Your Bravery Bucket List

Jumping off the high board. Selling lemonade. Riding a horse. Twirling and swirling on amusement park rides. Trying Dad’s latest barbeque sauce. Letting Mom put lotion on your sunburn.

Pies en el trampolnBravery flourishes in summertime, especially when we’re young and so many life adventures await us. I remember spending my summers making loop potholders and chocolate-covered bananas with my best friend and selling them around our little town. And my brothers “offering” me the role of test passenger in one of their many mini fabricated cars. Bravery knows no bounds when you’ve got two older brothers who give you the double dog dare.

As much as bravery builds its initial courage in our younger years, I think we’ve all got some bravery just waiting to bust out in our lives. Yes, even yet this summer! Maybe it’s that long hike or bike ride or even putting on walking shoes and making it around the block. Or, perhaps it’s letting your teen drive you to work or putting work on hold and taking that vacation. For you, bravery may even mean making amends with someone or looking for a new job. (Or, if you’re me, making and drinking a green smoothie.)

Summer will soon be coming around the home stretch, so now is the time to put some checkmarks on your bravery bucket list. What brave summer memories top your list? Which ones will you add in the next six weeks? We’d love to share your bravery best with your favorite bravery photos. (Use Your Thoughts below and then email your photos to

Bust a bravery move, then tell us about it. We double dog dare you!

Brave and Resilient Tip #114: Put some checkmarks on your bravery bucket list.


Afraid + Brave = Courage

Gulp. Being double-dog dared by your two older brothers ups the ante when it comes to courage. I remember in my elementary school days mustering bravery to squelch my inner terror. My brothers and their friends seemed to have no fear. But me? I’d sit on the edge of the barn loft, peering down into the pile of loose, billowy hay below. “Jump, scared cat, jump! Come on, chicken. Jump!” Gulp. It didn’t matter if the boys were kicking loose and sailing into the thick blanket of prairie hay. My buns clung to the edge of that wooden beam as I envisioning sure injury and possible death.

iPhoto Library“Courage is doing what you’re afraid to do,” American World War I fighter ace Eddie Rickenbacker once declared. “There can be no courage unless you’re scared.” We actually need fear for courage to exist? I certainly understand the hesitancies in life to try new things and press beyond what we consider our capabilities and limits. You know, the speaking in front of an audience, giving birth, getting a colonoscopy, going back to school, eating boiled okra, changing careers, moving to another state. We’ve all got scenarios that make us squeamish or hold us back from taking risks.

Merriam-Webster defines courage as “mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty.” That sums up my childhood days of double-dog dares and talking myself through the risk of free falling into that cushy hay pile. If I recall, I finally summoned enough “mental and moral strength” on my third visit to the edge of the hayloft. I needed to watch the boys jump and come up laughing, not crying. I needed to jump for myself and not them.

“Jump, scared cat, jump!” I braved the hayloft plunge and my fresh courage took me back to the ledge to jump and squeal in delight another time or two that day. Once I overcame that particular fear, my bravery, mixed with common sense, emboldened my courage for other life adventures. Like starting this website and writing this blog to hundreds of you. 🙂

Afraid + Brave = Courage. You ready to double-dog dare your bravery on today?


Brave and Resilient Tip #95: Take a risk. Let fear plus bravery be your guide to courage.



A 180 on Fear

Shortly after 9-11 marred its way into our lives, I had the privilege of interviewing a number of grieving family members directly affected by the terrorist mayhem. I talked with Lisa Beamer whose husband Todd became one of the iconic passengers aboard United Flight 93. Todd’s “Let’s roll” rallying cry emboldened a courageous handful of passengers to storm their attackers before the commandeered airplane slammed into a Pennsylvania field. Instant comrades in their last moments, Todd and the flight’s other brave passengers saved unknown thousands of lives on the ground that fateful September morning.

two way arrow road sign - Version 2
Recently I ran across portions of my conversation with Lisa just a couple weeks after losing Todd. Her grief was painstakingly fresh yet her words comforting.

“If your perspective is only on this life and you are holding onto your little world at all costs,” she explained, “that’s going to be a very fearful thing. Anything can impinge on your security or threaten it—especially terrorism. Despite all the best efforts of our government, we will always be vulnerable in some places.

“Most people’s knee-jerk reaction to the events of September 11 was to look to something higher than themselves—go to church or a prayer service—and I think that’s an indication that people deep down know that this isn’t all there is to life,” Lisa continued. “It’s easy to forget about those deeper issues when life is good, but when a true crisis strikes and people’s earthly security is knocked out from under them, that God-given desire for looking above yourself and beyond yourself comes through.”

What wise words from a newly widowed 32-year-old—a pregnant mother suddenly raising two small boys on her own. Fear hisses when our circumstances spin out of our illusion of control. Fear claws into our thoughts and hunkers down until we look above and beyond ourselves. This 180-degree change in perspective happens when we train our eyes to view the needs of others around us and steady our focus to “see things from [God’s] perspective (Colossians 3:2).

As Lisa reminds us, “If your perspective is only on this life,” fear will eat away at the best of you. We won’t all be called to bravery at 36,000 feet like Todd Beamer. But we can start rolling today with looking above and a beyond our fears right in front of us.

Brave and Resilient Tip #83: Fear dissipates when you look above and beyond yourself.

Step by Step

The following are insights by guest writer Nancy Parker Brummett. 

One thing I’ve learned volunteering with older adults is that it’s not how fast you go that matters. It’s putting one foot in front of the other, taking one step at a time, and enjoying the trip along the way that makes a long life worth living.

On the days I lead a Bible study hour at an assisted living facility, I always have to go around and gather up the residents, even though the activity is clearly listed on their weekly calendars. (Hey, I understand. At that age I wouldn’t want to look at a schedule either!)

senior womanOne of my first stops was always Lou’s room. Usually I would find Lou reading a book, thumbing through a magazine, or just lying on her bed gazing out at the mountains she loved. As soon as I asked her, “Do you want to go to Bible study?” she would say, “Oh, sure!” I would help her find a sweater and one of the two canes she kept stashed around, and off we would go down the hall.

But we were in no hurry, believe you me! Lou would always stop to chat with anyone she saw along the way. Poking her head in to the facility’s beauty salon, she’d tease anyone who was getting her hair wound up in curlers, or compliment anyone who was almost finished getting coifed. As we passed through the dining room, she’d stop to chat with a resident sipping the last of her morning coffee, or pass out a hug or two to the staff.

I so loved having Lou in class. She really sang the old hymns with gusto, and once suggested that we all march around the room singing “The Battle Hymn of the Republic”—and so we did—canes, walkers, and all! The very last time I entered Lou’s room, she was stretched out on her bed under the covers, but this time she wouldn’t be going to class with me. She had just gone to be with the Lord! I felt so blessed to be able to tell her goodbye, pray over her, and see such a peaceful look on her face—with just a hint of a smile. All I could think was, “Oh, Lou, now you are walking on streets of gold, and greeting everyone you meet with a holy kiss!”

I miss my friend. But her bravery in old age, resilience, and willingness to just keep putting one foot in front of the other day after day, will inspire me always. Step by step, Lou finished strong, and made it all the way to the throne room of God. By His grace, so can we all.

Brave & Resilient Tip #64: Our life’s journey is taken step by step.

Nancy Parker Brummett just published a collection of the lessons she wrote for her class in the assisted living facility. The Hope of Glory: A Devotional Guide for Older Adults is now available in print or eBook format on Amazon and is excellent for anyone over 65 and for leading groups in elder care centers or enjoying meaningful visits with older loved ones.

Tough Cookie


Tough Cookie (tuhf kook-e) — noun

  1. Someone with just the right mix of sweetness and strength.
  2. One who doesn’t crumble under pressure.
  3. A courageous one who’s too busy pressing on to sit down and cry, but knows it’s okay to do both.
  4. A person who doesn’t always ask for support, but has lots of friends who would do anything to help.

Chocolate chip cookies pile on wooden table

A friend recently sent me this spot-on definition of a tough cookie and  I immediately thought of how these words also describe a brave and resilient person. Oh, how I want to model the “right mix of sweetness and strength” and not “crumble under pressure.” I appreciate the ability to be assuredly noble and be one who can cry—and even do both at the same time.

So next time you get ready to make a batch of cookies or munch on a batch, raise a cookie in honor of your bravery and resiliency. You are both, whether you’re courageously moving forward or leaning on others for support.


Brave and Resilient Tip #34: Be the type of tough cookie who is the right mix of sweetness and strength.


Bravery Through Ashes

Although many of us have never experienced a devastating house fire or a raging wildfire like the ones in the past year that destroyed nearly 850 Colorado homes close to where I live. We all understand ashes in our lives, we’ve all sifted through the powdery fine cinders of burned up dreams, jobs, relationships, finances, or health. We all know what it feels like when unwanted soot descends upon our lives.

IMG_0259Yet amid the embers of disappointment and the rubble of loss, many of us have also experienced a fresh wind, a new beginning, a depth of bravery and resiliency beyond the vestiges of our own strength, our own determined will to keep moving forward.

You may be familiar with the words of the prophet Isaiah who described God’s promise of “a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning” (Isaiah 61:2-3).

Last year I took these photos in the initial weeks after the Waldo Canyon Fire roared into the foothills of Colorado Springs. Notice how the multi-colored pottery piece remained essentially untouched by the intense flames. Why? Because the pot had already been through the tempering fire of the kiln.IMG_0278

Perhaps you’re in the kiln right now or standing in the ruins.When you’re in the heat of things and the smoke hasn’t cleared yet, it’s hard to think of something good coming from the adversity. Yet, if you just hold on a little longer, the sprigs of something new, the bright colors of restoration will surprise you.

Isaiah also reminded us that that no matter how deep our pile of ashes or how scorched we feel, we are all God’s works of bravery and beauty. “. . .We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand” (Isaiah 64:8).

Brave and Resilient Tip #32: Bravery and beauty do arise from the ashes. 


What rubble are you sifting through right now in your life? How have you experienced bravery and beauty through the ashes?