Friday, January 3, 2014

Fearless // #making2014count

"'Conceal, don't feel, don't let them know'. Well now they know. LET IT GO. I don't care what they're going to say. // The fears that once controlled me can't get to me at all. Its time to see what I can do, to test the limits and break through. I'm free. LET IT GO. // Here I stand, in the light of day. Let the storm rage on; the cold never bothered me anyway." // disney's frozen


In 2010 I graduated high school and proceeded to make two brave decisions: first, to not go to college & second, to move across the country and be a part of the first class (the "guinea pig" class as I called it) of Ellerslie in Windsor, CO. I was seventeen years old.

Every graduate knows the pressure of impending freedom from studies and the accumulated burden of expectation to step up and make something of yourself in the world immediately. I had a limited vision for my future and wasn't sure what I was "doing with my life" but along the way two factors helped me weed out opportunities and simplify decisions: first, if I knew that the seemingly logical investment in a future would ultimately be a waste of time toward pursuing the vision for my future, and second, if I sensed that the Lord was directing me in a way, regardless of how appealing or not it appeared to me. In this way I slowly became braver, explored more, took crazy opportunities, and traveled along a narrow path with one constant Companion. I only completed two semesters at Ellerslie when I knew it was time to move on. Against my personal inclinations but in obedience to the leading of the Lord I studied, tested and received a real estate license and worked for a year as a personal assistant to a Broker in Eau Claire. I was eighteen years old. I wondered what I was doing with my life.

The fall of 2011 I was still living at home. I was working but I had time on my hands, no "life", and saw the need for structure, accountability and encouragement in my siblings' independent studies. I volunteered to teach them for my mom while she worked full-time. I didn't realize just how challenging it would be to carry the weight of expectation I was taking on. It was crazy hard. I was nineteen years old.

For two years, as stresses and burdens accumulated, I did the brave thing and soldiered on, teaching + working + living at home + dreaming big. In 2012 I traveled to France by myself to visit a friend. Later that same year I finally made it to India after months and months of praying + waiting and then praying + walking forward in faith. I was twenty years old. The vision for my future was growing sharper and I could tell that change was coming.

January of 2013 I prayed about what the Lord had for me to walk forward in, what the change was that I sensed on the horizon. I don't recall how exactly I knew, but clear as clear I knew that He told me two things: that I would have a house of my own & that I would have work that I would love. He had been tuning my ear to His voice and conditioning my heart to ready obedience and firm faith, preparing me to walk forward in His vision for my future regardless of how unattractive, risky, hard or unknown the way looked, since I finished school -- since birth, really -- and now He was giving me promises to see fulfilled by exercising that faith and obedience.

The house came immediately. I was a homeowner by February. Between the project of remodeling the Little House, finishing up the school year with the kids, struggling to regain the health I had lost to extreme stress and wrapping up a year of working for my Dad (designing marketing materials) in readiness for the next job I would be transitioning into, plans to serve as a leader on the summer youth group mission trip was on the back-burner of my mind. I knew that the Lord wanted me on that trip to Denver, clear as clear, so I was fulfilling my pre-trip responsibilities for it and praying for the team as He prepared us for what He had in store, but that was it. Denver was just a detail off in the distance to me.

My house was nearly ready for me to move into, I was waiting to discover this job where I would find the work I would truly love, and feeling expectant about the simplicity of independence and the fresh slate of "beginning" a life on my own. But Denver came first. The day before we left I remember thinking it was so weird that this trip was preceding my new life. If my faith and obedience failed right then of course I couldn't back out -- however unimportant to my vision for my future the trip suddenly seemed. Truly, His thoughts are far above my own. Our God is SUCH a detail guy. Just when you think you understand the purpose He had behind a time or circumstance you travel a little further with Him and He opens your eyes to even more scope. He doesn't waste anything.

In Denver I met a man. In my year of promises this was not one I was believing for. The Lord drew us together unmistakably though and the friendship that ensued has refined me and drawn "whole Chelsea" out like nothing else. Although I have been a "big girl", handled increasing responsibility and done many brave things throughout my life, I've still seen myself as a scared little girl at my core. That isn't who I was created to be though. Zachary recognized that I wasn't all I was made to be and his gentle, persistant and bold friendship has been used to reveal and to heal and to draw out the woman the Lord created me to be: fearless. It has blown my mind that the Lord, whose hand in my life I am so familiar with now and whose whisper does not fall unrecognized upon my ear, can operate as precisely and personally in my life through the life of another flawed human being as He does just by His Spirit.

The elements of the future I had envisioned for myself aren't preserved in the Lord's unfurling plan, because even the biggest dreams I dared to dream are far exceeded in His plan and are orchestrated together gloriously by my masterful, thoughtful and flawless Father. When Zachary and I talked on the final day of the mission trip I remember telling him, with the joy of surrender causing me to jabber excitedly, that I was so convinced that the Lord's will was more desirable for each and every little area of my life than anything I could dream up that I was keeping my hands open on each piece of the independent life awaiting me when I got home from Denver. I didn't imagine that Zachary would be my friend throughout the journey of moving, settling in, opening my home to a roommate and to the Junior girls of Bethesda, getting a regular job, etc. Nor did I imagine that I would be along for the crazy ride of the hardest semester of his college career. A very intentional long-distance friendship wasn't what I expected to walk away from Denver with. It was all Him. And its risky and hard and full of unknowns, but He is in it and on it and all over it which has freed me to be fearless in it.

While we both knew that our relationship was intended to be long-distance during his first semester of his senior year, as I prayed about the second semester it seemed that the door was open to be closer for those final months. Not because Zachary asked me to come and not because I just got it in my head to go, but because the Lord opened the door and seemed to say, "You have two opportunities: you can either stay in the comfortable though trying long-distance rhythm you two have found or you can go on a wild + risky adventure, move to a new city, realize the fulfillment of My promised 'work you'll love' and have the chance to do-life with Zachary more face-to-face and shoulder-to-shoulder than you can from home, which will carry with it it's own challenges and comforts."

Something tells me that He knew, He knew that He'd worked enough fearlessness in me that I would jump at the chance for an adventure so full of craziness, wonderfulness and His constance. In the wise words that my Bible study leader from my senior year sent me off on this #newjerseyadventure with this morning: "The older you get the more secure everything becomes. I wouldn't trade it now that we're here, but I kind of miss that stage of life that was full of risk and adventure. You're free! Now is the time to have those adventures."

This twenty-one year old is packed and ready. The road is practically rising up to meet me! At my coming-of-age party when I was twelve my Dad blessed me with that well known Gaelic blessing, "May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind be always at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face; the rains fall soft upon your fields. And until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand." Looking back, the years really do fly, and all the times I wondered what I was doing with my life, the Lord was doing so much in and through it. Now here we are, tomorrow morning I drive away from home and begin this adventure, and I've realized that with the Lord there is much less starting + stopping, succeeding + failing, than there is just continued growth + pruning, resting + moving on. So while it feels like I'm just now "doing something with my life", like my life is just "beginning", its not true. I've been living all along, I've just changed along the way. "We all change when you think about it, we're all different people, all through our lives. And that's okay, that's good; you've got to KEEP MOVING." // the eleventh doctor

So here is to 2014 >> a year of fearless living, brimful of the wild and the wonderful. 


"You walk me to the car and you know I wanna ask you to dance right there, in the middle of the parking lot. // I dont know how it gets better than THIS: you take my hand and drag me headfirst, fearless. And I dont know why but with you I'd dance, in a storm, in my best dress, fearless. // In THIS moment now -- capture it, remember it. 'Cause I dont know how it gets better than THIS." // taylor swift


  1. Oh my, I absolutely LOVED reading your story. Not many of us have the courage to against the "norm" and follow our hearts... and well, you do!! I absolutely admire you for listening to your calling and doing what you felt like God was leading you to. I am praying that I will understand His plan for me. I so badly want to do His will and expand His kingdom! Happy New Year, Chelsea!

    Beautiful photos, btw - I have never seen snow like that! :)

    1. Thank you so much, Victoria! The Lord *loves* to lead us into all He has. I've found He does this through leading us deeper into Himself, getting our hearts and minds in sync with His and teaching our souls to abide by choice, because theyre in love with Him! Expectant for you, dear and cheering you on!

  2. love this. such honesty in the words you right. you are BEAUTIFUL!

    1. Oh, thank you, Amber! The word "honesty" was very affirming. :)

  3. soooo beautiful. Wow. What a story. Praise Him! Thanks so much for checking out my blog, and I'm so excited to have found you. Your photos are gorgeous and so is your blog. Well done, my friend. // Jenna

  4. Fearless is a great word for twenty fourteen, so inspirational. You have such great faith, I'm sure there are many great blessings coming your way in your year of fearlessness.

  5. I love your beautiful heart, Chelsea Mills. I truly treasure this far away friendship that we have.

    "He who has begun a good work in you will finish it...."

    And if this is the beginning, I cannot WAIT to see the rest!

    <3 you!