For the Brave

For the first time in years, my family and I ventured outside the house for New Year’s Eve. All the way across the driveway to our neighbor’s house.
Several of us from the neighborhood, the neighbor’s plumber, and some who are in recovery, gathered around piles of food to bring in 2018 together. Or at least for the few hours that come before it whispered, “Welcome,” through the door frames.

It was a cautious bunch, keeping the most harmful vices out in respect for those who were beginning again, although new beginnings are anything but safe. They’re scary, and wild in the way a man or woman has to confront their monsters face to face. And the unwelcome vices, having been exposed for the roadblocks they were, were banned from now forward.

A few of us gathered around the fire-pit, its blue flame a perfect circle for us to warm our hands over and watch our kids play together. The best jokes are told in a circle of new friends. Admissions about our imperfections are safe with a little darkness to tuck them away in. Friends to be flawed with.

Throughout the night, we had to scoot closer and closer to the fire as the heat couldn’t keep up with the encroaching cold. I stared at that blue flame and remembered that all of us come to a time where we begin again at something. Maybe it’s a lifetime of starting over. A new attitude, a new faith. Maybe just a single step forward. And like that blue circle of flame, we have the choice to stay low and contained, or to move past the barriers and push back the darkness.


A prayer for all who read this–who desire to step forward into 2018 with braver feet. Blessing, my friends.

Dreams Up High

When my kids play, I see God illustrating resilience. I see my daughter look at the tippy-top of the swing set and it’s as if God says “this is how high you can reach.” I follow her gaze toward the towering branches of a tree and I know she will find a way to get there. She has to start low first. As the sun burnishes her arms, they toughen and fill out as she learns to hold her own weight. Then she swings, climbing hand over hand across the monkey bars at the park.100_2977

There are days when discouragement shakes her arms scared, and she needs me to hold her as she monkey crawls across the bars. Sometimes she is too tired, but like a child, she doesn’t recognize fatigue, she just sees the top of the world she hasn’t reached yet.

She comes home from school and tells me about her friend, the gymnast, who can swing and flip and nearly fly over those monkey bars. She wants to do that too, and instead of listening to the dream thief that likes to whisper “you can’t”, she lets her dreams expand. Month after month, she climbs higher, farther. Occasionally she gets stuck in the tree out back and I have to rescue her, but we just laugh and she keeps climbing.

On her last day of school, we meet on the playground. She smiles proud and begins to go from bar to bar, swinging with much more strength that she appears to have on her wiry frame. My heart soars as she conquers every one of them and I think, This is what God made us for—for keeping our eyes on the highest dream, and like the resiliency of a child, we will reach it.