Top 10 Reasons Why People Need Sabbath

Gratitude Day 215

Tues., Feb. 12, 2019

Mark 2:27 – Then Jesus said to them, “The Sabbath was made for people, not people for the Sabbath.”

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Hubby Rick and I are taking some Sabbath this week. We’re spending a few days away. Most importantly? We’re not feeling guilty about it.

People need Sabbath. People need downtime. Most of us live drive-through lives, filled with too many commitments, too much consumption and too little time to just be. So, we’re intentionally taking some Sabbath time to recharge our souls.

Most people call it vacation. While I sometimes still do, I really try to use more of the Sabbath mentality. What’s the difference? Sabbath is providing your heart and soul opportunities to slow down and get filled with those things that give you life, rather than filling out days with things that drain us. For some people, vacation and Sabbath can be the same. For me, going into this time, I want my heart and soul to be prepared to unwind, decompress and get refueled.

It’s easy to fill our lives so full that we think we don’t have “time” for Sabbath. Or that we don’t need it. I’m here to say: please, please, please rethink this. To help you think about why Sabbath is important, here are my “Top 10 Reasons why People Need Sabbath.”

  1. Sabbath gives our souls permission to say, “This is what I WANT to do today.” Too often, we feel our days may be filled with things out of our control. In Sabbath, we choose to take a nap and not feel guilty. We decide eat dessert first. We fill our days with opportunities to choose exactly what we want to do. If you are taking Sabbath with another person/people, yes, there will be some negotiating. But even with other people, you can make choices just for yourself.
  2. Sabbath provides opportunities to make memories. Hubby Rick often says this: life is about creating memories. He speaks of the time we rode bike down a particular trail. And when he drives by this trail while working, he remembers the great bike ride we had. Or we repeat stories about some of our favorite memories to each other and sometimes to others. While preparing for this Sabbath, we realized that we don’t have a lot of extra space in our luggage for souvenirs. And that’s OK, because we’re more interested in making memories than buying things to take home with us.
  3. Sabbath provides space to try new things. In our normal day-to-day lives, we may not create space to do those things on a bucket-or-other type of list. Sabbath time is a great opportunity to go ziplining for the first time. Or snorkeling with the sting rays. Or hiking in a remote place.
  4. Sabbath allows space to be with those most important to you. I love going on new adventures with my spouse. Or incorporating memory-making opportunities with our grandchildren. Giving those who you say are most important to you your undivided attention has great benefits. A short Sabbath will not fix all of a troubled relationship’s challenges. But it can be a window into potential growth.
  5. Sabbath time is a great time to spend with people who give you energy and life. On this particular Sabbath, we’re spending time with our dear friends, Chris and Michelle. We only see them every couple of years and usually for a short period of time. For several days, we’ll hang out with this couple and yet, have time to ourselves. We already know it will be a great time!
  6. Sabbath space gives us time to unplug. I won’t be checking my e-mail multiple times a day or monitoring other things much. And that’s OK! You won’t hear from me as much this week … because I’m intentionally unplugging for most of the week. As beneficial as technology is, we also need breaks from it. Sabbath provides a great excuse/opportunity to shut this down for a while.
  7. Sabbath should be filled with “being” time rather than “doing” time. Haven’t we all been on vacations in which we came back more tired than when we left? This is one of the differences between Sabbath and vacation time. Sabbath says, “I’m going to provide space for my heart to be with God.” Yes, go do some fun things! But also make space to just let your heart and soul be. Listen for God. Maybe, just maybe, you’ll hear something profound, or not profound, if you provide the space for this to happen.
  8. Sabbath times tells you and others that stepping off life’s treadmill is important to you. We can and will stay on life’s fast-pace treadmill as long as we allow this to happen. When we say to ourselves and others that Sabbath time is important, we’re naming something that we have determined as important. We need to say this to ourselves as well as others. Then, we’ll begin to believe it.
  9. Sabbath gives our heart and soul an opportunity to be refueled. We know that our car cannot go forever without fuel. When the gas gauge gets near empty, we know it’s time to find a gas station and refuel. If we’re smart enough to know this, why aren’t we intelligent enough to figure out that our gas tanks need regular refueling as well? Too often, we go through life running way to close to empty. Sabbath provides space to refill the tank.
  10. Jesus practiced Sabbath. And it’s a pretty good example for us to follow. If you follow the events in Jesus’ public ministry, it doesn’t take long to discover times that Jesus went by himself to pray and be with God. If the Son of God thinks this is a good idea, why shouldn’t we? If the Son of God needed refueling and recharging, shouldn’t we as well?

I know that getting away for a week of Sabbath may seem daunting to some. Whether you are able to do this or not, we still can find ways to build Sabbath into our lives; smaller blocks of time and space where we can refuel our lives. I pray that you take a few minutes today and block off a Sabbath opportunity.

People didn’t create Sabbath. God did. And it’s one of those things that I’m discovering as not optional in my life, but necessary. 

Holy God – thank you for the wonderful example of Sabbath in Jesus’ life. Too often, we think we don’t have “time” for Sabbath. Place in our hearts the deep understanding that Sabbath is as necessary and eating and sleeping. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Gratitude Day 214 – Leaving the Mess Behind

Fri., Feb. 9, 2019

Matthew 23:26 – Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup so that the outside of the cup will be clean too.

When we leave on vacation, I’m just going to pull the door shut and leave my messy house behind.

But it will be oh, so hard.

Let me explain. I have an unwritten rule about vacations: don’t leave behind a messy house. I have stayed up until the wee hours of the morning to make sure the Christmas tree was down before leaving on vacation. And cleaned the bathrooms and made sure the laundry was done. The floors are spotless and nary a dish in the sink before I rolled my suitcase out of the house.

Why? Because after vacation, I LOVE coming home to a clean house. It doesn’t matter if we roll in town in the middle of the afternoon or the dead of night, I love the joy of walking into a house that is as beautifully clean as when we left. It’s one of those silly little things that makes my heart happy.

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I know this won’t happen with our current planned vacation. You see, we’ve been waiting for Tim to come finish sanding the last of the hardwood floors in our lovely 100+-year-old house. Fortunately for us, Tim can do the job while we are gone. The timing is great. We’re out of the house while the strong polyurethane settles into the floors for 24-hours. Tim will have the house aired out and ready for our return.

What’s not to love?

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Going against my desire to close and open the door to a messy house before and after vacation.

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Before heading to the airport, we’ll have the rooms cleaned out so Tim can tackle the floors. Right now, all the holiday decorations are currently in the dining room, along with a bed and dresser. The bedroom furniture from the new master suite is in our current bedroom. The stuff that’s been hanging out in the new walk-in closet? It’s piled in the unfinished master bathroom, where someday, there will be a beautiful new shower.

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Just this once, my unwritten rule will be broken.

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In the spirit of finally completing the new master bedroom, a little mess is required. Newly sanded and finished floors means broken vacation rules and leaving behind a mess that rarely makes me comfortable.

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Truthfully, sometimes don’t we put too much emphasis on the “outside” and forget that what is on the “inside” is more important? While something can look great and perfect on the outside, it rarely is.

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We can make everyone think our lives are so put together on the outside … when we’re drowning in self-guilt on the inside.

 

We can make-up our hair and our face and even try to have a fit-looking body when we know our insides feel like they are falling apart.

We may appear to have it all together financially, when the bank has a different opinion.

We may come across as confident and determined, when we’re only one step away from wondering why and how we got to this point.

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Lives have a tendency of being messy. No matter how “good” things may look on the outside, there is always some part on the “inside” that has a different opinion. Yes, my clean and organized house has spots that I don’t want anyone else to see.

The Pharisees were the local Jewish religious leaders of Jesus’ day. While it appeared on the outside that they had it together, Jesus had the rare ability to look inside their hearts and see otherwise. The jealousy, the piousness, the holier-than-thou attitudes. It made him sad. While the Pharisees were convinced their lives weren’t messy, Jesus knew otherwise. He called them out on it. He warned them to make sure their insides were as clean as they wanted everyone to assume their outsides were.

 

The Pharisees weren’t amused. In fact, they rolled their suitcases and dirty insides right on over to the Caiaphas, the high priest’s house and slyly plot a quiet way to arrest Jesus and have him killed.

Whew. What a response to making sure no one else discovers their outwardly attitudes and lives weren’t as pristine as they wanted everyone else to believe.

Honestly, I can live with a messy house. I will pull the door shut and walk away. What do I hope I am more careful about? Making sure all my time and energy are put into making my insides are cleaner than the outside. Ensuring my outside and my inside match. Not get caught up so much in the exterior that I neglect the interior.

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For being OK with messy houses and the messiness in my life, I am grateful.

Lord God – thank you for the lesson about learning how to focus more on the inside of our lives than the outside.   Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Gratitude Day 213 – THE Best Love Deposits

Fri., Feb. 8, 2019

Mark 12:33 – And to love God with all of the heart, a full understanding, and all of one’s strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself is much more important than all kinds of entirely burned offerings and sacrifices.”

Once again, Hubby Rick has earned his stripes. He’s made some pretty big deposits in this girl’s heart, whether he knows it or not. No, beautiful flowers, fancy dinner or even the best tasting chocolates were involved. He simply fixed some things for me. Nothing more. These random acts of kindness? More than enough to remind me why I have a keeper of a husband.

In less than 24-hours, three things that I take for granted stopped working. None were a catastrophy; none were a crisis. They were simply mere inconveniences.

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First, the dishwasher stopped working. In the days leading up to its shutdown, it seemed to get nosier each time we ran it. One day, it started but after 30 seconds, it just stopped. It was done. No more clean dishes.

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This same day, the overhead kitchen light stopped working. We live in a 100+-year-old house. This is not the first time we’ve had minor electric challenges. While Hubby Rick has rewired a significant part of the house, the kitchen/butler’s pantry has puzzled him. He’s tried different things to get everything working like we’d like … but sometimes it puzzles him.

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The following day, a windshield wiper on my car stopped working. Both wipers worked on the way to work. It snowed and sleeted most of the day. When I left work, the windshield and wipers were covered with ice. The wiper on the driver’s side worked but the passenger side didn’t. I tried a few things. No such luck. I thought maybe once the car was in a warmer spot, things would thaw out and the wiper would work. But it didn’t.

Hubby Rick to the rescue! With the aid of a few Youtube videos (he has determined you can learn ANYTHING on Youtube), he fixed the windshield wiper. I hopped in the car one day not expecting both wipers to work … and they did. Yeah!

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The dishwasher took a little more time. He tried a few things before turning to Youtube. Soon, it was running like a champ.

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The wiring? Well, it works if both switches are engaged. He’s fixed the most immediate wire for now. This project will take more persistence and time.

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The underlying message in all of this? Rick knows how to make his wife happy. He took the time to figure out how to fix things that make my life a bit easier. And I’m here to tell you all, I APPRECIATE IT!!

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Often, people think they have to do something big to make a dramatic display of love and respect for their partner. I’m here to tell you all: this ISN’T the most important way to love and respect your partner. Do the little things, which left undone, become the big things. When done, they ARE the big things.

It is amazing how special a person feels when their partner does something just for them, not expecting anything in return. I can recall time and time when Rick did something just for me … and it brightened my day. It’s not the extravagant display that makes me melt into a puddle of deep love and respect for my hubby. It’s the seemingly little things:

It’s making sure my car is washed and vacuumed before I go to a ministry event.

It’s leaving a note on the island when we haven’t seen each other all day.

It’s offering to drive home when I’m dog tired.

It’s running a bubble bath when I’ve had a draining day.

It’s heating up my cup of coffee that I left cold on the counter and bringing upstairs to my desk.

It’s running his fingers through my hair as we watch the UW-Madison Badger men’s basketball game.

Want more respect and care from your partner? Show them, through every-day, ordinary ways how much you care for them. Expect nothing in return. Do it because you love them, you care for them and because you want to.

Showing a deep love for your partner/neighbor is more valuable than any modern-day offering or sacrifice. These deposits mean more than a beautiful piece of jewelry, a fancy new purse, a longed-for tool or tickets to a favorite sports team.

Here’s a common challenge. When we don’t feel like we are getting a deposit into our love bank, we withhold deposits into their love bank. When this happens, it’s important to make deposits; not for the good of your partner, but for the good of your soul.

God makes deposits into your love bank whether you deserve them or not. We can’t fully appreciate all the deposits God has made. We can express our appreciation by making deposits into another’s love bank, whether they deserve it or not.

Love deposits work for partners and spouses, children and grandchildren, siblings and grandparents. Honestly … who doesn’t love a good love deposit into their love bank?

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For Hubby Rick’s deposits into my love bank, I am so, so very grateful.

Almighty God – thank you for bringing into my life a person who deeply loves and respects me. Encourage me to be a generous love-bank depositor.  Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Gratitude Day 213 – 20-Minute Thursday

Thus., Feb. 7, 2019

Philippians 4:23 – The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.

At the beginning of 2019, I was determined to break down little sections of my day into 20-minute intervals. These little time windows provide me opportunities to knock something off my to-do list in a relatively short period of time. Rather than being overwhelmed with the time needed to do something, I simply dedicated 20-minutes towards it.

For the first time in a really loooooong time, I’m feeling like there are moments (not days, not hours, not weeks), when I have just a bit of control over my life schedule.

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Mind you … there remains lots of opportunities for improvement. But when I think of a task in terms of 20-minutes, my attitude changes. I can do something for 20-minutes.

Interested in a couple 20-minute examples? Good. Here they are.

Exercise. Earlier, I shared how a 20-minute exercise interval has help me be more consistent with exercise. There have been a couple days when I haven’t exercise. But generally, I’ve been very committed to this. It is amazing. I CAN talk myself into walking for 20-minutes. Or lifting weights. Or doing a workout video. Some days, I have set-aside two 20-minute exercise times. Or maybe a 20-minute and a 10-minute. These bite-sized windows of exercise feel manageable for me.

Cleaning. Our hard wood floors really needed a good cleaning, especially the butler’s pantry and the kitchen. Like, down on your hands-and-knees cleaning. In one 20-minute timeframe, I not only cleaned these two rooms … but all the wood floors in the house! Something I had been dreading for a few days … done in 20-minutes!

Correspondence. Who doesn’t love receiving a real letter or card in the mail? A true handwritten one? I know that hand-written letters and cards may soon be extinct. Because I appreciate them, I keep sending them.

Each year, I begin January with great expectations of doing this. By week two, the enthusiasm has waned. I’ve already missed a birthday or two. I give up.

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This year, I am using a weekly 20-minute window for correspondence. Yes, I have been late with some cards … but progress has been made.

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I began by getting the cards I have organized. I keep them in a couple different containers near my desk. For this box, I made dividers for different kinds of cards. As I put cards in their appropriate category, I made sure the card had an envelope that would fit.

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Now, once a week, I spend 20-minutes getting the next batch of cards ready to send. I put them in a pre-designated spot until they are ready to be mailed; a spot I see every day. If I need a reminder of what day to send a card, I just put a little sticky note on the envelope.

 

Preparing a card gives me a minute or two to think about this person, why I keep in touch with them as well as an opportunity to pray for them. I thank God for their place in my and other’s lives. As I seal the envelope and attach the return label and stamp, I ask God to bless them and their family.

We will be on vacation next week. This week, I put together Valentine’s to send to our grandkids. I want these five precious people to know their Grandparents love and pray for them. (I think they like getting mail. Maybe it’s just the Subway gift cards.)

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The Apostle Paul wrote many letters. And, we are able to read some of them! These letters, found in the New Testament, were written to specific people. Sometimes, Paul was responding to questions he or someone else had been asked. Other times, he shared something important on his heart. I doubt Paul ever envisioned billions of people still reading his correspondence from about 2,000 years ago. And yet, we do.

 

Take 10-minutes and read the last few sentences of some of Paul’s letters. Look at the New Testament books of Romans, 1 & 2 Corinthians, Philippians, Ephesians and Colossians. Or the personalized letters he wrote to specific people: 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon. See how often Paul ends his letters, praying for the people.

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Maybe we think the correspondence to someone else or a prayer for the intended recipient of the card will make a difference in their lives. Interestingly, I think it also makes a difference in our lives, 20-minutes at a time.

How a 20-minute interval of sharing correspondence adds value to my daily life, I am grateful.

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Lord God – in this hurry, scurry world that we live in, we often fail to slow down enough to send messages of appreciation to those we care for. Place it upon our hearts someone we can reach out to this very day.  Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Gratitude Day 212 – Refresh Wednesday

Wed., Feb. 6, 2019

Proverbs 7:6 – When from the window of my house, from behind the screen, I gazed down

Today’s Refresh Wednesday isn’t a recent project. It’s one I’ve had for quite a while. But it’s a fun one … one I hope you’ll enjoy.

Interested in knowing more?

Great. I’d love to share.

When Hubby Rick was about 5, he and his family moved into an old house. Originally, the house was built in 1850 by a General Starks who was part of the Union Army during the Civil War. He moved to Wisconsin from out east. When he came upon the small village of Ableman, WI (now known as Rock Springs, WI), he bought land because the countryside reminded him of the area where he lived out east. The year after the house was built, a barn was built.

While the house was an elaborate house in its original day, by the time Rick’s family moved to this house, it had fallen into disrepair. In fact, Rick’s maternal grandfather felt his daughter and son-in-law had made a poor decision in purchasing this house and farm. Over the next few decades, Rick’s family upgraded the house and made significant improvements.

At some point, new windows were installed. For years, the old windows were kept. A number of years ago, Rick brought home a couple of these old windows. I’ve used a few of them for decorating purposes in our houses. I’ve enjoyed using something historical from the house where Rick grew-up. And it doesn’t hurt that I LOVE me some good, old antique items.

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When I started this project, this particular window no longer had glass in the panes, which was what I wanted. To prepare the window, I twisted a few eye hooks into the sides of the panes. Then, I used some thin but sturdy wire and hung it between the eye hooks. The wires became “clothes lines” of sorts, on which I can hang various items. Some window panes have two clothes lines; some have one.

This design allows me to change the decorations seasonally. For fall, I used items I had at home: cut-outs of leaves and such. For Christmas, I use repurposed Christmas cards. I keep an envelope with the fronts of some of my favorite cards and hang them during the holiday season. I’m behind on getting some hearts and Valentine’s hung up for February. (I kept thinking I’d get home hung and picture snapped. It didn’t happen.)

At Easter, I’ve hung cut-out Easter eggs. In the summer, I’ve hung pictures of flowers from our gardens that I’ve taken and printed. To hang items, I use small clothes pins from a craft store. I keep a supply of them on hand.

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Windows have an interesting role in the Bible. Noah made sure there where windows in the Ark. Windows were used to lower people out of a location. Sometimes, particular items were hung from a window to identify the house. Once, a man was listening to Paul speak, who, apparently was long winded. After the man fell asleep, he fell out of a window!

I like to think of windows in another way. Windows allow us to look INTO a building or house. They also provide an opportunity for us to look OUT. Both ways, the window provides the vantage point of what we are able to see. A big window? Why, we can see a lot! Just a little window, it’s harder to see in and out.

Each of us chooses how much we allow others to glimpses into the “window” of our lives. We choose how much, or how little, another person can see. When someone takes a glimpse into your life, what do they see? Are they able to quickly determine what your priorities are? Through your actions and choices, is it clear what truly is most important to you? Or does the glimpse into your world portray a life lived differently from what your main priorities are?

While initially this window came about as a fun way to decorate for various seasons of the year, its true message is far more important and reaching. I pray this window is a reminder to let others look into my life and see God as an important part of my daily life. When I look out of the window of my daily activities, I pray they reflect what is most important to me and are easy for others to determine. When people gaze down into the window of my life, I pray Jesus is clearly there, for all to see.

For windows into our lives, I am grateful.

Holy God – may we see the windows of our lives as an opportunity to share glimpse of what is important to us. I pray we align our life priorities with what others see when they gaze into our lives and world.  Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Gratitude Day 211 – A Souper Supper

Tues., Feb. 5, 2019

Acts 20:7 – On the first day of the week, as we gathered together for a meal, Paul was holding a discussion with them. Since he was leaving the next day, he continued talking until midnight.

In the winter, one of my favorite foods to make is soup. Hubby Rick works nights and I try to have something for his dinner. Soup is easy for him to heat up, warm up and fuel up.

One reason I love to make soup? It usually tastes better the next day after the flavors have melded together.

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Two weeks ago, I made a big pot of chili. Here’s the last of the chili, in a container with oyster crackers (Rick’s favorite) ready to go into his lunch cooler.

When the artic vortex arrived a day or two later, I wanted some good soup to send with Rick. This time, I made Chicken Dumpling Soup.

How do I decide what kind of soup to make? I open the fridge and see what is hanging out inside. I seldom follow recipe. I may look at a recipe for inspiration, but really, I just wing it. Most often, I use what I have on hand, what’s in the fridge that needs to be used quickly or what sounds good.

This particular day, there was uncooked chicken breast in the fridge. I contemplated making Chicken Noodle, but I wanted something a little more stout.

I didn’t think about sharing this soup-making experience until after the soup was made. Since it turned out SO GOOD, I thought you might enjoy making a pot similar to what I made. It was quite easy and so yummy. In about 45 minutes, I had a nice big pot of Chicken Dumpling Soup:

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  1. Place thawed boneless chicken breasts in a large pot. I used three, which makes a nice amount of soup. Cover the meat with broth, water or a combination. I used what broth I had in the fridge and added water until there 1” of liquid above the meat.
  2. Bring liquid to boil, then simmer. Cut-up the veggies you plan to use. I sliced about 3 cups of carrots, 2 cups of celery and diced a full onion. Add the veggies into the pot as they are cut up. Add a small bag of frozen peas. (Of course, you can use whatever veggies you desire.) There was cilantro in the fridge, so I added ¼ cup finely cut up cilantro. Use parsley if you have it. Add 1-2 tsp salt, 1-2 tsp pepper, some general pasta seasoning and added 1-2 tsp thyme. Let this simmer about 15 minutes.
  3. When the chicken is cooked, removed and cut into small cubes. Return to the pot. Add a container of creamed corn if you want a creamier texture. Mix ¼ c flour with 1 c milk well. Add to the pot. Bring to a boil, lower temperature and let simmer about 10 minutes.
  4. Make the dumplings. Mix together 1 c flour, 1 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp dill and/or parsley. Add 1/3 c milk and 2 TBSP oil. Mix until ingredients are incorporated. Drop tablespoons of dough into the soup. Cover and let simmer on low for 10 minutes. Do not remove the cover until the dumplings are cook.
  5. Enjoy!!

Rick and I both enjoyed this soup. We had a bowl together before he left for work. And it also went into his lunch cooler. Rick said I can make it again. This is his code language for telling me he like something that I made.

Lots of good things happen when people eat a meal together. They nourish themselves physically and emotionally. They catch-up and make future plans. They spend time together. In the winter, we often do this over a bowl of soup. It’s a wonderful way to nourish our bodies and souls.

For nourishment that fills our bodies, I am grateful.

Lord God – While we often think of mealtime as the moments when we physically feed our bodies, it is also a great time to emotionally, mentally and spiritually feed our bodies as well.  Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Gratitude Day 210 – A Fishing Lesson

Mon., Feb. 4, 2019

Matthew 4:18-19 – As Jesus walked alongside the Galilee Sea, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew, throwing fishing nets into the sea, because they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” he said, “and I’ll show you how to fish for people.”

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“This is what the Saturday before the Super Bowl looks like in Wisconsin when the Packer’s didn’t make the Super Bowl,” was Hubby Rick’s favorite saying of the weekend.

 

He is right. The Packers didn’t make the Super Bowl. And this picture was taken the Saturday before the big game.

Would you like the rest of the story? Good. I’d like to share.

About a week ago, our eldest grandson Braeden asked if Rick would go to an ice fishing tournament with him this past Saturday. We made it a little extended trip. We had dinner with his daughter’s family the night before the tournament. Our eldest two grandsons enjoyed the pool at the hotel where we stayed.

The fishing tournament started at noon on Saturday. We dropped off the non-ice fishing grandson and headed to the tournament. It was held in the village of Independence, WI, population about 1,300 people. After multiple days of not getting above zero this past week, Saturday’s 30 degrees weather brought out everybody and their sister and brother.

Coming into town, trucks and cars were parked everywhere. Literally, everywhere. We drove near the lake so Rick and Braeden could unload. In the few minutes it took to get their gear together, multiple vehicles drove by, looking for a parking spot close to the water. There were none left.

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Maybe it was the warm weather. Maybe it was the $20,000 prize if the tagged fish was caught. Maybe it was comradery of being out fishing with a whole bunch of your new best friends. The 37-acre lake was packed with ice fishing shanties, nearly on top of each other. It looked like various-sized pup tents stacked next to each other across the lake.

I found other things to do while the guys fished. Rick has a new electric ice auger. Braeden was more than excited to try it out. Other fisher people let Braeden drill them a fishing hole. Everyone seemed impressed with Rick’s new toy.

The middle of the day is probably not the most ideal time to catch fish. Rick and Braeden saw a few caught fish go by. All caught fish were taken to the headquarters tent. Before we left, Rick and Braeden saw the ones caught. Unfortunately, they did not add any to the display.

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It was neat to see families take in this outing. Kids and adults pulled sleds filled with poles, equipment and augers. People openly shared with each other. After awhile of no fish biting, the guys recruited fishing neighbors for a snowball fight. They took note of all the different kinds of hats people wore.

When Jesus began his public ministry, he enlisted guys to be part of his inner circle. These guys were his best friends, his traveling companions and eventually, the ones who carried out the work Jesus began. When Jesus choose guys for this group, he didn’t go down to the local church (synagogue) and recruit the most educated. He didn’t ask local teachers for names of the star Hebrew students. Jesus didn’t hunt down guys with the best test scores or highest IQ’s. No, Jesus went to the Sea of Galilee and simply asked a few fishermen to join him. No big fanfare. No bells and whistles. Just guys who knew how to use a net.

Jesus assured the guys that they would use their fishing skills. Now, they would fish for people. While their “catch” would be different, skills needed to do their work were very much the same.

We may not fully understand the significance of Jesus’ choice. Think of a CEO of a very large company asking a few entry-level workers to become vice presidents. CEO Jesus wasn’t most interested in their education. CEO Jesus just wanted folks who knew and understood their trade.

I value education and people dedicated to helping others learn their trade. There is value in research and development. Yet, I also greatly appreciate those willing to do the tough and dirty jobs; just like the disciples.

In this fishing lesson, Jesus reminds us that God doesn’t call the qualified. God qualifies the called. It’s a lesson that Jesus taught over and over; and began when he called his first disciples.

When I picked Rick and Braeden up mid-afternoon, they didn’t seem disappointed that they catch no fish. As Rick and I discussed the day, we affirmed that pulling a fish through the hole wasn’t the most important goal of the day. Spending time with his eldest grandson and modeling life lessons was far more important. This was the real fishing lesson. And with this metric, Rick scored a touchdown.

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For fishing lessons that don’t involve real fish, I am grateful.

Lord God – it is often difficult to understand just how counter-intuitive the lessons that Jesus taught where. May we see how his priorities and choices were so different and yet representative of God’s kingdom. I pray we are encouraged to dig a little deeper into these lessons and see what kind of fish we should be trying to pull through the ice (or water.) Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Gratitude Day 208 –  Count Your Blessings

Fri., Feb. 1, 2019

Mark 13:18 – Pray that it doesn’t happen in winter.

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Students from the Benton School District may not be the only ones who might need to be re-introduced to their school today. Most schools in the State of Wisconsin cancelled school Monday – Thursday this week. Some school superintendents and principals came up with entertaining and fun ways to annouce school closings. But after days of being cooped up, kids and parents are ready for a more normal schedule today.

We’ve lived through the artic vortex this week. A few personal highlights:

  • When Hubby Rick was coming home from work early Thursday morning, the temp gauge in the car said -35 degrees. This was BEFORE windchill. And was the coldest temperature Rick can ever remember. Ever. (After a very long work week, I’m not sure Rick stuck his nose outside on Thursday once he was home. And he deserved to sit inside all day.)
  • No mail on Wed. and Thurs. this week. First time I ever remember this. Ever.
  • While driving home on Thursday evening, the temp on my car said -7. And this was the current heat wave of the week!
  • Ninety percent of the conversations this week were about the weather. We didn’t know what else to talk about.

Like many people, I’m counting my blessings this week. We have a warm home with a working furnace. We have warm clothes and hot food. We have vehicles that ran in the cold weather. While we were outside at times, our exposure was not constant. When the sun came out, it actually was very pretty.

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Even when the temps and wind chill are ridiculously brutal, we still have opportunities to count our blessings. I pray we all are just a bit more appreciative of what we have these days, rather than what we don’t.

For blessings too numerous to count, I am grateful.

Almighty God – we choose every day if our glass if half full or half empty. I pray that on this very day, we choose to count our blessings and feel very blessed, no matter what is happening in our lives. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Gratitude Day 207 – What I learned in January 2019

Thurs., Jan. 31, 2019

Proverbs 24:32 – I observed this and took it to heart; I saw it and learned a lesson.

On this last day of January, I pulled out my calendar and thought about what are some life lessons that I’ve discovered or rediscovered this month. Personally, I find this exercise helpful. Why? It’s so easy to let time go by without any evaluation. Each time I take a few minutes and do this, I discover a lesson that I want to take to heart.

So, what are some lessons I learned this past month? Thanks for asking!

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  1. In the central upper Midwest, we’ve ended the month with record-breaking cold weather. An Artic Vortex came screaming into Wisconsin and has hung around for a while. It has been officially colder in Wisconsin than at Mount Everest and Antarctica this week. The cold was preceded by two snow events. In the last two weeks, most schools in Wisconsin have canceled classes and events for six days!! Wednesday and Thursday – no mail delivery!

Many folks have stayed home or changed plans to stay out of the ridiculously cold temps. But some people can’t. As a chaplain with the local police department, I ride with the officers every so often. I had a scheduled ride-along one night during the blistering cold temps. Yes, I could have canceled. But if Officer Scott was working, why shouldn’t I join him? It’s more than police officers who work no matter what. It’s fire fighters, EMT’s, and other rescue personal. It’s farmers and ranchers, carrying for their animals. Its people helping those who have problems because of the cold. It’s the homeless. It’s the fragile folks.

Hubby Rick is a night truck driver and has worked every night since Sunday. Yes, he dresses accordingly, but yikes, it’s been cold! When he crawled into bed after a long shift, he asked when we are moving to Belize. He might have packed his bags right then, had I agreed.

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Today’s sun is deceiving. But doesn’t it look pretty?

 

  1. Recently, I dusted off an old hobby – sewing. For years, I sewed lots of things. Then, life happened. At Thanksgiving, I decided to make quilts for our youngest three grandchildren for Christmas. It was a bit of a push, but worth it. After they opened them, granddaughter Ellie wanted to be wrapped in her quilt like a burrito. Of course, her brothers followed suit. It was fun to watch them enjoy their quilts. And made the effort so worth it.

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  1. One of my new mantras for the year is 20-minutes. I’ve picked things important to me and dedicate 20-minutes a day to them. I use this concept with exercise and my devotional life. We often think we don’t have time to do something. Maybe, we really only need 20-minutes. This plan helps me focus on things important to me, if only for a short period every day. Best of all: it’s working!

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  1. A challenge that I’m still struggling with? Working on the most important things everyday and not just the urgent. I’m not sure I’ll ever get this fine-tuned. But naming the struggle is step one in dealing with it.

As you get ready to flip the calendar to February tomorrow, first pause. Think about the things that have been most meaningful to you in the last four weeks. What was something that you’ve been struggling with and would love to make progress? Ponder these things in your heart. Learn a lesson from the first month of 2019. Take it to heart and grow from this lesson.

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For learned and relearned life lessons, I am grateful.

Lord God – too often, we think lessons must be big and important life revelations. More often, you speak to us in a still, quiet voice of everyday life. I pray we see your hands touching our lives in these small and important daily lessons. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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