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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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…

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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…

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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.

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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)

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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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The Reason…

sun leaves pixa x     Thank you, Father, that when all seems wrong – You are still right. When all seems out of control – You are still our Rock. When all seems to overwhelm – You keep us steady.

Here in America we are about to set aside a day to give thanks – but throughout the world over, all have reason…

Our very breath, our life, and whether we have much or little. Whether this world has been kind or brutal, still we have reason…

“For in Him we live and move and have our being.” (Acts 17:28 NIV)

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Living Braver at this time and in this place, wherever we may be, is acknowledgement. Acknowledging we have a God who knows no bounds to the love He has for us, no bounds to His power, no bounds to what He has in store for those who believe.

“He holds victory in store for the upright, He is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, for He guards the course of the just and protects the way of His faithful ones.” (Proverbs 2:7-8 NIV)

Is our walk blameless? Are we just? Are we faithful? In and of ourselves – NO. But we have such a great salvation that in Him we are blameless, we are just, we are faithful. What a mystery – we mess up everyday, we are so unjust, and we waiver in faith moment to moment. But greater is He who is in us – and it is through Him that the Father beholds us.

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“We are courageous because Jesus breathes bravery into the core of our fearful bones, and when we take a terrifying step toward the place we believe Jesus wants us to be, we’re living testaments of an audacious God.” Aliza Latta

Living testaments – you and me. Let our testimony be that of unending thank-full-ness. So full of thanksgiving that we overflow into the lives of others. Though hurting may we still show joy, though worried may we still impart hope, though anxious may we still share our overflowing blessings.

Thank you again and again Father, it is our desire to be courageous for You, trusting in Your boundless power and forever love…

orange poppies pixa x

 


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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?

eyes scard pixa x

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…

dirt road pixa x

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


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Landing Strips…

small plane pixa x     My step-dad had his pilot’s license, off and on he had a little plane that two to four people could fly in. He rebuilt most of one in our garage once. I remember the first time we flew and had to land in the early evening. It was almost dark and I got scared. I asked how he would be able to see where to go…

In our darkest hours we often don’t know where to go, but there is light for us: “Send forth Your light and Your truth, let them guide me.” (Psalm 43:3 NIV)

I watched a beautiful short film about a wondrous cave in China. Instead of stalactites, this cave had openings here and there from the top of the hill where light filtered in. Throughout those areas of the cave there was lush vegetation. Green ferns and mosses and other delicate plants. Wherever the light touched there was growth…

As we are touched by the Light so we grow in our faith: “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness’, made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.” (2 Corinthians 4:6 NIV)

fern pixa x

I took a guided tour in a cave where no light reached in. There was no life in it, just rock. Lights were stationed along most of the trail but at one point deep in the cave, where it was very cold, they had us all stand still. All the lights were turned off. I had never been in total, black, deep darkness before. Our eyes did not know what to make of it. A far away light came on, our searching eyes caught sight of it right away. Light, even the tiniest amount, permeates the darkness…

Our eternal souls are saved by His Light: “For you have delivered my soul from death and my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before God in the light of life.” (Psalm 56:13 NIV)

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My step-dad had me watch closely in the last minutes before we landed. As we came closer and lower I could see the little running lights. They seemed like an arrow pointing the way: land here, this is the place… And so our Bible points the way for us: “Your word is a lamp to my feet and light for my path.” (Psalm 119:105 NIV)

Let’s choose His light to lead us out of our darkness…

 landing strip x

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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Inheritance…

easter flowers1     Just shy of 2,000 years ago a group of men, inseparable and courageous, scattered and tried to find ‘safe’ places. The man they thought would end all their despair has been killed…

Much like us, 2000 years later – we act courageous until… until we’re confronted with a trying situation, or made uncomfortable about our faith…

Jesus told His followers on several occasions that He would be killed – so many could have life forever. Many of the closest disciples said they would die with Him. But when the time came… ‘well, maybe He wasn’t who we thought He was’, ‘maybe we misunderstood what He meant’, ‘maybe we need to go off and figure this out’…

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These followers were no different than you and I. We believe (but we leave room for doubt). The good news was that within a couple of days Jesus returned from the dead, calmed their fears, promised to be with them (and us) to the very end of the age, and gave them – and all who would believe from that point on – His Spirit…

One of my favorite books in the Bible is 1Peter (highly recommended reading) especially chapter one. Peter reminds us of our “new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ” and of our “inheritance that can never perish, spoil, or fade” (1Peter 1:3-4 NIV).

Bible on table (Lightstock)1

Anything we inherit here is temporary and subject to perishing, spoiling, fading, being used up, being stolen… I have a friend who, on two occasions, has not received the inheritance due her because of unscrupulous people. It has been hurtful in many ways. But my friend has an Eternal Perspective: her inheritance, the one that matters, is certain. No one can cheat her out of it and it will last forever…

Continuing in 1Peter it just gets better… vereses 6-9 are what Easter is all about as we remember the One who so willingly paid the price for our foolishness so that we could forever and ever live with Him – seeing wonders untold and without end…

“In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire – may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed….even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” (1Peter 1:6-9 NIV italics mine)

Happy, Happy Easter – He is Risen!

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Coming In Last…

race track1     I’ve never been in an actual race – I know some of you probably have: marathon, 5K, bike race, car race – my daughter swam competitively. Whether we’ve actually been in a physical contest or not, we often feel like we’re coming in last…

There was a news story recently about a young woman running a race, in fact, leading most of the way. Suddenly her body could take no more, down she went on her knees. She was so focused and the finish line so near, that wobbly as she was, she began to crawl. Giving all she had left in her, other runners passing her by, she crawled over that finish line and collapsed. The point: she didn’t give up, she finished.

Walking with God here in this life is often referred to as a race in the Bible. Paul, who wrote most of the New Testament, when he was nearing the end of his life said:  “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2Timothy 4:7 NIV) He knew that when he finished was not important, that he finished was the goal.

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Our lives today can seem like a chaotic race that never ends, or if it does we feel beaten up, like we came in last. But Paul went on to tell Timothy “And now the prize awaits me,” Paul knew his ‘race’ was not for human reward or to show what a great athlete for God he had been. The reward he looked forward to was eternal “the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award me on the day of His return.” And now for the really good news: “And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to His appearing.” (2Timothy 4:8 NLT underline mine)

I cannot ignore the day to day race of life but I can choose to run in a way that testifies to the One who makes the race worth it. The writer of Hebrews gave us some great advice: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.” (Hebrews 12:1-2 NIV underline mine)

Like the woman whose body just about gave out, but looked to the goal and finished, we must fix our eyes on Jesus – our goal – and with His strength, not ours, finish the race – for eternity is much longer than our brief race here on earth…

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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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