Gratitude Day 28 – A Curved Shower Rod

shower rod new

Mon., Apr. 30, 2018

1 Chronicles 17:2 – And Nathan replied, “Carry out your plan in every detail, for it is the will of the Lord.”

This winter, we remodeled our downstairs bathroom. Earlier, I shared a few pictures of the final product.

I continue to be so excited about this transformation. But there was one little detail that bothered me. The shower rod. A couple times when showing guests the bathroom, I’d slide the shower curtain. Meanwhile, the rod slid down the side of the shower and eventually created a pile on the floor of the shower.

I know. In the grand scheme of things, a shower rod is like a -10 on the importance scale. So many other things are much more important. Yet, the bathroom just seemed a little unfinished because of this silly shower rod.

I bought the rod from a large home improvement store. I think it cost $5. No rods attachable to the wall were available. So, I opted for the cheapest version possible.

A few weeks ago, I quickly looked online for a rod that could be attached to the wall. I could not find a rod small enough for this space. And gave up.

Last week, I again googled: “wall mounted 36” shower rod.” This time, one came up! A rounded one! In our last house, we put a rounded shower rod in one bathroom. I am now completely sold on the extra space a rounded rod allows.

A few days later, the rod arrived. While it had been laying in the bathroom for a few days, on Saturday, I asked hubby Rick if he could please install it. He carefully mounted it into the grout between the tiles. And rehung the shower curtain.

The rod is not very fancy. It cost $13. Easily the same amount of money for us to each lunch. I know it’s silly how this one little detail makes me feel like the bathroom is now complete. But it does.

Details. Some people love them. Some people despise them. For those who know success is in well-managed details, we thrive on them. For those who think details drive them nuts, not so much. I know it’s a little ridiculous that this shower rod makes me feel like the whole bathroom is finally finished.

Look around today. Take notice of all the crazy little details God places in our lives. The tiniest of veining on a plant leaf. The wisp of a cloud high in the sky on a perfectly blue-skied day. The thousands of different shades of aqua in the ocean. God is a God of detail.

There are times hubby Rick and I wonder if we should clutter God’s desk with our seemingly detail-oriented prayer requests. I am an advocate for cluttering. What seems like a no-big-deal detail maybe just what God yearns for us to notice. The simplest of detail that creates peace in our lives really is important.

Quickly – one last comparison of the shower rods. Left is the previous. Right is the new curved, attachable rod.

For this, I am grateful.

Lord God – You are a God of details. The millions of little details you manage and keep straight amazes me. The tiniest of detail that we may think is just a coincidence is orchestrated by you. May we see how details matter to you. And can matter to us. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Gratitude Day 27 – The Porch is Open

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Sun., Apr. 29, 2018

Job 29:23 – My words were eagerly accepted like the showers of spring

There are many wonderful little parts of our 110-year-old house. But when people visit, the place we receive the most “ooh’s” and “aah’s” is the porch.

20180428_163425The front of the house is flanked by a nice big, deep porch. This leads into a screened-in wrap-around porch on the south side of the house. Either location is a lovely place to have lunch, visit, drink coffee or quietly start the day.

20180428_163249A couple summers ago, some friends gave us some wicker furniture for the porch. Last spring, I changed out the cushions and loved how they looked. Then, I set-up the front porch as a lounging area. I had great intentions of using the porch a lot last summer. While we often used the table for meals, the lounging area was less consistent.

20180428_163321Spring has been slow in arriving in Wisconsin. Today, it was a bit chilly, but the sun was shining. Rick and I agreed it was time to get the summer furniture on the porch. It was time to open up the porch for visitors.

20180428_163212I still had winter decorations on the porch. After removing these and vacuuming up dead needles and such, I moved the rug to where the wicker furniture would go. After a quick squirt with the hose, the furniture was positioned. Next, came cushions and pillows. I found a few accessories to make the space feel a bit quainter.

20180428_163350We didn’t have time to sit and enjoy the porch furniture today. But I’m hoping soon this will be a regular occurrence.

20180428_163436Today, I am grateful the porch is open and ready for company. I just need to add a sign the church kids gave me last fall.

20180428_163406Stop by anytime. I’ll have the lemonade or coffee ready.

20180428_163525For a porch ready for company, I am grateful.

20180428_163416I await the wonderful conversations that will happen on the porch this year, Lord God. I anticipate many great exchanges of words, watered by your wisdom, to float throughout this area. Thanks for a cozy place for people to gather and simply be. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Gratitude Day 26 – My Quiet Chair

quiet chair

Fri., Apr. 27, 2018

Luke 6:12 – About that time Jesus went off to a mountain to pray, and he spent the whole night there.

This is my special chair. I call it my quiet chair.

This winter, I purchased my quiet chair. And this is where I often begin my days. Just a special place where I can sit down with a cup of coffee and be with God. Read. Journal. Pray. Be still.

It’s my Mary chair, not my Martha chair.

When I was attending seminary, a professor told us about her Sabbath chair. The place where she would go to be with God. She knew God was everywhere; that God was always with her. Her Sabbath chair was where she went to quiet herself and just be with God.

It’s taken me 18 years to get my quiet chair. My Sabbath chair. A little place where my attitude is just a hare different. A place where my heart can slow down. Pause. Listen.

Do I make it to my quiet chair EVERY morning? Not necessarily. But if only for a few minutes, this is where my day begins best.

God is everywhere and anywhere. God journeys with us all day and night long. But sometimes, it’s nice to have a little spot where we can go and remind ourselves of this.

It’s my special chair. My quiet chair.

For this, I am grateful.

Lord Jesus – thank you for the wonderful example of spending quiet time with your heavenly Father. Before so many decisions were implemented by you, you first confirmed them with your God. May this example be replicated in my life. Thank you for this little place where my heart can slow down and I can just be with you. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Gratitude Day 25 – First Flower of Spring

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Thurs., Apr. 25, 2018

Isaiah 40:24 – They are like flowers freshly sprung up and starting to grow. But when God blows on them, they wilt and are carried off like straw in a storm. 

The pictures do not do our backyard justice.

It’s covered with this blanket of tiny little purple flowers. Delicate little creatures, only a couple inches tall.

They appeared this week. And my heart soared with their appearance.

20180426_064315I know they are here for just a little while. And then, they wilt and disappear. But for today, they are here. A beautiful cover of purple hue. Simple and sweet. Quietly making their entrance into the world.

For this, I am grateful.

Lord God – thank you for the freshly sprung flowers. The purple carpet of color that points my full heart back to you. Thank you for this little bit of heaven in my backyard. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Gratitude Day 23 – 60 Degrees

60 degrees

Tues., Apr. 24, 2018

Psalm 113:3 – From dawn until sunset the name of the Lord deserves to be praised.

Bikes were dusted off. Dogs treated to a wonderful long walk. The smell of charcoal wafted through town. Why? The thermometer registered 60 degrees on Monday.

Spring has been slow in arriving in Wisconsin. Yesterday, it began to arrive. Today, we were treated to a more normal-like day late April. Everyone took advantage of it.

Mid-day, Rick and I took a 45-minute walk. We so appreciated being outside without heavy coats and gloves. When I walked to the library after supper time, I was the only non-employee in there. Why? Everyone was taking advantage of this lovely day.

Along with me, I think a bunch of people were grateful for this great spring day.

Tuesday will be cooler again. Rain later this week. But today, was perfect.

For this, I am grateful.

Lord God – no, we shouldn’t need a beautiful weather day to fully appreciate your creation. But sometimes it helps! Thanks for a wonderful taste of spring today in southern Wisconsin. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Gratitude Day 22 – Food and Those Who Produce It

guyer-gardening-pic-2

Mon., Apr. 23, 2018

Psalm 104:14 – You let the earth produce grass for cattle, plants for our food.

At least three times a day, most people open a fridge, a lunch bag or a menu and eat. As we fill our bodies with life-giving food, are we aware of where this food came from? The necessary steps for it to be available for you to eat?

Yesterday, my friend Janice invited me to attend a movie with her called, “Farmers for America.” This documentary explores how food is produced in America. It shared some interesting facts:

  • The average American farmer is 60-years-old.
  • In the next 10-20 years, about two-thirds of the American land where food is grown will change ownership.
  • Because of the high costs associated with entering production agriculture, it is increasingly difficult for many younger people who want to be farmers to follow their dreams of being a farmer.
  • Rural American is changing dramatically.

The movie explores what this means for future food production in the United States. It shared examples of people creativity growing food. Growing vegetables on vacant lots in Detroit. Specialized hoop structures which allow food to be grown year around in cold climates. Farmers offering internships to assist younger people.

At the end of the day, we have very few basic needs. Food is one of them. While this basic need does not change, this documentary shows how food production is changing in the U.S.

Here in the U.S. and even world-wide, we do not have a food shortage problem. We have a food distribution challenge. When people become more aware of sourcing food locally, this supports a local economy.

Today, I am grateful for the many people who dedicate their lives to the production of food. I am grateful for the people who work for businesses and organizations who support production agriculture. I am grateful for our universities, extension and other branches who encourage research and act as resource branches to production agriculture. These are the folks who guarantee us a safe, affordable and reliable food source.

On my way home last night, I bought groceries. In one quick stop, I could load up a cart with fresh fruits and vegetables. I could buy quality protein. I bought a box of Rick’s favorite cereal and my preferred loaf of bread. Often, we do this with little thought of the thousands of people who were involved in growing the food.

Outside of buying groceries, what is one little thing you can do this week which would encourage the people who work long hours to grow the food you eat? How might you support local farmers who are involved in production agriculture because this is their passion?

God allows for beautiful land on which crops are grown for our consumption as well as animals which we may eat. It’s a very complicated system that doesn’t just happen.

For this, I am grateful.

Lord God – thank you for the spring rains which encourage new growth. Thank you for the people who have dedicated their lives to producing food for us to eat. May we appreciate your role as well as their roles in providing our basic need of food. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Gratitude Day 21 – Being God’s Hands and Feet

Sun., Apr. 22, 2018

1 Corinthians 12:21 – That’s why the eyes cannot say they don’t need the hands. That’s also why the head cannot say it doesn’t need the feet.

When God’s hands touch our hands, our hands continue the work of God’s kingdom. Our work for God’s kingdom comes in many different forms. Often outside the traditional box.

I have been blessed to serve God’s kingdom in various ways. Shortly after hubby Rick and I were married, we moved into a house provided by a church I was serving. The house was in the country and our closest neighbors were dairy farmers. We became fast friends with Mel & Doris Lohr and son Greg, who farms with them. Having grown up on a dairy farm, I dusted off my cow milking skills and put them to work a few times when we lived by the Lohr’s.

The Lohr’s have contemplated a different arrangement for their dairy operation for years. Their operation has labor intensive. Finding and keeping employees has been an issue. The buildings were worn out. It was time for Mel and Doris to allow Greg more ownership.

20180421_120641This week, the Lohr’s initiated their decision. They moved their cows into a new home. Rather than being milked the traditional way, they installed four robotic milkers. Instead of people going to the cows to milk them, the cows go to a specific place were robots handling cow-milking duties.

20180421_144322There are about 1.3 million cows in Wisconsin, where I live. In Wisconsin, dairy farms contribute about $43.4 billion to the state’s economy. Of the 9,520 Wisconsin farms, 96% are family owned. These owner-operators work tirelessly to produce a very healthy high-quality product. They take extreme pride in caring for their animals. All the dairy producers I know go out of their way to ensure the animals are well cared for, feed and healthy.

For the Lohr’s, switching barns and milking methodology cows was a huge undertaking. The cow’s office was moved. They have a new lunch room, the bathroom is in a different location, their beds have changed and their water coolers look completely different. The way they earn their keep (provide milk) has been turned upside down. The cows have more choice about when the eat, sleep and be milked.

Because everything is so different and new, early on, the cows need a little encouragement. The extended Lohr family has stepped it up this week as well as their employees. Since Tuesday, lots and lots of volunteers have become hands and feet to help the cows adjust. People have been in the new barn round-the-clock.

Saturday, Rick and I took an afternoon shift. After our arrival, we were given a 10-minute course of what to do and look for. Then, we were turned loose to find which cows were overdue to be milked.

20180421_120404The whole system is highly technical. The automation is becoming more fine-tuned each day. Saturday was day 5 since the cows were moved. Both Rick and I are amazed how quickly the cows have adapted. They are divided into four groups, based on age and milking stage. By the end of our shift, the youngest cows basically have the system figured out. Some older cows just need a little more coaxing.

20180421_120027In their brand-new hotel, the cows are so comfortable and content. In the hours we helped, we only heard one cow “moo.”

As nifty as this whole new operation is, the overarching cloud is the difficult dairy economy right now. The price dairy producers are paid for the milk they produce are at record lows. In the 1980’s, the dairy economy went through several challenging years. Many good dairy operations were ultimately forced to stop, my family included. The Lohr’s have staked their entire financial future on this new set-up. The low income only adds another layer of stress. It’s difficult for most of us to understand the significance and challenge of this. Believe me – it’s there.

When Doris called and asked if Rick and I could take a shift, there was no hesitation. Yes, we wanted to help our friends. Yes, we were curious to see their new operation. Yes, we would do this because this is how we put into action God’s call to extend God’s hands into the world. We were grateful Doris asked us.

Most people cannot be hands and feet directly for the Lohr’s. But you can help. Help them and all dairy producers by buying an extra gallon or two of milk a week. Or cheese, cottage cheese, yogurt or ice cream. If your family cannot consume them, donate them to your local food pantry. Do this again next week. “Fixing” this dairy economic situation is tricky. Each of us can increase consumption and help family operations like the Lohr’s.

One of my seminary professors said that going over 30 miles to help someone is missionary work. Rick and I were more than pleased to be make the Lohr’s our little mission trip and be God’s hands and feet today.

For this, I am grateful.

Almighty God – the opportunities to be your hands and feet in your kingdom are endless. Unfortunately, we aren’t always very comfortable for asking assistance. I pray we can become see that when your hand touches ours, the opportunities for us to serve your kingdom are just beginning. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Gratitude Day 20 – A Simple Fire

fire in back yard

Sat., Apr. 21, 2018

Hebrews 12:29 –For our God is a consuming fire.

Hubby Rick started a fire in the chimenea tonight. When he has smaller boards or branches, he often starts a fire in our backyard. As you can see, the old oak boards burned brightly tonight!

Fires are interesting. They never stay the same, constantly moving and changing. When our grandkids are visiting, they love to have a fired in the backyard. Often, we roast hot dogs or marshmallows. It’s easy to sit around a fire for extended periods of time, with or without conversation. Who bores when watching a fire?

Fire is a common concept in scripture. Fire is used to eliminate sinful and challenging people in the Old Testament. The alter becomes a place where sacrifices and offerings are burned and dedicated to God.

In the New Testament, this changes. For Christians, Christ becomes and sacrifice that takes on our sinful nature. Jesus deals with it once and for all. No more sacrifices are needed. Believe in God’s redeeming work through Christ becomes the focus.

Look at this verse from Hebrews: For our God is a consuming fire. This sentence can sound daunting. Most often, we think of fire as eliminating the awful and bad. Yet, after a fire, new growth can happen. This is why people burn fields and road ditches in the spring. Eliminate the old so the new can poke through and experience new life.

Maybe this is what the Hebrew scripture is referring to when it says, “God is a consuming fire.” The reference here is to worshipping God. Through worshipping God, we can see our hearts can become overjoyed with a God who longs to consume us fully.

It is hard to maintain ourselves spiritually so that we feel God’s consuming presence in our lives. Having little things that re-direct me back towards God and God’s saving grace makes recognizing God’s presence in my life much easier. Something as simple as a fire in the chimenea.

For this, I am grateful.

Lord God – Thank you for being in my daily live. Thank you for simple things, such as a fire, to help us see you. May we desire to let our worship of you be such that we find new birth in you. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Gratitude Day 19 – A Good Letter

letters

Fri., Apr. 20, 2018

2 Corinthians 13:11 – I close my letter with these last words: Be happy. Grow in Christ. Pay attention to what I have said. Live in harmony and peace. And may the God of love and peace be with you.

It’s time to deal with the boxes.

Several years ago, we moved my Mom from a house into an apartment. There were several boxes of “things” we did not take time to go through. Filled with papers, photos, historical things. I brought the boxes home and promised myself to go through them.

A couple years later, my Mom moved to a nursing home. A few more boxes joined their friends at my house. In-between, we moved.

These boxes are nearing frequent moving status.

There are at least a15 of these boxes at my house. Nearby, I have a few boxes with my own stuff. Rick reminds me that the next time we move, any of these boxes not gone through are going in the garbage.

I have gone through some boxes. The stack has lowered slightly. Before Christmas, I do a quick pass through to find super cool things for our Deaton family gift exchange. Last week, I tackled the boxes for a few hours. It became overwhelming and I usually am not easy overwhelmed.

We started remodeling the future master bedroom suite of our house. The boxes aren’t in the remodeling area but close by. Rick has not-so-gently told me it is time for the boxes to either be gone through or disappear.

I set up a separate area to start going through the boxes. I have a strategy and method now. While I made it through several boxes today, more remain.

What did I find? Lots cards, pictures, family mementos and historical items. There are multiple generations represented with boxes from both grandmothers. I am separating cool items for future Deaton Christmas gift exchanges.

The number of cards is borderline crazy. Many cards have a hand-written letter with them. While I haven’t read all the letters, I am grateful for them. The art of hand-writing letters is disappearing. We send an e-mail, text message or post on social media. When was the last time you wrote a letter? I try to write a few words in a card. This is not the same as writing a letter on a nice piece of stationary. Beautiful handwriting can almost look like art.

These letters remind me that words have meaning. A written letter says, “I care for you and I am making time to speak just to you.” I won’t read EVERY word of these letters. It’s impossible. I have appreciated reading a sentence or two from a letter.

The New Testament contains several letters. We attribute Paul as the author of many. Some letters were written in response to a letter he received. The challenge with this then we only get half of the conversation. I consider his letters very important and influential in the Christian faith. I often use Paul’s words in my life and teaching. I don’t think Paul ever intended for people to be reading his letters 2,000 years later.

I pray we do not lose the art of letter writing. The power of words amazes me. The love we extend to another person as we write special words to someone we care for is powerful. For this, I am grateful.

Letters aren’t new. They have been used for thousands of years. Yet, each one of us can rediscover the power of a written letter.  Encourage us to write a letter today. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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