living braver

one faith step at a time…


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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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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.

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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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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)

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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

 


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Looking Up…

white daisy pixa x     Going on a trip usually sounds exciting. We make our plans and then as the time approaches we begin to second guess. Thoughts swirl ‘what if something goes wrong while I’m away’, ‘what if it’s not fun like I thought it would be and I wasted a lot of money’, ‘I would rather just stay home, I love being home’…

This is where I sometimes find myself –  when I’m looking down, inward – letting worry, lack of confidence, fear have its way.

Then I am reminded “I lift up my eyes to the hills – where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.” (Psalms 121:1-2 NIV) Look up, above all this, look up – not to self, not to what circumstances are trying to convince me of, not letting fear be my master.

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When I look up, the ten hour drive becomes adventure instead of anxiety. The unfamiliar becomes a memory maker instead of a courage taker. When I look up my eyes are lifted to my Confidence, to the One who wants to show me new things and grow my bravery. Emily P. Freeman recently said “I’ve learned that God is not a great travel agent, but He’s a fantastic traveling companion.”

This is what I find when I’m looking up “I sought the Lord, and He answered me; He delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to Him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.” (Psalm 34:4-5 NIV)

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Whether I am home in my little safe place or out on the road to adventure, He is right there. Travelling this life with me and knowing that if I will just look up He will be able to make the impossible possible through me. For God’s ways will always prevail regardless of whether I step out with Him or not. The question becomes will I be involved in His glorious plan, or will I play it safe?

May our outlook for the journey – to the grocery store or a thousand miles away – be held by His gaze. May we step out with these words echoing through our hearts “Look to the Lord and His strength; seek His face always.” (Psalm 105:4 NIV)

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Soul Breathing…

chairs fog pixa x     Rush, hurry, flurry – fast paced activity is all the world seems to know anymore. We’ve rushed through another year and now stretches before us an unwritten 361 days.

Where, when – is there room for our soul to breathe? The pace of life isn’t going to slow for us, but will we slow enough to know true life? “And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.” (1John 5:11-12 NIV)

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When I was about eight we had a neighbor who had a special needs daughter. She spoke truth more clearly than any of the rest of us. One day our mothers were trying to get us out the door and to wherever it was we were going. I can still hear little Ellen saying ‘Hurry, hurry – we must hurry, we always have to hurry.’ That is how it seems, on to the next thing and the next…

So, we will have to be purposeful to find at least 361 times where we just slow down for a moment and take in Life, the Son of God, our very life. God knows all about our hurry, all about how brief our lives here are: “Man is like a breath; his days are like a fleeting shadow.” (Psalm 144:4 NIV) But he also tells us “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord.” (Psalm 150:6 NIV)

flower sky pixa x

The next 361 days will likely hold many challenges, many fearful times, many hard times – it will also likely hold times of smiling, times of growing, and times to be thankful for. It will be in the moments where we allow our soul to breathe that we will find our life. Our year may be marked by loss or plenty, but our soul will be marked with His peace. Days ahead may be marked with dread or anticipation, but our soul will be marked with His joy.

Praying together “May the words of our mouths and the meditations of our hearts be pleasing in Your sight, O Lord, our Rock and our Redeemer.” (Psalm 19:14 NIV) we will Live Braver through our days…

coffee cup 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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Filled…

candle blue pixa x     Three last days, to fill up stockings, refrigerators…hearts.

Christmas Day is just about here, we’ve been anticipating it for the past few weeks, and soon we will leave it behind for another year. Is that how it’s supposed to be?

Maybe the next few days we should fill ourselves up: “…to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:19 NIV) When all the world continues on oblivious to God, when all the world crashes in and takes away our ‘merry’, when all the world fills our heart with trembling instead of jingling – will we despair? We might, but if we are filled up with all the fullness of the love of God, a love that surpasses any experience or knowledge we have…then maybe despair will quickly fade to hope, joy peace.

snow candle pixa x

This is the stuff of Christmas: hope in the Wonderful Counselor and Mighty God, joy because of the Everlasting Father, and peace from the Price of Peace. “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given…and He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of peace. (Isaiah 9:6 NIV)

Whether we have much or little to put under the tree this year, we can have much to fill not only our hearts but those we hold dear. This is the stuff of faith: “Though you have not seen Him, you love Him; and even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy.” (1Peter 1:8 NIV)

candle red snow pixa x

After all the packages are opened, the shiny paper discarded, the leftovers put away – don’t let Christmas fade away. Christmas is every day because Jesus didn’t come and fade away, He came that we could be forgiven, that we could have eternity. He came and gave His life and now His Holy Spirit reigns in the hearts of all who believe. This is the Good News of Christmas for all our days, let us say together:

Praise be to His glorious Name forever; may the whole earth be filled with His glory. Amen and Amen (Psalm 72:19 NIV)

candles pixa x

 

 

 

 


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Needy…

blue ornament pixa x     It’s December… Everyone’s shopping… Needy?

Always, always we seem to be seeking to fill some need. An emptiness that we perceive as an empty shelf, closet, or plate.

Never having the courage to look deep and see where the emptiness really is. Knowing that it is heart deep, never seeming to be filled, and needing covering so it won’t be exposed for any to see. “For I am poor and needy, and my heart is wounded within me.” (Psalm 109:22 NIV)

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Wounded – by a hard world that seems to be getting harder. Leaving us poor and needy, except that…

Except that a Savior, whose birthday celebration is weeks away, came that we no longer have to seek to fill that needy, empty place. “I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak” (Ezekiel 34:16b NIV)

It is in the letting go of other’s expectations of us, of our expectations of others that we can finally see we are not needy, we are not empty and exposed. “For He has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness” (Isaiah 61:10b NIV)

Certainly not our righteousness, as we are sorely lacking in that department, but even in this God has provided. And not just with words but in action. Sending His Son that not only does His robe of righteousness cover over, it heals and fills – and we are arrayed – and God sees His righteousness as He beholds us.

gold ornaments pixa x

As we anticipate not just a holiday, not just a day off from work, not just a family event – but as we await the celebration of a quite wondrous gift, will we stop the online seeking of deals and rush of the mall search? Only in the quiet will we see the abundance.

For if we seek Him, the things that fill shopping carts and drain bank accounts will pale in comparison. Then we can fill up those around us and just maybe the awe of what God has done by sending His Son will dawn on many hearts.

“When they had seen Him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this Child” (Luke 2:17 NIV)

gold bell pixa x

 

 


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Willing…

red leaf pixa x     It must have been an interesting scene… A man in ragged clothes, the smell following around him, the pasty skin and sores. He came and knelt before the King.

He didn’t look like a king but the man knew in his heart and his spirit this One was the real deal. Mustering up all of his courage and ignoring the taunts of ‘unclean, unclean’  and ‘away with you, sinner, unclean’ he boldly approached and knelt.

“A man with leprosy came and knelt before Him and said, ‘Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.’ “ (Matthew 8:2 NIV)

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Jesus didn’t ask questions, nothing about how long have you been like this. He didn’t look on him with disgust or cover His face to block the smell. But what He did was lasting and noticed by all: “Jesus reached out and touched the man. ‘I am willing,’ He said. ‘Be clean!’ Immediately he was cured of his leprosy.” (Matthew 8:3 NIV)

To this man the miracle wasn’t so much the restoration of his health but the look in the eyes he gazed up at. No one had looked him in the eye for a long time, yet the King of Kings not only looked directly at him, He touched him. You can believe that touch was like no other before and none after. That touch didn’t just heal his wounds, it healed his heart and eternity was his as a believer in the Savior.

green leaf x

That is why, my friend, Living Braver is possible. Fear may prevail in those moments that grip our world. But being brave isn’t about what we do, it’s about what He does – every day.

He sees us raise our head towards the sky or fall in our chair exhausted, He looks on us with compassion and says ‘I am willing’ – willing to carry our burdens, lighten our load.

Are we willing? Willing to face what our day brings, the finality of what we were begging wouldn’t happen, the consequences of own waywardness? Willing to lay it at His feet – kneeling and looking into the eyes that only our heart can see. Not asking for the hard thing to go away, unless that’s His will of course, but asking for the bravery to come out on the other side of the hard thing.

“Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.” (Psalm 51:12 NIV)

yellowleaf pixa x

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


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Favor Moments…

castle in chair pixa x     ‘Bestow favor’ always brings to mind a picture of someone setting a crown on my head or handing me keys to a castle or something fanciful. To be granted favor seems so big and so undeserved.

But I need favor, in the moments when I teeter between making decisions… Moments when I feel torn between right and wrong… Moments when anxiety and doubt paralyze…

“May the favor of the Lord our God rest upon us; establish the work of our hands for us.” (Psalm 90:17 NIV) Rest upon us… So we can go about our moments with favor extended to others. So we can leave behind the negative self-talk with favor extended to self. So we can trust in the midst of the hard moments God uses all for the good of those who love Him.

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Like drops that slowly fall become puddles, so our moments become life. I want mine to add up to ones that show His favor resting on me. But how, especially when moment to moment things change so quickly? “Look to the Lord and His strength; seek His face always.” (Psalm 105:4 NIV)

Always…In all ways – seek His face and His strength. In the moments of this day – not yesterday’s and not tomorrow’s, but in today’s – may the moments that make life be ones filled not with my disquieted heart but ones filled with assurance and hope. “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful.” (Hebrews 10:23 NIV)

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Faith-full – when we are faithless, caught up in moments of uncertainty, still one thing is always certain – He is faithful and His promises to us are forever.

I found this, no author name, but it came from the blog Share Inspire Quotes: “Happy moments, praise God. Difficult moments, seek God. Quiet moments, worship God. Painful moments, trust God. Every moment, thank God.” A lifetime of moments spent like this would indeed be a life that has the favor of God. These are Favor Moments

sunflower 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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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