What I Learned in July

Gratitude Day 311

Wed., July 31, 2019

Luke 21:30 – When their leaves appear, you know that summer is near.

It seems like a couple days ago, it was July 4th. But here it is … the end of the month of July. And here are a few thoughts about what I’ve learned this last month.

Make Time for Fun in the Summer

I’m not always very good with leisure. Or, I don’t build into my life the right kind of restful and relaxing leisure. In July, I wanted to be more intentional about spending time doing things that refresh my soul.

Last summer, we bought two kayaks. And this summer, we are using them! No, not every day. But almost weekly. Last weekend, Rick wanted to go fishing. This just isn’t my thing. So, I took along a kayak and exercised in my own way while he tried to catch us supper. Instead, we stopped for a bite to eat on the way home.

When I think of Summer, I think of the County Fair

Truly, for as long as I can remember, July has always been county fair month. Growing up, my siblings and I exhibited animals and other projects at our local fair. This summer, Hubby Rick and I watched our grandson Waylan show beef cattle at his fair. Last week, I spent time with my nephew at his county fair. This is also the fair where his friend Grant made a wonderful donation to a classmate who is going through brain cancer.

I am so glad that I was able to participate in 4-H, FFA and other youth organizations. Why? Because I learned so many valuable lessons. The statistics are real. Kids who participate in 4-H and FFA are more likely to give back to their local communities as adults. They learn parliamentary procedure and how to run a meeting. They develop leadership skills early on. They learn responsibility, teamwork and how to lose gracefully.

I know that 4-H and FFA may not be everyone’s cup of tea. But I will say this. The lessons and friendships I developed through these groups last a lifetime.

While at the county fair where I exhibited as a youth, I ran into two high school friends, Pam and Rita. We sat for an hour at a picnic table and just visited. Growing up, our families all attended the same church. Rita and I also spent lots of time together in 4-H. Now, she was at the fair to watch her niece show animals, just as I was there to watch my nephew.

If we want our kids and grandkids to develop into adults that contribute to our communities and understand the importance of giving to others, we need to help them develop these values now. Encourage them to become involved in organizations that will foster these lifelong skills.

Make Time for Relationships

As fun as it was to visit with Pam and Rita, I also spent time with some college friends as well. It was just a couple hours. But every time I meet up with these ladies, I feel like no time as passed. It’s easy and fun to catch up with each other’s lives. We laugh, we share and sometimes, we get onto topics that are hard to explore.

It’s difficult to get a group of friends together these days. So, when we can get even just a few, it’s a great day. Think of someone who you haven’t had contact with for a while and make a date to do something fun together. I know you won’t regret it.

Fun Summer Book

If you are looking for a lovely novel to read this summer while sitting on your porch or in a swing or while on vacation, consider Lost Roses by Martha Hall Kelly. It is the story of four women during World War I. Three are Russian and one is an American. It’s an excellent historical fiction novel that gives a perspective of what happened in Russia when the Russian imperial family was removed from power and the Bolshevik’s come to power. I love to listen to books on tape while in my car. This one held my attention and sometimes, I was sad to reach my destination versus continuing the book.

Let’s Not Wish Away these Last Wonderful Days of Summer

I know it will soon be time to start thinking and planning for fall. But let’s not become so focused on what’s to come that we fail to enjoy the here and now. Every single day is a gift. Enjoy every last day of summer. Make time to sit by a fire, kayak and watch the sun go down, go for a walk where you can truly enjoy the flowers of the season and take in a local celebration. These days are special days. Let’s make the most of them!

Being able to love every day of this summer, I am grateful.

Almighty God – It’s sometimes so difficult to imagine how You continue to love us, even when we make it difficult to be loved. Yet, you never stop loving and caring for us. May we deeply desire to be true agents of love rather than hurt, disappointment and self-centeredness. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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

When an 18-Year-Old’s Actions Spoke Louder than His Words

Gratitude Day 310

Mon., July 29, 2019

1 Peter 4:10 – Each of you has received a gift to use to serve others. Be good servants of God’s various gifts of grace.

Remember the old saying, “Actions speak louder than words?”

Eighteen-year-old Grant Goodell took this adage to heart during the Eau Claire County Fair. His selfless actions during the fair’s livestock auction is something people will be speaking about for weeks. Not only did Grant’s actions create an $8,832 impact on one girl’s life; it has spoken volumes to an entire community. He reminds us that one small action can make a huge impact on a person’s life.

The story doesn’t begin with Grant; rather with his high school classmate, Tenley Walker. Just 25 days before their high school graduation, Tenley was diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer. After surgeries, tests and hospital stays, amazingly, Tenley was able to attend her high school graduation ceremony. Folks in the high school gymnasium held back tears as Tenley walked across the platform and received her diploma.

Shortly after this, Tenley began chemo and radiation treatments. Recently, she completed her first round of treatments. In mid-August, Tenley will be evaluated about their effectiveness.  

Grant and Tenley were not only high school classmates. They were also friends and served together as FFA officers. Grant says that Tenley has been an important part of his life. When he heard the awful news of Tenley’s diagnosis, he was hit hard. She has always helped him out and he hoped that someday, he would be able to repay this.

Eighteen-year-old Tenley Walker at the 2018 Eau Claire County Fair

At the 2018 Eau Claire County Fair, Tenley exhibited a market hog. This year, she didn’t. Nonetheless, Grant found a way to help his friend and teach others how to serve a friend and pay forward your blessings.

At this year’s country fair, Grant exhibited a market hog. He knew it would be sold in the livestock sale. Many 4-H and FFA kids sell livestock animals at fairs to raise money for post-high school education. Grant participates in the fair and livestock auction because he likes the experience of doing so with his friends. As the Saturday night livestock auction approached, Grant knew he wanted to do something different with the proceeds from his market hog.

Last year, Grant donated the meat from his hog to the local food pantry. This year, he decided to donate the entire proceeds from the sale of his pig to his friend, Tenley Walker. The money would help cover some of her medical expenses.  

After Grant explored this idea with a couple of guys, he decided that yes, he could do this. Upon sharing his idea with his parents, Michael and Rachel Goodell, they also got on board. Several businesses and individuals stepped forward and provided the financial backing to make this happen.

Grant’s hog weighed 276 pounds and sold for a whopping $32/lb. This means, Grant raised $8,832 for Tenley. Folks: this is nothing short of amazing.

An ecstatic Grant Goodell after his market hog sold for $32/lb. at the Eau Claire County Fair Livestock Sale

What inspired Grant to do this? Because he wanted to help a fellow teenager. He knew if the right people became part of this little project, it could have a huge impact. Yes, Grant has accomplished this goal.

What message would Grant love for other teens to learn from his action? “Life is not always about yourself,” Grant said. “Sometimes teens need to see how others have helped them. Look at your family and friends. What have they done for you? We can pay this forward and help someone else.”

Grant’s message is not just for teens. He wants to encourage everyone to know that, “Helping others doesn’t have to be about money or time or anything. It can be doing something small, like saying ‘thank you’ or helping someone out in a small way. These are the things that really make a difference,” Grant said.

Grant has been inspired by his grandparents, Glenn and Ardith Solsrud. They have supported the community of Augusta, WI, where Grant grew up. “I’ve watched my grandparents put so much into this community,” he said. “And now, my parents are doing the same thing.”

Michael, Grant’s dad, has been an inspiration to him. “When Dad donates money or time or something, he doesn’t want credit,” Grant says. “In fact, he doesn’t want anyone to know that he did it. This is a powerful message to me. He doesn’t want the glory. He just wants to help other people.”

Grant has been a little overwhelmed with the response of his action. In fact, he doesn’t really have words to articulate his feelings. “People I don’t know are coming up to me and thanking me for doing this. It has really given me perspective how one small action can impact and inspire other people,” Grant said.

The pronouncement in the New Testament is very clear: you have a gift to serve others. Go find it … and do it.

Representatives from some of the businesses and individuals who provided the financial backing for Grant’s wish to raise lots of money for Tenley’s medical expenses. Thanks for being part of Grant’s wish to help Tenley.

Grant’s choice to serve selflessly, humbly and follow the example he’s observed should inspire us. Eight businesses and families worked together to make it possible for Grant to raise a whole bunch of money for his friend, Tenley. When people get behind a joint but simple mission, powerful things can happen. People’s lives can be changed. It only happens when we decide to put into action ways that we can change the world, one person at a time. This is a common message for the youth programs of 4-H and FFA. This must be message for all humanity.

At times, I have been critical of this generation of teens for spending too much time on their phones, thinking too much of themselves and feeling entitled. Grant remind me that sometimes, my words should be kept to myself. Instead, I should focus on ways my actions can speak louder and more profoundly than anything I say. The messages I learned from 4-H and FFA are just as important in my life today as they were, well, a long time ago.

Thank you, Grant for discovering your gift and choosing to serve Tenley. You’ve taken the meaning of an old-fashioned adage and knocked it out of the park.  

For relearning the message of finding opportunities to make a difference in someone’s life in small and profound ways, I am grateful.

Holy God – thank you for placing it upon Grant’s heart a way that he could serve You and his teenage friend. May we discover ways today that we can let our actions speak louder than our words. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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

Love Fulfills the Law

Gratitude Day 309

Sat., July 26, 2019

Romans 13:10 – Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore, love is the fulfillment of the law.

Nearly every day, people share with me how someone has hurt them.

Sometimes, it’s intentional. Sometimes, maybe not. Other times, it’s a situation where we want to be right. And so, we plow right through other’s feelings only concerned for our point of view and opinion.

It hurts to watch this happen.

It hurts when you are the one on the receiving end of a situation.

I disappoint myself when I know I probably affected someone else today.

Somewhere along the line, our culture has failed us. We’re spent so much effort and energy into making sure our voice is heard that we’ve sometimes stopped listening to voices other than our own. I’m an advocate for fairness and equality and justice. Unfortunately, in the process, we now throw around these words like Scobie snacks. When we feel the least bit offended, rather than truly listening to someone else, we go on the defense and begin to point out where we have been wronged.

Let me be clear. There are often times when people have been wronged … and should speak up. Yes, do bring to attention where there are inconsistences. Yet, when we spend our entire lives looking for where we have been wronged, I feel like we put a lot of energy into a negative starting point versus a positive starting place.

I so want to scream to the world, “Can we please just take a step back and remember to love one another?”

I want to please those muddled in conflict to remember, “The person you are speaking with is a beloved child of God … just as you are.”

I desperately want us to say to our kids and grandkids, “Even if you didn’t achieve what you would have liked, I pray you learned something from this, had fun and know there are opportunities for growth.” Instead, too often, I hear parents pointing out where someone else received preferential treatment and didn’t “earn” something they felt their kid deserved.

For the love of God, can we just listen to ourselves and our words?

I’ve been reading through the book of Romans lately. IT. IS SO. GOOD. Give yourself a gift and for the next 16 or so days, read one chapter of the book each day. Really read the words. Paul wrote these words to a church in Rome that he had never been to. He knew this church was struggling with how to fit into their modern-day, changing society and culture. (Sound a little familiar?) I’m convinced Paul’s words speak to us today … if we allow them.

Listen to these profound words from Romans 12:8 – Let no debt remain outstanding, except for the continuing dept to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.

Paul wants to help the baby-Christians in Rome understand how to interpret the endless and often confusing law found in our Old Testament with the new covenant of Jesus Christ. Where do you choose the ancient Jewish law? When does Jesus words, the Son of God’s words, take precedence over these sometimes seemingly crazy laws?

Here’s Paul’s answer: the only debt we have to society is the continuing debt to love one another. Period. That’s it. When we love other people, we are already fulfilling the law.

Please, oh, please can we stop trying to figure out what is more important than loving other people? It’s pretty clear to me there is only one thing great than this. This is to love God. After this, let’s simply love everyone.

Humans with warts and all.

People who are sinful and shameful.

Those who might drive us crazy and irritate us to no end.

Just love them.

They don’t have to be our best friends.

We don’t have to agree with them.

We just have to love them.

We’ve spent so much time making sure we love ourselves that at times, we have totally forgotten to love the other. The other person who desperately wants love, just as we do.

So, for today, can we just take a break and not speak ill of anyone else? Can we listen when someone wants to speak and not make sure our voice is not louder? Please, can we try to not hurt someone with our thoughts and wishes and simply accept them for who they are?

Yes, I want us to help develop folks who are passionate about things they care for. But I also feel that we can put some much emphasis on ourselves and our position that we’ve forgotten to see beyond our own noses.

Try to love that person who is almost unlovable today. As you try to love that person, maybe someone else who struggles with you is trying to love you unconditionally today. And yes, maybe they to, are struggling.

Today is a good day. God is with us. God loves us. Let’s be the ones who break down the law into simply loving others. Nothing more. Nothing less. Let’s make it not just a good day but a great day.

For God’s unconditional love that is so hard to explain and live myself, I am grateful.

Almighty God – It’s sometimes so difficult to imagine how You continue to love us, even when we make it difficult to be loved. Yet, you never stop loving and caring for us. May we deeply desire to be true agents of love rather than hurt, disappointment and self-centeredness. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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

God Wants a Comma and We Put a Period

Gratitude Day 38

Thurs., July 25, 2019

Jeremiah 29:11 – I say this because I know what I am planning for you,” says the Lord. “I have good plans for you, not plans to hurt you. I will give you hope and a good future.

The last few weeks, I’ve been committed to working on a specific project. Here’s a little hint in case you don’t know. I’m working on a book.

Yep. I’m going to publish a book.

It’s taken me longer than I anticipated to pull together a rough draft. Lately, I’ve made some traction in making progress with the book. Just recently, I committed to a rough draft completion date.  

I planned to send quite a bit of time book writing this week. Yes, I have written some. But not near as much as I anticipated. Of course, over lunch today, Hubby Rick says, “Got the book done?”

Sometimes, it’s my lack of discipline why I don’t accomplish as much writing as I would like. I tackle other “easy” projects instead of the more difficult and challenging project of formulating sentence after sentence. I do the things that I don’t have to really think about rather than designing sentences that have substance as well as charisma to hold a reader.

But then, there are the unexpected interruptions that distract me as well. An unexpected phone call that then leads into something that takes hours of my time. Or an e-mail that needs a response before an upcoming meeting. Rather than working on the next chapter of the book, I spend valuable time crafting just the right response.

Time and time again in my life, I feel God leading me in a direction. I dutifully follow this leading and feel my obeidience should be rewarded. God will make this path easier because I actually listened.

I want commas at the ends of sentences as well as clear direction with no distractions and solid focus.

Instead, I feel God inserting commas and unexpected situations that creep into my life. These things quietly, but constantly, ping until I respond to them.

And so, I keep trying to put periods and God keeps replacing them with commas.

I know there’s a lesson here. I believe God’s timing is more insightful than my timing. This still doesn’t mean that at times, I prefer my timing.

If only I can remember God’s words, “Dianne, I have some amazing things planned for you. Good things. In fact, some great things. Just be patient. You’ll discover hope and find a secure future … if you will only let me continue to insert commas into your life.”

Alright, God. I get the message. Commas. Not periods.

Where is God trying to insert a comma into your life? Are you accepting of this … or still trying to put a period there?

Remember God’s words, “I have some amazing things planned for you. Good things. In fact, some great things. Just be patient. You’ll discover hope and find a secure future … if you will only let me continue to insert commas into your life.”

Timing is tricky. It can be oh, so discouraging. Maybe, just maybe, the comma will become something way beyond your imagination. And then, you’ll be glad God insisted on a comma rather than your period.

For God’s plan for my life, I am grateful.

Holy God – please be patient with me when I want to put a period when you feel a comma is more appropriate. May I yearn for Your plan for me. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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

Top 10 Things to Pray For

Gratitude Day 307

Wed., July 24, 2019

Matthew 6:5-6 – (Jesus said,) “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

It’s a question that I’ve often been asked as a pastor: What should I pray for?

The quick and simple answer?

Everything.

If this still seems vague and daunting, here’s my list of Top 10 Things I Pray For:

  1. Myself. God is a safe place to spill my guts and “tell all.”
  2. Thanksgiving and gratitude for God’s presence in your life and the world.
  3. Forgiveness for God to heal your heart and soul.
  4. Those most important to you.
  5. Clarity in your work, personal life and spiritual life.
  6. Those struggling with health concerns, someone affected by something outside of their control, anyone who needs someone advocating on their behalf.
  7. Those who are feeling lonely, abandoned or confused.
  8. Your church and denomination.  
  9. People in positions of influence.
  10. Dedicate the day to following God’s leadings in your life.

What are the Top 10 Things you pray for?

For me, prayer is personal. Yes, there are times Hubby Rick and I pray together. I also feel I need quiet time with God. I need the opportunity to share with God the deepest corners of my very being. Personally, I prefer praying quietly and by myself, with no one aware this is even happening. Jesus encourages us to do so in private and I think this is awfully good advice.

Contrary to most people’s beliefs: there isn’t a “right” way or a “wrong” way to pray. The only wrong way? Not praying at all.

If you are struggling in having the words to share, go easy on yourself. Simply pray the Lord’s Prayer. It covers all the bases.

For communicating with God through, I am grateful.

Our Father in heaven, may your name always be kept holy. May your kingdom come and what you want be done, here on earth as it is in heaven. Give us the food we need for each day. Forgive us for our sins, just as we have forgiven those who sinned against us. And do not cause us to be tempted, but save us from the Evil One. The kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours forever. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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

For a great adventure when school shopping, I am grateful.

Holy God – how fortunate we are for the opportunities for kids to learn and grow in knowledge and education. While it maybe a few weeks before school officially begins, place before us opportunities where we can support little people around us. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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

A Fun School Shopping Trip

Gratitude Day 306

Tues., July 23, 2019

John 7:15 – The Jews there were amazed and asked, “How did this man get such learning without having been taught?”

Monday was a Grandma day for me. I had the great privilege of spending the day with three of our grandkids, Waylan, Ellie and Dylan.

It was truly a fun day. As we talked about how to spend the day, the kids suggested that we go school shopping.

This is something I’ve often done with our grandkids. It’s a way that I feel Hubby Rick and I can support his kids and our grandkids. And so, I’ve tried to make it an adventure rather than a challenging event.

The kids remembered going school shopping last year. Both years, we met Grandpa Rick for a picnic at the park. Last year, we were done school shopping when we met Grandpa. This year, we went shopping afterwards. I was reminded how tying these two events together has really become a tradition for us.

So, if you will be taking kids or grandkids school shopping, what are my best suggestions? Here they are.

  • Select a timeframe when you know you won’t be rushed. School shopping takes longer than anticipated. Even the kids were surprised how long it took for us to cross everything off of their lists. If you feel like you are trying to “squeeze” this in-between other scheduled time slots, find a different time. The kids, and myself, really enjoyed school shopping because I wasn’t constantly looking at my watch. We just took the necessary time.
  • A basket for each kid. This is one of our favorite traditions. Each kid gets their “own” basket and fills it with their supplies. When checking out, each kid gets their own “bag” full of goodies. It makes it easier to keep track of what items are for what kid. When we got to the car, they loved going back through “their” bag and oohing and aahing over their favorite purchases. Yes, it takes longer at the checkout. Thankfully, we had a patient checkout person. But it really makes it fun for each child.
  • Follow the lists. We didn’t make the decision until the very day we went shopping. I looked up the shopping lists on my phone and downloaded them so we could go back and refer to them multiple times. Some lists are very specific, i.e. – particular brands for certain items. We took the time to follow the lists and went back through a second time and made sure we had everything on the list.
  • Let the kids pick out their items, as much as possible, following the lists. Every year, I’m surprised how some of the kids love to match their items and follow their self-picked “theme.” It happened again this shopping trip. It allows for their personalities to come through, even with school shopping. When we got back to their house, the kids were so excited to share with their Dad what they picked out.
  • Set the tone for a fun upcoming school year while supply shopping. Sometimes, kids aren’t excited about going back to school. I was pleasantly surprised how school shopping spurred great conversations about looking forward to school this fall. Yes, it’s over a month before school officially begins. But the kids were already chatting about moving to a new school, seeing friends and meeting new teachers as something to look forward to.
  • Immediately, put the bags of school supplies away for school. On the way back to the house, we had a specific conversation about how these supplies ARE FOR SCHOOL. Dad helped get them put away so when the first day of school rolls around, they will be ready to go.
  • End a fun outing with a little treat. Yes, our school shopping adventure ended with a quick stop for ice cream. Everyone declared it one of the best afternoons we’d spent together. I know. Unbelievable.

Maybe you don’t have kids or grandkids that you can assist with school shopping. You still can make a difference in some little people’s lives. Our local community has a school supply drive to help provide items for kids who might not have everything they need once school begins. Get a list and go buy a few things! Every little bit helps. Throughout the school year, classrooms run out of specific items. A stash for teachers is very helpful.

As we were checking out, the kids quickly realized what financial commitment is needed to buy supplies. I was impressed that they figured out how much it cost per child to cover their supplies. If you feel that you can help another family out with this expense, it’s a great way to pay it forward and support them.

Unfortunately, I didn’t snap a photo of the kids with their bags loaded with school supplies. Back at my house and a very quiet car, I cleaned out left-behind pieces of our school shopping trip. I relived the great conversations we had. And wished I could capture their big smiles of being able to pick out items that they are excited to have for this upcoming school year.

School shopping can be stressful … or it can truly be a fun event. Every day, we run into situations that can be taxing. With a slight shift of attitude and approach, they can be turned into a fun adventure. We make these choices. We help influence others as to how they view these times in their lives. Our little school shopping adventure yesterday reminded me that every moment I have with our grandkids is special and important. I want to make the most of every single one of them … even when shopping for school supplies

For a great adventure when school shopping, I am grateful.

Holy God – how fortunate we are for the opportunities for kids to learn and grow in knowledge and education. While it maybe a few weeks before school officially begins, place before us opportunities where we can support little people around us. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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

Perspective During Very Warm Days

Gratitude Day 305

Sat., July 20, 2019

Jonah 4:8 – As the sun rose higher in the sky, God sent a very hot east wind to blow, and the sun became so hot on Jonah’s head that he became very weak and wished he were dead. He said, “It is better for me to die than to live.”

It’s been a HOT week in Wisconsin!! I saw an image on Friday that the temperature was like 150 degrees warmer than exactly 6 months ago. Heat index on Friday? Like 105. Six months ago? Wind chill factor was at least -45.

Hubby Rick was one of those complaining six months ago about the cold. Well, in reality, everyone was. When coming home from work early one morning, the temperature gage on the car registered -38. Without the windchill factor. This was the lowest temperature he had EVER seen in his (cough) 65-years.

I don’t like the cold … but I’m not sure +105 heat index is my cup of tea either. We have a beautiful old house … with hot water heat. This means our house lacks duck work for traditional central air. Yes, I know there are alternatives. I just haven’t convinced my heat-loving husband that it’s worth the investment. He’d rather hone-up the heating system.

And so, our only air conditioner is a window unit that we have in the dining room on the main floor. Our bedroom and my office are on the second floor. It’s been a tad bit warm there this week. I have fans going. I kept the windows closed during the day and open only when it has cooled off at night to let in some cooler, fresh air. But it’s still HOT. Friday afternoon, I brought my laptop and work downstairs and set-up shop on the dining room table. Right in front of the window air conditioner.

On the other hand, Rick is LOVING every minute of these days. Yes, he loves HOT. He loves HUMIDITY. Yes, he’s not completely sane. He doesn’t mind showering four times a day. I prefer life when I feel dry after toweling post shower. These days, I don’t.

And yet, I’m reminded that life really could be SO. MUCH. WORSE. What about the people who are feeding farm animals in the awful heat? Been there, done that. Not fun. Or the days when we baled hay on a terribly hot day like we’ve had this week? Almost suffocating trying to stack those little square hay bales in a very warm barn with little or no breeze.

Anyone who has worked an outdoor job this week needs the weekend off. Seriously. But I know that not everyone who works these types of jobs will have this luxury.

We weren’t one of the 12,000 people who live in downtown Madison who lost all electricity on Friday when two transmitters for the local gas and electric company started on fire. Those folks didn’t have electricity all day yesterday, including many businesses. Imagine having to move all the refrigerated food in a grocery store really quick.

I know I’m dating myself … but there was no AC in the old farmhouse where we grew up. Car air conditioning was rolling down the windows (with an actual knob that cranked) and driving 60 miles/hour down the road.

Rick and I had a conversation about what it must be like to live in Bagdad or some dessert place where it’s over 100 all summer long. Yes, there isn’t the humidity like we have. But do the people ever tire of the heat, day after day? Rick wants to move there and find out. For like six months. Seriously.

I’m not convinced I want to tag long for more than a week or two.

I know we aren’t the only part of the U.S. that has experienced heat in the summer. I’m not ready to move to Kansas or Texas or Atlanta and live there in June, July and August. Rick would love to do so; right after Bagdad.

The heat is to break today, which is Saturday. And for the next 10 days, we’ll all have to find something else to talk about other than the heat. We’ll open our windows and go for walks outside and drink peach iced tea on our porches. And we’ll recall those dog days of summer from last week.

It’s summer. It’s supposed to be hot. It’s supposed to be humid. And I just thank God that we have days like these so when 80 degrees rolls around, we think about getting a jacket out after the sun goes down.

For warm days that help me keep perspective, I am grateful.

Lord God – please be with those who are experiencing hot, humid and not dealing so well with it. Please be with those who may not have a cool place to cool down. Please with those who work outside and can’t escape the elements as easily as some others. Please help us keep perspective. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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

Evasive Blessings

Gratitude Day 304

Fri., July 19, 2019

Exodus 14:13-14 – But Moses answered, “Don’t be afraid! Stand still and you will see the Lord save you today. You will never see these Egyptians again after today. You only need to remain calm; the Lord will fight for you.”

Stand still. Remain calm.

Wow. Great advice. So hard to do.

But sometimes, these are the words we need to hear.

Hubby Rick and I know we are very blessed people. We preach it. We believe it. We really, really try to live it.

Yet, there are those one or two places in our lives that we wish were different. Quite honestly, these “places” are relationships with people we dearly love. We have struggled with these relationships. We have prayed over and around the through them. Some of the challenges with the underlying issues are not in our control. We struggle with knowing what to do. When do we step in? When do we hold? When do we simply keep on praying?

As a pastor, people have come to me and asked for advice and insights when they are in the thick of a relationship that is struggling. I have tried to listen and hear. When asked, I’ve gently suggested options. I also know that, at times, I’ve probably given really bad advice.

My heart has been heavy because I feel like there is so little I can do. While I can’t speak for Rick, I believe he feels the same way. Yes, we’ve tried to address it. Yes, we’ve bathed it in prayer. Yes, we’ve waited and hoped and dreamed that it would be different. But the changed relationship, so evasive, remains more of a challenge than a blessing.

Then, this thought came to me this week: “How easy it is to mishandle blessings that come too easy or too quickly.”

Stand still. Remain calm.

This is the advice Moses gave the Israelites as they were scurrying away from Pharaoh and the Egyptians. Pharaoh told the Israelites to leave Egypt. He’d had enough of the 10 plagues. With sender’s remorse, Pharaoh realized he had lost his worker bees. The people who actually did all the manual labor to build those beautiful wonders in Egypt WERE GONE! He needed them back. Now.

Pharaoh and his army are coming after the Israelites. The gap is closing in. The Israelites fear they will now die in the dessert. Moses speaks.

Stand still. Remain calm. The Lord will fight for YOU.

Folks: I don’t know what disappointment you maybe experiencing in your life today. Maybe no one knows, other than you. But God knows. God cares. God hears your pleadings and is just as disappointed as you are. God fights for YOU.

As you think about the challenge in your life, it’s easy to wonder: Will this particular blessing ever arrive? Will it look different from what you would prefer? Does your vision of the blessing need to shift?

As I work through these questions and thoughts about my situation, I encourage you: Stand still. Remain calm. The Lord is with You. Amen.

For God’s desire to fight for me, warts and all, I am grateful.

Dear God – You know all the details of whatever situation may be weighing us down today. You know our desire to have this challenge be turned into a blessing. Help us to simply stand still. Remain calm. Keep our faith in You. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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

Refresh Wednesday – Making My Home My Sanctuary

Gratitude Day 303

Wed., July 17, 2019

Proverbs 8:34 – Come to my home each day and listen to me. You will find happiness.

If you walked into my home, I pray that you WOULD find happiness. Because this is how I long for my home to be.

One filled with happiness.

One filled with joy.

One that immediately lowers your blood pressure.

One that feels like a respite, because for me, it IS my respite.

I love being home … because I love our home. I love a day when I can just be home. All. Day. Long. There are times when Hubby Rick will say, “Can’t we just stay home?” We both enjoy just being in the place where we feel joy. Happiness. Content.

Does this describe your home? If so, YEAH! If not, what would it take for your home to feel like this for you?

One of the reasons why I love our home is because it represents who we are. I love old things. I enjoy things that remind me of happy days. I look forward to walking into our home and knowing that my heart will beat just a bit slower because it truly is a place I love to be.

If your home doesn’t quite feel like this, what can you do? Here are just a few suggestions I have used to make our house truly feel like a home.

First, leave your house. Walk down the sidewalk or driveway, far enough away so you can get a good perspective of your home. Stop and turn around. How does your heart feel? What comes to mind? Are you excited to walk into your home? Why or why not?

Now, walk to the front door. RING THE DOORBELL. Yes, seriously, pretend you are a visitor coming to your house. Open the door and walk through the house. As you do, take note. What do you LOVE about your house? Where would you take me so we could sit and drink peach iced tea? What areas of your home bring you the most joy?

As you walk through your home, note what spots aren’t your favorite. What is it about an area that makes your face cringe? Make a list of these areas and put them in order of “easy fix” to “most difficult fix.” Pick the #1 “easy fix” area and make a date with yourself to fix it in the next week.

Now, grab an empty box. Walk through your house a second time and put anything in the box that you do not 1) love; or 2) brings you happiness. If you do not love something and if it doesn’t bring you joy, then remove it from your house. It doesn’t matter how much it cost. Or who gave it to you. Or why you inherited it. If an item does not make you feel good about it, then move it out of your house. Let someone else love it. If there is something in the box that you feel someone else would love, ask them. Otherwise, put the box in your car immediately. Next time you are remotely close to a thrift shop, happily make a donation. If large pieces of furniture are involved, this might require another set of hands, truck and help. Put a sticky note on it with the word “Donate” written on it. Enlist the necessary help to have the item(s) removed from your home in the next week.

How do you deal with those areas that make you cringe? The quickest and easiest fix is always paint. I know it’s all Captain Obvious, but a simple coat of paint can change so much. Remove everything from the area before you paint. When it’s ready to be re-decorated, only put things back into the space that you love or bring you happiness. Load everything else up for the thrift shop or sell.

Sometimes, an area just needs a little tweaking. I “shop my house” and find something I have and move it to a new space. When you only have things you love and that bring you happiness, moving them into their best location is really easy and fun.

If a space is still looking dull, add some plants or flowers. If you can not grow plants to save your soul, use nice artificial ones. It is amazing how plants and/or flowers make a room feel alive and fun.

Now, if reading this is making you a little anxious, that’s OK. Maybe you feel starting a project like this is too overwhelming. Or not something you can do. It’s out of your wheelhouse.

If a little respite area, a little spot where you can go and be and drink your favorite refreshment sounds wonderful, don’t give up. Find a little spot just for you. Put your favorite chair in it. Have it face outside so you don’t have to see the rest of the home. Make this a little place where you can stop, be and release all those things that fill up your life. Let one little spot be enough.

Whether you filled up your car with items to get rid of or just created a spot for a chair … now, breathe. Smile. Fill your soul with happiness. Be content that your home is your safe place.

For a home that is my respite and happy place, I am grateful.

Holy God – we can find you in so many different and wonderful places. I pray that our homes are places where we see Your thumbprints in our daily lives. May we discover the joy and happiness of creating our houses into homes where we see you daily.  

Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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

Be Six Again

Gratitude Day 302

Mon., July 15, 2019

Ecclesiastes 7:3 – Choose sorrow over laughter because a sad face may hide a happy heart.

Hubby Rick has a daily goal which is really very simple but rather profound: make someone laugh each day.

Or at least smile.

On most days, he bats 100%.

Often, I’m the one whom he works his magic on.

And I am so thankful for this.

I’m too serious. I make lists. I like to check things off of lists. I like to plan. I like to know what I’m going to be doing today before, well, noon.

Rick is anything but these things.

He loves to make light of things. He flies by the seat of his pants. What he gets done today is a joy. And why plan tonight when we need to see what the weather will be like tomorrow.

Truth be known? He is a lot more fun to be around.

And I am so thankful for this.

I’m the grandparent who disciplines. I’m the grandparent who sets boundaries. I’m the grandparent who makes sure we are fed, hydrated and on time.

Hubby Rick? Well, he’s the fun grandparent. The one whose very name or presence brings a smile and joy to their hearts. He’s the one who the neighbors stop by to see what he’s up to because, well, with Rick, you just never know. There’s always a surprise lurking just around the corner, waiting to be exposed and laughed over. 

And I am so thankful for this.

Somehow, the man never really stopped being six.

Don’t get me wrong. He works hard, plays hard and has an endless amount of ideas and ways to do things. But he also makes sure that whatever job is at hand is done with just a bit of lightness. Fun. Laughter.

And I am so thankful for this.

Today, discover every possibility you can to bring joy and laughter to someone’s day. Not unnecessary or fake laughter. But true, honest-to-goodness reasons to laugh and smile and extend joy.

That’s all. Nothing more. Just some good old laughter.

And then, at the end of the day … see how it feels. Recall how it felt.

Be six again.  

Be thankful for this.

For the gift of laughter and those who love to make it part of their ordinary, everyday living, I am grateful.

Dear God – thank you for the gift of humor and laughter. May we intentionally discover and live joy and laughter every day. Yes, there are days when maybe it’s hard to find joy and happiness. But may knowing You bring a smile to our faces and joy to the day. Help us be six again. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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