living braver

one faith step at a time…


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Change In The Air…

door     Living Braver has been a journey. As I recognized fear had become my default reaction to difficulties I knew there must be a better way.

Fear hadn’t always been such a close companion. Through a barrage of situations spanning just a few years, it sneakily crept in. As I set out on this journey my goal wasn’t so much to focus on fear but its opposite: bravery.

Perhaps the way to not holding my breath or getting lost in ‘what-ifs’ was to find brave steps leading to freedom.

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That’s what the past eighteen months have explored. At first these were basic baby steps. As I discovered fear and brave didn’t have as much to do with me as they did with my relationship with God, faith steps emerged.

Will there ever be a day you and I are never afraid? We all have doubts, anxieties, worries. What we’ve discovered together is that it isn’t the absence of the trials of life. It’s not a new found I can handle this. It is the ever present Holy Spirit and our totally relying on a Father who can handle it all.

“Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.” (1Peter 5:7 NIV)

When my focus began to be more and more about ‘this isn’t all there is’ and that no person, no difficulty, no injustice – nothing – can touch my eternity, finally a new perspective came.

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Suddenly it seemed liked clouds parted and all the wonders of God’s promises burst forth and crowded each week’s writings with hope. A hope that will never fade, spoil, or perish. A true treasure.

“An inheritance that can never perish, spoil, or fade – kept in heaven for you.” (1Peter 1:4 NIV)

My prayer is that this journey has helped you, pointed your vision upward to where your help comes from. If I can pray for you or share with you, please email me.

You can continue to read my wanderings over at my original site: http://parisrenae.com. In the near future change will be coming to that site with a fresh new look. I would love to have you ‘follow me’ there. May the God of all grace and peace guard your hearts and your minds, Paris Renae

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Light Load…

 feather hand pixa  How do you carry? With arms bent in weight or hands lifted light? Is it even to us to carry?

The world has not changed much over the last couple thousand years. Jesus commented of those who were the rock stars, political leaders, ‘respected’ of their day “They tie up heavy loads and put them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them. Everything they do is done for men to see.” (Matthew 23: 4 NIV)

What loads are we carrying today, ones others put on us – ones we’ve picked up ourselves. The world is a heavy mess, it will always be til the return of the Savior.

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There is really only one burden we need carry “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest…rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30 NIV)

But what to do with all the weight we feel “Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.” (1Peter 5:7 NIV) Even in this, no conditions. It doesn’t say ‘then He will care for you’ it says ‘because He cares’. Already done, regardless of what we do. At the ready to lift us up, enabling us to carry Him with us and to others.

An alcoholic spouse, a wayward child, a dementia bound parent, unfaithful friend, lost job, ill health, these are not ours to carry. Cast them – heave, thrust, toss, hurl – really, just let go of. These are things best carried in arms bigger than ours.

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So I’ve found in sitting next to the death bed, speak of Him. In fear of losing all, lift up Him. Take the worry and heave it on Him in prayer. Take the fear and hurl it on Him with lifted eyes and hands. Take any regret and thrust it on Him living for now, not then or when.

Deep breath before the appointment, quick prayer before the reaction, song of His in our soul when laying down, Word buried in heart to start each day. These are light and lift our hands, arms are freed to move beyond our heaviness and quickened to carry Him to another burdened soul.

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If you stopped by because you read my devotion today over at Encouragement Cafe, WELCOME!   So glad you are here!

 

 


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Looking Up…

white daisy pixa x     Going on a trip usually sounds exciting. We make our plans and then as the time approaches we begin to second guess. Thoughts swirl ‘what if something goes wrong while I’m away’, ‘what if it’s not fun like I thought it would be and I wasted a lot of money’, ‘I would rather just stay home, I love being home’…

This is where I sometimes find myself –  when I’m looking down, inward – letting worry, lack of confidence, fear have its way.

Then I am reminded “I lift up my eyes to the hills – where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.” (Psalms 121:1-2 NIV) Look up, above all this, look up – not to self, not to what circumstances are trying to convince me of, not letting fear be my master.

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When I look up, the ten hour drive becomes adventure instead of anxiety. The unfamiliar becomes a memory maker instead of a courage taker. When I look up my eyes are lifted to my Confidence, to the One who wants to show me new things and grow my bravery. Emily P. Freeman recently said “I’ve learned that God is not a great travel agent, but He’s a fantastic traveling companion.”

This is what I find when I’m looking up “I sought the Lord, and He answered me; He delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to Him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.” (Psalm 34:4-5 NIV)

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Whether I am home in my little safe place or out on the road to adventure, He is right there. Travelling this life with me and knowing that if I will just look up He will be able to make the impossible possible through me. For God’s ways will always prevail regardless of whether I step out with Him or not. The question becomes will I be involved in His glorious plan, or will I play it safe?

May our outlook for the journey – to the grocery store or a thousand miles away – be held by His gaze. May we step out with these words echoing through our hearts “Look to the Lord and His strength; seek His face always.” (Psalm 105:4 NIV)

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Favor Moments…

castle in chair pixa x     ‘Bestow favor’ always brings to mind a picture of someone setting a crown on my head or handing me keys to a castle or something fanciful. To be granted favor seems so big and so undeserved.

But I need favor, in the moments when I teeter between making decisions… Moments when I feel torn between right and wrong… Moments when anxiety and doubt paralyze…

“May the favor of the Lord our God rest upon us; establish the work of our hands for us.” (Psalm 90:17 NIV) Rest upon us… So we can go about our moments with favor extended to others. So we can leave behind the negative self-talk with favor extended to self. So we can trust in the midst of the hard moments God uses all for the good of those who love Him.

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Like drops that slowly fall become puddles, so our moments become life. I want mine to add up to ones that show His favor resting on me. But how, especially when moment to moment things change so quickly? “Look to the Lord and His strength; seek His face always.” (Psalm 105:4 NIV)

Always…In all ways – seek His face and His strength. In the moments of this day – not yesterday’s and not tomorrow’s, but in today’s – may the moments that make life be ones filled not with my disquieted heart but ones filled with assurance and hope. “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful.” (Hebrews 10:23 NIV)

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Faith-full – when we are faithless, caught up in moments of uncertainty, still one thing is always certain – He is faithful and His promises to us are forever.

I found this, no author name, but it came from the blog Share Inspire Quotes: “Happy moments, praise God. Difficult moments, seek God. Quiet moments, worship God. Painful moments, trust God. Every moment, thank God.” A lifetime of moments spent like this would indeed be a life that has the favor of God. These are Favor Moments

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If you stopped by because you read my devotion today over at Encouragement Cafe, WELCOME!   So glad you are here!

 


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Chooseday…

white flower pixa x     Ever rescued a frog from the swimming pool? He got himself in there, but he can’t get out – and though he can swim, he can’t swim forever… So I take my net and scoop him in – but he hops back in the water before I can toss him in the grass. We do this ritual a few times before I win.

How many times has our Father tried to scoop us out of what we think seems like a great pool of fun? He tries and we hop right back in – we know best…

We start early in this knowing best – as a toddler we choose the ‘no-no’ thing and our mom swats our bottom, teens choose to try the forbidden and consequences teach them (or not), and so it goes.

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At some point we stop hopping out of His safety net, that day is Chooseday. “Now fear the Lord and serve Him with all faithfulness…then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve.” (Joshua 14:14-15 NIV)

But Chooseday becomes every day of the week when we walk in the courage of our Rescuer. Choosing to stay in His net or hop out and try it our way again. “He brought me out into a spacious place; He rescued me because He delighted in me.” (Psalm 18:19 NIV)

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Delighted in me? Yes, because dear one, once you chose His Son, no amount of net hopping will make Him give up on you. You are a cherished child, needing your bottom swatted now and then but delighted in by a Savior ready to lead you in the way everlasting…

“See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:24 NIV) We have many offensive ways, we live in a world of offensive ways, hurting hearts all around us. Chooseday is all about Living Braver as we empty ourselves of offensive ways and forgive the offenses of others…

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Stilled…

tea cup on bed with book pixa x     I do not sit still long – to watch a movie is a challenge…well I watch it, I’m just not glued. That is the world we live in – demanding movement. Movement means accomplishment, accomplishment equals…worth??

The endless lists call, our minds drawn to what’s next, next, next… Anxiety sets in, what if I don’t get this done, what if I…fail?

The voice of the world, the ruler of this world, the enemy of our soul – always accusing ‘I knew you wouldn’t finish’, ‘You never had the skills to begin with, what were you thinking’, ‘Getting noticed, getting the raise, getting the contract – that means something’… And we fall for it.

“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out wicked schemes.” (Psalm 37:7 NIV)

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Still brings slower breathing, slower prayers. Still brings a lap for little ones to sit in, brings a shoulder for loved ones to lean against…

Amazing, the God of the universe who makes each next breath possible doesn’t need us to ‘accomplish’ to make the world better. But He does need us to be still that we can be better for the world. How if I’m so busy in my busyness, running from all the past and all the worries, how can I ever Live Braver if all I have to give is my fixes?

Emily P. Freeman said in her newly released book “People don’t need a fixer, they need a journeyer.” A journeyer – someone to come along side and see how the hand of our Father holds us steady even when the ground around us gives way. A journeyer – someone to sing His praises when our voices falter. Oh, Father, let us not be fixers – for ourselves or others – let us be journeyers… useful in Your hands because we have learned how to be still.

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“Be still and know that I am God, I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” (Psalm 46:10 NIV)

How will He be exalted if we are the ones getting the attention as we fret over our worth — how will He be exalted? When His children are stilled knowing “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear.” (Psalm 46:1 NIV)

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If you stopped by because you read my devotion over at Encouragement Cafe, WELCOME!   So glad you are here!

 


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Away from me…

applex     I think I could walk with a lot less fear if I could just get over me. It’s as old as time… Eve feared she was missing out on something, so she took matters into her own hands – all about Eve, and Adam right there with her, eager to see what he was missing, all about Adam. And so it goes in our world, all about self – and so sin abounds…

When we have our temporary moments of walking selflessly and life becomes more about another, our anxieties seem to disappear and a brave we never knew takes over. Think about the times you brushed off a skinned knee, handed a homeless person money, helped an elderly person in need…Out of the element of self we walked in courage.

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“If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself,’ you are doing right.” (James 2:8 NIV)

A sweet husband, father died tragically last week – car accident. At his memorial it was clear he had touched many lives. It was clear he spent himself on others, and lived courageously as few of us do.

This morning it rained good and hard, much as I love waking to a sunny, blue sky, sometimes the rain has to come. Sometimes it takes a drenching, cleansing to reveal the Light… “When Jesus spoke again to the people, He said, ‘I am the light of the world.” (John 8:12 NIV)

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When we wash away self out of every thought and fill up on His every thought, we can see more clearly…

“You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see more clearly…” (Matthew 7:5 NIV)

Away from me I can see Him more clearly and see others the way He sees… Will I reach out to the stranger who could be in a car accident today with the Good News of salvation, or do I keep it to myself? A hurting world full of self needs a few who can, even temporarily, be brave enough to see beyond our own doubts, anxieties, worries – and offer hope for theirs…

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Insignificant…

ladybug21     Do you sometimes feel that you don’t matter, not really anyways? Like if you stopped doing what you’re doing, no one would notice. Moved, no one would care. Or maybe they would notice but not for long…

Insignificant begins with the letter I and our focus when feeling in the doldrums of ‘nobody really cares’ is centered on ‘I’.

We live in a stressed out world. Life moves at lightening pace. So there are times when nobody does seem to care. Bible teacher Nancy McGuirk said “God is the only person in the world who wants to hear all your concerns.” (underline mine) So just how insignificant are we? The God of the universe wants to hear all

“Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.” (1Peter 5:7 NIV) He cares for us, He doesn’t want us burdened in the gloomies of ‘no one cares’ and ‘I don’t matter’. Can we escape anxiety? Probably not, but we don’t have to carry it, He asks us to cast (to throw off) our anxiety – even if we have to do it again and again each morning or each moment.

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“Do not define yourself by your circumstances, let His love define you.” (Ann Voskamp) When we let the unpaid bills, the broken relationships, the bad childhood, the addiction, the boss’ criticism, the ‘whatever’ define us, we are forgetting WHOSE WE ARE.

The God of the universe defines us – We Are His. “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.” (Colossians 3:12 NIV) You are chosen, you are holy not because of you but because of Christ, you are dearly loved.

There is no insignificance in a child of God. You cannot begin to know His plans for you, to use you to touch another life. Yet how does he want you to touch that other life? With compassion, with kindness, with humility, with gentleness, and with patience. The same way you want to be touched in this moment of flailing and questioning.

Remember: “It’s not about doing things for God, but about entering into what God is already doing.” (Emily Wierenga) Don’t try to ‘do’ things for God, enter into what He is doing and you will never feel insignificant again…

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Stress Less…

Stress Less2          Stress, pretty much an overused word – as if the very act of living would be anything but…

Why are we so surprised in a fallen world that we find the events happening around us, the changes occurring constantly, and our personal sagas stressful?

“Dear Friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you.” (1Peter 4:12)

Stress is part of life – yet maybe we can stress less? When the bills pile high, when the winter flu keeps you down, when you’re late for work – it is our response that will determine our stress level.

Our response… Will it be worry? Fretting? Defeat? Depression? Anxiety? A challenge for you today… Will you let it be gratefulness for the blessings all around? Will you let it be forgiveness of the trespass of another? Will you let it be a lifting of your eyes to the only true source of stressing less?

Right now whether you’re stressed or not choose a response and practice it. Then practice it again. And when, dear friend, that stress creeps up and makes your hands shake or makes your breath short, you will be ready to respond. To Stress Less requires a response uncommon in this world we live in:

“Be joyful always; pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1Thessalonians 5:16-18 underlines mine)

Stress gives way when we choose a response that brings light to the darkness of stress – the light of joy, the light of prayer, the light of thankfulness…

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It’s Not Just Me…

Not the only one1     Lost in memories of the should haves, could haves…the why didn’t I, wish I would have… The voice deep within wondering would things be different if I had – or maybe if I hadn’t?

Oh, yes, it’s not just you… We all, in those moments of anxiety – in those pit in the stomach times, wonder…

That is satan’s ploy when he has nothing left or even when we’ve given him plenty to work with, it is his desire to make us look back, cast eyes inward, let fear lead…

“Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” (Matthew 6:27 NIV)

Our Father tells us today is what matters… Will you make a difference today? With the broken life, with the child off course, with the troubled marriage, with the addiction… Today is the day for cans and wills and doing. For it is only in today that we can step into tomorrow without the wondering… “Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:34 NIV)

Oh, Father, don’t let us add to the troubles of this day by living in yesterday… Let us lay the wondering at Your feet… “Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.” (1Peter 5:7 NIV) Did you catch that – not if you do this He will care for you, do this BECAUSE He cares for you…

To Fear…Less is freedom – the freedom found in trusting in His care…