Tag: The Glorious Table

Jesus Understand Loneliness

Jesus Understand Loneliness

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We’ve spent a lot of time alone these past weeks. As I’ve chatted over Zoom, Voxer, email, and text with friends and family, it’s clear everyone has felt a heaviness from the imposed social distancing. Even when we have family members surrounding us, we can still experience feelings of loneliness if we feel misunderstood, or in moments when we need a break from each other.

For the past several weeks, our church has met online, and our pastors continue to remind us that God is our comforter (2 Cor. 1:3-4). But when we’re in the middle of a stressful season, it can be hard to remember that our Creator also experienced loneliness.

In the hours before Jesus hung on the cross, willingly sacrificing his life for humanity’s sins, he went to pray in the Garden of Gethsemane. Matthew 26:37-40 says, “Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, ‘Sit here while I go over there and pray.’ He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, ‘My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.’ Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.’ Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. ‘Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?’”

I’ve always believed this last question from Jesus to the disciples must have been in a tone of disappointment. I hear Jesus say, essentially, “Come on, you guys! Don’t you see how stressed I look? Can’t you pray with me for an hour?” While I still think there may have been some disappointment mixed in, I think that in truth, the realization that the disciples fell asleep caused Jesus to feel isolated in his anguish, even though his closest companions were nearby. Read the rest here…

Holding on for Dear Life

Holding on for Dear Life

I’m writing over at The Glorious Table today. Here’s a preview:

On February 3, 1989, apprentice jockey Nate Hubbard was having the race of his life. That is, until his horse, Sweetwater Oak, launched him from the saddle with only a hundred yards to go. He clung to the neck of his mount and crossed the finish line in second place. After finishing fifth in the race on Lystra, Ron Warren, a fellow jockey, helped to slow down Sweetwater Oak so that Hubbard could let go and land safely.

Much to everyone’s surprise, after examining the results of the race, the stewards declared that the placings were official. During the race, Hubbard’s feet never touched the ground, and Sweetwater Oak remained the second-place winner.

Interestingly, when he was asked about the event later, Nate Hubbard said he wasn’t focused on winning. He explained he looked at the alternatives and holding on was a better choice than getting trampled by the rest of the horses.

Have you ever had a Nate Hubbard moment? Maybe not a literal one, but a moment when you were at the starting line with everyone else, and before you knew it, you were hanging on for dear life? Forget finishing first; have you ever been in a season so challenging you’ve found yourself choosing between holding on and being trampled, forgetting all about moving forward?

Read the rest of today’s post over at The Glorious Table

Mary’s Willingness for the Greater Good

Mary’s Willingness for the Greater Good

I’m writing over at The Glorious Table today! Here’s a preview

Every time I read about Mary’s conversation with the angel who was sent to tell her she was chosen to carry the Savior of humanity, I’m amazed. Her simple surrender in Luke 1:38, “I am the Lord’s servant . . . May your word to me be fulfilled,” transformed the world.

We don’t know if Mary understood the weight of the burden she would carry in the months to come, let alone the next three decades. All we know is she said yes, and Jesus entered the world as her son.

How is a strong faith like Mary’s—one wherein she was willing to surrender her body and life and the trajectory of her future to an unknown plan—formed? I imagine she spent hours praying and learning about God, strengthing her personal relationship with him.

From the very beginning, God invited man into relationship with him  (Genesis 1:26-29). It is through relationship that we establish and strengthen trust and faith. This is how God created us.

Our relationships with friends, family members, and our spouses require our time and attention. Friends don’t come to us out of the blue and ask us for advice. They get to know us, learn to trust our heart and our intentions, and when they believe we have their best interests at heart, they come to us and ask for our input in hard situations.

When we are dating someone, we don’t enter into a commitment immediately. We get to know them. We see how they treat their family members and friends. We observe how they respond in hard situations and what they do in their spare time. When we do commit, we trust they will stay faithful to us in marriage because over time their character has revealed that they are loyal and true.

Our children don’t automatically obey us the first time we tell them to do something. They learn to obey when we teach them through repetition. They understand that we love them, that we set boundaries to protect them because we love them. Even so, sometimes they will disobey our rules and injure themselves. Our loving response assures them that the relationship is still intact, regardless of the consequences of their disobedience.

Read the rest over at The Glorious Table

The Value of Our Words

The Value of Our Words

One of the most amazing things about the Bible is that the authors didn’t fully comprehend what they were writing. As a shepherd boy, David wrote poems of praise to pass the time in the fields and journaled prayers on anguish and praise to God later in life. Paul wrote letters from a prison cell to the churches he counseled.

Similarly, in more recent history, we understand the complicated emotions of a Jewish child in hiding during World War II because of Anne Frank’s diary. We know how hard the journey through Ellis Island was for many immigrants because of historical records as well as how many people retained letters.

One of the features of Ancestry.com is the ability to read newspaper articles, letters, and oral histories about relatives. These vibrant pieces help to paint a picture of what was happening within a family during a significant point in history.

Perhaps we forget from time to time that today, we have more than newspaper articles and news reports documenting our daily history. Social media is a digital journal. Just like Anne Frank, every social channel we use can record our daily thoughts, images, and comments of the moment, likely without us considering who will see them beyond the next few hours, let alone beyond the next few centuries.

Occasionally we may regret overheated words (well, at least I do) and we’re thankful there is a delete button. That is, unless someone chooses to take a screenshot of our comments and archive them, right? While this scenario isn’t exactly true, a version of it is.

One of the first things my boss taught me when I started working in digital media is that nothing is ever wholly erased online. I know you want to believe that deleting your Facebook account is as simple as going through the steps Facebook provides, however, even if you delete your profile, your comments aren’t removed, nor are your images. Further, we’re relying on a company that’s proved repeatedly to not quite tell the truth about our data.

Essentially, when we use social media, we’re creating digital journals for future generations to view as part of our historical records. If you’re panicking right now, thinking of your great-grandchildren scrolling through your Facebook feed. Scary? I’m sorry. Stick with me for a minute, though, since we’ve already established the record isn’t going away.

Read the rest about creating an online legacy over at The Glorious Table

Don’t Miss the Middle

Don’t Miss the Middle

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At the beginning of every year in elementary school, my teacher would hand out a worksheet with a long list of instructions. She would explain that the goal of this project was the complete the task correctly by the end of the day, which was drawing near.

The first instruction on the worksheet was always the same: “Read the entire list of instructions before starting the assignment.”

I tried to follow the instructions. I would get about halfway through the list, glance at the clock, and look around at my classmates. Most of them were already working on the assignment, so I would join in, only to end the day frustrated, without a completed assignment.

It was always in those last minutes that our teacher would sigh and ask us to read the last instruction in the list. The last instruction was also always the same. It said, “Now that you have read this assignment all the way to the end, turn your paper over and sit quietly until your teacher dismisses you.”

The point of this exercise was never to complete the complicated task; it was to learn to follow the teacher’s instructions.

Eventually, I figured out that the shortcut to accomplishing any assignment was always to take a glance at the last page to ensure there weren’t any surprises before I started, but I still haven’t mastered the skill of following instructions from start to finish.

As Christians, we risk missing some significant instruction from our Savior if we skip to the end of the story and metaphorically flip our paper over and wait. While there is certainly comfort in knowing we have a happy ending coming, there is more to know.

Jesus explained to the disciples in John 3,  a verse you may find familiar, that life will continue after we die. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (NIV).

Striving for Drama Free Mornings

Striving for Drama Free Mornings

I’m writing over at The Glorious Table today! Here’s a Preview:

As a mom of boys, I often hear that it must be nice to have a drama-free house, and while that is mostly true, now that we’re parenting teenagers, some mornings are a rollercoaster of emotions that can leave me spinning for hours if I’m not careful.

Occasionally our boys sleep straight through their alarms, and when they do wake up, they are stressed, rushing to get ready for school. Other days they seem to awake in bad moods. Whether they didn’t sleep well or are just cranky doesn’t matter; for a few minutes they attempt to recruit the entire household to be as moody and grumpy as they are, only settling down if they succeed or we call out their behavior.

Sometimes one of our sons will remember last minute as he is rushing out the door that he needs a signature on a form or money for a field trip, or worse, he misses the bus, requiring me to pause my workday and drive him to or from school.

I’ve learned that in every one of these scenarios, I have a choice. When my kids sleep through their alarms, and I need to wake them, I can startle them awake or do so calmly. My response to their stress has the potential to increase their anger or shift the momentum of the rest of their day.

drama free mornings

When they ask me for a signature as they rush out the door, even though they know they are supposed to hand me documents when they walk in the door from school, I have the choice to respond with exasperation or to take the paper, sign it, and move on calmly.

When one of my sons rushes home in a panic after missing the bus, he knows my workday has started, and that he has misjudged his time in the morning. When I hear the nervous, “Mom?” I know an opportunity is waiting. I calmly pause, close my laptop, and smile, and that car ride becomes a gift.

You can read the rest here

Are You Leaving Room to Serve?

Are You Leaving Room to Serve?

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Through the years, I’ve learned that when I don’t look at the whole picture before I say yes to a request, I make myself crazy and my family miserable. When people ask for help, I jump in and rarely leave margin for myself. At least, I used to. Now I pause. I am a recovering over-committer.

At first, the pendulum swung too far in the opposite direction as I attempted to rid myself of the label over-committer. I said no to everything extra that came my way, and it worked. I freed many spaces on the calendar, my family saw my desire to prioritize them, and I flourished at work. God began to whisper to me about a new ministry direction, and I was able to prioritize my health in important ways. These things were all necessary and important. But I also dropped the ball on a lot of commitments and let people down.

In Matthew 25:31–46, Jesus identifies several specific ways God expects us to respond to other’s needs. He starts by telling the people listening, “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left” (NIV).

Read the rest here.

5 Observations about Nathan and David

5 Observations about Nathan and David

I’m writing over at The Glorious Table today. Here’s a Preview:

Two men offered judgments in 2 Samuel 12:1–7 (NIV). One was a king, and the other was a prophet.

The Lord sent Nathan to David. When he came to him, he said, “There were two men in a certain town, one rich and the other poor. The rich man had a very large number of sheep and cattle, but the poor man had nothing except one little ewe lamb he had bought. He raised it, and it grew up with him and his children. It shared his food, drank from his cup and even slept in his arms. It was like a daughter to him.

“Now a traveler came to the rich man, but the rich man refrained from taking one of his own sheep or cattle to prepare a meal for the traveler who had come to him. Instead, he took the ewe lamb that belonged to the poor man and prepared it for the one who had come to him.”

David burned with anger against the man and said to Nathan, “As surely as the Lord lives, the man who did this must die! He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity.’”

Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man!”

Can you imagine the sucker punch David must have felt? Here he was upset about the theft of a lamb, and it turns out Nathan was confronting him about his theft of Bathsheba and the murder of Uriah.

We don’t know how quickly David realized Nathan’s story was designed to help him examine his own heart, but David does humbly confess his sin. Verse 13 is a beautiful summary of God’s grace:

Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.”

Nathan replied, “The Lord has taken away your sin. You are not going to die.”

Read the rest here

Encouraging Each Other

Encouraging Each Other

I’m writing over at The Glorious Table today. Here’s a preview:

Every week I organize our family’s vitamins and medicine in pill boxes according to each member’s health needs. The process isn’t labor intensive, but I don’t delegate it because it’s important to me that everyone has the resources they need to stay healthy.

Yet almost every day the same scene plays out in our home. A child is coughing and sneezing. The child starts sniffing—loudly. Then I ask, “Did you take your allergy medicine today?”

I don’t have to be in the same room anymore to know that, when prompted, my sons then get up and take their allergy medicine. But the craziest thing is that they can cough and sniffle for hours until I ask that question. They rarely take the step to care for their own needs without prompting.

I could excuse my sons’ choices as teenage forgetfulness, but I can’t help but consider how similar my actions are when it comes to daily life choices.

  • How many times have I confessed to a friend how fearful I am about something only to have them ask, “Have you prayed about this?”, and then realize I’ve not yet paused to pray?
  • How many times have I opened my Bible study homework and realized I haven’t read my Bible since last week’s homework was due?
  • How often does a conflict arise in one of my relationships because of a lack of tending and care?
  • What about my personal health? Am I as disciplined about what I eat when my clothes fit comfortably as when my tighter jeans push me to walk a few extra minutes on the treadmill?

The reality is sometimes we need an outside influence to remind us we have the tools we need—sitting right in front of us—to improve our lives. We don’t have to walk through life coughing and sneezing, and we don’t have to live in fear.

Head to The Glorious Table to read the rest.

The Discipline of Wiping Away Your Dirt

The Discipline of Wiping Away Your Dirt

discipline of wiping away dirt

I’m writing over at The Glorious Table today. Here’s a preview:

Our back deck has white vinyl railing around the perimeter. It’s a nice contrast to the brown decking, but as you may already know, vinyl easily attracts dirt. My spring-cleaning chores include wiping away grime that collects on the railing over the winter months.

The first year I attempted this task, I pulled out anti-bacterial wipes and was pleased to see that in less than an hour, our railing was sparkling. Satisfied with my work, I went inside to wash up and go on with my day. Later that week, I noticed the railing was already losing its sparkle.

No worries, I thought to myself as I grabbed the wipes again. As I set to work, my frustration grew. The problem wasn’t just a few spots where I’d missed the grime the first time; the whole railing had a faint hue of green.

As I continued cleaning, determined to have white railings, I realized I’d originally cleaned off only the surface of the grime. Several layers of it had piled on top of each other over the winter season. Wiping away the top layer of grime only revealed the next layer. This is a perfect metaphor for how sin can be layered in our hearts as well.