Being Brave Living Life With Everything You Have

Being brave, living life with everything I have, is something I have been giving my best shot at for most of my life.

I wrote my first blog post in 2015 about bravery. This post is titled, We Are Called To Be Brave. Click here to read my post about the courage of Aimee Copeland.

My husband, Donny and I were checking in for a flight. We were headed to St. Louis, Missouri to visit our son and his wife for Easter Weekend, 2018. Outside the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta Airport, we encountered a massive crowd of very young men and women. Dressed out in full U.S. Army gear climbed off a bus carrying heavy and huge dufflebags, one in each hand. Just seeing them made my heart sing with American Pride.  “Thank you for your service!”, I said repeatedly as we made our way through the multitude.

“Are you in this group, this Army Unit?”, I asked a young woman in front of us. She was also entangled in the masses. Answering me, she exclaimed quickly, “Oh, no, I am not that brave.”

As we patiently made our way past these youthful servicemen and servicewomen, I considered this girl’s words. I reflected on how many souls walking around among us consider themselves less than brave. I know that up until recently, I have spent decades feeling less than brave. Nevertheless, I am changing. I hope you will be inspired after you read this post. Inspired to make a change, too. Perhaps you will be more courageous, as well.

The weekend of December 9, 2017, we attended the funeral of a warrior woman by the name of Jule Furr. I had known ‘Jules’ for years and was well aware of her four decade battle with cancer. At age fifty-four, Jule went on ahead leaving behind her precious family. After hearing stories of my friend on that frigid, snowy Georgia day, I decided I wanted to be more brave. You can read my post about this friend, Fighter Jule Furr Takes Her Leave, here. 

 February 9-10, 2018, my friend, Julie invited me to attend a nearby Women’s Conference. An IF:Gathering.

The road to courage is lit by God's wisdom. Author, Annie F. Downs

Sometimes things happen when we least expect it. Thankfully as a Christ follower, when things come up, I can be sure to trust in God for direction.  At this meeting, I heard a well-known speaker for the first time. This speaker, Annie F. Downs  also has an inspiring podcast that I have been listening to. “That Sounds Fun With Annie F. Downs” is what it is called.

From my hometown of Marietta, Georgia, it felt like Annie F. Downs was speaking straight to me. Two decades younger than myself, Annie spoke about many things I had grown to know and understand. My ears perked up when she began to emphasize “being brave”. You see, I had already felt my God wooing me, calling me (though not audibly <smile>) with His still, small voice to be brave about some specific circumstance in my life journey. It had become a stronghold in my days. It was something that was taking more than it was adding to my days. This something needed to be addressed if I was planning to have a purposeful and fulfilling life between now and dead.

Now, my particular situation is irrelevant to you as a reader of this post. (‘Cause it’s personal, ya know!)  Therefore, I do want to encourage you, to look inside, to look at how you could be more brave with some specific circumstances that are unique to you.  ‘Cause somehow, I don’t believe I am the only human that has lacked courage in making a needed change.

His Word is a lamp for your feet. Psalm 119:105

Let’s All Be Brave!

That’s the name of one of Annie F. Downs’ books that I have just finished reading. At the risk of being dramatic, this book has been life-changing for me.

Many times I pass on a book when I have finished reading it. This time I will be keeping my copy and rereading my high-lighted sections.

With Easter, the Holiday of Hope 2018 now in the books, how can you and I show more bravery in the weeks ahead?

Let’s all be brave!

Previous Posts You May Have Missed:

Are You A People Pleaser? Five Tips To Help You Stop (or wisdom from a Recovering People Pleaser <smile>)

Who’s In Our Path?

We Are Called To Be Brave

God Bless America and Beyond

It Is Well With My Soul

The Sandwich: A Courageous Conversation

Joy Comes In The Morning

The Simple Things

Five Lessons From A Garden

Spirit Fruits Are Real

Wrestling and Seeking

The Long and Winding Road

Easter Sunrise Service 2018 at the World’s Fair Pavilion, St. Louis, MO with our son, Walker, daughter-in-law, Jessica, husband, Donny and me
Easter Sunrise Service at the World’s Fair Pavilion in St. Louis

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A L’Arche Community A Community Of Pure Love

Have you heard of L’Arche? I had not heard of it until I read about it recently in a book I picked up along the way: Why Good Things Happen To Good People By, Stephen Post, PhD and Jill Neimark. (2007)

Here there is a very pure love you don't experience in other places in society. Here you learn that innocence is beautiful, that the disabled can be like living prayers. a L'Arche assistant

One thing I have learned for sure is that a L’Arche Community is a community of pure love. L’Arche is French for “the ark,” a reference to the floating refuge Noah created at God’s command. It began in 1964 when Frenchman Jean Vanier opened his home to two developmentally disabled adults.

To work for community, is to work for humanity. founder of L'Arche, Jean Vanier

He had no grand plan. Vanier simply believed people of differing physical and mental abilities could live together, respecting the capabilities of one another. What began as an informal invitation from the heart has grown into the world-renowned International Federation of L’Arche Communities, a network of more than 6,000 individuals in 140 communities and 31 countries. There is even a L’Arche community in my hometown of Decatur, Georgia, which opened its doors in 2012. Born in Switzerland in 1928, Vanier is a devout Catholic, but these communities welcome all, regardless of their race, culture, abilities, or disabilities, as well as people of all faiths, including atheists. In each community, the healthy (called “assistants) and disabled live together.

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When Jean Vanier was asked to share one of his most memorable L’Arche stories, this is what he said:

“I will never forget Eric, whom I met in a local psychiatric hospital where he had been abandoned since he was four years old. He was then a blind, deaf young man of 16 who was unable to walk or speak. I had never met anyone so filled with anguish. Even the nurses and helpers found him too difficult to be with. He came to our L’Arche community in 1978, and I had the privilege of living with him and a few others for a year: dressing him, bathing him, helping him to learn to feed himself. Little by little, he began to discover that he was loved and seen as a person, unique and important. He gradually grew more peaceful. During the evening prayer we had in our little home, he had changed, and I too had changed. Eric, above all, make me realize that each person is important no matter what their abilities, disabilities, religion, or culture.”

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In 2015, Vanier was awarded The Templeton Award, one of the most prestigious awards in the world.

The whole pain of our world is the pain of walls. We've had enough of loneliness, independence, and competition. We all begin in weakness and end in weakness. We are all broken in some way. The only answer to life is to love each other.

Perhaps it is my personal experience of growing up with Robin, my first cousin who was born with Downs Syndrome, or perhaps it’s my own growing awareness of my weaknesses and brokenness, or maybe it was the example of compassion shown to me by my loving parents, but my heart is soft towards this ministry of L’Arche communities. I hope to visit L’Arche Atlanta, in Decatur in the not too far off future.

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What do you think about the L’Arche concept? What are some other ways we can continue to break down the tall walls of discrimination that are based on race, culture, economic circumstances,religion, and/or disability?

Other related Pages From Joan posts you may have missed:

Common Warriors: Part One

Common Warriors: Part Two

Have A Care Kit Party

What Feeds You And Me? Let’s Follow Our Heart Song.

Aimee Copeland: Living Life

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Aimee Copeland Living Life

On April 23, 2015, I wrote a post entitled We Are Called To Be Brave and here is an excerpt from that post:

 The older I get, the more I realize that life as we know it can change on a dime. When that unexpected, often shocking change shows up, we are called for bravery beyond what we might believe we can offer to the circumstances before us.

I have definitely learned that it is a process—being brave—it may not just happen, but that doesnt’ mean that bravery won’t evolve as the days go by.

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Aimee Copeland has kept this determined attitude and glowing smile since her life-changing accident in May 2012. “Patience is the name of the game, there’s a whole lot of ‘hurry up and wait.'” Aimee Copeland

Most of you will remember the story of Aimee Copeland, the athletic, graduate student who was injured on a homemade zip line back in May of 2012. I suspect that Tuesday, May 1, 2012, was a day much like yesterday in Georgia. Full sun. Birds singing. High between 75-80 degrees. Aimee and some of her classmates were ready for a reward, some fun in the sun. Aimee had just completed her last final for her last class of the semester, studying at West Georgia as a graduate student. What began as a beautiful time in nature with friends turned tragic when Aimee encountered an equipment malfunction on her second pass on the line. Her fall set the stage for the development of necrotizing fasciitis which led to amputations and the failure of her five major organs. Instead of saying, “Why me?”, Aimee recognized that it could have been any one of her group of friends, but she was the injured one. Aimee also stated, “You can’t live your life being paranoid, or in a bubble. The truth is, things like this happen when you least expect it.” I assure you that the remainder of this post won’t be a downer. Instead I would like to share with you the many ways Aimee’s life journey has exhibited bravery and stick-to-itiveness, again and again.

LIFE calls for BRAVERY. It truly does. You can click here to read my April post in its entirety.

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“You cannot grow if you do not struggle.” Aimee Copeland
Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength. Mahatma Ghandi

I caught up with Aimee recently and asked her if I could share an update about her current life journey, along with some recent pictures. Aimee wholeheartedly agreed! Three years ago doctors told Aimee she would never walk again without two forearm crutches, but every day victories keep Aimee motivated to reach her goals. When her trainer, LC Reese of Reesefit in Carrollton, GA, suggested trying her prosthetic legs on the treadmill for the first time, she jumped on and quickly mastered it, reaching a speed of 2 mph. Proving the doctors wrong, she released the treadmill and walked completely unaided for two minutes at a time! Next up, she plans on walking a 5K to show people with and without disabilities that with the power of perseverance anything is possible!11164841_1639067282993565_8144863041424290737_n

Aimee traveled to Ohio in May of this year to be fitted with new myoelectric “robo arm” prostheses by the great folks at Touch Bionics and world-class prosthetist Randy Alley.

This past August 5, 2015, a You-Tube video was publishing showing Aimee getting biodesigns’ HiFi Prosthetic Sockets.

 

Aimee has built a new life for herself that includes white water rafting, wake boarding, climbing, and a lot of other great activities. She is living life well!

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Aimee is indebted  to her fabulous teachers, Joe Gudger and Chris Townsend. As Winnie the Pooh so wisely said, “Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there some day.

“Helping other people is one of the most healing things a person can do.” Aimee Copeland
The most beautiful people are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

One focus which Aimee is developing more and more is reaching out and aiding people in her path who have similar circumstances she is living in these days, as shown here with a young man who is an amputee. She wants to be available and supportive of anyone in a similar life experience. In fact, Aimee was in the news in July 2015 for offering encouragement to a young woman in Gwinnett County who has been suffering with this same condition: Necrotizing Fasciitis. Read about this here. In addition, Aimee has become a spokesperson about the signs of illness that could be associated with the chances of this life-threatening condition, and is also encouraging those who live with disabilities to realize more freedoms that can come with their life circumstances. Aimee has a background in psychology, and is working towards a second Masters in Social Work. As Aimee shared with Denis O’Hayer and Rose Scott on a June 18, 2015, NPR interview, the two big “take-aways” she tries to give to her listeners are The Power of Perseverance and The Power of Compassion. Click here to listen to the 13 minute NPR interview in its entirety.

Two years ago doctors told Aimee she would never walk again without at least two crutches. Here she is a year later, proving them wrong. She recently has taken many steps completely unaided by crutches.

No one can decide your limits for you.

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If they try, it provides a great opportunity to prove them wrong.
It's not what you have, but what you do with what you have that really matters. Regardless of who you are, there's always a way to experience a connection with the world. Kahil Gibran

In the words of Nelson Mandela, “it always seems impossible until it’s done.” Only YOU can decide what possibilities await you!

Resilience and perseverance have helped Aimee find a new normal after surviving an extreme case of flesh-eating bacteria. She has built a new life for herself and says that COMMUNITY, social, and family support, have been of utmost importance for Aimee’s mental recovery. This makes me wonder how you and I can have a positive impact in our own sphere of influence in the days ahead.

What ‘community’ can you and I join up with in order to be an encouragement to someone in our path who is going through a difficult season?

WHAT WOULD YOU ATTEMPT TO DO IF YOU KNEW YOU COULD NOT FAIL?