Becoming A Brave Learner

This fall I am setting out on the grand adventure of home education with my oldest daughter for the second year in a row.

I am so grateful for the past year we have had together as she sits on the verge of young adulthood.

One of the most inspiring books I read last summer as I prepared to develop her syllabus was The Brave Learner by Julie Bogart. I picked up the book eager to soak in new strategies, creativity and the ethics of home education.

While I certainly encountered all that and more, I went away most inspired to be a brave, curious learner myself. The kind of person who wonders, explores, imagines and creates for pure joy. The kind of person who dares to step out into brand new territory with excitement and courage. The kind of person who inspires those around her to learn and grow bravely amidst the opportunities that abundantly come our way.

Julie Bogart’s passion is not only to encourage brave learning in our children but to model that out of our own brave and curious lives.

If you are a mom reading this, please go back and read that again. Not just skimming this time. Let it sink in.

Do you live this way?

Has it even occurred to you to live this way?

To model a brave and curious lifestyle to your children.

Something in my soul woke up and gasped for air when I immersed myself in this incredibly daring idea that I could continue to be a brave, curious individual with ideas, creativity and soul food of my own.

In the busyness of everyday life, I often forget that I am a person outside of my children, husband and home.

Don’t get me wrong, I love being a mom and I am a firm believer that to do this mothering thing well you must be willing to sacrifice huge parts of yourself and learn how to grow inside of this role. Embracing that this will take up the entirety of your life for a season is crucial.

However, the longer I mother, the more I understand and grieve this idea that women lose themselves in the years of toting toddlers and helping with homework and grocery shopping and load after load of laundry .

When is the last time you did something all your own that made your soul stir with feelings of bravery, pride, fear, anticipation or freedom?

Do your children see you laughing, learning and wondering?

Do they see you attempting, failing, striving, persevering in the face of difficulty?

Do they catch glimpses of you that make them see you with new eyes and wonder who you are? Do you help them look forward to adulthood by the way you are living today?

Do they have something to admire and aspire to when they catch a glimpse of your life?

This made me stop and reanalyze my priorities.

Suddenly it mattered that I had laid aside passions and dreams of my own and let them slip out of sight.

The more I read, the more convinced I became that in order to teach my children well and lead them on this adventure of learning, I needed to take some time back for myself. I needed to place some of my own passions back in center field so that I could show them what it looks like to learn and discover, create and strive toward something. I needed them to see what it looked like to set goals and work hard to achieve them; to believe in myself and to be confident in the talents I’ve been given. I want them to remember a joyful, passionate, brave mama. I want them to look back someday and remember me laughing and creating and daring. I want them to think about me when they read those verses in the Bible that talk about abundant life!

Endeavor.

Create.

Wonder.

Imagine.

I encourage you to let each of those words sink in and decide which one of those you most want to model to your children.

Then take a deep breath, and jump.

Take lessons.

Go back to school.

Set time aside to pursue your passion.

Read.

Face your fear and learn to breathe.

Go somewhere you have never been before.

Make a career plan.

Be honest with your partner.

Pray.

Grieve what you’ve sacrificed and count the costs worthy.

Cry.

Surrender the pieces you’ve lost and embrace the pieces you’ve encountered along the way.

This is not just the latest boss babe, women empowerment, girls rule speech…this is about you living life abundantly, utilizing every part of who you are for His glory.

Pray for wisdom from your Creator to know what it is that He is stirring up within your soul and for the courage to pursue it boldly.

You, sweet Mama, matter.

Nobody else can quite replicate your particular part of His image, and that is a vision the world needs to see. The little eyes watching you are waiting for glimpses of that glory. They are waiting for instruction on how to live out this one, brave, beautiful life He has placed within you.

Not because you are something extremely special or because you deserve happiness above all else.

No.

It’s because of Him, and the life He has intended for you.

“She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.”

Proverbs 31:35

-AF

Giants Fall

There are two books that have blessed my socks off recently.

The first is a title that caught my eye as I was wandering through a bookstore with a friend a few months back.  The title “Overextended…and loving most of it!” made my breath catch in my throat and I nearly grabbed the soft cover off the shelf.  The subtitle reads:

“The Unexpected Joy of Being Harried, Heartbroken, and Hurling Oneself Off Cliffs.”

Lisa Harper’s words spoke to my heart in ways few have been able to.  So much about Christianity today has become tame, logical, practical and sensible.  Faith is valued most highly when it’s carefully planned out, thought out, weighed out with pros and cons and calculated to require as little risk as possible.

This has just not been my story.

I’m a jumping off cliffs, intensely passionate, go for the gold kind of girl.  This is how God speaks to me.  In the middle of my deepest passions is where I feel Him closest; His heart beating strong within my own.  Everything that is there has been planted by Him and I love to be on His adventures…but sometimes I feel like I’m constantly swimming against the current.

Like there’s something wrong with leaping out without answers;

committing without the figures matching.

Shouldn’t I have a plan that wraps it all up neatly in a bow?

But what kind of faith has it all figured out?

What kind of faith makes sense to everyone else watching…or even me for that matter?

What kind of faith chooses the obvious, the safe, the perfectly within my comfort zone option?

You don’t need a big God to do that kind of faith.

I’m not even going to balance this out with all the thoughts that may be spinning through your mind right now because well…I’m just tired of those.

Is there anyone out there who wants to live big?

Is there anyone who believes in a God that makes all things possible?

Is there anyone who is willing to jump off cliffs and believe God will take care of the parachute?

The second book is called, “Your Beautiful Purpose” by Susie Larson.

Subtitle reads:

“Discovering and Enjoying What God Can Do Through You”

Again, this woman hit the nail on the head as she explored purpose, faith and a big God.  We really do not need to be hiding in these shells of fear, apprehension, confusion and insecurity.  God longs to free us from those bonds to walk in an abundant life that is full, beautiful, purpose-filled and covered in grace.

Recently I cried out to God,

“Please, God, if I am doing the total wrong thing here please remold this clay!  Please redeem this somehow and use it to fulfill your purposes.”

And you know what?  I’m ok with that!

He is perfectly capable of doing that.  And if that cry is coming from a heart that is sincere, searching and laid out before him like a blank page…I think He loves it.

We frequently talk about how small we are and how God does not need us but chooses to use us anyway.  We talk about how on our own we can accomplish nothing!  Maybe we should also realize that daring to step out in faith when we’re not quite sure of all the detail is not going to derail God!  You might just get to see how big your God really is!  I believe with all my heart He loves to take us on those adventures and to see the trust in our floundering leaps of faith.

This morning I was reading in Esther.  Mordecai’s words to his fearful, cautious niece always take my breath away.

“Do not think to yourself that in the king’s palace you will escape any more than all the other Jews.  For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish.  And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such as time as this!?”

-Esther 4:13-14

The worst case scenario of Esther approaching the King was her death.  That really would not have helped the Jews at all.  In fact, it could have made things much worse!  She had logical reasons to believe the King would not appreciate her bold gesture.  But Esther chose to believe that her God was big enough to take care of the details.  She was willing to put her life on the line to be a part of God’s kingdom purposes!

Most of the time we’re not being called to put our lives on the line.  We  are asked to sacrifice much smaller things, like our pride, our popularity, our reputation, our comfort.

And guess what?

Just like Mordecai made clear to Esther…YOU ARE NOT IRREPLACEABLE!  God’s purposes will not be stopped by one little human!  When I decide to curl up in my shell and quake in fear or maybe simply say no, He has thousands of other options.  Thankfully instead of immediately getting frustrated He will usually kneel down, peer into that dark little abyss and remind me of all the reasons I should be coming out to join him…because guess what?

HE REALLY DOES WANT TO USE ME!

Not because I have so much to offer, or am specially talented.  No.  More likely, He wants to build something in my character.  He wants to show me something new about Him.  Or maybe He wants to see if he can pry my hands open to let go of those things I hold so dear.  My security.  My safety.  My logical reasoning.  My comfortable life just the way it is.

Do I want to miss that?

NO WAY!

I love reading stories about Peter in the Bible. He’s so brash and arrogant…yet so many times his passion and zeal are just so endearing. You gotta love him. In all his enthusiasm, he often misses the mark. For people like Peter and I, that means a lot of harsh rebukes…and that can be painful. But when God got a hold of that zeal, energy and ambition and molded it into something He could use, Peter emerged a whole new character.

Confident.

Courageous.

Humble.

All in for his Jesus.

God didn’t need to take away all that zest for life to use Peter…and you don’t need to throw all the zest out of your life either!

Maybe you’re like me, and you’ve known all your life that you’re just a little too over the top most of the time. Or maybe you have a son or daughter that is constantly living on the edge and you feel like they’re bound for some sort of disaster. Don’t give up just yet. See the potential for bold faith, courageous cliff jumping, and surrendered ambitions. Now believe with all your heart that when Jesus Christ moves in, He transforms even the wonkiest characters into something beautiful.

Cheers! 🙂

Love this song by Francesca Batistelli

“Giants Fall

Everyone’s telling you
To let go of what you’re holding to
It’s too late, too far
You’re too small, it’s too hard
Throwing water on that spark
Living deep inside your heart
With oceans of reasons
The things you’re not seeing
But oh, maybe they don’t
Know what you know
That you’re not alone

[Chorus:]
Don’t you be afraid
Of giants in your way
With God you know that anything’s possible
So step into the fight
He’s right there by your side
The stones inside your hand might be too small
But watch the giants fall

We could really live like this
Can’t you imagine it
So bold, so brave
With childlike faith
Miracles could happen
Mountains would start moving
So whatever you may face

[Chorus]

Ask and believe
You’re gonna see
The hand of God in every little thing

[Chorus]

Miracles can happen
Anything is possible
Watch the giants fall