living braver

one faith step at a time…


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For You…

Perhaps you are living in or with fear – perhaps you don’t use the word ‘fear’ – maybe worry, doubt, dread… I’ve been there, sometimes I still settle there. This site is a little dated, but if you need to journey out of the place that seems dark and make your way to the light, scroll way down and peruse a few of my walks through the hard. Then visit me over at http://parisrenae.com and sign-up to follow me as we explore together our crazy world and God’s plan for you.


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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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Less Travelled…

convertible canva x     Do you ever dream about travelling…in a convertible…on back roads…sun shining, light breeze – no worries behind or ahead…

That is someday…for those who believe because “Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1 NIV)

For now, we live in a broken world. Faces needing to see in our eyes f a i t h… When the brokenness of health lost, relationship shattered, money lacking is reality, will we still lift our eyes, in faith, knowing that in this world we will have troubles?

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Faith is not something we have to muster up. Did you know that it’s a gift? Everything we need is given by the Giver of all good things, even f a i t h… “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV)

Is today a day where you’ve wandered…away? We will have our faithless times – our questioning thoughts, our doubting fears, our d.i.y. ways. 2Timothy 2:13 NIV tells us “If we are faithless, He will remain faithful.”

Take the road less travelled…The one that others pass by thinking it will rob them of the thrills, of the perks, of the good life. Easy to perceive the emptiness of the well travelled road… Look in the eyes of those on it – is there hope in those eyes, is there freedom in those eyes?

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The road less travelled leads to peace in the chaos, joy in the heartbreak, calm in the storm. The world says power/money/sex/prescriptions are the answer. Do the eyes of those who have the world’s goodies shine with confidence or shadow with doubt? (look past the make-up and the photoshopping)

“Faith does not eliminate questions. But faith knows where to take them.” Elisabeth Elliot  Got questions? He has answers when we walk hand in hand with Him. He is the One who will be with us til the very end of the ages – and the One who will welcome us into eternity…where all will indeed be well…

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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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Toward Who…

daisys in vasex     Away from self means towards Who? Oh how our tendency is towards what we can ‘see’, what ‘seems’ safe, a sure thing, painless, our comfort zone…

Of course the opposite is towards what is unseen, what ‘seems’ risky, the uncertain, the costly, the uncomfortable. In those times we learn “We live by faith, not by sight.” (2Corinthians 5:7 NIV)

More often we are “like sheep going astray,” (1Peter 2:25a HCSB) When a sheep wanders, that’s when it’s in danger, no protection of the flock or from the shepherd. No direction to where food or water is. No voice to listen to for guidance…

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Those of us who deal with doubt or fear really like the word ‘certain’. By definition it means: known for sure, established beyond doubt. “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1 NIV) Faith is how we ‘see’ the only One who never lets us down, faith moves us toward our Hope. When we move in faith the second half of 1Peter 2:25 above is true:

“but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.”

Our Shepherd guides us in the right direction – the Defender, Protector, Keeper of our very souls speaks quietly to us through His living Word and in those moments when we hush enough to hear…

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“Faith does not eliminate questions. But faith knows where to take them.” Elisabeth Elliot

Oh yes, dear one, you and I we will question, we will doubt. But our comfort is knowing where to take that question, that doubt. Deep breath, lifted eyes, surrendered heart – certain peace, certain joy, and certain scarred hands carrying us through each day…

A beautiful line from the song Your Great Name by Natalie Grant “Every fear has no place at the sound of Your Great Name”. Toward Who? The Name above all names…

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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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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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I In the Middle…

heart cementx     Ever feel stuck – in the middle. Between scary and bold, between fear and brave, between self and God?

Reminds me of something the author Max Lucado once pointed out: sIn. In the middle of the tiny, big word is I.

Such a small word, big enough to destroy an Eden man and woman. ‘I’ always makes a mess of perfection…

Between scary and bold is I saying: I can’t, I won’t. Between fear and brave is I saying: I’m not good enough, I don’t trust enough. Between self and God is I saying: I know best, I’ve got this.

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Stuck in the middle – the middle of the pain, the fear, the doubt. Sometimes in the middle of the good, the plenty, the blessing. I demands it’s way in the bad and the good because, as always, I looms large when it’s on it’s own…

sIn is always self and self feeds on our weakness. We need HIM. The I in the middle of HIM is the great I AM. With HIM the difference between scary, fear, self – and bold, brave, God – is the I AM…

This is what the Lord says – your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go. If only you had paid attention to my commands your peace would have been like a river, your well-being like the waves of the sea.” (Isaiah 48:17-18 NIV)

Mmmm, peace like a river – abounding, running on and on, not ending. As Alicia Bruxvoort said in a post I once read: “Even if you know the ending, the middle can still hurt.” But remember, nothing is waste with God. The messy middle is for us to use for Him.

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This side of eternity our sinful self will never be completely gone. But maybe crossing from the middle to Him will be quicker, less stressful, more comforting when we remember we are no longer slaves to sIn – we have been set free…

For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by Him we cry, “Abba, Father”. (Romans 8:15 NIV)

Father, we want Your peace like a river…

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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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Future Tense…

booksx     Remember grammar in grade school? You had to learn tenses of verbs – present, past… future?

Most of us live in present or past – what if we live in future tense…

A much loved verse:For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” (Jerimiah 29:11 NIV italics mine) When someone has plans they are not for yesterday or this moment, they are for the future. And, oh the awesome plans our Father has for us…

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Trials are no surprise to God, though they catch us off guard, He is always there knowing what we need to weather through – our part…trust…

There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off. (Proverbs 23:18 NIV italics mine) Hope – for the future – what, or better Who, is it based on?

Our Savior Jesus Christ – a solid foundation of hope that never disappoints…

Instead of living in the yesterdays of my regrets, in the turmoils of today, I want to be living in the future – but how? Though it sounds contrary the future is here, now, and it is still to come – Jesus has died (past tense) that I can have His Holy Spirit in me now (present tense) and I already have the guarantee of eternity (future tense).

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What would our living be like if we lived in the future now – there would be no need to fret, worry, doubt… My last breath here is followed by my first breath in eternity – just like that, no gaps, no questioning at some pearly gate. May I live each breath now that others can see the Hope and I can rest knowing the future hope is mine already…

“Whatever is not eternal is eternally out of date.” C.S. Lewis

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You liar…

stormx     Going about my days lately I thought I had this new sense of courage and contentment, maybe I was finally getting it… then something happened that made me plant my feet and shout ‘no’, ‘I won’t do that’, ‘I can’t’, ‘it’s not safe’, ‘what if it doesn’t work out’?

And there I was, all the stuff I thought I had shed was bubbling out, demanding an answer. The question: ‘Do you trust Me?’ – ‘Yes, You, I trust Lord – I just don’t trust the person asking me to go along with the scary thing’ – and I tried to pretend that if I protested enough, I could get my way, I could stay in the safe zone, and I could go back to my few minutes ago courage…

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Doubts crept in, my head was saying ‘you know this could work out really bad’, ‘put your foot down, don’t do it’ – I so badly wanted to pay attention. Then my heart said pick up your Bible and the defenses I was trying my best to erect began to look like unbelief. The deceiver wanted me to handle things the way I’ve always done it – my way. My Father didn’t want me to handle it at all, but put it in His hands…

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him…” (Romans 15:13 NIV)

I had to say to the tempter, the one who holds out the tantalizing lie of ‘you don’t need God for this, handle it on your own’ – ‘You liar!’ Listening to the lie would have rewarded me with worry, lost sleep, conflict. Listening to the lover of my soul rewarded me with confidence that I wasn’t in control, but He was and I needed to trust… “…so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13 NIV)

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When what we have, or the fear of losing it, becomes our god, we lose sight of what we truly have – assurance that no matter what happens in this world, whether in our control or not, this is temporary – eternity is forever and that can never be taken from us.

Things may work out the dreaded way we fear they will, but we don’t have to lose our peace and joy when we cling to our hope – the unfailing love of God and the knowledge that “in ALL things God works for the good of those who love Him” (Romans 8:28 NIV caps mine)

 daisyx

 


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Can We Count the Ways…

letters with heart1     This week is all about love, right?

Read a mushy love letter lately? Don’t get many of those in our lives, some never get any. But wait…

There is a letter written to us, one big love letter from beginning to end… How does He love us, can we count the ways?

It starts with all creation – created with the love thought in mind of how each critter, flower, star would bring us pleasure…

“So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” (Genesis 1:27 NIV) After He created everything, He created man and set him among all creation and blessed him. No blessing is mentioned over anything else.

This precious letter walks through all our failings and still shouts ‘you are mine, the apple of my eye’…

“Keep me as the apple of your eye” (Psalm 17:8 NIV) The apple of his eye even before we took our first breath.  “Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you” (Isaiah 43:4 NIV) Precious not because of anything we’ve done, loved just because we are His…

Then, incredibly, the ultimate sacrifice of love is made while we were still rebelling. Love ran blood red, darkness loomed, then burst forth the light eternal – and love gathered us as a lamb lost and alone, being carried back…

heart with starburst1

“For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.” (1Peter 2:25 NIV)

This love letter ends with the powerful, yet tender words of eternal love, of never being separated again, of joyous moments together forever, of the return of the lover our very soul…

“Now the dwelling of God is with men, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelation 21:3-4 NIV)

“Count the ways He loves you, and you know Who you can count on.” Ann Voskamp The ways He loves us are too numerous to count, but we can count on Him through every fear, trial, doubt…

Happy Valentines Day…

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D.O.U.B.T.

butterfly4555     A word we are familiar with: doubt… Plans piled high in our hearts – that never quite make it beyond the dreams? To do’s piled high on our desk – wondering which should be done first? Disappointments laying all around – not wanting to add to the pile?

When doubt clouds the view, push away the curtains with His Word… Are you familiar with Job? His story often brings dreary thoughts. Job said at one point when all seemed like loss “My days have passed, my plans are shattered, and so are the desires of my heart.” (Job 17:11 NIV) Doesn’t get much lower than that…

When friends and wife told Job ‘Give it up’, still Job would not doubt God. He would question, yes, but he would not doubt God was in control. The book of Job ends “After Job prayed for his friends, the Lord made him prosperous again and gave him twice as much as he had before.” (Job 42:10 NIV)

When in doubt don’t leave prayer out. God is not a magic genie and prayer is not a magic lamp, rather God is our hope and prayer is our blessing. I love these lyrics from a song by Francesca  Battistelli:

     When I fix my eyes on all that You are     Then every doubt I feel     Deep in my heart    Grows strangely dim     All my worries fade     And fall to the ground     Cause when I see Your face     And don’t look around     Any place I’m in     Grows strangely dim…

D.  desiring

O.  only

U.  ur

B.  blessing

T.  today

When in doubt, let’s fix our eyes above, on the author and perfector of our faith – lift up prayer and feel blessing rain down – blessing isn’t dreams come true, to do’s finished, disappointments fulfilled… Blessing comes when our desire is His best for our day (knowing that sometimes His best for us will be a storm, sometimes a rainbow)…

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