Leaving the nest 

Carson moved off to college this week.  She’s beginning her freshman year and living on the university campus.

While we’ve been preparing for this moment all summer…maybe all year…it finally hit home when we moved Carson into the residence hall and drove away without her.

For Carson- it’s a time of excitement, but there’s also a fear of the unknown.  There are so many new experiences ahead.

It’s the first of many transitions for her.  New relationships.  New challenges. New obstacles.

We all face life changes.  Maybe they aren’t as dramatic and storied as moving away from college, but they are just as important- and daunting.

We encounter new roles at work.  Perhaps even a new job.

Children move away.  Parents move in.

Marriage.  Or divorce.

A move.  An illness.

But there is one constant.

Jesus.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

What an incredible comfort!  Read that passage from Joshua again.  Please.

Be strong.  Courageous. Don’t fear. Don’t be dismayed. Lord…is with you.

Life is full of uncertainty and new experiences, but the love of Jesus never changes.  His focus and love of us is ever-present.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.  Hebrews 13:8

My prayer this week will be for Carson and her new journey to college.  I will also say a prayer of thanksgiving for Jesus…and His unending love for Carson, you and me.

And let me know how to pray for you.

God bless.

 

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Naked on the Highway

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Our family took a seven day trip to northern California this past week.  We saw great sights like the Golden Gate Bridge, three National Parks and incredible architecture in downtown San Francisco.

But what our kids will remember most wasn’t on the itinerary.

We saw a naked man standing on the side of the road on US Highway 1.

Completely naked. In broad daylight. In plain view.

Traffic was at a standstill, as all the automobiles traveling along our path were slowing down to watch the police try to “contain” this man.

Needless to say- this incident sparked much conversation in our car.

“What’s wrong with him?”

“Why’s he doing that?”

“Is he in trouble?”

While we don’t know the events that led up to that particular moment in time, we do know that the man was under much stress.  Great despair.

When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all. He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken. Psalm 34: 17-20

While you or I may never find ourselves naked on the side of the freeway, there are times when we feel vulnerable and unprotected.  Perhaps there is uncertainty in your marriage or in our family lives.  Maybe work has created an unsettling environment for us.  Whatever the cause, life can hit us with punches that we don’t expect and leave us reeling.

But when all else fails- remember that we have Jesus.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4: 6-7

My prayer for this week is to let go of the stress and anxiety that life brings my way.  I need to focus on the calming, healing power of Jesus…and ask for his help immediately when faced with uncertainty.

Let me know how I may pray for you.

God bless.

 

 

 

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Homeless in Nashville

I was early for a meeting in downtown Nashville last week, so I decided to take a stroll down a side street just south of our state’s Capitol.

It was a chilly day- and the brisk wind made it even colder.

Out of the corner of my eye I saw a man approach me.  “Pardon me,” he said in a meek voice.  I turned to face him.

“My friend has a bad cold,” he said. Would you mind buying him a cup of coffee to warm up his throat?”  I looked behind him to see another man propped up at the base of a building- layered in tattered, dirty blankets. 

I told him I would- and hurried across the street to a coffeehouse to buy a large, hot coffee. 

I returned to the two men and gave one of them the coffee.  He didn’t speak or make eye contact, but the other man said “thanks so much.”  He then turned back to his friend and helped him place the cup to his mouth. 

I walked away stunned.  It was a complete display of compassion and concern for another person.  

After leaving my meeting, I wondered about the two men.  It was about an hour before sunset, and I knew it would be getting even colder soon.  I decided to walk back down that street where I’d seen them earlier.

And there they were.  Sitting and talking. Smiling. Content for the moment.

I decided to buy them hot sandwiches, water and coffee.  They were grateful.  I asked them why they didn’t ask for more when I encountered them earlier.  The more verbal of the two answered, “I only ask for what I need at the moment.”

I thought about that all night.  What if I did that? What if I could truly separate my requests from God into needs versus wants?

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. Matthew 7:7

And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Phillipians 4:19

I often craft my prayers as a wish-list.  I “want” comfort, peace, love and wisdom.  I want it all. 

Give us this day our daily bread… Matthew 6:11

But what do I really need?  I need help and comfort for today.  God will provide if I am faithful and believe.  He will take care of me.

My prayer today is to be satisfied with what I have- and to truly focus on my immediate needs and the concerns of those I love. 

And please 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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Doubts

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I’ve got a good friend that asked for prayer last week.

He had a friend who developed a life-threatening illness.  His friend was facing death in his mid-40’s.  His friend had doubts…doubts about his mortality…doubts about his treatment.

My friend was heartbroken.  How can this be fair?  Why could this happen to someone so young?

John chapter 20 chronicles the empty tomb and the resurrection of Jesus.  It also described doubt and the need for faith.

Thomas, one of the twelve Disciples, hadn’t been around when Jesus initially appeared to a small group of followers.  As a result, Thomas publicly voiced his doubts about Jesus being raised from the dead. A week later the Disciples, including Thomas, were gathered and Jesus appeared again. This time he asked Thomas to feel the holes in His hands and the scar in His side.

Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” John 20:27

We have to do that too. We have to pray for our faith to increase so we can stop doubting.

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1

Through prayer and study, we can grow our faith and experience Jesus.  Faith brings assurance over doubt…and confidence over fear.

Then Jesus told him, ‘Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.’   John 20:29

That’s faith. When we can believe in that which we cannot see.

Please pray for me to have an increase in my faith.  I want to feel, experience Jesus more.

And let me know how to 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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Extra Steps

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The Carvers have started taking extra steps each day.

Call it fitness or competition, but all of us have become increasingly aware of how much we walk.

We’ve all gotten activity trackers, and while some of us are more obsessive about the numbers than others- all of us are working hard to move more often each day.

We’re parking further away from buildings.  We’re taking the stairs at school and work.  The little things add up quickly.

I need to take extra steps in my spiritual life, too.

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.  Romans 12:12

I’m not constant in prayer.  I’m not even consistent.  Some days are filled with rushed prayers…quick words offered up as I drive to work, tuck the kids in bed or rush toward a deadline or meeting.

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.  Psalm 119:105

God’s word is to be used to illuminate our daily walk.  A lamp.  Unfortunately, I don’t study the Bible as much as I should.  Work, activities and even family get in the way of my personal study.

Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.  1 John 4:11

It’s hard to love the unloveable.  I don’t often have the patience or desire to truly love those difficult people in my life.  And if I’m completely honest with myself, I know that I’m often perceived as the unloveable one…and need to be given grace.

I need to be diligent in my prayer life.  I need to be more disciplined in my personal Bible study.  And I need to be more forgiving of others- just as I need to seek forgiveness.

Pray that I work harder to make the extra steps in my spiritual life.  And let me know how I may pray for you.

God bless.

 

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