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.

2 Samuel 12; 2 Corinthians 5; Ezekiel 19; Psalm 64, 65

Longing for something we don’t have – it seems to be part of the human condition. Sayings like, ” The grass is always greener….” and ” Keeping up with the Jones.” are evidence that we are often not  satisfied with what we have. I sometimes wonder if  life would be easier if we could have blinders on that keep us from seeing what others have.

David found himself it quite a disatrous predicament when his longings for Bathsheba led to a deadly web of deception. God was not pleased at all.

Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man! This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. I gave your master’s house to you, and your master’s wives into your arms. I gave you all Israel and Judah. And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more. Why did you despise the word of the Lord by doing what is evil in his eyes? You struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and took his wife to be your own. You killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. 10 Now, therefore, the sword will never depart from your house, because you despised me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own.’ 2 Sam. 12: 7-10 NIV

It is quite sobering to read that although David repented of his sin and God continued to bless his life, he did not escape the consequences of his sin.

The tension of longing for our heavenly home and living on Earth in our broken bodies is always here. You can’t escape the news. Our world is full of hurt and brokenness. In our own lives we have pain and heartache. Paul puts it like this:

Compared to what’s coming, living conditions around here seem like a stopover in an unfurnished shack, and we’re tired of it! We’ve been given a glimpse of the real thing, our true home, our resurrection bodies! The Spirit of God whets our appetite by giving us a taste of what’s ahead. He puts a little of heaven in our hearts so that we’ll never settle for less. 2 Cor5:2-5 The Message

That last line is really the key – that longing, that wanting more. It really is our hearts wanting what only God can provide. We can stop looking! Stop trying to fill our lives with other things. Even in our earthly bodies we have a fresh start.

17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:[a] The old has gone, the new is here!

I want to start living that way everyday.

Lord, thank you for our life in Christ. May we live in such a way that we look forward to our life in heaven while at the very same time, live a life of freedom and fulfillment in You. May we never settle for less.

 

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Romans 9; Jerimiah 48; Psalm 25; I Samuel 11

That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith; 31 but the people of Israel, who pursued the law as the way of righteousness,have not attained their goal. 32 Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone.

Romans 9:30 NIV

Sometimes it is easier to do things that are totally new to you, rather than making a change to things you have been doing all along. You know the saying, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” For hundreds of years Israel was governed by The Law but now things are different and they are struggling to make a change – Struggling to live in this new freedom.

Do you have areas of your spiritual life where you are resistant to change? Do you only listen to one type of worship music? Do you cringe when you see someone in church who doesn’t fit your picture of what a “church goer” should look like? Do you struggle to “be still” because you want to get things done?

As my children are getting older and making their faith their own, it has helped me to see some areas in my own life that need reexamining. As they are asking questions, I have had to bring some of my actions and beliefs under deeper consideration. Are my actions and beliefs indicative of  Truth or do they just refelct the way it has always been done?

Lord, help me to live by faith and to always be looking to You. Help me not to rely on tradition but to rely on Truth.

While looking at this same passage in The Message, it compared the Gentiles and the Israelites in a way that hit too close to home:

All those people who didn’t seem interested in what God was doing actually embraced what God was doing as he straightened out their lives. And Israel, who seemed so interested in reading and talking about what God was doing, missed it. How could they miss it? Because instead of trusting God, they took over. They were absorbed in what they themselves were doing. They were so absorbed in their “God projects” that they didn’t notice God right in front of them, like a huge rock in the middle of the road. And so they stumbled into him and went sprawling. Isaiah (again!) gives us the metaphor for pulling this together:

Careful! I’ve put a huge stone on the road to Mount Zion,
    a stone you can’t get around.
But the stone is me! If you’re looking for me,
    you’ll find me on the way, not in the way.

Romans 9:30-33 The Message

I don’t want to be so involved in my “God projects” that I miss what God is doing right in front of me. I cringe to think of the time that I spend doing church activities but not really engaging in or acknowledging what God is doing around me. How many opportunities to obey God have I missed because I was absorbed in my own agenda?

Lord, forgive me for not stopping and seeing your hand in my life as often as I should. Forgive me for being so busy that I forget to stop and see all the ways that you have orchestrated things in my life. Help me to always be looking for You. I want my relationship with you to not be an item on a “to do” list, but rather a longing to know you and see your presence in my life. Help me to live by faith.

 4Show me your ways, Lord,
    teach me your paths.
Guide me in your truth and teach me,
    for you are God my Savior,
    and my hope is in you all day long.

Psalm 25 4-5 NIV

Ann (naturelady)

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Judges 5; Acts 9; Jeremiah 18; Mark 4

As followers of Christ, we all have a conversion story. A story of before and after. A turning point. In Acts 9, Saul has a dramatic encounter with Christ. One moment he was headed to persecute Christ-followers, the next minute he is blinded and confronted by Christ himself.

The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything. (NIV)

Ananias was sent to deliver a message of deliverance from God:

17 Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands onSaul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized, 19 and after taking some food, he regained his strength. (NIV)

I used to be envious of people who had a testimony that was as drastic as Paul’s. Perhaps they were enslaved to drugs but met Christ and immediately were free of their addiction. Or maybe they grew up with an alcoholic parent, and found healing when they met Christ as an adult. Some speak of walking an aisle when given an invitation.

I have come to realize, though, that my story, though not dramatic is no less miraculous. That even though my entry into the Kingdom was gentle and unceremonious, it was no less remarkable than Paul’s. Our story of conversion is part of a bigger story and plan. God’ welcomes us all equally. We all have a part to play. It’s what we do with it that matters.

15 Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them. 16 Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy. 17 But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. 18 Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; 19 but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealthand the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful. 20 Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop—some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown.” Mark 4 15-20 NIV)

Though I grew up going to church, I didn’t really hear about having a personal relationship with Christ until I was in college and got involved with a campus ministry. Sadly, many of the people that were involved in that group are no longer walking with God. I don’t know why I am still pursuing God and they aren’t. I can’t imagine life without God – it would be a life without purpose. Looking back, my faith story may not have had a sensational beginning, but it has had it’s share of sensational moments – times of blessing, hard times that led to incredible growth, restorative encounters and answered prayers. I am thankful for my story.

What’s your story? Have you taken the time to write it down? How have you changed since you met Christ? What are some of the things God has taught you? What have been your struggles? Your triumphs? Stories are powerful. God wrote your own unique story just for you. Be ready to share it. You never know how your story might impact someone else someday.

Ann (gardenlady)

 

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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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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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