Garden’s Bounty

Gratitude Day 317

Tues., Aug. 13, 2019

Jeremiah 29:5 – “Build houses and settle in the land. Plant gardens and eat the food they grow.

Truth: I love to garden.

Yes, this should have been on yesterday’s summer list. Since it didn’t make it, I’m giving the garden its own special shout-out.

That’s how much I love a garden.

Actually, Hubby Rick loves to garden almost more than I do. He loves preparing the soil, planting the seeds and hoeing the weeds. Yes, even the weeding is fun for him. When something is getting close to harvesting, he bounds into the house, excited to pronounce that another growing season is successful.

We’ve been harvesting veggies for awhile now. Green Beans, crowns of broccoli, peppers of every color and cute little orange tomatoes that seem to multiply overnight. Now, the bigger red tomatoes are ready to pick. The bean plants continue to blossom and each day there are a few more cucumbers. Rick has guided the squash and pumpkin plants into the flowers so the non-vine plants have plenty of room to grow. We find baby pumpkins growing in the day lilies and itty-bitty squash hanging from the tomato cages.  

Our garden isn’t very big. We just get a lot out of every inch of the garden.

We don’t have to garden, as previous generations did to fed their families. For us, gardening is a hobby. Something we do because it is relaxing, fun and enjoyable. Yet, the excitement of new veggies never grows old.

We enjoy putting something into the ground and watching it grow and develop into something we can eat. Rick and I never tire of this. Nor do we ever take this process for granted. Each cucumber, bean and cherry tomato is an amazing creation. How each is unique and special and fulfills something different from the other vegetables is purely amazing.

Truth: I love to garden. It brings me great joy. Where will you find joy today?

For the blessings that come out of our garden, I am grateful.

Holy God – somehow, you created foods and gardens as a way to feed us. Your imagination and creativity in all of this is amazing. As we eat fresh veggies or fruit today, may we appreciate Your creation. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Summer

Gratitude Day 316

Mon., Aug. 12, 2019

Luke 21:30 – When their leaves appear, you know that summer is near.

These are a few of my favorite things of summer:

Flowers

Cucumbers

Long walks

Fair food

Backyard fires

Peach Iced Tea

Ice Cream

Bike Rides

Outdoor music

Kayaking

Eating on the porch

Late sunsets

I’m sure there are more. Here’s a start.

What are some of YOUR favorite things about summer? Drink every single one of those things in during these lovely days of summer.

For blessings all summer long, I am grateful.

Dear God – May we not wish away a season, a month, a year or other some other thing. Instead, may we simply love every opportunity that lives before us these days. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Water for the Soul

Gratitude Day 315

Fri., Aug. 9, 2019

Ezekiel 19:10 – Your mother was like a vine in your vineyard, planted beside the water. The vine had many branches and gave much fruit, because there was plenty of water.

I love summertime flowers.

I LOVE hydrangeas. I LOVE zinnias. I LOVE having flowers in the house and outside the house.

As much as I love flowers, I also LOVE having beautiful non-flowering summer plants as well. My favorites? Coleus and sweet potato vine.

Both plants have many fun and different colors and shapes. They are also stunning together. This is why I love to pair them together in pots on our beautiful front porch.

About a month ago, we had multiple days of very warm weather. You could almost watch the coleus and sweet potato vine grow daily. The plants went from cute little guys swallowed up by the larger pots to nearly taking over the porch. They are quite striking in their appearance right now.

However, with bigger plants means they require more water. While the pots are decent sized, the plants have gotten so big they drink up every bit of water given to them.

One great thing about coleus and sweet potato vine? When they are thirsty, they let you know. They simply curl up their leaves and not-so-quietly say, “I’m a little parched right now. Could you give me a drink?”

Our porch faces the west. Every afternoon by 3 PM, the leaves on the plants are speaking to us, longing for a wet drink of water. Literally within minutes of receiving the water, the leaves uncurl, spread back out and let their beauty sing all over again.

Every day, this happens. Literally. If I am not home for a day or two, I’ll ask Hubby Rick to water the plants. Recently he asked, “Every day? They have to be watered every day?”

Yep. Every day.

Likewise, our souls need watering every day. Well, at least my soul does. If I go more than 24 hours (well, really more like one hour) without connecting with God, I find myself drying up. The leaves of my patience, compassion and attitude begin to curl up and become more interested in protecting myself than looking for where God wants me to shine and show God’s beauty to someone else. But when I take a long drink of the trough of communication with God, I discover more peace. More acceptance. More joy.

Just because I reconnect with God and spend some time going back to the One who created me does not mean I expect God to be at my beck-and-call. I am humbled daily when I realize that God knows my limits and abilities so much better than I do. God understands my warts and vulnerable spots. God also is ready to help me work through them … especially when I refresh myself with just even a minute or two of prayer, re-centering myself and a word of God in my life.

If the plants need daily nourishment and water, why should my soul be any different?

It’s when I go through droughts of time without God in my life that I find myself becoming more self-centered, shallow and looking for ways that I have been wronged. Just like the plant leaves, I need a daily reminder of refreshment from something outside of myself that keeps me grounded in where my strength comes from.

As I watered the plants just yesterday, this little message became so terribly poignant to me. For another reminder to water my soul daily, I am grateful.

Gracious God – thank you for longing and yearning to water my soul regularly and consistently. I pray that I make this a consistent and important part of my daily living. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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10,000 Practices

Gratitude Day 314

Thurs., Aug. 8, 2019

Isaiah 49:8 – At the right time I heard your prayers. On the day of salvation, I helped you.

Sometimes, we just need a little practice.

Or maybe, a lot of practice.

Professional athletes will repeat the same action over and over. Then, when they are in a situation while competing, their body will automatically perform a certain function. Their brain will not have to think. It will simply do.

Green Bay Packers cornerback Josh Jackson high-fives fans while riding a bike to practice at the first day of training camp on July 25, 2019 in Green Bay, Wis. Gpg Trainingcamp 072519 Sk32

They practice the same action at least 10,000 times.

Bakers and chiefs will make the same food over and over. Until it is just right. Tweaks here and there to their recipe until the food simply melts in your mouth and it tastes heavenly.

They make the same item for what seems like 10,000 times before it is just right.

There are things that I do without even thinking about them. Brush my teeth. Make coffee in the morning. Put gas into the car. I’ve done these things more than 10,000 times. I’ve practiced and practiced these actions to the point that I don’t think about them when I do them. My body knows just what to do. I’ve done them so often, sometimes, I stop and question if I did them today or not.

When it comes to prayer, why do we expect our prayers to be one-and-done? Why do we only say them once and expect the answer immediately? Why are we so impatient and anticipate that God will answer them as soon as we have spoken the words?

Why shouldn’t we view prayer more like requiring 10,000 practices before we get an answer?

Why aren’t we committed to practicing prayer over and over before we might get it right?

Why should God answer a prayer before we are so vested into a prayer that we’ve prayed it so many times that we don’t even have to think about it anymore?

The problem with prayer? We say it once. Or twice. Maybe three times. And if God does not answer it immediately, we conclude that “God doesn’t answer our prayers.” Maybe, our approach should be that we need to keep practicing prayer. Saying the same one, or slightly modified prayer, over and over, until we truly become prayer experts.

And as we do this, see how we change in the process. See how our faith grows and changes. See how God works in and through our lives because we want to become prayer experts so badly. Maybe, if we commit to praying over and over the same prayer, we begin to truly understand what prayer is.

Before you give up on prayer, commit to praying the same prayer 10,000 times. Give God 10,000 reasons why your prayer should be heard. Commit to the process. See what happens. You might be amazed at the results.

For a willingness to commit to prayer for the long-haul, I am grateful.

Dear God – Forgive us for the times we gave up on prayer way too early. Forgive us for our short-sighted times of skipping out of being a true prayer warrior. Instill in us the desire to truly become a person who has prayed so much, over and over. May we desire to become followers with at least 10,000 prayer practices. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Words Matter

Gratitude Day 313

Mon., Aug. 5, 2019

Colossians 3:8 – But now also put these things out of your life: anger, bad temper, doing or saying things to hurt others, and using evil words when you talk.

We say these sentences, sometimes without even thinking.

“Things will get better with time.”

“You have such great memories.”

“He’s in a better place.”

“Let me know what I can do for you.”

As I sat with two friends, they shared how these sentences have been said to them time after time. Both have lost important people in their lives. Both are going through grief. Both miss the person who has left a huge hole in their lives.

We, on the other hand, dole out these platitudes one after another because, well, they make us feel better.

But do they make the other person feel better? Really? Do we honestly always believe our words? Or do we say them because we feel the need to fill the silence? The hole? The grief?

I’ve said them. I’ve had them said to me. And I’ll be honest. If you don’t really believe those words or know for sure that they are true, please don’t dole them out.

Just listen.

Just hold the other person’s hand.

Just be.

I know it’s so much easier to say those words that others say All. The. Time. But maybe, just maybe, think about what those words are saying before speaking them. We’re talking about a person’s feelings. We’re exploring someone’s grief. We’re trying to address a big old hole that may or may not be ready to be filled.

We feel the need to say something. Anything. Whether we fully understand what we are saying or not.

But please. Only use words you know to be true. Words that are not a platitude but something that will speak to the other person’s life today.

Otherwise, just be. Silence is OK. Grief needs time. And be my friend who lives beyond platitudes.

Please forgive me for the times I said those words to you without thinking. Without understanding. Without truly being present for you. I simply didn’t know better.

But I’ve heard my two friends speak. And now, I know better. My words matter. To you. I pray that I will be move careful about using words that will not hurt. That will heal. Otherwise, may my words be words of silence. And let me be OK with this.

For rediscovering that our words matter, I am grateful.

Holy God – too often, we find ourselves filling space with platitudes and words that we may or may not believe. Words that have been spoken to us or others in their moment of struggle. And without really thinking through what we say, we simply repeat them. Help me be more discerning with my words. What I say. How I say it. To whom I repeat it. My words matter. May my words be more ambassadors of your grace than simply words that I repeat without fully believing or understanding. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Keep It Simple

Gratitude Day 312

Sat., Aug. 3, 2019

1 Peter 2:2 – As newborn babies want milk, you should want the pure and simple teaching. By it you can mature in your salvation,

We had a neighborhood gathering at our house last night. About 25 of our neighbors meandered over to our house for a wonderful night. It was potluck. One neighbor provided the meat and buns. We provided calico beans (my Dad’s favorite) and a location. The weather was ideal. We had people sitting inside the house and most enjoyed the wrap-around porch. Eventually, many wondered outdoors, and we enjoyed a near-perfect summer night in Wisconsin.

I had such good intentions. I wanted to snap a few pictures of our evening together.

It didn’t happen.

The only photos I have are of these flowers that I used to make little arrangements for the tables. I wanted a little something to dress up the tables.  Something simple and easy but yet nice.

So, I did the simplest thing I could think of. I cut flowers out from the road ditches and put them into little Mason jar for table arrangements. Super cute and so simple. I did the whole project in about 20 minutes, including picking the flowers from the road ditches.

The flowers can be a metaphor for our lives. Too often, we want to make things complicated. A big deal. Overwhelming. Maybe, God calls us to be simple. Nothing flashing. Nothing overwhelming. Nothing difficult. Just who we are.

Life gets full. Life can be too complicated. Sometimes, we just need to gather over a burger and a brat and share our lives with each other. Nothing complicated. Nothing flashy. Just who we are.

Too often when we find ourselves in the midst of a challenging situation, we get bent out of shape. We worry and develop anxiety. We don’t know what to do.

Actually, we do know what to do. Think of the simplest next step you can take. It doesn’t have to be very big. Just one little thing you can do to remedy the situation.

Then, do it.

Just this one little step. See what happens. Hopefully it won’t require tremendous work or schedule reorganization. In fact, it shouldn’t. Because this is just one small step.

Then, step back. Look. Listen. Breathe. You did it. You did one small step.

Maybe that is enough for today.

For lessons in simplicity that never grow old , I am grateful.

Lord God – Sometimes, we keep looking at the forest and we forget to see the individual trees. Help us see the individual trees of life: the simplest of things that truly make a different. Help us be agents of simple. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Never Ending Smiles

Gratitude Day 312

Thurs., Aug. 1, 2019

Luke 18:15-17 – Some people brought even their babies to Jesus so he could touch them. When the followers saw this, they told them to stop. But Jesus called for the children, saying, “Let the little children come to me. Don’t stop them, because the kingdom of God belongs to people who are like these children. I tell you the truth, you must accept the kingdom of God as if you were a child, or you will never enter it.”

Look carefully at the smiles in the pictures with this post. They will make your day. The kids, the players, the people standing by; they all have smiles.

Jul 25, 2019; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers wide receiver Geronimo Allison (81) rides a bicycle to the first day of training camp at Ray Nitschke Field. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

The National Football League (NFL) started training camp this week. The Green Bay Packers have a long-standing and super cool tradition. Kids line-up with their bikes by Lambeau Field. They are hoping and waiting for a player to pick their bike and ride it across the street to the practice field.

The parade of bikes going from one location to the next on a specified route is something some Wisconsin kids look forward to all summer. It truly is one of the best traditions in all of the NFL.

Jul 25, 2019; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers linebacker Curtis Bolton (40) rides a bicycle to the first day of training camp at Ray Nitschke Field. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Notice grown men riding pink Barbie bikes. Sometimes with training wheels. Or 300 lb. guys trying to balance themselves on bikes that weight less than they do. One in a while, there will be a Packer player who finds a cool bike on which they almost fit. And then, they pedal past the thousands of people line-up and high-five them as they ride by.

The kids walk along side the player riding their bike. Usually, they carry the player’s helmet.

I have no clue who came up with this idea. Or how it started. But it’s a good one.

Green Bay Packers cornerback Josh Jackson high-fives fans while riding a bike to practice at the first day of training camp on July 25, 2019 in Green Bay, Wis. Gpg Trainingcamp 072519 Sk32

Sometimes, we forget to enjoy the amazement and awe of a child. These kids may or may not know who the player is riding their bike. The who is not nearly as important as the why. These kids just want 30 seconds of feeling like someone saw them. They look forward to connecting with these guys who is wearing green and gold. Whether the players realize it or not, they are making the day for all those little people whose bikes they are riding.

Sometimes, we like to protect “important” people from people on the fringes. People who are too young or from the wrong social class from coming into contact with a very important person. Jesus broke down these barriers when he demanded that the children has the same access to him as adult people.

Maybe Jesus needed a break from all the postulating adult people he often had to deal with. Maybe he just wanted to laugh. Possibly, he was trying to make a point. Whatever the reason, I’m sure glad he told those present, and says to us today, “Accept the kingdom of God as a child. Otherwise, you won’t get to experience it.”

We know professional sports are big business. Unfortunately, some of those guys riding bikes today will not make the final Packer’s roster. Do the kids who brought their bikes to Lambeau Field today really care? I just don’t think so. For today, getting to hold the helmet of someone they looked up to was enough.

Think about the kids who gathered around Jesus. Did they really know who this man was … or were they so excited that an adult wanted to play Legos with them? That day, playing Legos or whatever game first century Jewish kids played, was enough.

Jul 25, 2019; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packer Mason Crosby (2) rides a bicycle to first day of training camp at Ray Nitschke Field. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

How might you engage with a young person today in a manner that will be enough for them? Go for a bike ride. Take them for ice cream. Play catch. Color with them. Spending time with them will put a smile on their face. Most likely, it will plaster one on your face as well. There is a good chance it may be a day that the kid won’t forget for a very long time.

For lessons from children that never grow old, I am grateful.

Holy God – forgive us for forgetting to look at the world and life through the eyes of a child. Restore some childlike qualities in us today. May we find a little person with whom we can share a special moment today. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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What I Learned in July

Gratitude Day 311

Wed., July 31, 2019

Luke 21:30 – When their leaves appear, you know that summer is near.

It seems like a couple days ago, it was July 4th. But here it is … the end of the month of July. And here are a few thoughts about what I’ve learned this last month.

Make Time for Fun in the Summer

I’m not always very good with leisure. Or, I don’t build into my life the right kind of restful and relaxing leisure. In July, I wanted to be more intentional about spending time doing things that refresh my soul.

Last summer, we bought two kayaks. And this summer, we are using them! No, not every day. But almost weekly. Last weekend, Rick wanted to go fishing. This just isn’t my thing. So, I took along a kayak and exercised in my own way while he tried to catch us supper. Instead, we stopped for a bite to eat on the way home.

When I think of Summer, I think of the County Fair

Truly, for as long as I can remember, July has always been county fair month. Growing up, my siblings and I exhibited animals and other projects at our local fair. This summer, Hubby Rick and I watched our grandson Waylan show beef cattle at his fair. Last week, I spent time with my nephew at his county fair. This is also the fair where his friend Grant made a wonderful donation to a classmate who is going through brain cancer.

I am so glad that I was able to participate in 4-H, FFA and other youth organizations. Why? Because I learned so many valuable lessons. The statistics are real. Kids who participate in 4-H and FFA are more likely to give back to their local communities as adults. They learn parliamentary procedure and how to run a meeting. They develop leadership skills early on. They learn responsibility, teamwork and how to lose gracefully.

I know that 4-H and FFA may not be everyone’s cup of tea. But I will say this. The lessons and friendships I developed through these groups last a lifetime.

While at the county fair where I exhibited as a youth, I ran into two high school friends, Pam and Rita. We sat for an hour at a picnic table and just visited. Growing up, our families all attended the same church. Rita and I also spent lots of time together in 4-H. Now, she was at the fair to watch her niece show animals, just as I was there to watch my nephew.

If we want our kids and grandkids to develop into adults that contribute to our communities and understand the importance of giving to others, we need to help them develop these values now. Encourage them to become involved in organizations that will foster these lifelong skills.

Make Time for Relationships

As fun as it was to visit with Pam and Rita, I also spent time with some college friends as well. It was just a couple hours. But every time I meet up with these ladies, I feel like no time as passed. It’s easy and fun to catch up with each other’s lives. We laugh, we share and sometimes, we get onto topics that are hard to explore.

It’s difficult to get a group of friends together these days. So, when we can get even just a few, it’s a great day. Think of someone who you haven’t had contact with for a while and make a date to do something fun together. I know you won’t regret it.

Fun Summer Book

If you are looking for a lovely novel to read this summer while sitting on your porch or in a swing or while on vacation, consider Lost Roses by Martha Hall Kelly. It is the story of four women during World War I. Three are Russian and one is an American. It’s an excellent historical fiction novel that gives a perspective of what happened in Russia when the Russian imperial family was removed from power and the Bolshevik’s come to power. I love to listen to books on tape while in my car. This one held my attention and sometimes, I was sad to reach my destination versus continuing the book.

Let’s Not Wish Away these Last Wonderful Days of Summer

I know it will soon be time to start thinking and planning for fall. But let’s not become so focused on what’s to come that we fail to enjoy the here and now. Every single day is a gift. Enjoy every last day of summer. Make time to sit by a fire, kayak and watch the sun go down, go for a walk where you can truly enjoy the flowers of the season and take in a local celebration. These days are special days. Let’s make the most of them!

Being able to love every day of this summer, I am grateful.

Almighty God – It’s sometimes so difficult to imagine how You continue to love us, even when we make it difficult to be loved. Yet, you never stop loving and caring for us. May we deeply desire to be true agents of love rather than hurt, disappointment and self-centeredness. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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When an 18-Year-Old’s Actions Spoke Louder than His Words

Gratitude Day 310

Mon., July 29, 2019

1 Peter 4:10 – Each of you has received a gift to use to serve others. Be good servants of God’s various gifts of grace.

Remember the old saying, “Actions speak louder than words?”

Eighteen-year-old Grant Goodell took this adage to heart during the Eau Claire County Fair. His selfless actions during the fair’s livestock auction is something people will be speaking about for weeks. Not only did Grant’s actions create an $8,832 impact on one girl’s life; it has spoken volumes to an entire community. He reminds us that one small action can make a huge impact on a person’s life.

The story doesn’t begin with Grant; rather with his high school classmate, Tenley Walker. Just 25 days before their high school graduation, Tenley was diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer. After surgeries, tests and hospital stays, amazingly, Tenley was able to attend her high school graduation ceremony. Folks in the high school gymnasium held back tears as Tenley walked across the platform and received her diploma.

Shortly after this, Tenley began chemo and radiation treatments. Recently, she completed her first round of treatments. In mid-August, Tenley will be evaluated about their effectiveness.  

Grant and Tenley were not only high school classmates. They were also friends and served together as FFA officers. Grant says that Tenley has been an important part of his life. When he heard the awful news of Tenley’s diagnosis, he was hit hard. She has always helped him out and he hoped that someday, he would be able to repay this.

Eighteen-year-old Tenley Walker at the 2018 Eau Claire County Fair

At the 2018 Eau Claire County Fair, Tenley exhibited a market hog. This year, she didn’t. Nonetheless, Grant found a way to help his friend and teach others how to serve a friend and pay forward your blessings.

At this year’s country fair, Grant exhibited a market hog. He knew it would be sold in the livestock sale. Many 4-H and FFA kids sell livestock animals at fairs to raise money for post-high school education. Grant participates in the fair and livestock auction because he likes the experience of doing so with his friends. As the Saturday night livestock auction approached, Grant knew he wanted to do something different with the proceeds from his market hog.

Last year, Grant donated the meat from his hog to the local food pantry. This year, he decided to donate the entire proceeds from the sale of his pig to his friend, Tenley Walker. The money would help cover some of her medical expenses.  

After Grant explored this idea with a couple of guys, he decided that yes, he could do this. Upon sharing his idea with his parents, Michael and Rachel Goodell, they also got on board. Several businesses and individuals stepped forward and provided the financial backing to make this happen.

Grant’s hog weighed 276 pounds and sold for a whopping $32/lb. This means, Grant raised $8,832 for Tenley. Folks: this is nothing short of amazing.

An ecstatic Grant Goodell after his market hog sold for $32/lb. at the Eau Claire County Fair Livestock Sale

What inspired Grant to do this? Because he wanted to help a fellow teenager. He knew if the right people became part of this little project, it could have a huge impact. Yes, Grant has accomplished this goal.

What message would Grant love for other teens to learn from his action? “Life is not always about yourself,” Grant said. “Sometimes teens need to see how others have helped them. Look at your family and friends. What have they done for you? We can pay this forward and help someone else.”

Grant’s message is not just for teens. He wants to encourage everyone to know that, “Helping others doesn’t have to be about money or time or anything. It can be doing something small, like saying ‘thank you’ or helping someone out in a small way. These are the things that really make a difference,” Grant said.

Grant has been inspired by his grandparents, Glenn and Ardith Solsrud. They have supported the community of Augusta, WI, where Grant grew up. “I’ve watched my grandparents put so much into this community,” he said. “And now, my parents are doing the same thing.”

Michael, Grant’s dad, has been an inspiration to him. “When Dad donates money or time or something, he doesn’t want credit,” Grant says. “In fact, he doesn’t want anyone to know that he did it. This is a powerful message to me. He doesn’t want the glory. He just wants to help other people.”

Grant has been a little overwhelmed with the response of his action. In fact, he doesn’t really have words to articulate his feelings. “People I don’t know are coming up to me and thanking me for doing this. It has really given me perspective how one small action can impact and inspire other people,” Grant said.

The pronouncement in the New Testament is very clear: you have a gift to serve others. Go find it … and do it.

Representatives from some of the businesses and individuals who provided the financial backing for Grant’s wish to raise lots of money for Tenley’s medical expenses. Thanks for being part of Grant’s wish to help Tenley.

Grant’s choice to serve selflessly, humbly and follow the example he’s observed should inspire us. Eight businesses and families worked together to make it possible for Grant to raise a whole bunch of money for his friend, Tenley. When people get behind a joint but simple mission, powerful things can happen. People’s lives can be changed. It only happens when we decide to put into action ways that we can change the world, one person at a time. This is a common message for the youth programs of 4-H and FFA. This must be message for all humanity.

At times, I have been critical of this generation of teens for spending too much time on their phones, thinking too much of themselves and feeling entitled. Grant remind me that sometimes, my words should be kept to myself. Instead, I should focus on ways my actions can speak louder and more profoundly than anything I say. The messages I learned from 4-H and FFA are just as important in my life today as they were, well, a long time ago.

Thank you, Grant for discovering your gift and choosing to serve Tenley. You’ve taken the meaning of an old-fashioned adage and knocked it out of the park.  

For relearning the message of finding opportunities to make a difference in someone’s life in small and profound ways, I am grateful.

Holy God – thank you for placing it upon Grant’s heart a way that he could serve You and his teenage friend. May we discover ways today that we can let our actions speak louder than our words. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Love Fulfills the Law

Gratitude Day 309

Sat., July 26, 2019

Romans 13:10 – Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore, love is the fulfillment of the law.

Nearly every day, people share with me how someone has hurt them.

Sometimes, it’s intentional. Sometimes, maybe not. Other times, it’s a situation where we want to be right. And so, we plow right through other’s feelings only concerned for our point of view and opinion.

It hurts to watch this happen.

It hurts when you are the one on the receiving end of a situation.

I disappoint myself when I know I probably affected someone else today.

Somewhere along the line, our culture has failed us. We’re spent so much effort and energy into making sure our voice is heard that we’ve sometimes stopped listening to voices other than our own. I’m an advocate for fairness and equality and justice. Unfortunately, in the process, we now throw around these words like Scobie snacks. When we feel the least bit offended, rather than truly listening to someone else, we go on the defense and begin to point out where we have been wronged.

Let me be clear. There are often times when people have been wronged … and should speak up. Yes, do bring to attention where there are inconsistences. Yet, when we spend our entire lives looking for where we have been wronged, I feel like we put a lot of energy into a negative starting point versus a positive starting place.

I so want to scream to the world, “Can we please just take a step back and remember to love one another?”

I want to please those muddled in conflict to remember, “The person you are speaking with is a beloved child of God … just as you are.”

I desperately want us to say to our kids and grandkids, “Even if you didn’t achieve what you would have liked, I pray you learned something from this, had fun and know there are opportunities for growth.” Instead, too often, I hear parents pointing out where someone else received preferential treatment and didn’t “earn” something they felt their kid deserved.

For the love of God, can we just listen to ourselves and our words?

I’ve been reading through the book of Romans lately. IT. IS SO. GOOD. Give yourself a gift and for the next 16 or so days, read one chapter of the book each day. Really read the words. Paul wrote these words to a church in Rome that he had never been to. He knew this church was struggling with how to fit into their modern-day, changing society and culture. (Sound a little familiar?) I’m convinced Paul’s words speak to us today … if we allow them.

Listen to these profound words from Romans 12:8 – Let no debt remain outstanding, except for the continuing dept to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.

Paul wants to help the baby-Christians in Rome understand how to interpret the endless and often confusing law found in our Old Testament with the new covenant of Jesus Christ. Where do you choose the ancient Jewish law? When does Jesus words, the Son of God’s words, take precedence over these sometimes seemingly crazy laws?

Here’s Paul’s answer: the only debt we have to society is the continuing debt to love one another. Period. That’s it. When we love other people, we are already fulfilling the law.

Please, oh, please can we stop trying to figure out what is more important than loving other people? It’s pretty clear to me there is only one thing great than this. This is to love God. After this, let’s simply love everyone.

Humans with warts and all.

People who are sinful and shameful.

Those who might drive us crazy and irritate us to no end.

Just love them.

They don’t have to be our best friends.

We don’t have to agree with them.

We just have to love them.

We’ve spent so much time making sure we love ourselves that at times, we have totally forgotten to love the other. The other person who desperately wants love, just as we do.

So, for today, can we just take a break and not speak ill of anyone else? Can we listen when someone wants to speak and not make sure our voice is not louder? Please, can we try to not hurt someone with our thoughts and wishes and simply accept them for who they are?

Yes, I want us to help develop folks who are passionate about things they care for. But I also feel that we can put some much emphasis on ourselves and our position that we’ve forgotten to see beyond our own noses.

Try to love that person who is almost unlovable today. As you try to love that person, maybe someone else who struggles with you is trying to love you unconditionally today. And yes, maybe they to, are struggling.

Today is a good day. God is with us. God loves us. Let’s be the ones who break down the law into simply loving others. Nothing more. Nothing less. Let’s make it not just a good day but a great day.

For God’s unconditional love that is so hard to explain and live myself, I am grateful.

Almighty God – It’s sometimes so difficult to imagine how You continue to love us, even when we make it difficult to be loved. Yet, you never stop loving and caring for us. May we deeply desire to be true agents of love rather than hurt, disappointment and self-centeredness. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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