Author Archives: naturelady

About naturelady

Christ-Follower. Wife (married 30 years). Mother of 7. Grandmother of 1. Home educator. Occupational therapist. Blogger (www.skippingston.es). Director ofTimbernook of Greater Baltimore. So many titles, but woven through all of them is a desire to participate in God's story in my realm of influence. I love spending time outdoors and encouraging others to do so - I think it is such a tangible way to see God's character as it heals, grows, calms and brings us to a place of awe and wonder. Looking forward to growing closer to God with you as we journey through HIs Word this year.

Num. 36, Psalm 80, Isaiah 28, 2 John 1

At the urging of a friend, last year I began the practice of seeking God to reveal to me a word – one word – that would be meaningful for me throughout the year. RESTORE was the word He gave me last year. It was His promise to me to heal some deep wounds that I had been nursing. Time and time again, God would remind me in a song or a scripture passage that He would restore my heart and mind so that I could serve Him effectively. When the end of the year came, I didn’t want to give up my word. While the restoration process had come a long way, I wasn’t ready to move on. But God had a different plan for me. He wanted me to go deeper. Rather than focusing on myself, He wante me to move outward.

The word that God gave me this year was LOVE. Initially, I fought this word. Love is too generic, I thought. Too fluffy. Too easy. Too Christian. However, I began to see that I had a lot of work to do in that area. Was I allowing God to love me? How was I loving my family? How was I loving my community? But more than anything, how was I loving those who are hard to love? or those who are different than me?

I was reminded just how essential love is for a healthy walk with God when I read today’s I John passage:

And now, dear lady, I am not writing you a new command but one we have had from the beginning. I ask that we love one another.And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning,his command is that you walk in love. 2John 5-6 NIV

By loving one another, we are revealing Christ to the world. Deceivers and charlatans are plenty these days, telling us not to associate with those who think differently, or vote differently. The media fills our minds with accusations and negativity.  I have come to understand more than any other time in my life, the importance of fixing my eyes on Christ. If I do that, LOVE becomes a natural outpouring. God still has a lot of work to do in me, but I am making progress. I am taking steps to love more – To more consistently consider what Christ would do if he was in my situation. I have found myself serving when it wasn’t convenient, opening my home to strangers when it was out of my comfort zone. My prayer is that God would continue to work in my heart to help me LOVE better. If we all loved better, imagine what a different world we would live in.

Lord, help us to love well. Help us to obey your commands, even when it isn’t convenient or easy. As we seek your will for us, show us ways – big and small –  that we can love those around us so that others can be drawn to you.

Ann (naturelady)

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Numbers 6; Psalm 40, 41; Song of Solomon 4; Hebrews 4

I don’t know about you, but I am a sucker for a great love story. The sappier the better. It usually goes something like this. Two people meet. They fall in love. But something gets in the way. A heart is broken. But then, somehow, against all odds, they finally get back together and live happily ever after. It never gets old to me.

It is not something I often think about – but the Bible is a passionate love story. A love story beyond all love stories. A redemptive love story.

Adoration, passion and intimacy are modeled poetically for us in Song of Solomon (NIV).

9You have stolen my heart, my sister, my bride;
    you have stolen my heart
with one glance of your eyes,
    with one jewel of your necklace.
10 How delightful is your love, my sister, my bride!
    How much more pleasing is your love than wine,
and the fragrance of your perfume
    more than any spice!

We love God but it is often hard to know how to adequately love him back. How could we ever give back to Him? As David says in Psalm 40 (NIV):

5None can compare with you;
    were I to speak and tell of your deeds,
    they would be too many to declare.

But much like a wife longs to “just be” with her husband, what God wants most is our presence. Our whole being. Not doing something. Not producing something but just being wholly, completely, with Him.

Close your eyes as you listen to this song and listen to Him as He bids you to draw near.

Lord, Thank you for loving me. For claiming me as your own, even though it came with such an incredible cost. Help me to “just be” with you.

Ann (naturelady)

 

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Leviticus 4; Psalm 1, 2; Proverbs 19; Colossians 2

Hiking in the woods, near a stream, is one of my favorite things to do. The closer you get to creation, the closer you get to The Creator. His very character is embedded in nature – and it is no coincidence. Just as you can learn much about an artist, as you see a painting, natural settings cry out about God. The words of Psalm 1 came to life as I read them:

That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
    which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
    whatever they do prospers.

Psalm 1:3 NIV

Psalm 1, Tree by stream, Living Water, blessed, meditate day and night

Tree planted by streams of water

In Psalm 1, a person who meditates on God’s word day and night is equated to a tree planted by a stream – it grows, bears fruit and prospers. The trees roots are immersed in the water, soaking up the goodness that makes it thrive. Even if there are rocks, as in the picture above, the tree finds a way to get those roots in the water. Jesus is our Living Water. It is only through constant immersion in Him, that we can grow and bear fruit.

In Leviticus 4, it discusses all the types of sacrifices that had to be made to make things right with God. Yet, because of Christ, the ultimate sacrifice, we can come to God, clean, anytime we want. What a blessing to have the Living Water covering us, bathing us.

A couple years ago, I got to see the Redwoods for the very first time. It was far beyond my wildest imagination. When I inquired what made them so big, the answer was that the conditions of the rain  and the mist make it ideal for them to grow. We have control over our conditions. Consider that – as our roots our bathed in Living Water and our leaves are covered with the Holy Spirit, The Word, and Fellowship, etc. we too can grow. Wow!

Lord, I want to be like a redwood. Help me to grow roots that soak up your goodnes. Help me to immerse myself in you. Thank you for your provision and your availability.

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

Colossians 2:6-7 NIV

There it is again….rooted and built up in Him. I love how God reveals himself in tangible things that surround us. I encourge you to get outside and see Him. He is everywhere.

Ann (naturelady)

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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Colossians, Leviticus, Proverbs, Psalms, Uncategorized

Exodus 15, Luke 18, Job 23, 2Cor 3

Your very lives are a letter that anyone can read by just looking at you.

2 Corinthinans 3: 3 The Message

Paul’s statement to the Corinthians got me thinking about what kind of letter my life represents. As a believer in Christ, my desire is that my life would be a loving invitation to the world to join in on the journey, a testimony that this beautiful mess is the place to be. Sadly, I think my life is probably more often like a letter of complaint, or a rejection letter that says, “I got this, I don’t need Christ today.”

We see the Israelites in Exodus 15, on the other side of the Red Sea, proclaiming victory. They had just been spared their life through a miraculous event!

I’m singing my heart out to God—what a victory!
    He pitched horse and rider into the sea.
God is my strength, God is my song,
    and, yes! God is my salvation.
This is the kind of God I have
    and I’m telling the world!

Exodus 15:1-3 The Message

I can’t even imagine the relief and joy they must have been feeling. To have seen the enemy so close, chasing them down, only to be swallowed up by the sea. I can picture them face down on the ground, praising God for his deliverance. Yet….only 3 days later, when they struggle to find water, they grumble. How could they have forgotten so quickly? Yet, I often do the same. What kind of letter am I sending??  Am I declaring with my life that God is in the glaring victories, as well as, in the struggles?

Jesus uses the parable of the rich official to demonstrate how hard it is for the wealthy to let go of material things. The rich official is feeling pretty good about all he has sacrificed but when Jesus tells him to sell all his belongings, he is crest-fallen.

23 This was the last thing the official expected to hear. He was very rich and became terribly sad. He was holding on tight to a lot of things and not about to let them go.

Luke 18:23 The Message

I have been fortunate enough to travel to quite a few places in the world. I have seen poverty up close. Like nothing we see on a daily basis in the United States. I understand how rich we truly are. Yet, even in that understanding, my hands are clinging too tightly to “things.” Recently, I have heard a worship leader ask, “how can we recieve from God when our hands are closed?” How true! How humbling! What kind of letter am I sending? One of that invites freedom or one declares fear?

We find Job in Chapter 23 wondering where God is. He seems nowhere to be found. Yet, even still, Job has a proper view of who God is.

But he is singular and sovereign. Who can argue with him?
    He does what he wants, when he wants to.
He’ll complete in detail what he’s decided about me,
    and whatever else he determines to do.

Job 23:13-14

Accepting God’s sovereignty and trusting in his decisions is something I want in my life. Rather than questioning and struggling with my circumstances. Who am I to question the Maker of the Universe?

Lord, help me be a letter that invites people to draw closer to you, that declares your goodness. Help me to trust in who you are and not grumble in my circumstances. Help me cling to Jesus as I walk through the life you have given me so that you will be glorified. 

Ann (naturelady)

 

 

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Genesis 37; Mark 7; Job 3; Romans7

What is the condition of your heart? Today’s readings brought me to a humble place of introspection regarding the health of my own heart. Joseph’s brothers were filled with jealousy that lead to them to take dire action against Joseph and their father.

When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him.

Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more.Genesis 37: 4-5 NIV

It is easy to write off the brother’s actions as drastic and beyond anything we could imagine doing. But how often do I long for something belonging to someone else? How often do I envy someone else’s recognition? How often do I neglect my own position and purpose as I envy another?

While Joseph’s brother’s were physically malicious, the Pharisees manifested their “diseased” hearts by using their postion to act superior to others. Jesus had no compassion for this behavior.

He replied, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written:

“‘These people honor me with their lips,
    but their hearts are far from me.
They worship me in vain;
    their teachings are merely human rules.’[b]

You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.” Mark 7: 6-8 NIV

It is easy for me to look down on the Pharisees for their intolerance. But how often do I judge people on their actions without considering where they are coming from? How often do I focus on “looking spiritual” rather than pursuing the heart change that matters most to God?

Job was suffering when we encounter him in Job 3; his heart was aching. What struck me most here is that God allows our hearts to ache. We can cry out to God as we hurt. The Psalms are full of David crying out. The real question is what are we going to do with our heartache. Are we going to act out on our jealousy like Joseph’s brothers? Are we going to pass judgement while failing to see our own hardened heart? Or as Paul does in Romans, can we, aware of our own sinfulness, come to the throne of God, grateful for the gift of deliverance through Christ?

25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! Romans 7: 25 NIV

Create in me a clean heart, Lord.

Ann (naturelady)

 

 

 

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