living braver

one faith step at a time…


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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.

trail flowerx

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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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.

daisy pixa

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)

woman praising pixa

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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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)

black white windblown tree pixa x

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)

trees multi color pixa x


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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


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Soul Language…

pale rose pixa x     I think the first thing we’re going to recognize in heaven is God’s voice…

For all of us that’s how it began: in Genesis 1, eleven times it says “God said” and whenever He did, something came into being. I have to wonder, is that how you and I came into being? Did He call forth our name at the instant He began to knit us together and form us? “My sheep listen to My voice; I know them and they follow me.” (John 10:27 NIV)

Strange then that a voice that should be oh so familiar seems so illusive. Perhaps it’s our selective hearing.

sprout in dirt pixa x

Think about it, there was a time He got through and we heard – that would be the day we accepted His free gift of salvation. That’s the voice we need to continue to seek – the One who was once our sin-bearer, and is now our grace-giver.

Maybe we don’t hear Him because we fear He doesn’t hear us – we feel too unimportant, too estranged, too needy. Throughout the Psalms the writers speak of God’s very good hearing: “When I called, You answered me; You made me bold and stouthearted.” (Psalm 138:3 NIV) That’s my Living Braver desire — to be bold, stouthearted.

Hearing Him then isn’t audible words, notes of exact instruction, answers we want. It’s living a life in constant pursuit of the One who spoke us into being, hears our every sigh and cry, and answers in soul language that is only heard through trust. Loud enough for us to put one tentative step in front of another…

pink geranium pixa x

His promise is so great that it leaves no reason for fear and every confidence to be bold and stouthearted… “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of My hand.” (John 10:28 NIV) Again He emboldens us “I tell you the truth, whoever hears My Word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.” (John 5:24 NIV)

I think I hear Him now, reminding me ‘nothing can harm you’, ‘forever is yours’, ‘trust me, seek me’…

pink poppy pixa x

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

 


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Surrender…

heart pixa x     The best part of a ‘chick-flick’ is when the girl – or guy – finally surrenders all their reasons ‘why not’ and just falls in love…surrender, soft exhale…

‘Why nots’ keep us from a lot of soft exhales… I can’t let go of anger – I don’t know how to stop the habit – if I don’t control the situation it won’t turn out right…and on and on…

Amazing our heavenly Father doesn’t do a lot of impatient exhales and turn us over to our own demise. But He doesn’t. He so patiently guides us – showing us the better way.

“The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2Peter 3:9 NIV)

heart lock pixa x

Again and again we read the stories or watch the movies and long for our ‘happily ever after’ – all along we have it (if we are Christ followers). All the promise verses after Jesus’ resurrection are past tense:

“And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 2:6 NIV)“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.” (Romans 5:12 NIV) “But now He has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in His sight, without blemish and free from accusation.” (Colossians 1:22 NIV) (all italics mine)

wedding dress pixa x

Surrender is our daily offering to a Savior who willingly took on our ‘uglies’ so we could be without blemish – free from accusation. Regardless our past hurts, our present sufferings, whatever tomorrow may hold we have a sure foundation, an eternal hope, a shelter from our fears… “He will be the sure foundation for your times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge, the fear of the Lord is the key to this treasure.” (Isaiah 33:6 NIV)

Sweet surrender starts today – don’t let ‘why nots’ get in the way… Oh Jesus make our story Your love story…

red flowers 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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Stepping Stones…

stepping stones pixa x     Sometimes we all need…a path….. to find our way…

Stepping stones don’t have to be crossed all at once. Sometimes we step, breathe deep, and do what needs to be done in this day, on this stone…

To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in His steps. (1Peter 2:21 NIV)

footsteps pixa x

Last week I stepped onto an unknown stone – as the blossoming young woman, with hurt her past, and a future unsure, poured out her heart to me. Mesmerized I listened as she non-stop told me everything she had held so tightly, now overflowing like a dam broken.

On this stone I did not have to have all the answers. I did not have to fix anything. I just had to…listen, squeeze her hand, blink back tears with her, and…assure her of the One who loves her more than anyone on earth can even fathom. The love of a Savior who sees her heart.

stones heart pixa x

He knows your heart too, He knows your hurts, He knows your faltering step looking for the next stone in the path…assuring you that –

“When you walk, your steps will not be hampered; when you run, you will not stumble.” (Proverbs 4:12 NIV)

For what can man do to us? This earth suit may be damaged, feelings hurt, dreams dashed – but you who profess Jesus as your Lord, Christ as your Savior – the you that is eternal cannot be touched.

Because Christ died for us our Father sees His Son’s righteousness in us – and tells us this great truth for our path:

“The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, shining ever brighter til the full light of day.” (Proverbs 4:18 NIV)

daisy on stone pixa x

And now it comes to us to say to fear ‘you are not my master’. As this sweet young woman finished her story we held hands and stepped together to the next stone in our path looking forward with eternal eyes to the promise…

“You have made known to me the path of life; You will fill me with joy in Your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” (Psalm 16:11 NIV)

Step brave with us today into the everlasting arms – breaking the chains holding us captive to the world and its burdens and stepping free into the Light on our path…

 

 

 

 

 


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The GIVING of THANKS…

???????????????????????????????    Is this it… is Giving what its all about? That risk of giving and never receiving back, of sleepless nights, of tears… Is this it… Giving Thanks no matter the outcome? Braver is in the ‘Thank You, Father’ – because You love me and even in all this messiness there is grace, there is love, there is – thanks…

Can we accept the good job, the steady paycheck – but not the slim times, not the going without? Can we accept the love of family and friends – but not the heartbreak, not the loneliness? Can we accept the young healthy days, the looking forward to tomorrows – but not the sickness and pain, not the little time left?

The Giving of Thanks – now at this time of year and every day cannot rest on circumstances. Our fear, anxiety, doubt will try to overshadow our heart…

“Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1Thessalonians 5:18 NIV italics & underline mine) Are we only to give thanks in the good circumstances? No in all…

A beautiful song by Laura Story says…

We pray for wisdom, Your voice to hear
We cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt your goodness, we doubt your love
As if every promise from Your word is not enough
And all the while, You hear each desperate plea
And long that we’d have faith to believe

‘Cause what if your blessings come through raindrops
  What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise…

Happy Giving of Thanks… don’t hold back for it is only in the midst of the desperate sacrifice of thank-full lips that we can find courage to Live Brave…


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October 22, 2014 Mighty Warrior, Kneel…

morninglightpic2cropped3     The mightiest warrior at the time of greatest need, is the one who you find on his knees. Feeling brave? No? Its not about our feelings – our feelings change moment to moment. We cannot trust our feelings, but we can trust God. When the phone rings in the middle of the night, when the fire rages just across the open field, when those we love are far away – we can feel or we can kneel…

We must be so full of Life that there isn’t room to feed on fear. Life for us is written down, it is the Living Word. It is written just for you and just for me. At every turn His promises are personal. In the blanks put in your name…

“Who shall separate _____ from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?…For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate _____ from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus _____’s Lord.” (Romans 8:35-39NIV)

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord _____’s God goes with _____; He will never leave _____ nor forsake _____.” (Deuteronomy 31:6 NIV)

When our fears get the best of us, we can fill ourselves with the best of Him. It isn’t a one time read, its like eating, you need to fill yourself up daily. Only then can we find our Courage, our Brave, in our weakest moments, the strength we need will be found on our knees…praying back to the Author His mighty Word…


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October 6, 2014 Don’t Let Go…

Bicycle cropped1   If you’ve ever been a parent, (or remember back to your own childhood), helping someone to learn to ride a bike is exciting. We all start out with training wheels; we think we’re a pretty big deal. Until we notice the other kid who doesn’t have training wheels. So, if you’re like my boys, you find dad’s wrench and work on getting those embarrassing things off. Finally, with a little help, you now have a real bike.

When you get on to ride you quickly find out you get about a half pedal around and you fall to the side and catch yourself with your foot. You try again, same result. Looking now for mom or dad you ask them to hold you steady while you ride. This often goes on for days. Each practice is preceded by “Don’t let go, promise!”

Courage is not the absence of fear. Did you think it was? When our guys are on the battlefield, when our law enforcement engages someone with a gun, fear is there. Yet through practice they have honed their skill, they can rely on what has become instinct. Courage is taking the training wheels off. Courage is trying each day….

If a networking lunch makes you lose your appetite, if breaking off a relationship makes you tremble, if facing the cure (surgery, chemo, whatever) keeps you procrastinating – you are not alone. It feels lonely… It takes practice to have courage… When you walk in the door to face the lunch crowd, the man mistreating you, the doctor telling you your options, take a moment – look back and look up… whisper “Don’t let go, promise!” He won’t, he said so: “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20 NIV)