I spent most of 2020 on my front patio. Reading the bible. Writing. Praying. Drinking good local beers. Listening to the kids play outside.
As I sit here with the snowman I built behind me, and a properly titled beer “Snow Scoot” in my hand, I hear the kids across the street counting down for another round of hide-n-seek. Which I imagine in the snow presents some challenges when you can see footprints everywhere, not to mention how hard it is to run in snowpants and boots.
Drinking a Snöw Scööt by White Oak Brewing. And yes. that is a black Yamaha Phazer on the can.
It’s warming up enough for the ice to melt, and every few minutes between the drips I hear a big sheet of ice break loose and come crashing down. (Which is why I am sitting in a lawnchair in the middle of my yard, and not on my front patio.) I’m actually quite comfy in my snowmobile suit. It’s familiar. But it is hard to write with snowmobile gloves. Despite the insulation on 90% of my body, my face isn’t cold. The air is fresh. Everything looks clean and smells clean, and with all of the silence the sound travels and amplifies. Scrapers, shovels, kids strategizing as they continue to hide and seek and periodically make snow angels.
I have a long to do list, but I wanted to just be for awhile. To sit in the snow with God and a beer and a pen. He’s good at forcing us to slow down. We have to decide what to do (or not) with that slow down. He gives us the opportunities to say yes to Him and no to something else.
So, yes. I am the weirdo in a lawnchair in my front yard, in 4 inches of snow, wearing a snowmobile suit and drinking a beer in front of the snowman I built. Be the weirdo. Embrace your inner kid.
Photo Credit: My neighbors Larry & Dee who texted me “Love your snowman! Always be a kid at heart.”
It’s 29 degrees Fahrenheit and my weather app says it feels like 23. That’s nothing. I used to race snowmobiles in a bikini. The coldest year it was -3 degrees and I went 90 mph. I was one of many women who raised thousands of dollars each year through these crazy races to help families battling breast cancer.
The inaugural year, I was one of four women. By the time I retired there were over 30, and so many came back every year determined to raise more money in honor of their friend or family member who knew all too much about the pain of breast cancer. Some of them fought their own battles and raced as a sign of victory and to help others.
They were determined to ride faster, be more bold and stand taller on top of that sled in the cold. Over 30 women strong, it was time for me to retire and pass the torch.
But change is never easy. Especially when you do something for years and in a way it becomes part of your identity. I think that’s much harder with a career than a race. Six months ago I started something new. Scary. Unfamiliar. Humbling. Uncertain.
But not random. Not uninformed. Not unplanned. I’m just learning it’s okay to be nervous, scared, excited and uncertain all about the same thing. Because before wasn’t really all that certain as I look back.
What’s interesting to me looking back… is that staying where you are isn’t a guarantee of confidence or certainty. I watched talented people, top performers, be let go. I’ve known healthy people who didn’t see the next day.
Not the big sweeping jump-off-a-cliff doing a backflip bravery most people think of. Rather the little inch by inch moments of bravery that add up.
- The bravery to choose joy and be the weirdo in the yard that built a snowman, though she has no kids, just because she wanted to be a kid.
- The bravery to schedule a meeting with a stranger when you don’t know them and don’t know how it will go.
- The bravery to say no to an opportunity you know doesn’t fit.
The bravery to ask a question. To raise a concern. To answer the phone. To make the call. To respond to the email. To do an ambitious project so you can learn. To hit publish when you’re learning code. To ask for help.
In all the little ways. To squash procrastination. To learn faster. To let 80% be enough to move forward. To be in places where God asks me to step up and say yes. To walk away from places where God tells me to say no.
I’m most of the way through the Old Testament and I’ve noticed a pattern. Bravery was demonstrated by those who followed God even when they didn’t have all of the information. And foolishness was exhibited by people who didn’t follow God because they thought they knew everything. One way resulted in peace and abundance within a community. The other resulted in disaster and war both inside the community and with neighbors.
The bravery to follow God in the midst of ridicule meant imperfect people were doing amazing things for God and for the people in their community. The best leaders brought God into all the moments. The successes. The failures. Their fear.
It’s terrible english grammar, but I want to do brave. Some days I will have more energy and will power and it will be easier. Some days I will be tired, defeated and lonely and it will be harder. But doing brave is made of inches, that together make feet and yards and miles.
I don’t need bravery for miles. I need it for inches. Over time they will become miles.
And some days one inch will be enough.
Can a blog have an appendix? An epilogue? Footnotes? This is that.
I said that it takes bravery to ask for help. Let me say something again for the people in the back.
It takes bravery to ask for help. It takes strength to ask for help. That’s not weakness. It’s not weakness to let people into your life and allow them to step up in ways that you can’t. We were never meant to do this life alone. God created us for community. And community can look like a lot of different things, but it involves being involved in someone else’s life. If you have more alone time than you’d like, and for reasons that are tough to explain, your family is not the source of belonging it should be, I offer two options of encouragement.
Volunteer. You are valuable. You have love and life to give and there is someone who needs what you can offer, even if you feel like its not much because it’s not what “others” are doing. They can’t do everything. They aren’t doing this thing. You do this thing. You will bring a relationship to someone who needs it. You can be an answered prayer. And they will likely become yours.
Find a church and join a small group bible study. Churches are not perfect. Bible studies are not perfect. The first group you join might not be the right fit. Try another. Don’t give up finding a group of people to talk about Jesus with. The entire world is imperfect people. So churches and small groups will be, too. But through these groups I’ve learned more about Jesus, God, the Bible, truth, love, and grace. That this is a safe place to have the bravery to ask for help. I also learned I am wanted, valuable and have a life of purpose. You are valuable and wanted by the God who created you. And everything is created with a purpose. You, too.
Inspired by the book of Isaiah and an unexpected snowfall.