Proverbs 31 Womans Devotional - Encouragement for Today

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Gathering with Glad Hearts - Encouragement for Today - October 2, 2019

Bre Doucette

October 2, 2019

Gathering with Glad Hearts

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“They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts.” Acts 2:46b (NIV)

“Do you want to cancel?” my husband responded from the living room — a safe distance from my pre-gathering meltdown.

It was shocking how tempted I was to say yes.

I had no idea what to prepare for our pastors that night after examining the pantry. I sifted through mediocre offerings for the third time that morning. Still nothing.

“No. We’ve wanted to have this get-together for months. I’ll figure it out. I’m just …” What? Unmotivated? Wasn’t I the one who had joyfully extended the invitation and then spent weeks envisioning a stylish “restaurant worthy” meal, served in the comfort of our old farmhouse?

I moved over to the refrigerator to survey some condiments, green beans and a jar of preserves. As far as inspiration went, the fridge was empty. Suddenly, I was jolted by a realization. Pulling my sweater snugly around me, I confessed: “I’m empty.”

My husband offered some words of encouragement, but I was already chatting with God. Help me, Lord. My grand vision has faded. What do I have to offer right now? What can I do to serve the people coming tonight?

“Soup.” That still, small voice spoke to my heart.

“Really?” I challenged. “I’m scrapping my plan of hosting an elegant night for a meal in a bowl?” With horror, I recalled talking up the gathering at church. In my mind, this was hardly a meal that warranted advanced promotion.

Before distress took over, a favorite verse from Acts came to mind: “They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts” (Acts 2:46b).

With relief, I took stock — not of my kitchen, but of my heart. My focus had been on how the night would impress. Now I was replenished by what had inspired that first mention of gathering months ago … a sincere desire to welcome people into our home.

I headed to the market with my newly humbled heart to collect my ingredients. Skepticism turned to anticipation once I saw the store’s bounty. As I gathered sweet carrots, aromatic bay leaves, unwieldy bunches of kale and cloves of fresh garlic, my spirit filled with all the ingredients I wanted to serve to our friends: gratitude, nourishment, beauty, simplicity, love.

When my husband checked in that afternoon, he was surprised to find me exuberantly humming as I chopped carrots. But he wasn’t surprised when I told him I felt led to serve my hearty soup with salad and a loaf of crusty bread. He smiled and reminded me that was his favorite fall meal.

An hour before our guests arrived, I savored the chance to tend to last details. The lack of energy I experienced before was replaced with momentum as I set the table. I turned on soothing music and placed delicate branches in a vase for a centerpiece. Elegant, I thought and sent up a prayer of thanks. I lit the candles as my husband opened the door to welcome our guests in from the brisk New Hampshire evening air.

They both paused to take in the aroma of dinner, and as they removed their coats, it was as if the weight of their day was taken from their shoulders. We gathered at our farm table and shared a sweet blessing. Any residual stress from my second-guessing disappeared the moment our friends broke off chunks of bread and dipped them into the soup with great satisfaction.

Conversation took flight, laughter flowed. The night was easy. Comforting and perfectly simple.

I took in the scene with overflowing gratitude. That night, I was reminded how God wants to be a part of all our plans, even the mundane ones. And that our humblest of offerings become abundant gifts — when they’re shared with a sincere, glad heart.

When we share a meal with the ones we love, we not only refresh those who come to receive, but we find ourselves refreshed in the process as well.

Father, thank You for the many gifts You have given me. Remind me to use those gifts to bless those around me. Help me put aside the pressure of having the “perfect home” or meal and to simply enjoy time with one another. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Proverbs 11:25, “A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.” (NIV)

Matthew 11:28, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (NIV)

Hospitality doesn’t have to be stressful. Let décor blogger Bre Doucette (Rooms for Rent) help you create a warm and welcoming atmosphere with The Gift of Gathering. No matter the season or reason, from casual to elegant, you’ll discover a creative collection of seasonally inspired tablescapes for any occasion.

Enter to WIN a copy of The Gift of Gathering by Bre Doucette. In celebration of this book, Bre’s publisher is giving away 5 copies! Enter to win by leaving a comment here. {We’ll randomly select 5 winners and email notifications to each one by Monday, October 7.}

Who has God been putting on your heart to connect with? What’s been holding you back from reaching out?

Where do you run on your own strength and keep God out of the decision-making process? What’s one decision you’re facing today that you could lay before God and let Him give you guidance? Remember, sometimes the answer might be as simple as a bowl of soup, but we trust in the God who works everything together for the good of those who love Him.

© 2019 by Bre Doucette. All rights reserved.

Proverbs 31 Ministries thanks Harvest House Publishers for their sponsorship of today’s devotion.

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Proverbs 31 Ministries
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Matthews, NC 28105

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