Will you hold my baby?

I was recently traveling on a crowded flight on a work trip. My row was full, but fortunately I had an aisle seat.

Just across the aisle was a woman traveling alone with a toddler and a newborn. She had her hands full….literally. The infant was crying and the toddler was all over the seats, floor and aisle. The mother looked exhausted.

The toddler and I struck up a series of short conversations while we waited for takeoff. She asked lots of questions.:

What’s your name?

Where are you from?

Where are you going?

What are you reading?

Do have babies at home?

I enjoyed our interactions, and it seemed to keep the toddler occupied (and give her mom a break).

Shortly into the flight, the toddler announced that she needed to go to the bathroom. Her mom said that the baby had just gone to sleep, and asked if she (the toddler) could wait until the plane landed.

The kid couldn’t wait. It was an emergency. She needed to go NOW.

Frazzled, the mom looked across the aisle at me and said:

“I hate to ask you this, but can you please hold my baby while I take my daughter to the bathroom?”

She looked sad and anxious. I’m sure that she had weighed her options and determined that her best solution was to ask a stranger to hold her sleeping baby while she assisted her toddler.

“Of course,” I replied. She reluctantly placed her baby into my arms. I held her sleeping child for about 5 minutes until the family returned to their seats.

“Thank you,” the mom said with tears in her eyes.

I sat back and processed what had just happened. This woman trusted a stranger to hold her precious baby so she could help another child. She was out of options and had to throw her trust into me.

Trusting your baby to a stranger.

Have you ever felt so desperate that you didn’t know where to turn?

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and trust not in your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5

Our faith is tested daily. We have health obstacles, work issues and family troubles. Sometimes challenges in my life are so complex that I can’t see an answer.

But I have to remember to let go and ask God for guidance.

This week my prayer is to not rely on my own wisdom, but to ask God for solutions and inspiration to address life’s challenges.

It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man. Psalm 118:8

Please let me know how I may pray for you.

God bless.

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Walking with the Father

I see an awesome sight most mornings.

My neighbor walks his son to our local elementary school everyday. I get watch them as I leave my house for work. They walk and talk for the three block journey to the school.

What a great experience it is for the dad…starting his day with his son.

And what an opportunity it is for the son, too. What protection and comfort he must feel! He’s starting the day with his #1 fan by his side!

For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him! Luke 11:10-13

I realize that I have that same opportunity. Our Heavenly Father is waiting for us…ready for us to come to Him for comfort, counsel and peace.

My prayer this week is to be more intentional about my time with God. I want to make more time each day to go to Him in prayer. To ask for advice. To seek comfort. To offer appreciation for the blessings in my life.

I want to experience the Father.

Please let me know how I may pray for you.

God bless.

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Down and out

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I received an interesting birthday gift on Sunday…an injury to my back.

It was sudden and unexpected. I was running and lifting on Sunday morning, and was flat on my back just a day later.

As I laid in my bed on Monday, all I could think about was getting my mobility back…just to be able to walk again without pain.

What a difference 24 hours makes.

Isn’t life like that?

I was reading the story of Joseph this week. We know that Joseph was the favorite of his father, Jacob. This favored status made him the target of hatred from his brothers.

Jacob’s brothers conspired to kill him. They instead decided to throw him into a pit, and he was eventually sold into slavery and taken to Egypt.

You know the rest. The Lord granted Joseph great favor in Egypt, and he went from being a slave to the chief administrator of Egypt.

So Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘Since God has made all this known to you, there is no one so discerning and wise as you. You shall be in charge of my palace, and all my people are to submit to your orders. Only with respect to the throne will I be greater than you.’ So Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘I hereby put you in charge of the whole land of Egypt.’          Genesis 41:39-41

Joseph went from favored son…to fearing for his life…to slavery…to a position of high honor.

What a difference a few years can make in our lives.

We have a wonderful promise through Jesus. A promise that our realities today- however difficult our current circumstances may be- don’t completely define our future.

My prayer today is that I will look beyond my current condition and seek God’s will for my future. I want to see how my current situation can lead me to a better walk with Jesus.

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

God bless.

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Stuff

How much is enough?

And he said to them, “Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money; and do not have two tunics. And whatever house you enter, stay there, and from there depart. Luke‬ ‭9:3-4‬

My family has lived in our new house for 15 months. We’ve finally placed pictures on the walls and figured out what furniture goes in which room. It feels like our “home” now.

Hollianne and I had a revelation over the weekend. While we downsized our possessions when we moved across the state, we’ve somehow- in just over fifteen months- started accumulating more “stuff.” Our attic is filling up. The closet in our basement is crowded. Our pantry is packed…and we are thinking about doubling its size.

Some of the happiest people I know are those with very little in terms of worldly possessions. Missionaries who have dedicated their lives to living with (and serving) the poor. People who have committed to living in rural, impoverished areas to improve conditions there….or social workers who are fighting poverty and crime in urban areas.

Its time to refocus. Our purpose has nothing to do with finding comfort through worldly possessions.

We are not called to be comfortable.

We need to invest in relationships. Good, nurturing relationships that spread the love of Jesus.

“But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.” 1 Timothy 6:6-9‬

My prayer for this weekend is to focus on what I truly need- rather than what I want. I need a renewed attitude toward sharing the hope of Jesus and His message of forgiveness and love. This is what will bring contentment.

Please let me know how I can pray for you.

God bless.

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Angriest in the nation

Tennessee just received a dishonorable distinction….it was found to be the “angriest state in the country.”

This announcement came as a result of a recent study which looked at crime statistics,  instances of elder abuse and the number of registered hate groups in all fifty states.  In this instance, being #1 wasn’t a good thing.

How do you combat this sort of thing?  What’s the opposite of anger?

As Christians, I think it should be “honor.”

What does it mean to be honorable?  I’ll suggest three strategies.

Preparation. Participation. Politeness.

Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work. 2 Timothy 2:21

Preparation:  People of honor seek the truth. They are life-long learners and are constantly reading, reflecting on what they’ve discovered and testing their ideas on others.  Honorable people constantly prepare.

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Romans 12:9-13

Participation: By participation, I am suggesting that we must engage with others.  Honorable people value relationships. They seek to interact with others and share their ideas.  They also learn about the values and beliefs of others.  Relationships are paramount above all else.

Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a clear conscience, desiring to act honorably in all things. Hebrews 13:18

Politeness: I’m not talking about being meek, timid or retreating.  I’m talking about respect.  People of honor respect others, even if their values and beliefs are different.

This week my prayer is to become less “angry” and more “honorable.” And maybe- just maybe- Tennessee can become a little less angry…one person and one action at a time.

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

God bless.

 

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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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