhere to call home so she adopted them as her own. Not only does she share what little stuff she has but shares an abundance of love as well. And “somehow the Lord works it all out.”

Then there’s the grandma we met, GoGo Sarah who shared her place with us when we went out to the villages. Her entire family was forced to move south because of the economy. She has no one left at her home. She wept when we left.

There’s the woman on the plane heading back home to Ethiopia after dropping her daughter off at a college in Connecticut because “she wanted what was best for her.” We think an hour down the road is a far distance to drop off our college students. But 4000+ miles? Mommas?

There were women who woke up every day not knowing if there would be enough food to eat or if sickness would wipe out a community or if they would be left to raise their grandchildren because their own sons and daughters died of Aids. And yet their faith was strong and their courage immeasurable.

These are the faces of Brave. These are women of Valor; Courageous and Strong.

But it doesn’t stop on the continent of Africa. Oh no, there are many of you right here who are brave and don’t even know it! Remember you don’t have to feel brave to be brave. I am honored to know women like:

Missy who works in “the system” day in and day out advocating for women who are abused. She goes to court for them. She gives them shelter. She brings them to a safe place. She is a light in their dark place. Thank you for being brave!

Kellie who had the courage to leave an emotionally abusive relationship after 30+ years. It hasn’t been an easy road but having the privilege to watch her find herself again is not only courageous, it’s simply beautiful. I love you!

And then there’s the woman who was sold for sex as a little girl, losing her identity, self-worth and trust of people. She reached down and found the guts to begin to trust again and is ready to start sharing her story. You are a rock star!

There are countless women who have taught me how to BE the church, not just GO to church. You’ve shown me what it really means to be the hands and feet of Jesus by stepping outside of your own comfort zones and cheering for me as I stepped outside of mine. I’m forever grateful to you!

Corinne who was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer 5 years ago. She has lived more life the past 5 years then I have in my 50. She has shown me what great faith and grit look like. Thank you for your gutsiness!

Caretakers of littles and caretakers of parents who face the same nose swiping, butt wiping, doctor appointment taking, midnight waking, meal fixing, formula mixing, you’re-not-my-parent-geez, can-I-pee-by-myself-please, potty training can be so draining, laundry piles and little smiles every single day! You go to bed thinking you cannot do One. More. Day. But you do. YOU are brave!

There’s the woman I know who goes from shooting heroin to being a heroine…a woman of distinguished courage or ability, admired for her brave deeds and noble qualities. Addiction isn’t for sissies and you fight those demons and win!! Thank you for being tenacious in the battle!

Then there are those Momma’s who watch their kids battle those demons…of addiction, of depression, of an illness, of a diagnosis and stand by them strong when all they really want to do is collapse in a heap of weakness. Thank you for being a warrior!!

Then there are those who are vulnerable enough to say, “I’m not okay.” I love this quote from Brene Brown in her book, The Gifts of Imperfection, “Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.”

These are the many faces of brave.

May we see them.

May we be them.

May we know them.

May we fight strong beside them!

Crazy about you my brave warrior friends!!

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