I laugh in the face of fear! Ha!

So Sam and I were channel surfing the other night and came across the new Fear Factor. For those of you not familiar with it, you’re not missing anything. It’s basically a game show for really unique people who do crazy things to win lots of money. For one challenge, the people had to drink a bug latte—basically a warm drink made up of stinkbugs, flies and worms, with some curdled milk for that added touch of yum.

Sam asked me if I would be afraid to drink bugs for a lot of money. I waved her off. “Fear? I laugh in the face of fear! I’d guzzle those babies.”

She rolled her eyes, “Of course you would, Mom.”

She had me pegged. Not even for fifty grand.

We changed the channel.

Fear. I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately—mainly because I’ve been revving up for this triathlon I told you about a few months ago. I registered. I bought cool triathlon books. I asked for triathlon gear for Christmas.

But when I envision the actual race, these are the pictures that come to mind:

I put on my ever-so-flattering wetsuit and inadvertently stand next to a race champion. Photojournalists start clicking photos and there I am in the background, unsightly bulges making front-page news.

Everyone jumps in the water and starts swimming the reservoir loop. I jump in and because my right arm is stronger, start turning left. My fellow triathletes complete the course and I end up in a mountain stream heading north.

I finish the swim and climb on my bike. I’m wearing those fancy bike shoes that clip into the pedals—only I can’t unclick them and I fall over to the side, tearing a whole in my fancy riding pants while knocking down and ticking off very serious and muscular triathlete women.

Or the officials head home before I finish the race and I get lost and eaten by a bear.

These are the kinds of fears that plague me.

Part of me was thinking I should maybe find a different goal, a kinder gentler pursuit like raising baby rabbits or starting a collection of teddy bears. Maybe I’m just not cut out to be the rugged athletic sort.

But the other part of me thinks this would be a very good stretch. Get me out of my comfort zone. Cause me to embrace my bold and adventurous side. Get me healthy as I pursue iron girl status.

I think my God is encouraging me along the same lines. While fear of drinking bugs is wise, fear of challenging myself is not. The same courage it will take for me to put on a wet suit will be a model as I encourage young women to be comfortable in their own skin. The same focus it will take for me to swim straight is the same laser focus I will need to finish this next book I’m working on. The same “I’m a serious athlete, don’t mess with me” biking tactics will give me the courage to stand for purity and faith when others are telling me I’m off my rocker. And the health that will come from this pursuit? Will give me a couple more decades to do the things God has called me to do.

Not a bad deal after all.

So I’ve decided that for a Birthday gift this year, I am going to give Jesus my fear. I don’t know what it will look like—maybe wrap up a stinkbug as a symbolic gesture? I’m sure He’d LOVE that.

And what about you my friends? What gift will you give him this year?

Time to put on my big-girl boots

We’ve become pros at picking out a Christmas tree from the Wal-Mart parking lot – check in the back of the lot, look for vibrant colors and pray for clearance tags… but this year our family decided to brave the frigid mountain air, the wild animals and the snowy pathways to cut down our very own live tree.

Oh yeah, baby.

I donned my rugged big girl boots (and my long underwear) and Brian, Sam and I climbed into the truck. We picked up our good friend Andrea and stopped by the permit office. The city wants you to cut down trees to help with fire control, but you have to get a permit and pay $10 per tree.

Brian went in and came back out smiling. Sam asked him what was so funny.

Well, Brian explained, the woman had given him a stern look and asked, “Do you have 4-wheel drive? Chains?”

Brian had laughed (his manly laugh, I’m sure). “No, 2-wheel drive truck with no chains.”

She had raised her eyebrows. “It’s bad up there. The roads are like this—“ she’d made a triangle shape with her hands, indicating lots and lots and lots of snow. “So you’ll probably slide off the road and get stuck.”

Brian told us every detail of the conversation with sheer little boy giddiness—nothing like some danger, ice and snow to make his day. “I told her she didn’t know what kind of driver I was… that we’d be just fine.”

Sam piped up from the back seat. “I don’t think you should have told Mom that conversation, Brian.”

He looked over at me and I plastered a grin over my look of wide-eyed fear. “Sliding into a ditch? Getting stuck? No problem. What’s Christmas without a little adventure?” I hoped no one would notice that my voice was several octaves higher than normal. I was really just trying to drown out the crazy woman inside my head: We’re going to die. We’re going to die. We’re going to find the perfect tree, cut it down, load it into the truck and then slide into a ditch and die. Oh yeah baby. Merry Christmas.

We stopped by Lowes to pick up a saw. Brian was on the phone, so I confidently picked out the biggest saw I could find. He shook his head as he pointed to a saw half it’s size and twice as thin.

Seriously? I mouthed.

He nodded.

We’ll be up there for days trying to cut down a tree with that thing, the crazy woman said in my head. Did you bring any food along? You’ll probably starve. Or freeze. Or freeze AND starve. That sounds like loads of holiday fun…

The sun was shining brightly and the temperature was heating up. I could see water on the sides of the roads as we cruised up into the foothills. Maybe it would all melt?  Oh Lord, let it all melt. We made our way higher and higher, to the area of the Christmas trees.

The roads were fine.

My mountain man’s driving was perfect.

The company was fabulous.

We found the most beautiful trees, and it took all of two seconds to cut them down with the saw Brian had picked out.

Two seconds.

We did it!

We didn’t starve. We didn’t freeze. We didn’t die.

I’m sure there’s a lesson for me to learn in all of this, so I’ll be sure to think on it. But for right now, there’s a cool mountain tree that needs decorating and a rugged mountain man that needs smooching.

And yes, I think we’ve found a new tradition.