What I Learned in February

Gratitude Day 222

Thurs., Feb. 28, 2019

Romans 12:3 – Because of the grace that God gave me, I can say to each one of you: don’t think of yourself more highly than you ought to think. Instead, be reasonable since God has measured out a portion of faith to each one of you.

Praise the Lord for February being a short month! Let’s give a big shout-out to whomever decided it would be a good idea to have a short month in the middle of winter. Can I get an “Amen!”

Today, I’m sharing a few lessons that I learned during the past month. Personally, it is helpful for me to take just a few minutes and reflect upon the past month. Sometimes, we keep plowing through life and miss the opportunity to learn from what has been happening in our lives. Even a short time of personal reflection allows us to evaluate where we’ve come from and what we’ve learned. So, here’s a few lessons I’ve learned in February.

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After virtually no winter in November and December in Wisconsin, wow, Mother Nature has made up for it in the last 60 days. Rarely do I cancel a commitment because of the weather. But last Saturday, I did. Hubby Rick was in shock! It wasn’t the cold. It wasn’t the snow. It was the sheet of ice. I started out to my commitment and turned around. I just decided it wasn’t worth it. Spending the day at home felt like a gift. I spent most of the day working on a book that I’m writing. While our school local districts have had so many snow days, I felt like this truly was a snow day for me. What is the lesson? We don’t have control of somethings. We can get frustrated by it … or discover a way to make lemonade out of lemons.

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Hubby Rick and I spent several days out of the cold and in a warmer climate taking Sabbath in February. Yes, most people would have called it a vacation. I really wanted to slow down from daily life and allow my heart and soul to breathe. Guess what … it felt so good! Actually, I’ve given myself permission to ease back after our Sabbath. And it’s been a blessing. Of course, spending time with great friends is a bonus!!

DSC06807A week ago, a group of ladies helped celebrate my friend Marilyn’s 90th Unfortunately, I failed to snap a group picture while the ladies were at our house. After lunch and a house tour, we gathered in the parlor for dessert and coffee. We so seldom use this room, other than walking through it. It was lovely to relax in this room and enjoy yummy carrot cake, my favorite flavor of coffee (Highlander Grog) and great conversation. The best part? We took our time and didn’t rush. So often, we talk about taking time to enjoy being together. This afternoon, we actually did it. Thanks to the ladies who helped celebrate Marilyn’s birthday. FYI – this lady does not act nor look like she’s one decade from 100!! A great inspiration!

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While on vacation, I read this book, Chasing Slow by Erin Loecher. I stumbled upon this book by accident. Erin has a significant blog following. While I enjoyed the book’s content, I really loved how the book is laid-out. It doesn’t follow the traditional book design. Erin has a unique and different style. It’s a bit quirky and fun, as well as youthful. Her writing is very easy to read. Because I already have too many books, I checked her book from the library. After we arrived home from vacation, I purchased my own copy. While I love to read, I don’t always create space to read. One of my personal growth areas for 2019 is to read more. So far, I have been much more consistent. Having good books to read helps.

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The most important lesson I’ve rediscover this month? I’m relearning grace. For years, and I literally mean years, I’ve prayed daily for God to help me discover and know what the most important things for me to focus on; for each day, week, month and year. Throughout February, I’ve been challenged to think about this from a different perspective. Rather than focusing on what I want God to do for me, I’m shifting my perspective to simply loving God. Enjoying God. Worshiping God. Living with God. As I discover again who God is for me and how God lives in my life, I’m confident the rest will work itself out. Too often, we want God to do for us … when our relationship with God should focus less on what God does for us and more on what we do with God. Notice, I didn’t say for God; but with God yearns to have a relationship WITH us. If we only expect God to give to us, it’s not a relationship. It’s a scorecard. Sometimes, we just have to get ourselves out of the way and let God do God’s work in us. Yes, we still take an active role because we still make choices. I want to fall back into love with God and faith, as I feel this has been missing in my life. A problem that often arises? When we feel that God has let us down, we want to be back in charge. We give up on God or become disenfranchised. We forget that God isn’t here to fulfill all of our desires and wishes. Instead, God yearns for us to know intimately. This can only happen when keep perspective of who God is and who we are.

Thanks for following along on my blog. I know each time you read one of my writings, it’s a choice you’re making … and there are so many choices we can choose from! I pray the words I share here inspire you to think about your life, faith and the grace God extends to you every day.

For an amazing amount of grace in my life, I am grateful.

Almighty God – please forgive me for the times that I’ve tried to make our relationship more about me than about You. Help me set aside my desires from you and instead, just love you. Place deep in my heart a yearning to really get to know you. Thank you for loving me so unconditionally. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Refresh Wednesday – A Glimpse of Spring

Gratitude Day 221

Wed., Feb. 27, 2019

1 Corinthians 3:8 – The one who plants and the one who waters work together, but each one will receive their own reward for their own labor.

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All we talk about these days is winter. And how sick of it we are.

If you live in the upper Midwest, you know what I’m talking about.

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If you don’t, let me share.

Since Christmas, we’ve had SO. MUCH. SNOW. AND COLD. Like nearly every day. There was the week that it barely got above 0 all week. And windchills down to the -50 and -60 range. And then, the snow. Some weeks 10-12 inches. And some days that much. Or like last Saturday when we have a couple inches of ice.

What has this led to? Lots of missed school days. One family of grandkids might be going to school until June 12th. Seriously.

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Lots of accidents. Over the weekend, there was a terrible accident east of us. Something like 130+ vehicles in the pile-up. One man killed and another 70 (yes, this is correct) taken to the hospital.

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Lots of damage. Roofs on barns and businesses caving in. Cattle having to be moved quickly in awful weather. Damage that will take months to fix. It’s been a little crazy.

So, who is happy this winter? Those who love cold and snow. And possibly the skiers and snowmobilers.

For the rest of us? We’re ready for spring! Or two sunny days in a row. Or a hint of warm weather when we don’t have to wear layers and layers.

Since I’m not sure when this is going to happen, I took matters into my own hands. Even if there’s lots of snow and cold outside, I’m ready to bring spring INTO the house.

I love having plants inside. It really does brighten my spirits when I see real life color that needs water. While we were on vacation, I loved seeing flowers and green grass and smelling all those wonderful flower and plants smells. Once home, I looked around the house and decided it needed a serious dose of color.

And so, I bought color.

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This is an antique feeding trough that I’ve converted into a plant stand. The beautiful peace lily was given to me at the time of my birthday. But I never filled in the other half. I wanted to put another peace lily in it but couldn’t find one.

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Instead, I bought these plants.

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And proceeded to add some of them to the planter.

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I’m not a florist. I leave this to my sister Debbie. But I can put flowers in a planter and try to make them look nice. The great thing about plants? If you don’t like how you have them the first time, just take them out and rearrange them.

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I’m not sure that I have the plants exactly how they are supposed to be arranged. But my goal here was to add color to the house. Quickly. Easily. With little cost. This, I feel, I accomplished.

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I also bought a bouquet of roses. I’m sure they were leftovers from Valentine’s Day, so not confident how long they will last. But if only for a week, I’ll enjoy every single one of them. I love having a bouquet of fresh flowers on our island. They just bring a smile to my face every time I walk into the house.

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With this bouquet, it’s another mission accomplished.

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Finally, I had a group of ladies over last week and wanted an arrangement for the table. Literally, I bought two packages of fresh flowers for $2.99 each. I cut and arranged pieces of them into some glasses I had and put them on the table. (The leftover flowers were added to the roses on the island.)

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And so, it’s just spots of color here and there. But even these little bits make my heart feel like it’s closer to spring than outside the window says it is.

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If your heart is longing for spring, what can you do to bring a little spring inside your house? Refresh something that speaks to your heart. I spent less than $30 on these plants and flowers and believe me, my heart is happy for it.

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For color and glimpses of spring someday, I am grateful.

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Oh Lord – I’m sorry that I’m not fully appreciating the cold and the snow and the winter. Thanks for the gentle reminder that a simple refresh with just a bit of color is what my world needed these days. May these flowers, plants and a bit of water brighten even the dreariest of days. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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A Saying that Strikes Home

Gratitude Day 220

Tues., Feb. 26, 2019

Psalm 26:2 – Examine me, Lord; put me to the test! Purify my mind and my heart.

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Will I ever discover the ability to talk less and listen more?

Some days I do OK. Other days? Not so much.

It’s really quite silly. I can take FOREVER to tell a story. People patiently await the end. They hang in through the exhausting number of details I sometimes share. Hubby Rick often tells me that he could tell the same story in 10% of the words that I use.

But when someone else shares something with me? I interrupt. I finish their sentence. I think that I know the end of the story before it’s been shared.

Maybe my inability to use my two ears more than my one mouth is the reason why the quote at the beginning of the post resonates with me SO MUCH.

Rather than spilling out the miniscule challenge in my life, can I learn to listen to the debilitating experiences someone else is going through?

Rather than making my story or experience the center of the discussion, can I be gracious enough to let someone else’s story claim the main attention?

Rather than assuming I know what is best for someone else, can I simply listen and be their friend?

And the list could go on … and on … and on.

But then, I’d be doing exactly what I wish I would do less.

Fill life with words that may or may not add value.

Let’s leave it with the quote: Our days are happier when we give people a bit of our heart rather than a piece of our mind.

For one-liners that get our attention, I am grateful.

Holy God – Forgive me for the times that I’ve tried to make the focus about myself. Allow me to let others share their story and for me to simply listen. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Good Delays

Gratitude Day 219

Mon., Feb. 25, 2019

Habakkuk 2:3 – There is still a vision for the appointed time; it testifies to the end; it does not deceive. If it delays, wait for it; for it is surely coming; it will not be late.

He’s done it again.

With an unexpected surprise, Hubby Rick has plastered a smile on my face and made me laugh.

Should it be any surprise? It’s happened countless times throughout our marriage. Yet, every time it creeps up on me, I’m surprised that I didn’t see it coming.

Would you like to hear more?

Do you bore of my Hubby Rick stories?

Grab a cup of coffee … or Diet Coke. Then, let’s go.

So, Hubby Rick has this longstanding tradition of not really celebrating a holiday at the time the holiday happens. I know, it’s ridiculous. But this happens regularly.

Let me also preface this with the background that we do not purchase each other Christmas gifts. (I know. We’re going back a couple of months. Just hang with me for a bit.) A card is about as crazy as it gets at the Vielhuber household between spouses.

So here are a couple previous examples of how Rick never ceases to amaze me.

There was the year I received a Christmas card on my birthday (which is early January), a birthday card on Valentine’s Day and a Valentine’s Day card on St. Patty’s Day. (He took advantage of the after-holiday sales, or so he says.)

Then, there was the year I received a dozen roses about a week before Valentine’s Day. This was especially novel, as he was EARLY, something that rarely happens. (He was being thrifty this year. $19.99 vs. $65.00. Do the math, he said. Plus … there was a wider color selection!)

At Christmas 2018, he apologized a few days after Christmas for not getting me a card. He said they were too picked over when he tried to find one on Christmas Eve. I simply forgot about it and moved on.

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On Valentine’s Day this year, we were on vacation. We spent the day on a cruise ship in the Caribbean. Earlier in the week, I saw an envelope addressed to me in the bottom of the suitcase. He probably also saw the little package I had tucked there also. We were both prepared!

Well, sort of. This is the card I received on Valentine’s Day.

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Look closely. Read the verse on the front of the card. Look at the tree in the background.

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IT’S A CHRISTMAS CARD!!

I’m not sure where he found a card or how much it was on sale. Yes, it produced a huge laugh from me after I opened it. Was I surprised? Yes. Should have I been? No.

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Fast-forward a week. We have been home several days. Rick works nights. His work week begins on Sunday afternoons and he finishes his last 12—hour shift on Thursday morning. He knows the first thing I do in the morning is walk downstairs and make a pot of coffee. The kitchen island is a common place where we leave each other notes. Based on us working different shifts, sometimes this is where our best communication happens. (Unfortunately.)

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Last Thursday morning when I walk into the kitchen, I discover a package in the sink. It’s a bouquet of mini-carnations, still in the plastic wrap, stuck into a plastic glass filled with water. (“Only the best for you,” Rick would later say.) And on the counter next to the sink? This note.

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Yes, it was a delayed Valentine’s Day gift. But a very good delayed present. Rick often tells me that he doesn’t want to be predictable. (Anyone can buy flowers on a holiday.) And he wants to keep things interesting. (Ya think?) And he wants to express his respect and love for me not because it’s a Hallmark holiday but because this is how he feels deep in his heart. (Did I hear a collective “Awwww?”)

Friends – I’ve previously expressed how important it is to make love deposits into the hearts of the people who mean the most to us. Every time one of these silly, unexpected cards or bouquet of flowers show up, Rick makes a huge deposit into my love bank. I never tire of these random acts of kindness. They always plaster a smile on my face that remains there ALL. DAY. LONG.

It’s not as easy for me to delay cards and little gifts. My Type A personality doesn’t always allow it. But I wish I could. I wish I had the ability to be just a bit more like my Hubby. And since I’m not, maybe this is just one of those endearing reasons why we chose each other.

Sometimes it’s so special to do something “just because.” Who and what might you do for someone special in your life today? A little surprise that will plaster a smile on their face ALL. DAY. LONG? Make time. Keep it simple. Enjoy the result.

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For delays that turn into something special, I am grateful.

Lord God – thank you for bringing a person into my life who teaches me something new nearly every day. Thank you for making him so different from myself. Help me appreciate these differences rather than getting frustrated by them. May we celebrate the little special opportunities we have to make a difference in someone’s life this day. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Life Savers

Gratitude Day 217

Thurs., Feb. 21, 2019

Luke 5:19 – but they couldn’t reach him because of the crowd. So they took him up on the roof and lowered him—cot and all—through the roof tiles into the crowded room in front of Jesus.

As I sat down at the table in a restaurant, I looked down and was immediately transported back to a time and place earlier in my life.

Why? How?

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By a roll of life savers.

You know, those candies that have been around almost as long as the dinosaurs. The candy that comes in a roll of 14 candies with flavors of cherry, raspberry, watermelon, orange and pineapple.

As a child, I remember walking into our local Dime Store. It smelled of rubber and cleaning supplies. Here, you could by chain link by the inch (or foot), toothpaste, pots and pans and household paint all in one stop. A person could easily get lost wandering the endless aisles. If you didn’t want to spend half-of-a-day looking for contact paper, it was best to ask whoever was standing behind the counter for help.

At this same counter is where the Life Savers were stored. They were right below the counter, as part of the rows and rows of candy and gum that cost no more than a quarter. Right there in plain sight, easy to throw onto your pile of goodies.

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When the roll of Life Savers was placed in the center of the spot where I would be seated at the restaurant, my brain automatically went back to the door dinging when it was opened at the Dime Store back in little Augusta, WI. Yes, this story was unique to Augusta. But in an earlier time, didn’t every little town have their own version of Dime Store? Rows and rows filled with everything a man or woman or child could possibly need.

It’s been at least 35 years since I’ve had a Life Saver. And yet, I knew immediately what the candy inside of the roll with foil on the end would taste like, if I happened to pop one into my mouth.

Life Savers are intentionally shaped like a round life vest. A small, flavorful candy whose flavor explodes when placed in the mouth, Life Savers are just a little bit of sandy beach when winter has been dragging on too long.

At the restaurant, I meet my friends, Pam and Janice, for brunch. The Life Saver’s were Pam’s little treat for Janice and me; a little something special to bring a smile on our faces. I’ve known these ladies for more than half of my life. We’ve kept up on each other’s lives for decades. We know each other’s gifts and graces, as well as our growth areas. Our history is long and detailed.

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The Life Savers? Symbolic of our relationship with each other. We’ve tried to be there when the going was tough. After Janice was involved in a horrible car accident, I washed her hair while she was lying flat in bed and unable to get out because she just wanted clean hair. I’ve sorted through piles of things at Pam’s house, trying to find exactly the items she had requested via e-mail that I send to her overseas.

Likewise, they have been life savers for me. Helping me out when I needed something or someone to come in at the last minute and pitch hit for me.

These ladies, as well as so many others that I know, can be called upon in a moment’s notice. They are my life savers. They are my stretcher barriers. You know, the story of the man who was terribly sick and on a cot. Jesus was healing and teaching people on day. The ill man’s friends decided to take him to Jesus so he could be healed. When they arrived where Jesus was teaching, the house was so full no one could get into the building.

 

These life savers didn’t give up simply because it was crowded. No, they hauled their ill friend up to the roof, figured out where Jesus was stationed below in the house, removed the roof just enough to let the cot and the man down through the hole into Jesus’ lap.

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They were the ill man’s stretcher barriers, folks who knew what the right thing was to do. Life savers – people who know your needs almost more than you know them yourselves.

We can go through life alone and maybe even do OK. But isn’t life a lot more fun and interesting when you have a couple stretcher barriers hanging in the wings with a roll of Life Savers in their hand?

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Thank you, Pam, Janice and all those other ladies who have been such important stretcher barriers for me. You mean the world to me.

For stretcher barriers who are also life savers, I am grateful.

Holy God – thank you for bringing people who represent your hands and feet to me into my life. Thank you for all those stretcher barriers and life savers who enrich my life daily. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Easing Back after Sabbath

Gratitude Day 216

Wed., Feb. 20, 2019

1 John 4:7 – Dear friends, let’s love each other, because love is from God, and everyone who loves is born from God and knows God.

What’s an indication of a good Sabbath? When you have a hard time getting back into the swing of things.

After a week of being away, I’ve been slowly getting back into some of the routines I’ve been faithfully observing. Some have come a little slower than others. Top of the list that has taken a back seat? Blogging.

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Hubby Rick and I spent several days with our friends, Chris and Michelle. While they now live outside of St. Louis, they lived in Wisconsin for awhile and this is when we became acquainted with them. Since they moved away, we’ve kept in touch. We’ve spoken a few times about vacationing together. This winter, it happened to work out that we could!

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After meeting up in Miami, we took a several days cruise through the western Caribbean. On two days, we stopped at different locations and enjoyed a few hours at each port. Then, we had one full day at sea, which happened to be Valentine’s Day. Michelle and I feel the guys had an easy Valentine’s Day, as the ship provided lots of Valentine’s acknowledgements. In the morning, we ate a late brunch. Just as we were ready to find something else to do than eat, we discovered the ship had a fantastic Valentine’s dessert spread! I mean a serious spread, with like 20 cakes and desserts. Of course, we HAD to try several of them.

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In the afternoon, we took in the Love & Marriage show as observers. Three couples answered questions about their spouses to see which couple knew each other the best. It really was no surprise that the couple who has been married for 45+ years won the game.

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The highlight of the day? When Michelle asked if I would renew their vows. Later this spring, Chris and Michelle will celebrate their 30th anniversary. They decided to renew their vows on Valentine’s Day, while at sea, since their friend who happens to be a pastor was traveling with them! We found a spot near the top of the ship and basically out of the wind. It was touching when both Chris and Michelle became emotional as they shared their vows once again. As they shared their vows, I felt Rick gently put his hand on my back, as if we were also sharing in a recommitment of our vows.

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Back in Wisconsin, reality struck home quickly as it took a while for Rick to dig the car out of the snow and ice. The first two days back were overly filled with commitments. After several days with very limited internet service, it took me a couple swings at getting through all the e-mails. Quite honestly, I’m still working through some as I ease back into normal, every day life. I’ve appreciated less time on the internet and social media. The time has been sucked up in cleaning up our house, as some of the hardwood floors were refinished while we were gone. I know attention was put towards keeping the dust to a minimum, but it’s really impossible.

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There are different phases of life. Right now, I’m trying to enjoy this phase that I’m in. Maybe a bit slower, certainly a bit more reflective and definitely appreciative to time spent with my Hubby as well as our dear friends.

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For a slower pace, time away and fun with friends, I am grateful.

Lord God – thank you for the opportunity to enjoy Sabbath time. Thank you for filling me with so much of I what has allowed me to recharge these past few days. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Top 10 Reasons Why People Need Sabbath

Gratitude Day 215

Tues., Feb. 12, 2019

Mark 2:27 – Then Jesus said to them, “The Sabbath was made for people, not people for the Sabbath.”

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Hubby Rick and I are taking some Sabbath this week. We’re spending a few days away. Most importantly? We’re not feeling guilty about it.

People need Sabbath. People need downtime. Most of us live drive-through lives, filled with too many commitments, too much consumption and too little time to just be. So, we’re intentionally taking some Sabbath time to recharge our souls.

Most people call it vacation. While I sometimes still do, I really try to use more of the Sabbath mentality. What’s the difference? Sabbath is providing your heart and soul opportunities to slow down and get filled with those things that give you life, rather than filling out days with things that drain us. For some people, vacation and Sabbath can be the same. For me, going into this time, I want my heart and soul to be prepared to unwind, decompress and get refueled.

It’s easy to fill our lives so full that we think we don’t have “time” for Sabbath. Or that we don’t need it. I’m here to say: please, please, please rethink this. To help you think about why Sabbath is important, here are my “Top 10 Reasons why People Need Sabbath.”

  1. Sabbath gives our souls permission to say, “This is what I WANT to do today.” Too often, we feel our days may be filled with things out of our control. In Sabbath, we choose to take a nap and not feel guilty. We decide eat dessert first. We fill our days with opportunities to choose exactly what we want to do. If you are taking Sabbath with another person/people, yes, there will be some negotiating. But even with other people, you can make choices just for yourself.
  2. Sabbath provides opportunities to make memories. Hubby Rick often says this: life is about creating memories. He speaks of the time we rode bike down a particular trail. And when he drives by this trail while working, he remembers the great bike ride we had. Or we repeat stories about some of our favorite memories to each other and sometimes to others. While preparing for this Sabbath, we realized that we don’t have a lot of extra space in our luggage for souvenirs. And that’s OK, because we’re more interested in making memories than buying things to take home with us.
  3. Sabbath provides space to try new things. In our normal day-to-day lives, we may not create space to do those things on a bucket-or-other type of list. Sabbath time is a great opportunity to go ziplining for the first time. Or snorkeling with the sting rays. Or hiking in a remote place.
  4. Sabbath allows space to be with those most important to you. I love going on new adventures with my spouse. Or incorporating memory-making opportunities with our grandchildren. Giving those who you say are most important to you your undivided attention has great benefits. A short Sabbath will not fix all of a troubled relationship’s challenges. But it can be a window into potential growth.
  5. Sabbath time is a great time to spend with people who give you energy and life. On this particular Sabbath, we’re spending time with our dear friends, Chris and Michelle. We only see them every couple of years and usually for a short period of time. For several days, we’ll hang out with this couple and yet, have time to ourselves. We already know it will be a great time!
  6. Sabbath space gives us time to unplug. I won’t be checking my e-mail multiple times a day or monitoring other things much. And that’s OK! You won’t hear from me as much this week … because I’m intentionally unplugging for most of the week. As beneficial as technology is, we also need breaks from it. Sabbath provides a great excuse/opportunity to shut this down for a while.
  7. Sabbath should be filled with “being” time rather than “doing” time. Haven’t we all been on vacations in which we came back more tired than when we left? This is one of the differences between Sabbath and vacation time. Sabbath says, “I’m going to provide space for my heart to be with God.” Yes, go do some fun things! But also make space to just let your heart and soul be. Listen for God. Maybe, just maybe, you’ll hear something profound, or not profound, if you provide the space for this to happen.
  8. Sabbath times tells you and others that stepping off life’s treadmill is important to you. We can and will stay on life’s fast-pace treadmill as long as we allow this to happen. When we say to ourselves and others that Sabbath time is important, we’re naming something that we have determined as important. We need to say this to ourselves as well as others. Then, we’ll begin to believe it.
  9. Sabbath gives our heart and soul an opportunity to be refueled. We know that our car cannot go forever without fuel. When the gas gauge gets near empty, we know it’s time to find a gas station and refuel. If we’re smart enough to know this, why aren’t we intelligent enough to figure out that our gas tanks need regular refueling as well? Too often, we go through life running way to close to empty. Sabbath provides space to refill the tank.
  10. Jesus practiced Sabbath. And it’s a pretty good example for us to follow. If you follow the events in Jesus’ public ministry, it doesn’t take long to discover times that Jesus went by himself to pray and be with God. If the Son of God thinks this is a good idea, why shouldn’t we? If the Son of God needed refueling and recharging, shouldn’t we as well?

I know that getting away for a week of Sabbath may seem daunting to some. Whether you are able to do this or not, we still can find ways to build Sabbath into our lives; smaller blocks of time and space where we can refuel our lives. I pray that you take a few minutes today and block off a Sabbath opportunity.

People didn’t create Sabbath. God did. And it’s one of those things that I’m discovering as not optional in my life, but necessary. 

Holy God – thank you for the wonderful example of Sabbath in Jesus’ life. Too often, we think we don’t have “time” for Sabbath. Place in our hearts the deep understanding that Sabbath is as necessary and eating and sleeping. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Gratitude Day 214 – Leaving the Mess Behind

Fri., Feb. 9, 2019

Matthew 23:26 – Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup so that the outside of the cup will be clean too.

When we leave on vacation, I’m just going to pull the door shut and leave my messy house behind.

But it will be oh, so hard.

Let me explain. I have an unwritten rule about vacations: don’t leave behind a messy house. I have stayed up until the wee hours of the morning to make sure the Christmas tree was down before leaving on vacation. And cleaned the bathrooms and made sure the laundry was done. The floors are spotless and nary a dish in the sink before I rolled my suitcase out of the house.

Why? Because after vacation, I LOVE coming home to a clean house. It doesn’t matter if we roll in town in the middle of the afternoon or the dead of night, I love the joy of walking into a house that is as beautifully clean as when we left. It’s one of those silly little things that makes my heart happy.

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I know this won’t happen with our current planned vacation. You see, we’ve been waiting for Tim to come finish sanding the last of the hardwood floors in our lovely 100+-year-old house. Fortunately for us, Tim can do the job while we are gone. The timing is great. We’re out of the house while the strong polyurethane settles into the floors for 24-hours. Tim will have the house aired out and ready for our return.

What’s not to love?

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Going against my desire to close and open the door to a messy house before and after vacation.

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Before heading to the airport, we’ll have the rooms cleaned out so Tim can tackle the floors. Right now, all the holiday decorations are currently in the dining room, along with a bed and dresser. The bedroom furniture from the new master suite is in our current bedroom. The stuff that’s been hanging out in the new walk-in closet? It’s piled in the unfinished master bathroom, where someday, there will be a beautiful new shower.

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Just this once, my unwritten rule will be broken.

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In the spirit of finally completing the new master bedroom, a little mess is required. Newly sanded and finished floors means broken vacation rules and leaving behind a mess that rarely makes me comfortable.

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Truthfully, sometimes don’t we put too much emphasis on the “outside” and forget that what is on the “inside” is more important? While something can look great and perfect on the outside, it rarely is.

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We can make everyone think our lives are so put together on the outside … when we’re drowning in self-guilt on the inside.

 

We can make-up our hair and our face and even try to have a fit-looking body when we know our insides feel like they are falling apart.

We may appear to have it all together financially, when the bank has a different opinion.

We may come across as confident and determined, when we’re only one step away from wondering why and how we got to this point.

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Lives have a tendency of being messy. No matter how “good” things may look on the outside, there is always some part on the “inside” that has a different opinion. Yes, my clean and organized house has spots that I don’t want anyone else to see.

The Pharisees were the local Jewish religious leaders of Jesus’ day. While it appeared on the outside that they had it together, Jesus had the rare ability to look inside their hearts and see otherwise. The jealousy, the piousness, the holier-than-thou attitudes. It made him sad. While the Pharisees were convinced their lives weren’t messy, Jesus knew otherwise. He called them out on it. He warned them to make sure their insides were as clean as they wanted everyone to assume their outsides were.

 

The Pharisees weren’t amused. In fact, they rolled their suitcases and dirty insides right on over to the Caiaphas, the high priest’s house and slyly plot a quiet way to arrest Jesus and have him killed.

Whew. What a response to making sure no one else discovers their outwardly attitudes and lives weren’t as pristine as they wanted everyone else to believe.

Honestly, I can live with a messy house. I will pull the door shut and walk away. What do I hope I am more careful about? Making sure all my time and energy are put into making my insides are cleaner than the outside. Ensuring my outside and my inside match. Not get caught up so much in the exterior that I neglect the interior.

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For being OK with messy houses and the messiness in my life, I am grateful.

Lord God – thank you for the lesson about learning how to focus more on the inside of our lives than the outside.   Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Gratitude Day 213 – THE Best Love Deposits

Fri., Feb. 8, 2019

Mark 12:33 – And to love God with all of the heart, a full understanding, and all of one’s strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself is much more important than all kinds of entirely burned offerings and sacrifices.”

Once again, Hubby Rick has earned his stripes. He’s made some pretty big deposits in this girl’s heart, whether he knows it or not. No, beautiful flowers, fancy dinner or even the best tasting chocolates were involved. He simply fixed some things for me. Nothing more. These random acts of kindness? More than enough to remind me why I have a keeper of a husband.

In less than 24-hours, three things that I take for granted stopped working. None were a catastrophy; none were a crisis. They were simply mere inconveniences.

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First, the dishwasher stopped working. In the days leading up to its shutdown, it seemed to get nosier each time we ran it. One day, it started but after 30 seconds, it just stopped. It was done. No more clean dishes.

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This same day, the overhead kitchen light stopped working. We live in a 100+-year-old house. This is not the first time we’ve had minor electric challenges. While Hubby Rick has rewired a significant part of the house, the kitchen/butler’s pantry has puzzled him. He’s tried different things to get everything working like we’d like … but sometimes it puzzles him.

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The following day, a windshield wiper on my car stopped working. Both wipers worked on the way to work. It snowed and sleeted most of the day. When I left work, the windshield and wipers were covered with ice. The wiper on the driver’s side worked but the passenger side didn’t. I tried a few things. No such luck. I thought maybe once the car was in a warmer spot, things would thaw out and the wiper would work. But it didn’t.

Hubby Rick to the rescue! With the aid of a few Youtube videos (he has determined you can learn ANYTHING on Youtube), he fixed the windshield wiper. I hopped in the car one day not expecting both wipers to work … and they did. Yeah!

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The dishwasher took a little more time. He tried a few things before turning to Youtube. Soon, it was running like a champ.

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The wiring? Well, it works if both switches are engaged. He’s fixed the most immediate wire for now. This project will take more persistence and time.

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The underlying message in all of this? Rick knows how to make his wife happy. He took the time to figure out how to fix things that make my life a bit easier. And I’m here to tell you all, I APPRECIATE IT!!

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Often, people think they have to do something big to make a dramatic display of love and respect for their partner. I’m here to tell you all: this ISN’T the most important way to love and respect your partner. Do the little things, which left undone, become the big things. When done, they ARE the big things.

It is amazing how special a person feels when their partner does something just for them, not expecting anything in return. I can recall time and time when Rick did something just for me … and it brightened my day. It’s not the extravagant display that makes me melt into a puddle of deep love and respect for my hubby. It’s the seemingly little things:

It’s making sure my car is washed and vacuumed before I go to a ministry event.

It’s leaving a note on the island when we haven’t seen each other all day.

It’s offering to drive home when I’m dog tired.

It’s running a bubble bath when I’ve had a draining day.

It’s heating up my cup of coffee that I left cold on the counter and bringing upstairs to my desk.

It’s running his fingers through my hair as we watch the UW-Madison Badger men’s basketball game.

Want more respect and care from your partner? Show them, through every-day, ordinary ways how much you care for them. Expect nothing in return. Do it because you love them, you care for them and because you want to.

Showing a deep love for your partner/neighbor is more valuable than any modern-day offering or sacrifice. These deposits mean more than a beautiful piece of jewelry, a fancy new purse, a longed-for tool or tickets to a favorite sports team.

Here’s a common challenge. When we don’t feel like we are getting a deposit into our love bank, we withhold deposits into their love bank. When this happens, it’s important to make deposits; not for the good of your partner, but for the good of your soul.

God makes deposits into your love bank whether you deserve them or not. We can’t fully appreciate all the deposits God has made. We can express our appreciation by making deposits into another’s love bank, whether they deserve it or not.

Love deposits work for partners and spouses, children and grandchildren, siblings and grandparents. Honestly … who doesn’t love a good love deposit into their love bank?

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For Hubby Rick’s deposits into my love bank, I am so, so very grateful.

Almighty God – thank you for bringing into my life a person who deeply loves and respects me. Encourage me to be a generous love-bank depositor.  Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Gratitude Day 213 – 20-Minute Thursday

Thus., Feb. 7, 2019

Philippians 4:23 – The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.

At the beginning of 2019, I was determined to break down little sections of my day into 20-minute intervals. These little time windows provide me opportunities to knock something off my to-do list in a relatively short period of time. Rather than being overwhelmed with the time needed to do something, I simply dedicated 20-minutes towards it.

For the first time in a really loooooong time, I’m feeling like there are moments (not days, not hours, not weeks), when I have just a bit of control over my life schedule.

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Mind you … there remains lots of opportunities for improvement. But when I think of a task in terms of 20-minutes, my attitude changes. I can do something for 20-minutes.

Interested in a couple 20-minute examples? Good. Here they are.

Exercise. Earlier, I shared how a 20-minute exercise interval has help me be more consistent with exercise. There have been a couple days when I haven’t exercise. But generally, I’ve been very committed to this. It is amazing. I CAN talk myself into walking for 20-minutes. Or lifting weights. Or doing a workout video. Some days, I have set-aside two 20-minute exercise times. Or maybe a 20-minute and a 10-minute. These bite-sized windows of exercise feel manageable for me.

Cleaning. Our hard wood floors really needed a good cleaning, especially the butler’s pantry and the kitchen. Like, down on your hands-and-knees cleaning. In one 20-minute timeframe, I not only cleaned these two rooms … but all the wood floors in the house! Something I had been dreading for a few days … done in 20-minutes!

Correspondence. Who doesn’t love receiving a real letter or card in the mail? A true handwritten one? I know that hand-written letters and cards may soon be extinct. Because I appreciate them, I keep sending them.

Each year, I begin January with great expectations of doing this. By week two, the enthusiasm has waned. I’ve already missed a birthday or two. I give up.

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This year, I am using a weekly 20-minute window for correspondence. Yes, I have been late with some cards … but progress has been made.

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I began by getting the cards I have organized. I keep them in a couple different containers near my desk. For this box, I made dividers for different kinds of cards. As I put cards in their appropriate category, I made sure the card had an envelope that would fit.

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Now, once a week, I spend 20-minutes getting the next batch of cards ready to send. I put them in a pre-designated spot until they are ready to be mailed; a spot I see every day. If I need a reminder of what day to send a card, I just put a little sticky note on the envelope.

 

Preparing a card gives me a minute or two to think about this person, why I keep in touch with them as well as an opportunity to pray for them. I thank God for their place in my and other’s lives. As I seal the envelope and attach the return label and stamp, I ask God to bless them and their family.

We will be on vacation next week. This week, I put together Valentine’s to send to our grandkids. I want these five precious people to know their Grandparents love and pray for them. (I think they like getting mail. Maybe it’s just the Subway gift cards.)

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The Apostle Paul wrote many letters. And, we are able to read some of them! These letters, found in the New Testament, were written to specific people. Sometimes, Paul was responding to questions he or someone else had been asked. Other times, he shared something important on his heart. I doubt Paul ever envisioned billions of people still reading his correspondence from about 2,000 years ago. And yet, we do.

 

Take 10-minutes and read the last few sentences of some of Paul’s letters. Look at the New Testament books of Romans, 1 & 2 Corinthians, Philippians, Ephesians and Colossians. Or the personalized letters he wrote to specific people: 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon. See how often Paul ends his letters, praying for the people.

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Maybe we think the correspondence to someone else or a prayer for the intended recipient of the card will make a difference in their lives. Interestingly, I think it also makes a difference in our lives, 20-minutes at a time.

How a 20-minute interval of sharing correspondence adds value to my daily life, I am grateful.

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Lord God – in this hurry, scurry world that we live in, we often fail to slow down enough to send messages of appreciation to those we care for. Place it upon our hearts someone we can reach out to this very day.  Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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