One less plate at the dinner table…

It’s a habit.

When Hollianne makes dinner at the Carver house, we set the table for five.

Carson’s departure for college this summer has changed that scenario. 

We were eating spaghetti before church on Wednesday night.  Without thinking- I set the table for our meal…and out of habit prepared five plates.

Only four of us were home. 

It was a sad reminder of our new reality. We miss Carson being there. 

We’ll see her this weekend. And for a few days our “home” will be complete- whole- again.

That joy reminds me of Luke 15.  This chapter has two parables of seeking something missing…and the thrill of finding it. My favorite is the story of the lost sheep.

‭So he told them this parable: “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.  Luke 15:3-7

I can’t begin to fathom how much Jesus loves you and me.  He loves us unconditionally and wants us to draw near to him. Even when we are stuck in sin- Jesus still seeks us. 

We can’t run away from this love. He will always desire for us to come back. 

We’ll have five plates around our table this weekend at the Carver house. Our hearts will be full.

And I’m so grateful that Jesus will always have a place at his table for you and me.

Please let me know how I may pray for you this week.

God bless you. 

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Forgotten treasure 

Hollianne and I scored a “big pick” many years ago.  

We found an 80 year old piece of furniture buried deep in an old barn in Greenfield, Tennessee.  It had probably been placed there decades ago.  And forgotten.

It was covered in dust and straw, but we could see the potential in it. A quick wipe with a wet cloth showed the deep, rich wood.  It would be perfect for our dining room.
But life got in the way.  Our family was  growing and our jobs got busy. We never got around to restoring that old piece of furniture. 

It sat in a corner.  Over the years it picked up lots of nicks and scratches from pets, indoor basketball games and tricycle crashes.  It was in plain sight, but we had forgotten it too.

We recently moved and finally decided to have it restored. It was delivered to our home yesterday. 


We couldn’t believe our eyes. The old wood shines with a new mahogany hue. The brass pulls and handles glow like a new penny. 

It reminded me of my own life.  Times I’ve felt forgotten and neglected. And it was a painful reminder of the times that I’ve neglected someone….or forgotten about their value.

We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.  Romans 4:6

We all have blemishes and imperfections.  We are forgotten…or we choose to neglect. 

But Jesus restores us and brings out the inner beauty.

The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 2 Peter 3:9
But God loves is anyway.  He loves us despite our faults and failings.  We are restored through his son Jesus. 

And those that we’ve neglected because they’ve hurt us? We need to remember that God loves them too.  

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. Romans 3:23-25 

My prayer this week is to work on the pain associated from being forgotten.  And to also work on my attitude toward those I’ve neglected.  

And let me know how to 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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A visit from Big Hank

I was sitting in a hotel lobby in Memphis a couple of weeks ago.  I was anxiously awaiting for a meeting to start- thinking about what might transpire over the next hour.  This meeting had the opportunity to be unpleasant.

I decided to try and relax.  I prayed a lengthy prayer.  I then took out my Bible and read through 2 Corinthians.

I later walked around the perimeter of the large lobby to think about how I would open the meeting.  How I would convey bad news and a disappointing outcome.

I returned to my seat and decided to pray again.

Then I felt someone’s hand on my shoulder.

Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.  Philippians 2:4

Standing in front of me was a large man.  He introduced himself as Big Hank.

“Are you ok?”

I told him that I was doing fine…just preoccupied.

He explained that he had been watching me for the past 30 minutes.  Praying, meditating, reading and pacing.  Big Hank said that he could tell that something was bothering me- and he felt compelled to come over and pray with me.  I told him I would appreciate the prayer.

And pray he did.  Big Hank said a short prayer for me- for my comfort, peace and future.

And as quick as he appeared, he turned and walked across the lobby- and outside to the busy sidewalk.

But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?  1 John 3:17

Pray for me to have better awareness of the needs of others.  Help me to identify pain and hurt- and have the courage to engage and provide comfort.

And let me know how to pray for you.

God bless you, Big Hank- wherever you are.

 

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Everyday is a birthday

Last week I had the honor of celebrating a special birthday.  A close friend of mine became a “first time” dad…and I had the opportunity to visit his daughter soon after her arrival home.

Hollianne and I offered to deliver dinner.  Selfishly, the offer to provide food was just a means to an end…as we wanted to see their new baby!

She is perfect.  Big, beautiful eyes, smooth skin and delicate features.  Just perfect.

She’s a blessing, but she is blessed too.  She’s got an incredible mother and father that will provide for her physically, emotionally and spiritually.

For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. Psalm 139:13

We have that same blessing.  We have a Father who designed us, loves us and wants what’s best for us.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.  Jeremiah 29:11

Tomorrow is my birthday.  I’m officially closer to 50 than I am 40.  And when I look in the mirror, I don’t see smooth skin and any delicate features…but plenty of lines and battle scars.

But I have that same promise of a heavenly Father who cares for me.  And you do too.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.  2 Corinthians 5:17

We all have the opportunity for renewal each and every day.  Thank God.

Let me know how I can pray for you this week.

God bless.

 

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Regret

Have you ever uttered words that you wish you could take back?

I often find myself saying hurtful things to the people I love the most.  Maybe it’s been a long day at the office.  Perhaps I’ve had a bad night of sleep.  Maybe I’m just frustrated with the kids.  Whatever the reason- I can be pretty insensitive.

Oh…it’s not yelling.  It’s much more subtle.  It can be a snippy, sarcastic remark. I excel at those, I’m afraid.

And later- I always regret those occasions.

I studied about regret this week.

Then one of the twelve, whose name was Judas Iscariot, when to the chief priests and said “What will you give me if I deliver him over to you?”  And they paid him thirty pieces of silver.  And from that moment he sought an opportunity to betray him.  Matthew 26:14-16

Judas was one of the original disciples.  He had traveled with Jesus.  He had witnessed the miracles and heard the teachings.  He loved Jesus.

But greed overcame him.  Judas delivered Jesus to the men that would eventually kill him.  All over thirty pieces of silver.

Judas soon experienced remorse over his decision.

And throwing down the pieces of silver into the temple, he departed, and he went and hanged himself.  Matthew 27:5

It was too late.  He let greed, jealously or any number of emotions overcome him…and delivered Jesus over to an angry crowd.

I can’t imagine how he felt.  I know I never want to experience regret like that.

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.  Ephesians 4:32

My personal prayer this week is to be more tenderhearted- and live with less regret. Jesus wants it that way.

And let me know how I may pray for you.

God bless.

 

 

 

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Now that I know how you really feel…

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I experienced a tough situation recently.

I was forwarded an email by a friend.  As I read through the email, I realized that there was a large portion of the message that I probably wasn’t supposed to see.

Near the bottom, there was an exchange between my friend and another person that wasn’t flattering toward me.  This third party (also a friend)  was venting about a decision that had been made, but it got a bit personal.  I realized that a) our relationship wasn’t what I thought it was and b) she was freely sharing her opinion with a large audience.

At first I was frustrated.  Why hadn’t she called and let me know how she felt?  We interact often, so the opportunities to talk were frequent.  Frustration then led to disappointment.  I wished that my friend would have talked to me rather than airing it to others first.

But I’m truly no better than her.  Truly.

Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.  Psalm 139:4

While I might not write it down, I have those same thoughts from time to time.  I’m frustrated with the actions of others…disappointed…and let my emotions get carried away.

But God knows.

In 1 Chronicles chapter 28 the writer tells us that God searches all hearts and understands every plan and thought.  We don’t have to write down our thoughts- God knows what’s written on our hearts.

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.  Ephesians 4:32

I’m called to forgive.  I need to forgive, because God has forgiven me- a chief sinner.

Please pray for me to be a better example of grace with others.  I need it.  And let me know how to pray for you.

God bless.

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