I opened 2019 with a word of the year: FEAR. I wrote about wanting to face fear head on–face pride head on–and grow in my fear of God. How do we know when are truly fearing God? Do I have to feel the awe to be experiencing it? I don’t really know if I fear God the way I should even after this year.

However, my experiment, to ask myself the question, “What am I afraid of?” has had surprising results. As I look back over 2019, I see a startling number of firsts that I thought I would share with you all. They are in chronological order, a baker’s dozen to err on the generous side.

1. Made Sourdough Bread

I’ve written about that some already. I will simply say, “Do it.” (Also, there’s someone out in Western Canada who is still making bread with starter from the Klondike Goldrush days. How bizarre is that?)

2. Attended an Intervarsity Basketball Game

While on internship in January, I attended the Terre Hill girls match with another Mennonite high school. Intervarsity sports were not something I grew up with, so I was petrified as I drove into that parking lot alone and faced the great stone building filled with so many strangers. I followed the signs and eventually found the court, but I very nearly turned around and went back to my boarding place, even though I had driven half an hour to get there.

3. Attended a Black Light Party

I didn’t even know they existed until my acquaintance turned friend from teacher’s training invited me to go. Not only was this my first ever party conducted in near darkness complete with glow-in-the-dark beachball volleyball, but it was my first foray into Lancaster County Mennonite, young-adult social life. The really strange moment was when the lights went on again as we were cleaning up and I saw these strangers for real for the first time, though I had spent and evening playing, snacking, and chatting with them and viewing them through a glowing haze.

4. Climbed a Mountain

It wasn’t a particularly high one, but it was my first; and when I stood at the peak, I could look down one side into West Virginia and down the other at Virginia and almost be in two places at once.

5. Went Dumpster Diving

I am still a little sheepish that this makes it onto the list, but in the name of facing my fears and defacing my pride, I’ll put it here. In all honesty, I would not have had the nerve or desire on my own, but I joined a group of my fellow students in VA for my Easter vacation. Unbeknownst to me, they planned to survive much of the week on dumpster finds. That didn’t come to fruition. Instead, Brenda and I did some price-checking and brought home quality food for a good price. However, the one evening Christy, Verity, and I did find some flowers in a dumpster that with some pruning and arranging made two beautiful bouquets. This is significant because Christy had been wanting to get some flowers for a sick friend in VA but wasn’t sure if she could afford it. God gives flowers in strange places.

6. Saw and Chased a Scarlet Tanager

I never really noticed birds until I went to college with a die-hard birder. On a personal retreat day, I noticed this bright red wonder and chased it to get the best possible photo–without zoom. I noticed a pale yellow bird that followed it around. Neither of them seemed scared of me but kept flitting about chasing bugs amongst the lush green skunk cabbage. I asked my birder friend if he thought it was a scarlet tanager, and he said that it was and that the female tanager is pale yellow.

7. Graduated from College

I really have no words for how happy I felt as I crossed that stage, received my diploma, and stood with the rest of my class. I was a bitter-sweet tangle of emotions as we ladies all hugged each other and cried proud, happy tears. I was incredibly privileged to spend two years living and growing with those twenty wonderful people and their significant others.

8. Published an Article in a Magazine

I know I have many dear friends out there who passed this milestone years ago, but for me it was a significant risk. I honestly felt like I had something to offer, and I hope it can minister to those who read it. (It was later blogged by the same magazine, Daughters of Promise and you can read it there.)

9. Picked Strawberries

Again, I wrote about this before, but enough to say that it’s a sweet memory that I plan to repeat this summer.

10. Made Pesto

First, you wash all that extra basil growing in your mom’s garden, add garlic, lemon juice, pepper, coarse salt, and parmesan cheese. Then you toss it in a blender until it’s blended into this vivid, full-of-life green and–PESTO!—you have a delicious condiment that belongs on all kinds of sandwiches, wraps, and pasta.

11. Co-ordinated a Wedding Ceremony

This one was truly unexpected. I enjoy details and event-planning, but I still could hardly believe it when over supper with a friend’s family in PA, I was asked to co-ordinate her sister’s wedding. Where I am from, most brides hand their co-ordinator a binder the week/day before the wedding, and she just “reads hers script.” But after some communication and research, I realized there was going to be a lot more involved. I loved drawing diagrams for where the people were to stand, timing the entrances on the songs, and helping the family feel comfortable with their role in the processional. It was chaotic at times, but so worth it. The couple enjoyed their day and were so sweet and grateful.

12. Sent Music without a Second Look

This one was huge for me, though I don’t expect most of you to understand it. I have been composing music for around nine years now, but most of what has been seen by the public eye has been edited by me thoroughly even before I’ve sent it to a professional composer (Wendell Glick) for a final edit. This fall, I arranged a piece for my seventh graders and sent it whizzing off to Wendell without a second thought. Therefore, I was quite humbled as I played it on the piano a couple days later. “I sent THIS to him with all these awkward chords?”I laughed and shook my head. Finally, I had risked looking stupid–and survived!

13. Made a Leather Journal

It was far from perfect when it was finished. “Fragile” would be the word, but it was still beautiful, and I even gave it away. Therefore, I shall have to be making another sometime.

What is on the other side of fear? When we face it, we find reality to be more manageable, more adventurous, more rewarding then we could have ever dreamed.

Ps. Telling that to my future self.

What about you? What new things did you attempt in 2019? What are you going to do in 2020 that scares you?

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4 Comments on “Un-Afraid?

  1. I loved reading this list of firsts! Thank you for sharing. I really liked the thought of you quietly pursing the Scarlet Tanager. I also read your DOP article, and found it very inspiring. And that leather journal… wow. Just beautiful. You are a very skilled and courageous woman, my friend. Thank you for the reminder that facing fear is worth it.


  2. This is wonderful! Isn’t it interesting that at first you may think twice about doing something and after it’s over you say to yourself what was I scared about again? 😆


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