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How To Live a Brave and Beautiful Life

How to Live a Brave and Beautiful Life by Alicia Bruxvoort

“You direct me on the path that leads to a beautiful life. As I walk with You, the pleasures are never-ending, and I know true joy and contentment.” Psalm 16:11 (VOICE)

The woman sitting beside me in the airport held a faded leather backpack that appeared to had weathered a lifetime of stories. And the hiking boots laced to her ankles bore the scars of a thousand miles.

And, to be honest, I was surprised by the discontent that stirred deep in my soul as I wondered what adventures the traveler next to me had lived.

I’d like to scale a mountain bigger than the laundry piles in my basement, I silently pouted while I counted the eyelets on those dusty boots.

I’d been serving at a ministry conference all weekend and would soon catch a flight back to the small town I call home. And though I was excited to be reunited with my husband and five children, I wasn’t eager to return to my daily grind of carpooling and homework-helping, cooking and cleaning.

“Where are you headed?” the wearer of those boots asked, interrupting my pity party.

“Home,” I replied as I lifted my eyes to meet her kind smile and reciprocate the question.

Turns out our destinations were the same, but we had little else in common. She worked for an international relief organization, serving people in need all over the world. I worked from home serving the six people who live beneath my roof.

During the past week, while I’d watched ballgames and grumbled about cooking dinner again, she’d watched the sun rise over the Himalayas and delivered food to hungry children in Nepal. Her feet had trekked through jungles and climbed rugged mountains, while mine had wandered grocery store aisles and played endless rounds of backyard soccer.

The more we talked, the more I wondered why this world traveler was waiting to catch a flight to my pedestrian little town.

When I asked that question, her eyes sparkled.

She told me she was on her way to visit her only sister who was “raising kids and cattle” on the family farm where they’d both been born.

I tried to imagine the dramatically different lives these two sisters had lived — one sprouting wings and traveling the world, the other sinking roots and rarely venturing beyond state lines.

“So have you always been the brave one?” I queried with a wink.

The woman fiddled with the leather strap on that old backpack, then met my gaze. “Actually, my sister’s the brave one.”

My expression must have broadcast my confusion, because that boot-clad traveler flashed me a knowing smile and continued, “I’ve spent a lifetime finding joy all over the world. But my sister wakes up in the same place every day and chooses to find joy right where she’s at.”

A lump of conviction welled in my throat.

“I think that’s brave,” the woman beside me murmured with quiet reverence.

In today’s key verse, King David reminds us the secret to living a beautiful life isn’t dependent on where our feet tread but in WHOM our feet follow.

A life of joy isn’t found in chasing adventure but in chasing our Savior.

And, according to Psalm 16:11, when we choose to keep company with Jesus — prayerfully seeking Him first and obeying His directions — we find true contentment right where we are.

The overhead speaker crackled with our flight’s first boarding call. And as the woman beside me excused herself to make a phone call to that brave sister of hers, my eyes seeped silently with tears.

I pictured the ordinary life waiting for me at home — the demands and the delights, the giggles and the grumbles, and suddenly, I couldn’t wait to hop on that plane and return to my beautiful life.

And maybe, once I hugged those five kids who call me Mom and scaled those mountains of laundry that grew tall in my absence, I’d dig out my old hiking boots and set them by the door. ‘Cause sometimes we just need a simple reminder to keep looking for joy on the path beneath our feet.

Dear Lord, I want to find joy in the life You’ve planned for me. Give me strength to follow and obey. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
1 Timothy 6:6, “But godliness with contentment is great gain.” (NIV)

Philippians 4:12b, “… I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation …” (NIV)

REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Turn Psalm 16:11 into a prayer; invite Jesus to direct you on the path that leads to a beautiful life.

Feeling discontent with your life? Spend time with Jesus and ask for His joy.
© 2017 by Alicia Bruxvoort. All rights reserved.

Proverbs 31 Ministries
630 Team Rd., Suite 100
Matthews, NC 28105
www.Proverbs31.org

Start the New Year Prepared

Start the New Year Prepared by Katy McCown

“When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.” Isaiah 43:2 (NLT)

“I’m not doing this again,” I proclaimed, and I meant it with all my heart.

Just a few days before, I spent a dark, rainy weekend packing our lives into boxes and then unloading them into a new place in a new city.

Though the bulk of the work was behind me, I felt exhausted and unsatisfied. I didn’t look forward to new memories and planting roots, because this new place had no more certainty than the last one. I feared another weekend much like the one I’d just experienced was all too close.

So, I announced I wasn’t doing it again. But my husband’s career requires us to relocate often, so although I knew I couldn’t cling to the idea of never moving again, I could purpose to do it differently the next time.

Why do we need this lamp? There are perfectly fine lights on the ceiling. Who needs headboards for the beds? The wall will be support enough. This dresser isn’t necessary. We can stack clothes on the shelf in the closet.

And so it went. One thing at a time, I whittled away at our stuff and created a simpler, much more manageable life of mobility.

In today’s key verse, God talks to His people, the Israelites, as they begin a journey. After years in captivity, they rejoiced at the freedom to return to their homeland. But to get there, they would have to travel a long distance.

Their travel would look quite different from ours — no plane to catch and no trailer to haul their stuff. So you can imagine the challenge this nation would face when they found themselves standing in front of deep waters or difficult rivers.

Men, women, children, livestock and all their belongings would have to find a way through these physical obstacles.

Though we may not come upon an actual river, we will likely encounter something this year that mimics a rushing current or suffocating smoke. Notice how our key verse says, “When you go through deep waters … When you go through rivers of difficulty … When you walk through the fire of oppression.”

When. Not if.

The nation of Israel was guaranteed to encounter all of these on their journey, and I think we can count on it too. So let’s prepare for it, shall we?

When I realized the uncertainty of my family’s future, I purposed to get rid of all of the extra, unnecessary things that weighed us down. The things we absolutely could live without and would ultimately free us up to follow God wherever He chose to lead us.

Since that day, my family has moved every single year. And that’s okay. Our things are now so simplified we can do it in a matter of hours. Our last move demanded my husband and me, and about two hours of our time. That’s it.

Consequently, I no longer dread future moves, because I know we’re prepared for it.

We all have extra. Sometimes in our physical surroundings. Sometimes in our spiritual ones. To face the troubles sure to surface, we need to get rid of the extra.

When the water is deep, your feet can’t feel the bottom. And your body is tired, but the other side is still so far away. That one thing you don’t need could be the one thing that drags you under.

Of course, no matter how prepared we feel, we’ll never be able to conquer our troubles alone. God didn’t just warn of potential problems ahead, He included promises to stand on in the midst of them.

God will be with us. We will not be overtaken. We will not be utterly consumed.

As we head into a new year, let’s start this one prepared, so when we face the trials of life we will stand. Undaunted by deep waters. Ready for rivers of difficulty. Fearless in the face of the fire.

Dear God, thank You. Thank You for the smiles and laughs and songs and prayers all shared in 2016. And thank You for the promise of Your presence as I travel through 2017. Through deep waters and difficult rivers and oppressive heat, You promise You will be with me. May my actions prove Your promises this year. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
James 1:2-4, “Don’t run from tests and hardships, brothers and sisters. As difficult as they are, you will ultimately find joy in them; if you embrace them, your faith will blossom under pressure and teach you true patience as you endure. And true patience brought on by endurance will equip you to complete the long journey and cross the finish line — mature, complete, and wanting nothing.” (VOICE)

REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Are you clinging to something that may be weighing you down and preventing you from fully living in God’s promises?

Ask God to show you some things you can throw off to help you be less exhausted and more effective this year.

© 2017 by Katy McCown. All rights reserved.

Proverbs 31 Ministries
630 Team Rd., Suite 100
Matthews, NC 28105
www.Proverbs31.org