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.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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Cruise Ship or Rescue Vessel…

cruiseship     Given the choice, most of us would choose a cruise ship over a rescue vessel.

Each generation thinks their days are harder than they used to be in the past. Adam and Eve suffered the loss of their son Abel at the hands of their other son Cain. The loss was no less devastating than the mom in Chicago who loses her son to a drive-by shooting, or the mom who loses her daughter in a drunk driving accident.

Job was wealthy and had many children. He lost it all and then even lost his health. His reputation in the eyes of those who knew him was ruined. All thought for certain Job surely had brought all this on himself. The depths of questioning and worry and fear were not any less than they are for those who lose their job and home, lose their marriage and their children, or those who are accused wrongly and pay the penalty for something they didn’t do.

Noah worked hard for years on a project that made no sense to anyone at that time. He and the other seven on board with him left everything, listened as all they knew was destroyed by flood, and once on dry land almost a year later found nothing familiar and no one but themselves to start over. Their bewilderment was no less than what we face when no one believes in what we are doing, or when we must start from scratch after time and effort didn’t pay off as we planned.

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A cruise ship might sound good right about the time we have reached our end. But cruise ships aren’t on a mission. They aren’t searching for the distressed. That is the job of a rescue vessel. In our day to day we don’t need a good time, temporary distraction. We have to ride out the storm and that is best done with a ship and a captain who know they can get us home safely.

Jesus had one mission when He came and lived among us:  “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save those who are lost.” (Luke 19:10 NLT) How did He rescue us? He gave Himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father.” (Galatians 1:4 NIV)

The Captain has rescued us, we just need to hold on, choose the rescue vessel and know it is done “He brought me out into a spacious place; He rescued me because He delighted in me.” (Psalm 18:19 NIV)

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Trail or Trial…

trailgirl     Hiking in the eastern Tennessee mountains is full of wonder. The beauty of the terrain and the glory of the blue sky with whispers of ‘smoke’ from those Smoky Mountains are inspiring. Trails that lead away from hectic, leaving all trials behind.

Even when we can’t retreat to some perceived escape from today, there is still a choice. To choose to call the path a trail or a trial.

When we hiked in the mountains we kept our eyes alert – it wasn’t our territory. Bears, snakes, and other less threatening critters called these places home. Trail markers led us either to the intended destination or off towards another venue. And unexpected beauty could easily be missed. So always searching eyes had to take note. If we hadn’t, we could have gotten lost, injured, or missed something special.

bear trail

As we hike through trials in life we are told be alert as well. “Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.” (Ephesians 6:18 NLT)

Though the hikes in the mountains have many rewards it is hard work. A short hike requires only a bottle of water and good shoes. A longer one may require snacks, extra water, sunscreen, walking stick, and stops for rest along the way. Preparation.

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Often we don’t think we’re prepared for life’s many trials, but we can be. We do have a trail map, a trail guide, and a destination. Being very familiar with God’s Word is a source of great comfort in those trying times. Knowing that His indwelling Spirit is with us at all times gives us bottomless wisdom for the decisions we must make. And knowing Who waits for us at the end of the trail and what the ‘destination’ is are how we persevere.

“Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him.” (James 1:12 NIV)

A crown of life – life in the newness of perfect creation, ours to hike through and explore the glory of forever…

fall trail

 


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Yearning…

tea candles     Sometimes there’s just a deep longing.

At times it feels like wanting to spread wings and fly off free of all that holds us back. Other times it feels like a hole deep inside not yet filled. Mostly it’s a stirring just below the surface, a wondering.

It comes from not knowing the answer to the question: Who are you?

Not Melissa, or Amanda, or Sara. Not mom, or wife, or boss, or employee. Not rich or poor, college grad or school of hard knocks grad. Who are you?

A new creation. Created in Christ Jesus to do good works. Apple of His eye. Holy and dearly loved.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2Corinthians 5:17 NIV)

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Seated in the heavenly realms. Blessed. A royal priesthood. Christ’s ambassador. Righteousness of God.

“God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2Corinthians 5:21 NIV)

Filled with the Holy Spirit. Child of the Father. The body of Christ. Fearfully and wonderfully made.

“The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.” (Romans 8:16 NIV)

Heirs of God, co-heirs with Christ. Loved. Forgiven. Saved. God’s possession. Chosen.

“Now if we are children, then we are heirs – heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ.” (Romans 8:17 NIV)

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Words of affirmation, affirmed over and over again to thirsty souls with deep longing. Choose no longer to listen to worldly definitions and mind chatter. No past, no present, no tomorrow – no what if, no failure – defines who you are.

Here’s the most important question ever asked: “But what about you?” Jesus asked. “Who do you say I am?” (Mark 8:29 NIV) If a resounding ‘You are Messiah, the Savior of my soul’ rings from your lips, then the answer to ‘Who are you?’ is settled.

You are daughter/son of the God of all creation, the Father of forever. Yearning finally filled in the rest that comes from knowing who you are…

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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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Desire…

floewrheartx     God’s heart words to our souls speak of desire. So many references but we get wrapped up in the immediate. The urgent earthly love and pursuits.

But He beckons “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37:4 NIV)

All our pursuits of pleasing family, making a living, volunteering, vacationing – all fall short and still we desire more. Unsatisfied we try harder, we analyze, we fill up on what leaves us empty.

“O God, You are my God, earnestly I seek You; my soul thirsts for You, my body longs for You, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.” (Psalm 63:1 NIV)

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While raising children, succeeding in the workplace, and helping those in need are planted in us by Him they only truly satisfy when first we are seeking Him. Satisfying the yearning with His word. Finding our meaning by recognizing we are chosen by Him. Our parched soul thirsts and when we seek out the source of unending Living Springs we then overflow to this dry and weary world.

“You open Your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing.” (Psalm 145:16 NIV) When we are filled up with Him, He can use us to show the way to others. The Bible tells us we were created in Christ Jesus to do good works. Not works we think up, not works to check off a list, not works to gain brownie points. The works we’re created to do overflow from a heart bent on doing His will.

“I desire to do Your will, O my God; Your law is within in my heart.” (Psalm 40:8 NIV)

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Self gives birth to desires that never seem to be fulfilled. Constantly wandering after more and more. The world today can’t get enough to the point what is good becomes dark and causes pain. Seeking God gives birth to a desire that can be satisfied. The soul knowledge that we rest in the loving arms of the King of forever, and someday we shall see Him face to face.

“Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides You.” (Psalm 73:25 NIV) Will this characterize me every moment? Oh I wish. I will be selfish, I will want what me wants and not seek Him first. But I can silence the whispers of  ‘failure’  by being drenched in the promise that I am a work in progress. He has begun a good work and someday it will be complete.

Until then I can cling to and look forward to precious words of life as I “Praise the Lord, O my soul… [He} satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” (Psalm 103:1, 5 NIV)

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Towards…

airplane     Sometimes we just have to move. I am finding that moving with a sore back has to be deliberate. If I find a comfortable spot, I just want to stay put. But in the end, that leads to more pain.

It is the same in our relationship with God. We must always be moving with Him: growing in our knowledge of Him, seeking His wisdom, knowing His Word and His ways better and better.

Sometimes we find a comfortable spot in our God relationship – we want to stay there. To move would not be easy. But when we don’t move beyond this comfortable spot, we stagnate and grow stiff and in the end it’s not so comfortable after all.

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

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We have a heavenly destination. In this earth suit we wear we will not reach it, but when we close our eyes to this world and open them in the next we will have arrived. There is fuel for the journey: the Bible. There is protection for the journey: the Holy Spirit. There are travelling companions for the journey: fellow Christians.

Along the way there will be potholes, wrong turns. At those times satan will try to convince us that we are stuck, that our past is all we are, ever will be.

“The next time satan reminds you of your past, remind him of your future.” Sue Edwards

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For every disappointment – be they backaches, financial downturns, loss of innocence, and so many other heartaches – there beats the heart of a loving Father who is with us. Nothing can touch us. Oh yes, here we will feel pain, but here is not our destination.

Buckle up, the journey is crazy good, crazy hard, but soon you will be home…

“Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. We live by faith, not by sight…So we make it our goal to please Him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it.” (2Corinthians 5:6-7, 9 NIV)

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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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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)

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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!