The Overflow! where souls are filled and faith is spilled

When You Find the Friend Who Has Been There All Along

Hi, friends. I’m so glad you’re here!

I know there are many places you could be today, and I’m thankful you’ve chosen to spend a few minutes with me. 

red plate message

Whether you’re an old friend or a new one, I pray that you’ll be blessed as you linger in this place where faith is spilled and souls are filled.

If you like what you find, I hope you’ll sign up on the sidebar for a free subscription to The Overflow! Or connect with me on Facebook or Twitter sometime in the days to come.

Over at Encouragement for Today I’m talking about my own struggle to hear from God and what a fast-footed little boy taught me about listening with my eyes. If you haven’t read that devotion yet, I hope you’ll stop by P31 Ministries  and check it out.  But before you go, keep reading and I’ll tell you how a red plate helped me see Jesus in the midst of my daily grind. (And I’ll let you know how you can sign up for today’s give-away!)

*******************************************************************************************************************************************************************************

When my first-born daughter was in preschool, she came home one afternoon with a pressing question on her mind.

 “Mommy, what does Jesus like to eat?”

The baby on my hip was tugging at my hair and the soup on the stove had begun to simmer,  but I paused for a moment to look my four-year-old in the eye.

I hunched down to respond to her question face to face, but my mind felt numb from sleep-deprivation and the exhausting monotony of motherhood, and I couldn’t seem to formulate a clear thought, let alone remember a Bible verse that described my Savior’s food preferences.

Finally, I cast Lizzy a lame smile and offered her a pithy answer.  “He probably loves fruit. After all, that’s what He planted in the Garden of Eden, right?” 

I braced myself for a barrage of questions, but my curly-haired girl flashed me a grateful grin and nodded  in agreement. Then, she ran out the door to join her big brother in the sand box.

I stirred the soup and jostled the baby. I gathered dishes from the cupboard and plucked napkins from the drawer as the hungry one on my hip fussed to be fed.

maggie crying

Outside my window, my playful duo was making “soup”, too, stirring their concoction in a bright orange sand bucket and laughing together like the best of friends.

I set the table with plastic bowls and stout silver spoons, and I tried to ignore the pangs of loneliness that poked at my heart. I put the baby in the nearby bouncy seat, turned back to the cupboard to gather the glasses and wished that I were setting an extra place at the table for a friend.

My husband was working late again, and the thought of sharing one more meal alone with our four miniature munchers only amplified the cavernous ache I felt inside.

My toddler was singing a homemade song in the other room, and I thought about how the voice of a friend at my dinner table would be music to my ears. I loved my family and I was grateful for the gift of motherhood, but I’d never imagined just how lonely life with little ones could be.

My hands were full, my heart felt empty.

I heard footsteps racing across the wooden planks of the deck and then big brother’s voice shouting, “Come on, Lizzy! You can do it! Run faster. I’m waiting for you!”

I smiled and knew that little sister’s feet would be moving faster as those cheers spurred her steps. And, suddenly, I wished I had  I had an empathetic encourager to cheer me on, too,  as the day stretched long and my patience stretched thin. 

My sand-box cooks tumbled through the door and we gathered around the table for dinner. I bounced the baby on my knee and listened to knock-knock jokes, cleaned up spills and refilled milk cups.

And I didn’t think about my pre-dinner wish until early the next morning when I followed the aroma of fresh-brewed coffee into the kitchen…

I was exhausted from pacing the halls with a colicky baby all night and overwhelmed with the thought of wiping dirty faces and bottoms and floors for another endless day. The hours ahead loomed as cantankerous and colossal as the mountain of dirty laundry  in my basement, and the realization that my the three little ones that would soon be slipping from bed merely fueled my funk.

I looked around my quiet kitchen and wished, once again, for a friend to share my angst.

maggie eyes

That’s when I spotted it:  a curious splash of red on the edge of our battered kitchen table.

I stopped and marveled at the stirring sight.

Setting elegantly at the head of our old wooden table was a red china plate dotted with an overripe banana, a clump of purple grapes and a shiny green apple.

Next to the humble spread of fruit lay a cheap white paper napkin with a simple misspelled message scribbled across its surface in sloppy crayon letters:

Welkum, Jesus.

My tired eyes teemed with tears.

 I was not alone.

I slumped onto a sticky wooden chair near the crimson plate and rested my weary head in my hands.

The Friend for whom I’d been wishing had been here all along.

It had simply taken the faith of a child to see Him.

And a shiny red plate to open the eyes of my heart to His presence.

I reached for my Bible as the dark gave way to dawn beyond my kitchen window, and I read my Friend’s words of promise like a thirsty sojourner drinking long and deep–

I call on you, my God, for you will answer me;
    turn your ear to me and hear my prayer. -Psalm 17:6

And while the sunrise painted the new day awake, my soul woke up just a little bit, too.

And before I closed my Bible to retrieve the crying baby from his crib, I echoed my daughter’s simple prayer…

“Jesus, You are welcome here.”

In the hours that followed, the laundry pile didn’t miraculously shrink and the dirty diapers didn’t change themselves. The baby didn’t stop wailing and the toddler didn’t stop arguing.

But something inside of me began to shift and that silent ache began to dwindle.

maggie eat

 

Because that red plate perched at the table’s edge reminded me that I’ve got a Friend who is willing to join me in my mess.

And His name declares that I’m never really alone.

 Immanuel, God is with us. 

 **************************************************************************************************************************************************************************

51L0GVS4V1L

Sometimes the first step to hearing from God is to see Him right where we are.

When we begin to remember that Christ is with us, when we begin to invite Him into our moments and our days, then we set ourselves in a position to hear His voice above the clamor of the daily grind.

Today, I’m giving away a pack of red plates for you to set on your table as a simple reminder that Jesus is with you.

And along with the plates, I’m giving away one of my favorite books!

Priscilla Shirer’s  Discerning the Voice of God has really helped me in my quest to listen to the Lord and tune my ear to His voice. I’d love to share a copy with you. To enter to win just leave me a comment telling me who you would most like to host as a dinner guest around your table tonight.

(And of course you’d serve your guest on a bright red plate!)

 

 

 

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmailFacebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail

62 thoughts on “When You Find the Friend Who Has Been There All Along

  1. I’m writing this with one eye closed under a plastic patch. I’d like to serve my wonderful eye surgeon who delicately removed a cataract from my eye yesterday.. What a miracle. Removing a cloudy, blinding lens and replacing it with a corrected lens so I can see without glasses!!

    November 6, 2015 at 4:41 am
  2. Pam

    I would love to host my wonderful friend Sheila at my dinner table. She lives so far away from me that I only see her once or twice a year. She truly knows my heart and connects with me like no other friend I’ve ever had. I’ve known her for 30 yrs and even though the years go by and we only see each other so infrequently, we can still meet up and catch up just like it was yesterday that we saw each other. No jealousies, no envies, no hurts, no why haven’t you calleds, just the love of a true friend. I miss her every day.

    November 6, 2015 at 4:59 am
  3. judy skrbin

    I would love my Uncle Jack to be my guest. He is the last of my extended family and lives so far away. I really miss my parents and he was always there for me.

    November 6, 2015 at 5:27 am
  4. Heather

    Jesus! Of course after reading this sweet story even more so! Thank you for the reminder of my sweet savior always being here with me.

    November 6, 2015 at 5:30 am
  5. Jennie

    I would love to host Billy Graham and glean wisdom from such a wise and Godly man…on red dishes of course.

    November 6, 2015 at 5:40 am
  6. Amanda

    I would have my dear friend Amanda. We used to share dinner when our husbands worked night shift. We have recently moved away & I miss her!

    November 6, 2015 at 5:47 am
  7. Tammy

    I agree with Heather! Jesus!!! Just to be able to sit near Him and just listen to all He has to say and to gaze upon His beauty. Secondly, if it was possible, my mom, who is in heaven. She went to be with our Lord at a very young age and I would love to be able to talk with her and listen to her words of wisdom.

    November 6, 2015 at 5:48 am
  8. Brenda

    I would like to sit down to a meal with one of the P31 authors. I have been blessed by their books, articles and prayers. I would host this meal as a way of saying thanks, not only for what you all are doing, or for the lives that you have touched, but a thanks for following God’s lead and allowing Him to work in and through your lives.

    November 6, 2015 at 5:49 am
  9. Martha Parrish

    I would host my mom who suffers from Alzheimer’s and who does not leave her care facility anymore. Thanks for this encouragement today. God bless you.

    November 6, 2015 at 5:59 am
  10. Kathy

    I would love to serve my sister who is in heaven. I miss her so much!

    November 6, 2015 at 6:01 am
  11. Stephanie

    What an awesome article, you really touched my heart when I have been feeling so lonely and needed these words. Thank you.
    I would love to have my sister to the table, it has been my prayer to continue to tell her about Jesus and that he would touch her heart. Her name is Marianne – if you could keep her in your prayers too.

    November 6, 2015 at 6:05 am
  12. Kim Morrow

    I would love to have dinner and meaningful conversation with my doctor, who helped is through four miscarriages before having our three beautiful daughters. The season of babies has recently come to a close for us, and as I talked with my doctor at a checkup yesterday, we both got a little emotional at how everything has come full circle. I would love to share our faith with him and for him to know how powerfully God has used him in our lives.

    Thank you for a wonderful word of devotion and a fun giveaway! 🙂

    November 6, 2015 at 6:10 am
  13. Hope

    I have to agree with others I want Jesus to come. I want to sit at His feet and soak in all of His love, goodness, grace and glory. I want to have a personal, intimate experience with Him and know He is near.

    November 6, 2015 at 6:34 am
  14. Brittany

    I would love to have a meal with my husband on a regular basis. He works late A LOT and I am often left feeling alone as the day drags on. Thanks for this post as it really hit home for me!

    November 6, 2015 at 6:47 am
    1. Tricia Bullman

      First time I’ve ever read your blog. Truly spoke to me today. Similar circumstances but mine is a marriage with a husband of few words and limited vocabulary due to illness. I’d love to have my 95 year old Mom at my table just once more. She’s in a nursing home in another state and how I’d love to give her the pleasure of having her favorite foods served on the beautiful dishes that she passed onto me. And over dessert we’d enjoy a cup of tea using my Grandmother’s tea set. Now that would be a good cup of tea.

      November 6, 2015 at 8:24 am
  15. Kristi

    I would host my grandmother. She is almost 90 and lives in another state. I miss her so much!!

    November 6, 2015 at 6:51 am
  16. Karen C

    I am a single Christian woman who lives alone. I desire to have a family of my own someday. But until then, I can invite other single people and those without family over to my house to share a meal together. So, If I would win the red plates, I would like to host other singles and lonely people. Of course, I would have to share one plate for JESUS. 🙂

    November 6, 2015 at 7:07 am
  17. Gretchen scoleri

    I would like to serve the godly man who loves on me and my daughter in our church and allowed us to use our gifts for Jesus there

    November 6, 2015 at 7:23 am
  18. Ashley S.

    I would like to invite some new people in my life over to get to know them better!

    November 6, 2015 at 7:26 am
  19. Pam R.

    I would host a niece who has been on my heart and share Jesus with her. Thank you for the encouraging words!

    November 6, 2015 at 7:37 am
  20. Mona

    What a beautiful reminder. I would love to host friends far and wide. Some days its hard to know the friends I would love to sit at the table again are scattered around the world.

    November 6, 2015 at 7:45 am
  21. Laura

    I’d love to serve my next door neighbor who is elderly and lives alone in her house. I’m sure she has all kinds experiences I could learn from and I want to talk to her and see if she knows who Jesus is.

    November 6, 2015 at 8:01 am
  22. Kate

    My Mother-in-law passed away 6 weeks ago, I would like to sit down with her one more time.

    November 6, 2015 at 8:08 am
  23. Rachelle

    What a wonderful reminder in this season of life. Thank you!
    I would like to host my friend Kerry who moved away earlier this year.

    November 6, 2015 at 8:08 am
  24. Lucy Harman

    I would love to host my grandmother at my dinner table tonight. She lives in a nursing facility and is unable to leave due to her physical health. The last time she left was 6 1/2 years when we all went out to eat and we knew then that it would probably be the last time we would all be out in public together as a family and it breaks my heart that she will never be in my home again or her home again either. I pray constantly for her physical strength because she is barely 70 but her mental stability it great. She still has so much life to live but just laying in a bed and her not doing the proper physical therapy that she is supposed to be doing can be so detrimental to her health. I love her so much and she was such a big part in my life growing since my parents were in their early 20’s already with one child and my mother in nursing school. My grandfather visits her every single day since the day she entered the facility even he has to work that day. Now that I’m approaching 30 with two children and married, I look back and see how much they have done for us and appreciate my grandmother and grandfather. I would love one more visit with her at my house.

    November 6, 2015 at 8:24 am
    1. Lucy,
      Your story touched my heart. Hearing how much you love your grandmother and how you just wish you could all sit around a table again. I’m praying for you right now. That your aches would be soothed. I’m hoping you can still write your grandmother, or send her some sort of greeting so she knows how much you miss her. I’m a Grandma and I love these little ones who make my heart beat in a special way. She must be a special lady.

      November 8, 2015 at 7:39 am
  25. Jessa

    What a beautiful reminder. I often feel alone with a husband whose gone a lot and little kids who always demand more than I have to give. I feel inadequate and insecure. I’m constantly fighting feelings that other moms have it all together and I just don’t measure up.
    I’d love to have my friend at dinner. She moved away last year. She was my best friend and my go to mommy when I had questions. It would be great to see her and catch up.

    November 6, 2015 at 8:37 am
  26. Lisa Swiech

    I would set a place for my son who lives in another state. I rarely get to see him; to have dinner with him and Jesus would make my heart sing. Proclaiming Praises for Jesus while sharing dinner with my son would feed soul, mind and body for both of us. Sharing a meal with Jesus and our loved ones brings hope to our lives!

    November 6, 2015 at 8:44 am
  27. Katrina Kingsley

    I have 3 friends dealing with loneliness right now…and I have more evenings alone as my youngest of 4 just started college this year…I would love to host my three friends with your red plates! Thanks for sharing!

    November 6, 2015 at 8:45 am
  28. cindy

    My only child, her husband and my 2 beautiful little granddaughters live in Australia…much to my dismay and broken heart. Since I never get to see them and they never get to come here, I would give anything in the world to sit with them at my dinner table for even one meal. I long to be the kind of grandmother my mom was to my daughter, with a special room in my house for them, and a special trunk of toys and all their favorite books just for when the grandkids come over. I desperately long to be able to go to the grocery store and shop for all their favorite foods and a few special “goodies,” and then to be able to go home and prepare a meal or a snack or ANYTHING AT ALL for them, would be beyond amazing and SO wonderful. To set a table for my granddaughters with a red plate, a paper plate, a plastic plate or no plate at all would definitely be my dream come true.

    November 6, 2015 at 9:04 am
    1. Cindy,
      I heard the ache in your voice. I’m praying that God would somehow let you get together with them. But even more, that he would soothe those places that hurt and yearn for them. Hoping you are able to somehow connect with them, by email, by Skype. So that they know there is a heart that is full of love for them. Praying.
      I’d love to hear all about them. You can write me at anne@annepeterson.com
      I’m a Grandma too and I simply love those precious hearts God has chosen to bless our family with.

      November 8, 2015 at 7:31 am
  29. Janice

    I would love to host my sister whom I don’t get to spend much time with and who is my best friend and prayer partner.

    November 6, 2015 at 9:13 am
  30. Kimberly Myers

    If I could host a dinner & invite anyone in the entire world it would be a dinner party for my 3 children , son in law & my 6 yr old granddaughter who doesn’t even know I exist. Six years ago I got terribly I’ll w/ cancer. I lost my job , my marriage, my home every worldly item. I was running scared. Then the Lord opened my eyes & heart!! My children call me a born again freak all I can do is pray for them. But my heart aches for my family, to hold my beautiful granddaughter, to hug my daughter and see them all around my table & at the head of the table would be a plate for Jesus. If reconciliation doesn’t happen in my life time, that’s ok . But they all need to know that Jesus Christ is our savior.everyday I pray for there salvation & I have full faith that the Lord will answer my prayers🙏

    November 6, 2015 at 9:41 am
  31. Dede

    I would love to host dinner for our dear friends and not be stressed!!!

    November 6, 2015 at 9:49 am
  32. I would love to host dinner for my best friend of 37 years who lives many states away. Between us we have 7 kids and very busy husbands making visit nearly impossible!

    November 6, 2015 at 10:05 am
  33. Rachelle

    I would love to serve all my aunts and uncles together because it’s been many many years since they were all together

    November 6, 2015 at 10:31 am
  34. Jen L.

    I’d love to host my friend Sarah. She was my closest friend in high school, and now that we live 3 hours apart and both have families, we hardly get to see each other anymore.

    November 6, 2015 at 11:17 am
  35. alisa

    What a great reminder that we aren’t alone if we have the LORD as our Savior! i am not sure who i would like to host-i am hoping that some day i will be able to host others(i have health issues that are quite debilitating). Thank you for this devotional!

    November 6, 2015 at 11:48 am
    1. Tiffany

      I would host a dinner and Jesus would be the one I would host as He is worthy of our welcome more than anyone!

      November 8, 2015 at 5:56 am
  36. Sue Hillard

    I would love to host my Dad…I really miss him.

    November 6, 2015 at 3:03 pm
  37. Lou

    I loved the beauty of your story and the simplicity of your sweet child’s response. It’s so easy to forget that all we need to do is invite Jesus to sit down with us at our messy tables, desks, and lives. I would love to sit down at the dinner table with my grandmothers tonight and listen to their stories and laugh with them one more time. I imagine they’re enjoying a dish of fruit with Jesus, though. One’s sharing fresh-picked blackberries in a bowl of cream and the other is probably sharing her delicious home-canned peaches. Such precious memories I have enjoying both dishes with them in the past…

    November 6, 2015 at 3:14 pm
  38. I’d love to sit down to a meal with my Grandma. She passed away fifteen years ago, but there is still a tender ache for her company.

    November 6, 2015 at 3:39 pm
    1. Jean,
      When I read about your tender ache for your grandma I understood. I have those aches for my siblings who are gone. Sometimes you just want to pick up the phone and share something just to hear their responses. I hope that I am doing what is necessary to build that kind of relationship with my precious grandchildren.

      November 8, 2015 at 7:25 am
  39. Karyn

    I would love to host my dad.

    November 6, 2015 at 4:15 pm
  40. Jill B.

    What a gracious reminder of God’s presence. Who is like our God?!? I would “welkum” my best good friend, Samantha. She lives two hours away and when we get together it refreshes my soul.

    November 6, 2015 at 4:47 pm
  41. Jaelen

    I would like to host a woman who is feeling lonely and isolated to let her know she is not alone and demonstrate God’s love. I trust God to identify that person to me as I listen with my ears and my eyes.

    November 6, 2015 at 7:38 pm
  42. Karla

    Thank you for sharing such a genuine part of your life. I think so many can relate. I’m not going through baby and toddlerhood anymore but my own struggles of a divorce, dealing with finances, and upkeep of a home to name a few. I often forget God is always there. I lovethe beautiful reminder you’ve provided. When we feel alone, God is there. Our ultimate father, whome we can always count on. I’d love to invite my three closest friends.

    November 6, 2015 at 8:37 pm
  43. Sandra

    I would most certainly host my dear Mother that I lost to lung cancer 6 yes ago. She is really missed. Would love to share a big bowl of Cajun gumbo.

    November 7, 2015 at 8:02 am
    1. Sandra,
      I could just picture you and your mom enjoying the Cajun gumbo. Six years ago isn’t that long. There are probably times you still recall your conversations with her. I’m praying for you. Missing my loved ones that are gone too.

      November 8, 2015 at 7:23 am
  44. I’d like to see Lois sitting at my table. And yet, I know she’ll never leave where she is, for it was a few years ago she slipped into his presence after a valiant fight with cancer. Still, her face is the one I’d like to see. So I could once more hug her and tell her thank you. Thank you for introducing me to her Jesus so that I too would never be alone.

    I absolutely love how you coax just the right words onto your screen and then generously share them with us.

    November 7, 2015 at 9:02 am
  45. Liz

    Hello!

    I would love to have dinner with my two boys who have not spoken to me for years. It breaks my heart. I know that Jesus walks with me every day and that He is a God of restoration in my desperation. I know this because I lean on Him so often I have learned that He is indeed a true Friend. My closest and dearest One.

    Thank you and God bless!#

    November 7, 2015 at 9:04 am
    1. Liz,
      I’m praying for your boys to be reconciled. I too, have a close relationship with the Lord, but when the family is broken, it’s heartbreaking. Praying for you right now.
      Anne

      November 8, 2015 at 7:20 am
  46. LF

    I’d like to be able to have family over. Per husband has issues with my family, I don’t see them very often. Thanks for the reminder that I’m not ever alone. I really needed these words you wrote because I’ve been feeling very lonely recently and my heart aches. Jesus is with me even now.

    November 7, 2015 at 10:38 am
  47. Pam C

    What a fabulous article. I’d love to host my favorite Christian authors with Jesus so that we could talk & share for hours.

    November 7, 2015 at 11:14 am
  48. Chrissie

    Thank you for putting in words what my heart has been feeling. My days of babies on my hip are long over, I have an empty nest with my husband home 24/7/365, but I long for someone to share my thoughts and prayers with. May God bless you, bless each reader and those they love.

    In His love, Chrissie

    November 7, 2015 at 3:11 pm
    1. Chrissie,
      I could hear your loneliness. I am praying you find someone who you’ll be able to share with. But for now, please feel free to email me. anne@annepeterson.com
      We can be friends by email. I’d love to share your prayers.

      Anne

      November 8, 2015 at 7:18 am
  49. Tiffany

    I would host a dinner and Jesus would be the one I would host as He is worthy of our welcome more than anyone!

    November 8, 2015 at 5:56 am
  50. Brenda pisco

    My guest would be my grandmother and Jesus , my grandmother would be thrilled since she loved Him so much, she made sure I knew who God was. The conversation would be heaven .

    November 8, 2015 at 6:33 am
  51. Kathy

    It’s so heart-warming to hear of your experience with your children and how much they can discern God’s message to convey to the “grownups.” It’s like the verse says, “A little child will lead them…” I would like to host a meal to honor a dear friend who is going through a painful divorce. She needs encouragement and love to sustain her during the negotiations with attorneys. This dear sister has been a source of strength to me in the past and I feel it is my turn to lift her up in being there for her.

    November 10, 2015 at 3:58 pm
  52. Beatrice Williams

    I would have a meal with my daddy. He has been in glory for quite some time now. We had a very loving and caring relationship. He was dying from prostate cancer, I was pregnant with my youngest child. He was in great pain, but he held on until I had my child. He finally went home after she was almost a month old. I would want to do it to let him know that I love him and the love he showed for me. I know the give away is probably over, I just wanted to tell my story. Thank you.

    November 13, 2015 at 5:53 pm
  53. Billie

    Thank you for this devotion, it brought tears to my eyes as I pictured the red plate on my table; it was a great reminder that Jesus is always with me, though I may forget to see Him through the thick cloud of stress, worries and anxiety. I would love to have my best friend of 21 years over so that Jesus and I may comfort her; hopefully giving hope and peace into her heart through the beginning of separation/divorce. I know He will provide all she needs to withstand the stormy season in her life; though it still crushes my heart, knowing she is hurting.

    *PLEASE PRAY for my friend, her husband and their 5 young boys to have strength, peace and love through this season of their life; for whatever the Lord has planned concerning their marriage. Thank you and God Bless!

    June 2, 2017 at 5:47 pm
    1. Alicia Bruxvoort

      I AM praying with you, Billie. I’m walking a similar story with one of my dearest friends as well. God DOES show up in the storm. Praying for His strength to buoy this precious family and for His perfect provision day by day.

      June 5, 2017 at 12:20 pm

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *