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.

whiteflowerdrops

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.

kite

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.wordpress.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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The Answer…

red rose     All of heaven must have held its breath.

The Shepherd was now the Lamb, going to be sacrificed.

I’ve learned something recently. Without even realizing it many of us find our self-worth in what we do. We spend lifetimes doing ‘things’ to earn another’s love, approval, appreciation, complements.

Then comes a time where an injury or an illness or some life event prevents us from the usual ‘doing’ – and we’re lost. We’re ashamed. We’re worried we will lose the affection of the ones we’ve always ‘done’ for, or that they will be disappointed in us, or that we are making their lives harder.

My head knows that this is not true, my heart even knows, but somewhere along the way my soul lost touch and got duped into believing the lie. The lie that if I don’t ‘do’ then I have no value.

rose dead

The deceiver, the enemy of our souls, is the master of deceit. And oh so very patient. Years of relentless messages aimed at our soul – ‘no one will care unless you do this’, ‘you’re letting everyone down when you can’t do that’, ‘even God can’t use you unless you do this better’. And so we push ourselves and we think that we are being selfless and find out that really, all along the ‘doing’ is about self.

Our souls instinctively search for the truth. Knowing that all the ‘doing’, while admirable or maybe even necessary, isn’t where our value lies. The Truth is our worth is in Christ alone. He chose to die for us, He chose to redeem us, and He chooses to spend eternity with us. And when we live our lives to please Him – all the other falls into place.

Self-worth is not in what I can do – it is in what He has done!

Jesus

Stop – do you sense it? Easter comes but once a year. The remembrance of the greatest sacrifice ever made, that ever can be made, that ever will be made. You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.” (Romans 5:6 NIV) Just the right time. He knew You before the creation of the world, He knew your place in time in this world, He has a grand plan to use you for good in this world – but none of it depends on you. For everything that had to be done has been done.He said, ‘It is finished!’ Then bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.” (John 19:30 HCSB)

Now we get to partner with Him in bringing glory to the Father and lost souls to the Truth. The Answer to all the ‘doing’…

Happy Easter, He is Risen

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Long Look…

chair sunflowers pixax     Brave comes when words are controlled.

Brave is often defined as bold actions, but perhaps its more that fruit of the Spirit: self-control. More harm has come to weary hearts from sharp tongues than from actual punches.

“Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” (Proverbs 16:24 NIV)

honeycomb

Jesus always looked long into the eyes and heart of those He encountered. He made that connection before He spoke. What if in this world we looked long enough to see the soul before we judged? This will not happen much on this side of eternity, but maybe if it happened a little more often brave would come without fear. Courage would be found in en-courage-ment. Words meant to give courage instead of cause division.

Palm Sunday is a few days away – it commemorates Jesus riding into Jerusalem receiving the praise of the people along the way. But those with the power to help or harass wanted praise only for themselves. Words were used for lies and treachery and the One who came to redeem and heal, was betrayed.

palm pixa

As we prepare to celebrate Easter we must remember His story is: Come, See and Go, Tell. Take a long look into the life of the One whose words healed hearts and beckoned us to go tell all about the good news.

“Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.” (Ephesians 4:29 NLT) Oh we are a work in progress but with each triumph blessing will come not only to the hearer but to our weary hearts as well.

Come, see, look long – go, tell; your Savior reigns and He will return for you…

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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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Gathering Place…

bench pillows pixa     There is a place, a gathering place, it is calm there and peace whispers your name with love.

Don’t need to travel far but you have to turn away from the day to day to find it. It’s as close as a deep exhale and as far as the heavens that stretch into eternity.

“He tends His flock like a shepherd; He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them close to His heart; He gently leads those that have young.” (Isaiah 40:11 NIV)

Close to His heart, gathered in His arms, the gathering place…

pink sunrise pixa

Can’t see it, but we can feel it. Can’t be lost in it all the time, but we can never leave it. This place, the heartbeat of Jesus, is at once where our head lays and where we find brave for our next step of faith.

We’re there when all the world is shut out and we lay bare our hearts seeking His wisdom, His grace, His healing, His power, His forgiveness, giving thanks in all circumstances.

We’re there when open in our laps is the Word of life, living and active, new every morning mercies, the answers before the question forms.

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There’s a great song by Casting Crowns ‘Just Be Held’, the chorus reminds us Who gathers us close:

So when you’re on your knees and answers seem so far away
You’re not alone, stop holding on and just be held
Your world’s not falling apart, it’s falling into place
I’m on the throne, stop holding on and just be held
Just be held, just be held

“I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.” (Isaiah 46:4b NIV)

This, then, is how we Live Brave: in our weakness we let ourselves be gathered to the heart of our Sustainer. We surrender our effort to the timing of our Rescuer. We lift up our eyes and empty our hands of control. The Gathering Place, tell everyone about it…

man on hill pixa

 


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Wings of Brave…

hummingbird pixa     The lady hawk circled in the bright blue sky. Wings not moving but a dance of flight floated her here and there – aloft, enjoying what she was made to do, no struggle, no purposed outcome.

I wondered how it is birds soar around the sky like that, seemingly no effort. Turns out that the bird depends on external forces called ‘thermal currents’ –  rising masses of air that form over areas where the ground warms up rapidly. When this happens, wings outstretched, a dance of complete freedom occurs.

What would it be like to acknowledge and depend on God – truly. Instead of with head knowledge, or with want to, or with should – but with surrender. To depend on the current of His Holy Spirit flowing through me, His love coursing through my veins, His security lifting me in a dance of freedom.

bird soar pixa

Too much time is spent trying to reason out things beyond our understanding, to make fit our molds things that can’t be held. The Father resides in me but is bigger than the entire universe? The creator of all bends low to comfort a questioning heart? The one who is already beyond today hears the prayer of a moment of panic? Too wonderful…

“Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.” (Psalm 139:6 NIV)

COSMOS PIXA x

The hawk doesn’t figure out first how it works to soar without effort, she just takes flight and when that just right draft comes up she loses herself in it. Our days will require much of us – hard times will mingle with the happy. Too many of us seek to define each and every action. But there is freedom in those moments when we feel the lightness of a load being lifted to just let go and not question. When an unexpected gift comes our way, a phone call of a friend distracts us, the beauty of creation catches our eye – soar on the moment.

We know this: “The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and His ears are attentive to their cry” (Psalm 34:15 NIV) – but we don’t live it.

To live on the wings of brave isn’t more effort on our part, it’s knowing Him and catching the updraft of the current of His love instead of ignoring it…

CROSS PIXA x

 


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Give Brave Away…

flower hand pixa     “Sometimes there are days where it’s braver to give your brave away.” Aliza Latta

Hope. With earth eyes we don’t see it, but with faith eyes we sense it. Some days we are focused on what will be, confident in One who loves perfectly our imperfections. Others have us staring into what seems hopeless and we are again adrift, flailing and wondering why we even hoped.

This world wants to define us, box us up, categorize us. But those defined by the promises of God can’t be held captive in the world’s definitions. Who living only for this life can say: I am forgiven, covered by grace, rescued, secure? But those and more are the promises of God.

daisy pixa

When faced with the widower freshly having buried his wife, the daughter missing her mother – it is to us to hold out our brave. When seeing animals cruelly treated, the child sold into human trafficking – our brave must be given. When depression steals humanity, when illness steals vitality, when brokenness threatens to swallow all hope – we must share our brave.

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1 NIV)

He hears our cries – He is mercy, grace, righteousness, refuge, peace – and does not change. When we get lost in all that is wrong He calls out that someday all will be right. When we tremble with strength long gone He beckons to look beyond and see joy and remember the promises. “And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us.” (Romans 5:5 NIV)

woman praising pixa

Though we are in this hard world  we are not lost – but some are. Our brave comes when we see what He puts in front of us instead of turning away, turning to self and circumstances. Bravely speaking what we know to be true, deciding to trust. She who is brave is free – no longer captive to what threatens. Free to proclaim He is with us.May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13 NIV)

Not our power to change the world or one soul, the power of God to use us to reach the world or one soul. When we surrender our lack of courage and trust in the brave that is beyond self we are truly free. Somedays we just need to give our brave away…

hippo pixa x


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Willing…

joy pixa x     Someone recently said ‘What if we’re only as strong as we are joyful?’

The more I thought about it the more I realized that, despite whatever the circumstances, when I choose joy, I feel stronger. It is in those times I am surrendering my will knowing that God is in perfect control. I may not be happy, but happiness and joy are two different things.

“Courage is not the absence of fear, but the willingness to move forward with God.” Pastor Matt Price Joy strength isn’t dependent on me – no amount of ‘chin up’, ‘push through’, ‘just do it’ can make a difference. But willingness can make the difference – the difference between discouragement and direction, the difference between worry and wisdom, the difference between self and surrender.

railroad me x

But moving forward is where we often get stuck. Stuck in the past or in the now – stuck in our abilities instead of relying on God’s. We go about our days drawing on our strength. Yet we’re told “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (1Corinthians 12:9 NIV)

There’s a song by Lauren Daigle, Trust In You with this chorus:

“When You don’t move the mountains I’m needing You to move
When You don’t part the waters I wish I could walk through
When You don’t give the answers as I cry out to You
I will trust, I will trust, I will trust in You!”

mountain pixa

So we must keep an eternal perspective, because our hope is not in this life – it is in our eternity. While today’s mountains may seem insurmountable or the agitations may cause us to stumble, they are only temporary. It is hard for us finite humans to rest in an infinite God, but to Live Brave we’re only called to take one willing step at a time and to remember: “If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied….But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1Corinthians 15:19 & 57 NIV)

Strength in joy and courage to be willing to move forward with God, hope for today and all our tomorrows…

girl in field pixa x