Lenten Prayer Guide

Gratitude Day 412

Tues., Feb. 25, 2020

Romans 8:26: And in the same way—by our faith—the Holy Spirit helps us with our daily problems and in our praying. For we don’t even know what we should pray for nor how to pray as we should, but the Holy Spirit prays for us with such feeling that it cannot be expressed in words.

Tomorrow – Wed., Feb. 26 – is a special day.

Special maybe not in the normal sense of the word. But special to me because it is the first day of Lent 2020.

Lent is a part of the Christian calendar. A setting apart of the 40 days before Easter as a time to look inside of ourselves. See what we like. What we don’t like. How we can walk closer with God. Challenge ourselves to make tweaks towards becoming the best version of who God created us to be.

Each Lent, I challenge myself to practice my faith in a deeper and personally more meaningful way. For 40 days, I commission myself to be more intentional. Thoughtful. Purposeful. These Lenten practices have focused on a variety of things. Sometimes, I fast from things and try to remove them from my life. Other times, I add in something, a practice that is designed to draw me closer to God.

For Lent 2020, I’m adding in intentional prayer. Yes, I pray every day. It’s a part of who I am. I try to make prayer the first thing I do in the morning before my feet hit the group. I close the day reciting the Lord’s Prayer after I have climbed back into bed. And yes, there are other prayers throughout the day.

As part of this 40 Days of Praying for Lent 2020, I’ve put together a little chart to help me focus daily prayer. Each day (minus the Sabbath), there’s a specific topic of sorts that to use in prayer. Sometimes, the daily prayer affirmation encourages you to pray for yourself. Some days, it’s looking at people or the world around you. It’s a little way to help you be intentional and focused on prayer throughout the 40 days of Lent.

On page two, there is a chart where you can write down ideas related to the specific prayer affirmation for the day. This is a way for you to record what you’ve prayed for on a specific day. I encourage you to use this chart as a way to continue praying for each of these daily prayer affirmations throughout Lent.

Sometimes, it’s hard to know exactly what to pray for. People have shared this with me consistently over the years. My prayer is that this chart will provide you specific ways to focus your prayer during Lent 2020.

To print off a copy of the 40 Days of Prayer for Lent 2020 guide, either click on the photos above or download this PDF:

Will you join me in this special 40 Days of Prayer for Lent 2020?

For the desire and encouragement to focus prayer during Lent this year, I am grateful.

Blessings –

Dianne

Dear God – As Lent begins this year, place it upon my heart ways that I can look inside of myself and grow spiritually. Together, may we discover ways for You to speak more clearly to me throughout these next 40 days of Lent. Encourage me to be more specific about prayer during this time. May I find a time of focused prayer personally enriching this Lent. Amen.

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The Bane Between "Today" and "The Good 'Ole Days"

Gratitude Day 411

Sat., Feb. 22, 2020

Romans 12:2: Don’t be conformed to the patterns of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your minds so that you can figure out what God’s will is—what is good and pleasing and mature.

Yesterday, Hubby Rick and I stopped a visited his 101-year-old Aunt Mil. Mil never married and never had children. Her mother, Rick’s grandmother, immigrated to the United States as a young woman from Czechoslovakia. In 1911, Grandma Vielhuber had a ticket for the Titanic. Circumstances happened and she did not get on the ship. Later, she came to American with her sister. Their goal was to make enough money to return to the old country and open a bakery.

Grandma Vielhuber never left the United States. Instead, she was married twice. After her first husband died a mysterious death, she married the man who was Rick’s Grandpa Vielhuber. She gave birth to six children; one which died as an infant. She worked hard and raised a family. Later in life, Grandma Vielhuber built a house in Madison, which is where Mil lived until she moved into an assisted living a couple years ago.

Mil still speaks with a broken old country accent. Her room is intentionally sparse, with only the absolute necessities. As frugal as the day is long, Mil has lived a life focused on finding pleasure in the simplest of things: a beautiful flower garden, lunch with those she cares for and recording the weather EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

Imagine a person who has never had a cell phone. May not know what the internet is. (Mil worked for the University of Wisconsin-Madison but retired before e-mail and the internet were necessities within the workplace.) Facebook and Instagram are as foreign to her as an African safari. She does not need 144 characters on Twitter to let anyone know how she feels about something. Just ask her and she will tell you. Point blank.

Yes, Mil is old fashioned. Set in her ways. Opinionated. Yet, she can recall events at 101-years-old that most of us have only read about. Not in an encyclopedia but on Google.

It is amazing to watch a woman who has lived her life basically the same way for decades … and is completely comfortable with it. Does she know what she is missing out on because she doesn’t have a smartphone … let alone any phone? Nope. Is the value of what she feels is important to her influenced by those who purposefully try to influence trends and stances by social media? Absolutely not. Will what she value today be any different today than it was tomorrow? A most certain and emphatic, “No.”

As I sit at my laptop and type these words, I am very much aware how technology, the internet and social media are tools that I depend upon. Tools that I have embraced and utilize and leverage. Yet, I hope and pray that I see them purely as “tools” and not the “end all” for what is important to me.

Yet, the question begs to be asked: “Is there a point when all these ‘tools’ that we embrace, and use become counter-productive to our culture?”

You bet.

I get tired of the fake news that is quickly re-posted and repeated without any vetting or discernment. I know that I spend too much time on social media and let it pull me away from nurturing deeper and more meaningful real-life relationships. Do I enjoy seeing what is going on in other people’s lives? Yes. But do I need to scroll through more sponsored posts and ads than actual real-life content to find those few valuable nuggets of content that comes from real people that I know?

There’s a bane between today and yesterday. A struggle between how much technology/new-fangled stuff/screen time/the latest and greatest with a simpler, more wholesome time when people had real conversations and didn’t depend upon text messages. Too often, I see us hiding behind our safe and comfortable screens rather than making an actual phone call to a person and have a real-life conversation. I know that I am as guilty as the next person and that I am calling the kettle “black” right now.

The Apostle Paul wrote about this nearly 2,000 years ago; long before we relied upon things held in a person’s hand for a barrage of information. “Be careful,” Paul said. “It’s easy to conform to what the world says is important rather than challenging your mind to dig a little deeper and see what God says.” It’s not just the source of our information that Paul is challenging us on. It’s the depth of what we ponder and think about that Paul wants us to explore as well. Will our faith and interaction with culture be an inch deep and an ocean wide … or are we willing to look deeply into our souls, relationships, minds and experiences and see where God is leading us? Do we take time to really listen to God, explore God’s word and see where we are being led? Or do we depend only upon what culture says?

Personally, I do not think Paul says we should ignore culture and what is happening in the world around us. Theologian Karl Barth explained it this way: hold the newspaper in one hand and scripture in the other and make sure one influences the other. With fewer actual newspapers being read these days, maybe our 2020 interpretation of this might go something like this: it’s OK to have a smartphone with lots of access to news and information and Google. But let’s not forget to run all of this information through a lens of God’s priorities as well.

Some may say Aunt Mil is living in a time and place that is no longer relevant for today. And they may be right. Yet, there is a poignant lesson for the rest of us as well. When technology/the internet/social media/search engines/platforms become the center of our focus and universe, then it’s time to re-evaluate. We can have quality time with each other and leave our phones behind. We don’t have to have immediate access to information and entertainment and what is going on in everyone else’s lives that we forget to live our own life.

Yes, I will be using technology today. I’ll check e-mail multiple times throughout the day. I’ll post something on social media and smile when someone else thinks the content I post is worthwhile. Yet, I hope that I also am fully aware that there is more to my life than staring at a screen. I pray you know and embrace this today as well.

For opportunities to learn from our elders and embrace culture with our faith, I am grateful.

Blessings –

Dianne

Holy God – it seems that Paul’s words to keep culture and faith in the appropriate tension are even more appropriate than when he wrote them nearly 2,000 years ago. May we not see the tools of today’s culture as a means to an end. May we embrace knowing You as the center of our faith and life. Amen.

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When Relationships Are Important

Gratitude Day 410

Fri., Feb. 21, 2020

Ephesians 4:2: Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.

Most days, I take relationships for granted. While I like to think that I know today is called a gift for a reason, it is also very easy to just assume those people who are so important to us will always be there.

So, we become complacent. Take the day for granted. Promise ourselves that “tomorrow, we’ll make time” for an important relationship.

Folks … let’s not wait until tomorrow. If a relationship IS important, allow for this TODAY!

Whether the relationship is a partner, a child, a grandchild or a friend … it’s worth the extra time in effort.

Hubby Rick and I have been married for nearly two decades. Sometimes, we’re super good about making sure each other knows how important this relationship is to us. Other times? We fail to do so.

But when we take time to bear one another in love, it is amazing how special we both feel.

Would you like a couple examples of how we bear each other in love and make our relationship important? Good! I’m ready to share a few simple ideas.

Small expressions are deeply meaningful. Neither Rick nor I would consider gifts our main love language. We do not get gifts for each other on a regular basis. So, when a gift shows up? It’s kind of a big deal.

Even when the gift seems like such a simple thing.

Hubby Rick likes to “surprise” me at holidays. Often, I won’t receive a card or some other indication of a holiday until, well, a few days or a week or two later. Imagine my surprise on the most recent Valentine’s Day when I discovered this little gift sitting on the kitchen island. Rick works nights. He put out this little gift for me before he went to bed.

But it goes beyond candy and a card. Reese’s cups are my FAVORITE candy. Hands down. Rick knows that I’ve been carefully observing what I eat these days. So, he gave me a box of candy with just a few Reese’s. If I’m going to indulge, then best I indulge with what I really like!

And the card? Well, I didn’t realize how cool this was initially! For the past number of years, Scrabble has been my go-to game. I love the challenge of coming up with words and finding ways to get more points with a word. So, when I opened the card and saw this, my heart simply melted. (NOTE: the letters for WIFE are ACTUAL Scrabble letters! How cool!)

My guess is Rick stopped on his way to work at Walgreens or some other store, ran in and in five minutes, was back in the car. BUT what we picked out for me? Things he knew would be something I would love and appreciate.

Gifts do not have to be large. Big. Out of this world. Reese’s cups and a Scrabble card? What is a girl not to love!

Compared to Rick’s little treats for me, how did I do? Well, it took me a couple days to fully get my gift to Rick together. He is not a big sweet person. If there is one sweet he likes, it’s a lemon meringue pie. Yep, that’s what he got. The entire pie.

Prioritize time with those who you love. Rather than gifts, quality time is more of Rick and my love languages. When we make time to do something fun together, it really is a home run.  

For a few weeks this winter, there was an ice castle exhibit a couple hours from our house. I thought this would be a fun date night for us. Rick took a night off of work and we spent the afternoon and evening in Lake Geneva, culminating by going to the ice castles. The temperature was about 30 degrees, which made for a love night. Snow fell while we were there which made it almost seem magical. Built into the ice castles are lights which change colors. There are places to sled, fire pits with benches around them, water fountains and just a great event for the entire family.

We took our time and enjoyed the evening. We had opportunity to talk about various things, people watch and just be together. We agreed this was a great night.

Now, if getting away for an evening isn’t possible, find a way to do something at home that becomes quality time. Sometimes, we go for a bike ride together (yes, even in the winter!) or a walk. Rick likes it when we bike to a hill not too far from town, walk up and down the hill and then ride our bikes back home. When we choose to do something that the other person enjoys do, we make significant deposits into their love banks. Highly recommended.

Focus on a project that the other person would love. For the past year, Hubby Rick spent countless hours remodeling an old apartment-sized kitchen in the upstairs of our house into a master bathroom.

The space had a complete overhaul. Right down to the studs.

He spent hours and hours getting things just right. When we realized that installing a shower this big was a larger project than he anticipated, he watched hundreds of YouTube videos for suggestions on how to do things right. And when I say hundreds, I’m not exaggerating.

Rick knew this bathroom was something I was looking forward to. While it took awhile to get everything completed, it turned our gorgeous. It truly is a wonderful example of how remaking something can be amazing.

The project does not need to be a bathroom overhaul. It can be a 10- or 15-minute job that simple says to the other person, “I care for you and I want to give something to you just because.”

When I think of all the hours Rick spent getting the bathroom right, I feel loved and appreciated. You can do this same thing for someone else.

Ephesians is clear: be patient, humble and gentle. When we embody these characteristics, we speak loudly to those we love how important they are to us. Yes, we can say the words, “I love you” to someone regularly. And we should! But our actions towards another always speaks than our actual words. This is how we bear one another in love.

For opportunities to honor an important relationship, I am grateful.

Blessings –

Dianne

Dear God – too often, the people who mean the most to us get our leftovers: whatever is left over at the end of the day. Encourage us to prioritize those most special relationships in our lives and make them a priority. Amen.

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Embrace of Life of "Do's" Rather than " Don'ts"

Gratitude Day 409

Thurs., Feb. 20, 2020

1 Thessalonians 2:12: We appealed to you, encouraged you, and pleaded with you to live lives worthy of the God who is calling you into his own kingdom and glory.

It is SO. EASY. TO DO.

When I’m with our grandkids, I often hear myself saying, “Don’t do that!”

And I feel like an old lady. A cackling hen. The type of person I prayed that I would not become.

Yet, sometimes, she comes screaming out: “Don’t …”

Don’t pick on your sibling.

Don’t burp.

Don’t use that word.

Don’t. Don’t. Don’t.

On a really good day, I may throw in, “Please don’t …” But those are the rare days.

This same thing happened to Jesus one day. A very rich man came to him and said, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”

Jesus reminded the man that he knew the commandments. Don’t murder. Don’t commit adultery. Don’t steal. Don’t bear false witnesses. Don’t be dishonest.

The rich guy told Jesus that he had no problem doing these. In fact, he had been doing them for as long as he could remember.

Jesus gave him one other thing to do. Do go and sell everything you have. Do give everything to the poor. Then, your reward will await you in heaven.

Do one simple thing. Just one thing.

But it was too much. The rich man was shocked. Dismayed. Overwhelmed. There was no way that he could sell everything. He just couldn’t do it.

While we often look at this story and question whether or not we must give all we have away to the poor, there’s really more to this story. Too often, we think of our faith in terms of don’t do this or don’t do that. Don’t. Don’t. Don’t.

But when it came down to what was really important, most important, Jesus didn’t use the word, “Don’t.” Jesus implied the word, “Do.”

Do. Do. Do.

Like the rich man, we applaud ourselves for following the don’ts … when what Jesus really wants us to embrace are the do’s.

Do help the poor.

Do wash each other’s feet.

Do give all that we can.

Do love your neighbor.

Do love your enemy.

Do. Do. Do.

Why is it that we often want to put up walls and borders and boundaries that embrace the don’ts while ignoring or overlooking the do’s Jesus highlights throughout his ministry? I think we would be amazed at what would happen in our communities, our country and our world if we put half as much energy into the do’s of this world rather than focusing so much energy on the don’ts.

Do clothe others.

Do feed the hungry.

Do embrace those who are different from you.

The do’s of God’s kingdom are worthy of God’s calling. The do’s are worthy of God’s kingdom and glory. The do’s seem to be pretty important to Jesus. Maybe, just maybe, they should be important to us as well.

When we focus on the do’s, we stop being the cackling rooster or hen that we pray we would not become. It allows us to be our best energy into the areas of God’s kingdom that are deeply meaningful and important.

I pray that we can embrace God’s kingdom as a place where we focus on what do’s God yearns for us to embody. And leave the don’ts behind.

For a God who focuses on the do’s rather than the don’ts, I am grateful.

Blessings –

Dianne

Lord God – Why is it that we too often focus on what don’ts we want in your kingdom rather than embracing all the do’s you lay before us? Inspire us to leave the don’ts behind and become people who focus on the do’s of your kingdom. Amen.

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Make Today Amazing!

Gratitude Day 408

Tues., Feb. 18, 2020

Psalm 145:6: They will tell about the amazing things you do, and I will tell how great you are.

Did you know that today will be amazing? Yes, it will … because you simply are an amazing person! You are amazing because you were created by an amazing God. I pray that you will be blessed all day long.

Today, I’m sharing a mishmash of things that have been speaking to my life lately.

This book. When reading for fun, I am terribly into historical novels. The Tattooist of Auschwitz clearly fits into this category. The storyline is inspired by true events. Lale Sokolov. A Jew, Lale went to Auschwitz with the hope that if he went to a concentration camp, the rest of his family would be sparred. Because he knew multiple languages, he is put to work marking people when they arrive with the number they would be known by.

Because of his unique position, Lale sees and experiences a different type of life at the concentration camp. This includes risking his own life to provide food for other prisoners to keep them alive. Lale falls in love with Gita and hopes for the day when he and Gita can live as husband and wife.

The author, Heather Morris, met the true-life Lale and captured his story in this book. It’s a gut-wrenching, lovely example of how people endure the most difficult of situations. I just became aware that there is a sequel called Cilka’s Journey. I have this book on hold through the library and can’t wait to read/listen to it!

This music. When I’m working at my computer, I often yearn for some quiet, background music that won’t distract me. I’ve tried a variety of YouTube videos, which are also free. I’ve tried lots of these videos. This is one that I adore because it is real Christian songs played on the piano with no music. You can listen quietly to the music doing a variety of things … and no one has to know its Christian music.

https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/awesome-country-apple-fritter-bread-5618421

This bread. I LOVE quick breads, muffins, and such. Lately, I’ve cut back on carbs. But on Saturday, I just like I wanted to make something. So, I made this apple fritter bread. It’s intended to taste like an apple fritter but without the deep frying.

I would say it’s quite successful. I was even more happy that I made it when a friend popped in for a spontaneous visit! We had cups of coffee and thick slices of this bread and agreed it tastes quite nice. It’s easy and with no special ingredients, easy to make. Unfortunately, I didn’t take a picture of my loaf before it was all gone. (P.S. – Marci – here’s the recipe!)

The Mary Experiment. Several people have shared that they are working through the book with a small group of people. This truly warms my heart!! This is EXACTLY what I hoped people would do! I hope many of you will find a couple people to discuss the book with. Use the questions at the end of each chapter. Or download the full study guide, available here for free: https://app.convertkit.com/forms/designers/1110952/edit

If you live within in a few hours of Madison, WI, I will happily come and join in your group for an evening. It would be very rewarding for me to meet with and hear what others are discovering about themselves as they read this book. Just send me an e-mail (dideaton@hotmail.com) or contact me on Facebook.

Speaking of Facebook … if you happen to follow me there, would you be so kind as to leave a review? You can either do it on the Simple Words of Faith page or the Dianne Deaton Vielhuber Page. When people visit my sites for the first time, they often look at reviews written by other people. If you find benefit from either the blog posts or the daily text message prayers, please mention this in your review. Thanks in advance for providing these!

And if you know someone who might enjoy reading these blog posts, please refer them! I know many of you read these off of social media. I encourage you to sign-up through simplewordsoffaith.com to receive the blog posts as an e-mail as well. Not receiving the daily text prayers? Just text simplewordsoffaith to 33222.

No matter what is going on in your life today, God and I both think you are AMAZING! Go make it a great day!

For a God who created each of us as amazing people, I am grateful.

Blessings –

Dianne

Hi God – You truly are amazing. When I see your fingerprints in my life, the lives of others and in the world around us, I pray that I will never stop being amazed as well. Thank you for always being with me. Amen.

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Knowing Your "Why"

Gratitude Day 407

Mon., Feb. 17, 2020

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

It was a very spontaneous dinner. Hubby Rick and I went to a high school basketball game. While there, we ran into our friends Bob and his daughter, Sarah. After the game, we decided to stop and have a bite to eat.

We covered a variety of topics: work, personal things, what is next in our lives, etc.

The conversation made me stop when Bob said to me, “Dianne, what is your “why?”

It was such an interesting question. It’s something I had been thinking about; contemplating and wondering. You see, I’m thinking about what some of the great and wonderful things are I see myself doing. Rather than just rushing into the doing part (I really AM trying to take my own advice from The Mary Experiment: When DOING and BEING Collide), I’m being thoughtful. Intentional. Reflective. I’ve prayed about this, consulted with others and been working through a couple helpful books as part of this process.

Rather than answering Bob’s question directly, I did what I prefer others would not do to me: I answered with a question. I asked Bob’s his why. He quickly repeated his why, using a sentence that was easy and memorable and concise.

One day last week, I think my “why” came to me. Or at least I’m rolling it around for a few days to see how it feels. It uses words that I repeatedly used in my recently published book … but takes it a bit further. Right now, I see my why as:

Finding Joy, Peace and Contentment in my daily living. And then, to inspire others to do the same.

Why is it so important to know your why? Because this becomes the benchmark by which you guide and direct your life. The things that fulfill this statement become the things that you focus your life around. Yes, there are things that we must do that will not necessarily fall into our why statements. Laundry still needs to be done, bills get paid and gas put into the car. I’m not sure any of these things bring me joy, peace and contentment. Yet, they are necessary.

Nonetheless, I CAN choose to do things each and every day that fit into my why statement. In fact, if I’m not choosing to do things that support my life mission, then either I need a new life mission OR I need to re-evaluate my choice.

Do you have a life mission? Do you know what is the benchmark by which you want to examine and determine what is most important to you? It’s not necessarily tied to our “work” job, although it may. Your why is what drives you to get up in the morning, where you get lost in your work and gives you the feeling that you are in your wheelhouse.

Your why should be very different from my why. It should reflect who you are and what is important to you. It should be as unique to you as your fingerprint. Your why is something that you discover for yourself and then choose to follow in your life.

Whether you are 14 or 90, you can and should have a why. It may have evolved over time … and this is OK. Your why helps you focus your time, energy, talents and resources into where you can get the most bag for your buck; impact with energy; opportunity to make effective and long-term impact.

Just how will I live out my why? Well, this is what I’m still working on. One small way I can fulfill my why today? By showing just a few photos from our recently remodeled bathroom. We’ve worked on it for months and months. It’s been basically ready for awhile but there were just a couple details that I wanted to finish out. Finally, … they are done and I’m so happy with the result.

When I walk into this bathroom, I feel joy. It brings me peace because of the coloring and style. I find so much contentment in knowing that this bathroom will add value to our home. More importantly, it reflects who Hubby Rick and I are.

A why statement may seem not important. I’m feeling that it is. I’m feeling that it will help me get this next stage of my life more right than without such a statement. I’m know that just how I live out this statement needs lots of time and attention. Yet, it is also a wonderful feeling to have a starting place.

Can you take a few minutes this day or week and think about your why statement? What were you put on this earth to do? What can you do that no one else can do? What gifts and talents did God bless you with so that you can share them with someone else?

Take the time. YOU are worth it. God longs for YOU to be clear about this. I pray you discover a why statement that is deeply meaningful for you.

For a God who gives each one of us a why for us being here, I am grateful.

Blessings –

Dianne

Dear God – Thank you, God, for putting a person into my life to challenge me to think about my why. I pray that as I continue to think this through, continue to bring people into my life who speak to me and help me determine who best to live out my “why.” Amen.

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When But Is Hard

Gratitude Day 406

Fri., Feb. 14, 2020

Psalm 86:15: But, Lord, you are a God who shows mercy and is kind. You don’t become angry quickly. You have great love and faithfulness.

Ever hear the words, “I love him, but …”

Or, “She is nice. But there is no way …”

Where God often puts and “and,” we want to put a “but.”

But, I’m too busy.

But, I don’t have the skills.

But, I’m tired.

But, can’t someone else do it?

But … but … but.

We through “buts” around so quick and easy. We are so CERTAIN that our thought deserves a “but” we fail to contemplate if there is another option.

Like “and.” Or, “also.” Or, “potentially.”

We just get stuck on “but” because, well, we know best. We are right. There is only one option.

Thank goodness we can know a God that is not the God of “but” but the God of “and.” As well as “also.” And this God is not afraid of lots of potential options.

In Psalm 86, the writer feels attacked by a ruthless gang. He’s had enough. He is ready to be done.

But then, he remembers one important thing: God only shows mercy and kindness. God is so slow to anger because God has unless amounts of love and faithfulness.

What a refreshing attitude! One with endless possibilities and lots of potential futures with oceans of acceptance and love. No “buts” here.

Today, let’s be agents who decide not to let “buts” slow us down. Narrow our thoughts and feelings. Limit our possibilities.

Let’s use “but” less and even contemplate letting it go. If only for one day.

Just try it. See what happens. Is there even a slight shift in your attitude? You may be pleasantly surprised.

For a God who is not limited with “buts,” I am grateful.

Blessings –

Dianne

Dear God – so often, we look for every reason to but a “but” into a situation rather than being open to more than one option. Challenge us to see less limits and only more possibilities in the world around us. Amen.

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Quiet in a Noisy World

Gratitude Day 405

Tues., Feb. 11, 2020

Job 33:31: (God said,) “Job, pay attention and listen to me; be quiet, and I will speak.”

Sometimes, the world is so noisy.

There are days when I relish getting into the car, all by myself, with no one to talk to. No one to listen to. Just me.

Oh, how selfish this sounds!

But, honestly, it’s real.

I know there is less noise in my life than many others encounter. For this, I am grateful. Yet, there are days …

Noise is more than the spoken word, music, TV, or the garbage truck driving by. Noise is truly anything that distracts us. Keeps us from hearing ourselves. Keeps us, more importantly, from hearing God.

Many times, people have said, “God has never come to me. God has never spoken to me.” While this may be true, I often wonder, “Do you ever put yourself into a position where you are quiet/slow/not distracted enough so you CAN hear God? Or would God need a bull horn as big as Texas to get your attention?”

Believe me. I’m guilty as well. I find a hundred reasons why not to be quiet so I can hear God.

Recently, a person asked me, “How do you know when God is speaking to you?” It’s a great question. While there are many possible answers, I think making sure you are ready to hear from God must be near the top of the list. If we aren’t listening for God, God may have spoken to you and you missed it. If there is too much “noise” in our lives, God’s voice or desire to speak to us gets mixed in with all the other “noise” in our lives.

Honestly, God may not speak to you on your timeframe. When this happens, we get all hoity-toity and just assume God has no time for us. Maybe, just maybe God did speak … and we were not able to hear. Or we weren’t in a position where we were ready to hear what God had to say.

Sometimes, it’s selective hearing.

I pray that you find moments in your days and weeks where God would have a sliver of an opportunity to speak to you. I pray God uses you as God’s megaphone (or small microphone) to someone else. I pray that you yearn for God to speak to you … and believe it will happen.

Sometimes, we need a little quiet. Time in the car just with us and God. No radio, no cell phone, no distractions. We turn off what needs to be done and simple be with God. No agenda. No expectation. No disappointment if nothing really happens.

Slow down. Sit. Listen. Anticipate God speaking to you. It will be a good day.

If you have a prayer request today, drop it in the comments. I would love to pray for it.

For the reminder to simple by so we can listen, I am grateful.

Blessings –

Dianne

Holy God – Thank you for giving us a wonderful example of community even within the Trinity. Thank you for teaching us how important it is to have friends who love you and care deeply for you. I pray we encourage and support those people who are special brothers and sisters in our lives. Amen.

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Thanks for Being My Friend

Gratitude Day 404

Tues., Feb. 11, 2020

Philippians 4:1: My dear brothers and sisters, I love you and want to see you. You bring me joy and make me proud of you, so stand strong in the Lord as I have told you.

This photo reflects a highlight from last week. One that brings me joy whenever I look at it.

While all of us would have preferred a different reason to bring us all together, for a short period of time, these long-time friends spent moments together.

I have a fortunate woman. I have valued friends from different aspects of my life.

These gal-pals represent my undergraduate college years. I knew none of them before I stepped foot on the University of Wisconsin-Madison Campus. Yet, in the four years that I was a student, these truly became some of my best gal-pals.

When Alice Steiner passed away a little over a week ago, we all quickly decided to attend the visitation to support our dear friends, Barb and Janet. Alice was their Mom.  

I became acquainted with these ladies because we were all in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS). Many of us lived together. We hung out together and have thousands of memories that we still laugh about. Some of those memories do not need repeating here.

These days, our gatherings are not as frequent, usually for dinner or a long lunch. It’s difficult to get us all together. These days, we have a variety of careers. While these roles are important to us, they aren’t the only things that define us. We support our families, participate in our communities and churches, champion causes important to us and encourage each other to live our dreams as well as explore things that will stretch us.

While these are not my blood sisters, they are sisters in many, many ways. As I look at this group of ladies, I am so proud to call them my friends. When we are together, we share things that are personal and yet important in our lives. After knowing each other for 30+ years (Yikes!), it’s easy to move into conversations that are deep, meaningful and special.

We have brought joy to each other’s lives. We are proud for our individual accomplishments. We are strong in supporting each other and yet know when to bring in re-enforcements.

The time together flew by and unfortunately, I didn’t get to have as many conversations as I would have liked. I pray that they know that I love them and want to see them again soon. Thanks for being my friend, ladies!

For special gal-pal friends, I am grateful. They are back row l to r: Lisa, Borzy, Tracy, Jayne and Janet; front row: me, Rhonda, Marie, Janice and Barb.

Blessings –

Dianne

Holy God – Thank you for giving us a wonderful example of community even within the Trinity. Thank you for teaching us how important it is to have friends who love you and care deeply for you. I pray we encourage and support those people who are special brothers and sisters in our lives. Amen.

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Creative Ideas for Valentine's Day

Gratitude Day 403

Mon., Feb. 10, 202

1 John 4:19: So you see, our love for him comes as a result of his loving us first.

This is the week folks celebrate Valentine’s Day!

I’ll be honest. It’s not completely my favorite holiday. Yet, there are simple ways that we can express how much we love those people who mean the most to us. Today, I’m sharing just a few ways you can creatively remind people that you care for them and love them. Yes, you can do the traditional card/chocolates/flowers ideas. But if you’re looking for something a bit more creative? Read on, my friend!

Make them cookies.

We have a long-standing classic Deaton sugar cookie that my family has made for years. They are EXCELLENT. However, sometimes, I need a gluten-free cookie. Making gluten-free baked goods is HARD. There’s a reason why we use gluten in all those things that taste so yummy.

But these cookies? They are the real deal. They are gluten-free AND taste good. In fact, they taste as good as a regular sugar cookie.

This isn’t a large batch. So, they go quick. If you need more, simply make a double batch.

GLUTEN-FREE SUGAR COOKIE

Cookie:                                                          Icing:

2 ½ c gluten-free flour                              ¼ c softened cream cheese

1 tsp baking powder                                 ¼ c softened butter

½ tsp salt                                                       1 tsp vanilla extract

1 c sugar                                                       1 ½ c confectioners’ sugar

¾ c softened butter                                   2 tsp vanilla

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 eggs

Mix together the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder and salt. (For the gluten-free flour, I often use a mixture of various gluten-free flours. Also, there are gluten-free “mixtures” that you can find in the baking section that are also a good choice.) Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, cream together the sugar, butter and extract until smooth. Add eggs. After these ingredients are well-mixed, add the dry ingredients at one time. Mix until smooth. Form a ball, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for one hour. (I know – waiting seems silly. But with the gluten-free, the extra step really is necessary.)

Roll out dough on floured surface. I like a little thicker cookie, so I roll them about .25” Cut into shapes. Place on lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake at 325 degrees oven for 10 minutes. Let the cookies cool on the sheet for a few minutes before removing them. (Again, NECESSARY. Gluten-free cookies are picky. Take the extra time.)

Icing: beat cream cheese, butter and extracts together until smooth. Add in sugar and mix until smooth. Add food coloring for the color icing you want. With these cookies, I made the lighter color first. When I was ready for a darker color, I used the same frosting and just added more food coloring for the darker version.

Note: Usually, I use a slightly different icing recipe. But I like the cream cheese version on these cookies. Be generous with the almond. It gives the cookies and icing a wonderful, different flavor. I’m often asked what makes my cookies different. It’s ALWAYS the almond flavoring.

Frost cookies when cooled. And you have a wonderful surprise for someone! Put them on a plate with a handmade card and you have created a little something special for that something special person.

A Meal Out Gift Card

For our grandkids, one thing I like to do is get them a gift card to a favorite eating place and send it along with a handmade card. I do this for a variety of holidays. I call this their “meal out” gift card. It’s a way they can go someplace they like and have a meal on Grandpa and Grandma. Favorite places to get the gift cards: Culver’s and Subway.

Here’s a variety of more ideas. Maybe these ideas will help you think of something else:

  • Get them a journal. Write a favorite bible verse on the first page so they will see it every time they open the journal.
  • Go to the dollar store and pick out some of their favorite things. Put them in a basket or $1 tub you picked up at the store. Things I often include: popcorn, nuts, cereal treats, a small bag of candy, favorite drink, cool pencils, markers or pens.
  • Have a favorite photo enlarged. Put in a frame or just tape to tag board. Include a little note with it.
  • Make a coupon book of things you will do with or for your special person. Ideas include: making a meal of their choice, watching a movie of their choice, spending an afternoon doing whatever they want, cleaning something for them that they don’t like to do, play a game with them, pray with them, etc.  

An Extra-Large Handmade Card

Actually, Rick made and gave this to me many years ago. I was attending seminary at the time and we only saw each other a few days a week. He had this sitting near the door when I walked into the house. It was a WONDERFUL surprise.

Yep, it’s a favorite. If you look closely, it’s beat up because I have moved it several times. It keeps moving with me. And it will for a while!

This Valentine’s Day, challenge yourself to be creative. Come up with something that is special because you put a little time into creating it for the special people in your lives.

The love we have for each other should always be rooted in the love we receive and feel from God. When you are in a good spot with a person, make sure they know that you don’t take them for granted. When the person has disappointed you or challenged you or maybe you are just feeling a little distant from them, Valentine’s Day is a great opportunity to extend a little something that says, “I care for you. No matter what.”

For opportunities to replicate God’s love for us to those who mean the most to us, I am grateful.

Dear God – Thank you for loving us unconditionally. Sometimes, this is not as easy for us. May we find opportunities this week to express our love to those who mean the most to us. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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