Dehydration

I got diagnosed with dehydration this week.

I had been knocked down over the weekend with a stomach virus. The illness left, but I still didn’t feel right.  My head hurt.  My back ached. I was fatigued and had no appetite.

All I wanted to do was sleep.

A trip to the doctor showed that I had become dehydrated.  The virus had created a water deficit, and my symptoms were an indication that I needed to properly fuel my body.

It’s taken a few days, but I’m starting to feel normal again.

Have you ever been spiritually dehydrated?

I had an incredible men’s group that met each Friday when we lived in Knoxville.  We studied the Bible.  We prayed. We talked.  It was a safe place to learn, to stretch your comfort zone and be held accountable.

My family moved to a new city in 2017.  I lost my men’s group.

I didn’t realize it at first, but I missed the study. The discussion. The preparation. A group of men that held me accountable.

I was dehydrated.

As iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17

I have recently started a men’s group out of my home.  We get together every Friday at 6am to study the Bible, pray and lift each other up.

This weekly gathering has reenergized my spirit. It’s sparked more exploration of the Bible.

I hadn’t realized how bad I needed that focus and accountability. Spiritual hydration.

My prayer this week is to continue to seek more opportunities to engage my faith with others at church, at work and in the community.

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

God bless.

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It’s Hard to Hate your Neighbor

IMG_2390It’s been a rough morning for the news.

The top three stories in our rural corner of West Tennessee included the school shooting in Florida, a riot and fight that broke out on a cruise ship and a local gun store that was robbed over the weekend.

Not a banner news day for human behavior, for sure.

I’m not trying to get political here.  I don’t want to use this blog to promote any big, national agenda.

But I do think that I have a reminder that might help all of us.  It’s three simple words.

Love your neighbor.

This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. John 15:12

We live in an interesting time.  As a country, we are becoming more isolated.

A recent New York Times article told that since the 1980’s, the number of adults that report being lonely had doubled…from 20 to 40%.  Another recent study showed that nearly 1/3 of Americans did not know their neighbors on their street or in their apartment building.  There have been several studies about declining church memberships across our country.

We’re ordering groceries online and shopping alone on Amazon at midnight.  These technology advances aren’t bad things in themselves…but they have impacted the way that we communicate with one another- and have seriously diminished our country’s opportunities for face-to-face interaction.

We just don’t know our neighbors anymore.  And in my opinion- that’s a problem.

You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord. Leviticus 19:18

Isolation can bring fear.  It can also make it much easier to make generalizations and value judgements on a particular group of people.  Instead, we need to engage.  Christianity is a contact sport.  We need to get to know our neighbors.  Not just those people who live around you, but those people in your office or at church.  Those people you walk by each day at work, in the coffee shop or at the gym.

Get to know their likes, their pain and their hopes and fears. Share your thoughts with them.

Host a dinner party. Invite someone for a walk or a hike. Start a book club…or a once-a-week prayer session over lunch. Rake your neighbor’s leaves.

Be vulnerable.  Be transparent.  Be yourself.  Who knows? You may find that you may have more in common with your neighbors than you think.

It’s awfully hard to hate those that you know.

And you might even change the next series of news headlines.  One person at a time.

My prayer today is to look for ways to engage my neighbors.  One cup of coffee and one act of kindness at a time.

Please let me know how I may pray for you.

God bless.

Carson Hollianne

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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When You Lose It All

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The basement in our new home flooded this week.

We had terrible storms on Saturday.  Our power was out for a little over 18 hours…and it created a problem.

Our basement has a pump that automatically kicks on when water levels rise in the ground.  It keeps our home nice and dry…when the electricity is working.

You guessed it.  The power was off and the rainwater slowly seeped into our basement overnight.

We lost everything down there.  Furniture, appliances, carpet and drywall were all casualties.  To make matters worse- we were using the basement as temporary storage as we set up our new home.  We had family photos, files and other precious items stored on the floor.

Now they are all wet.

It was sobering to see what damage the water can do.  Photos and letters from loved ones are gone.  Notes and art projects from the kids were ruined.

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. I John 2: 15-17

This was a great reminder for me.  I have taken too much pride in “stuff.”

As we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:18

Material goods bring us comfort, but they don’t last.

The important things are unseen.  It’s all about investment.  Investment in our walk with Jesus.  Investment in our family, friends and neighbors.

And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.  Matthew 22:37-39

It’s pretty simple:  Love Jesus and love your neighbors.

Everything else will just get wet.

Pray for me as I try to focus less on “stuff”.  And let me know how to pray for you.

God bless.

 

 

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New job and big transitions…

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I’m beginning a new job in January.

Oh, it’s not entirely new.  It’s with the same university I’ve been associated with for the past twenty years.

But it’s a different role in a different city.  It involves a move for my family and a new set of faces and increased responsibilities.

There will be lots to learn…with new names, duties, rituals and events that will occupy my day.  Hollianne and I will have to learn the names of a new set of teachers for our kids- and get them acclimated to a different social and educational environment.

New neighbors.  New house.  New everything.

Change is coming.

We are excited about the opportunity, but even the most adventurous souls get a little anxious when faced with so much uncertainty and change.

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

There’s one thing that does not change, however.  Our God is an ever-present comfort to us.

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

We have the promise of comfort and stability.  While our lives on this earth will change, the steadfast love and support of Jesus Christ never waivers.

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

Please pray for me as I enter this new chapter of my life.  Pray for me to have a servant’s heart, open ears for listening, big shoulders for obstacles and clear eyes for vision.  And pray for my family to have a smooth transition into our new environment.

And as always, please let me know how to pray for you.

God bless.

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Tough love


It’s been a mixed bag of experiences for our family this week.  

On one hand- we’ve been on vacation. It’s been a great trip for us, as my recent work schedule and the kids’ activities have propelled our family in opposite directions.  We’ve had an incredible opportunity to spend lots of time together- making new memories and laughing about old ones. 

Conversely- our trip has come during a time of great sadness across our country. This week’s headlines have been filled with violence and sorrow. Innocent lives have been lost and nerves are frayed. 

It’s hard for me to understand. I can’t imagine how hard it is for my children to process.

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

I guess the best response as parents is to continue to teach love. 

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” John‬ ‭15:12‬ ‭

Love is the greatest command. Along with this command comes honor and respect for others. 

“Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.”‭‭ Romans‬ ‭12:10‬ ‭

“Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another,…” ‭‭1 Thessalonians‬ ‭4:9‬ ‭

So who is our brother?  It’s our neighbor. It’s the person living in a different neighborhood across town. It’s the teller in the supermarket line. It’s the person that doesn’t dress like us or talk like we do. It’s the people in our lives that have hurt us and caused us pain. 

Our neighbors are everywhere. 

Everyone has value. Every person has worth. And just as Jesus loves us, we are called to love others. 

It’s hard sometimes, but it’s our responsibility. And it’s our responsibility to teach love and honor to our children. 

“And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us.” ‭‭1 John‬ ‭3:23‬ ‭‬‬

Let’s look for ways this week to get to know our neighbors…and engage with different people in new and meaningful ways. 

I need prayers for guidance on how to help my children process these tough events. Please let me know how I may pray for you. 

God bless. 

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