Gratitude Day 62 – Survival

Sun., June 10, 2018

James 2:15-17 – Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food.  If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

A foster child was asked what he wanted in a family. His response is this:

Foster Child wants in a family

Most of us do not have to worry about a toothbrush or running water.

A coat or food.

Most of us have what we need and a whole bunch of what we want.

For this, I am grateful.

For those who don’t have what they need, I pray we and others can provide for their needs.

Almighty God – you know who has immediate needs. People who do not have very basic things. Open our hearts to helping those who only dream of stability in their lives. Bring forth opportunities for us to make a difference. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Gratitude Day 62 – Protection

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Sat., June 9, 2018

Psalm 16:1 – Protect me, God, because I take refuge in you.

I never anticipated having a polo shirt with these words on it: Chaplain Vielhuber and Poynette Police Department. But I do.

This winter, our local Poynette Police Department started a volunteer chaplaincy program. I was asked to be a part it. I think it’s important to be involved in the local community, so I agreed. Along with three other local clergy, we comprise the Poynette Police Chaplaincy Program.

One day for each of the last three months, we attended training provided by the Wisconsin Department of Justice.  Seasoned chaplains guided us in our new roles. We were encouraged to ride-along with local police. This has been a great way to understand the department, local officers and our role as chaplains.

The clergy volunteer to be on-call for two-week increments. I am currently on call. Unfortunately, my first opportunity to serve was an epic fail.

My phone rang Thursday night. Hubby Rick and I were about 30 minutes from home. I had just dropped off Mr. Jeep for his summer adventure. Rick had been golfing with a couple buddies. I joined them for dinner. An officer called and asked if I could assist in a death notification to a family. The conversation continued:

Me: Sure, would love to. Unfortunately, I’m 30 minutes away. I will hop in the car right now …

Silence.  

Officer: Maybe I should see if one of the other clergy is available.

Me: OK. Please let me know what you find out. But I can start driving now.

Officer: Just wait. I’ll call you back.

He called back. Another clergy was available and was on his way to assist.

While I was thankful another clergy was nearby, I felt crappy. I had an opportunity to serve … and it hadn’t worked out.

I know. There will be another time when the on-call clergy won’t be immediately available. I will have an opportunity to step-in. But in the moment, I would have preferred to be available when the call came.

Friday, I saw the officer who had called me the previous night. He assured me everything had worked out fine. I thanked him for contacting me and asked he call again.

By becoming involved in our local police department, it has been confirmed these positions are under-rated. Law enforcement personal work rotating shifts and deal with situations no one yearns to be a part of. They are the ones charged with protecting our community. As a chaplain, I am to support them and be a safe place for them to land if need be. As God protects me, I pray that I can be an extension of God’s protection to others.

On Friday, I received my official chaplain polo shirt. I still am amazed the words police – chaplain – Vielhuber are all on one shirt. It is a new adventure I never expected.

Yet, for this opportunity, I am grateful.

Lord God – thank you for the people who have been called to protect and serve our communities: police, firefighters, EMT’s and others. I pray they see themselves as extensions of your cloud of protection. I lift up those families who have been lost a loved one in a line-of-duty incidence. May your grace be especially with them. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Gratitude Day 61 – Have a Good Summer, Mr. Jeep

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Fri., June 8, 2018

Galatians 6:6 – Those who are taught the word should share all good things with their teacher.

We watched as our 2004 Jeep pulled out of the Kwik Trip parking lot. Internally, I thought, “Have a good summer, Mr. Jeep.”

At times, the street by our house could be mistaken for a used car lot. Lately, we have had four vehicles playing musical parking spots. Some on the street. Some in our carriage house. Four vehicles for two drivers. I know. A wee bit of overkill.

Hubby Rick and I knew we needed to reduce inventory. For a couple weeks, we talked and prayed about options. Then my friend Mary Ann visited and saw all these vehicles. The next day, she emailed a possible solution. Her granddaughter is participating in a summer ministry program. College students visit communities and hold bible school programs. The program needed two vehicles for the summer. Could we loan one of our vehicles?

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Quickly, Rick and I committed our 2004 Jeep. Yes, it’s an older vehicle. It has over 200,000 miles. 204,994 to be exact. But, the college girls could use it for the summer.

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This has been Rick’s “work” vehicle. It’s also the “farm truck.” It had a few quirks. Last week, Rick tweaked some things that needed tweaking. The front windshield was replaced. It had cracked when Rick tried to squeeze in a little-too-long 2×4. Sometimes, it has electrical issues. While the driver’s window now works, the other three still aren’t working. Thankfully, the air conditioner works like a champ.

We arranged things with our insurance company. I lined up a time to meet someone to hand it over. Everything was ready to go.

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But then, Rick began to wonder out loud if this was a good decision. Over the years, we have loaned out many vehicles to lots of different people. We do this because we feel everything we have is really God’s. As joint caretakers, God “loans” us things. It is our responsibility to use these things for God’s glory. Letting the girls use the Jeep falls into leveraging our possessions for God’s kingdom.

Sometimes when we have loaned a vehicle, something has happened outside of our control. What would happen if the Jeep broke down? What if it stopped working? What if …

Finally, Rick admitted that he is taking over the worrying mode his father often embodied. Either, we would have faith the vehicle would help the girls on their mission work. Or we wouldn’t.

This Jeep is the only new vehicle I have ever had. As I drove it to make the exchange, I remembered how a few weeks after we purchased it, I took a group of kids with it on a mission trip. When we got home, Rick was surprised there was paint on the upholstery. Why had I not been more careful? While I wanted to respect this, we had been using it for God’s work. Paint can be removed.

Faith is looking into the future and not knowing what exactly is going to happen. And being OK with this. I pray that our Jeep will help the college girls who will be using it this summer. I am thankful to share in this ministry, if only through our vehicle.

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Have a good summer, Mr. Jeep. We’ll be anxious to hear stories of your great adventures.

For this, I am grateful.

Lord God – thank you for bringing forth this opportunity to share within your Kingdom. We pray the girls who drive the Jeep, those they minister to and anyone they meet will come to love you. We pray this ministry will make a difference in people’s lives this summer. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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If you have enjoyed this blog, please pass it along to someone else who will also enjoy it.

Gratitude Day 60 – An Ordinary Day

no ordinary day

Thurs., June 7, 2018

Job 8:7 – Although your former state was ordinary, your future will be extraordinary.

Wednesday was just an ordinary day.

I worked at my part-time marketing job. I ran a couple errands on the way home. I folded laundry, caught up on some work, made a double batch of my favorite rhubarb dessert and sat down to do my blog.

What could I express gratitude for today?

Several things came to mind. It was now dark and taking a picture would not be feasible. What would I express gratitude for? Hmmm. No good thoughts. Just the ordinary.

Maybe this was it. I could express gratitude just for the ordinary.

When I ran across this quote, my decision was made. This quote basically says Jesus takes our seemingly ordinary days and will turn them into something extra-special. Why? Because everything Jesus does is extra-special. He is not in the business of ordinary.

Maybe I could appreciate the ways Jesus takes something uber ordinary in my life and turns it into something extra special. I would see Jesus in the baby fawn crossing the road while on my way home. I would see Jesus in the caring e-mail I received from a friend. I would see Jesus in the rhubarb given to me.

And these ordinary things would be enough.

For this, I am grateful.

Almighty God – thank you for the ordinary. Thank you for helping us journey through the most regular of days. Thank you for being our constant companion while on this earth. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Gratitude Day 59 – Parchment Paper

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Wed., June 6, 2018

Psalm 116:6 – The Lord protects simple folk; he saves me whenever I am brought down.

OK – I know some of you will think this is completely silly. Parchment paper. I can hear someone saying, “Are you kidding me?”

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But seriously, a role of parchment paper has brought happiness to my life the last two weeks. More than once. In a column about gratitude, expressing gratitude for the simplest of things should be acceptable, right?

And I must attribute this happiness to Joanna Gaines.

In her cookbook, “Magnolia Table,” Joanna shares how she lines a baking dish with parchment paper. This makes it very easy to remove the food from the pan after it is cooked. AND clean-up is so simple. Basically, there is none.

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The bread in the pan is Joanna’s banana bread recipe from “Magnolia Table.” In this recipe, she explains how she uses parchment paper when baking. After I used her tip the first time, I realized she was onto something. This pan is the third time I have followed her tip. And the banana bread isn’t bad either.

Of course, the parchment paper I have in the pan does not look nearly as pretty as the pictures in her book. My stylist was more concerned about quick and easy than pretty.

I have had this role of parchment paper in the drawer for awhile. I have used it a couple times. Honestly, I have used in more in the last two weeks than I had ever previously.

There will be some who think parchment paper isn’t great for the environment. Maybe, just maybe, not using so much water to wash the pan off sets this a bit.

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It’s super simple. It’s really not a big deal. But each time I when I took this pan out of the oven, my heart sang just a bit.

Lord God – ‘Tis a gift to be simple. May I never forget the value of simplicity. Thanks for bringing something so simple and yet creates such happiness in my life. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Gratitude Day 58 –Much to Be Grateful

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Tues., June 5, 2018

Lord God – as I journey through this day, bring to my attention all the many things to be grateful for. May I see my glass as half-full today and not half-empty. Thank you for presence with me today. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Gratitude Day 57 – Offload Oasis

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Mon., June 4, 2018

Matthew 11:28 – “Come to me, all you who are struggling hard and carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest.

Welcome to the newest addition to our backyard.

20180603_115313Our little swing area. A little area to rest and restore. A little spot to relax and let the world stop for just a minute.

While on vacation in Belize, we saw some similar swings at a restaurant where we ate. And we talked about creating a similar area in our back yard.

Last fall, Hubby Rick began making the swings. Yep, he made them. These are custom swings only found in the Vielhuber backyard.

They took a little tweaking. But they are ready for visitors.

Using a couple existing tree limbs in the backyard, he added a couple more limbs to create just the design to hang the swings.

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And then he built the platform, so we can sit there year around.

20180603_115351Just in front of the swings is where we can have a fire. With a few stepping stones to complete the look.

20180603_115205There are times when we need to hit the pause button on life. Stop Breath. Turn some of our load over to God and seek rest.

I envision our little swing area in the backyard being just a place to do so.

For this, I am grateful.

 

How easily we can become overwhelmed with the load of the world. Do we take time to offload and let you help us carry the load? I pray this little oasis in our backyard can be a place where such offloading can happen. Along with smore making. Thank you, Lord God, for instructions to share our loads with you. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Gratitude Day 55 – June Dairy Month!

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Sat., June 2, 2018

Exodus 3:17 – and I promise to lead them out of their troubles. I will give them a land rich with milk and honey, where the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites now live.

In the United States, the month of June is celebrated as June Dairy Month. Folks are encouraged to discover a bit more about the health benefits of dairy products as well as how the dairy industry impacts their local economy. This is especially important for people like me, who live in America’s Dairyland. In Wisconsin, the dairy industry contributes $43.4 billion to Wisconsin’s economy each year. Every Wisconsin resident benefits from the economic ripple effect of family dairy farms that dot the state’s landscape.

Friday was June 1st – the official beginning of dairy month. How did the Vielhuber’s celebrate? We hosted a neighborhood ice cream bar.

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About 20 of our neighbors stopped by our house Friday night for dessert and drinks. The main attraction was build your own sundaes with a variety of ice cream and topping choices. The most popular option for the evening: homemade grasshoppers, a minty ice cream drink. With other dessert treats and a lovely cheese and crackers tray, our June Dairy Month-based gathering was super simple to host and a lot of fun.

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The dairy industry is very cyclical. For the last three years, nationally, the industry has been at the bottom of the cycle with thousands of family farms struggling. You won’t find anyone who is more passionate about their work or willing to work long, hard hours than the folks who operate a dairy farm. Every dairy farm I know is deeply concerned about producing a safe and wholesome product for consumers.

I grew up on a small Wisconsin dairy farm. Our family depended upon selling milk which was made into cheese as our main source of income. Being raised in this setting taught me many things: hard work, how to problem solve and persistence. From a very young age, I observed the cycle of life. I also knew what I did on our little operation made a difference. Growing up in this environment, I witnessed many things we read about in scripture: the cycle of growing crops, dependence upon the land, how to be a good shepherd. For me, the intersection of where and how I grew up is deeply linked to the basis of my faith in God.

For this, I am grateful.

It’s summer and a great time to discover locally-produced dairy products in your neck of the woods. Find a local dairy operation and take a tour. Indulge in your favorite ice cream treat a couple extra times this month. Explore the many great cheese options that abound. This supports the U.S. dairy industry, which would appreciate a little boost right now. Or, host a neighborhood build your own sundae event. I think you’ll be glad you did!

Lord God – Thank you for designing creation is such a unique and special way. For creating animals that provide food for us and help us sustain our bodies. Help us to see how your creation is part of our daily lives. Amen. 

Blessings –

Dianne

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Gratitude Day 54 – These Ladies

book study group

Fri., June 1, 2018

Proverbs 27:9 – The sweet smell of incense can make you feel good, but true friendship is better still.

These ladies. Most have been a part of my life since I begin the ministry as a pastor. Most were involved in one of the two churches that were part of my first appointment.

These ladies. We have personal connections. For the first five years Hubby Rick and I were married, one of these ladies and her husband were our neighbors. One of these ladies is a pastor who has been like a mentor to me. She was an important part of my ordination service. One of these ladies has endured more health challenges than can be counted on two hands. Yet, her faith in God has never wavered. One of these ladies was one of the first people who became of aware of when Rick and I started dating. One of these ladies knew in advance the day Rick was going to propose to me. One of these ladies has a son who Rick mentored while he was in confirmation.

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These ladies. This spring, we participated in a book study together. We learned from Max Lucado’s book “Anxious for Nothing.” Reading the book and discussing it was great. We explored ways to reduce anxiety in our lives; depend upon our faith; not sweat the small stuff. While the book was helpful, just being together with these ladies every other Wednesday night for the last couple of months was most important.

These ladies. I appreciate the sharing, the laughter, even the moments of silence when maybe we didn’t have a quick comeback.

These ladies. Have faith, yearn to explore new understandings of faith, were willing to share within the confines of a small group.

These ladies. Have been a great inspiration to me. Provided a place for me to simply be as I make a transition in my life.

These ladies. Remind me of how important it is to have a safe place to explore things in my life.

These ladies. For them, I am grateful.

Lord God – thank you for these sisters in Christ. Thank you for allowing us time to explore our faith, encourage each other and learn together. I pray we remember how important it is to be part of a community of faith where we can feel supported, uplifted and encouraged. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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