Gratitude Day 16 – Conversation

Focus Group 2

Tues., Apr. 17, 2018

Colossians 4:6 – Let your conversation be gracious as well as sensible, for then you will have the right answer for everyone.

Monday night, a small group of ladies gathered at my house. This was the second focus group that I held as research for the book I am writing.

 

I love it when you can get together with a group of people and no matter how much time has passed, conversation just picks right back up. This is how it was with this group of ladies. The words flowed easily and without effort. We each had an opportunity to share our feelings and views. Often, we affirmed something shared by another person. And I am convinced God spoke through us to each other tonight.

I am grateful for many women in my life like this.

I pray you have people with whom you can have these conversations.

Best part of the night: they were all willing to come back to my house for some more “research!” Thanks Jo, Pam, Heather and Kelly! I am grateful for each one of you.

Lord God, thank you for bringing people into my life through whom you speak. I felt your presence with us tonight. And I pray that you use me in other conversations just as you spoke through these women to me tonight.  Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Gratitude Day 15 – Snow Day!

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Mon., Apr. 16, 2018

Isaiah 55:10-11 – For just as rain and snow fall from heaven and do not return there, without saturating the earth and making it germinate and sprout, and providing seed to sow and food to eat, so my word that comes from my mouth will not return to me empty, but it will accomplish what I please and will prosper in what I send it to do.”

While the calendar says April 15, it looks and feels more like January 15 here in Wisconsin. Since Friday, we have been the recipients of multiple inches of snow, rain and sleet. Amounts vary depending on where you live in Wisconsin. Out our back door, a blanket of about six inches of fresh snow graces everything.

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Today almost felt like a snow day. Rick and I did go to church. Gratefully, we made it both ways safe and sound. Once home, we had brunch before he left for work. With the snow and lack of people outside, it really felt like a good old-fashioned snow day.

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This afternoon, I did several things. I watched episode one of this season’s “Call the Midwife,” a wonderful historical fiction show on PBS. I think there were five episodes from this season already on the DVR. The rest will wait for another day. I worked on some personal things. When I ran to the grocery store for a couple things, the parking lot was nearly empty, even though it was still afternoon.

I hope many families and people simply took a snow day today. Why? Our lives are too full. Too complicated. Juggling too many things. Sometimes, God may say, “Slow down.” And unless something physically makes us slow down, we make excuses to keep going.

Everyone is tired of winter in Wisconsin. We’re ready for green grass and tulips and budding trees. May we not rush so fast through spring that we fail to appreciate God’s goodness and glory all around us. A forced snow day isn’t all bad. Sometimes, it’s a great attitude adjustment.

For this, I am grateful.

Lord God, maybe through a snow storm, your word for us this day was simply, “Slow down. Do less. Even do nothing. Just be.” I pray we see these opportunities to just be with you as great gifts from you. And may we be grateful for them.  Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Gratitude Day 14 – Baby Lambs

baby lamb

Sun., Apr. 15, 2018

Isaiah 40:11 – He protects his flock like a shepherd; he gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them in the fold of his garment. He gently leads those that are nursing.

For years, my sisters and I raised sheep. Our ewes would have baby lambs during the winter. Come spring, we would pick which lambs to show during the summer 4-H fairs.

My nephew Kevin has continued the Deaton family tradition of showing sheep. Each spring, Kevin and I sort the sheep. We pick out which ones he will show, what ones he might sell, who are the best options for his summer 4-H projects.

Saturday morning was “sorting lambs” day. While it was April 14, it looked more like Jan. 15.  A blanket of fresh heavy snow covered everything. Wind kept things fresh. Inside the shed converted to housing the sheep, we were protected and ready to sort.

Before we ventured into the sheep pen, we first visited the pigs. Also a 4-H project, these four cute little guys are already full of personality. The lone female nuzzled Kevin’s hand looking for her favorite treat: animal crackers. The littlest pig arrived just Friday. While quite a bit smaller than the other three pigs, all have become fast friends. When we had finished sorting the lambs, a quick stop back by the pig pen found all four snuggled together, sleeping and keeping warm.

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Today, we had extra help in sorting the sheep. Rick manned the gates and kept the right lambs in the pen where we did the sorting. Sister Denise was the record keeper. We sorted, the ewes (girls) and the rams (boys). We looked at their wool quality, size and confirmation. The lambs cooperated and we were able to make quick decisions.

This has become a fun annual outing for Kevin and I. Living in town, I don’t have the option of having sheep. Working with the lambs and checking them out brings back many memories and experiences from when I was involved with a flock

Caring for lambs is a daily job. Each lamb is special and has its own personality. Kevin knows who’s each lamb’s mother is and who her grandmother was. Recently, the bottle lambs were weaned. This was after several weeks of multiple trips a day out to feed the lambs.

As the Good Shepherd, Jesus cares for every one of his sheep; you and I. When one of God’s sheep is struggling, Jesus is nearby, offering comfort. When we need extra attention, it’s there if we just notice it. God promises to care for all the sheep in God’s flock. And God doesn’t let us down.

For this, I am grateful.

Thank you for calling each one of us as a lamb in your flock. Thank you for caring for us in dark valleys as well as on mountaintop experiences. Thank you for offering us comfort, grace and mercy. May we be grateful for Jesus being our Good Shepherd. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Gratitude Day 13 – Food

Blessings bags

Sat., Apr. 14, 2018

Matthew 5:35-36 – (Jesus said), “‘For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat; I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink; I was a stranger and you took me in; 36 I was naked and you clothed me; I was sick and you took care of me; I was in prison and you visited me.’

Friday mornings are Blessings mornings. This is the day a group of volunteers’ pack weekend food bags for students in our local school district. Each Friday, we provide food for students who might not otherwise have enough food for the weekend. Weekly, students receive 8-10 items: 2 breakfast items, 2 meals and at least four snacks. These items will not cover all their weekend food needs. Our goal is to ensure students have something to eat.

Are there hungry students even in our little Poynette School District? What I do know is there were 56 students this Friday morning that may not have enough food. I am grateful we can provide some food for the weekend.

I became involved in the Blessings in a Backpack Program over 18 months ago. After the local school board confirmed support of our local Blessings program, we organized a great group of volunteers to carry out the program’s mission. There are six core volunteers who oversee an area of the program: shopping and packing, volunteer coordinator, community coordination, fundraising, financial and overall coordination. Another 25 volunteers help pack and distribute weekly food bags.

Do the weekend food bags make a difference? The stories say so. One little boy was sick on a Friday morning. When the school nurse wanted to call a parent to pick him up, he said he wouldn’t leave until he had his food bag. After winter break, two girls showed up in the school office on Friday morning. The volunteer drop-off person was also in the office. The girls asked her if she is “the food lady” because they wanted to make sure they would be getting food bags.

The Blessings program is so well supported in our community it basically runs itself. Volunteers just do their jobs. The financial support has been not been short of amazing. I was reminded of this again this week, when several substantial unsolicited donations showed up out of the blue. Every gift, whether large or small, indicates support of feeding hungry kids. And for this, I am grateful.

I have been involved in many, many different volunteer groups in my life. All with good missions. All with great volunteers. All with great purposes. The group I am the most humbled by is our little Blessings in a Backpack Program. Why? Because everyone wants to help feed hungry kids. Period. There are no other motivations. Everyone has the same goal.

For this, I am grateful.

Lord God – when Jesus said to “feed the hungry,” he was serious. We lift up the students and families who are a part of any Blessings in a Backpack program. We also pray for anyone, anywhere how has a food need. May we be your hands and feet in our local communities and take seriously Christ’s call to feed the hungry. Thank you for the many, many people who help feed the hungry every day. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Gratitude Day 12 – Demo Day!

20180412_214815(0)Fri., Apr. 13, 2018

Isaiah 58:12 – Some of you will rebuild the ancient ruins; you will restore the foundations laid long ago; you will be called the repairer of broken walls, the restorer of streets where people live.

Thursday was demo day at the Vielhuber household!

Our house is a Victorian farmhouse. It’s a decent sized house. In the 1960’s, it was converted into two apartments. When we purchased the house, it was a single-family dwelling. However, many aspects of the upstairs apartment remained. There was a tiny little kitchen. A small living room. Since moving in, I have wanted to remodel a chunk of the upstairs into a master on suite. Today, the work officially began.

20180412_214826The main area will remain a bedroom. The small living room area will become a walk-in closet. And the kitchen? A new bathroom.

This afternoon, I was working in my upstairs office. I was working through the piles on my credenza that I posted yesterday. Through a closed door, I could hear a crowbar and hammer. A little smile crept on my face. I knew what project Rick had started.

20180412_214840Rick really, really wanted to keep the little kitchen. There is another room on the backside of the upstairs. Rick sees this as a great game room. He wanted to keep the kitchen in tack, so he could make pizza when he had a bunch of guys over to play cards. While this sounds great, personally, I think a master suite is more practical.

After listening to the banging for a while, I wandered back to check progress. Last weekend, hubby Rick and I talked through how theoretically we would redesign the space. Next step: demo day.

Rick openly admitted he doesn’t demo quite like Chip Gaines. We’re not tearing everything out. We try to keep some things in place which are original to the house. Rick is also fastidious about recycling as much as he can. The shelves and cupboards are being removed carefully so they could be upcycled and used again.

Demo day is the first step. It will be a while before I can proudly show pictures of the completed area. But for today, demo day is a good day.

For this, I am grateful.

Lord God – I know we aren’t rebuilding ancient ruins. Maybe just sections of a home that are outdated and need a new purpose. Thank you for the foundation of this home. Thank you also for the various people who have lived here and felt safe and secure. May those who live here now and in the future been blessed by the having this house as a home. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne                                                20180412_214815(0)

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Gratitude Day 11 – Reality

credenza

Thurs., Apr. 12, 2018

Hebrews 11:1 – Now faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen.

Today, I realized that it has been over four months since I stepped away from serving two churches to focus on writing. I wanted space to focus on things I have felt God calling me to do. Four months to get my life in order and launch new things. Four months to get settled.

Four months later … and reality has set in. I have yet to wake up some morning and think, “Hmm, what will I do today?” No, I feel like I have too many things to choose from.

Yes, I have been writing. Some. Sporadically. Not as much as I had hoped. I have these great ideas and plans. And they fail.

Reality sets in.

I have lots of good reasons and excuses for why I have not written as much as I would like. Some are good reasons. Some are flimsier. This is my reality.

Normally a very organized person, the picture with the post is what the credenza behind my desk looks like today. It’s truly a metaphor for how my life feels. The disorganization drives me nuts.

Each day, I know I choose what to do. Some days, I just make better choices than others. Other days, I do not feel like I still have the option to make the choices I would like. On those days, I am reminded that I still make choices about the things I am choosing to do. I just am disappointed with my choices.

This is my reality.

I know I am not the only person who struggles with this. I sat with some women tonight who have similar feelings at a Bible study. No one had great solutions. Maybe just commiseration.

Yet, today’s reality is today. Rather than get overwhelmed, anxious or upset about today’s reality, maybe my perspective is just to live in it for today.

The reality is faith is not based on something we can see. Faith is always built on feeling, emotion and hunches. It’s trusting in something bigger than yourself and following your mind and heart to make sense of this.

Reality is no different. Some days, I simply must trust that what I do today is part of something bigger and beyond me. I keep reminding myself that today’s reality just gives me lots of great experience and info for the book I will get written, someday.

If you are struggling with today’s reality, take heart. Have hope that God will use whatever you did or didn’t do today for God’s kingdom. God’s reality is so much different from our reality.

For this, I am grateful.

Lord God – thanks for being patient with me. You are so much more patient with me than I am with myself. When I become frustrated, overwhelmed and anxious, may I see your loving arms as a soft place for me to land. Daily. This is today’s reality. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Gratitude Day 9 – Laughter

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Tues., Apr. 10, 2018

James 4:9 – Grieve, mourn, and weep. Turn your laughter into mourning and your joy into despair.

“Wake me when it is July,” came the muffled noise from under the pile of blankets.

We live in Wisconsin. Hubby Rick works nights. When he crawled into bed early Monday morning, it was still dark. He also announced that it was snowing outside.

Later, I was leaving for work. I usually make sure I have everything I need outside of our bedroom before I go to bed. This way, I can quietly exit in the morning and not wake Rick up. This morning, I forgot my watch. While grabbing it, Rick woke up. He took one look out the window, saw more snow flurries, groaned, flung the blankets over his head and made his pronouncement of hibernation.

Rick and I are oil and water. Night and day. We march to different drums. When God brought us together, it was not because we would be two peas in the same pod. No, we are different peas in separate pods on completely different plants.

 

This makes for rarely a boring marriage.

 

Early in our marriage, Rick would sometimes say, “Can you try to think the way I do?” Quite honestly, I cannot. Years of experience have allowed me to maybe be a little better guesser. More days than not, I continue to be surprised by how he thinks, what he says and his responses to the journey of life.

 

This offers lots of opportunities for laughter in our marriage. I am the serious, straight-laced member of our marriage. Rick is the cut-up. The “you never know what is going to come out of his mouth,” person. The “I can’t believe you just said that aloud … in front of other people” member.

Most of the time, his off-the-cuff one-liners bring some levity to my life. There are times his words are perhaps a bit annoying or embarrassing. Mostly, I am over this by now.

His line about wanting to stay under the covers until July is classic Rick. He does not like cold weather. Our electric blanket is still on the bed and will be for a few more weeks. He still wears long underwear … every day. When he leaves for work, he has a menagerie of t-shirts layered under his work shirt for warmth.

There are times when his comments may be slightly not what I would prefer him to say, especially in front of the grandkids. But mostly, they make me laugh.

And for this, I am grateful.

P.S. – When I got home from work tonight, his car was gone. Somehow, he found his way out of the bedroom and off to work.

Holy God – thank you for bringing into my life someone who brings me so much laughter. Thank you for helping me love someone who is truly an opposite to my personality. Thank you for your providence in knowing what I need long before I knew myself. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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