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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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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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…

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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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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?

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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?

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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…

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Revision…

heart chain link fence pixa x     Ever felt like some chunk of your life needed a revision, a do-over? Maybe a regretted moment, an out of your control circumstance, a chapter needing to be rewritten.

It’s easy to get lost in the guilt of those moments needing revising, succumb to anger, give way to wanting to fix the past.

Maybe we aren’t supposed to linger in wanting the revision but ask our Father to change our vision, a new vision, to truly Re-Vision us. Looking beyond what we think shouldn’t have happened, what we think should happen now, or why we’re stuck because of it.

Re-Vision says I choose to see this through His eyes. Re-Vision says I trust He sees the whole picture not just this part. Re-Vision says I’m willing to let Him turn my longing for a do-over into beauty I may never see this side of eternity.

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“Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.” (1Corinthiiians 13:12 NLT)

Instead of living the shattered dream again and again we must Re-Vision to see beyond. There are no mistakes in the lives of those God loves, no surprises that caught Him off guard. Jesus never told us that this earthly life would be carefree, worry-free, absent of pain. In fact, He told us “…In this world you will have trouble.” (John 16:33b NIV)

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There is a beginning part to that verse and ending that I left off. They are what gives us new vision: “I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace.” (John 16:33a NIV) Regardless all the trouble that sin has wrought in this world, peace in our soul is possible. When the peace of Jesus reigns we can loosen our grip on our vision for how things should be or could be.

The verse ends: “But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33c NIV) Oh, there is my Re-Vision. I can’t see how all this mess turns out, but I can take Him at His word that He can see forever. The enemy wants my vision clouded with what seems failure. My Savior says He works all things for good for those who trust in Him – Fix Your Eyes on Me…

dasy in orangey filed 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.

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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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