4 brave-making action steps

Sometimes when things hit hard and fast — like loss of health or financial security, loss of a home or a way of life, or loss of a loved one — there can be a tendency to wrap our lives tightly around ourselves like a security blanket and stay put; a tendency to not venture out because venturing out doesn’t feel very safe any more.



Photo credit: Pixabay


Two years ago this Memorial Day weekend, Hubby and I left a southern Oregon campground one day early and ended up in ER later that evening. It would be our last Johnson family reunion together.

Two years ago I remember thinking how hard it would be to attend this annual family event without my husband. And yet I knew I needed to.

So, if it’s more comfortable keeping to our nice, easy, safe routines, then why venture out?

Everyone will have a different answer for that question, but here’s my reason: I want to spend the remaining days of my life bringing hope and encouragement to others; I want to explore new places, make memories with the people I love, notice all the simple pleasures that make each day sweet; I want to live in a way that honors my Creator – the One who designed the priceless gift that is today.

So how does one go about building courage? Here are 4 action steps that worked for us:

1. Decide what you want to do.

This is more than simply drafting a Bucket List. You can certainly start with a Bucket List item. But rather than saying, “Someday I’d like to swim with dolphins, turn my place into a bed-and-breakfast, learn how to play the ukulele” – instead of having those loosely-organized ideas in the back of your head, start with one goal. Decide what you’d first like to accomplish or experience or learn.

2. Determine first steps.

Now that you know what you want to tackle, figure out first steps. One of the brave-making ventures I hope to accomplish this year is getting a book published. As a first step, I enrolled in Michael Hyatt’s Get Published course, which put me on track for determining the second and third and tenth steps.

3. Work in the direction of the vision.

Roll up your sleeves and show up. For me, this means putting in the hours writing. It means looking for avenues to be a guest blogger or contributing writer. It means not giving up when rejection letters spill into my Inbox. It means being available to do whatever it takes to help market the book.

4. Recruit an accountability team.

Tell the right people about your goal. Recruit friends and family members to be mentors, critiques, cheerleaders; enlist people who will hold you accountable: “Hey, how’s that book coming along? How many chapters have you written?”

* * *

And so this Memorial Day weekend, in the shadow of tall mountains and green trees, amidst much laughter and the chasing of grandkids, the Johnson family once again pitched a big yellow tarp over the common eating area, and sat around a campfire with camp coffee, and enjoyed good cooking, and organized water fights for the kiddos. One hundred nine family members, at last count.


IMG_8130 (1)

Organized chaos when you combine kids and water


And I showed up as part of my brave-making campaign.

There were people missing — this year the most irreplaceable person of all, Hubby — but always new little ones as the circle of life continues. And I found myself grateful to be included in a gathering of family with whom I share no blood, yes, even where great-nieces steal the very sunglasses off your face and claim them as their own. How blessed am I?



Photo credit: Linnea Worden


What about you? Has a circumstance in your life left you feeling not-so-brave? What could you (should you) do if you had a little more courage? What’s the first step in that direction?

P.S. If you found this post encouraging or helpful, please share, tweet or pin!


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  1. Kwanda McDonnell

    That you showed up to your reunion without half of your life is admirable!! Oftentimes after loss, it feels hard to,”fit in again.” Taking the chance and showing up with your loss was salve to your soul. You are an inspiration!!

  2. Eileen

    So uplifting and always enjoy your advice. Thanks

  3. Martha

    Marlys, It would have been our loss if you had not come to family reunion. I enjoyed our talks, and your bright smile and focus on living to the fullest was an encouragement to me. Thanks for posting these thoughts.

  4. Susan Causey

    It was so good to see you and chat even if it was a short visit. Kudos to you Marlys….you are a hero to all of us. Praise God for your courage to live on purpose in spite of the pain of loss.

  5. Sandra

    Loved your blog Marlys. ❤️

  6. Kristen Stevenson

    I really enjoyed reading this blog. You have always been a strong Woman of God and by you sharing what you face is an inspiration to many & am really glad you asked me to read it. Thank you Marlys you are incredible!

  7. Barbara


    I look forward to every new post and find inspiration, strength and hope in your blog. . You have touched my life. . And I thank you for finding the courage to do this. . A few years back I went through a divorce that was not my decision, . It left me in a state of profound loss and grief. . Most of what you write applies to my situation as well. . Your life is a blessing to others and I am so grateful for you.

    • I can’t even begin to imagine the sense of loss and grief of a divorce, Barbara … especially one that wasn’t your decision. Wishing you courage and grace to live forward.

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