Something is comforting, not in the calories, but in the companionship, food can provide.
When life is good, we celebrate with ice cream, and when life is bad, we cope with brownies.
Any day can feel familiar and lovely when coupled with the coziness of Grandma’s recipes or the warmth of your favorite meal with your favorite people.
Although for all the goodness offered to us through food, it can also become something it was never intended to be, a friend.
Three years ago, it was a brand new year. A lot like today.
Flipping the calendar to a new year made life feel so much more wide-open than it had just a few weeks prior.
Dreams and options received new breath. Ideas that had felt impractical and unachievable now had a place at the table of “maybe we could.”
So I began to dream about all that we could do that year. All sorts of possibilities came to mind, but with it came the overwhelming question of where to begin on it all.
For many of us, becoming a Christian and joining a church is a lot like getting invited to a country club.
We sign up on a little card, are handed instant “community” within the group and are even given a calendar full of all the ways to become involved.
We receive a place at the table of doing, serving and attending. We meet up for regular gatherings that make us feel good, feel loved and feel accepted.
Yet, despite the all-inclusive aspects of this new life, something is missing. Something is lacking.
After years of attending, doing and serving, we find that we don’t know Jesus more intimately than we did that first day we prayed and asked Him into our lives.
You see her.
In your Instagram feed. Writing another book. Up on a stage. Traveling the globe and doing work that seems to be changing the world.
Meanwhile, you are stuck paying bills and budgeting. Carpooling and folding laundry. Hustling but not getting anywhere fast.
Your life feels far from extraordinary. Yours lacks influence, and your work seems unimportant in comparison to what she, and others like her, are doing.
People all around you seem to have megaphones and microphones, and you are simply standing among the masses: a speck in a sea of insignificance.
You’ve heard the saying that it is better to give than to receive, but today I want to challenge you that the opposite may actually be true.
Not because the saying isn’t biblical (it is) but rather to reveal if your “gift of giving” may hinder your ability to receive.
Our culture loves to pride itself on how capable we are, how much we give to others and how good we can be. But, if we take in account Scripture and especially the teachings of Jesus, then we are faced with the reality that it may not about what we give, but instead what we receive.
‘Tis the season for wish lists and gift giving. And all around the interwebs, you can find ways to fill both needs.
However, even throughout the year, each of us has an additional wish list that we aren’t necessarily sharing with others; almost an unspoken wish list, if you will.
Things that even money can’t buy. Heart level things.
Like the mending of a hurtful relationship with your mother or father. Or the opportunity to finally quit your job and pursue something you love. Or the relentless longing for a child to fill your heart and home.
We may gather round dinner tables or smile across the church aisle over the next few weeks as if all is merry and bright, but deep down, many of us are wishing for something far more grand than a beautifully wrapped present under a tree.
The beautifully wrapped packages, the gorgeously decorated tree, the perfectly prepared meal. This time of year we all begin to make our dream lists about creating the warmest of holiday celebrations for our families.
While the details of our visions may vary, our hopes are similar. We want those who fill our homes over the holidays to feel loved, welcomed, and celebrated, with nothing missing from the picture perfect vision in our heads.
And so we hustle to the stores, bustle around the kitchen, and keep our hands busy prepping and planning so that the holidays can be all they were meant to be.
But, friends, have you ever felt harried by the holiday hustle? Does the stress of meal planning, house tidying, gift buying, and guest hosting wear you thin rather than fill you up?
If so, then I am here to tell you that you are not the only one.
Will Smith ranks as one of my all-time favorite actors. While I have many of his movies in my movie collection, The Pursuit of Happyness is one of my top picks. In it, Will Smith portrays Chris Gardner, a homeless salesman and single father in a 1981 San Francisco.
The Pursuit of Happyness is a movie that tells a tale of struggle and setback, perseverance and determination. Victory finally arrives, but not until after a long, hard road. And somewhere along the way, Chris Gardner finds happiness.
Friends, I dare say, that the path to our happiness looks quite similar. We want to arrive at a place of happiness, where things go our way and life is easy and good. Yet, happiness is not the end destination, but simply a product of our journey.
You may have awakened today in a hard place. Where down seems up, right seems wrong and easy seems so very hard.
Whether you are in a physical battle, financial struggle or even political fight, there are moments where each of us is given more than we can handle or comprehend, and the struggle wears us thin.
Friend, if that is where you find yourself today, then turn with me to (Luke 8) and see how Jesus handles us when our faith is painfully stretched.
The season of Thanksgiving is upon us. A time for feasting and fellowship, family and friends.
However, despite its name and festivities, this season of giving thanks can quickly be overshadowed with grocery prep, holiday planning and black Friday shopping.
So, friends, how do we slow down long enough to sincerely be thankful for all that we have before making lists of all the stuff that we still want?