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Archive for the ‘Love’ Category

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 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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Jesus loves me. He delights in me. He is affectionate towards me. He lavishes His love on me. I am deeply, affectionately loved! No matter where I go or what I do, His love is always with me and surrounds me. He is always in love with me. What a sense of belonging and security! My identity is the beloved of God. No one or nothing can change that.

So what could be wrong? I think my big mistake is trying to live for myself instead of Him. Living for myself, trying to make things work out my way, is anxiety. Living for Him is freedom. I only follow Him and no matter what the earthly results, I succeed.

The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.”
-Zephaniah 3:17 (NIV84)

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20130215-105434.jpgThe joy of the Lord is my strength.  Nehemiah 8:10

One of the things we like to do to train for our Appalachian Trail hike this summer is to take shorter walks throughout the week and a longer one on the weekend.  Our town built a nice walking trail that leads from our neighborhood to a nearby park.  You have to cross over a highway to get to the park.  One day as were doing our usual walk I noticed, someone had pained a big smiley face on the side of the bridge.  So you look down at cars zooming below you but also see this giant face smiling back at you!  I thought it was quite comical and a bit out of place so that it is a pleasant surprise, something you do not expect when crossing over a highway!

Sometimes I struggle with mild depression.  I just feel down and anxious and I really don’t know why.  I know its satan trying to bring me down and distract me from the amazing things God has planned for me.  If I am stuck feeling bad about everything, then I can’t very well live victoriously or move forward  with God.  It pretty much incapacities me.

But I forget God’s love for me and His joy.  Last night I had a dream of someone who loved me dearly and something happened that I seemed to find hilariously funny.  I woke up in the middle of laughing hysterically with this overwhelming sense of joy, so much that I felt I couldn’t contain it.  So that’s what I’ve been missing…a sense of His deep love for me, of being in love with Him…and joy.  Just inexplicable, overwhelming joy when you just forget all your cares and relax and trust God.

After all we really have no reason for anxiety. Our Father loves us dearly and accepts us unconditionally.  He has conquered sin and death so we know the end of the story.  We win!  And actually we win now too.  God is in complete control of our lives.  Everything that happens to us has been filtered through His love and all is worked for our good.  So we can’t go wrong.  We just follow Him and we win.  There is no need for worry because our loving Father has taken care of everything for us.  We just have to trust HIm.

So Jesus, help me trust you.  To give up my incessant worrying and to give up believing satan’s lies that things are always wrong.  I know it’s a lie, but it takes so much strength to fight.  But you reminded me last night what it feels like to give up all that worry and to trust you as if I haven’t a care in the world, to laugh freely, and to be loved.  If only we truly understood the reality of our life with you.  Help us to understand.  Thank You for giving this to us!  In Jesus name, amen.

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20130207-111131.jpgMy girls and I watched a cute movie the other day, Forrest Gump. I’d seen it before but wanted to watch it with them. Now we can’t get his quote out of our heads, said with Forrest’s unique Alabama accent, “Momma always said, ‘Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.'”

As I was watching this movie again, I realized how innocent Forest was. He had a low IQ but was was very intelligent about loving people. He seemed to miss all of the evil that was going on around him and just loved the people in his life unconditionally, especially his life-long love, Jenny.

Ever since Forrest and Jenny were children, she would try to protect him from hurtful people and he loved her. Jenny came from an abusive home and as she grew up was always looking for something more exciting than Forrest. She tried drugs, abusive boyfriends, and lived a pretty rough life. She would see Forrest now and then and he would always ask her to stay with him, but she would leave again, restless for the next exciting thing. He never gave up on her.

Finally Jenny returns to Forrest one last time and tells him she is sick. He marries her and takes her home. Finally, when she has no where else to turn, she returns to the one who has always loved her, and he cares for her until her death.

Forrest never stopped loving his Jenny, never gave up on her, never rejected her or turned her away, despite her life-long search for something more exciting.  This reminded me of God and the book if Hosea in the Bible, where God told Hosea to take a prostitute for a wife and love her even as she kept leaving him and going to other men. Hosea did not to give up on her. He always took her back and loved her as his wife.

Hosea is an allegory of God choosing to love us despite our constant wandering to what we think is more exciting and fulfilling than God, though we are often hurting ourselves in the process.  Then we finally wander ourselves out and long for the One who truly loves us.  God never rejects us and is waiting with open arms for our return to nurse our wounds from our reckless living. He takes us home, cares for us tenderly, holds us, and we are loved unconditionally as we were always meant to be. We are finally home.

“[After leaving his father, taking his inheritance, and wasting it in wild living, the son runs out of money.] So he got up and went to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.” (Luke 15:20 NIV84)

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For those of you who don’t know me, I can be a bit…bossy…and critical (gasp!) lol, especially to my husband.  I can be nice and sweet to everyone else in the world, but my husband gets to hear exactly what I’m thinking sometimes.  I guess the good part of that is that I feel comfortable with him to be myself.  But the bad thing is that I want to be building him up with my words not tearing him down.

I was reading a quote from Gary Chapman from Love Language Moments which said that “One of the most common complaints men make in my office is: ‘Dr. Chapman, in my work I am respected. People come to me for advice. But at home, all I get is criticism.’ What she considers suggestions, he reads as criticism…The fastest way to influence a husband is to give him praise. Praise him for effort, not perfection…Your praise urges him on to greater accomplishments.  My challenge is to look for things your husband is doing right and praise him. Praise him in private, praise him in front of the children, praise him in front of your parents and his parents, praise him in front of his peers. Then stand back and watch him go for the gold.”

As I’m reading this I’m remembering criticizing my husband this weekend, of course, trying to be helpful (and bossy! lol).  But I don’t think he took it that way.  Then as I’m thinking about this, the song Words by Hawk Nelson comes on the radio.  (You think God is trying to tell me something??)

Words can build you up
Words can break you down
Start a fire in your heart
Or put it out

Let my words be life
Let my words be truth
I don’t want to say a word
Unless it points the world back to You

And I know this is true.  I know I have the power to hurt people or lift them up with my words, especially my husband.  So, God, please help me to do better.  Help me to love my husband the way you want me to.  I know we can do all things in your strength.  Thank you for Your help.   In Jesus Name, amen.

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