When you bury your brother

I buried a brother yesterday.  His name was Chris.

He was just 41 years old.

Chris wasn’t my biological brother- but a spiritual one. 

He was a member of my small group Bible study over the past several years.  Each Friday, a small group of us gathered in our neighborhood.  We read the Bible, discussed the meaning of God’s word and prayed for one another.  We shared our successes, our failures and our fears. 

Chris started coming soon after his initial diagnosis. We often talked about his treatment schedule and his numerous trips to the doctor. We often prayed for his treatments and family.

Through it all, Chris was a rock.  He wanted to be a good example to his three sons…when life gets tough, you keep going. He kept his job and worked as much as he could.  He attended family events and games even when he didn’t feel like it.  Once, Chris got home from an extended stay in the hospital- and left for a week at Disneyworld with his family the next day.  Chris didn’t miss anything, even when cancer had knocked him down.  He just kept punching. He just kept living. 

Chris was an example of being fearless even when staring uncertainty and death in the face. He wasn’t afraid. 

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10

For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. 2 Timothy 1:7

I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. Psalm 34:4

What are you afraid of?  I’m afraid of failing. Failing my family…my wife, my kids. 

What’s it for you? Business? A relationship? Perhaps a fear of being exposed in some aspect of your life?

Chris taught me many lessons, but the biggest was how to face fear.  Even in the final days of his life, he had no fear. He was confident in his faith.  He had trust in his Heavenly Father. Chris was at peace- and it was incredible to witness. 

Please keep the family of Chris Williams in your prayers this week. Pray for his wonderful wife and three young sons. 

And pray that those touched by his life can honor Chris by emulating his courage and faith- even in the worst of circumstances. 

And as always, let me know how I may pray for you.

God bless.  

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Running Away from Home


I’ve returned to the region where I was born and raised.  On a weekly basis, I’m seeing faces and visiting places that I’ve not seen in decades.

It all came full circle last Thursday.  I was set to talk to a group of high school seniors at a rural high school in northwest Tennessee.  As we pulled up to the school- I was overwhelmed with memories from over forty years ago.

My dad was a high school basketball and football coach in the area.  Some of my most vivid memories involve those games.  Sitting on the bench with the team.  Watching dad make coaching adjustments at halftime.  And the bus rides to the road games.  Yes- the lengthy rides on those long, yellow school buses to little towns all over West Tennessee.

And here we were….forty years later…pulling into a beautiful school that time had forgotten.  The football field, the tiny gym- even the shape of the oval parking lot- was all the same as when I was a child.

All at once I had returned to my roots.  It seemed that those forty years had gone by in an instant.  I thought about my parents, my relatives in the area and those great players on dad’s high school teams in the 1970’s.  It was a time of innocence for me.  Purity.

I’ve experienced quite a bit of “life” since then.  Disappointment, heartache and pain.  I’ve hurt others and done plenty that I regret.  Life’s much more complicated now.

But it doesn’t have to be.

“Yet even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments.” Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster.”‭‭ Joel‬ ‭2:12-13‬

God invites us to come home- regardless of how long we have wondered.  We are to bring our sadness and pain to Him….just return to Him with all our heart.  He’s “gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love…”

Jesus has provided an avenue for a homecoming…and I’m grateful for this road home.

Please pray for me to become a more complete husband, father, son and worker as I transition back to this region.

And please let me know how I may pray for you.

God bless.

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Mug shot 

Our daughter, Carson, is a beautiful young woman…inside and out.

If I can brag a little- she recently won a special senior superlative at her high school…”Most Likely to Brighten Your Day.”

But something interesting happened to her recently.  Carson went to a Walgreens to get a passport photo taken.  She looked at the camera and gave a big, natural smile.  Upon seeing this, the photographer told her that she wasn’t allowed to smile for passport photos.  He explained that foreign authorities felt that international travel was a serious activity- and smiles and frivolity weren’t allowed on the passport photo.

So she didn’t smile.  And as you can see from the photo- it came out like a mug shot.  

Carson later learned learned that the photographer was playing a joke on her.  There’s no rule about having a serious look on your face for the passport photo.  But there it was- the completed work showed my daughter without her trademark glow and radiant smile.

It appears that she isn’t so happy at all.

Doesn’t this happen to all of us?  We can sometimes get labeled by our failures…and a single action at a given point of time can linger with us for a long time.  It may be a failed marriage.  It could be a bad situation at work that has stayed with us for far too long.  A single instance can make a long-lasting impression.

But we are never labeled for our failures with God.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. I John 1:9

God is faithful.  He forgives.  His love cleanses us from past mistakes.  We don’t have to worry about the failures.  We have forgiveness.

This week I’m praying about the “mug shots” in my past.  I want to move beyond my mistakes, learn from them and become a more complete being in Jesus Christ.

And let me know how I may pray for you.

God bless.

 

 

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Letters from home

img_1507We celebrated Valentine’s Day this past week.  My family did the normal things…preparing treats and cards for my son’s elementary school party, exchanging cards and- the best part- Hollianne’s baking.

My biggest surprise, however, came in the mail.

I arrived home after a long day at work and discovered a letter from my mom in the mailbox.  A hand-written letter that read:

“KS-  You have had my heart for 46+ years.  I think about you everyday and pray for you.  I appreciate your friendship and am so very thankful and blessed that you are my son.  God has been/is so good to us.  I love you- Mom”

I shouldn’t have been surprised.  Mom has told me that she loved me almost every day of my life.

But there’s something special about the written word that made this communication extra special.

I’ve got a family of writers.  I’ve got notes from mom tucked away from numerous periods of my life.

My dad is a letter-writer too.  He’s sent me letters for high school and college graduations, before my wedding day and to celebrate milestones in my marriage and career.  I cherish all of these.

We are called to encourage.

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. I Thessalonians 5:11

Jesus was the ultimate encourager.  He lifted those who were hurting.  He provided hope for the lost.

And He still does today.

You never know when an encouraging word- or note- can lift the burden of another.  Just like my momma did on Valentine’s Day.

My prayer this weekend will focus on being more of an encourager.  Please pray for me to be more aware of how I can lift the burden of another.

And let me know how I can pray for you.

God bless.

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Separation Anxiety

2017 brought a new job to the Carver household.  And it’s ushered in lots of change too.

My schedule is a bit hectic, as there are many new places to visit with many new people to meet.

It’s been exciting, but it has me traveling away from the family quite a bit. It’s required an adjustment, as Hollianne is trying  to juggle a full schedule with three active kids. 

We are all doing our part to make the best of the transition.

Well….one of us is struggling more than the rest.  Our youngest, Britton, is the most resistant to change.  It’s been hard on him.

One night he told me that his biggest fear is that our relationship would change…that he and I wouldn’t be as close as we are right now. 

His statement hit me right in the heart.  My little guy was worried about our relationship- and that less time together might change the way I feel about him.

But I assured him that a new job- or my limited time at home during the daytime- wouldn’t impact my love for him.  In fact, I pledged to work harder to make sure that we made the most of our time together. 

He’s experiencing what we’ve all felt at some point in our lives.  We have thoughts that some life event can put distance between us and someone we love.  Maybe it’s not time or distance- but hardship or a broken relationship. 

This world is filled with hurt and doubt, but there’s hope for the believer. 

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[a] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Romans 8:38-39

What a promise that is! 

Nothing can separate us from the love of God. Nothing.  There’s an unconditional love that is present regardless of our sinful actions and ways.  We are imperfect- and God loves us anyway.

Earthly relationships change. Eternal ones don’t.  We can rest assured that God will never leave us. 

So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. I John 4:16

Please pray for me to be the best husband and father that I can possibly be this year. And let me know how I can pray for you.

God bless.

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When you forget your pants

img_0751I’ve been preoccupied lately.  Too preoccupied, perhaps.

New job and new responsibilities.  Lots of commuting.  Long days and many new people to meet.  A schedule full of meetings, too.

I realized yesterday that I needed to pack for three consecutive days on the road.  While packing for the trip, I decided to return some phone calls.  Admittedly, I was distracted with the phone conversations and not focused on packing what I needed for my trip.

I got to the hotel late last night and realized that I didn’t have my shaving kit.  No toothbrush or toothpaste.  No razor.  Nothing.

I had also intended to finish up a Bible study during some quiet time at the hotel.  Nope.  I forgot my Bible too.

Finally- I realized that I had packed my new suit coat, but not the pants.  Yep, I had 1/2 a suit.  No tie either.

I didn’t have time to go purchase new dress slacks.  I would have to go with what I had in my suitcase…a mismatched suit coat and dress pants.

I drew lots of strange stares at the conference today, for sure.  If I were trying to make a fashion statement- it was an epic failure.

Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.  Colossians 3:2

Has this ever happened to you?  Trivial things fill our days and preoccupy our minds.  If we aren’t careful, we can get so busy that we take our eyes off of what’s truly important.  We have to stay focused.

Please pray for me to spend less time being “busy” – and more time focused on Jesus.

And let me know how to pray for you.

God bless.

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When your ear bursts…

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I ruptured my eardrum last month.

My travel schedule had been hectic- with numerous airline flights and several long drives over a 10 day period.  My sinuses and the crazy schedule had taken their toll on my physical health.  I was run down and tired.

And then it happened. I sneezed during a plane flight and it felt like my ear had exploded.  I doubled over in pain and tried to regain my balance- as dizziness and nausea overtook me.

The next several weeks were filled with numerous visits to the doctor, rounds of antibiotics and forced rest.  I struggled with balance issues and pain in my ear for an entire week.

Looking back- I could have taken care of this situation before it got so out of hand. I should have paid attention to my condition as it began to worsen and address the symptoms.

But I just kept pushing.

The wisdom of the prudent is to discern his way, but the folly of fools is deceiving. Proverbs 14:8

I often find myself pushing forward without taking time to examine what’s going on around me.  The stress of work or the worries of life can keep me distracted.

My prayer life suffers and my Bible study is hindered.  Other thoughts and activities dominate my mind and keep my from focusing on my walk with Jesus.

And then I experience a “rupturing” event that brings me to my knees.  I realize that I’ve not been spending enough time developing my faith and my relationship with Christ. 

Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established. Proverbs 16:3

My prayer this week is to have better awareness of my walk with Jesus. I want to anticipate when I’m not focused or dedicated enough to prayer and study. 

And please let me know how I may pray for you.

God bless.

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