The Name Christina Mauser

Gratitude Day 396

Fri., Jan. 31, 2020

Job 23:3-5: Oh, that I knew where to find God—that I could go to his throne and talk with him there. I would tell him all about my side of this argument, and listen to his reply, and understand what he wants.

Does the name Christina Mauser ring a bell to you?

It didn’t for me either.

I actually Googled it so I could share her name with you.

A week ago, Christina was a normal mom, wife, basketball coach. Over the weekend, she died in a helicopter crash that took eight other lives.

You might recognize the name of one of those who died with Christina. His name was Kobe.

Christina was an assistant coach for the Mamba Academy basketball team on which Gianna Bryant played. Christina, Gianna, Kobe and six other people were headed to a basketball game Sunday morning. Unfortunately, they never made.

A mother of three, Christina’s husband’s world has been turned upside down. Matt Mauser spoke with one of the morning television show on Monday, less than 24 hours after his wife passed. After asking if he could tell about his wife, Matt described Christina as witty, technologically savvy and a person with a great ability to coach defense for basketball.

“It’s horrible,” Matt said. “I’ve got three small kids and am trying to figure out how to navigate life with three kids and no mom.”

Doesn’t your heart just break for Matt?

I have no words for Matt, his kids, his family and friends. I have no words for the Bryant family nor the other three families that lost loved ones in the crash. This is one of those times when all I can do is stutter because any words I would say would feel and be terribly inadequate.

I don’t know Matt. I don’t know his feelings or emotions. Where he is spiritually. Nor can I put words into his mouth. It is a possibility that he might feel a bit like Job when Job pleads with God, “Oh, if I only knew where to find God. Then, I could finally have a conversation with God and find out what I did wrong to cause this horrific thing to happen to me. Maybe, things might begin to make sense.”

Like Job, Matt must feel powerless in dealing with this awful thing that has happened to him and his family. Like many people who go through grief, they only want answers. Yet, the answers are terribly evasive and seldom forthcoming.

I pray people are patient with Matt and his family. I pray they surround him with prayers and love and care. I pray that people are doing the same for the Altobelli, Chester, Zobayan and Bryant families.

Will we ever really know what happened in that helicopter? Most likely, not. Accidents are called accidents for a reason. Bad things happen. Not because someone did something to “deserve” punishment. Bad things happen to good people and we often can’t explain why. We can just call them accidents.

I don’t believe God “caused” this accident to happen. It just happened.

Why didn’t God stop it from happening? My only response is to stutter.

I wish that I could wrap Matt up in a big hug and tell him that I’m praying for him and his family. Because I will be. I would also love for the Altobelli, Chester, Zobayan and Bryant families to know that so many are praying for them as well.

I have no other words for them. But now, I know Christina’s name. And John, Keri and Alyssa’s name. As well as Sarah and Payton, and Ara. And yes, Kobe and Gianna are names we have heard a thousand times this week.

God knows all of their names as well. God knows the names of their families and friends that are struggling right now. For anyone who has or is going through a difficult time: God knows your name. God knows your pain. God feels your struggle. Even if God didn’t seemingly do anything to “fix” these situations, God longs to wrap God’s arms around you and give you a big hug.

Sometimes, even God doesn’t have a lot of words. If you are struggling this day, I pray you envision God giving you a big old bear hug. Because God knows your name as well.

For God’s presence on bad days, I am grateful.

Blessings –

Dianne

Dear God – Wrap into your arms those who are struggling today. May they know You are with them. And may the prayers of many bring them just a bit of comfort and peace today. Amen.

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The Need for Kindness

Gratitude Day 395

Thurs., Jan. 30, 2019

Psalm 31:16: Let your favor shine again upon your servant; save me just because you are so kind!

As 2020 rolled around, I resolved to focus on a word for January: kindness. I really wanted to be more thoughtful in how I treat people. Respect people. What I say and do to and with people.

Some days, kindness rolls out of me with little or no thought. Other days? Not so much.

Honestly, it seems like there is just too little kindness in our world today. I seldom watch the news because, well, I want more positive things in my life than I feel is present in the news.

Why is it that we feel it’s OK to treat others so poorly?

Why is it that we feel we must always be right … with no wiggle room?

Why is it that it has become acceptable to not have a filter in what we say?

Our 8-year-old grandson Dylan has not yet discovered a filter in what he says. Basically, whatever comes into his brain comes out of his mouth. Yes, sometimes he says things that surprise me. Shock me. Wonder where this thought came from.

At times, I have expressed my amazement that he has NOT developed more of a filter at this stage of his life. I deem him as an amazing little guy who isn’t afraid to express himself.

So, why do I have such a hard time when others fail to use a filter as well?

Maybe it’s just a lot more interesting when it comes out of an 8-year-old who also happens to be your grandson.

Truth: there are moments when kindness does prevail.

Like all the folks who have spoken so highly of Kobe Bryant after his shocking death this past weekend. And the folks who gently have reminded us that other families are struggling with losing loved ones as well.

It gives me hope that kindness is still in vogue. And will be for a long time.

So, what have I discovered about kindness these past weeks?

As much as I want kindness to be second nature in my life, I still must work at it. Period.

Extending kindness may or may not be appreciated. And it’s OK.

Our world desperately needs kindness. Today. Tomorrow. Into the future.

God saves us out of great kindness. God doesn’t have to do this God CHOOSES to do this.

What a great lesson this is: CHOOSING to do kindness.

The kindness fairies still have some work to do with me. Maybe just being more aware of how I can display kindness in life is where I’m starting.

Imagine if we ALL took seriously the notion that we can be kind to others. What an amazing place we might life.

I pray we don’t give up on kindness. But rather, let’s be ambassadors of kindness. Out-do us in extending kindness as often as well can. Just maybe, there will be a slight shift in how we view kindness in our lives and in our world.

For the encouragement to continue extending kindness, I am grateful.

Blessings –

Dianne

Almighty God – thank you for such a radical definition of kindness in how You come to us. May we discover each day a specific opportunity to be kindness ambassadors within our little neck of the woods. Amen.

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Simple Respect

Gratitude Day 394

Tues., Jan. 28, 2019

Philippians 2:29: So, welcome him in the Lord with great joy and show great respect for people like him.

Recently, I recalled something that happened early in my marriage to Hubby Rick with two friends. These two women got such a kick out this little story, I thought you might as well.

Rick and I had been married just a few days. I was living in an apartment before we were married. We planned to move into a house owned by one of the churches that I served at the time. However, they were doing some remodeling to the house and it would be a few weeks. So, Rick “moved in” with me at the apartment after we were married.

At the time, I was attending seminary and gone several days a week. I use the words “moved in” rather loosely. When I was gone, Rick often stayed at the house where he raised his kids. If showing up with a couple grocery bags filled with a few items of clothing “moving in,” well, I guess Rick “moved in.” Honestly, I think his clothes stayed in a laundry basket most of the time we lived at the apartment because we knew that soon, we would be moving. Then, he would move more things.

We tried to get used to living with each other and not feeling awkward about learning each other’s idiosyncrasies. One day, Rick helped me with some of those. It was a weekend when I was back from seminary. I planned to get a few groceries and Rick shared with me three of his non-negotiables when it came to grocery shopping.

  1. There is only one kind of ketchup: Hunt’s. Don’t bring anything else home.
  2. It’s OK to shop frugally … but not when it comes to toilet paper. Buy the good stuff. Period.
  3. He would only eat creamy peanut butter. No crunchy for him.

As silly as these three “rules” sound, it really was very helpful for me to learn these things from the get-go. Rather than me showing up with Heinz and crunchy peanut butter, I knew from the beginning how to keep my new husband happy.

In reality, Rick gave me a huge gift. Rather than showing up with the wrong stuff and then telling me, he made it clear right away. Rick is a simple guy. He’s not really into flashy or high maintenance. By sharing with me what was important to me, he was demonstrating to me great respect. He was trying to make it easier for me. And believe me, I appreciated it!

Rick also established for us a way to share those things that ARE important. By including something as silly (but important) as TP in this early conversation, it became clear that he was OK exploring the topics that might see, well, uncomfortable. Suddenly, it became possible for us to share other little things that are important to us.

Too often, we dance around those things that may seem silly but in reality, ARE important. How much easier life would be if we could simply be honest, respect each other and share specifically how we feel about something. Of course, it MUST be done with care and compassion, not speaking down to the other person. Respect is only extended when the situation is handled in a way that honors the other person.

I have extremely hard to always fulfill Rick’s simple requests. Yes, they may see simple and silly. But is it not a great reminder that often, it’s not the BIG things that make a difference but the simplest of things?

May we discover meaningful and simple ways to honor and respect those that mean the most to us today.

For simple lessons that teach me about respect and honor, I am grateful.

Blessings –

Dianne

Dear God – Thank you for placing it upon Hubby Rick’s heart to share those simple yet poignant choices he desires. Help us to extend respect and honor to those we love dearly by honoring them compassionately with how we treat them. Amen.

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Simple Saturday

Gratitude Day 393

Sat., Jan. 25, 2019

1 Peter 2:9: But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people who are God’s own possession. You have become this people so that you may speak of the wonderful acts of the one who called you out of darkness into his amazing light.

Just in case no one has told you this week … YOU ARE AMAZING!

You are a special person, created by God, to do great things for God’s Kingdom!

Each day, you extend kindness and do great things for God’s kingdom. You put others first and find a way to make things work.

Thanks for being AMAZING!

Now … just a few things I’m thinking about this day.

Yesterday, I donated blood. It’s just a small way that I could extend kindness to someone else. Each day, I’m sharing a photo from my day and a few thoughts about how this little thing is a part of my daily spiritual journey. To see these thoughts, please Facebook friend me at Dianne Deaton Vielhuber or follow me on Instagram at diannedeatonvielhuber. I know not everyone has social media … so I’ll try to share here sometimes as well.

Two months ago, I launched The Mary Experiment. It’s been such a rewarding experience! Every week, someone sends me an e-mail or tells me how the book has helped them. I LOVE THIS! My deepest desire in writing this book was to inspire and encourage others. So, thanks for sharing … and please continue to do so. If you haven’t purchased the book, it’s available on Amazon in both Kindle and paperback versions.

People share with me how much they enjoy the reflection questions and prayers at the end of each chapter. I would LOVE to have conversations with people about The Mary Experiment and encourage others to reflect on their own personal journey. How can this happen? We could have a book signing at a location near you. I could visit a small group you are a part of and we could dig deeper into the reflection questions or go through some of the free devotional guide. I would love to speak to a any size group about my experiences. Honestly, I am open to anything! If you have an idea of how I can be a part of something you are aware of or a part of, please contact me. Let’s have a conversation! It makes my heart so happy when others share with me their experience of reading the book. Let’s help make it available to more people!

Promise to take a few minutes for YOURSELF today. Do something that you love, enjoy or relish time to do. Make it 15 minutes or 30 minutes or a full hour! Hit the pause button on life and do something that fills you up and restores you. Find a little way to include some Mary time in your life. Drink it in. Celebrate it. Remember that YOU are AMAZING! Thanks for reading along here at Simple Words of Faith. I appreciate everyone of you AMAZING people!

For all the AMAZING people who I get to share life with, I am grateful.

Blessings –

Dianne

Holy God – may we appreciate this day and being part of You AMAZING family. I pray we never take this for granted. Amen.

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Just One Little Mistake

Gratitude Day 392

Fri., Jan. 24, 2019

Proverbs 14:29: Patience leads to abundant understanding, but impatience leads to stupid mistakes.

TRUTH: I made a stupid mistake this week.

It’s amazing how one little number can create havoc.

For my real-life work, I handle the promotional and marketing materials for a small agricultural company. This week, I sent out an e-mail newsletter. And one little number needed to be changed. And I didn’t make the change.

TRUTH: This is NOT the first time that I have made a stupid mistake. Stupid mistakes happen in my life EVERY. SINGLE WEEK. It’s just that this week, well, a whole bunch of people could read the mistake.

This one wrong number let to phone calls, e-mails and various inquiries if the information in the newsletter was correct or not. My little mistake lead increased the workload unnecessarily for other people who work for the same company. This was certainly NOT my intention.

But it happened.

TRUTH: My boss realized this mistake before I did.

It’s embarrassing when someone else figures out your mistakes before you do. Especially for a person, like me, who wants things right. Perfect. Just so.

When the e-mail came to me addressing the mistake, there was only one way for me to deal with it. Accept responsibility. Clearly state that it was MY mistake. Apologize. Acknowledge that I realize MY mistake affected other people.

Rather than fretting about the mistake, it’s best for me to deal with it and move on. Otherwise, I replay the situation over and over and over in my brain.

This is NOT a good utilization of my energy nor my time. And it really becomes a HUGE distraction.

TRUTH: I will make mistakes today. Tomorrow. The next day.

It’s not that I intentionally try to make mistakes. I move too quickly. Or I’m not patient enough. Or I am more focused on getting something done and then, the one little number doesn’t get changed.

It’s just a bit more embarrassing when others can read all of your mistakes.

TRUTH: Just one letter or number can make a huge difference.

I once sent out an ad (many, many years ago) with huge letters at the top of the ad with this word:

AMESOME

This ad when to hundreds of thousands of people. No, the editor didn’t catch it. Nor the sales rep that saw it also before production. Everyone read the word like I did and assumed it said:

AWESOME

But it didn’t.

TRUTH: Life is full of so many instances where we are SO CLOSE … but one letter or one number from being just right.

Some people can roll right with it. Others, like me beat ourselves up for that one letter or one number that isn’t right. Over and over.

TRUTH: God accepts us just the way we are. When we’re so close to being amazing … but we aren’t. When we make one or two letter or number mistakes. When we REALLY screw up. When we choose not to listen to God’s messengers who come into our lives. When we give up on something or ourselves.

God is there, ready to pick up the pieces and love us just the way we are. Warts and all. Wrong letter and all. Wrong number and all.

THANK GOODNESS.

TRUTH: YOU are AMAZING, no matter what.

Yep, You. AMAZING. Special. Unique.

And God loves YOU just the way you are.

Even if some of the rest of us think there should be a little tweaking. YOU are AMAZING.

Even when you forget to change a number. Or a letter. Or something else that is a mistake.

THANK GOODNESS we have a loving God that always, always, always loves US.

For a God who loves me in spite of me not being perfect, I am grateful.

Blessings –

Dianne

Dear God – how you continue to love when, even when I’m sometimes unlovable, is AMAZING. Thanks for overlooking my faults. My errors. My mistakes. My shortcomings. Help me to be less judgmental +of others and follow Your example of loving others no matter what. Amen.

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God in Simple, Daily Living

Gratitude Day 391

Mon., Jan. 20, 2019

1 Thessalonians 4:1-2: Let me add this, dear brothers: You already know how to please God in your daily living, for you know the commands we gave you from the Lord Jesus himself. Now we beg you—yes, we demand of you in the name of the Lord Jesus—that you live more and more closely to that ideal.

Most often, I begin my day like this. While still in bed, I say a short prayer to God, asking for guidance and wisdom throughout the day. “Help me focus on the most important things for me to seek today,” I ask over and over and over.

Focus lasts, on a good day, about, oh, 30 minutes. I make coffee, begin to think through what priorities I have for the day. Before I know it, I’m soon sidetracked by things that simply pull me away from focusing on what’s most important.

I see something on my phone and get lead down a rabbit trail.

Something on the internet pulls me into a hole of wasted time.

One call or e-mail changes up the entire day.

All of those great intentions before I rolled out of bed in the morning seem and feel like a distant request.

Yes, there are days that I get back on track. Refocus. Remember what’s most important. I still get good things done and even cross a few things off a to-do list. But it’s oh, so easy to lose focus of finding the most important things that I should seek in a day.

Most days, I prioritize time in the morning to spend moments with God. I have a consistent routine that I follow. Yes, this helps with focus. But it’s unrealistic to think that a few sentences of prayer in the morning will bath my entire God with good choices and me seeking guidance from God.

The last few days, I’ve been trying a new thing: finding God through pictures. I’ve always admired photographers and would love to be one of those people who cranks out beautiful pictures that people ohh and ahh about. But I’m not.

Nonetheless, I CAN use a camera … even my phone camera … to see God in a slightly different perspective. In the very simplest of things in life. So sometime throughout the day, I’ve been picking up my phone and taking just one or two pictures that remind me to slow down and seek God. Right then. Right now. In the middle of the day. Or the end of the day. Or somewhere in-between.

The pictures are ordinary. Simple. Natural. Nothing extra-ordinary. They challenge me to find God in the simplest of things in my very ordinary, vanilla days.

I could keep these photos to myself and let it be. But … I’m challenging myself to take it one small step further. Lately, every day, I’ve posted these photos on my social media accounts; on Facebook and Instagram. I write just a few sentences of what I found in the simple moments that the photo was taken. What inspiration I’ve discovered in my day. Where I hear and feel God speaking to me.

I’m calling it my daily photography devotion.

I’ll be honest. Sometimes, I struggle with social media. Yes, I have Facebook and Instagram accounts. Historically, I’ve posted some but certainly not every day. Well, I post these blogs on Facebook every time I write one. But really, this is what I share the most on social media: my blog posts.

I’m hoping these photos will be just another little way to connect with folks. To challenge myself and others to find God in our simple, ordinary, vanilla lives. To celebrate and be grateful for where we can see God. To orient ourselves sometime during the day to seeking God, God’s wisdom and guidance in what I do throughout the day.

So, I would love to have you follow me along with these photos. If you are on Facebook, please friend and follow me at Dianne Deaton Vielhuber. PLEASE make sure you follow my PERSONAL account! If you see my name next to a logo with an animal in the center, this account is for my work! (You can follow this if you’re into bulls and cows and such. But you won’t find my daily photos here!)

I also have a Facebook page for Simple Words of Faith … and I’ll begin sharing the photos there as well.

On Instagram, find me at diannedeatonvielhuber.

I’d love to hear feedback on the photos and sayings as well. If you find the photos or thoughts inspiring, PLEASE encourage others to follow these as well.

I know not everyone is on social media. IT’S OK!! We don’t all have to be. I anticipate some of those photos showing up in my blog posts as well from time to time.

One of the reasons I write this blog is to encourage others to find faith in the simplest of ways in our daily lives. Faith doesn’t have to be complicated, difficult or feel out of reach. I believe faith should be part of our daily triumphs and challenges. In reach. The little ways that we find gratitude and inspiration.

Thanks for following along in this journey as I share simple ways that I find faith in my life. I pray that it inspires you to do the same!

For finding God in the simplest of ways, I am grateful.

Blessings –

Dianne

Holy God – Forgive me for all the days I plan to take you along … and leave you in the dust. Forgive me for getting distracted and pulled away for focusing on You. Thank you for placing it upon my heart the opportunity to find you in pictures … in the simple areas of my life. I pray this is another great way for me to connect with You. Amen.

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SLOW DOWN …

Gratitude Day 390

Mon., Jan. 20, 2019

Psalm 107:1: Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.

It should not be a hard transition … but it has been.

This new decade, 2020, has started slowly for me. Shortly after the beginning of the year, Hubby Rick and I went on vacation. It was a gift to be away for over a week and spend time with family.

But I’ll be honest. Transitioning back to real life since getting back as been, well, not as easy as I thought it would be.

The first few days were jam-packed full. We’ve had a distraction in our lives and my heart has needed time to process this. And the words just have not come as easily as I would like. Words for this very blog. Words to describe how I feel. Words about what and where I should focus this next stage of my life.

Sometimes, I just have not been very efficient with my time. Normally, I’m planning and mapping out and thinking and doing. But quite honestly, I just have not felt like doing this.

It’s so unlike me.

Maybe, just maybe, what I need to do is give myself a bit of grace.

A bit of space.

Permission to explore and be OK with this.

In my Bible, I often keep little things that have struck a chord with me. This is where the following prayer has been kept for years. I don’t know who wrote it … I didn’t. But I wish that my heart, and your heart, can hear these words today:

Slow us down, Lord.

Ease the pounding of our hearts.

By the quiet of our minds.

Steady our hurried pace

With a vision of the eternal reach of time.

Give us amidst the confusion of our day

The Calm of the Everlasting hills.

Break the tensions of our nerves and muscles

With eh soothing music of the singing streams.

Teach us the art of taking minute vacations

Of slowing down to look at a flower …

  To chat with a friend … or pat a dog

  … to read a few lines from a good book.

Remind us each day of the fable of the hare and the tortoise,

That we may know that the race is not always to the swift;

That there is more to life than increasing its speed.

Allow us to look upward into the branches of the towering oak

And know that it grew great and strong because it grew slowly and well.

Slow us down, dear God,

And inspire us to send our roots deep into the soil of life’s enduring values,

That we may grow toward the starts of our greater destiny.

Amen.

If you need to hear these words today, I pray you find peace in them.

For permission to slow down, I am grateful.

Blessings –

Dianne

Dear God – thanks for the words of this prayer and the person who wrote them. May I embody them today. Amen.

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Are You Listening?

Gratitude Day 389

Sat., Jan. 18, 2019

Matthew 13:9: Are you listening to this? Really listening?

This is how I closed my last e-mail: See you in a week or so.

So, hmmm … how did a week stretch into two weeks?

It just did.

I could tell you all the excuses I can find that are for real. Like, how it took us one-and-a-half days to get home because of bad weather in Chicago. Bad weather = an unexpected flight to Key West AND an overnight in Dallas. Or how about an hour after we finally got home, we held our last Christmas celebration. For real. In very Martha-like fashion, I pulled together a meal with a help from the local deli. Two long travel days ended with windshield time taking grandkids home and visiting family. Thank goodness Hubby Rick took last Sunday night off!

Yes, a week off means more time at work the following week. And unexpected distractions that well, took more of me than I care to admit. It was Wednesday before I finished up the vacation laundry. Seriously. I walked around laundry baskets for days before the last clean piece of clothing was finally put away.

In the midst of this, I made one little change that has made a difference in my spiritual life. As 2019 closed out, I shared a 2020 Bible Reading Plan which takes you through the entire New Testament in 2020. I tried to make it realistic by only including scripture passages for five days a week. A chapter a day for five days per week, and YOU can read the entire New Testament! (Plus a few bonus passages.)

Determined to follow my own plan, I packed the smallest Bible I have for vacation. Trying to take less baggage, you know. When I got home, I decided that I wanted to use a different translation than I normally do. For years, I have used the NIV translation in my personal devotions. Wanting to switch it up, I pulled out my copy of The Message written by Eugene Peterson. The Message is the Bible in contemporary language. It’s not so much a literal translation of the Greek (New Testament) or Hebrew (Old Testament). Rather, it’s a personal message written in words we can all relate to.

One of the first days, I used The Message, I ran across this in Matthew 13:

(Jesus says,) “Are you listening to this? Really listening?”

Yikes. I stopped dead in my tracks.

Matthew 13 includes a well-known parable in which Jesus tells about harvesting seed. Some seed falls on the road, which doesn’t take root. Some seed falls on the road, which is a metaphor for a person who hears God’s word and responds enthusiastically. But when the emotion wears off or something difficult happens, well, faith dies. Some seed gets enveloped by weeds. This person lets worry and wanting more strangle what is heard. Once again, faith falls to the wayside.

Finally, Jesus tells how some seed falls on the good earth and produces a huge harvest. This person takes the News they have heard and shares it with others.

Are you listening to this? Really listening?

Of course, we always see ourselves as the seed that falls on the good earth with a hearty harvest. It’s someone else whose faith doesn’t take root or turns away when something difficult happens in their life. Even if there are weeds in our life, well, we can name a lot of other people who have way bigger weeds than we do.

We focus on the seed. But …

Are you listening to this? Really listening?

I think of the Verizon guy who spent a couple years traveling around the U.S. asking people if they could hear him now. Today, the Verizon guy is no longer the Verizon guy. He’s the spokesperson for another cell phone company. I’m not sure why he jumped ship. My guess is some other company got his attention and he listened to them more than he listened to Verizon.

Who do YOU listen to?

If I was truly honest, I would admit that there are way too many other things in my life that I listen to … before I listen to God. Sure, every once in a while, I stop and listen. But too often, the clamoring noise of “the urgent” occupies me. Or the distractions that lure we away from what I know should be my focus wins out.

Today, I am committing this day to listening to God. Will my life be dramatically different at the end of the day? I have no clue. Will God speak to me in a profound way? Not so sure. What I do know is this:

I have spent way too much of my life listening to all the other voices in my life and ignoring the voice of God.

It’s time to take back listening. Listening to God. Whether I receive a profound message or even some little small message from God today, it’s time for me to use my two ears more than my one mouth. It’s time to really listen to God.

For new reminders out of a different translation of the Bible, I am grateful.

Blessings –

Dianne

Holy God – I’m a little ashamed at how seldom I truly listen for You in my life. Forgive me for letting all the other noises drown you out way too often. Speak to me today. Quietly or loudly. In a still, small way or with a demanding voice. I pray I hear You in my life today. Amen.

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Leaving on a Jet Plane

Gratitude Day 388

Sat., Jan. 4, 2019

Hebrews 4:9: So, you see that a sabbath rest is left open for God’s people.

There will be a time today that Hubby Rick and I will be leaving on a jet plane.

Yep, we’re getting out of the Wisconsin winter and going someplace WARM!

And we are excited! We’re going with family and cousins and will be enjoying sun and water and all things that make a vacation great.

I already know it will be fabulous!

Truth? A little secret?

I almost feel like it’s a little extravagant that we get to go on such a nice vacation. It’s not like completely over-the-top. But it will be nice. Fun. Warm. I can almost feel the warm of the sun on my face … and we are still in the cold!

Honestly, there’s a bit of me that feels guilty. Not everyone gets to take a vacation this winter. Some will trudge through the snow and cold ALL. WINTER. LONG. While here we are, jetting off somewhere south.

Should I feel guilty that we get to go on vacation? It’s a mixed bag for me. It certainly makes the winter feel less oppressive when we get to spend some time where it’s warmer.

Do I wonder whether it’s a good utilization of our resources? No … and yes. Rick loathes winter and a week away always puts him in a better mood for the rest of the winter. Yet, I also know it makes the rest of winter more bearable for both of us.

I also know this will be a great opportunity to spend time with family and cousins. Growing up, my family didn’t spend much time with our cousins. It just didn’t work out. As adults, I think it’s so cool that we CHOOSE to do things together. And I think we are all the richer for it.

So, I’m thinking of this time away as Sabbath. Time to recharge. Refuel. Refocus. Rethink. Relax. Reconnect.

I am a huge promoter of Sabbath. For me, Sabbath isn’t just a day of the week when we worship God. It’s time when we slow down our normal schedule and be. It’s Mary time. Yes, it will be filled with fun activities and good food and great laughs. But it’s also an opportunity to listen. Be. Get filled.

Whether you are able to get away for several days this winter or not, YOU can create Sabbath in your life. Spend an afternoon doing something that fills your tank. Create moments each day to read or meditate or be. Take an activity you love to do and turn it into time you spend with God.

We all are a little better after Sabbath. We all need time to decompress. We all need a fresh look at life.

See you in a week or so.

For the opportunity for Sabbath this next week, I am grateful.

Blessings –

Dianne

Dear God – thank you for the example of Sabbath. Even You carved out space to be and recharge. I pray we discover ways to do this in our own lives. Amen.

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January’s Word = KINDNESS

Fri., Jan. 3, 2019

Zechariah 7:9: The Lord of heavenly forces proclaims: Make just and faithful decisions; show kindness and compassion to each other!

My mission during the month of January is very simple: SHOW KINDNESS.

Sorry if it feels like I’m yelling at you. But please. Can we all just be a bit more kind to each other?

I’m tired. I’m tired of people nit-picking and thinking only of themselves. I’m tired of the world looking only through the lenses of ME, ME and some more ME!

Can we stop wanting to make sure that WE get something first and please, just please, think of someone else BEFORE we think of ourselves?

The hurtful things often said make my heart sad. The way we react before thinking how our words and/or actions will affect someone else disappoints me. Why is it when we are hurting, we want to make sure someone else gets hurt as well?

Can this all please just stop?

Full disclosure. I know that I have hurt people. I have said things that should not have been said. My actions have not always been kind.

This is why the word I’m focusing on every day in January is very simple.

KINDNESS.

Can we please be kind first? Then, we don’t have to make apologies for what we say and do.

Can we please be kind first? And see how much good we can spread around!

Can we please be kind first? And be AMAZED at how easy it is?

What would happen if we poured love into the people around us, as well as the communities in which we live … even when we don’t feel like it?

What would happen if we INTENTIONALLY chose to be agents of kindness every single day?

What would happen if we chose kindness before criticism? Grace before judgement? Love before hate?

I don’t think we ever outgrow the need for kindness. We don’t ever stop needing kindness ourselves. Therefore, wouldn’t everyone else love a little kindness as well!

Will you partner with me? Find one teeny, tiny way to express kindness to someone everyone day throughout the month of January?

Hold the door open for someone.

Smile at someone who seems grumpy and upset. Try to make them smile!

Listen before you speak.

Take in the neighbor’s mail. Shovel their sidewalk. Sit and chat with them for 30 minutes.

Pick up the phone and call that person you have been meaning to call … and haven’t.

Pay for the treat the person in front of you is purchasing … just because.

Turn off your phone and be present.

Just be kind.

Just love them.

Kindness breeds kindness. Happiness breeds happiness. When you extend some smallest little form of kindness, this person is more likely to be kind as well. Instead of fretting about someone’s imperfections, be kind to them. You aren’t perfect either. Grant them grace. Behavior is often mimicked, whether we see it or not.

Avoid letting someone else steal your kindness. No matter what, stay kind. Yes, you may name how someone is trying to hijack your kindness. Then, gently move on. Let’s be kindness givers … not takers.

Be aware of how you treat other people. Kids, grandkids and others hear how we talk to each other. How do you respond to the people you love the most when we first see them? Are you excited and happy? Or do you ignore them? Being kind is simply an extension of how much we value someone.

When there is a disagreement or anxiety or a rift, what words do we use? We can still be kind even as we express our opinion.

Kindness is not just a special event treat. It should be part of our daily arsenal that gets used over and over and over. How we choose to use kindness in our every day life speaks loudly about how we view kindness.

Train yourself to be kind. Find ways to be kind in your speech, conduct, love, faith and purity.

I would love to hear your examples and stories of kindness: ways you discovered how to express kindness. Or examples of how kindness was extended to you.

If we want there to be an alternative to the rhetoric we so often hear, see and witness, it is up to US to set a new standard. Create a new barometer. Become the kindness police.

For the opportunity to be kind every single day, I am grateful.

Blessings –

Dianne

Dear God – It’s really very clear in Your word: show kindness. Rather than expecting someone else to model kindness to us, may WE choose to exemplify kindness in every possible situation that we can through this next month. Amen.

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