be brave featured

Get Your Red Boots on, Girl

9:33 AMHeather

A great weight constricted my chest and it forced me to tell myself to breathe more deeply. My heart was racing. My mind was mush, filled with such a sense of dread that it was nearly palpable. Like being cornered with no way out or suffocated under a heavy blanket. 

In that moment, I realized it had been years since I felt that sort of anxiety. Years since I felt that near panic feeling that used to be sparked by college exams, deep grief and then a stressful job that was too much for any one person to handle. 

Oh, it's safe (and accurate) to say that my family knows darn well that I lean toward anxiety. I believe the term might be "high strung." Since my late teens and early twenties, I've learned some good coping skills that have helped keep it from overtaking me. Things like list making. Oh, not to mention quitting said stressful job. Learning to say no. Planning things out. And, my husband's all time favorite coping skill -- obsessively asking him 3,487 times per minute that, "It's going to be ok, right?" 

That last coping skill is handy in all sorts of situations. Like leaving the kids with someone else overnight. Watching teenagers drive themselves out of our driveway. Or trying to pay bills on 1 and 1/4 non-profit salaries. 

Plus, I'm sure it totally endears me to my man. In fact, it's likely the very reason that the long suffering Type B man married this completely ridiculous Type A girl.

Anyhoo, last Friday, that old demon of maxed-out anxiety reared its ugly head. Out. Of. The. Blue. I was practicing my own version of Lamaze breathing, when a picture of my red boots popped into my head.

My red rubber boots filled my mind's eye. Along with this loud and clear thought, "Get your red boots on, girl." 

It's as close to an audible voice from heaven as I ever feel.  That firm thought planted suddenly in my mind.

Yes. Get my red boots on. 

I hadn't thought about them in months. Despite the fact that I intentionally keep them in a certain spot in my closet so that every time I enter, they are front and center for me to see that I might be inspired. Even still, I've sorta glanced over them for quite awhile now. The effect of them having lost its potency with familiarity.

But here I am, finding myself in a season of dreaming big. Of jumping out. Of telling my forty-something self it's time to be brave and just go for some old pipe dreams. It's time to quit looking around me but instead really look up. 

I feel a very certain call to explore and grasp how limitless God is. And then, to take him at his every word. My heart's cry for this year of "dream BIG," has been to expand my perspective of how immeasurably more my God is. To be able to think the truest things about him and be healed from unbelief.

Which, apparently, means that God intends for some red rubber boots to be made for walking. Walking out of comfort zones. Out of the familiar. Out of the routine. And into the vast land of leaps of faith. 


I think I'm on to something here in this season of growing deeper and deeper in my faith. This season of confronting idols and of being pruned. This season of clinging to the word of God in a way that I never have before. I've challenged myself to be untethered from fill-in-the-blank Bible study books, and to just take daily time to read my Bible. Just my Bible. And to let it speak for itself. I dare say, I think I'm weaned from milk straight on to some hard core meat. 

(Author's note: There is nothing wrong with Bible study books. I do love me some Beth Moore, Priscilla Shirer, Lisa Harper, etc. I had just allowed them to become a crutch.)

Listen,I gotta be heading in some right directions because OH. MY. WORD with the resistance I've felt. I'm not sure if you think it's spooky kooky, but I'm telling you that the enemy is all up in my business these days with some attacks of various forms. 

Things like unusual injuries and ailments for my family. Throw in some relationship land mines. Hard academic years for all the offspring, translating to quite a year of Mom the Cheerleader. Money strains. Migraine seasons. Strange and terrifying nightmares suddenly stealing sleep. Blah. Blah. Blah.

OH, and the aforementioned return to some good old fashioned near panic attack.

I once heard a preacher say that if you aren't feeling resistance, then you might not be heading in the right direction.

I'm totally on target. I mean, obviously, my direction could not be righter.

So, I'm digging in here with a bedside table book stack that includes Annie Down's Let's All Be Brave, Christine Caine's Unstoppable and Ann Lamott's Bird by Bird. In other words, a trifecta of encouraging reads toward bravely becoming unstoppable in chasing my dreams of writing.

Yet, the heart constrictions and the inability to breath and the very real sense of dread and heavy burden rears its ugly head and makes me want to vomit and turn back and abort all thoughts of bravery.

Yet, the Holy Spirit whispers to my freaking-out soul... "Get your red boots on, girl." 

He reminds me that while the waters ahead feel murky, I need to face the fear. Move forward despite feeling scared to death of the dark brown waters with unknown dangers. Press on even though what lies ahead feels unfamiliar and uncomfortable and challenging on so many levels. Even though no one else might dive into the water with me. Even though it might go poorly.

Get your red boots on, girl. And jump on in.

And in that moment when I was seized by anxiety to the point of breaking out in a sweat, I was brought right back to that watershed moment (no pun intended) in Belize. When I boarded a plane, despite my daughter's nightmare that I did not survive the trip, which caused her to plead with me to not go. That trip when I ventured into a foreign country on a mission trip with NOT ONE LIVING SOUL THAT I KNEW.  (Have I mentioned that I'm an introvert at heart?) Oh, yes, that was as panic moment. 

But I went. And it wasn't comfortable at all. Not much of it, anyway. The heat and the humidity. I believe it was 130 degrees with 3000% humidity. (Can I get an amen from anyone whose been to Belize?) The mosquitoes. My gravy, the millions of mosquitoes that feasted on my flesh all the live long day. The lack of air conditioning. The huge black tarantula that lived outside our little bunk room. The tiny baby frog that lived in the shower. The lack of hot water and the unfamiliar food cooked by a lovely woman who knew no English.

Turned out, for the record, that the food was delicious and to die for! Even if refrigerating leftovers from one meal to the next is apparently optional in some countries.

Yet, most of all, it was uncomfortable to face the stark reality of working with children who have seen more heartache and more abandonment than any one person should ever experience.

It was all ill fitting.

But I tip toed into it all. 

And then there was THE DAY. THE DAY that began when I felt a prompting to just spill my life story at our morning devotion during breakfast. You know, with the strangers who were becoming friends yet still not THAT familiar. You know that knot in your stomach, that will not go away? So, I blurted it all out. The good, the bad and the ugly. As concisely as possible. And wrapped it all up with the fatal mistake of saying, "I believe it's my YES day. It's my day to just say YES."

That's when it happened. That's when the team leader went in for the kill. And asked (or was it told?) me to go put on my rubber boots. Because he wanted me to get in the pond to help he and the facility manager, Pateo, clear out the new tilapia pond.

Get in the pond. The murky, nasty pond. Have I mentioned I'm NOT a play in the mud kind of girl? I am all sorts of Type A with keeping things orderly, planned and most definitely CLEAN. 

Oh yes. That day in Belize was indeed a foreshadowing of the here-and-now in my life. So, last week, God was bringing it all back to mind. Telling me to just get on the red rubber boots and get in the pond. 

And he reminded me of the result on that hot October day. I had talked to myself like a maniac as I walked toward the pond. I passed the other team members who asked if I was REALLY going to get in the pond? I tried my best to still my shaky voice and stir up confidence as I replied yes.

And the whole way there, I whispered to myself, "It's my yes day. It's my yes day. It's my yes day." I paused when I got to the exact entry point where two days earlier I had told the oldest girl living at the orphanage that while they swim in that pond, I would not be joining them. "Cause I'm not so much a swimming kind of girl," I said. Lest I offend her about her only choice for a swimming hole.

But there I was. On the bank. Being told to go in. My red rubber muck boots coming up to my knees. Creating quite an ensemble with my blue t-shirt and purple and blue running shorts. 

Now or never. It was time.

I skidded down the slippery bank to get into the pond. The water was so high it filled my boots. I wasn't really sure the boots were worth it, yet the sensation of cool water in my tall boots wasn't entirely unpleasant. Although it did make them heavy. With great effort, I lifted each foot and trudged forward to begin the task. Grabbing armfuls of brush from the middle of the pond and then taking them over to the edge of the pond to be picked up later. Back and forth. Back and forth. Refusing to allow my mind to consider if snakes really did live in there. I chose to believe the team leader who said they didn't. 

(Really? We were in the jungle. Howler monkeys were screeching at us and did I mention the big black tarantula outside our bunk room?)
But I gritted my teeth and in a totally unfamiliar and uncharacteristic fashion, I pressed on DESPITE the fear. I didn't wait for the fear to pass or the thing to feel safe and comfortable. I just did it.

And there, in that murky brown pond in the middle of Belize, I was having a moment that would become far more profound and significant than I could ever imagine. 

Like the moment Abram set out for the new land. Which had no name as of yet and came with no map or clear direction. Maybe something akin to the moment when David sized up Goliath and chose to believe God was bigger. Perhaps along the lines when Noah consented to build an ark although he had never seen rain.

It was a very clear and defining moment of saying yes to God even though I didn't want to and despite any way that I felt emotionally. 

I do believe that God is asking me to say yes again and again. He asked me to say yes to publishing a Scripture coloring book that has become a way to honor my dad's memory and redeem the loss that cancer handed me over 26 years ago. For every purchase made, I donate a book to a cancer fighter. And I'm just blown away by the thought that even one person somewhere might feel the love of God and a small measure of peace as they color the illustrations I hand-drew.

He's asked me to say yes to another project that's in the works. He asks me to say yes to whatever he wants me to do next. No matter how I feel or how it seems. 

Murky. Unfamiliar. Scary. SO WHAT? I think -- no, I know -- that I am at a crossroads at this point in my life. And God is saying quit being safe. Quit being calculated. Quit being bound by being a planner and a plotter. Quit letting your feelings be boss. Quit looking around to see what others are doing or what others think about what you're doing. 

But get my red rubber boots on. And dive right in. Preach the gospel to myself. Tell the truest things of God to my soul and boss myself to make it my yes day. My yes year. My yes life.

And remember.

Remember that day in the Belizean pond. When I felt God's presence so clearly. When I felt the pleasure of God surround me because I had dared. When I stopped in the midst of it all, and realized that at that moment, in that pond, for the first time in Belize, I did not feel the heat and humidity. But, I felt refreshed and cool as the water filled my boots. And not one time did I swipe at a mosquito. 

I felt strong and empowered as I carried those loads of brush, with the back brace still supporting my back which was healing after a surgery. It was a task that proved just how much healing had actually happened. 

That indescribable joy that consumed me like few times ever in life. The thrill and exhilaration of obedience. And after pushing through the layers of fear and experiencing a watershed moment.

Today, in this year of our Lord 2016, I know that the moment in the pond was preparing me for other leaps of faith. For other calls to enter dark waters. To dare. To jump. To be brave no matter what my feelings and thoughts are telling me. 

Exactly what God is calling me to right now.

To remember that as I waded in that pond, I began to sing the words to the song Oceans in my mind. Just as I got to the part about "take me further than my feet could ever wander," I suddenly hit a low point in the pond and went completely under water.

Completely submerged in the unknown.

And it didn't kill me.

In fact, it cooled me off and made me laugh.

Because God and I were having a moment.

And the Lord was laying some ground work. He was starting gently to tug and pull at me. To sweetly allow me to feel the awe of his presence and to store it up for the rest of my life.

So that when I felt unsure and uncertain about saying yes, I would know exactly what he meant when he says:

Get your red boots on, girl. It's time to take the plunge. 

So listen, bloggy friends. That thing that scares you to death but you can't shake it from your brain? That pull into the unknown? That dream to chase? That yes to utter?

Do it.

And believe me when I say.

The water is fine. Just come on in.

You Might Also Like


Popular Posts

Contact Form