In the Presence of Courage

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By Jerri Kelley

Where we live there are dragons. Some folks call them hot air balloons, but if you’ve ever heard them breathe, you know they are dragons.

Semper, our Lab mix, is afraid of dragons.

She is afraid of most things.

She wasn’t always that way. When she first came to live with us, she was fearless. She would tromp through grass taller than her, wade into water deeper than her, and face down monsters bigger than her. She wasn’t afraid of the dark or new things or…well, anything really.

She loved adventure. She loved riding in the truck, going new places, meeting new people. She was feisty and curious and happy.

But then she changed.

She spent too much time with her sibling, Millie, who was afraid of everything, and Millie’s constant fear took its toll. Negativity and fear can do that.

Our fearless Semper became afraid of thunder, afraid of riding in the truck, afraid of going new places, afraid of every noise, every person, everything not in her house or her own backyard. And my joyful, fun-loving pup became…all things not that.

Then Patton came.

And he is fearless. He loves to go in the truck, loves new people, loves new places. The world is a grand adventure, and he wants to know every bit of its goodness.

He isn’t afraid of dragons.

He rushes out the door and stands against the fence barking at them wildly, his tail wagging all crazy. Then he turns to look at me, joy all over his face, and his eyes wide with wonder. He can’t figure out what those fantastical things are, but they aren’t in his yard because he is fearless and chased them off, and goodness, he is proud of himself.

Semper hides in the house.

At least she did.

About a year after Millie walked the rainbow bridge and took her fears with her, the dragons came again. This time Semper didn’t hide in the house.

Four dragons floated over our neighborhood, and Patton stood fierce against the fence making sure they

knew whose kingdom this was.

And there Semper was.

Right beside him.

Voice loud, tail wagging, eyes clear. Face filled with the joy of courage that faces dragons.

When the dragons had drifted beyond our kingdom, she turned and looked at me. She wasn’t sure what those fantastical creatures are, but they weren’t in her yard because she was fearless and chased them off.

Patton wagged his tail and licked her face.

She stood taller. Her head and tail high, no longer tucked.

Goodness, she was proud of herself.

And I see her. The fearless Semper she used to be.

“Have I not told you?
You are strong and courageous.
You do not need to be afraid;
there is no reason for you to be discouraged,
for I, the Lord your God, am right beside you, being courageous with you, showing you how it is done, standing against all those dragons that come at you and threaten you and those you love, and I will stay with you wherever you go and whatever dragons you face.”

—Joshua 1:9 (The Patton Version)

Courage isn’t always a feeling. Sometimes it is a presence we step into. @JerriKelley14 #ACFWBlogs #writetip #ACFWCommunity Click To Tweet

Hi! I’m Jerri Kelley. I’m a writer, speaker, encourager, inspirer, and Jesus-lover. If you ever need a reminder of who you are or whose you are, I’m your girl. If you ever need to know you’re strong, you’re needed, you’re valuable, or you’re enough, I’ve got coffee. Let’s talk. 


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