2020 Bible Reading Plan

Gratitude Day 383

Tues., Dec. 31, 2019

Psalm 119:105: Your word is a lamp before my feet and a light for my journey.

Often, not having a plan is a plan to fail.

While we can have great intentions and grandiose ideas, unless we plan for achieving a goal, well, most often, it just remains a dream. A cool idea. Something we hope someday will become a priority.

At the beginning of 2018, I planned to read through all four gospels of the New Testament. My plan was very simple: read through a chapter a day until I finished all four gospels.

By last spring, I had accomplished the plan. While I didn’t have a target date by which to finish this, I kept plugging along until I had read all four accounts of Jesus’ life. I missed some days … but gave myself grace.

It was a wonderful experience.

So often in the last number of years, I read scripture because I was preparing a message. Or teaching a class. Or researching something. This time, I committed to read these four different stories about Jesus life purely for my benefit and enjoyment.

And I rediscovered things I had forgotten or quite honestly, didn’t observe in previous readings. A picture of who Jesus was, why he came to earth and his purpose in doing so became clear once again.

I enjoyed this experience so much; I plan to do it again in 2020. With a twist. This year, I want to plan to read through the entire New Testament. So, I put together a plan for myself.

Then, I realized: maybe, just maybe, someone else might like this plan. So, I’m making my 2020 Bible Reading Plan available for anyone who might want to read through the New Testament as well.

I also want to keep this plan realistic and doable. That’s why I incorporated these guidelines:

  • There are five readings a week, on Mondays through Fridays. No readings for Saturday and Sunday! This gives me an opportunity to make sure I am always caught up by Monday morning.
  • I LOVE to read through John’s Gospel during Lent. So, I planned it this way. I also like to keep Luke and Acts together because they were written by the same author. The problem child is Revelation. It’s at the end of the year, during Advent, which I am not sure I am thrilled about. But when is it best to read Revelation?
  • Using this lay-out, there were a few extra days than chapters of the New Testament. I purposely found Old Testament passages that fit into the church calendar at specific times of the year to fill out the calendar.
  • My experience is that I can read through a chapter of scripture in less than 10 minutes. PLEASE DON’T SPEED READ. Take your time. Savor each chapter. I like to have a journal where I write down things that caught my attention. Maybe a verse that especially is meaningful to me that day.

Honestly, I feel reading scripture is one way that my faith has grown significantly. As I read God’s word to God’s people, I discover more about who God is for me. Are there parts of the New Testament that are confusing and possibly contradict each other? Yes, if you see it this way. Another way to think about scripture is these are God-inspired words written at a very different time. They can speak to us today as well if we allow them to.

It is my plan to read through the New Testament in 2020. Here’s my plan so I will not fail. Please join me on this journey and together, let’s see what God is saying to us this next year. I invite you to share this plan with others. Together, let’s do this! Here is a downloadable PDF of my 2020 Bible Reading Plan:

For the opportunity to discover more about God and my relationship with God in 2020, I am grateful.

Holy God – I am so looking forward to letting the words of scripture light my path and life in 2020. Together, may we discover a deeper relationship with each other, inspired by words that help me know you more. Amen.  

Blessings –


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Reaching Maximum Capacity

Gratitude Day 382

Mon., Dec. 30, 2019

Proverbs 30:1: The words of Agur, Jakeh’s son, from Massa. The man declares: I’m tired, God; I’m tired, God, and I’m exhausted.

I had reached my maximum capacity.

While my brain wanted to think differently, my body knew better.

Last week, Hubby Rick and I came down with awful yucky colds/flu/bugs that hung around for several days. I started to feel yucky on Christmas Eve. But I wasn’t going to slow down for Christmas Eve worship (my favorite!), hosting family at our house, spending time with friends and helping with our grandchildren.

Nope. Planned events would go on.

When I got home Thursday night after a long day, I was ready for bed. For the next oh, 48+ hours, I spent most of them in bed.

On Saturday morning when I wasn’t up by mid-morning, Hubby Rick came checking on me. He has NEVER seen me spend this much time in bed; even post-surgery.

It just seemed like my body could not move. It just wanted to stay wrapped up in warm blankets and do nothing. Or almost nothing.

The whole situation is a little ironic. Just weeks earlier, I launched my first book, The Mary Experiment: When Doing and Being Collide. In the book, I share how I have tried to slow down my Martha tendencies and build more Mary-ness into my life.

Quite honestly, the last many weeks had been full-on Martha will barely any Mary-time. More than once, I felt a little hypocritical. I’ve let people into my life and tried to convince others and myself that I had changed. But had I really changed?

Not as much as I would like others to think.

And then, my body got a bug that didn’t go away. For days. Soon, I discovered that all I wanted, no, needed, was some Mary time.

I had reached my maximum capacity. And if the only way I would slow down was to physically become ill, then, this is what my body would do.

Ms. Martha-pants would be required to slow down. Let her body recharge, regroup and replenish. Whether I liked it or not, my body was saying, “I’m tired. I’m exhausted.”

Thankfully, I did not have much planned those days. As much as I was looking forward to a couple quiet days when I could do some planning and catching up, there was a different plan. And I needed to discover and follow Plan B.

Folks – we each have a maximum capacity that is unique to us. Your maximum capacity is different than mine. And when you reach your maximum capacity, how your body responds and forces you to slow down may be different than how my body responds. Often, I get sick. Congested. Run down. Tired. Exhausted. My chest is filled with junk. My body aches all over.  And there is only one prescription that really heals me: rest.

So, when I don’t respect or honor my maximum capacity, Plan B gets rolled out. I can will myself to keep going. Often, I do. But there comes a point when it’s best to stop. Surrender. See the larger picture. Rest.

These days between Christmas and New Year’s are often get days to SLOW DOWN. Rest. Enjoy. Savor. Get filled with the right things. Before you reach your maximum capacity and something happens that causes YOU to shut down, I encourage you to make sure YOU don’t reach your maximum capacity.

Instead, fill yourself with the best things that inspire you and give YOU joy.

For days to lower my maximum capacity into a more manageable range, I am grateful.

O God – too often, we think we know best … when really, we don’t. Help us respect and honor our maximum capacities. Encourage us to stop flirting with overload in our lives and slow down and savor the things that fill us. Amen.  

Blessings –


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Telling Stories

Gratitude Day 381

Tues., Dec. 24, 2019

Luke 2:6: While they were there, the time came for Mary to have her baby.

I love to tell stories.

This is one of the main reasons I blog: so, I can tell stories.

Often, the stories are about what is going on in our little Vielhuber world. Something that’s happened to me, Hubby Rick, our grandchildren. Someone we’ve encountered. Or something that has happened to someone that we know and love.

The stories maybe funny, sad, touch your heart or maybe, even make you think. I tell the stories from my perspective and often wonder if others who have experienced the story would agree with my observations or not. But then I remember: this is my story and my perspective.

Likewise, your stories are told from your perspective.

One challenge with stories?

People don’t remember them the same way.

Hubby Rick and I can recall the same event. Often, our details are slightly different. Of course, we think our version and details are right. And sometimes, we just have to agree to disagree.

Christmas is based upon a story. The story of the birth of a baby named Jesus Christ. We are told he was God’s son and born to a teenaged girl named Mary. This is the most retold story of all time. Think of all the children’s Christmas programs. The musicals and plays and movies and dramas that have been created to tell this story over and over. And the details? Well, they aren’t all the same.

Sometimes, we take liberties with this story. We envision how we think the story might have played out. Or we create details that make the story more interesting. It’s hard to relate to a culture from 2,000 years ago, so we adapt the story to accommodate today’s culture and perspective. Is it wrong to do this? Depends on who you ask!

Tonight, we remember and celebrate the birth of a baby. A baby named Jesus who came into this world to change the world forever; which he did. No matter how you see or read or experience the story being told, it’s the basic story that is most important.

And however, you celebrate and remember this story, I pray we let this story make a difference in our lives. Not just for one night or one day. But every day.

This story is the story that has changed history for all time. I pray it’s a story that changes how you view this world, your life, our call and your purpose.

Have a most blessed Christmas, my friends. And thank you for reading along with the stories that I tell here in Simple Words of Faith. I value and love every single person who reads along. I only pray that sometimes my stories encourage you and your story.

Now, one more way to tell the story:


For stories that change us and make us truer to our calling as Christians, I am grateful.

O Holy Night – I pray we celebrate the story that changed the world tonight. Speak to us once again, Most Holy God. Thank you for creating a story that is so special we keep telling it over and over and over. Amen.  

Blessings –


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Making Room

Gratitude Day 380

Mon., Dec. 23, 2019

Luke 2:7: She gave birth to her firstborn child, a son, wrapped him snugly, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the guestroom.

Oh, how I wished that I would have come up with this statement.

But I didn’t.

I don’t know who did.

I’m just going to “borrow” it from you today.

On Sunday, I tried to get things ready for Christmas. Baked cookies, shopped for groceries, cleaned the house, packaged up cookies to give to co-workers, visited the neighbor. You get the picture. My dream was to have everything ready for Christmas before I went to bed.

There are still some presents to wrap. A few cookies to finish decorating. A few other things.

My goal wasn’t quite met.

Here’s the deal. Am I going to be SO BUSY preparing everything … that I miss the baby’s arrival? Like the innkeeper, will I choose to keep myself occupied with things of the world rather than reflecting again on whose birthday we celebrate?

If you think about all the things we do at Christmas, many seem rather silly. Cut down a tree and put it in your house? Overspend on presents? Increase your sugar intake significantly over the course of one or two weeks of the year?

Here’s the deal. So many of the things we do at Christmas draw us back to the Christ child.

Present? Reminders of the magi who eventually visited Jesus.

Tree with lights? The baby is the Light of the World.

Sugar intake? The sweetness of knowing a God who loves us unconditionally.

I could go on. Hopefully, you get the point. We all pick what we make room for today. Tomorrow. Christmas Day. Every day. Like the innkeeper, do we sometimes make some poor choices? You bet. I make poor choices every day.

But once in a while, I want to get it right. I want to look at the tree and see Light in the world. I want to attend Christmas Eve worship with a heart ready to greet the Savior of the World. I want to celebrate a special day with family and friends because it’s a birthday worth remember 2,000 years later.

Will you make room this Christmas? What will you make room for this Christmas?

For inspiration from an innkeeper, I am grateful.

Holy God – As we approach a big birthday, I pray we make room for the things You long for us to move to the top of the list. May these be the most important things we celebrate this week. Amen.  

Blessings –


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The Longest Night

Gratitude Day 379

Sat., Dec. 21, 2019

Isaiah 9:2: The people walking in darkness have seen a great light. On those living in a pitch-dark land, light has dawned.

Today is the longest night

Or the shortest day of the year.

It’s not any shorter hours-wise.

For those of us who live in the northern hemisphere, it’s the day with the least amount of possible sunlight in the day.

The day when the sun comes up the latest and dips below the western skyline the earliest.

When I was a child and growing up on a farm, I remember coming home from school on Dec. 21st. While us kids often wanted a short break before heading outside to do our evening chores on the farm, I remember my Mom encouraging us on Dec. 21st not to wait. “It will be dark soon,” she would say. If we wanted any daylight to aid us in doing chores, we needed to get our feet into boots, put on our chore coats and move on outside … as quickly as possible.

We don’t know the exact date that Jesus was born. In fact, we’re not sure what month or even what season. Late December was chosen because this is when the least amount of light is possible. It’s like all the people have seen such darkness in the world. And now, the Light of God is coming into the world.

Why wouldn’t the Light arrive during the longest nights of the year?

Why wouldn’t the Light want to shine as brightly as possible?

Yesterday, Hubby Rick put up a lighted star on the side of our carriage house. Usually, there is also a nativity in this area. The nativity isn’t out yet … but the star is. Just before we ate dinner last night, Rick said, “Have you seen the star in the east?”

I thought he was being funny, when in reality, he just wanted me to look out the window and see the star of the east on the side of our carriage house.

It was dark. The light shone bright.

The Light of the World has come.

We celebrate it again in just a few days.

If you are feeling darkness in your life right now, turn east and find the star.

If you wonder if God loves you, turn east and please find a star that is shining bright, for you and all the world to see.

If you are feeling a little frazzled or distracted or not prepared for Christmas, just stop. Stop. Turn east. Find the star. See the Light of the World.

This IS enough.

This IS Christmas.

This IS what is most important.

See the light.

Feel the light.

Give thanks to God.


And if you need just a bit of inspiration today, listen to a favorite Christmas carol.

For the Light of the World on the longest night of the year and every other night, I am grateful.

Dear God – Thank you for bringing light into a dark and often dreary world. Thank you for shining brightness into my life. May I reflect Your love to those around me. Amen.  

Blessings –


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When Life Throws You Lemons

Gratitude Day 378

Fri., Dec. 20, 2019

Psalm 9:9: The Lord is a safe place for the oppressed— a safe place in difficult times.

When something difficult happens, it is never easy. But around the holidays? It seems even more challenging.

Recently, our dear friend Tatev had an unexpected lemon thrown into her life. Tatev is from the country of Armenia. She is currently working on her PhD at Michigan State University. For many years running, Tatev has spent Christmas with Hubby Rick and me. It’s become an annual tradition for her to travel from Lansing, MI to Poynette, WI. While it’s not traveling to Bethlehem and Tatev has the advantage of more modern transportation, this has become her Christmas homage.

Once in Wisconsin, we spend several days celebrating Christmas, reconnecting and doing fun things together. Often Tatev has participated in Christmas Eve worship. I always knew that I could just write her into the program.  

Tatev planned to spend Christmas 2019 with us as well. About a week ago, tickets were purchased so she could make her annual trek to Poynette.

And then, life changed. Really, it almost stopped for Tatev. Her father unexpectedly passed away last Saturday. It was a shock for Tatev, her Mother and her sisters.

For Tatev, being so far away only made the situation more challenging. Her family encouraged her to stay in American and continue with her “normal” life. But honestly, how can anyone really revert back to “normal” when your world has been turned upside down?

When Tatev and I spoke Saturday night, it became clear that she wanted, no needed, to go back to Armenia. Overwhelmed by her emotions and feelings, Tatev was struggling on trying to decide what to do. When I suggested that I start looking for flights, she accepted my offer to make her travel arrangements.

Per Armenia tradition, the funeral was held three days after the person’s passing. With the time change involved, it was IMPOSSIBLE to get Tatev back to Armenia before the funeral Nonetheless, we agreed that getting Tatev back still priority.

On Sunday morning, a ticket was booked. Tatev would leave on Tuesday and arrive in Armenia on their Thursday. This made the most sense, as Tatev needed to make a couple arrangements with the university before leaving the country.

On Sunday night, I spoke with Tatev again to confirm the travel plans. Her friend Erika was with Tatev. After Tatev and I spoke, Erika came on the phone line. Sunday morning, I had quoted Tatev a ball-park figure for the airfare. By Sunday night, people from Michigan had provided more than enough money to cover the airfare. Erika had shared with folks from where Tatev has participated in church know of her circumstance. In less than 12 hours, several people provided funds to cover more than what was needed for the ticket.

I knew of some other folks who also wanted to support Tatev. We reached an agreement and agreed that the additional funds would be used for incidental travel expenses, as well as be available for Tatev and her family once she arrived in Armenia.

Here’s the deal. Loosing a loved one is difficult. Losing a loved one close to the holidays is painful. Losing a loved one who is half of a world away is ridiculously impossible to navigate. While no one can remove Tatev’s pain and hurt, we could help her get back to her family as quickly as possible. And this is what we did.

I don’t know the names of all the folks who helped cover Tatev’s plane ticket. I don’t need to know them. What I do know is that when life threw Tatev a lemon, they tried to offer her just a little bit of lemonade.

Fortunately, Tatev and I have a wonderful mutual friend named Pam. Pam knows Tatev’s family and was able to attend the funeral. She was met Tatev at the Yerevan airport when Tatev arrived in the middle of the night.

I’m confident each one of us can quickly find someone who is going through one of life’s lemons right now. We can’t fix every situation, nor should we try to do this. What we CAN do is step in and serve up just a little bit of lemonade in their situation.

I know that it’s Christmas next week. I know we all have lots of things to do. But if you become aware of a lemony situation in someone’s life, please stop. Listen. Hear what the person is saying and help them figure out what their next best step is. You can’t remove the lemon for their life … but you might be able to make even a small glass of lemonade for them. Along with the Lord, may we be a safe place for them to land during any difficult time.

For opportunities to witness to others and help them turn a lemony situation into just a bit of lemonade, I am grateful.

Holy God – You are definitely aware of those around us who are struggling with lemony situations. Place it upon our hearts ways that we can take their challenging situation and create just a bit of lemonade for them. Amen.  

Blessings –


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Traditions that Make Christmas

Gratitude Day 377

Wed., Dec. 18, 2019

Matthew 1:18: This is how the birth of Jesus Christ took place.

There are SO MANY wonderful Christmas traditions; things we look forward to each Christmas holiday. Do you have favorite traditions? I certainly do. Today, I’m sharing my 10 favorite Christmas traditions.

10. Oyster Stew on Christmas Eve – this is a tradition from my Mom’s side of the family. Growing up, our evening meal on Christmas Eve was ALWAYS oyster stew. We’d eat supper a little early that night, so we could get farm chores done before church. For years, the menu was the same: oyster stew, crackers and cheese. As various people joined in our Christmas Eve celebration, my Mom began to make another kind of soup as well, as not everyone likes oyster stew. Hubby Rick and I continue the original tradition and have oyster stew on Christmas Eve.

9. Driving around to see the Christmas lights – growing up in a household that was always strapped for cash, my parents welcomed any activity that didn’t require much money. At some point around Christmas, we’d load up in the car after chores and drive around and look at Christmas lights. Since we lived in the country, it required a bit more travel. But one we looked forward to. We didn’t put up a lot of outside decorations at our house. Seeing others was truly fun.

8. Brunch with our grandkids – this isn’t really a tradition. But it was a highlight of our Christmas celebrations last year. For years, Hubby Rick hauled milk, meaning he picked up milk from the farm and delivered it to the processing plant. Shortly before we were married, his son Darran took over the Vielhuber milk route. Darran continues to haul milk. It’s a job that requires someone to run the route every day. This means that Darran almost always works holidays. Last year, a few days after Christmas, Darran and the kids came to our house to celebrate Christmas on a Saturday morning. I fixed a big brunch of eggs, bacon, pancakes, and biscuits and gravy. The kids LOVE breakfast and LOVED this brunch. They didn’t know what brunch was before this morning. When I explained it to them, they liked the idea. Often, granddaughter Ellie will ask me if we can make brunch together, purely because they loved our Christmas brunch so much. I hope we can do this again this holiday season.

7. Sitting by the Christmas tree and watching the lights. I love an evening during holidays when Rick and I can simply sit in the dark and watch the tree for a while. I know; it’s nothing big. But it’s so important to SLOW DOWN and enjoy the things that remind us of the reason for the season.

A basket full of Christmas cards

6. Receiving cards from family and friends – Right now, there’s a big stack of Christmas cards sitting on our island that have not been opened. Why? Because I want to have adequate time to read and enjoy them when they are opened. There are folks on our Christmas card list that we ONLY hear from during Christmas. I love seeing pictures and hearing about what’s going on in their family. After Christmas, I have a tradition where I sit down with all of our Christmas cards and read through them one more time. Then, I pray for each family individually. This has become a meaningful way that I specifically lift each family up.

5. Watching “The Sound of Music” – this is my all-time favorite musical. I can recite most of the lines as they are being spoken. Sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas, the movie is on television. I love to watch this movie over and over. I know it’s not specifically a Christmas movie, but I just love to watch it during this time of the year.

4. Singing Christmas Carols– for me, music is an important way to worship God. It’s a way to share theology and beliefs about God. Christmas carols are no different. Early in our marriage, Rick and I sat at the piano one night shortly before Christmas and sang carol after carol. IT. WAS. SO. MUCH. FUN. Maybe, it reminded me of how I used to do this with my Grandma Deaton. She loved to sit at the piano with me while I played her favorite songs. For me, there are so many Christmas carols that I feel share the Christmas story in a special way. I love to hear and sing them throughout the season.

3. Deaton Santa Cookies – for years, my Mom made these fancy and special Santa cookies. Each cookie is decorated with piped frosting, which makes them taste wonderful. They are beautiful and look special … but they do require more time to make. My sister Debbie and I still make these cookies every Christmas. It’s a tradition that we desperately want to continue. I gave a box to my friend Pam last weekend. (She requires her own box of Santa cookies every year.) She made my day when she sent a message saying this year’s version where “the best ever.”

2. Deaton Gift Exchange – several years ago, we began a tradition with my family. We don’t purchase gifts other than the youngest generation. Instead, I wrap up items from my parents and grandparents and share a story about these items. It’s become a fun way to share stories and family history. It’s also a way that we honor our loved ones. This past weekend was the Deaton Christmas. I had prepared the gifts for the exchange. I’m always amazed at what becomes the “prized item” from the exchange. Yes, there’s always a little exchanging afterwards, which is just fine. It’s become a huge part of our family Christmas and one that it appears is not going away anytime soon.

  1. Christmas Eve Worship – for me, this is THE most important tradition of Christmas. Growing up, we attended 8 PM worship. It was a different worship service, with no message. The story was simply told through song and scripture. The service always ended with lighting candles and singing “Silent Night.” Having lead Christmas Eve worship services for nearly 20 years, I love putting together a worship service that tells the story in a unique and interesting way. For many years, I wrote a service that allowed Rick and I to conduct the service together. Yes, there would tons of Christmas music. And the service ALWAYS ends with “Silent Night” and lighting candles. I can’t imagine Christmas without Christmas Eve worship. It just would not be Christmas.

What are your favorite Christmas traditions? Or things that make the holiday special? Please honor these traditions and ways that make your holiday special. It’s also how we pass down stories and traditions from generation to generation.

For Christmas traditions that remind us of the birth of Christ, I am grateful.

Dear God – thank you for all the many ways we remember the Christmas story. As we celebrate our various Christmas traditions, I pray we keep in mind the baby who is born and why he came to earth. Amen.  

Blessings –


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When It’s Not the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Gratitude Day 376

Tues., Dec. 17, 2019

Psalm 6:7: My vision fails because of my grief; it’s weak because of all my distress.

As much as we want to think this is THE MOST WONDERFUL time of the year, for some it is NOT.

It’s a difficult, sad and lonely time of the year.

Or there is remorse because everyone else thinks it’s a wonderful time … and you don’t.

Maybe you’ve lost a loved one.

Maybe you are struggling with depression.

Maybe your finances are challenging.

Or there is a broken or difficult relationship that clouds your brain.

Possibly you just don’t feel at the top of your game and you would gladly skip over all the holiday stuff and jump right into a new year.

There can be a hole bunch of reasons why the holidays are difficult for us. We don’t have to know WHAT is going on in a person’s life. We only need to be COMPASSIONATE.



More willing to listen than we are to speak.

And so, be gentle this Christmas.

Be aware if someone you know is struggling.

Filled with grief.

Not sure they want to celebrate.

Just be present. It’s not your role to fix things. YOUR job is to simply be.

This is enough.

For those who are willing to allow themselves to struggle during the holidays, I am grateful. I pray someone walks with them.

Holy God – You know exactly who is struggling these days. I pray that you will make it clear to us who is struggling and how we can simply be present for them. May we be gentle with those who holidays does not feel very festive. Amen.  

Blessings –


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Christmas Sights & Sounds

Gratitude Day 375

Sat., Dec. 14, 2019

Luke 2:19: But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 

Today, I want to drink in the sights and sounds of Christmas. And I want to treasure them all.

We will be celebrating Christmas with my Deaton family today. For several years, we have celebrated Christmas with the Deaton’s a couple weeks before Christmas. This way, we CAN all be together. And we love it.

Over the years, we’ve developed a few fun traditions. We will have the Deaton white elephant gift exchange. Rather than buying gifts, I put together gifts that reflect our family. These are things from our parents and our grandparents and my childhood. Some of these things are fun. Some are silly. Some are very popular. Others – not so much. We do this because it’s a great opportunity to remember our family. We tell stories and while versions maybe slightly different, it’s OK. It just allows us to laugh and share together. The sight of people opening these gifts, wondering what they opened and if they REALLY want these items is priceless.

We take turns organizing a craft for the kids to do. Sometimes, the big kids may do the craft as well. Just another fun way to see each other spend time together.

Of course, we’ll have a meal together. Maybe play cards. Catch up. Laugh. Smile.

I have a new little surprise this year. Going through my Mom’s things, I found some old slides and plan on having a little slide show. Maybe it will be more interesting for some than others. And it’s really OK.

I realized last night that I forgot a couple things at our house. But the day will go on. The sights, the sounds … they will make for a very special day.

Quite honestly, the Deaton Christmas is the ONLY day we are ALL TOGETHER. Seven years ago, it was the last time we were all together with my dad. We knew his time was short … and so did he. He didn’t feel well that day and it was an emotional afternoon. Two years ago, it was the last time we were all together with my mom. She fell the day before the Deaton Christmas and within days, was on Hospice.

Rather than look at these days and be sad, I choose to celebrate that we had these special days with our parents shortly before they passed away. The sights and sounds of those Christmas celebrations are so important to me.

Yes, it’s a mere 14 days before Christmas Eve. I know there is always a lot going on this time of the year. But PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE. Slow down. Take in the sights and sounds of the Christmas season. So, what if that one last batch of cookies doesn’t get baked? It’s OK. The cards don’t get sent out until January or are only posted on a social media account? It’s really OK. Take a drive and look at the lights. Go Christmas caroling. Watch a favorite movie. Spend less time shopping and more time creating special sights and sounds of Christmas memories that you WILL treasure way beyond whatever gift that didn’t get wrapped and put under the tree.

For your Christmas listening pleasure, click here and let you ears receive a wonderful bouquet of music:

For a day filled with sights and sounds of Christmas as we celebrate with family today, I am grateful.

Dear God – rather than anticipating Christmas like a firehose that blasts life, may we treasure the smallest and best Christmas sights and sounds. Challenge us to grasp the smallest things that make our Christmas special this year. Amen.  

Blessings –


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When Martha is in Overdrive

Gratitude Day 374

Fri., Dec. 13, 2019

Luke 10:38: By contrast, Martha was preoccupied with getting everything ready for their meal. So, Martha came to him and said, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to prepare the table all by myself? Tell her to help me.”

Imacon Color Scanner

The irony is NOT lost on me. In this time period when I have just published my first book, I feel life is a bit out-of-control.

What makes it even more ironic?

The book is about slowing life down. Ideas for busy-body Martha’s to discover that sitting at Jesus’ feet is absolutely necessary. How to be more aware and intentional about what we do and how we do it.

In the last month since the book officially launched, my schedule has been, let’s say, tight. Crowded. Full.

Oh, Ms. Martha Dianne, will you ever learn?

This is exactly why I call myself a recovering Martha. She still has lots of opportunity for improvement.

I often remember the well-known words from the found in the third chapter of the book of Ecclesiastes: “To everything there is a season …” Yes, some days are simply seasons of longer to-do lists than other seasons.

When I find myself in a more-than-unusually busy period, I often tell myself that this season is just for a “period.” It’s not how things will be forever. I just need to make it through this season. Overdrive lasts for awhile … but is not a good long-term solution.

Some of these over-full seasons are just for a day or two. Other seasons encompass a week or two. Possibly month. While in seminary, I felt that I just needed to keep myself alive while juggling school, two churches AND a new husband for a couple years.

If you feel like you are in a season with more going on these days, slow down. Pick only what MUST be done today. Find moments to be. Relish these moments. Remind yourself that it is just for a season.

If you find yourself in a very Martha-like season right now, give yourself permission to accept this season. But set an end-date. Stick with this date. Be OK with this busy season as it is not for forever.

To everything there is a season. No matter what season you are experiencing right now, love it. Celebrate it. Honor it. Relish it.

 Celebrate being a Martha who is seeking more Mary-ness in their lives.

Holy God As we accept the season of life we are in today, may we accept this responsibility with intention. May we relish the season we find ourselves in today. Amen.  

Blessings –


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