It’s Summertime!

Gratitude Day 292

Wed., June 26, 2019

Psalm 74:17  – You made summer and winter and gave them to the earth.

It’s the season Hubby Rick waits for EVERY. SINGLE. YEAR.

Summer.

It’s been VERY SLOW in arriving this year. Officially, the calendar says summer has arrived. The weather just hasn’t quite figured it out yet. Nonetheless, here are just a few signs that summer has FINALLY arrived in Wisconsin.

The garden is planted.

Our garden isn’t huge. It’s really quite small. But we make sure every square inch is utilized. Yes, we’ve left room for things to grow. Slowly, they are. Rick planted several hills of cucumbers. It appeared none were really taking off. So, he brought home a few plants from the neighbor’s garden. He now assures me that we will have plenty of cucumbers.

Notice that long row on the left of this picture? It’s the hedge of zinnias that I LOVE to plant every year. I put them right on the edge of the garden. By August, they should be oh, so pretty.

The peonies are blooming.

We have two different colors. And they are always so gorgeous. We were not disappointed again this year.

The backyard swings are ready for rest and relaxation.

A couple years ago, Rick completed this lovely area in our backyard. He envisions plants growing over the canopy, but this hasn’t quite happened yet. We’re still excited to sit back here and drink coffee. Or watch a fire in the pit. Or simply relax. It’s seen minimal use. We’re hoping to up the ante soon.

Whenever it’s difficult to find God, I encourage you to simply turn to nature. Who else could make grass grown and flowers bloom and tiny seeds turn into beautiful tomatoes and green beans and broccoli? Who else could design outrageously lovely different flower varieties? Who else could inspire a spot just to unwind and enjoy nature?

Only God.

Find God in nature. Today. Tomorrow. All summer long.

For God’s presence in nature all around us, I am grateful.

Holy God – thank you for blessings us with wonderful seasons of the year. Thank you for bringing into our lives big and little reminders that you have designed a world for us to enjoy, explore and observe. May we find You throughout this summer. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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We Are Never Alone

Gratitude Day 290

Sat., June 22, 2019

Deuteronomy 26:15  – Look down from heaven, your holy dwelling place, and bless your people Israel and the land you have given us as you promised on oath to our ancestors, a land flowing with milk and honey.

The text message arrived Holy Week. It read, “Good afternoon Diane. I brought last load of cows to stockyard just now. Harvest View Dairy is no longer a dairy. Fed God’s people for 49 years. Pray He is satisfied with that. Happy Easter to you and Rick. God Bless.”

The sender was our friend, Gary Paulman. Gary and his wife, Cleo have dairy farmed all of their married lives. Their son, Dale, has farmed with them the last couple of decades. Dale’s wife, Julie, and Cleo work off the farm. Gary and Dale, along with a hired worker and family help, milked cows as long as possible. This spring, they could no longer justify milking cows and continuing to lose money. They sold the cows to stop the financial bleeding.

Gary and Dale continue to raise non-milking animals for now. There has been and will continue to be soul searching. What is next? Can they hang onto the farmland and buildings? While Gary is theoretically retirement age, like many farmers and self-employed folks, he doesn’t have a typical retirement plan to turn to.

The Paulman’s are not the only Wisconsin dairy farmers in a similar situation. In the last 12 months, about 9% of the Wisconsin dairy farms have exited the dairy industry. After five years of recording-setting low commodity prices, declining dairy product consumption and recent tariffs on products sold overseas, it has been impossible for these dairy operations to survive a struggling and depressed environment.

This situation is not unique to Wisconsin. Every state with significant milk production has a similar story. Most of these operations are family run. When dairy farms exit the industry, companies and businesses they work with are affected. In Midwestern American, small and rural communities depend upon on a local agriculture economy. In Wisconsin, dairy is a $88 billion industry. When farmers exit, communities are impacted by a loss of their local economic base.

How this affect you? Here’s the deal. Everyone is affected by the dairy industry. If you drink milk, eat cheese, yogurt or ice cream, you are affected. If you spread butter on bread, you are affected. Maybe dairy products aren’t your deal. You are still affected. By-products from dairy animals are used in thousands of products from hand cream and lotion to handbags and shoes. There are lots of other non-dairy edible products which also utilize products from dairy animals, such as gelatin. It would be very difficult to find an American household without something from a dairy cow in it.

The spring weather has also dumped insult to injury for many struggling producers. Thousands of acres of land will not be planted to corn or beans this year because the ground has been too wet. In some areas, perennial crops that normally regrow after winter did not because of an incredibly cold winter. Prices for commodities used to feed animals is increasing and already strapped producers do not have the resources to purchase feed.

American was built as an agrarian society. Agriculture was the original way people earned a living. As fewer people were needed to raise food, people moved to town and pursued other occupations. We take for granted that we have a cheap, safe, diversified and accessible food supply here in the U.S.

But agriculture is changing … rapidly. People who have spent their entire lives raising food can no longer do so financially. They are faced with difficult choices. After pouring decades and years into a business, the operators often aren’t sure what to do next. Historically too proud to ask for help, several operations have turned to Go Fund me pages and the like to simply scrape by.

I believe Gary envisioned watching his grandkids explore being involved on a farm. Parker and Elsa’s mom, Ann (Gary and Cleo’s daughter), works in the dairy industry. They know where milk comes from and that brown cows do not produce chocolate milk. Yet, it’s impossible to Gary’s shoes and not struggle emotionally and mentally.

Throughout the Bible, we hear of a land “flowing with milk and honey.” This is an indication of rich land, valuable land, land ready for food production. It can be easy to blame God for the challenges in American agriculture and the dairy industry right now. There are a whole bunch of factors that have contributed to the current situation. I pray that folks like Gary, Cleo and their family, are assured that God journeys with they through these difficult days.

One night, Hubby Rick and I ate Friday night fish with Gary and Cleo and listened. Can we fix their situation? No. But we can listen … and this, we tried to do. We pray that they, and countless other farmers who are struggling right now, turn to God for support. This problem is bigger than themselves.

When we struggle with something in our lives that feels completely out of our hands, I pray that we turn to God for support, comfort and assurance that we won’t be alone. This is my prayer for Gary, Cleo, their family and all affected by a challenging dairy industry.

For confidence God journeys with us daily, I am grateful.

Holy God – you know the names of those people who are struggling with something they feel is out of their control right now. You know the details of every situation. I pray that you will be very present for these people so they can receive the assurance that they won’t be alone. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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When Small Things Are Big Things

Gratitude Day 289

Thurs., June 20, 2019

Ephesians 6:7  – Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people,

Mother Teresa said, “The Lord likes small things best, especially those done with love.”

Amen, sister.

In our local community, the school year is over. Nearly ever Friday during the school year, I help coordinate a food program through our local school called, “Blessings in a Backpack.” Each week, about 60 kids in our small, local school district receive a bag of food with two breakfast items, 2 meal items and at least 6 snack items. During the 2018-2019 school year, we were able to provide students with shelf-stable milk every week as one of those snack items.  

The food bags are made available to any student who might be struggling with food insecurity. For some students, this bag of food maybe the only food they receive all weekend. For others, the food bag helps stretch other food resources. Our goal is to provide food for students who might not otherwise have all the food that they need.

This is the third year we have partnered with our local school district to make food bags available for students. Each year, the program has grown more, and we’ve impacted more kids and families. During summer school, we also provide free bag lunches for any student. Between what we provide during the school year and through the summer school program, our little program provided over 3,000 meal bags to students in our local school district.

This is amazing in our little community.

What is even more amazing? The support we’ve received for this program. We have about 30 volunteers who provide time to the program. Most of these volunteers help pack the food bags. We also have volunteers who order and bring the food to our packing site, organize our volunteers, oversee our finances, keep the lines of communication with the school, provide administrative roles, write grants, send thank you’s and a whole host of other roles.

Yet, the program would not be successful without donors. Our Blessings program has received so much support. Local businesses, organizations and individuals provide resources so we can offer great food bags for the kids. Honestly, we’ve done very little promotion because we have received such generous donations.

Why do we do this? Because every kid deserves to have food. Sometimes, people ask why we are providing for a child when their parents are making poor choices. My response? The kids have very little say in how family resources are used. Our goal is to ensure kids have access to food. Period. Nothing else.

This week our volunteers and some donors gathered for an appreciation night. When people heard the number of bags we’ve distributed in our small school district during the last school year and summer, they are flabbergasted.

Sometimes, as volunteers, it’s natural to wonder if your role made a difference. Let’s go back to what Mother Teresa said, “The Lord likes small things done best, especially those done with great love.” It doesn’t matter how big or small a contribution is. When it is done with great love, God smiles. God rejoices. God celebrates that we are willing to help those around us, even in a very small but meaningful way. What we may consider a simple way to serve may make a huge difference in someone else’s life.

I pray that we can remember that serving someone else is serving God. And God loves a faithful servant.

How might you do some small thing today and make a different in someone’s life today? Look for something. Anticipate it. And then, do it.

For opportunities to do small things and make a difference, I am grateful.

Lord God – It is amazing the way you can orchestrate opportunities for people to make a difference in someone else’s life. I pray we accept those opportunities and welcome them in our lives. May we remember that serving is not for our benefit. No, it’s a way to worship You and serve another. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Refresh Wednesday – Loving the Things We Have

Wed., June 19, 2019

Psalm 19:10  – They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb.

I love old things.

I have an old house. Throughout the house, we have lovely old things from my family and Hubby Rick’s family. There are a few old things that we’ve picked up along the way. Like the old manual typewriter that I bought at the neighbor’s garage sale a year back.

Some might even say that I chose an “older” hubby … but that’s for another day.

I love to take some of the older, more meaningful items we have and use them to decorate and add character to our house. This is my theory: if we’re going to have these items, why not use them?

And so, I do.

I took a little tour around just our beautiful porch and was amazed how many of these items I found. Would you like to see them? Good. I’m ready to show.

As you walk up towards our front door, you see these old wash tubs and rack. For years, my mother-in-law used them to do laundry. Yep, these were her wash tubs. They wouldn’t be very helpful for laundry today, as there are rust holes in the bottoms. But I think they still look pretty cool.

Sometimes I have had them out. Other times, I haven’t. This spring, I brought them back up from the basement and put them on the porch. They were empty for awhile until I found these pretty petunias. They really do look quite stunning in the old wash tubs. And they kind of fit into the décor of our old Victorian farmhouse.

Just below the wash tubs are these baseball shoes. They were worn by Rick’s son, Nate. Over nineteen years ago, Nate was killed in an accident. Rick has kept a few of Nate’s things, including these baseball shoes. Rick loved watching Nate play. Sometimes, they even played together. Earlier this spring, granddaughter Ellie wanted to know if these cleats were Grandpa Rick’s. It provided an opportunity to share just a little something about Uncle Nate, who she never met.

We have milk cans at various places around our property. Rick hauled milk from the farm to the manufacturing plant for 25 years. His son, Darran, has continued this family tradition and is the third generation hauling milk. When Rick’s dad began hauling milk, he had a van truck which held 88 milk cans. In those days, many people who lived in the country had a couple of cows and would sell milk the family didn’t need. Most farms today sell more milk in a day than would fit on the van truck that held 88 cans.

Some of the cans are a little rusty, like this one. Others just need a good wash and they could be put into action. We’ve kept a few of the old Vielhuber milk cans and I like to use them in various places. It just reminds me of Rick and my roots of being raised on dairy farms.

This is one of my favorite items. It was my Grandma Sower’s watering can. When I was little, this is the can she used to water her flowers. Before it was vogue to be environmentally friendly, my Grandma had a rain tub where she caught rain and used to water her flowers and garden. I remember dipping this can into the rain tub, letting it fill up with water and then watering her plants and flowers.

Today, I use it to water my plants and flowers. It might be close to retirement age. But I’m not letting it collect social security just yet.

There are many other things, inside and outside our house, which we could tell you a few stories about. Rather than bore you with my stories, walk about your house. Your property. Where you live. What old things do you find? If the item could talk what story might it share?

None of these items are worth any amount of money. But they are precious to Rick and me because they are part of our family history. They tell a story. They bring back memories. They are part of our heritage.

If some of those things are collecting dust in the basement, bring them up to the light of day. Let someone ask about them and share a story or memory that item invokes for you. Pass down the stories and the history. Let the items help be a part of the story.

Our Bibles are basically stories told and retold of God’s redeeming work. We’re precious to God. We’re special and unique. Just like the antiques I have on my porch. Just in case you aren’t feeling too special today, please know that God loves you, cares for you and knows all the details about your special and unique story. No matter how old (or young) you are.

For the stories precious items in my life invoke, I am grateful.

Lord God – Thank you for the old stories and history that are a part of who we are. May we see that our story is just as much of a part of Your story as David, Mary and Paul. May we treasure those things that help us remember our story. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Obsessively Grateful

Gratitude Day 286

Mon., June 17, 2019

Jonah 2:9 – But I, with shouts of grateful praise, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. I will say, ‘Salvation comes from the Lord.’”

I am convinced gratitude can change a person’s life.

Yep, research has proven this. But I’m convinced of this for a more significant reason. When I look for gratitude in my daily life – no matter how small or how big – I feel much better about myself. I am reminded again of how many wonderful things I have in my life.

Sunday night, I was walking through out 110+-year-old home. I felt so much gratitude to have a beautiful home. I ran to the grocery store to buy groceries for an event we’re hosting this week. Gratitude surfaced as I put things into the cart, appreciative that I don’t have to wonder if we have enough money to pay for the items I wanted to buy.

I’m grateful to have a washer and dryer to help with laundry. Grateful that I have a very loving Hubby Rick who has been extremely tolerant of my crazy schedule these past few weeks … and picked up some of the slack at home. Daily, I appreciate the flexibility of choosing what to do somedays because currently, I do not have a full-time job. I am so appreciative of the simple things: running water, a safe vehicle to drive, people who I love and love me in return.

On days when it seems a bit more difficult to stay positive, I pray that expressing gratitude reminds me that life is really pretty good. Rather than becoming overwhelmed by what isn’t done or how I feel that I could have accomplished more, I remember that I am fortunate to have good health so I can do many things.

Obsessive gratitude seems like a wonderful place for me to be. Will you join me in desiring to be a place where we focus more on gratitude and less on the challenges of our daily lives? I know … gratitude won’t remove those things that district us and cause us anxiety. Gratitude doesn’t pay bills nor get my work done. But gratitude does provide a lense through which I pray we will stop and take a look once awhile. Gratitude helps us celebrate the smallest of wins and encourages us to keep on keeping on.

Gratitude can and does make life richer, fuller with more proper perspective. This is why being obsessively grateful makes sense to me.

For God’s decision to always extend me gratitude, I am grateful.

Lord God – May the phrase “abundantly grateful” be permanently written on heart. I pray an attitude of gratitude only spurs me to a deeper sense of gratitude in my daily living. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Those Oh, So Silly “Treats” in My Life

Gratitude Day 285

Fri., June 14, 2019

1 Timothy 1:15 – Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.

The past several weeks, I have been blessed with many great opportunities. Ways that I have had an opportunity to be involved with, participate, serve or help someone else.

In case you missed it, “blessed with many great opportunities” is code for “I struggle with saying, ‘No.’”

I’m the type of person who can say “Yes” to nearly everyone except herself. I can and will re-arrange my schedule to accommodate any request … unless the request is for my personal wellbeing or care. Then, everyone else’s request takes precedence.

When I feel like I’ve had a very full day or I haven’t prioritized time to exercise or quiet my soul, I often “treat” myself to something unhealthy, trashy or a complete time waster.

But, oh, it feels so good.

I know. Instead of watching an episode of some ridiculous television show that is certainly not based on reality, I should go for a walk or a run. Rather than fill more time with something that can only be defined as a means of escaping my overcommitments, it would be more constructive if I cared for my heart and soul. But instead, I treat myself to ice cream. There’s a reason I do not regularly keep ice cream in the house. I’d easily weigh 300 pounds if I did.

So why do I convince myself that I can speed through a pre-recorded silly TV show in two-thirds the time by skipping all commercials but don’t feel I have time to read a great book? Or how can it be that my anxiety level seems to immediately lower the moment any flavor of ice cream melts in my mouth?

Because I struggle with caring for myself, I allow myself to “treat” myself to something that definitely is not a treat but simply a “break” from the real world. It’s an escape. A time waster that allows me to step out of my sinful nature and relish, “Well, at least I’m not like her …”

Oh, the mind gymnastics we allow ourselves to play.

I know it would be far more helpful to read something helpful or well-written than slump down into a comfy chair in front of the TV. Or just allow our tired and weary soul a chance to be. But instead, I convince myself that a small treat or reprieve is justified.

When your heart or soul is tired, is there some silly “treat” you allow yourself to experience? Like me, do you feel a little guilty about it … but not enough to change your behavior? How do you move away from feeling you “deserve” this silly escape and direct your behavior towards something more positive and helpful?

Today, I’m grateful that I know a God who overlooks my silly choices and behaviors. Who accepts me the way I am and loves me in spite of when I make less-than-desirable choices.  Who doesn’t give up on me.

For God’s acceptance of me, I am grateful.

Lord God – thanks for accepting me, warts and all. Thanks for overlooking my shortcomings and poor choices. Thanks for accepting me the way I am. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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A Very Good Surprise

Gratitude Day 2834

Tues., June 11, 2019

Psalm 139:15 – Nothing about me is hidden from you! I was secretly woven together deep in the earth below,

Every once in a while, it’s fun to pull off a secret adventure.

Last week, with the help of several friends, we surprised our friend Pam Karg.

Pam is a woman who likes to think she’s always in the “know.” She knows this person and she knows that person. Often, she connects various people when she thinks there would be a mutual benefit in two people knowing each other. She knows what’s going on whether she’s living in America or Armenia. She honors herself in being connected, informed and knowledgeable a little about a whole lot of things.

Because Pam likes to be the one in the “know,” this is why it was even more significant that the surprise was on her. She didn’t know what was happening until the very last minute.

Pam flew back to American to participate in the Cooperative Communications Association (CCA) Annual Institute. This is an organization which she has been involved for decades. CCA’s membership is comprised of various folks who work in communications for American co-ops. Some are writers, others are photographers and there are those who simply love working with other communicators. Pam was a speaker at the institute. What she didn’t know is that she was also receiving the organization’s highest honor, the H.E Klinefelter award.

A group of CCA members nominated Pam for the award. Interestingly, Pam was the 60th recipient of this award and in just a few weeks, she will turn 60.  Pam’s Mom, Mary, wanted to attend the banquet where Pam would receive the award. My role was to assist Mary in getting to Savannah, Georgia and to the banquet.

Was Pam surprised? More like shocked. Overwhelmed. Caught completely off-guard. When Mary and I arrived at the social hour preceding the banquet, Pam literally had to leave the room for a hot minute to compose herself. Did I mention this is a woman who is never at a loss for words?

It was a fun evening honoring and recognizing Pam’s lifetime of work and achievement. She’s not only worked for co-op’s in the United States; she has taught about co-op’s and communication in Armenia, Georgia and multiple African countries. For the last 15 years, Pam has been globetrotting to various countries and locations, sharing her heart and passion for agriculture, women and her faith. Whether it was teaching African woman how to preserve food or assisting Armenia college students who were applying for colleges in the United States, Pam has selflessly given of herself and her time.

Yes, Pam can be loud and boisterous. Yes, she likes to be the life of the party. And yes, there have been times when, as her pastor, I’ve had to encourage her to tone it down or see it from someone else’s perspective. Yet under all of that brazen exterior, there’s a heart of gold that only wants others to find joy and peace in their lives.

When I think of the various people with whom I’ve been acquainted with during the five plus decades of my life, I see all different kinds of individuals and personalities. It amazes me how God has specifically granted us unique and special gifts to use for the glory and honor of God’s kingdom. Pam’s gifts are so specific for her and her heart. What she does is so unlike any other of my friends. This is what makes her special and unique.

When God calls us into a new or different way of ministry, sometimes, we can be caught completely off-guard. Pam could have decided that God’s call in her life was too radical or unexpected. Instead, she accepted the surprise that she would live most of the last 15 years overseas. She has chosen to live and work with folks who do not have the amenities that most of us in first-world countries do.

Few people are called to serve the way Pam has been called. When initially Pam felt a stirring in her heart to spend six weeks in Armenia serving, she never expected this to turn into 15 years and multiple countries. Yet, it has.

Often, we’d like to think we have good senses of humor. But the One who REALLY has a great sense of humor? It’s God. Countless times, I’ve seen God show up in a completely unexpected way and surprise so many people. As much as I’d like to take a little credit for Pam’s big surprise last week, I know the real orchestrator of this whole deal wasn’t a small group of people. Nope. It was God who worked in and through a whole bunch of people for this surprise to come to fruition.

Yes, God needs lots of people to be God’s hands and feet and voices and ears. Too often, we like to take credit for something that could only have been orchestrated by someone bigger than you and I. For some reason, we sinful human beings are so much quicker to blame God when something awful happens but then pat ourselves on the back when something special comes through. How easy it is to overlook the real possibly that someone bigger than you and me planted and watered seeds for this awesome thing to happen.

While you may or may not have been called to serve and travel to different parts of the world, God has a special call for you to fulfill in your life. Today. Tomorrow. Next week. Do you know what it is? Are you listening … or simply making excuses because God’s call seems a bit too audacious to your liking?

What I admire about Pam is that she heard this call … and accepted it. As the call and opportunities have opened to additional countries and for longer periods of time, Pam has continued to listen to God and God’s messengers in her life. She makes no secret about wanting to do this in her life.

I pray that we see God’s call in our lives right now. I pray that we understand the calling and implementation of the call is far more important than any accolade or recognition we might receive. I pray we are inspired by people like Pam who maybe a little crazy but are just crazy enough to listen closely to God and follow God’s lead in his/her life. Most importantly, I pray that you won’t keep God’s calling in your life a secret but rather feel compelled to share it with others.

For God’s special call in your and my lives, I am grateful.

Almighty God – it is amazing how you gift and call us to serve Your kingdom. Help us not be afraid to do something that seems big and audacious and challenging. May we accept Your special call in our lives for today. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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June Dairy Month

Gratitude Day 283

Mon., June 10, 2019

Job 10:10 – As cheese is made from milk, you created my body from a tiny drop.

Here in Wisconsin, we love June Dairy Month.

It’s an entire month dedicated to eating as many dairy products as we like. Why? Because so many dairy products are produced here in Wisconsin! We love ourselves milk, chocolate milk, butter, cheese, ice cream, custard and yogurt all month long. Throughout the month, lots of events hosted so people can get on a farm, eat some dairy products and witness how well dairy cattle are cared for.

Our former neighbors and dear friends, the Lohr Family Farm, hosted such an event last Saturday. For five years, Hubby Rick and I lived literally just down the road from the Lohr’s. Parents Mel and Doris started this dairy farm decades ago. Their son, Greg, oversees much of the day-to-day operation. Doris still manages the books and finances and oversees the calf operation. They hire other folks to help care for the animals, harvest the crops and assist in all activities that make a dairy operation hum daily.

Doris & Mel Lohr

About a year ago, the Lohr’s built a new facility. Their old barn was worn out. They also wanted to build an operation that would provide an excellent environment for their dairy cows, which they accomplished. In a barn filled with 220 cows producing milk every day, you basically never hear a cow “Moo” because they literally feel like they are living in a 5-star hotel and receiving all the amenities which keep them very happy.

Five-gallon buckets soon to be filled with cracked eggs.

Lots of people showed up at the dairy breakfast. Some came on Friday and cracked eggs and set-up tents for food, entertainment and education. Early Saturday morning, people began cooking scrambled eggs and pancakes. Before 7 AM, lines of people enjoyed plates filled with excellent food made right on the Lohr farm. As a live band played in the background, kids swarmed the petting zoo and people enjoyed the near perfect weather for a day on the farm. Before leaving the farm, everyone enjoyed locally made Culver’s a custard Sunday, topped with strawberries or fudge honey topping.

We live in a society today where connections to where and how food is raised and produced are not as close as they once were. Decades of people were either raised on a farm or visited grandparents who lived on a farm. Today, the only chance most people have to be on a real, working farm is when they participate in an event like the Lohr’s hosted. It’s the one time of the year when people may have an opportunity to see happy cows producing tons of nature’s most perfect product: milk.

Here in Wisconsin, lots of this milk becomes cheese. Cheese that is used on pizza, pasta dishes, salads, and sandwiched between two crackers. You can choose from hundreds of varieties and pick your favorite to mix into scrambled eggs or other foods that simply taste better with a little cheese.

It’s hard work, running a dairy operation. The Lohr’s, and so many other dairy farmers, are committed to providing a safe, healthy and excellent product while treating their animals with love that would rival how many children are raised. For the last five years, the dairy industry has experienced historical low prices while input costs have remained elevated. Thousands of dairy producers have exited the industry in just the last two years, unable to provide a reasonable living for their families.

Some of the Lohr family … unfortunately, I didn’t get a photo of the entire family!

During this June Dairy Month, I encourage you to enjoy lots of nature’s most product. Find a local event that you can attend and drink in all the hard work and love that these people provide their animals. Buy a few extra dairy products this month and enjoy your favorites every day.

People could park a few miles away and ride a bus to the dairy breakfast.

You see, just as God created you and your body, God created these wonderful animals called milk cows and the milk they produce. May we appreciate all of God’s creation and celebrate those who care for it so well.

Happy calves at the Lohr Family Farm

For God’s wonderful unique and creation, I am grateful.

Lord God – it’s amazing to discover how carefully you created an animal that can produce a product that feeds our bodies so well. Thank you for the folks like the Lohr Family that have dedicated their lives to providing us with a healthy, safe and wholesome product that we can feed our bodies. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Kindness Starts at Home

Gratitude Day 282

Fri., June 7, 2019

Romans 12:3 – I realize how kind God has been to me, and so I tell each of you not to think you are better than you really are. Use good sense and measure yourself by the amount of faith that God has given you.

There’s a saying that goes something like, “A little bit of kindness goes a long way.”

One of Hubby Rick’s favorite sayings is, “It’s easier to catch flies with honey than with vinegar.”

Recently, I saw this saying and thought it was spot on:

Often, people will say to me, “She/he was a good person.” Most often, I hear this when I am preparing someone’s funeral. I find it interesting that “good” is the default word often used. To me, “good” is such a subjective term. What I consider “good” may or may not be what you determine as “good.”

But when it comes to kindness, I think it’s much easier to have a more equal kindness scale. Yes, people make rank certain things higher on the kindness scale. But we can theoretically agree what should even approach the kindness list:

  • Holding the door for someone.
  • Saying “please” and “thank you.”
  • Going out of a one’s way to do something for someone else.
  • Picking up the tab for a meal.
  • Giving a bouquet of flowers for no reason at all.
  • Taking time to visit with someone.
  • Acting interested in something a person you know is participating in.
  • Dropping whatever you are doing to help someone in need.
  • Passing over something you want and giving it to another person instead.

Yes, there are hundreds and thousands of other ways to be kind to someone else. Some of these things take seconds to do. Others can take hours or days or weeks.

We also can quickly identify when kindness could have been extended … and it wasn’t. Most often, it would have taken 30 seconds or less. And the choice is made not to do it. Unfortunately, the lack of kindness often becomes the focus on the relationship rather than applauding some kind gesture that did happen.

I’ve been the receipient of many kind gestures lately. Each one was just as meaningful as the last, whether it was quick and over or a longer period of time. What amazes me about kindness? Often, it takes no more time and effort to extend a quick little moment of kindness than it does to withhold it. We think we don’t have time or energy or resources to extend a moment of kindness; when in reality, doing something for someone else can actually give us energy. Crazy as this may sound, it’s the TRUTH!!

So today, grasp an opportunity laid before you to be kind. Don’t stop with just one instance of kindness. That would be too easy. Challenge yourself to find multiple opportunities to extend just a big of kindness to someone else. See how this affects your attitude, your demenor and your outlook. Maybe, just maybe, it will also put a spring into your step!

For recognition of God’s kindness to me being meaningful enough that I extend kindness to others, I am grateful.

Holy God – may we come to appreciate just how deep and significantly it is that you love us. Rooted deeply in kindness. May we be inspired by your kindness to us that we make extending kindness a regular part of our day. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Bracing Up

Gratitude Day 281

Wed., June 5, 2019

Matthew 11:29-30 – (Jesus said) “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

I have the most creative husband. He never ceases to amaze me with what he comes up with to fix a potential problem. Here’s a case in point.

We’re adding a master bathroom to our house. Previously in this space was a small kitchen. At one point, our house was set-up as two apartments; one upstairs and one downstairs. This is why there was a little kitchen on the second floor.

Our goal has always been to restore the home to a single-family dwelling. As we decided what to do with our upstairs, we felt creating a special master bedroom suite made sense. So, Rick ripped out the kitchen, moved a couple walls and made space for a master bathroom. He also built a closet for a washer and dryer.

While I love to take baths, our plumber convinced us that putting in a nice larger shower stall was the way to go. I decided to use a little nicer tile and materials in this area. Rick and I talked at great length about whether he felt comfortable taking on this project. While he knew it would require expanding his skillset, he really wanted to do it. He’s used the school of hundreds of Youtube videos to learn more about building and installing the shower. Of course, these videos don’t always agree on what is the best way to go about doing something.

I picked out a larger porcelain tile that I wanted run vertically in the shower along with an accent glass tile that we would put in the middle of the back wall of the shower. Rick has previously installed shower tile … but nothing this big and with a whole new floor base as well. He carefully decided what the best way to do all of this was.

After the shower floor tile were installed, he began working on the walls. I was gone the day he put up the first tiles. When I got home, naturally the first place I would go was to see the progress in the bathroom.

Imagine my surprise when I walked in and saw all of these boards supporting and bracing the installed tile. Hubby Rick had designed a maze of support boards to make sure the tile would stick to the wall.

It was rather ingenious. However, when I’ve seen shower tile installed on HGTV, I’ve never seen them use these types of support boards. I’m just saying …

Rick admits that this has become a much bigger project than he anticipated. Possibly he bit off more than he could chew. He changed his method for installing the tile a bit and after this, the tile went up much more like he envisioned.

I must give Rick credit for coming up with a way to make sure the tile would stay on the wall. His bracing system may look a little crazy and question if the tile were applied correctly. Yet, his thought process of making sure the tile would stay on? Creative.

As Christians, there are days when we need a little help bracing ourselves up. When doing it alone is really more than we can handle. Where extra support makes all the difference in the world. If you’ve had one or more of those types of days lately, what braces you up? What supports you? When you’ve lost control and can no longer do it alone or by yourself, where do you turn to for extra support?

We can and should enlist help from friends and family. We can look for a little different approach, like Rick did with the tile. Most importantly, we are to turn to  

God can creatively shore us up and make sure we have the tools necessary to make the best decisions possible.

Jesus was very clear when he told the disciples, “Don’t go it alone. Take my burden upon you and together, we’ll make it through.

We’ll make it through the financial crisis we are in. The health issue will somehow be resolved. The disagreement will subside over time. Too often, I witness others (including myself) try to work through something on our own versus calling upon God’s help in this department.

Maybe the purposes for Rick’s braces were simply to be a reminder for me to brace myself up with the Lord when life gets full, busy and distracting. My biggest make sense

I don’t know what’s going on in your life today. I don’t know if you feel burdened or distracted or overwhelmed. Whatever it is? Enlist God to bring a sweetness to your life. Let God’s yoke help you journey through this time before.

FYI – The shower is coming along nicely. The braces are gone. I’ll show more pictures after we have it completed.

For God’s yoke that years for us to ask for help, I am grateful.

Holy God – thanks for all the unique and beautiful plants that graze our areas. May they encourage us to celebrate life on a daily basis. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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