31 Days · Intentional Living

Brave the Stay {#write31days}

Brave scares me. It makes me dig into times I’ve been brave and times I haven’t, and look at the choices in front of me now. As crazy as it sounds…right now the “unbrave” choice in front of me would be packing a bag, boarding a plane, and heading back to Africa. The brave decision? The one I’ve unwillingly made and have tepidly committed to? It’s staying here, in my hometown, and committing to live the next few years here.

I never wanted to stay here. Like many young people, when I graduated from high school, I went off to college and never intended to like in my hometown again. I would spend my college summers there, and visit my family, but I would never live there again. I knew I was made for more than beat-down, going-nowhere, hometown life. And if I wound up there someday, I had failed.

I was focused on getting out. And after graduation, I left. I moved to South Africa with the Peace Corps and didn’t look back. I knew that after the Peace Corps, I would likely end up in Washington, DC, or down in Houston with my sister. Not back in small-town Iowa. Anywhere, but not there.

Then God brought me back.

I thought it was just for a season. I was injured, and recovering at home was a blessing after being abroad for two and a half years. I figured I would stay for a few months, work through physical therapy, and leave. Nearly two years later, I’m preparing to move into my own home this weekend.

Brave the Stay


Early this year, I was faced with the decision to leave or commit to staying. And oh how I wanted to leave. But I knew that was not God’s will for me. So I chose to brave the stay.

[bctt tweet=”I finally let those firmly held roots burrow down deeply into the small town soil.”]

You see, brave looks different for everyone. But I always thought my brave was working abroad. And I still have a heart for it. But now, for this season and the foreseeable future, I am committing to brave the stay. I may have been brought to my hometown accidentally, but I am staying intentionally.

Brave the stay doesn’t just mean living here. It means fully investing in this community that is winning my heart. It means getting into the trenches to help build up a beaten-down place.

[bctt tweet=”It means getting involved and living full-out for God right where you are.”]

It takes a lot of bravery to be a missionary in a foreign country. But it takes a whole lot of bravery to be a missionary in your hometown.

Maybe your brave decision is to go. But perhaps, like me, it’s to brave the stay. And maybe you’re fighting hard against that calling because you equate staying to failure.

Hear me now: You are not a failure. If you are living the life God plans for you, there’s no way you can fail. So embrace that brave calling to stay, and let God make the most of it.


This post is part of my #write31days series for 2015: Living Brave. Each day in October, I will be posting about living brave and what that looks like in everyday life. Curious about 31 Days? Check out the website and the hundreds of other bloggers joining in this year: 31 Days.

31 Days: Living Brave


29 thoughts on “Brave the Stay {#write31days}

  1. It takes a lot of bravery to be a missionary in a foreign country. But it takes a whole lot of bravery to be a missionary in your hometown.

    SO VERY TRUE. Proud of you, Jen, for hearing and heeding!

  2. Isn’t it funny how God can call us to things we never thought possible, even something as simple as staying in our hometown. I guess we should never say never!

    Prayers for you in braving the stay!

  3. Super post. It is reinforcing what God is really bringing home to me this week which is that I don’t have to have a huge platform in order to have a big impact. I had thought that, after my first husband died and my youngest child graduated high school, that I would go and do missions work somewhere. That is not what God had for me. He has online missions work for me — where so many people flock when they are troubled and looking for answers. It is, for me, the harder thing to do so I get what you’re saying. I love your obedience.

    1. Shelby, I pray God blesses you in your ministry and encourages you as you embrace plans you never intended for yourself! God can do amazing things, with big platforms and with small ones.

  4. This is so true. Although I’ve moved a lot, my job is humble and i”ll never famous, but I try daily to live God’s plan for me!
    Be brave – and God bless!

  5. I love this, Jen! And yes, I’ve been there too–one of the BEST choices I ever made was to stay home from the mission field one summer–actually writing about it tomorrow! Your words are an encouragement to me 🙂

      1. Alisa, your words are super encouraging! I’ll have to click over and read more of your story, because now I”m intrigued. And of course you can link over to here, if you wish. 🙂

  6. Beautifully written, Jen! You articulate the struggle so well. Well done, for being obedient to God’s will for your life during this season. You are making a difference, and your town and community are blessed to have you.

    1. I’m super blessed to be here, and it’s awesome to watch God work in this town. I’m excited to see what He does!

  7. Just happened to read this and can SO relate–in fact, my entire series is about returning from China and my struggle with being there vs. here. You should pop over when you get a chance–I think we’d have a lot to talk about! 😉

    1. I’ll have to stop over Leslie…my series last year for 31 Days was Moments in Africa, and it sounds like we had very similar topics, just different countries!

    1. Missions in the mundane….yes. I love it! Definitely a huge ministry to those around us, and to ourselves as well!

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