Gratitude Day 157 – Creation Timelines

20181117_091303Sun., Nov. 18, 2018

Genesis 1:1 – In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.

Early Saturday morning, Hubby Rick and I spent time with the youngest two grandchildren. Rick’s son had taken his eldest son out deer hunting. Ellie and Dylan were sleeping on the large section couch when we arrived. It was a great opportunity for us to just hang out on the couch with the kids.

Dylan will be 7 next week. He made sure and reminded us multiple times that he will turn 7 on Thanksgiving. For years, he has been into dinosaurs and everything dinosaur. Lately, we’ve noticed that he has been more interested in reptiles. Until today.

Dylan was choosing a program to watch on TV. He happened to choose one that featured dinosaurs. In a completely serious face, he turned to Rick (who was seated right next to him on the couch) and asked, “Were you around when the dinosaurs were around?”

I almost lost it. Literally. I tried SO HARD not to burst out laughing.

Hubby Rick tried to pick up his jaw off of the couch and simply replied, “Yes, I guess I was around that long ago. I’m that old.”

Oh, the innocence of a 6-year-old. I just wish this little guy could hang onto it FOR EVER.

Dylan is really very good with numbers. He can add and subtract in his head. Later in the day, he asked Grandpa to help him learn multiplication. As a first-grader. What he’s not very good at yet?

Time lines.

Shortly after he asked Rick if he was alive when the dinosaurs were alive, he acknowledged that his Grandpa is 64. Dylan just hasn’t quite figured out that it was more than 64 years since the dinosaurs were roaming the earth.

Sometimes, we get hung up on timelines when it comes to scripture. Some people want to interpret a more literal timeline. Others can’t reconcile science’s timeline with the Bible and declare the Bible less reliable than the dating of fossils and such. I’m one of those people who feel science and the Bible don’t contradict each other but can truly compliment each other.

Personally, I don’t get hung up on creating a scientifically accurate timeline of science and the Bible. But then again, I’m not a scientist. I can appreciate those who put a lot of energy into trying to figure this out. My gifts are in a different wheelhouse. I look at faith from a more reality-based position of how faith is a part of my life today.

Maybe 6-year-old Dylan has the right concept. There are just somethings we can’t explain when it comes to faith, science and reality. Maybe admitting that we don’t have all the answers is really OK. What’s wrong with assuming that there are questions we can’t answer? Maybe how we feel about God and God’s spot in our lives is more important that a finely-tuned timeline? Isn’t this where faith ultimately steps in?

Individually, we decide how much not having a specific answer to a question that may not have a concrete answer will bother us. Maybe my tolerance for such things is higher than for others. Personally, it is a lot more freeing for me to put my energy into seeing where I can find God today, in my every day, ordinary life, than trying to determine exactly what year dinosaurs were around and how this fits into a biblical timeline.

We know dinosaurs are older than dirt. (I guess this makes Grandpa Rick also older than dirt. At least in Dylan’s little world.) I also believe God is older than the dinosaurs, as the creator of everything. Trying to wrap my head around how God created EVERYTHING blows my mind away. This, to me, is really more fascinating.

And celebrating Dylan’s birthday. We did this later in the day, attending a local Christmas light parade, followed by dinner at Pizza Ranch, which Dylan choose. It was a good day.


Please forgive the awful pictures. Mrs. Dinosaur was trying to hold the giggles inside while snapping the pictures. Great Dane Auna also thought she needed to be part of the conversation and pictures.

For innocence in life, I am grateful.

Almighty God – sometimes, we try to make your job our job. Yes, inquisitive minds are important and helpful. Yet, may we also discover the times when we simply must stutter because we don’t have a complete answer to the timeframe of all time and creation. Help us to truly be amazed by your wonderful creation. Amen.

Blessings –


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Gratitude Day 156 –  Something Warm for the Cold


Fri., Nov. 16, 2018

Psalm 147:17 – God sends down hailstones like chips of rocks. Who can stand the cold?

Winter-like weather has arrived in Wisconsin. It’s mid-February … and already I have heard multiple times from Hubby Rick, “When can we move to Belize??” We visited Belize a couple years ago. Rick feels this would be the ideal climate for us to retire. But that is a post for another day.

Today’s words: how to keep warm inside when it’s cold outside.

I love coffee. I drink coffee every day. For years, I have been a traditionalist when it comes to coffee: black only. The last few years, sometimes I find myself putting cream or flavored creamer in my coffee. Why? My Dad drank lots of coffee with lots of milk and sugar. It wasn’t really coffee. It was more what I would call “candy coffee.” I have refrained from adding sugar to coffee. But sometimes I enjoy a little milk. Just makes me feel like I’m having coffee with my Dad.


In the 20181030_164533winter, I sometimes want something more like hot chocolate but with some coffee flavor as well. So, I came up with what I call mocha coffee that I make at home. I’m sure I could google this and come up with a fancy recipe. My recipe is super easy, super simple and ready in three minutes. It has coffee, chocolate and is made in one cup.

I begin by filling a cup about halfway with coffee. Cold is just fine. Then, I fill it near the top with some milk. When I make hot chocolate with a mix, I make it with milk. If you have never had it with milk, make it this way. You may not go back to making it with water.


Once I have the cup mostly filled with coffee and milk, I microwave it for about 2 minutes. Don’t let it boil. Take it out of the microwave and add a packet of hot chocolate mix. Stir in as much as you can. Microwave for another minute. Mix well … and you have my easy, cheap and fairly decent version of mocha coffee. If you want to get all fancy, put some whipped topping on top and drizzle with chocolate syrup. Close your eyes while you drink it and maybe, you’ll think you got it from a fancy coffee shop. I know it’s not the same … but it also didn’t cost $5. Often, I buy the low sugar hot chocolate mix, as I really have cut back the amount of sugar I eat. When you use milk to make this, the missing sugar really isn’t much of a factor.


That’s it. A simple mocha coffee that is a great afternoon pick-me-up on a cold winter day. Or a treat after being outside for a while. It’s a nice variation from regular coffee/hot chocolate mix.

Nearly every time Rick mentions about moving to Belize, I remind him that we simply have to find fun ways to enjoy winter in Wisconsin. He’s not convinced the cold weather is necessary after Christmas. For me, this little mocha coffee is a fun drink for the winter months.

What is your favorite winter drink?


For special treats on cold winter days, I am grateful.

Lord God – some of us enjoy the change of seasons more than others. No matter what, I pray we appreciate the way you have designed this world. Thanks for special ways to enjoy the cold! Amen.

Blessings –


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Gratitude Day 155 –  A Different Road

Thurs., Nov. 15, 2018

Acts 9:27 – Then Barnabas helped him by taking him to the apostles. He explained how Saul had seen the Lord and how the Lord had spoken to him. Barnabas also said that when Saul was in Damascus, he had spoken bravely in the name of Jesus.

Ever have something turn out oh, so different from what you expected?

Like maybe your life?

I’ve been thinking about how this is so true in my life the last few days. Would you like a glimpse in?

Good. Let me share.

I grew up on a small Wisconsin farm. I always anticipated working in agriculture, which I did. After doing this for many years, I was called into pastoral ministry, which was completely off my radar screen. Fast-forward almost 20 years, and some people still call me Pastor Dianne. For the last five years, I’ve also worked for a small agriculture firm. While these two fields may seem very different, they have more in common than meets the eye.

Growing up, my sisters and I raised sheep. My Dad always kept a few ewes (female sheep) after they moved to town. Eventually, my sister Debbie took over the sheep, as her son, Kevin, was interested in them.


Kevin is now a senior in high school. He enjoys showing his sheep at competitions, basically, a beauty pageant for sheep. Recently, Kevin showed his sheep at a national show in Louisville, KY. Only one hick-up: the sheep needed to stay a couple days after showing. Kevin needed to get back to school. The solution? Auntie Dianne drove to Louisville. Kevin, his Dad and a couple other ladies drove back so the kids could get back for school. Debbie and I stayed with the sheep and drove them back to Wisconsin.


The show is called the NAILE. I have been at this show many years ago: when I was in college, nearly 30 years ago and about 25 years ago. Yes, things looked different from what I remembered.


This is a big sheep show. Really big. Thousands of sheep from all over the United States big. Even an exhibitor from Alaska was announced as a place winner.

Debbie & Kevin.JPG

Kevin showed his sheep several days. On the last day he showed, everyone in our little group helped. I dusted off my sheep-showing knowledge and took a couple spins around the ring.

While there watching the show, I reflected upon how different my life has turned out. Thirty years ago, I could have never anticipated eventually being a pastor. I anticipated working in agriculture my entire life. God had a different plan.

God also had a different plan for Saul. In the New Testament, Saul openly persecuted followers of this man named Jesus until he had a life-changing event. A completely different man, he changed his name to Paul and traveled all over, proclaiming how God and Jesus turned his world upside down. This man who wanted Christians eliminated now became their biggest advocate.

Think his life turned out a different from what he expected? Did he find a different road?

God can use us and our lives in truly amazing ways … if we allow ourselves to hear God’s leadings and take them to heart. When this happens, our journeys may turn out different from what we expect. Yet, we can end up on a rather exciting, impactful and life-changing road if we do.

It happened to Saul. It happened to me.


On Tuesday night, Debbie and I drove the sheep home. After making a pit stop to drop off a sheep at a farm, it was early morning when we arrived at our house. After getting some sleep, we made sure the sheep got breakfast and exercise. We live in town. I’m thinking our neighbors no longer know what to expect at our house. The stakes and fencing in the garden became the feeding site. And yes, a little extra fertilizer was left behind!


Sometimes I daydream about how my life would have been so different had I not heeded a call into ministry. Yet, in these last 20 years. I have met, been involved with and had great opportunities to serve; ministries that have fed my soul and blessed my life.


This recent sheep show made me appreciate by background. I strongly believe agriculture is terribly important. Yet, this different road I have meandered down has taught me a lot about life and myself. This different road has allowed for a great breadth of life experience. I anticipate God putting a few unexpected different roads in my life yet. And I look forward to them!

How about you? Has God taken your life down a different road than you anticipated? How has this enriched your life?


For life opportunities made available to me by God and different life roads than I envision, I am grateful.

Holy God – sometimes we see “different roads” as annoyances rather than as blessings from you. Help us keep our lives open to being used when we are steered down new and different roads. Amen.

Blessings –


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Gratitude Day 154 –  Being Average is OK

Mon., Nov. 12, 2018

Luke 22:26 – But don’t be like them. The most important one of you should be like the least important, and your leader should be like a servant.being-a-servant-of-god-1-638

What is “most important?”

I have always been a person who has struggled with this. Leadership gurus who want to help people accomplish more will say, “Pick out the top 3 most important things to do today and do them first.”

In theory, I agree. In reality, sometimes this works for me and sometimes it doesn’t. Maybe it’s a lack of discipline, a lack of commitment and lack of clarity. I can identify those things and sometimes they are accomplished and sometimes they aren’t.

Would you like to ponder this a bit more? Good. So, would I.

Maybe part of the reason I struggle with this is because I look at others around me and feel like they accomplish so much more than I do! I know it’s not helpful to compare ourselves to others. It’s really not a very good way to evaluate our lives. But don’t we do it all the time? Someone else is thinner. Someone else has a cooler house. Someone else has a nicer wardrobe. Do these things matter? No, unless it feels like the “most important” thing at the time.

Unfortunately, we condition our children and grandchildren this way. Don’t we aspire for them to be “the most important” or “the best” at something? Anything? We want them to be on a team that wins. We desire and long for them to be at the top of their class in whatever their passion maybe. We teach people that to get ahead, they must be the best.

However, we can’t all be “the best” at something. Life doesn’t work this way.

Recently, I was observing a competition. Hundreds of kids and parents and other people have put a whole lot of energy and effort into something either the kids or the parents have deemed as “important.” People had traveled thousands of miles, invested significant amounts of money into something their “kids” liked to do. (Well, at least, I hope they liked to do.) There were lots and lots of classes in the competition. Some classes had lots of competition; like 40 participants. There is no way in a class of 40, everyone is going to “win” or “be the best.” It just isn’t going to happen.

And so, a whole lot of kids, parents and others might have left the competition disappointment and let down. They expected to do “better.”

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a high expectations person, most importantly with myself. I have not always been “the most important” or “the best.” I’ve spent a lot of my life not in first place or first position. And this is OK. And I am becoming more comfortable with this.

Is this wrong? Should I not be aspiring to be “the most important.”

Nope. I hope I’m discovering something with a little more experience under my belt. A little greyer in my hair. A little more seasoned in my approach.

Jesus, the only divine Son of God, told his closest group of friends, his disciples, “Don’t worry about being the most important. In fact, don’t aspire to this spot. Instead, become a servant, the one who is helping everyone else and not yearning to be at the top.”


It is so hard for us to wrap our heads around this kind of attitude, in which what we do is not foremost for ourselves, but to help someone else. This sounds foreign for most of us. So, counter-cultural, especially for those who live in the United States.

And so, I’m thinking less about being the “most important” these days. I’m really trying to be OK with “middle of the road.” My aspiration? To truly be a servant. I know I’m going to fail with this attitude over and over. There will be days when I will want to chase the “most important” ribbon. Days I’ll look at someone who has made it to the top and I’ll want to be like them. And then, I hope I’ll remember Jesus’ words. “Be a servant. Be proud to be a servant. There is no more important role than to be a servant.”

For the opportunity to be a servant to others and leave behind the “most important” trophy award, I am grateful.

servant towel

Jesus, thank you for your words and your attitude of being a servant leader with my life. Forgive me for the many times I’ll still want to seek the “most important” award. Help me remember that being a servant is the higher calling in your kingdom. Amen.

Blessings –


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Gratitude Day 152 –  Snow is Here

Sat., Nov. 10, 2018

Psalm 147:16 – He covers the ground with snow like a blanket of wool, and he scatters frost like ashes on the ground.


This is what we woke up to Friday morning. Snow in Wisconsin.

Yep, old man winter has arrived.

A couple weeks ago when it started freezing every night, Hubby Rick asked me, “When can we move to Belize?”

Belize beach

This is the view he would prefer.

But alas, we are in Wisconsin. Where we get to experience ALL four seasons.

With the snow comes cold and wind. Heavy coats, mittens and boots. Shorter days of sunlight (when it shines.)

With snow, also comes mugs of hot chocolate, snuggles on the couch and the glisten of another great creation by God.

We can love it. Despise it. Wish is away.

Or we can appreciate the changing of the seasons.

For another change of the season, I am grateful.

Lord God – how can we not appreciate the wonderful way you have designed our world and all of creation? I pray we can fully embrace this today. Amen.

Blessings –


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Gratitude Day 151 –  Accepting Unexpected Change

Thurs., Nov. 8, 2018

Romans 12:2 – Don’t be like the people of this world, but let God change the way you think. Then you will know how to do everything that is good and pleasing to him.

I anticipated a normal, run-of-the-mill dentist appointment. It didn’t quite turn out this way … and I’m the one who ended up learning a lesson in the process.

Would you like to hear the story?

Good. I’d like to share.

I had a dentist appointment this week. Two-and-a-half hours before the scheduled time, the office called and asked if I could take an appointment in 30 minutes. The problem? I live 30 minutes from the office. I needed a few minutes to pull things together. We agreed that I would be at the office in 45 minutes.

I arrived exactly in 45 minutes. As I was checking in, the receptionist got a little hesitant look on her face. “Just so you know, Sara is out sick today. You’ll have one of the other hygienists today.”

I did not do a good job hiding my feelings. Let’s just say my body language, as well as my verbal response, let her know exactly how I felt.

dentist tools

Here’s the deal. I don’t really go to the dentist. I go to see my hygienist Sara. Until this week, she is THE ONLY person who has cleaned my teeth in like 25 years. When Sara switched clinics, I switched clinics. When Sara switched dentists within a clinic, I switched docs. When I make an appointment to see Sara, she schedules a longer-than-normal appointment because she knows we’ll need additional time. It is amazing how much of life can be shared in 60-minutes, even when I have instruments in my mouth at least part of the time. This is how it is. It has been this way for years.

I was less than diplomatic when I shared with the receptionist that I had just traveled 30 minutes to a rescheduled appointment, at their request, to find out Sara would not be my hygienist? Had I known Sara was unavailable, I would have simply rescheduled the appointment.

Then, out came Jo, who would be my hygienist for the day. In the 45 minutes it took for me to get to the clinic, Jo read my chart. She realized that I don’t come to see a particular dentist. Every six months, I come to see Sara.

Jo apologized profusely. She felt bad that I had gone out of my way to fit a time slot that worked for her. Standing feet from the little room where I would have my teeth cleaned, it didn’t make sense to reschedule the appointment. I simply followed Jo back to the room where Sara always cleans my teeth.

I knew this appointment would be just fine. I had just planned for the appointment to go one way and it turned out different from the little plan I had in my brain.

I pride myself in being open to change. More often than not, I’m the one advocating for an open mind or a new way of thinking.

That is, until my dentist, no, my hygienist, appointment was changed.

Together, Jo and I, decided to make this appointment a good experience for both. Honestly, Jo did a great job. She is a wonderful lady who took time and care with my teeth and gums. She followed the same cleaning procedures that Sara does. She chatted right along, knowing that this is what would normally happen between Sara and I. Jo shared things that possibly Sara and I might have discussed.

As normal, Dr. Brad spent just a few minutes looking at my teeth and declaring them good for another six months. As Jo wrapped up my appointment, she loaded up a generous goodie bag for me to take home.

What did I learn while sitting in the dentist’s chair as Jo cleaned my teeth? There have been many times in my life when I’ve been in Jo’s shoes. Someone really would have preferred a different pastor to handle a particular occasion … and they ended up with me. Or I stepped into a situation mid-stream. I tried to replicate how someone else might have handled the next steps to make a person feel more comfortable and probably failed. Many times, something happened outside of my control and I was the one who tried to make peace with the affected person.

A different hygienist for the day was perfectly fine. I hope that I’ve made a new acquaintance. I pray Jo can look beyond my initial rudeness and accept my apology for not concealing my feelings better. But in the end, maybe it was OK to be honest about how I felt. It allowed for us to have a meaningful conversation. We chatted about how we appreciate those consistent people in our lives, even if we only see them a couple times a year. We talked about faith and how it is a part of our daily lives. I commented about how I probably wasn’t being the ideal witness of my faith while at the dentist office, also sharing that pastors deal with real life, just like other people.

Jo at Dentist

The next time I’m at the dentist office, I hope I run into Jo and Sara. Maybe we can all have a few minutes to chat and catch up … and see the beauty of an unexpected change at the dentist office as an opportunity to grow.

BTW – hope you’re feeling better, Sara!

For daily opportunities to learn about myself, I am grateful.

Holy God – thanks for being patient with me when I don’t handle a situation as I should. Forgive me for being rude and thinking of only myself.  I pray that we can take unexpected opportunities in our lives as truly times to grow and deepen our faith. Amen.

Blessings –


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Gratitude Day 150 – Gratitude Every Day

Wed., Nov. 7, 2018

Colossians 2:7 – Plant your roots in Christ and let him be the foundation for your life. Be strong in your faith, just as you were taught. And be grateful.

gratitude yesterday, today, tomorrow

Since April 1, 2018, I have been blogging about things for which I am grateful. In my every daily, ordinary, regular life, I’ve tried to find even the simplest of things for which I am appreciative. I know. Some of these “grateful” things may seem like a stretch. One friend said to me, “Parchment paper?”  And I said, “Yes, parchment paper.”

Why something like parchment paper? Because I truly believe being grateful for the little things in life make a difference in how we view our little neck of the woods.


Let’s be honest. Most of us won’t be president or governor or the CEO or a large company. Most of us won’t have a building named after us or a Wikipedia page where people can go and learn about our background. Most of us won’t be the person who everybody knows your name.

What we will be is the someone who has made a small difference in a few people’s lives. Or a big difference in even a smaller number of people very close to us. We may be that “crazy aunt” or the “cool parent” or the “embarrassing grandparent.” Just as easily, we could be the “cranky cousin” or “weird neighbor” or “difficult spouse” that no one likes to talk about.

What is the difference between the two? Sometimes, very little. The space between being a genius and being insane can barely be a sliver. What keeps someone from crossing from one side of the spectrum to another?


Gratitude. I have no actual data or research to back this up. But I truly believe our attitude towards appreciation, humbleness and respect go a long way towards our frame of mind and how we view of our little piece of the world. I see this over and over. People who demand respect approach life in a very different way from someone who simply appreciates the opportunities in front of them. Those who live life from the “glass half full” position often find it less necessary to point out to others what great things they have done. When I focus on all that I have rather than the one thing I don’t have, life seems pretty darn good.

What I do know is this: when we include gratitude in our lives on a more regular basis, the rest of life makes more sense. Personally, I feel we struggle less, value little things more and are able to find happiness more easily.

What have I discovered after writing 150 blogs about gratitude in the last 7+ months? Let me share a few things:

  • I find myself grumbling less. I have most often tried to embrace a Pollyannaish attitude; trying to find the good in any situation. Yet, it is also easy for me to grumble about something that discouraged me. I think my gossiping/grumbling are down these days. And this is a good thing.
  • I spend less energy trying to “find” that something that I “think” will make me happier. Maybe what I’m looking for is already right in front of me … and I wasn’t smart enough to realize this. Rather than searching for something that may or may not be there, I try to embrace what is already a part of my life.
  • I try to be content. It’s easy to focus on those things we’d like to change. I’m discovering that if I want something different, then I must be the agent of change; not someone else. Maybe it’s ME that needs to look at my life or the world differently rather than someone else. I can’t control someone else. Rather than trying to herd cats and get frustrated, maybe I am the one who needs to do something a bit different.

I never take for granted you, the folks, who read these little blogs after I write them. I appreciate having an audience and place to share where I see God in my daily life and express appreciation for this. If a blog challenges you or allows you to seek and find a little more gratitude in your daily life, thank you for the opportunity to be a part of this.

So, I’m trying to decide if a few more “gratitude” blogs would be a good thing or not. Please leave a quick comment or a response on social media about whether continued blogs on gratitude would add value to your day. Or if there is something else that would be helpful for you to read about that includes a spiritual reflection with it, I would love to hear about this as well. I’ll read every comment carefully and take to heart your responses!

Begin each day

For a safe place to share about where I experience gratitude in my life, I am grateful.

In this world where we can easily focus on everything that we don’t like, challenge us to keep gratitude in our daily lives, Lord God. May we be agents of gratitude in all that we say and do.  Amen.

Blessings –


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Gratitude Day 149 – Friendship

book study group

Tues., Nov. 6, 2018

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

I am fortunate to have many meaningful friendships in my life. Some of my very first friends were ones started at the church were my family attended.  As little girls, we attended Sunday School and Vacation Bible School together. Some of these friendships continue yet today.

From my elementary and high school days, I also have friends with whom I keep in touch. Growing up in a small community, those same church friends were also my school friends. I also developed friendships within the youth organizations that I participated in, like 4-H, Junior Holsteins and FFA. These groups allowed me to meet people outside of the small community and school where I attended. Through these groups, I traveled to places I would not have otherwise experienced as a teenager.

I attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The first lecture I attended had as many students in it as my entire high school. While the whole experience could have been very overwhelming, it wasn’t. Why? I found a great group of friends very early in my college career. We remained dear friends throughout and after college. We lived together, played together, studied together and dated together. We learned how to become adults together. I could call any of these ladies and they would be available to me in an instant, as I hope I would be in reverse.

Through various work positions, I have made friends. Dear ones, in fact. When I attended seminary and began working in ministry, another layer of friendships were created. There were certain fellow students which I simply felt more at ease with. One of these friends performed my marriage.

1st focus group

At each church where I have served as a pastor, friendships have developed. Things became complicated when Hubby Rick and I began to date. He was a member of one of the church’s I was serving; in fact, he was the council chair. We were instructed to only date if we anticipated getting married. After 18+ years of marriage, I think the friendship worked out.

When a United Methodist pastor leaves a congregation, we are to drop all association with those affiliated with the congregation. This is hard. For example, dropping my relationship within a congregation would have meant me not having a relationship with my in-laws. This was not realistic. Being friends with someone does not mean I am also their pastor.


Last December, I voluntarily stepped away from full-time ministry to explore other opportunities. On Sunday mornings, Hubby Rick and I have been bouncing from church to church. We miss the feeling of being with the same church family every week. We miss out on happenings in these family’s lives.

When I was in seminary, a professor asked each student to share a word they felt best describes our relationship with God. A variety of words were offered: parental, love, grace, etc.

If I were to answer this today, what word would I use?

college friends

Friendship. I see friendship written all over the relationships between the three persons within the Trinity. Friendship exists between humans and God. We see friendship between the participants within the faith community. Jesus, himself, gave a wonderful example of how we are to treat other others as friends, when he said, “Love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has this no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”

Wow. What a definition of friendship.

Here’s the deal. Contrary to popular belief, friendship is not something we build. It’s something we seek, built and pray for. When we make ourselves available as a friend to someone, we pray they are willing to reciprocate friendship as well.

When we see each other as friends, we should determine to be a little easier on each other. Choose to be a little more understanding and not expect something in return. A true friend is able to see the good in someone even when they have made a complete mess of things. This friend simply shows up at the right moment with no expectations. These friends start right back where the last conversation ended with little or no effort, where it’s been one, two, five or a lot more years since they last saw each other.

Our world, collectively and individually, needs a lot more friendship these days.  People who simply show up and make their hands and feet available to someone who needs help with no anticipation of a reciprocation of help. We all need a place where we feel loved, cared up and safe: a small group that welcomes us with open arms.

For deep friendships in our lives, I am thankful.

Lord God – You give us such a wonderful example of friendship right within the Trinity. May we seek, desire and create meaningful relationships in our lives.  Amen.

Blessings –


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Gratitude Day 148 – Treating One Another in an Election Season

Mon., Nov. 5, 2018

Matthew 7:12 – Treat others as you want them to treat you. This is what the Law and the Prophets are all about.

“Our country is so divided right now. It’s the most divided it has ever been.”

I hear this type of comment regularly by other fellow American’s these days. We are very much aware how politics have become very polarized within our country.


Why is this so important right now? In the United States, this is election week. On Tuesday, we will be electing a significant number of officials at all levels of government. While we are not voting for a president, this is an important mid-term election. The entire U.S. House of Representatives is up for election, as well as one-third of the Senate. Where I live in Wisconsin, there is also a governor’s election and many other state, county and local elections. Locally, there is a local school referendum.


My heart is saddened by all of the election rhetoric in our society. There are days I avoid going on social media because I don’t want to see what is being posted. Our American election process is big business. The negative ads, misinformation and crazy antics sometimes used drive people away from participating in the whole process. I select the sources I listen to very carefully. I have little time for so-called “news” stories that contain untrue and unhelpful information. It takes time to dig deep and get to honest information.

I’m not quite sure how we got here or how we can move towards a more civil, caring and compassionate way of treating each other. Personally, I feel the craziness employed by people on both ends of the political spectrum are an awful model and witness to the rest of the world of how to treat other people.

golden rule

Often, we emphasize the “Golden Rule” to youth. Yet, we have often forgotten how to embody this in our adult lives. If we truly lived the Golden Rule, we would discover other ways to disagree with each other, while still respecting someone who has an opinion different from our own.

Yes, we live in challenging times. However, this is not the first time the United States has experienced such division. It may not even be the most divisive time in American history. We feel it is the most difficult time because this is the time period in which we are living. Yet, I think there have been other equally, if not even more challenging times in American history. One such time? Right before the Civil War. Abraham Lincoln had been elected president. A split of the states was bound to happen. Lincoln was very aware of this. Minutes after he was inaugurated, President Lincoln offered the following words to a country that may not have been ready to hear them:


We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot gave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.

  • Abraham Lincoln, First Inaugural Address, 1861

We must not be enemies. What profound words. We choose who and what our enemies are. Will our enemies be those who disagree with us? Will we have the fortitude to respectfully disagree and not let the bonds of our affection towards other human beings be broken?

We must not be enemies. Can we create space within the country so many of us love, where we can we remember to treat each other the way we want to be treated?

We must not be enemies. Will we choose to work with neighbors and partners domestically and internationally in such a way that we can honor all humanity?

We must not be enemies. Personally, I am more in the friendship-building business than in the enemy-building business. I feel significant more reward and joy when I work towards a common goal together, rather than finding points of disagreement as the default mechanism.

We must not be enemies. I have hope that our country can model civility, respect and love for people and partners around the world. Maybe I am a bit idealistic when it comes to this, but shouldn’t this be an American core value?

When we go to the polls on Tuesday this week, I pray that we ponder who is someone who will treat others the way they want to be treated. I know policies are important. Yet, I feel, as a country, we are long overdue for a basic lesson on how to treat others with respect, love and compassion. I wish I had heard more about these values in the days coming up to the election and a whole lot less about the negative information often spewed.

The better angels of our nature will expect us to do better than we have been. Will call our elected leaders to model this day in and day out. And will accept the opportunity to model appropriate behavior to younger generations. Seriously, how can we expect our kids and youth to treat each other well when we cannot do this ourselves?

Jesus gave us the words of the Golden Rule while giving an extended sermon in Matthew’s gospel. I believe President Lincoln was encouraging his fellow Americans to embody the same concept. I think it is time we determine to use these same words as the basis for how we treat each other in our day and time.

For Jesus’ clear mandate to treat others the way I want to be treated, I am thankful.

Lord God – thank you for Jesus’ words on how to treat one other. Please forgive us for meandering so far away from the Golden Rule. May we choose not to focus on being enemies as much as we focus on being friends. May the better angels of our nature overrule the often-powerful desire to allow evil into this world instead of peace and happiness. Amen.

Blessings –


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