Sitting on a Porch Swing

And He said, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” – Exodus 33:14 (NKJV)

Dale and I got away this week from our normal routine. It’s not like we live in a metropolis, no we live a quiet life on our 5 acre piece of heaven.

After the start of this year, with our daughter’s cancer and my basal cell surgeries, we needed to unwind. So we came to the mountains to a beautiful log cabin in Whittier in the Great Smoky mountains of North Carolina.

It’s a quiet place, and restful. Each night we have been serenaded by the frogs in the pond and trees. At dusk birds call to one another while the scent of honeysuckle fills the air.

Dale has fished nightly, catching and releasing a variety of fish. Fishing is his relaxing time, I know he does his talking with God during those times.

This afternoon, after going into town for lunch and ice cream, and browsing the shops we returned and sat on the porch swing. This is my favorite thing.

I sat curled up next to Dale, his arms wrapped around me. We talked about everything and nothing. We laughed together. It felt comfortable. It was peaceful. It was familiar.

I thought of vacations past. Expectations were there, as well as disappointments. This time was different. We were grateful to just be. We put away thoughts of ‘to-do’ lists. We didn’t focus on the heavy things we have just come through.

No, this part of the Lord’s glorious creation was for us to just be. The house allowed us to do so. The porch gave us space to be quiet or to laugh over silly things.

Too often we go day to day, mentally checking off things, berating ourselves for unaccomplished things. This week the Lord called us to rest and reflect. The journey for us has had it’s ups and downs, but I couldn’t have asked for a better partner to accompany me.

Rest Doesn’t Always Mean Sleep

“Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28 (NLT)

This morning I was conversing with the Lord. I will give you a peak into my thoughts, which is a scary thing. My devotional today was about Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, for me. That through His sacrifice, I received grace when I asked Jesus into my heart. While reading that devotional, I wondered if I truly thought of that great exchange enough. Do I stop and think that because of His horrible death on the cross, my sins are now covered because of His shed blood? I know I take that for granted.

After that, I read in Psalms about having joy in the Lord. “A single day in your courts is better than a thousand anywhere else! I would rather be a gatekeeper in the house of my God than live the good life in the homes of the wicked.” Psalm 84:10 (NLT) I stopped at that verse and said to God, I truly would rather have a single day in His house and relish the glorious worship of Him.

Yes, this is truly what I was thinking earlier. I continued my day with the Lord showing me a few things, and as I was the only one home I said aloud, “I would love to be that Christian that people would look to for an example. ” I said a few other things and realized that the pronoun “I” was in my conversation. I stopped myself and asked for forgiveness, as I in myself can accomplish nothing for the Lord. It is only Him who will accomplish things in me, through me and in spite of me. Most of the time, if not always, it is in spite of me.

After all of the exchange I felt like the Lord said I needed to rest. Rest is like a trigger word for me. The Lord knows that. I said out loud, “I don’t know how to rest.” Too soon, I felt like He not only agreed with me and then I heard “Rest doesn’t always mean sleep.”

The truth of this simple statement quieted me. I do not know how to rest. Rest doesn’t always mean sleep.

There are several definitions of the word rest according to Merriam-Webster. The following are some of the definitions, to rest by lying down, sleep; to cease from action or motion : refrain from labor or exertion; to be free from anxiety or disturbance; to remain confident : trust.

A simple statement, that gives me pause to contemplate the deeper meaning. I need to rest from worry, from fear, from striving, from doing, from inserting myself when I need to stand back and allow the Lord to move.

Come to me all you with heavy burdens and I will give you rest. I am reading this verse now in a different way. Our God will give us rest from all things. This is a basic lesson, yet, sometimes we need to return to the basics so that we will remember and be refreshed.

Have a Nice Rest

“I said, ‘Plant the good seeds of righteousness, and you will harvest a crop of love. Plow up the hard ground of your hearts, for now is the time to seek the Lord, that he may come and shower righteousness upon you.’” Hosea 10:12 (NLT)

Several times I have commented on the season of fall and the leaves changing colors and falling. The past couple of days the leaves are no longer dancing, anxious to leave the trees and spiral out and away. The leaves now are falling, floating quietly, almost reluctantly, to land on the blanket of leaves covering our yard.

It is like the trees, knowing that times of frost, cold and snow are approaching and with the leaves gone, there is no covering for the branches. So, they, too, are holding fast to the remaining leaves, hesitantly letting them fall.

The ground is newly covered in a blanket. This blanket will remain and turn to mulch and nutrients for the ground. Sleep well, ground. Rest this winter absorbing all you can from the blanket of leaves now and soon the blanket of snow. Rest easy, rest well. For in the spring you will bloom with daffodils in white and yellow, hyacinths in pink and purple and irises in vibrant deep purples and burgundy.

How often do we get covered up in preparation for a new season of our lives? Do we kick off that blanket that has been positioned on us by our Creator? Do we miss opportunities of deep seasons of growth in our lives? What if we, like the ground, readily accepted a blanket falling from above? Could we remain as it were, dormant?

I think that spring is so glorious because all we have lived with is brown for a season. Except for a bit of snow, which eventually turns black around the edges, we see no brightness through the winter. Then, after being dormant, we see a shoot of green peaking out of the hard ground. Soon a crocus. Then days later the yard is blanketed with wild spring flowers, rejoicing in the spring day.

As I have watched this fall unfold before me I have been challenged to make the most of the winter months of my life. I know spring will appear, it is my prayer, though, that my spring growth will bring glory to my God.


“It is vain for you to rise up early, To sit up late, To eat the bread of sorrows; For so He gives His beloved sleep.” Psalm 127:2 (NKJV)

This is one of my favorite verses. Often I cannot sleep, but for the past few months I have not had a sleepless night where I have gotten up and roamed around our home restless.

Tonight, the blankets are itchy, at least to me they are. The pillows I have don’t work either. Dale is peacefully sleeping, as usual about a minute after crawling into bed. I do envy him that.

I am always amazed on sleepless nights how uncomfortable the bed, the blankets and the pillows are. I know in the morning I will want to stay in bed, it being the most comfortable place in the house. The blankets will be the most snuggly blankets and I won’t want to leave their comfort.

I will feel this way because between now and the morning I will fall asleep. It will come quietly and I will succumb to it, unaware that I have fallen asleep.

In the morning my eyes will open and I will be rested. Rested because the Lord gives His beloved sleep. He can make a couple of hours of sleep feel like a full night’s rest. He can calm the mind and the parade of thoughts. He can take tired muscles from a day’s work and quiet them, giving them restoration while slumbering.

So, now I will try once more to sleep, assured that my God gives me sleep.

Just One of those Days

“Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you.” Deuteronomy 31:8 (NLT)

This scripture is like a cozy blanket on a cold day. The Lord blankets us with a promise, with security, and with peace.

There comes a time each year that marks a difference. Although the calendar says August, it feels like a day in late October. The temperature is below 80, the sky is filled with gray clouds and rain has been sputtering off and on. I actually wore a sweater as I walked today, it was glorious.

A day like this happens and it calls out for soup for dinner. I love to make soup, but it isn’t one of my favorite meals. Tonight is mulligatawny soup. This soup I do enjoy. It is comforting.

It has been on of those days where you want to just be lazy. To be wrapped in a cozy blanket and feel snuggled in. I have felt the presence of the Lord today. I have not been compelled to do anything except unwind and rest. The type of day where I an easily picture myself climbing onto the lap of the Lord and listen to His heartbeat. To feel His rhythmic breathing and feel His warmth. Better than any blanket available, and so much more peaceful.

So, as I try to bring comfort in food and atmosphere in our home, internally I am sensing a calm and restful time in the Lord. “Come to Me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28 (NASB) This scripture is for all, all of us that need salvation, and all of us who need a day to snuggle. Our Lord beckons us to come to Him, He will open His arms and welcome us in. I imagine it is like snuggling with a little one, you grab a blanket, open your arms and climb into your lap as the blanket closes in around them. You then settle in and breathe deeply.

Time to Practice What I Preach

I heard this phrase while I was walking this morning. I grunted. I knew the Lord was tag-teaming with Dale on this phrase. Let me explain.

In many conversations with women over the years I have repeated myself often. What have I said? Here is a sampling of what I have said: Get some rest. Allow yourself time to heal, you have been through a lot (emotionally, physically, mentally, spiritually). Your body is telling you to take time off, rest. Allow the Lord to renew you, comfort you, bring restoration. You get the idea. I only say things like this when I see a need. Women too often, push themselves to the point of total exhaustion and break down.

Dale and I have talked about rest a lot this past week. Like several times a day. According to Mirriam-Webster the definition of rest is: to cease from action or motion : refrain from labor or exertion; to be free from anxiety or disturbance. Cathi’s definition of rest (for herself) is, sit down, catch your breath for five minutes, six if you absolutely have to.

I like to be up and active. Since the doctor told me that only one bone was broken and I could move my right hand I have taken that as license to go back to normal. Thus, the many conversations about rest.

Rest is something that I know I need to have. Not just sleep, but restful times, still and relaxing. In July of 2015, I felt the need to do a study on rest for myself. I went to the Bible and started to look up each scripture on rest. I did this specifically to learn how to rest physically, emotionally and in the Lord. This detailed study of mine lasted until August of 2015 when I got busy and decided rest could wait.

So, here we are in June of 2022. I can’t do much and that four lettered word is haunting me. Rest. I know it’s important. Physical rest is vital for renewal and restoration of our bodies. Emotional rest is critical to be centered and calm. Spiritual rest allows us to draw closer to God, climbing up in His lap, hearing His heart beat and listening to His voice. I understand all of these types of rest. Physical rest is the one I avoid. It is hard for me to rest.

Because of this, when I am given an inch in recovery, I take that giant step. Today as I was arguing with the Lord it was like that childhood game. I tend to take the giant steps and not ask, ‘Mother may I?’

So, here is my confession to you all, written out in black and white. I am learning to rest, according to the Mirriam-Webster definition. Pray for Dale, as he is about to cover me in velcro and attach me to the couch so I will learn to stay put.

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28 (NKJV)