Traversing Options

Jan. 22, 2013

God chose the things of this world that are common and looked down on. He chose what is not considered to be important to do away with what is considered to be important.  So no one can brag to God. – I Corinthians 1:28-29

We bit the bullet and bought a different vehicle. Maybe Rick was tired of people commenting to him about “The Dead Battery” post. He doesn’t read my posts and was blindsided a couple times. We stopped at a dealership on the way back from my Dad’s celebration and bought a Chevy Traverse.

OMG! It is amazing what accessories you can buy on a car! The sales person’s first question usually was what color or accessories we wanted. This line of questioning forced us to identify what was most important.

We were blown away with the price tags. New vehicles are downright expensive. We could not imagine purchasing a car for the same amount of money left on our mortgage. It just is unpractical.

Instead, we opted for a gently used vehicle that has what we need. We wanted a vehicle that could carry us and the grandkids or several other people. The Traverse has a third-row seat. My priority was to have all-wheel-drive. After that, my only requirement was a darker interior. We could have two bucket seats in the middle or a bench. Rick preferred the bench so we can haul eight people. The vehicle on the lot fulfilling these requirements was pearl white. Sold.

Life is full of choices. Some are more important than others. We put a lot of effort into picking out our next vehicle. Once chosen, things went quickly. Meantime, the service department detailed the vehicle so it briefly had that “new car” smell.

How discerning are we about how we choose to live and practice our faith? Do we have a couple big requirements and make sure we invest into these things daily? When it comes to choosing or not choosing a regular faith community to live your faith, how important is this to you? What are your “must haves” with a faith community? Do we get caught up more with the accessories than the non-negotiables?

I’m still getting used to a different vehicle. I carefully pull into the garage and to make sure I’m ahead enough to close the garage door behind a little longer vehicle. I zipped right out with the Jeep, knowing I wouldn’t bang the rearview mirrors on the garage door tracks. I finally discovered how to set my favorite radio stations. Last Sunday, we had two grandkids for the afternoon. Of course, the kids wanted to try out the way-back seat with Grandpa to see if they could all fit. Sure enough, they did. Looks like we got what we needed.

Almighty God, when we get caught up in the minutia, help us to refocus on the most important. Make your Spirit draw upon what we have in common moreso than our differences. Guide us to make choices pleasing in your sight.  Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

Restorative Sleep

Jan. 17, 2013

Jesus said, “My Father has entrusted everything to me. No one truly knows the Son except the Father, and no one truly knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. – Matthew 11:27-29

Yesterday, I got home about 5 PM. Exhausted. I crawled unto the couch and announced to Rick that I needed a nap before supper. Thank goodness a family from church had dropped off a pan of lasagna. My dutiful husband cooked it via the indicated instructions. When I woke up, he brought me a plate right to the couch where we ate supper, notable since we rarely eat supper in front of the TV.

After supper, I napped a little more, did an hour’s worth of work, watched a little TV and took another couch nap before going to bed at 12:30 AM. As I headed to bed, Rick questioned whether or not I would sleep after napping so much already.

I am not a very good sleeper. I haven’t been since about 7-years-old when I started having a hard time getting to sleep. I also often wake up in the middle of the night and am not able to sleep again until it is time to get up. I go through periods when I can get good sleep. Other times, sleep evades me. In my 20’s, I went to a sleep doctor. I was the only person of non-Social Security age at the clinic. She professed that I have the type of personality which makes sleep a life-long struggle. Great.

My mantra the last period of time is simply to be happy with whatever amount of sleep I get. Since Thanksgiving, sleep has been a premium. It’s been a few hours a night and once in awhile, maybe six hours. That’s good for me!

Until last night. Do you ever get to the point when your body is so tired it physically needs rest? That was me last night. Even after getting more sleep in the last 20 hours than the last week combined, my body didn’t want to move this morning.

Once, a little person asked me if God sleeps. “How does God know what is going on around the world when God is sleeping?” As human beings, we impose onto God things necessary and required for us but not required for God. How much did Jesus sleep? I have no clue. We can tell via the Gospels that his physical body needed rest and that he took those times. He modeled regular times of “rest.”

Sleep is restorative in many ways. Our physical bodies need time to heal, recoup and restore. Sleep allows for mental and emotional restoration. My soul literally also needs rest. For me, the challenge is turning off my brain so I can get to sleep and allow for restoration to happen.

Jesus wants to teach us how to rest; to share our burdens; to restore ourselves. Because of Jesus’ humbleness and caring soul, he wants us to find restorative rest. Thank you, Lord Jesus, for providing this to me last night.

Lord God, our bodies get tired. Our brains and minds get over extended. Things just get piled higher and deeper in our lives and the tunnel seems excruciating long. Please provide the necessary rest and healing we need in our lives. May we come to you as a source for restoration of our physical, emotional, mental and spiritual beings.  Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

The Joy of a Card

Jan. 11, 2013

I take joy in doing your will, my God, for your instructions are written on my heart – Psalm 40:8

Cards. I have spent the last couple of hours reading cards. As I’ve read cards people have sent because of my Dad’s death, I love the ones that include more personal comments people wrote about my Dad. These are just plain fun to read.

Many cards often include comments something like, “You are in our thoughts and prayers.” I have also written this in many, many cards. I learned awhile back that if I am going to write in a card that I’m going to pray for someone or a family, then I had really better do it!

We have just passed through the time of year when we get a lot of cards and letters. Usually, I look through them quickly and then in January, I go back through them and read them carefully. This is also when I pray for every family that we receive a card from.

The Bible is full of letters written for our benefit. The New Testament is chuck full of letters the apostle Paul wrote to churches that he helped start. Quickly, many of these faith communities had problems. He tries to give them advice and suggestions about how to deal with problems. Personally, the parts of his letters I appreciate the most are the more private comments; just like the personal comments I have enjoyed tonight.

Once again, I have discovered today that cards are important and meaningful: to give and to receive. I send lots of cards. But I want to be more intentional about what I write in cards. The extra 30 seconds to be more personal really is worth it. These are often the words that become written on our hearts. And this is where God desires for the important words to be written.

Thank you, Lord God, for the letters we can read; words written to guide our spiritual journeys. May the words we write and send to each other reflect your love and care for us. Help us to say words which we will follow through on.  Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

One Possession

Jan. 10, 2013

Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be. – Matthew 6:19-21

Recently, someone asked me if there was anything of my Dad’s that I really wanted. My mind went completely blank. I had no answer. Quite honestly, I had not given it a single thought.

I thought about this later. If there was one thing of my Dad’s that would be meaningful for me, something that represented his life, what would this be for me? I still didn’t have an answer.

As my life spins by, my feelings about possessions has changed. Yes, there are things I have that are important and necessary. I like to surround myself with things meaningful to me. Our bed is the bed I slept in as a child. My grandmother refinished and gave me a dresser when I was a senior in college so I could put my clothes in something other than milk crates. There’s a very old set of glasses from the Deaton side of my family that I received at the time my Grandma Deaton moved into the nursing home.

When people downsize at various stages of their lives, it’s hard. Moving from a big house to a 12×12 room is very poignant. At this stage, often it means going from a bigger bed to a single bed; picking out a love seat rather than a sofa; having a chair easier to get in and out of.

If our house was burning and I could only take one thing with me, I know exactly what I would take. The box with all the cards, silly little notes and slips of paper Rick has given me or written to me. End of story. I can replace a lot of other things. The contents of this box, I cannot.

We live in a culture that puts so much emphasis on material possessions. Bigger, better, newer, more. It became very clear to me last Friday that my Dad wasn’t taking anything with him. All his “stuff” is still here. What awaited him was a much more valuable and significant reward that can never be replaced.

Maybe this year, we could all learn to do with what we have, give a little more away, become less focused on things of this world and make sure our eternal treasure is in ship-shape.

Personal confession: I did take Dad’s Wisconsin Holstein pin off his suit coat and bring home with me. That was the one thing.

In a world that too often focuses on exterior things, may we be more mindful of focusing on the internal things this year. May the one gift of a treasure in heaven waiting for us be more valuable than any silver, gold or earthly possession. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

 

Photographic Memory

Jan. 8, 2013

Even the hairs on your head are all counted. Don’t be afraid. You are worth more than many sparrows. – Luke 12:7

In the end, what does life come down to? I’ve pondered this the last few days. At funerals, I often remark how the death of a loved one should force us to stop and take stock of our lives. While I have said these words many, many times, my thoughts are a bit more personal these days. Losing a family member does this.

Last night instead of writing a blog, I looked for pictures of Dad to share at the events later this week. There were some particular pictures I had in mind. I found some of these, but not all of them. The picture of Dad at Wisconsin Junior Holstein Convention wearing a funky hat did not surface. On the flip side, I found pictures I had forgotten about. The whole exercise also made me realize this IS the year I am going to get my photos and memorabilia organized! (I have been saying this to myself since we moved to Mazomanie seven years ago.)

My friend Pam has been helping me. The photos we enjoy the most are the ones not posed, but caught in the moment. Dad and his great-grandson sitting at the table. While the coffee pot is in the way, it’s precious. The photo of my Dad watching my Mom fry homemade donuts. The photos from years ago are hilarious and yet touching. It’s not a very good photo, but the picture of my high school friends walking up the hill at the farm where we were sledding is classic Deaton. And yep, I ran across more than one hairdo I could live without.

Pictures are great because they recall precious memories. On occasion, there are the photos that recall less than happy memories: photos from the day we sold our cattle and machinery on the farm. A picture of my nephews and a couple friends when we went skiing. This was the same day Rick’s son, Nate, was killed in a snowmobile accident.

About 15 years ago, one night, my Grandma Deaton and I spent hours going through a couple boxes of pictures she had. Included were old family photos. She knew that she was the only person who would know some of those people. We stayed up until the wee hours of the morning writing names on the photos. My Mom was less than happy because I kept Grandma up all night. But we had so much fun! She told me stories and family history. Sometimes she wouldn’t remember the people. An hour later, she would remember someone in an earlier photo. We’d dig out the photo and write down what she would remember.

God has a photographic memory of you. In fact, God knows every hair on your head. God can recall the moment you took your first breath, your first tooth, your first day of school. Even when our memories fade, God’s recollections of you are sharp and intact. God is with you in the wee hours of the morning as you prepare for work or end your too-long day.

Are we as diligent about recalling God weekly, daily and hourly? Are our recollections of God nearly as intentional and consistent as they should be? How might you equip yourself so that you can be keep pictures of faith in your daily life?

Your daily presence in our world and lives should overwhelm us, Lord God. Thanks for knowing more about us than we do ourselves. Nudge us to desire a closer relationship with you in the days ahead.  Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

Choosing to Process Life

Jan. 6, 2013

When Jesus realized that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain by himself – John 6:15

Right after college, I applied for a job called Alice in Dairyland. This is a marketing position with the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture. This person’s job is to promote Wisconsin agriculture through speaking and media engagements. After an intense three-day interview process, I was first runner-up. After the winner was announced, a judge approached me. During the interview process, I was asked if I was a better speaker or a better writer. I was honest and said that I felt at the time, I was a better writer. Yes, I felt very comfortable speaking in front of people. But in the end, my writing skills exceeded my speaking skills. Based on this response, the judges chose another person for the Alice job.

Today, I have a job in which speaking skills are often the basis of what I do. What I say during worship, at meetings, in conversations with people is important. Several years ago after Sunday worship, a little person came up to me and informed me that I had used a word three times in worship that she is not allowed to say. As soon as I said the word “crap” that Sunday, I knew it was going to come back and bite me. Sure enough, it did. But then I went ahead and said it two more times!

Words are important. They can be so beneficial and sometimes very hurtful. As we use technology more and more, sometimes the meaning or thought process behind what we say gets lost. We use these tools in ways that aren’t always beneficial.

One of the reasons I started this blog awhile back is because I wanted to go back to writing. One of the best ways for me to process my life is by writing. Maybe you all get sick of my silly little stories and I’m confident I repeat myself. Just today, someone shared with me how my husband gives me lots of good sermon material. You blog readers probably get sick of hearing his latest antics.

Years ago, I loved milking cows because this was a time when I could sort through things in my head and solve situations. Yesterday, Rick told me he needed some quiet time for himself. How does he do this? Watching a line drop through a hole with a little bit of bait on the end, hoping some fishy will decide its hungry enough to test his bait. Lately, I have been using my keyboard.

My prayer is that you have a quiet, peaceful, still way for you to pause, reflect and contemplate daily life and how you deal with it. Jesus gave us the example of withdrawing and spending time alone, unhooked from the world. How do you unhook? When do you shut your cellphone off and not answer it? When you do turn the TV off and simply still with God? Life is too short not to make time for quietness with God.

We run and go and fill our lives way too full, Lord God. Thank goodness Jesus understood and modeled the necessity to withdraw and simply be with You. Lord, encourage us to make this a regular part of our daily live. May you fill quiet times with such peace that we simply must have them.  Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

The Dead Battery

Jan. 5, 2013

Moses said, “The Lord is my strength and my might, and he has become my salvation; this is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him.” – Exodus 15:2

About a week ago, I climbed into the Jeep to go to work. As I turned over the engine, it just growled. Then nothing. This was the umpteenth time in the last several weeks this has happened. My ever-so-resourceful husband thought there was a glitch in the electronic system. When he moved the electric driver’s seat (yes, this is for real), the Jeep would start. He told me to simply move the seat. In his opinion, this realigned the electronics and walah! the Jeep would start.

Knowing he would ask me if I moved the seat, I did. Several times. Tried a couple other “Rick tricks.” Nothing. We keep three vehicles (all with over 110,000 miles each) for this reason. Unsure what Rick had driven to work, I discovered the fishing/farm car in the shed. My wheels!

That Friday, Rick and I visited my mother-in-law at the hospital. I knew I was going to my folks on Sunday. I informed my husband that I was not driving the Jeep. We were going car shopping.

This past summer, we’d driven several models but hadn’t agreed on one. On this Friday afternoon with a fresh coat of several inches of snow, we test drove SUV’s, what I really want. We found an acceptable vehicle at the Chevrolet dealer. They offered us a special price until 6 PM. I wanted to drive a new Jeep, like the model we have. About 5 PM, we decided to go to the Jeep dealership. One problem: the Jeep won’t start. Rick moves the seat; turns on and off other buttons to get this supposed electrical glitch working. Nothing. Seriously, we’re sitting at a car dealership and can’t move? After much persistence, it starts.

At the Jeep dealership, Rick jokingly wonders if he should park our Jeep so it can be jump started. We find a beautiful vehicle and given the “Friday Night Special” price. Rick thinks it’s too high. We want to think about it. It’s way after closing time, the only customers left. Everyone is waiting for us to leave. One problem: our 165,000+ miles Jeep won’t even click. All we can do is laugh. Second car dealership, second time we can’t move. Rick actually prays out loud. I’m trying to crawl underneath the front seat. Somehow, it fires up. Rick can’t get out of the parking lot fast enough hoping the sales people haven’t been watching us.

While at the hospital, our brother-in-law convinced Rick maybe the Jeep needed a new battery. We’re off to Farm & Fleet. Inside, we run into Rick’s son and two grandkids. Waylan asks if he can stay at our house. We get Waylan’s car seat and the new battery loaded up. After multiple times of the car not starting, Waylan asks Grandpa why the car won’t start. I say I’m tired of being the Clampitt’s. Rick wonders if he will have to go back into Farm & Fleet, buy the appropriate wrench and replace the battery in the parking lot. Waylan is hungry, where are we going to stop for supper? I just want to have a vehicle that starts. After what seems like a long time, the Jeep starts. Whew! Once again, Waylan questions where we’re getting supper. Almost in union Rick and I answer, “Where we can keep the Jeep running.”

Who charges your battery? Does your battery get run down and sometimes need recharging? What are the best ways to recharge your battery? Have you done this lately or does your battery remind you of us sitting at the dealership? Do Moses’ words inspire you to know where your strength lies?

Too often we let ourselves run out of spark. Or we’re more like the dead battery than the fully charged battery. I pray that throughout this year, we will find our strength so much in you, Lord God.  Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

Dad’s Departure Has Come

Jan. 4, 2013

As for me, I am already being poured out as a libation, and the time of my departure has come. – 2 Timothy 4:6

Some may have noticed I’ve missed a few days’ blogs. My intention was to blog daily until Epiphany on Jan. 6. Let me share how God has showed up in my life these past few days in a profound way.

A week ago today, my Dad came home from the nursing home, enrolled in Hospice. He wanted to spend his last time at home. While the nursing home was OK, Dad considered it “an expensive bed and breakfast.” We transformed the dining room into a bedroom with a hospital bed to make life as comfortable as possible.

When Dad came home, my Mom was in the hospital with her third round of cellulitis in six weeks. While I have a sister who lives in the same town as my parents, my sisters and I knew we had to work together and assembled a schedule to take turns caring for our parents.

My shift began Sunday afternoon and I stayed until Tuesday noon. The last twelve hours, Dad changed considerably. I asked my sister Debbie to let me know if Dad changed as quickly the next 24 hours. Wednesday morning, I wasn’t feeling well. By afternoon, I had the stomach flu. When Debbie contacted me Wednesday evening with questions about Dad’s care, I wanted to hop in the car and drop north. Physically, I couldn’t. Denise arrived late Wednesday night so she was there.

When the Hospice nurse arrived Thursday morning, she advised Debbie to tell me to come, sick or not. Rick and I threw a few things together and headed north. When we arrived, care needs had shifted.

Since Debbie and Denise were running on very little sleep, I quickly volunteered to stay up with Dad Thursday night. About 9 PM, Dad asked for hot tea, the first he’d really ate all day. A few well-dunked cookies later, he wanted to split a grilled cheese sandwich with Rick. I was wondering if I had jumped the gun in getting this Sunday’s service covered. When a family friend came later, I had forgone a couple medication rounds because he had been alert and eating. But then, Dad moved into another stage. I began setting my cell phone alarm on very regular intervals for medication. After a while, he quieted down.

Early this morning, his coloring began to change. I knew this was another stage. A family friend arrived at 8:30 AM to provide a little relief. Celeste and I medicated Dad, did some personal care and waited for the Hospice nurse. When the nurse arrived, Mom sat in a chair close to Dad and held his hand. As the nurse began listening for his heart, I knelt next to Dad. Slowly, I realized a peace came over him. The nurse took a long time registering his heartbeat. She tried another location. I asked if it was time to turn off the oxygen concentrator and she nodded her head. Dad departed terribly peaceful, while family members sat in the kitchen jokingly and heartily eating blueberry pancakes.

This is not the first time I have been present at the time of a soul’s departure. Certainly, it will be one of the more memorable. Throughout the night, I prayed for peaceful departure. Thank you, Lord God, for answering my prayer in such a profound way. This experience has confirmed in me how Great is Our God.

Thank you, Lord Jesus, for showing up at the Deaton household today. Thanks simply is not enough. Amen.