Updated: Apr 14
By Dr. Helen McIntosh and Blythe Daniel
God's Brave Women - Helen and Blythe's Story
There is a great song by Bethel Music titled, "You Make Me Brave" and its words are so powerful. It’s one of our very favorites, and it has hit home with me (Helen). It's personal now. I need to choose "brave" every day, every hour, as a moment-by-moment choice. Underneath our showing or having courage is first our choosing to be brave.
That's our target. And guess what? It's something we can do--really. It's tangible. Not just pretty and fluffy words or positive thinking. I am accessing some news ways God is helping me to be brave, and I hope they will help you in the season you are in. My dear daughter Blythe is also being brave as she watches me wear brave.
Just days after Blythe and I began to take photos for our book, I found out I had stage 3 Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma. The cancer is gone--can you picture us jubilant?! But the after effects of chemo and Parkinson’s combined have been so hard. I still walk only with assistance. Many other parts of me were altered, including my voice. I wake up needing to be very, very brave. This very week I have had some new challenges emerge. But I am already ready, and here is my strategy.
Remember the section in Joshua 1:3-9 where God said wherever His people put/set their feet they would be on land that He gave them? He gave them dominion, and He waits for us to walk in faith as well. It is a visual truth. I can choose to believe to move into His/my territory every minute.
Today I was extra weary as I exited the passenger seat of the car; but I said, "Lord, you have given me the authority and legal right and dominion over this space. Will you give me the physical strength?" And I did it! He is teaching me to push through and break through normal limits.
"Lord, you have given me the authority and legal right and dominion over this space. Will you give me the physical strength?" And I did it!"
God has a great sense of humor. Recently, I felt strongly that He told me to order some cowboy boots. I didn't know until they arrived that they would be great to walk in! The most steps I can take by myself are in those cowboy boots. Even better - they help me feel BRAVE!!! I grew up with cap guns, cowboy boots and hats, and my Father God knew my heart would smile in those boots! My best reminder of God's love and His desire to make me brave are those boots! Wherever my foot goes...
A word about truth. For years I have counseled those dealing with depression, fear and anxiety with a special reframing strategy God gave me. Now I practice it personally more than ever in the days I feel shadowy. There are some times when personal shadows lurk in our souls. Thoughts we’ve held onto, a looming darkness that feels hard to break through. How do we overcome the dark clouds?
Picture a left-hand column of thoughts and feelings. Put 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 at the top. We're about to bring every thought captive!
The right-hand column is the truth column. The verse at the top of this section is John 8:31-32 about the truth setting us free.
Take one thought or feeling - no matter how irrational it may seem – and write it in the left column.
Then ask God to show you His truth about that thought or feeling. Write it down in the right-hand column!
Now for the hard part: staying on that channel! When the dark days come - go back to what is true and you are free.
When I was a school counselor, there were some students each year with high anxiety that they were not going to make it home on the school bus. I let them name all of their thoughts and fears on their left arm (they couldn't read yet!) and then we put the TRUE things on their right arm. I instructed them how important it was to stay in the truth arm. And if/when they found themselves in the left arm thoughts and feelings they needed to camp on the truth again. I would see their smiling faces later in the day as they would hold their right arm up and say that's where they were camped. They were jubilant and… free. They were still facing the bus-ride home but now they were brave with the truth.
We are to camp out each day in God's truth, aren't we? We know the verses. We know He is our hope. We just need to stand and assume our authority. This is a strategy to be brave in our own heart/mind and self-talk. So, what about being brave with others?
One of the ways that Blythe and I have encouraged women to be brave is to think about mending their relationships with their mother/daughter/daughter-in-law/mother-in-law (and others). In Mended: Restoring the Hearts of Mothers and Daughters, we share some relationship principles and conversation starters to bravely offer repairs in these often stressful but important relationships.
Mostly, we want to wear Jesus, but you might want to picture something (like my boots!) that helps you to feel brave. For these brave conversations you might want to say, "I know our relationship isn't where we want it to be. What do you think we need to do to make things better?" Another idea for walls of unforgiveness is, "I see I have hurt you by __________, and I am so sorry. Will you forgive me?" That first step is huge, isn't it? But, God is there. His words are best if you ask Him to show you what to share. He will make us brave in both our inside words and those we give to others.
"God is there. His words are best if you ask Him to show you what to share. He will make us brave in both our inside words and those we give to others."
Mom is right! We have worked to find the truth in our thoughts, be mended in our relationship, and be brave to speak up with each other. Mom didn’t have the opportunity to have a close relationship with her mom, and she made the decision not to repeat the patterns before her. Her mothering of me has given me an example to follow of healthy respect and conversation, rather than stuffing what you are feeling. It has opened the door to many conversations based on how we invite the other to speak. One of the things I think is brave is to ask the other person what they think needs to happen for you to feel close again or what change needs to happen in the relationship. This can start out by saying to your mom or daughter that you want to ask her forgiveness for words between you or for the distance. Who is in the stronger place to initiate forgiveness: the one who has erred 5 percent or 95 percent? Maybe we were only 5 percent wrong, but we can initiate peace--always. God is our example. He reconciled us to Him through His Son, Jesus, who paid for our lives through His death. His resurrection is the reason we can have restoration.
These days being brave with Mom looks like not being afraid to speak up, walking some harder places with her and being there for her right where she is. We are choosing to not allow these things to steal our joy. Joy can’t be stolen when it’s not a person, place or thing. But when joy is God living in you, it can come as an expression between you and your loved one.
"Joy can’t be stolen when it’s not a person, place or thing. But when joy is God living in you, it can come as an expression between you and your loved one."
If you aren’t sure where to start with your mom or daughter or perhaps someone else you are thinking about, what if you said these words to begin a conversation: “Despite our differences, I do choose/want to have a relationship with you. Our relationship is far more important than our differences to me.” Maybe the other person is actually right or maybe you are, but it is always right to honor the relationship. We encourage working on the brokenness in a relationship because it involves reconciliation with the other person. Honoring your mother or daughter does not mean you stuff down all the pain. But you are making the relationship a priority despite differences.
"Honoring your mother or daughter does not mean you stuff down all the pain. But you are making the relationship a priority despite differences."
I know it’s brave to say this to a loved one. Perhaps writing an email or text is your next brave act. Even if the other person doesn’t reciprocate, you have bravely done your part in coming out from the shadowy thoughts and have moved closer to the one God is calling you to mend with. We can always be mended to God even if we aren’t mended to another person. Each day is a chance for a do-over, and I know I sure need it! Will you join us in wearing brave today?
About Helen and Blythe
Blythe Daniel is a literary agent and marketer with 20 plus years of experience in publishing. She links hundreds of bloggers with readers through BlogAbout. Her passion is helping authors share their unique stories. She is the daughter of Dr. Helen McIntosh and co-author of Mended: Restoring the Hearts of Mothers and Daughters. She lives in Colorado with her husband and three children. Feel free to visit www.theblythedanielagency.com for more information, as well as their book's website at www.ourmendedhearts.com.
Dr. Helen McIntosh (EdD, Counseling Psychology) is a counselor, speaker, educator, and author of Messages to Myself and Eric, Jose & The Peace Rug® and co-author of Mended: Restoring the Hearts of Mothers and Daughters. Her work has appeared in Guideposts, ParentLife, and HomeLife magazines. She resides in Georgia with her husband Jim. They have two children, son Bryan and daughter Blythe, and five grandchildren.
Their book Mended releases next Tuesday, April 9th! You can pre-order your copy on Amazon today by clicking HERE.
Make sure to check back next week as another courageous Sister shares her story!
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