The Mary Experiment is Becoming Real … Very Real!

Gratitude Day 348

Tues., Oct. 29, 2019

Luke 10:41-42:  The Lord answered, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things. One thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the better part. It won’t be taken away from her.”

Good Morning, Sunshine! We have SNOW here in Wisconsin this morning, which means there will not be sunshine until maybe later today.

But I’m feeling very sunshiny, sun or not … because today, I’m sharing something that has brought so much joy to my life.

Almost two years ago, I began a quest to change some things in my life. After serving as a pastor for over 18 years, I stepped back from pastoral ministry to pursue other ministry opportunities I felt that God had placed on my heart. One of those ministries was being more consistent in sharing how I see God in my everyday life through this blog. I’ve turned this into looking for gratitude in the simplest of ways in my very normal life.

Behind the scenes, I also have been writing a book. Today, I’m so excited to share that the book is in final production stages AND will be released on Sun., Nov. 17. I know … like in 19 days.

cover front only

Let me introduce you to The Mary Experiment: When DOING and BEING Collide. This book is written for people who struggle to keep the right tension between feeling like they do enough while allowing themselves to simply be in God’s presence.

I have personally felt this challenge for decades. Too often, I have allowed my life to be over-full, over-committed and over-scheduled. Yet, I have yearned for a deep and satisfying relationship with God, those around me and myself.

Years ago, I realized there was a biblical story that addresses the tension I feel. It’s the story of sisters Martha and Mary. Martha is a doer. When Jesus comes to visit them, she is the one making sure every detail is handled. Meanwhile, her sister Mary sits at Jesus’ feet and drinks in very word he teaches.

Ms. Busy-Body Pants Martha becomes upset that Mary is not helping host their guests. Martha goes to Jesus and asks him to tell Mary to help her. Martha is surprised, maybe a bit annoyed, when Jesus tells Martha that her sister has made the better choice.

So much for help in making those fancy ham sandwiches.

The Mary Experiment captures my struggle towards becoming a recovering Martha. I share how I have tried to navigate my journey towards embracing my Martha-ness while building more Mary-ness in my daily life.

Many years ago, I read that everyone should write a book. But not everyone should have it published. Well, I am self-publishing this book. My dream is that this will be the first of many books that I will write.

Because I am self-publishing my book, I am responsible for every aspect of marketing the book. This is where I am looking for some assistance.

Would You Be Interested in Helping with The Mary Experiment?

There are a few ways that I invite you to consider partnering with me as I prepare to launch The Mary Experiment:


  • Become part of my Launch Team. If you feel the topic of this book speaks to you and you would like to help spread the news about this book, please consider joining my Launch Team. Launch Team members are committed to reading The Mary Experiment before Nov. 17. I will make a PDF of the book available. Then, on Nov. 17, you will download a free Kindle copy of the book from Amazon AND post a review of the book online, preferably a positive review! It is not necessary to own a Kindle to download the book. You can use a Kindle reader to access the book. To leave a review, you must have purchased $50 on Amazon in the last year. Launch Team members will help promote the book in other ways. Most importantly, Launch Team members will help with the book BEFORE it is actually released. If you are interested in joining the Launch Team, please send me an e-mail at I will begin communicating directly with Launch Team members by the end of the week.
  • If you want to support my book but want a less involved role, please join the Pre-Release Team. I will personally let these team members know when the book is available online. The first few days, the Kindle version will be FREE. I’ll keep you in the loop about when it is available and how you can get a copy. Providing a review would also be very helpful! Join the Pre-Release Team by emailing me at

Copy of Blue Party Flyer Design 11.30

  • Attend my Book Launch and Signing Event! On Sat., Nov. 30, I will have copies available at my house from 1:30-3:30 PM. Please stop by our home at 424 N. Franklin St., Poynette, WI. I will be personally signing books. You can hear a short reading of the book at 1:45 PM and 3 PM. We’ll have some fantastic treats as well! Bring a friend and stop by.
  • I have another Book Signing Event scheduled for Fri., Dec. 13 in Augusta, WI. It will be at Creative Touch Floral as a late afternoon/early evening event. I’ll have copies of the book available that I can personally sign as well as share some short readings from the book.

I welcome other opportunities to promote and share my book. If you have an idea of such an opportunity, please let me know. This book would be excellent for a book study. Read it together with a group of friends. I have a free accompanying Reflection Questions & Journal that is designed for such purposes. It is also a tool to help you develop your own Mary experiment.

It is SO HARD for me to ask and encourage people to partner with me in promoting The Mary Experiment. It’s not part of my normal MO. Yet, I am anxious for as many people as possible to have access to the information captured in the book. It is full of personal stories and examples of how I have struggled with the tension between doing and being. I know that I am not the only person who has lived this struggle! This is why I have been so passionate and committed to publishing this book.

When I began this blog, I had no idea that I would write and publish a book. Thanks for reading along and sharing feedback and insights when something touches your soul. Thanks for being a safe place for me to explore and share my ideas about a variety of topics. It’s been a joy for me to sit at my computer and share how God is woven into my daily life. I pray The Mary Experiment will continue this journey.


For friends who follow Simple Words of Faith, I am grateful. 

Dear God – every day, You place before us new opportunities. I pray that we can honor the tugging’s of our hearts and follow Your leadings. Thank you for opening up new opportunities for me. I pray that others hear Your voice and keep You close to their hearts. Amen.

Blessings –


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Sharing God’s Light

Gratitude Day 347

Mon., Oct. 28, 2019

Matthew 5:14-16: You are the light of the world. A city on top of a hill can’t be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a basket. Instead, they put it on top of a lampstand, and it shines on all who are in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before people, so they can see the good things you do and praise your Father who is in heaven.

It’s Halloween this week. And I think it’s a great opportunity for people to be the light of Christ.

When we carve pumpkins, the last step is to put a light inside of the pumpkin. The light allows the design to look special as the light glows through the cut areas of the pumpkin.  

Jesus was clear that he was the light of the world. He shared this with the people at the Temple. See me as the light and you have what you need. It’s like having the light in the pumpkin.

But he doesn’t stop there. If we appreciate Jesus as the light of the world, then we should be inspired to replicate this light into the world as well. I feel Halloween is one of those opportunities we have to radiate Christ’s light into the world. We can partner with Jesus and bring light into a world that too often is filled with darkness.

After today’s worship, the kids went Trunk-or-Treating. (Yes, I think a few adults enjoy a couple snacks as well!) It’s great fun for the kids and a way that this faith community extends Jesus’ and our light into our little piece of the world.

I knew that I wanted Hubby Rick and I to share something other than candy at Trunk-or-Treat. Yep, I know. EVERY kid loves and expects candy on Halloween. Yet, I also feel it’s OK to offer something else. So, I’ve pulled together a list of optional snack ideas for Trick-or-Treaters. Maybe this list will inspire you to think a little outside the box as you plan treats this week.

Cheese Sticks and Fruit Snacks – This is what Hubby Rick handed out at Trunk-or-Treat yesterday. I LOVE the idea of cheese sticks. Being also involved in the dairy industry, I see it as a way to promote something healthy and tasty. I was impressed how many kids dug into the cheese sticks. There are not too many kids who will turn down fruit snacks. I know they have sugar in them. Hopefully a little less than all the candy bars that we all love.

GoGo Squeeze Yogurt – This is one of my new favorite snacks. This is shelf-stable yogurt that comes in a variety of flavors. Shelf-stable means that it doesn’t have to be refrigerated! I’ve seen blueberry, berry, banana and strawberry flavors. I prefer the blueberry or berry varieties. These are more expensive as they are about 75 cents per serving. I’m putting these in the containers for our younger grandkids. If you don’t have a lot of trick-or-treaters, this maybe a great option.

Individual bags of popcorn or chips snacks – I’ve been a fan of these and have given these out many times. Finding snack-size bags of chips or pretzels or already popped popcorn is easy. Some stores have ones packaged for Halloween. I’ve also handed out microwavable popcorn bags. Kids who like a savory treat versus a sweet snack LOVE these.

Granola bars – I like to put together little buckets of treats for our grandkids. Yes, I’ll put a few pieces of candy in them. But I like to include some healthier options. They love granola bars and will put a few in their buckets.  

Juice boxes or pouches – I know these don’t have a lot of juice in them, but again, just something a little different.

Cupcakes or cookies – For years, I made homemade Halloween cupcakes or cookies. I gave them to kids that I knew. Accepting homemade baked goodies from a stranger can be questionable. As a parent, I would be leery of this. As a pastor, I wanted to have something special for the church kids who came to our house. I think the kids liked the decorated treats. Or maybe I just liked making them! Anyways, I suggest giving these only to kids that you know, and they know you.

Before grabbing a bag of candy this week, consider an alternative snack this week. I’m always happy with the non-candy leftovers as well!

For opportunities to be God’s light in the word this Halloween, I am grateful. 

Holy God – thanks for sending Jesus as the light into this world that has way too much darkness. May we embrace small and meaningful ways for us to be God’s light in this world as well. Amen.

Blessings –


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A Lovely Home

Gratitude Day 346

Sat., Oct. 26, 2019

Psalm 16:1:  The property lines have fallen beautifully for me; yes, I have a lovely home.

It’s Saturday. Unfortunately, I won’t be watching much college football today but attending a ministry meeting. Before I take off for this, I just wanted to share a few things that have been playing on repeat in my heart and soul this week.

On Friday, the leaves literally rained down. We had a hard frost Thursday night. On Friday, every tree in our neighborhood lost many of its leaves. So many of our neighbors had their yards raked and looking nice. Yesterday, around every tree was a puddle of crisp fall-colored leaves. Leaves that crunched while walking through them. It was a gorgeous crisp fall day.

This song has been on repeat in my brain ALL. WEEK. LONG. It’s not a new Christian song. Maybe I just needed the message shared in the words right now.  Here’s the first verse and chorus:

Lord, I come, I confess
Bowing here I find my rest
Without You I fall apart
You’re the One that guides my heart

Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You

Just click on the link and listen to the words while you enjoy the rest of this post.

I enjoyed the lovely Downton Abbey movie this week. I came a little late to the Downton Abbey series. Once I discovered it, I so enjoyed it. If you haven’t seen the series, not to worry. Two of the main characters, Mr. Carson and Mrs. Hughes, bring you up to speed at the beginning of the movie. My favorite part? The Dowager Countess played by Maggie Smith does not disappoint with her well-known zingers. But we also see more of her heart in the movie. Even old bittys can share their softer sides.

Prayer is so important. Earlier this week, I blogged about Pray without Ceasing. For those of you that shared a prayer request or celebration, thank you. Someone asked if I had a prayer request to share back. And yes, of course, I do. Lots of them. I apologize for being vague … but let me just say that Hubby Rick, I and our family appreciate any prayers offered for us. Rick and I are fine. Sometimes, things happen that we cannot control nor understand. I’ll leave it there for now.

Finally, a great joy in our lives this past week was we are officially moved into our remodeled master suite. And we LOVE it. We took a section of the upstairs and made it into a proper master suite. There was a bedroom in this area. You are seeing the new and improved remodeled version. I’m loving the décor. It just feels so “us.” This room has a king-sized bed. It feels very luxurious after sleeping in a full-sized bed our married life. We are amazed how much warmer this room is. The windows face south and the sun pours into the room during the day. Blinds on the windows provide a way to darken the room when Rick is sleeping after his night shift.

Rick built us a great walk-in closet. I finally moved our clothes and such into the closet. We designed a system that fits our needs and budget. It’s just right for us.

Now that we are using this area, I wonder why it took so long to get us moved. We are waiting for the plumber before we finish the new master bathroom, which is across from the closet. In between the bathroom and closet is a new laundry closet. I wanted everything completed before moving into the space. I’m glad that I didn’t wait any longer.

One night, Rick and I were sharing how much we enjoy this room. It feels so grown-up for us to have this bedroom. It’s not an over-the-top bedroom but so beautiful compared to the humble beginnings in which we were raised. The bedroom and closet were not very expensive updates. A little planning, elbow grease and DIYing application can truly change a space. I truly appreciate having a home that speaks to us and literally has become us.  

As Psalm 16:1 says, “I have a lovely home.” Hubby Rick and I have chosen to make this a place that is special to us. We have chosen to invest ourselves and our assets into creating a space that we love and love being in. We feel so very blessed that we have had the opportunity to do so.

When life is challenging or the days are long, we both love just coming home. To our lovely home. And this is a very, very good thing.

For being blessed with a lovely home, I am grateful. 

Lord God – Whether its crunchy leaves or a song on repeat or the joy of falling into a bed in a room that brings such peace, thank you for these small daily reminders that we are truly blessed. No matter what is going on in our lives, I pray we always see your hand of blessing making fingerprints in our lives. Amen.

Blessings –


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The Captured Moment

Gratitude Day 345

Thurs., Oct. 24, 2019

Ezekiel 10:10:  And as for their appearance, the four looked alike, something like a wheel within a wheel.

Once in a while, a moment is captured that is priceless.

This is one of those moments.

Let me introduce you to the two participants. On the left is our youngest grandson, Dylan. He is 7, soon to be eight. He’s in second grade. He repeatedly tells me that he DOES NOT like school. Yet, he also recently told me that he’s doing third grade work because second grade work is “way too easy.”

On the right is Hubby Rick.

I’m not sure what the conversation was about. Or who was talking smack to whom. It was just one of those moments that I wanted to freeze and keep in my memory bank forever.

Maybe I am biased, but there just seems to be so much said in this photo without a single word being uttered.





Usually, when Rick and Dylan are jangling back and forth, there’s lots of one-upping each other. This day, there’s a break in the conversation; just long enough for the moment to be captured.

Sometimes, I look at Dylan and anticipate that he is so very much like Rick at that age. Yes, they look alike. But it’s their similar personality, mannerisms and word choices that about do me in.

Each of our six grandchildren are unique and special. I wish I had more individual shots of each one from this day to show how their Grandpa pulls out their unique personality. For now, we’ll just have to let this one be sufficient.

This. This is what makes me laugh and smile and brings joy to your heart.

Look on your phone or camera. Find a photo that brings joy to your heart. Show it to everyone you see today.

And they will smile right back.  

For captured moments that bring great joy, I am grateful. 

Holy God – May we truly appreciate the smallest and most cherished moments of today. Help write them on our hearts and minds, so when we’re having a challenging day, they will put a smile on our face and joy in our hearts. Amen.

Blessings –


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Pray Without Ceasing

Gratitude Day 344

Wed., Oct. 23, 2019

1 Thessalonians 5:16-17:  Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, 

Paul wrote to a church, “Pray without ceasing.”

Anyone else find it difficult?

Seriously. How can we pray while trying to concentrate on a work project? Or while having an important conversation?

While sleeping?

Yet, Paul challenges and encourages us to constantly. Without ceasing.

It takes a bigger person than me to fulfill this suggestion; this praying non-stop.

But with a little adjustment, we can pray more constantly than we currently are.

Every time we switch something, it’s an opportunity to give a quick word of “Thanks.” Or as we go through the day, recognize all the many, many different ways we have a want and often needs fulfilled.

Read this quote:

Praying with eyes wide open is the only way to pray without ceasing.

Maybe this feels a bit like we’re breaking the books. You know, the one that says we need to have our eyes closed. I’m not sure it matters to God whether our eyes or open. Or closed.

God just wants to hear from us. Any time. Any place. With as simple of words as we have.

Sometimes, we make praying so complicated. Let’s vow it keep it simple. Easy. Let’s focus more on what we’re praying for rather than whether or now we have the right position.

And when we keep our eyes open while praying, we “see” more  opportunities to see God in situations that need to be bathed in prayer.  

Praying with eyes wide open is the only way to pray without ceasing.

It’s Wednesday. Let’s make Wednesday “Prayer Day” on Simple Words of Faith. I’d love for you to share a prayer request with me. Make a comment or send me a message or a text. Let me know what’s troubling your heart and soul today. I just want to:

Praying with my eyes wide open so I can pray without ceasing.

It’s Wednesday. Let’s make it prayer day. Let’s discover how easy it is to pray with our eyes wide open.

For the opportunity to pray without ceasing, I am grateful. 

Forgive us Holy Lord, when we turn prayer into something complicated and difficult. Help us to keep our eyes open to see what You see. Amen.

Blessings –


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Recipe for Life

Gratitude Day 343

Tues., Oct. 22, 2019

Matthew 4:44: But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

There are different ways we can discover something about a person. We can look at their Facebook or Linked In account, Google them or ask other people about them. We can even do the old-fashioned thing and talk with them.

What happens when we are no longer able to talk to that person?

We find clues in different ways.

This happened recently while I was going through a recipe box. This was Grandma Sowers, my maternal grandmother’s recipe box. Suddenly, I was transported back to a time and place I had not visited in a long, long time.

The recipe box took me back to her kitchen. When a person entered her house through the side entrance, you were immediately in Grandma’s kitchen. It had a distinctive smell that I always associated with my grandmother. The west wall was filled with dark oak cabinets with a window and sink in the middle. The refrigerator was built into this wall of cabinets on the far north side. I remember where the silverware drawer was and how there was a bread board that could be pulled out right above it. I know where she kept the plates as well as the Triscuit crackers; one of her favorite foods.

Across from the refrigerator was a white porcelain stove. A small metal cabinet was next to the stove. On top of this cabinet, Grandma kept certain things, including a small metal container where grease from the bacon was poured into and kept for future cooking.

All the sights and smells from this kitchen came rushing back while I went through Grandma’s recipe box. Some of the recipes I remembered well. Others, I saw for the first time.

Every 3×5” card had something written on it or a recipe taped to it. Some recipes were slid into plastic covers. These were used to keep the card from being damaged while outside of the box. She had little index cards throughout the box which sectioned off various recipes.

The largest section? Cookies, which also included the bars.

I could tell what foods Grandma loved to make the most. There were lots of rhubarb and apple recipes. I didn’t know there were that many ways to cook carrots until I saw all 15 or so of them in her box.

If she received the recipe from someone she knew, this was written on the card. Or if the recipe had won a baking contest, this was noted as well. Some recipes were ones she clipped out of a magazine or flyer or newsletter. She often wrote the source next to these.

I found some of my mom’s recipes in there, as well as ones Grandma got from my Aunt Beverly, her other daughter. I had been looking for her aebleskiver recipe … and FINALLY found it. These are little donut-type breads made in a special skillet; a nod towards Grandma’s Danish heritage.

As I sorted like recipes together on my dining room table, I thought of how these recipes were part of Grandma’s recipe for life. They not only included some of her favorite foods. They express the ways she loving cooked and baked and fed her family, extended family and friends. As well as a few other things.

The “Catfish Bait” recipe threw me for a loop. Grandma loved to fish but I don’t remember catfish. She wanted to keep this recipe, as it was in the box twice! There were also recipes for moth balls, how to clean and refinish furniture, remove paint and other household tips. Right next to recipes for lasagna and meatballs and homemade peach ice cream.

Grandma did not have many “valuables” per society’s definition. Her jewelry was of the costume kind. Her clothes purchased at reasonable stores like JC Penny’s. Her pots and pans were ones she used her entire life.

If she had to identify something that she treasured and valued, I’m thinking this recipe box would have been appeared on the list and not too far down. Yes, these recipes are how she physically fed her family. She also knew that spiritual food is just as important as pancakes and ham and rice casserole. Kindness and gentleness, patience and honesty, faithfulness and peace are the ingredients needed for life’s recipe.

And a relationship with God.

Before returning the recipes to the box, I’ll make copies of some and add to my own recipe box. Every time I pull them out of my recipe box, I’ll see her distinctive handwriting and be thankful for this little opportunity to rediscover who my grandmother was. Thanks be to God.

For a chance to remember Grandma’s recipe of life, I am grateful. 

Holy God – Thank you for this gentle reminder that life’s recipe is more than Chex mix and raised doughnuts and banana bread. It’s substance that comes only from You. Thank you for feeding us over and over. Amen.

Blessings –


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Six for Saturday

Gratitude Day 342

Sat., Oct. 19, 2019

Matthew 7:12: (Jesus said,) “In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets.”

It’s Saturday … the weekend. Here’s just a few random thoughts from the Vielhuber household. You just might notice a theme here.

Everyone is in the customer service business. Treat others the way you’d like to be treated. In the last two weeks, I’ve received good customer service. Other times, it’s been rather rotten. Whether you are “officially” a customer service person or not, we ALL have opportunities to be kind, thoughtful and respect of other people. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

The Golden Rule is golden because it should reflect how we want to treat others. When you have an opportunity to make someone feel special, take the extra 30 or 60 seconds and do it. Seriously. Most of the time, this is all it really takes.

Don’t judge a person’s life by their cover. What’s on the inside my surprise you. In Ripon, WI, Dennis Valstad was just an ordinary guy. He worked at the local canning facility and later the dry cleaners. Not wanting to retire, he drove fertilizer truck and delivered fire trucks.

Dennis died this summer. After his funeral, his will was read. Everyone who attended his funeral or visitation received a share of $500,000. After careful tallying, 267 people each received $1,872. In a family of five, each person received a check.  

Dennis also left gifts to other charities and organizations. Most people would not have thought Dennis had these resources. A couple who are planning a destination wedding intended to invite Dennis to their wedding and pay for his travel expenses. Instead, Dennis’ gift will help cover wedding costs.  

Moral of Dennis’ story? Be creative in being a good person. Surprise someone by being completely different than what might be expected.

People love to support local needs. I am thankful to be involved in a couple local programs which help people teetering financially. Yesterday, the board for one of those groups met. This group provides food for needy families in our community.

I’m so proud to be part of a group that makes it easy for people to get food. We don’t ask about income or job status. If possible, we’d like an address. That’s it.

People may wonder how the food pantry can have enough when we make it so easy to qualify. I say, “Be generous in your giving and others will want to be a part of this.” I see this over and over. Be generous with your time, talents and resources. Others will do likewise. When we set the example of holding loosely to what we have, God blesses this. It’s easy to do the right thing … if we allow ourselves to look beyond wanting to make too many rules.

Another reason why people are generous with our local food pantry? They know every donated dollar, can of food and loaf of bread stays local. Right here in our community. People love to support something that truly affects their neighbors.

Working together to help others is always a good thing. As I sat at the food pantry annual meeting, I thought about how this program works closely with another program I’m involved with; our local Blessings in a Backpack Program. Because we’ve developed a great relationship with the school, we are able to supply very specific needs the school students. When we’ve had extra Blessings food, we’ve made it available at local community events.

I could go on and on with other examples. My point? Wheels do not need to be remade. Partner with others to get things done. Make a difference with small, little things that make a huge impact on other people’s lives. THIS is living the golden rule.

Begin to think now about how YOU can make a difference this holiday season. It’s a time of year when people tend give a bit more. Hubby Rick and I talk through how we want to help others before the end of the year. We have an unwritten guideline that says we will give to others about the same that we spend on Christmas gifts each year.

Why do we do this? For most of the people we will give gifts, the gift is not a necessity. Rick and I feel it is just as important to share with those who have true NEEDS; not just WANTS. It’s a way that we can look beyond ourselves and see where there are gaps and try to help with those gaps.

Be in the customer service business every day. This goes back to my first point. I know we’re all busy and don’t always make time to do everything we could or should. I’m very guilty of this myself. I should stop and chat with my neighbors more. I could be more patient with a representative on the phone. Sometimes, I just need to take a deep breath. Not focus on the clock and be the hands and feet of God to someone else today. When I do this, I am rarely disappointed.

For every opportunity to live the golden rule that comes my way today, this week and this month, I am grateful. 

Dear God – We spend so much time focusing on how we want others to treat ourselves that we forget to think about how WE are treating others. Challenge us to think less of our needs and more of how we can assist someone else today. Help us become comfortable about going outside of our closely held boxes and shine Jesus’ love upon them. Amen.

Blessings –


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A “Pay It Forward” 35 Years in the Making

Gratitude Day 341

Fri., Oct. 18, 2019

Deuteronomy 15:7:  If there is among you anyone in need, a member of your community in any of your towns within the land that the Lord your God is giving you, do not be hard-hearted or tight-fisted toward your needy neighbor.

“We’d like to donate some money to the Blessings Program you coordinate,” the caller said.

Her name was Gail. We kind of know each other. Well enough that she felt comfortable calling me.  

Donate money to the Blessings program?

Yes! Great! Yeah! I love these kinds of calls!

The rest of the story? Well, that’s where it is SO. COOL.

Gail called me as a representative from the Poynette Class of 1984. Recently, they held their 35th class reunion. As part of their event, they included a “Pay It Forward” aspect.

Here’s how it worked. They asked their class members to give money. Class representatives said they would find a good local program to contribute to. Would the Blessings in a Backpack Program like the money?

Well, yes, of course we would. Just one condition.

A condition?

Yes. Can you and some other class representatives stop by my house so I can take a picture? I just think we need to let others know about you super cool idea.

“No problem,” said Gail.

Recently, Gail and four of her classmates stopped by our house. It was raining. It was a little cold. We stood on our lovely wrap-around porch while I talked a mile a minute about our local Blessings program. They probably felt like they got ran over by the word train, as I squeezed in as many words and facts and figures as possible in the 15 minutes they stood on my porch.

And then, we took the picture.

We wished they had a big check. I assured them the envelope was just fine. The money they handed over to me, $480, will provide weekend food for four Poynette students during the entire school year.


Then, I asked them. How did they come up with the idea? Why Blessings?

These classmates graduated 35 years ago. They are now in a position where some of them can make a little donation back into the community. Some of them still live in the Poynette School District. Some don’t. Yet, they wanted to set an example for other classes of how they can gave back whether they live in the district or not.

How cool is this?

If I’m ever asked to serve on a class reunion committee, know what I’m going to do? I’m not going to volunteer to get the food organized. Or secure a location. Or put together a booklet about the class members. (Been there, done that.)

I’m going to organize a “Pay It Forward” event. I’m going to ask class members to share a little bit for a local project in the community where we graduated from high school. Make a little difference for some kids today. Let our action say that we’re glad we graduated from this community, this high school. Choose to support the school and community whether we live there or not.

The Poynette Class of 1984 came up with a great idea for their class reunion. I know. Going to a class reunion can be, well, OK. I’ve attended most of mine class reunions. I’ve attended a few of Hubby Rick’s class reunions as well. They are nice. Fine. Good to catch up.

But a “Pay It Forward” aspect?

I’ll be there in a New York minute. Count me all in!

If you are having a class reunion soon or later or whenever … consider a “Pay It Forward” aspect. Doesn’t matter if it will be your 10th reunion or your 50th class reunion. It’s a great opportunity to give back to the place you received your diploma from.

For creative ways to give back to a community, I am grateful. 

Holy God – We just might say, “This is crazy!” a few times today. Assure us that this is OK. Help us see those times when we are crazy as just part of the journey towards something totally awesome. Amen.

Blessings –


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Turning “This is Crazy!” into “This is Awesome!”

Gratitude Day 340

Thurs., Oct. 17, 2019

2 Corinthians 5:13:  If we are crazy, it’s for God’s sake. If we are rational, it’s for your sake.

At some point in nearly every day, I think to myself, “This is crazy.”

Crazy can be a whole bunch of things:

  • Too warm, too cold, too windy or too wet
  • Too much wasted time
  • Too long of a wait or poor customer service
  • Way longer than I planned
  • Too ridiculous or silly
  • Too outside of my comfort zone
  • And a whole bunch of other things.

I’m working on a couple bit personal projects right now. How much longer EVERYTHING takes than I think it should be well, simply, crazy.

But I’m looking for the day when the craziness turns into awesomeness.

Awesome because:

  • The book I’ve been working on will be written, published and getting into the hands of others
  • I will have learned a whole new bunch of skills
  • My comfort zone box just increased significantly
  • And a whole bunch of other things.

There’s really a fine line between crazy and awesome. A situation can be so wickedly cool that it goes beyond awesome. Likewise, the journey to get where you would like to be can be daunting, challenging and exhausting. This is way more crazy than awesome.


Until you reach that spot where everything feels, oh, so right. You’ve crossed over into the place where all the craziness is soon forgotten, and the rewards are so worth it.

Here’s the deal. We need a lot of craziness sometimes before we can appreciate and honor the awesome moments.

I’m guessing there were several people who quickly identified Jesus as crazy. Unpredictable. Disruptive. And they were right. But those are the traits that also brought him to the point where he could do something so awesome, we’re still talking about it like 2,000 years later. How awesome is that?

When life is feeling a bit crazy, celebrate it. Own it. Love it. Why? Because sometime soon, the craziness will evolve into something so totally awesome even you will be surprised.

It happened to Jesus. It can happen to you.

For the spirit of craziness that leads to awesomeness, I am grateful. 

Holy God – We just might say, “This is crazy!” a few times today. Assure us that this is OK. Help us see those times when we are crazy as just part of the journey towards something totally awesome. Amen.

Blessings –


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Pastor Appreciation Month

Gratitude Day 339

Tues., Oct. 15, 2019

2 Timothy 1:5: I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.

October is filled with lots of good things.

Football games.

All things pumpkin.


Corn mazes.

Warm sweaters.


Another notable aspect of October?

It’s Pastor Appreciation month.

Before I lose you here … can you please just hang with me for a minute or two?

I know that I come at this from a little different perspective. I’ve been a pastor for 20 years. I’m not currently serving a church(es), and I want to give a little shout-out for my colleagues.

I know there are ALL kinds of special days/months. Sometimes, we wonder if Hallmark or someone who wanted to sell cards and candy and stuff came up with these “special” days. While some of these days zip by and I barely notice or recognize them, I’m advocating for Pastor Appreciation Month.

I realize that not everyone who reads this blog has someone that they consider their “pastor.” That’s OK. However, has someone ever baptized your child(ren)? Called on a loved one while at a hospital? Helped your family with a memorial service or funeral? There’s a good chance the person who provided service(s) was a pastor.

I’m not asking you to do something outlandish or wild … unless you want to. I’m asking you to think of the person who you would consider calling if you were in dire straits. Send them a card, preferably a handwritten one (e-mail only if you don’t have their address) and share how much you appreciated them and their services. If you want to do just a little more? Buy them a coffee card or a CD of their Christian band or bring a surprise lunch to their office one day. (True story – one October, a woman brought lunch to the church office. We sat in hard chairs and munched on greasy burgers and oily fries. It was WONDERFUL.)

I know we are all have lots of things to do. We have countless options of things we SHOULD do today. Can you add just one more little thing to your list? Appreciate the person who has been a spiritual guide to you. Let them know this. Share how your life is different because of something they did or said or how they were just present. We all have people who have assisted us spiritually. Whether they are a “pastor” or a person who lives faith, just let them know that you appreciate them. It’s what gets them through during their bad days.

I speak of this … because I know this. When I’m having a bad day, sometimes I pull out my “Dianne” file. Yes, I really do have one. It’s in the credenza with all the other files that I keep, whether I really need them or not. In the “Dianne” folder, I find cards people sent me to thank me. Encourage me. Show their appreciation. On those days when I’m feeling like I’m not sure what I do makes a difference, sometimes, I put this folder out. Read what people sent me. Gave me. Wanted me to read and hear. And often, it makes me feel just a little better. No matter how vain it sounds to have a folder with your name on it, it’s a place where I can keep those things that I do want to remember. Especially on bad days.

Paul wrote his good friend Timothy two letters. In the second letter, Paul reminds Timothy of how his mother and grandmother influenced his faith. Did Eunice and Lois get to read or see this letter? I have no clue. What I do know is that we’re still talking about them, thousands of years later because they made a difference in a person’s life.

Make a difference in a person’s life today. Let the person who helps you spiritually know it makes a difference in your life.

For the opportunity to appreciate my spiritual guides, I am grateful. 

Dear God – Thank you for bringing into our lives people who have helped us with our faith. May we be encouraged to let them know the difference their presence has made in our lives. Amen.

Blessings –


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