Around the Table

Tonight a couple of students came over and we cooked dinner together. Since steaks were on the menu, I decided the best place to eat was around the table.  As I was setting the table, the comment was made: “We are sitting at the table!? That’s cool, my family never sits down at the table!”  A prayer was said before we began to eat, and although the three of us have known each other for a relatively short amount of time, it felt like I was in the presence of family.

There is just something about sitting around a table, praying together, and sharing a meal that can unite hearts.

While dinner was wonderful, what was even more wonderful was the conversation that took place. We talked about our dreams, ideas, and frustrations. Visions and goals were shared followed with encouragement to move forward. I was inspired as I listened to two young men talk about changing the world and overcoming their pasts, naysayers, and obstacles.  I have to say, my heart was very happy.

During the meal, we were not on our phones, and incoming phone calls were put off for later, because we knew the most important thing was to be there in the moment, listening to each other.

I cannot help but wonder, how many opportunities are missed because we don’t take time to sit around the table? To talk. To listen. To share.

There is something powerful about spending quality time with people and getting to know their hearts.  Life is busy. It is fast-paced. Tonight I was reminded how valuable it can be to take time to slow down and enjoy the company of friends.

Think about someone you can invite over. It doesn’t matter if your house is clean or if you have a fancy menu.  What matters is that you take the time to listen and talk about something that matters.

Today, I have heard that a bunch of discussion and attention has been given to a comment that was made on a popular television show, but the conversation that took place around my kitchen table tonight was far more important and worthy of my attention.

I love that I have a place to call home where I can invite people to come and share their hearts, talk about life, and be encouraged. I saw first-hand how important it is to provide an opportunity to unplug from life and gather around the table.

“Be very careful, then, how you live-not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity…”

Ephesians 5:15-16

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Stuffed!

Day: Friday, September 16th
Time: 1:30 pm
Place: Mom’s house
Mood: expecting

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What happens if you have a tree that is laden with fruit but has not roots? The wind will come and blow it right over causing the fruit to die.

We have to be grounded in Jesus. We have to tend to our roots as much as we do producing the fruit or we will never survive this little thing we call life.

Roots = our faith and our relationships with Christ
Fruit = our good works: the things we do for Christ

Both are important. In fact the Bible says faith without works is dead, but  what good does it do to have faith if we do nothing about it?  We might have faith that God will provide all of our needs, but if we never give what we have to the needy do we really have faith? We might have faith that we can do all things in Christ who gives us strength, but if we don’’t step out to do something bigger than ourselves that requires God’‘s power to accomplish, what good is having faith?

Furthermore, what is the purpose of good works if they are not grounded in Christ? Do you do great works to get something in return, for recognition, for personal satisfaction to just feel good about yourself, to please someone else, or to fill a void?

“”I can already hear one of you agreeing by saying “Sounds good. You take care of the faith department; I’ll handle the works department.”  Not so fast. You can no more show me your works apart from your faith than I can show you my faith apart from my works. Faith and works, works and faith, fit together hand in glove.”” (James 2:18 the Message )

Our culture has taught us to focus on what other people can see…. How we look, what job we have, what car we drive, what we are accomplishing, what we are doing, where we live , etc…

I will never forget a story Tim Elmore told at the National Leadership Forum.

Tim was pouring all his time into creating the perfect program for his students and doing a multitude of good things. His work (the fruit) had become his identity. He said he began to resent meetings, his attitude went sour, he got irritated and was short on patience, and he was exhausted all of the time. “”I was hiding behind the noble act of teaching, feeling like a martyr. As stupid as this may sound, I thought it would look selfish to take some downtime for myself.””

He said it all came to a climax one afternoon when he was home alone in the house he moved into two years prior. The front yard was perfectly manicured (as put in by the builders), but the back yard (left to the homeowners) had not been touched. It was nothing but rock, dirt, and tumbleweed… and thankfully there was a fence to hide it!!!

“”On that afternoon, I stood looking out of my sliding glass window at my back lot, thinking I should really put in a lawn. In that moment, it all suddenly dawned on me. A reality hit me like a load of bricks: I had treated my life like I had treated my lawn. Over the next few minutes, the layers of this reality unfolded. My front lawn —the part that everyone can see —looked marvelous. The grass, bushes and trees were all beautiful. Similarly, my public role as a teacher was great: my lesson plans, my style, my teaching techniques, my programs. The show was good. But the back area,— the private part, —was dirt. And I neglected it because no one could see it. Ouch. In that moment, I realized I couldn’t sustain my current mode of operation. I was obsessed with my public work, but it was not coming out of the overflow of a full private life. I was a starving baker.””

Starving bakers: —so close to food, yet never eating

We have access to food for our soul any time of the day we want it, but in the busyness of life we often put God on the back-burner because we are so busy doing good things and making sure we appear to have it all together.

Faith and Works, Roots and Fruit, go hand-in-hand.

We have to take just as much time tending to the roots as we do doing the good works God called us to do. If you don’t, you will end up like I did – in a position where you find yourself with nothing left to give because you did not feed yourself properly.

This journey of mine has been focused on the “”back yard”” and the “”roots”” of my life. I felt selfish when I left and was worried about what everyone would think of me, but this has been the best thing I have ever done for myself.

My roots are growing stronger every day, and as I feed myself properly I see myself returning to the old me. Well…… the old and improved me. Happy, full of life, and excited to give again, but understanding that taking time to invest in God and myself is not selfish, but a vital part of life and I will NEVER go so long between spiritual feedings again.

It feels amazing to be Stuffed!

…but there is always room for  DESSERT!!!
😛

Looking forward to what God has in store for me next!