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Archive for the ‘Intimacy’ Category

I have been struggling to remain close to God and to trust Him for a while now.  Things have been difficult lately, and I have not been handling it well.  It’s been hard for me to continue to trust God and believe that He is still working for my good when it doesn’t feel that way.

I have been stuck in a rut for a while now, and I’m tired of it.  Though many times before I’ve tried to get out, it only seems to be temporary.  Ultimately it has just felt too hard to trust God.  But I also realize that I’m making things much harder on myself by pushing away the one Person who could help me and comfort me.  I’ve been holding back with him, trying to protect my heart from the closeness and then loss of closeness that follows with the ups and downs.  But I realize I need to just go all out and seek to give all of myself to Him, trusting that He will work it all out.

 

And He gave me a verse for when I worry about not remaining close to him. It was the same as the very first verse He gave me when I was 18 and first saved.  I poured out all of my 18 year old problems to Him, and he spoke to me for the very first time with Matthew 6:33, “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you as well.”  To me that said don’t worry about how all of the problems would be solved but just seek Him.  That’s all that matters.  So I did!   And he gave me that verse again now 28 years later!  (Am I that old?…Nah.)   So its like, oh yeah, I guess that still applies! Lol.

So if I start complaining and worrying and distancing myself from God again, you can remind me of Matthew 6:33!  I’m sure I’ll be needing it!

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The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms. Deut. 33:27 NIV

Two years ago we brought home the cutest kitty ever, Bella, who is now almost three years old. She has been a real pleasure, very affectionate, loving, and playful. However our resident, elderly cat was not so pleased with the new addition.  At first she was openly hostile to the newbie, but now she has come to a state of truce, unless Bella intrudes on her personal space, and then she can expect to be swiped at, chased or otherwise harassed.

This morning I was sitting on my bed and the elderly cat was with IMG_0610me sleeping on the bed. Bella came in from her morning exploration chirping cutely as she does to say hi. I called her up on the bed, and she accidentally jumped right on top of the elderly cat! lol You can imagine, not a pleasant scene. Poor Bella was swiped at, and she made a hasty exit. However, watching this scene, I got off the bed, picked her up in my arms and took her back to the bed, snuggled closely in my arms.  She seemed quite appreciative to be rescued, cuddled, and given permission to go where the older cat wouldn’t allow.

There is no way my older cat would do anything to Bella while I’m holding her. I’m like “base” in the children’s game of tag. No one can touch her if I have her. She is completely safe, protected, and out of harm’s reach. Not only that but she is also loved and affectionately cherished. And she gets the privilege of being close to me, much closer than the older cranky one!

As I was holding my baby, it occurred to me that this is what it is like with God. If we choose to snuggle close to Him, to rest in His arms, and to enjoy Him, we are safe from whatever is trying to hurt us. Nothing would dare approach or attack when we are safe in His arms. In addition to being protected, we are also have the added privilege of being loved and cherished and in an intimate position of closeness with the One we love. Sounds like the place to be to me!

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” Surely He will save you from the fowler’s snare…He will cover you with his feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day… Psa. 91:1-5 NIV

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It’s less than a month till our Hiking trip on the Appalachian Trail in Vermont. I can’t wait! Unfortunately now I’m sick. I thought I was going to escape what everybody had last week, but I did not. But God has graciously allowed for many of my appointments to be cancelled this week. I tutor math, and it seems everyone is busy here at the end of the school year. But I am just grateful I don’t have anywhere to go because I feel awful.

The flip side of that is that I get to enjoy quiet time alone with God, just me and Him. Sometimes I guess we just need a break, a rest. Even if it is while we are sick. And I am enjoying my time with God now.

Sometimes it seems like we get a special closeness with Him when we are weak. A special dependence on Him and a need for comfort and rest with Him. And so we get that comfort and rest as He heals our bodies and souls. I am so glad that I have God to take care of me.

He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. Ps. 23

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The Lord is my Shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He refreshes my soul…  Psa. 23:1

My husband was sick this past weekend, worn down by working so many hours, so we didn’t get to hike very far. My daughter was also sick on her birthday, which was Saturday, so my husband and I decided to just do a short hike at a nearby park. When we got there, we found out that this was the day for their outdoor festival. We just kind of ignored it and headed off for our usual hike in the woods around the outskirts of the park. By the time we made it all the way around and back to the open area in the center, we began to look at some of the booths.

There was one from the Meeman Shelby State Park where we usually do our long hikes displaying an owl and a long (creepy) snake that you could pick up! There was also a petting zoo from Hooker Farms with the most adorable little animals! We thought they was so cute and my daughter loves cute little animals so much that we drove home, got her, and brought her back, even though she was sick. It was her birthday, after all!

We saw bunnies that were so cute and soft. We got to each pick up one and snuggle it! Some of the animals had quite a personality. We met a pig who would come up to you and look straight up his snout at you! No doubt, looking for food! And then there was my favorite animal there, a cute little wooly sheep. He was all fluffy and chubby-looking.  He was very interested in you when you came around and seemed to be very sociable, like a dog.   He would look up at you with a smile on his face!  If you got close to him, he would come right up to you and curiously nose around. He was very responsive and seemed to have quite a personality. We just thought he was the star of the zoo, Mr. Personality! lol

Then I thought of how the Bible says we are the sheep and Jesus is our Shepherd. He is the Good Shepherd who leads us from one pasture to the next to find food and safety for us. He loves our quirky personality. He loves each sheep for its uniqueness, and He knows each one intimately. He cares for each sheep as if he or she were the only one.  And in the end, He leads us safely home. After meeting this sheep with attitude, I’ll never read the stories about Jesus and His sheep the same way again!

Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.  Luke 15:3-7

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It was raining on Saturday this past weekend, so we took a shorter four mile hike after church on Sunday at Stanky Creek in Bartlett, TN.  Do you like the name? lol  It was a bit “stanky” when crossing some of the swampy areas!   This is park mainly used my mountain bikers, which contributes to the mud, and when it is busy you always have to be looking over your shoulder for a bike coming up from behind.  But yesterday it was so wet from all the recent rain that the whole place to ourselves!

As I look at the beauty of God’s creation, my breath is just taken away.  The last time we hiked there, there were no leaves on the trees, so this time it just about looked like we were in a jungle!  Everything was lush and bright green.  We saw lots of flowers, Tulip Tree flowers that had fallen to the ground.  At one point on the trail there was the most delicious smell.  We looked down and there were little while flower petals strewn everywhere on the trail and a few clumps of intact flowers.  I picked one up and the smell was absolutely heavenly!  We looked everywhere for where the flowers had come from and finally found them very high at the top of trees which were higher than all the other vegetation.  I looked it up when I got home and I think it is a Black Locust.  The smell that God created for this flower was so beautiful, it was almost intoxicating!

God is such a spectacular artist.   Being in nature reminds me of His limitless power to create and sustain beauty.   I cannot help but worship when I see the beauty he is capable of creating.  And then to know that with all that power and creative beauty, He also knows and loves us each so completely and intimately. That is even more amazing.   He truly is amazing and worthy of worship.

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20130423-102257.jpgI bought this wall-hanging years ago while we were traveling on a section of the Natchez Trace Parkway in Tennessee, which is a very old trail once used by Indians and now a scenic parkway.

There are all sorts of parks and historical things to see along the parkway. I bought this quilt wall-hanging at a charming little store at the French Camp Academy. It was a lot of money for me to spend then, but i splurged because I absolutely loved the colors, the design, and message.

For years it hung in our bonus room upstairs, mostly forgotten. When my daughter moved her bedroom up there, it came downstairs to hang in my bathroom. So whenever I take a bath, I look right at it.

Sometimes when I’m praying and frustrated, not knowing how to solve a problem, my gaze comes to rest on this quilt, and I just meditate on it . And somehow those simple words sink through to my heart: “When this you see, remember Me,” with the picture of a star, a pierced hand, and a heart. How sweet, right? It is so simple yet so powerful. The star represents Jesus birth here on earth. The pierced hand is His death for us on the cross. The heart is His love for us.

When I look at this, I am reminded of who Jesus is, that He knows me. I belong to Him, and He is mine. And He loves me. Those are the basic truths. Never forget. No matter how crazy things are, those are the only things that really matter.

When this you see, remember Me.

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Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, (Rom. 8:1 NIV84)

When I was sick last week, God had me stop…and look at Him. Even when I wasn’t sure if I was doing something wrong – especially then.

It felt good to be open with Him, not trying to hide anything, and to find no condemnation but just acceptance, peace and rest.

I haven’t done that on a long while. Such intimacy. It requires boldness, bravery and risk! Because I’m not sure how He will react.

And the acceptance is that much sweeter in the face of risk and deserved condemnation. And then I am left with a sweet memory of my intimate time with Him.

Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (Hebrews 4:16 NIV84)

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