living braver

one faith step at a time…


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Willing…

joy pixa x     Someone recently said ‘What if we’re only as strong as we are joyful?’

The more I thought about it the more I realized that, despite whatever the circumstances, when I choose joy, I feel stronger. It is in those times I am surrendering my will knowing that God is in perfect control. I may not be happy, but happiness and joy are two different things.

“Courage is not the absence of fear, but the willingness to move forward with God.” Pastor Matt Price Joy strength isn’t dependent on me – no amount of ‘chin up’, ‘push through’, ‘just do it’ can make a difference. But willingness can make the difference – the difference between discouragement and direction, the difference between worry and wisdom, the difference between self and surrender.

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But moving forward is where we often get stuck. Stuck in the past or in the now – stuck in our abilities instead of relying on God’s. We go about our days drawing on our strength. Yet we’re told “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (1Corinthians 12:9 NIV)

There’s a song by Lauren Daigle, Trust In You with this chorus:

“When You don’t move the mountains I’m needing You to move
When You don’t part the waters I wish I could walk through
When You don’t give the answers as I cry out to You
I will trust, I will trust, I will trust in You!”

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So we must keep an eternal perspective, because our hope is not in this life – it is in our eternity. While today’s mountains may seem insurmountable or the agitations may cause us to stumble, they are only temporary. It is hard for us finite humans to rest in an infinite God, but to Live Brave we’re only called to take one willing step at a time and to remember: “If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied….But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1Corinthians 15:19 & 57 NIV)

Strength in joy and courage to be willing to move forward with God, hope for today and all our tomorrows…

girl in field 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…

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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

 


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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)

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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.

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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)

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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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Open Arms…

angel pixa x     Ten days and counting…celebration or chaos?

Is it possible to have both but still have peace, still have courage, still have Him…

I watched a children’s Christmas production recently. The youngest came up at the beginning and sang their song, so sweet – one little guy was so proud of himself at the end of the song, he folded his arms across his chest and beamed the biggest smile. As they headed down the aisle to exit one looked a little nervous, about that time his daddy appeared with arms open wide. He flew into those arms, relief flooding his face.

That’s me and you, you know. I make lists for gifts, I spend money as wisely as possible, have hopeful expectations that the gifts will please. But what if they don’t?

I make cookies or send cards, trying to express love, but is it enough?

stars tree pixa x

That’s when I realize my focus is on the trimmings, not on the reason. Jesus came in the midst of chaos, most too busy to notice. An angel chorus announced the Good News to those who were quiet, not to the boisterous crowds. In the quiet, we can hear “Do not be afraid, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.” (Luke 2:10 NIV) All the people may not listen, the quiet may only hear, but still the news is for all…

So when I’m unsure, when my heart is apprehensive, there is a way. A way made to open arms that will calm my doubts, soothe my feelings of not enough. Do you know those arms?

cross pixa x

Those are the same arms that not so many years later were stretched out on a cross. Arms open wide Good News laid down His life, taking on all the sins ever committed, all sins yet to be committed. Once again good news was proclaimed, through ragged breaths “…Jesus said ‘It is finished.’ With that, He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.” (John 19:30 NIV)

Finished – do you believe? Will you accept? It is finished, sin no longer has to chain us. It is finished, fear no longer has to be our master. It is finished, joy ours in the midst of any pain. It is finished, assurance of forever life after our last breath here. Just wait til you fall into those arms. Can you see Him standing there, arms open wide? Can you feel them envelope you? If you can, you have Christmas every day…

tree ornament heart 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.

autum path pixa x

“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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Resting…

stones autumn leaves pixa x     Turning from wrestling to resting started off with struggle but is now resulting in assurance…

Conflict is not something many of us enjoy – and though we may not seek it out, it is brought to us just the same. The enemy of our souls is at war and he knows his time is short. He delights in robbing us of all that is good – peace, joy, contentment. We have been told “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6:12 NIV)

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Finding myself in that wrestling place, believing the condemning self-thoughts, bogged down with worry, and wondering how I could fix something, anything – I lost sight of who the enemy is and who my Defender is. You and I cannot fight alone against this dark world, but praise be to God we are never alone and “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.” (2Corinthians 10:4 NIV)

Divine power? The Spirit of Jesus living in us. The Word of God teaching, correcting, and encouraging us. The Father who makes all things work for the good of those who love Him. These are our weapons.

gold leaves sunshine pixa x

The enemy absolutely delights in us losing sight of the One who never leaves our side. Even in the agony of what seems the worst possible outcome, the hurt burning so deep we feel we may melt away, the fear causing us to tremble – never lose sight, He is there. Yes, this world is full of the result of sin, but this is not all there is…

This temporary earth suit we’re in, this temporary loss of all that seems right – it’s part of the battle. There is great news indeed! At just the right time Jesus will return, we will be with Him, all that refuse Him will be no more, and all our stuff that bogs us down daily won’t even be a memory. This then is resting – in the everlasting arms that carry me now and someday will welcome me to eternity. He has promised, read it over and over again in His Word “The One who calls you is faithful and He will do it.” (1Thessalonians 5:24 NIV)

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