When Alarms Sound and You Want to Be Brave

Under a torn moon in a black sky, I push my cart. Groceries rattle against rustling paper bags.

I’ve been wondering this for several days now. How do we live bravely? That’s my word for the year: Brave. While I don’t think of myself as a fearful person, I’m realizing how often stories of great courage and realized-dreams involve pressing in and pressing further. In book after book I’ve read, inventions, breakthroughs, deep wilderness survival, and big accomplishments all have this choice: the decision to persevere, to keep going, to step out in trembling boldness. This belief that bold perseverance and dogged hard work can bring incredible results is exciting, transformative.

So I scribbled pen across lined paper, choosing my very first Word of the Year: Brave. I am challenging myself to step up, to take courageous steps, and to choose self-discipline bravely in the moments when I’d rather settle for easy. 

Photo Credit: Flickr user Tambako the Jaguar, Creative Commons cc license

Walking under a torn moon in a black sky, I muse quiet and push my cart, assembling words in my brain.

Wood-smoke from chimneys and charbroiled burgers scent the zero degree night. Fumbling with my fragmented car key fob, I’m hoping it’ll work after I dissected it in the supermarket to figure out which round battery it uses. Dark headlights stay unlit and the car remains locked, no matter how many times I press the unlock button on the small black fob. Holding breath nervously, I use my key to unlock the door, knowing the car alarm may sound.   It does.

Loud shrills accompany my flashing headlights now, rebellious and brash. Sliding into the car, I shuffle papers in the glovebox and pull out the vehicle’s owner manual. In slippery black and white striped mittens, I’m paging madly through the booklet, searching the index for words like “alarm,” “disarm,” and “security.” The owner’s manual slips and slides in my mittened hands until I sigh and whip off my right glove, still balancing the manual on my frosty car.

Forty-five minutes later, after phone calls home, random conversations with strangers in cold twilight, and warming up in Mark’s rumbling gold Saturn beside me, we figured it out and arrived home. Carrying fragile frozen paper bags upstairs, we put groceries away, and marveled at the fierce cold that had set in against green pepper produce, chilled milk, and deep into our skin.

Thank you, God, for cars that run; for Mark being able to repair the key fob under warm grocery store lights; for heated vehicles; for groceries to put away; for supper on a cold night; and for steaming hot baths that erase a sunk-in cold.

Where was the brave? I’m not sure. Persevering in negative two degrees, talking to strangers, and choosing to find thanks, maybe? May I start right here with you tonight? Laugh with me about my key fob dissections and pealing car alarms. I’ll open further and tell you that yesterday, I set off the smoke alarms at home while making pancakes. The worst part? This happens every time I make pancakes! I know.

And maybe Courage is to sit up and share our stories, whatever they may be today. I created a simple black and white chart for myself for the year. In each small box I am jotting a word or two to remember ways I chose brave self-discipline when I’d rather have settled for easy. I am happy to share this simple chart with you too. Feel free to download and share this chart with others.

What about you? Do you choose Words of the Year, or New Year’s Resolutions? Have any special January traditions? 

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  1. cabinart on January 6, 2017 at 4:43 pm

    Oh Jennifer, I get it. My key fob is held together with electricians tape and one of those zip-ties. When it is time to change the battery, I'll have to bring my husband along so that he can use tools to take it apart and tools to put it back together.

    I think you were very brave. Talking to strangers, staying out in the unfathomable cold (never thought about what happens to groceries in that temperature – I'm usually worried about things going bad from heat!), making phone calls, not giving up. . . most of the women I know would have just broken down in tears while on the phone to the Auto Club.

    I thought you were going to say that you prayed out loud to bind and banish all evil from the alarm, to silence the thing in the name of Jesus! Would that have been effective? It certainly would have been brave in a public parking lot!

  2. Unknown on January 6, 2017 at 5:02 pm

    I think you have a rare gift of seeing past the day to day setbacks that we all face. Using your free will to not only see the wisdom in the moment, but to not completely lose your temper is a quality that encourages others.

    I think that takes true courage and bravery to be able to control emotions when they'd get the better of most of us.

    I always appreciate peeking over your shoulder, and yes, sharing the day to day moments with others helps all of us.

    Happy New Year to you and yours!

  3. Cheryl Barker on January 6, 2017 at 11:49 pm

    Jennifer, brave is a great word for the year — and so neat that you're going to chart your efforts and be really intentional in applying your word. I think you'll really like having a word for the year. I've been choosing one for the past several years, and it really helps guide me at times. My word this year is trust. I blogged about it this week, too. I'm not sure what all the Lord has in mind in leading me to that word, but I'm sure I'll find out as the year goes along! 🙂

    Blessings to you and yours in 2017!

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