living braver

one faith step at a time…


3 Comments

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

heart holder


4 Comments

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

 


2 Comments

Lifted…

dock canva x     Recently I saw a video depicting the weight we so often carry around with us. A little girl appears on the scene and scoops up a big rock, lifts it over her head and let’s it fall into her backpack. She is happy, she does this a couple of more times still smiling.

In the distance young children are jumping into a lake, laughing, carefree…

As time goes on she is no longer happy about adding rocks – big or small – to her backpack. She hears the laughter out by the lake.

Others come along contributing their bricks and stones to her backpack. Barely able to walk she makes her way to the dock watching the other children. A little girl motions her to join them. She shrugs her shoulders asking how? Her new friend helps her take her backpack off dropping it behind her, they run to the dock’s edge…

backpack canva x

The Lord upholds all those who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down. (Psalm 145:14 NIV)

Do you have a backpack full? I did and I didn’t even know it. After all these years I finally realized that is my way, I pick up everybody’s brokenness because I want to make it better.

But we can’t carry our own broken pieces let alone other’s. So I took a day, I gathered rocks and markers. I thought through what felt heavy and wrote on rock after rock. Then I set out to water’s edge to where I first felt cool water and sand slipping out from underneath.

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up. (James 4:10 NIV)

rocks pixa

I pulled out a rock lifted it to Jesus and said ‘You are stronger, more capable, and are healer’ and hurled it as far as I could. ‘You are forgiver, more understanding, and accepting’ and away went another. Giving each to Him who carried all our burdens to the cross so that we would never have to be weighed down again.

Oh, if we could grasp our freedom in Him. In our backpack He only puts what He made us for: smiles to lighten another’s load, kind words to touch a hurting heart, joy in spite of circumstances, love big enough to shine His light, peace that only finds its way to us through Him, gentleness when the world is harsh, His Holy Spirit filling us up and lifting us far above all we perceive to be ours to solve…

An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up. (Proverbs 12:25 NIV)

Gulf 1-16 Me x

 


6 Comments

Freed…

gift boxes pixa x     Sometimes we like to box things up nice and neat. Large box, bottom shelf for my worries about my children. Small box highest shelf for the grief of losing a loved one. Medium box back behind others for fears I just won’t face.

Then we go on our merry way saying how much we trust God or believe in Him or know nothing is impossible with Him.

Except maybe these few boxes that we’ve locked away in the storage shed. Those things we keep a lid on – that we don’t let go of – keep us behind bars. I see it all the time. The young woman who trusts God with her health or job – but not the relationship she’s currently in (for fear she may lose him). The man who trusts God with his wife or children – but not his money (for fear there may not be enough). And on it goes, something we just feel we need to control, or…

Does it control us?

Christmas deco pixa x

My friend Michelle expressed her freedom in Christ beautifully: Free to share my time, God created time. Free to share my money, it’s God’s anyway. Free to share my abilities, God will make the most of them. Free to attempt the next trial or test, to fail or to succeed. Free to forgive, as I am forgiven.

“Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32 NIV) So what is the Truth? “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life.’ “ (John 14:6 NIV)

The truth, Jesus, opens our boxes – lids flung far – reaches in and says: don’t worry – I will make all things new, don’t grieve – someday no more tears, don’t be afraid – I will never leave you.

open box canva x

“An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.” (Luke 2:9 NIV) After hearing the message, the shepherds hurried to see for themselves and fear turned to praise “The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.” (Luke 2:10 NIV)

Let us be like the shepherds, let us hear the message, see for ourselves, and replace our boxes with praises. We are freed…

angel decoration pixa x

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


2 Comments

In the Cave…

flower yellow black bkgrnd pixa x     The Lost Sea Adventure is in southeast Tennessee. To tour it you descend several hundred feet on slippery paths. Part way the guide stops and says “At this point we are going to turn off all lighting, you’ll understand what complete darkness is. Hope they come back on.” (Not funny.)

You stand there waiting for your eyes to adjust so you can see the outline of the person standing next to you. But you never do, because in complete darkness you can hold your hand right up in front of your face and never be able to see it.

That’s a lot like us without Jesus. We can commit terrible acts, knowing exactly what we’re doing. But never see it for the evil it is.

hands darkness pixa x

It reminds me of the recent tragedy in Charleston where the barely adult young man sat through a Bible study with a group of people and in the end, opened fire killing nine.

So lost, so needful of something to make sense, so deluded into thinking his actions would make his world right in some way…

Like marriages that abuse verbally or physically – hoping it changes something. Like drugs or alcohol – hoping for a release from the reality of what isn’t wanted. Like any crime – hoping to fix a perceived problem but creating a worse outcome.

cave pixa x

Pastor Larry Adams recently said “That young man may have to pay for his crimes, but he doesn’t have to die for them.” Meaning someone already did – Jesus has paid the price in full for whatever the sin. A lie about something as silly as where we were to one as devastating as killing innocent people. The point is, we will likely face earthly consequences for our sins, but those who put their faith in Jesus don’t face an eternal consequence.

The Lost Sea is at the end of the tour deep into the cave. A very large lake discovered in 1905. But God knew it was there all along.

He knows all about us too, when we’re lost… When we finally ‘discover’ Him, we can see our actions for what they are. In Him we find our way to wholeness. Then no matter the troubles we face in this world, we know He will see us through, right there with us. Someday we will see Him face to face. In the light of His glory that shines on our forever, free from anymore bondage to sin… With Him the light is always on.

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.” (2Corinthians 4:6 NIV)

sunflower bw bkgrnd pixa x

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

 


4 Comments

Unfailing…

leaf beach love pixa x     His love endures f o r e v e r……… This morning a few months old kitten showed up at our back door. His little bell and collar told me he belonged to someone, but right then he wanted to belong to me.

Purring and stretching he worked his way into my being in less than thirty seconds. BUT I already have a kitty and I do not need another one. So I shall have to put up pictures of him and try to reunite him with whoever loves him already.

kitten pixa x

Voices want to tell us daily that we are alone, that we are not wanted, that we don’t matter. Unlike this sweet kitty, when we wander off, we don’t leave the presence of the One who is in us and promises to always be with us. Even when we shut out the sound of His calling, even when we can’t seem to find our way.

“In my anguish I cried to the Lord, and He answered by setting me free.” (Psalm 118:5 NIV) Who else can we call out to in whatever our need and be answered with freedom? Freedom from? “The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” (Psalm 118:6 NIV) Freedom from being afraid…

black white cross pixa x

Though fear may surround me – being afraid is not my captor. I am captured and free in the answers of the voice that calls my name, ‘Dear one’, ‘Beloved’. He calls and I breathe in and rest in the embrace of His promises: ‘I am with you’ ‘I will never leave you’ ‘I hear you when you call’ ‘You will search for me and You will find me’. “May Your unfailing love be my comfort, according to Your promise to Your servant.” (Psalm 119:76 NIV)

“He’s in us & with us & for us & He is enough, … and His absolute perfect love for us kicks all you …Lying Fears right to the curb.” Ann Voskamp

Let’s comfort those who wander our way and sing together: “God has spoken plainly, and I have heard it many times: Power, O God, belongs to You; unfailing love, O Lord, is Yours.” (Psalm 62:11-12 NLT)

heart love pixa x


4 Comments

Heart Key…

heart lock pixa x     Sometimes I think we lock away little parts of ourselves. The vulnerable parts, locked away behind doors that we sometimes forget are even there. The parts that knew past hurts or the parts that fear today hurts. The parts that are unsure or the parts that are the real us.

Surely if we can just lock these parts behind doors that only we hold the key to then we won’t break – and we won’t be exposed.

But God wants all of us, He wants to hold the keys…He wants to throw open the doors… There’s only one thing He wants hidden in our hearts: “I have hidden Your word in my heart that I might not sin against You.” (Psalm 119:10NIV)

lock with key pixa x

Doors thrown open wide, unlocked, surrendered…in this there lies freedom. The real us need hide no longer for we are created just the way He wants us. With all our scars and baggage, with all our uncertainties and timid steps. “He will be the sure foundation for your times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge; and the fear of the Lord is the key to this treasure.” (Isaiah 33:6 NIV)

He can use the unlocked us, it is then that we can make a difference. The storehouse of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge never runs out – ours always to draw on in any and all circumstances.

orchids pixa x

When the keys to our little locked parts are put in His trusting hands we find surrender leads to promise. A promise of true security – not the kind we can surround ourselves with, the kind that frees us to trust in One bigger than ourselves. That trust will never be betrayed because that trust leads to eternity.

What comfort is found in this knowledge: “But you, Lord are a compassionate God, merciful and patient, with unending gracious love and faithfulness.” (Psalm 86:15 ISV) Compassionate, merciful, patient, gracious, faithful as we surrender to Him our Heart Key…

roses hearts pixa x