Brave (Enough)

Last fall, a friend told me she was writing a book and asked if she could tell a little of our story. I said yes. Then, she told me her vision for her book went even further. She was creating a companion DVD to accompany the book and wanted to have interviews of women’s stories for each chapter.

She wanted me to do that too. (It was starting to get a little more intimidating.) With a little self-conscious reluctance, I agreed.

Here we are 9 months later and Nicole’s hard work is a reality: Brave Enough was just released! Click this link to check it out (or better yet, buy it!).

Nicole Unice is on staff as a ministry director at Hope Church. She is incredibly energetic and passionate about helping people deepen in their relationship with God. A few months after my family had been at Hope, we met in her office because I was trying to figure out if there was anyone else like me in our church: a widowed, single mom.

She listened quietly as I stumbled through our story. She asked gentle questions along the way as only a seasoned counselor can do. I could tell she has heard many people’s hard stories. She steadily listened. I left her office feeling refreshed and encouraged.

She is the real deal: wise, insightful, and authentic. She helps you see your issues honestly and shows you where your issues and God’s word overlap.

And you can tell she believes that you can make progress with your issues.  Anger, anxiety, regret, insecurity, control, fear, bitterness. These are just a few of the realities we all encounter in life. Left to simmer and grow they can wreak havoc in our relationships, minds, bodies and souls.

Many times we feel like we just have to learn how to live with them.

God doesn’t want us to. Jesus said He came to bring us freedom in every area of our lives. He actually calls it abundant life! (not to be confused with abundant stuff or prosperity) His freedom is richer, deeper and eternal- it is abundant soul life.

Nicole truly believes him.

The only problem with Nicole is that there is only one of her. I wish every woman I know could sit down and have a heart to heart with her. I wish I could spend more time with her too.

But there is good news! Nicole has multiplied herself through her books: She’s Got Issues and this newest one, Brave Enough. Honestly, I tell women that reading those books is like meeting with Nicole personally. Read them both and I am confident you will feel hopeful.

There are lots of books out there that restate what many of us already know. Nicole’s books go to deeper places. They have helped me understand (some not so pretty realities) about myself while giving me hope that I can change with God’s loving help.

But you’re going to have to be brave to believe God is big enough for your life.  Me too.

When John died, being brave became my new daily life. It didn’t matter that I had struggled with fear for years or that I relied on John to be brave for me.

It was time to be breathe and live brave.

  • Brave enough to believe I can be who God has now called me to be in this new identity as a widow & single mom.
  • Brave enough to believe that I can do what God has called me to do no matter how hard, lonely or confusing.

And so, with no bravery of my own, just belief that God would be everything He promises, I set out on this unexpected journey. I haven’t been perfectly brave. Yet, He has made me brave in some of the hardest, scariest places.

He will do the same for you on your life’s journey.

Disappointing marriages. Concerns about your kids. Job frustrations. Money problems. Ailing bodies. Adjustments to new seasons in life. We need daily brave.

Jesus will meet you at the intersection of faith and fear with His love and courage. “In this world you will have trouble, but take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

You don’t have to do it perfectly. He did that for you. You just have to “take heart” and be brave (enough).

Nicole, thanks for pointing the way and cheering us on!

With much love & belief that He will strengthen where my courage wanes, Maria

PS If you are looking for a small group study, Brave Enough has a small group bundle with dvd and books. Click here to find it on her site. It would be awesome to do with a group! I hope to be leading a study this fall too! 🙂

PPS If you comment on this blog or click the like button, you will be entered to win a free copy of Brave Enough! The drawing will be on this Wednesday, July 29 at 5:00 (our 26th wedding anniversary!). Free is always fun!

Moving Joy

Big news to share! Our house sold! It was put under contract several weeks ago. One of the best features of our contract: our closing is in August after we’ve moved into our new home.

Did you hear that huge sigh of relief?! The thought of a double move was daunting. Now that I am deep in the midst of packing, I am sure that a double-move would have been a nightmare. I am so grateful to have been spared that complication.

YET, providing a great buyer and contract for our home isn’t all the Lord has done. He has also blessed me with two beautiful answers to prayer and I really want you to hear about it. (Spoiler warning: You’re gonna smile!)

Request 1: A Herald

When I began driving through neighborhoods, I quickly found myself overwhelmed at the fact that all of those new neighbors wouldn’t know our story. People would be curious but too polite to ask. The kids and I would want people to know but would get weary of retelling it. I was hoping for a herald to go ahead of us and tell our story so we didn’t have to.

So, I prayed, “Lord, would you please move us to a neighborhood where someone knows us and can just tell everyone our story so we don’t have to repeat it?”

Request 2: A Single Mom

This led to the next request, because I also was intimidated at the thought of moving into a new neighborhood as a single mom. We don’t fit the typical neighborhood equation anymore: husband + wife + kids. I would drive around neighborhoods and cringe at the thought of our family being different.

So, I prayed, “Lord, can you please move us into a neighborhood where someone else close by is a single mom?”

Those were super specific prayers, and HE DID IT!!

I have a friend who lives in the front of our new neighborhood, and she has already told everyone our story. What a blessing and relief! Gotta love having super extroverted friends!

And that same friend told me that my new next door neighbor is a single mom. When she told me her name, I was shocked! Because my new neighbor is a friend from church! What a blessing! It is going to be so fun to have her as my neighbor.

Isn’t the Lord so incredibly good? Honestly, I haven’t stopped smiling at how He has encouraged me and affirmed this move. It keeps me going in the midst of packing.

I have been shy to share our news because I wanted to make it through the hurdles that are part of every contract, and those are behind us now. My hesitation to share has reminded me of something I learned early on in life when John and I were expecting our first baby. We wondered if we should spread the news or wait, since lots can go wrong early on in a pregnancy.

We realized that in life, we simply have to enjoy the joy of each day. A million things can go wrong with any moment of joy- either the next day or far into the future. The only thing that’s for sure is the joy the Lord has given you today. So savor it. Celebrate it!

It became a regular saying around our household: enjoy the joy!

May you also savor the joys that each day brings- as simple as a beach sunrise or as stunning as a new baby in your arms. Savor and rejoice over the goodness that each day brings- one day at a time.

Thank you for letting me share our joy.

Packing & Smiling,