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Posts Tagged ‘Christianity’

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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A couple of weeks ago, my sister texted me asking if I’d like to go backpacking with a friend of hers (Laura) six days from that day to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan!  I was excited, in shock, surprised, and then stressed.  She and her friend had been planning the trip since the beginning of this year, but at the last minute her friend was not able to go, and Laura would not have been able to go without a partner.

So I thought about it for about 10 minutes, and then thought how could I pass up this opportunity?! I probably would never do this trip otherwise.  It takes a day just to travel to Grand Rapids, Michigan from Tennessee, but almost another day to get from there to the Upper Peninsula.

So I had six days to pack and coordinate all of our gear and travel plans.  Next thing I know, I’m meeting Laura and heading north. And what an amazing trip it was.  We hiked the length of the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, 42 miles, over five days, which is also part of the longer North Country Trail.

We had been hiking the AT in New Hampshire prior to this, climbing thousands of feet in elevation change in only a few miles.  So this hike was a refreshing change!  There was very little elevation change.  Just a few 100 ft or so climbs up and down the cliff.  We were able to hike more miles, more quickly, and still arrive at our campsite half way through the day. Plus it also turns out that almost every campsite that we stayed at had a beach access, and the water was warm and clear and refreshing.  I was actually able to wash my hair half way through the trip and at least able to soak my feet most nights.  The days in Michigan are long, not getting dark till 8:30 pm, and most of the time it was sunny and pleasant.  Sometimes hiking feels like a real chore, but getting to end each day relaxing on a beach was a real pleasure.  Plus the cliffs and the sand and the turquoise waters were so amazing.  The views were breathtaking.

I hope you enjoy our videos and thanks for hiking along with us!

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For in Him we live and move and have our being.  Acts 17:28

Its funny.  We grow up on this planet assuming that we belong to ourselves.  We assume that we can do whatever we want.  We are individuals.  We have rights.  We are free.  We can’t see God, so its hard to know sometimes that He exists and who He is.  But then one day we meet Him.   We fall in love with Him.  But, as in my case, it can become hard to understand why we are told to praise and worship Him?   One reason our country is great because we believe that everyone is created equal.  We aren’t used to societies that have ruling classes where it is accepted that one must respect and submit to persons above them. 

I struggled with this a year or two after being saved.  If God loved me, why would He ask me to praise Him??  I couldn’t understand why God, who loved me so much and was my Friend, would ask me to lift Him up and praise Him.  It just didn’t make sense in my logical mind.  I prayed about it and asked God, but still didn’t come to a logical answer.  So one day I finally just decided to do it.  And in doing it I felt such joy and a sense that it was right.

Even now sometimes I struggle with allowing God to be in control.  Sometimes I do better than others.  The days I give Him control are often wonderful days as I watch as He works out my day.  But other days I find myself resistant.  I just want to do what I want to do!  I know it’s not right and ultimately it leads to discontent on my part.  But yet I still choose it sometimes.  Why do I have so much trouble giving Him control and admitting that He is my Master, albeit the most loving, gentle, kind Master there is, who is always working for my good .

But as I look at who God is, it becomes easier to understand why we should worship and obey Him.  He created all of us!  Before that there was nothing but God.  He has always existed, He has no beginning and no end.  He always Is.  And then He decided to create the earth and us.   We only live because God sustains us.  Our heart beats, we breathe in oxygen, our soul lives because He sustains us.  

He created the perfect planet to sustain us.  It is just the right distance from the sun to sustain our life.  A bit too close and we burn up.  A bit too far and we freeze to death.  We have just the right amount of oxygen so that we can breathe and not some other gas which would poison us.  Without Him creating the perfect, safe environment for us to live in, we would not continue to exist.

No only did He create us and our planet, but He created a plan for us as well.  We are living in the story that He created.  He knew Adam and Eve would sin.  He knew He would send Jesus to die for our sins.  He knows when He will come back again to bring us to  be with Him.  It is His story, planned by Him from beginning to end.  And we are a part of it, walking through our little piece of it.

So for me to think that I am my own, that I am independent, free to do whatever I want is kind of silly in light of all that!  It is all God’s.  His people.  His story.  He has a right to tell me what is right and wrong.  He has a right to be worshiped and adored.  He is, after all, all-powerful, holy beyond our understanding, and Love.  He loves us more than we can imagine.  He is a great, unimaginable, good Being, the likes of which we cannot conceive.  We’ve never met on this earth anyone who compares.  We never will.  Even the angels in all their glory, do not hold a candle to God.  He is the One and Only great and awesome God.

In light of all this, our response is only to bow down and worship.  We are created from a thought in His mind.  We are sustained by His will.  We are cared for and protected by His Love.  We are created for Him and by Him, living on His earth, walking through His plan, His story until He brings His children safely Home to be with Him.  We are not our own.  We are His.  In the end there really is no other response than worship and submission. 

And the amazing thing is that with all His power and glory and greatness and holiness, He comes down to find us, each of His individual children.  He comes to seek each one of us and gives us dignity, life in Him, a sense of purpose in His plan, the love we have always desired.   In fact, He gives us the love that He created us to receive and without which we are incomplete.   The Great King treats us as friends, as sons and daughters.  He treats us gently and kindly as we kneel in awe and reverence of our Master and Love.

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There are certain aspects of God’s character that amaze me every time I think of them.  I just can’t seem to get over them.  I was listening to our Klove Christian radio station on the way home from work today, and the speaker was talking about how they never get over the fact that God actually chooses to live in us.  When I think about it, it continues to amaze me too.  God actually condescends to make His home in our humble little hearts, making us a temple in which His presence resides! 

I can’t get over the fact that He actually lives in me.  It is such an intimate, personal, all-encompassing experience.  He is always with me, inside of me.  I am never left alone.  Never without help or comfort or company.  He goes about my day with me, experiencing everything I experience, feeling everything I feel.  He knows me, inside and out.  He is always ready to listen to my thoughts and fears.  He helps me with my struggles or is just available to chat.  He never leaves.  He shares my very body with me.  He co-resides in me.  It’s really an amazing, awesome thing that I cannot get over!

The second thing I can never get over is that fact that God loves me.  He, who created all things, who has all power, who is perfect and holy, loves me!?   He, the great King, chooses to reach down and lift up us poor children, so that we become sons and daughters of the King! 

It doesn’t even seem like it should be true.  It doesn’t seem right that He should be so loving and so gentle and kind and patient with me.  I keep trying to convince myself that my latest transgression was one too many.  Surely it would have lessened His love for me, or at least His desire to be with me.   But it does not.  It never does.  He always greets me warmly, with love and gentleness.  He delights in my presence.  He delights in me.  Thankfully His love for me is not based on what I do but on what Jesus has already done for me on the cross.  He just loves me for me, because I am His.  Because He made me. 

Sometimes I forget what His love is like, how deep it is, how crazy and passionate He really is about us.  I get distracted and doubtful.  But then once again He reminds me, and I am surprised to remember that He truly does love me that much, beyond what I can even comprehend.  After all these years of learning about His love for me, I don’t think I’ve even scratched the tip of the iceberg!  I only know a wee little bit of the depth of His love now and even that little bit  amazes me. 

God, I never get over being amazed at how You love me or how You are always within me.  I would be lost without You, and I am alive with You.  You, living within me, loving me beyond my imagining, gives me life.  It is the very sustenance by which I live.  I am grateful beyond words and humbled.  We love You, and we choose to be with You too, amen.

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love,  may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,  and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.  Eph. 3:17-19

The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.   Josh. 31:8

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All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be.  Psa. 139:16

As we learn to deal with job and financial struggles, I have found that I experience God’s grace day-to-day.  It’s almost like being carried spiritually through it all.  We are learning that we haven’t ever really been the ones to provide for ourselves, and especially now we know we aren’t able to provide everything we need for ourselves.  God provides for us.  He always has, but its easy to ignore when everything is going fine.  So in this learning to depend on Him, I find myself sometimes closer to Him.  It’s not anything I do.  In fact, now more than before I struggle with spending enough time alone with Him and with conquering bad habits that I thought I had already conquered.  But yet I find Him close sometimes throughout the day.  I find myself thinking about Him, smiling to inwardly in His direction at the little connection with Him.  I find little interactions throughout the day, a touch or a moment shared as we think of each other.  Sometimes I think I am learning to experience a little bit of what Brother Lawrence called “practicing the presence of God” in his book by the same name.  He says  he learned to experience God’s presence every day through faith, even as he was going about his work in the kitchen or whatever he was doing that day.

This morning as I pulled into the parking lot at work, I prayed my usual prayer, “God, please help me love people.  Help me to be accurate in my work.  Help me to be close to You and to connect with You throughout the day.  Help me to do Your will.”  And sometimes I forget to pray this last part, but this morning I did pray, “Put together my day.”  Sometimes when I pray that and really look to see what He has planned for me, I have the most interesting days and find myself endeared to Him as I realize that He has planned specific events tailored just for me.

So after my prayer, I went in to work and did my usual stuff.  I can leave when I’ve finished my work, and today I found I did not have much to do.  This was convenient because my Mom had knee surgery yesterday and was still in the hospital.  I could go right to the hospital, which is much closer to work than to my home.  I called my Dad to see what was going on at the hospital and he was just leaving to go have lunch at a Thai restaurant.   I had not had lunch yet and I love Thai food, so this was perfect timing!  I drove to the hospital, picked up my Dad, and we enjoyed our Thai lunch!

Then we drove back to the hospital, and I spent some time with my Mom.  After I left, I still had to go grocery shopping.  I had lots of energy before but was now finally starting to droop.  Although tired, I enjoyed shopping because I was still aware of God’s presence with me.  As I drove home, I began to see the most amazing sunset!  The sky glowed with a soft pink and orange.  But then as I turned the corner to enter the highway, in all three of my rearview mirrors I saw the sun blazing, a gloriously large, low, fiery orangey-pink fireball.  It was really breathtaking!  And it was shining at me through all three rearview mirrors!  I couldn’t miss it!  It was awesome!  And I saw it as a blessing, a gift from God, for no other reason than to say that He loves me.

When I finally got home I was tired.  It was dinner time, and I still had to put the groceries away and make dinner.  As I’m in my bedroom changing, my 12-year-old comes in and says, “Mom, is it okay if I make dinner tonight?”  At first, I’m thinking I already had something planned and that I would probably do a better job.  But then I thought, my daughter is offering to cook!  This doesn’t happen too often!  I’d better take her up on it!  And when I asked her about it, she actually had a pretty good plan, so I told her to go for it.  Then completely seperately, my 15-year old was also planning to make desert that night!  Now this doesn’t happen too often either.  God had it all planned out after my long, tiring day, to even get my girls to make dinner and desert for me.  Who would have thought??

So I sat and rested for a minute while the girls cooked.  My husband came home just as it was finished.  We all sat down and ate a meal that was delicious, all the more so because I didn’t make it!! :)  I felt really blessed and cared for as I thought of how God had answered my prayer from that morning to plan my day.  He really did a great job and surprised me with how it all turned out, really much better than I could have planned myself.  Plus it is just so much more fun to see what He has in mind and to accept the things that happen as gifts from Him, tokens of love and His care, catalysts for worshipping Him and drawing closer to Him.

Thank You God for the amazing plans you have for our days!

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And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.  Phil 4:19 (NAS)

In the past week or so we have had major systems go out all over the place!  Last week our microwave died, one month after the 10-year warranty for the magnetron expired!  Figures, right?  It was rough living without that microwave!  lol  We actually had to get the tea kettle out to boil water.  And we had to reheat food in the oven!  And make popcorn on the stove top!  (Yes, we have become quite spoiled with our microwave!) 

The next thing to blow up was our internet.  It had been having problems on and off for months now, though we could always reboot it and make it work again.  But on Saturday it finally went kaput.  We could not get it restarted for anything.   Having no internet is really tough.  And yes, we are spoiled with that too!  No tv guide, no ability to research the best microwave to replace the old one, no online devotional, no email, no blog!

The third problem was that the light for the airbag had come on in our minivan a while ago, but last week the horn and the cruise control also stopped working.  We could live with the airbag not working, but I found out not having my horn was quite scary when a car cut me off on the highway, and I had no way to let them know that I was there.

It certainly has been different living without all our conveniences and in the case of the car, without safety features.  And of course we worry, how can we afford to pay to fix everything with the job situation being so difficult?  But God has provided a solution for everything, just as He has promised.

Thankfully Comcast came out earlier this week and fixed our internet for free as part of our service.  We are grateful that the problem wasn’t with one of our own computer components but  with Comcast.  And it was easily fixable.  For the microwave, God provided money needed to replace it.  I had just finished house-sitting for a month for my parents, and it turned out to be just enough to cover the cost of the new microwave, which by the way was delivered today!!  Ahhh, hot water in just over a minute again!  Its wonderful! :)  And our airbag/horn/cruise control problem turned out to be a recall.  All we had to do was take it to the dealer, and they fixed it for free in one afternoon, good as new!

So even though these things are inconvenient, God has our back.  He led us through each frustrating event, step by step, and showed us how to fix it or provided the money to replace it.  Our first instinct with all this is to wonder, how will we ever fix this since we have no extra money?  And we assume that we are stuck and will have to live without.  But God already knew these things would happen, and He knew just how He would provide the solution.  He takes such good care of us and He will take good care of you as well, as we learn to trust Him.

Thank You Jesus for showing us once again that You are able and willing to provide for us.  Our money and our job does not provide for us, You do.  And You do a great job of it too!  Help us to continue to learn to trust You and to be confident in Your ability and willingness to care for us.  We love You!!  In Jesus Name, amen.

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And [Jesus] said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a while.”  Mk. 6:31

Our internet has been out since Saturday.  It has been a real hardship!  lol It felt like one of my senses was taken away.  In fact, I actually had to write this blog on paper until we got the internet fixed!  Every time I turned around there was something I wanted to do on the internet but remembered it was not available.  I couldn’t check the weather, read my emails, write my blog, do research for a microwave that needed to be replaced, download pictures to Facebook, or watch Netflix.  I couldn’t even read my online devotional. 

I had not realized how dependent we have become on the internet!  And it was frustrating to be thwarted in all my pursuits.  But at the same time I found it was kind of nice.  I actually got used to having the peace and quiet of not being able to go to the computer every time I was bored.  In fact when everyone was out running errands the other day, instead being able to sit down to the computer like I normally would have, I lay down on the couch, closed my eyes, and spent time alone with God.  We ended up having a very nice time together.  I enjoyed my peace and quiet with Him, with no distractions to take my focus from Him. 

So I’m glad that our internet was fixed today, in fact, relieved!  And very much enjoying having my “internet sense” back again.  But it was nice to have that quiet undistracted time with God, to be reminded to take time away from it to spend with Him.  I really did enjoy that impromptu time alone with God.  

Lord, help me in the future to not be so distracted by things like the internet and to always to be open to Your leading to come away and be alone with You.  We love You and we enjoy spending time with You.  In Jesus Name, amen.

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