Please Never Stop saying “Thank You”

Gratitude Day 337

Fri., Oct. 11, 2019

Philippians 1:3: Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God.

It’s amazing how two words can carry so much weight. Impact. Opportunity.

“Thank you.”

It takes like 1.2 seconds to say these two little words. But, oh, the impact they can have.

I’m not sure who developed the concept of giving thanks. Or saying, “Thank you.” Well, maybe I do but that’s my own idea. Thank God, literally, that these words became part of the English language.

They are two of my favorite words.

My Mom taught me well. When someone does something for you, send them a thank you. Other times to send one? When someone is especially nice. Or extremely thoughtful. They deserve a thank you. A handwritten thank you. On real paper. With a stamp on the envelope so it can go through the mail.  

I’ve written hundreds of thank you notes. Well, probably more like thousands. At one point, I thought owning stock in Hallmark might be a good idea. When in a store that sells cards, I often swing by this section just to see what they have for notecards. And thank you cards. Something that I can use to write a note to someone else. I remember all the options that I have at home … and still, sometimes walk out of the store with more options.

As much as I love sending cards, receiving a thank you card always makes me feel a bit uncomfortable. Did someone send it to me because their Mom insisted on sending out thank you’s as well? Or is it a heart-felt thank you?

Last night, I received a thank you from a group of high school girls. Completely unexpected. Wasn’t on my radar screen. So, when it ended up in my hands, I felt a little giddy opening up. What would be inside?

The sweetest message from 10 high school seniors.

It made me feel special. Appreciated. Glad that I was able to do something special for them.

Know how to make someone feel special today? Send them a card. A note. A thank you. Make someone’s day.  

I pray that saying “thank you” never goes out of style. We need people in every generation and of all ages to know the importance of doing this.

There’s power in words. There’s power in, “Thank you.”

The question came from the back seat of the car. Articulated by our seven-year-old grandson, Dylan.

For remembering the power of “thank you,” I am grateful. 

Dear God – How shallow life would be without the words, “Thank you.” Thanks for creating a way for humans to express appreciation. Place in my heart and mind someone that I can bless with a thank you today. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Dear Spring – Where Are You?

Gratitude Day 274

Mon., May 20, 2019

Job 29:23 – My words were eagerly accepted like the showers of spring,

Dear Spring –

Somehow, I feel like you forgot to stop this year. Yes, there was one or two days where temps were near normal. But we were hoping for more than one day here and another day there. If someone is holding you captive, please send an SOS. WE. MISS. YOU. Please decide to still show up this year. We’d love to have you stay for awhile.

Your Long-Lost Friends –

Hubby Rick & Dianne

If you live somewhere where spring has arrived in full force, can you please send it to Wisconsin? Somehow, it seems spring has forgotten to arrive. Yes, the birds are back and the spring flowers are trying not to shiver too much. We did have that one 75-degree day and it was beyond lovely. I had every door in the house open.

Since spring has been more than a bit elusive this year, I’ve tried to bring a little spring into the house. Here are a few quick and easy ways to make your house, and possibly your heart and soul, feel a little more like spring. All of these are super easy, not expensive and hopefully will brighten your house. Maybe your attitude as well, if it is missing spring.

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  1. Pick a green branch from the yard and put it in a vase. These were some in our backyard. When I was running recently, I saw some pretty branches in the road ditch with little flowers on them. I wished that I had the means to cut them with me, as I would have brought them home and stuck them in the vase as well! Yes, put a little water in the bottom of the vase. The leaves may only last a week or so … but since they are free, who cares?!! When they are wilting and sad looking, go pick some more.

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  1. Find a pretty plant from the grocery store. A few people have asked about this plant. It’s a calla lily that I bought at the grocery store right before Easter for $9.99. Seriously. This little guy has brought way more than $10 of joy into my heart. I love the deep purple lilies. Every week more continue to open. Even granddaughter Ellie thought it looked “spectacular” on the table.

After I bought it, I brought it home and put it in a pretty container that I have. I left it in the plastic holder from the store because my pretty container doesn’t have a drain hole. This way, the lily won’t get too wet. Water as necessary. There is nothing quite like adding a little green into the house that spells S-P-R-I-N-G.

  1. Change a pillow. A couple weeks ago, I was asked to teach a class at a high school interior design class. I know. I am not an interior designer. I just like to have things I love in my house. Well, and yes, Hubby Rick has helped me redo a thing or two.

Anyways, I wanted to show students some easy design tricks. Switching out the pillows was one. Everyone agreed that the contrasting pillow looked better. Sometimes, just moving one little thing can breathe a new feeling into a space.

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  1. Clean a drawer. Or maybe the refrigerator. Either one works. Our refrigerator needed a going through. It had been, um, let’s say, too long. It was amazing how good it felt to clean it out! I know. This isn’t one of those sexy jobs in the house. Who wants to spend a couple hours cleaning the fridge? I didn’t … but I’m glad I did. I was so excited to fill it with pretty, fresh veggies and fruits.

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  1. Set-up a fun seating area. Yes, the porch is ready for visitors. Please stop by for peach iced tea. Bring a jacket if you have to!

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We also have these fun swings in our backyard. Wanting to make them look just a little different from last year, I added different pillows and this nifty metal table. Done. They are ready for spring. Now just a few nice mornings to sit out there? Please?

Whether spring has fully arrived at your house our not, what is one little thing that you can do to add a feeling of spring? Something that will lighten you heart and soul. A small change that will make you smile each time you walk by?

I know that spring showers are necessary. And sometimes, this means gray days and a chill in the air. But I am so ready to rototill the garden, plant veggies and the beautiful zinnia hedge that absolutely makes our garden stunning. In the meantime, I’m going to enjoy these quick and easy ways that have made my days feel a bit more like spring, even if outside the window, it is less convincing.

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For the promise of more spring-filled days, I am grateful.

Lord God – As the days lengthen and the sun stays present just a bit longer, I am excited for the hope of those things that make my heart feel like spring. Yes, some have arrived. The trillium, the birds, the lawn getting mowed. Help me be patient and appreciate every day, whether the weather is just as I would prefer or not! Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Love in the Form of a Plant

Gratitude Day 271

Thurs., May 16, 2019

1 John 4:11 – Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

Love can show up in many different ways. Recently, it arrived at my house wrapped in a little planter filled with flowers.

 

It was Saturday. Hubby Rick and I were both home, doing various projects around the house. Mid-day, Rick asked if I knew that there was something on the porch for me. Actually, I hadn’t been out the front door and so, I wasn’t aware there was a little something just waiting for me to find it.

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It was this cute little planter with a variety of plants inside. Dropped off by my friend Jo.

Just because.

For me.

She was thinking of me and wanted me to know this.

Along with the plants, she left just the nicest little note. Hand-written just for me.

card from Jo

When I called Jo to let her know how meaningful her little gift was, I told her that there were big old fat tears rolling down my face.

No shame here. Just how it was.

Want to make someone feel like a million bucks? Send them just a little something, just because. Drop off a little gift that represents something that they love for no reason at all. Show them how much you care and respect and love them as a human being. You’ll be amazed how much your little effort will mean to them.

They just might have big old tears rolling down their cheeks and a smile plastered across their face.

Just try it. See what happens. No expectation. No desired return. Just a quick and little way to say to someone, “You’re special. You make a difference in my life. Maybe this little something will make a different in my life.”

It might even bring big old tears to your eyes.

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For Jo’s expression of kindness, caring and love, I am grateful.

Lord Jesus – thank you for bringing special people into our lives. Thank you for providing opportunities to share love and caring to someone else. May we be encouraged to do something … just because. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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May Baskets

Gratitude Day 262

Wed., May 1, 2019

1 Peter 4:10 – Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.

I’m dating myself today. Really dating myself. I’m remembering a tradition from decades ago … May baskets.

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Growing up, our 4-H club made May baskets for elderly people in our neighborhood. For those of you too young to know what a May basket is, let me explain.

We made little “baskets”, aka, paper cones, out of sturdy paper. Then, we filled them with candy or other little treats. On May 1st, we delivered them to people anonymously. The “baskets” had a handle, usually made from a pipe cleaner. This allowed the basket to be hung over a door handle. The goal was to leave the basket without the recipient knowing who dropped it off. While dropping off the basket, you might ring the doorbell and sprint away before the recipient would see you.

Why did we deliver May baskets? It was a fun activity as spring arrives. After a long winter, it was a way to usher in the promise of warmer days and green grass and the beautiful flowers of May. It was also a way to remind someone that others remember them after a long winter.

Most importantly, it’s just a fun way to serve someone else. Wash their feet. Give them a little treat which says, “you are special” and “someone thought of you today.”

OK, I realize today is May 1st. And most of us don’t have May baskets made. Yet, we still have the opportunity to do something special for someone. Serve someone else. Remind them that they are special.

Whose feet can you wash today? Who might you serve and in doing so, say, “You are special”?

For traditions that never grow old, I am grateful.

Holy God – as we celebrate spring and green grass and new flowers, may we pause and discover someone that we can serve and deem as special today. Thank you for always considering us special. May we pass along this to someone else today. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Remembering What’s Most Important

Gratitude Day 242

Wed., Apr. 3, 2019

Philippians 3:13-14 – Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

So often, we know the right things to do. Sometimes, we just need to be reminded. Nudged. Encouraged to make it personal.

Recently, this happened to me. Here’s some of my story.

In the last 15 months, I have enjoyed more flexibility with my schedule. I’ve been able to focus on some things and put energy towards opportunities I previously did not have the time nor energy for. Yet, I still struggle with whether I’m doing enough. Am I making on the right choices? Easily distracted at times, I know my days can get derailed quickly if I let them.

I have put into place some habits and choices that have been very helpful. I have been extremely intentional about beginning the day with time with the Lord. I’ve developed a routine that works for me. I try to do the most important things I want to accomplish at the beginning of the day; not when I should be heading to bed. While this feels good, I still struggle with other things.

Recently, I rediscovered to help myself. I knew this tactic and just wasn’t following through with it. Anyone else discover it’s much easier to give advice or suggestions to someone else … and not always embody this “advice” in your personal life?

Guilty as charged.

I went back and performed a little exercise I’ve used many times in ministry. It’s quite easy … but also specific to you. Here’s what you do.

Sit down with a writing utensil and a piece of paper. If you like nice paper, pick out a favorite piece. If you are more of a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants type of person, grab the nearest used envelope. Or anything in between.

Make a list of numbers as shown below. Leave space between the numbers:

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

Write down the five most important things in the world TO YOU. Be careful not to write down what someone else would like you to write down. Include the things that are deeply important and what you don’t want to live without. Be specific as possible. Do not spend too much time on this. Usually, whatever you think of first are usually the most valuable players (MVP’s) of your life.

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Look carefully over the list. Think about how much time you invest in each of these five items in the last day. The last week. The last month. The last year. Are these five MVP’s getting your best attention? Do you live your life, so these ARE your highest priorities? If I asked a good friend what the five most important things in your life are, would she/he be able to quickly rattle these things off? Or would they struggle? Or would they name completely different things?

Look at where you keep your track of your finances. How much of your assets do you invest into your MVP’s? I realize there maybe other things that rank high on your list, i.e. – housing. In general, are you committed to making sure your MVP’s get resourced appropriately?

The next step can be easy … or really hard. What changes do you need to make in your life to align your time, resources and priorities with your MVP’s? Maybe it’s just a few tweaks. Maybe It’s more of a minor overhaul. Either way, as you come up with some next steps, make them REALISTIC. DOABLE. MANAGEABLE. We can all have really exciting dreams. But they also should be achievable.

Here’s what I’m doing the month of April: committing to work on those areas where I want to align my priorities with the choices, I make every day. This may mean that something I’ve historically done will slide to the back burner for a while. Maybe it will stay there! We’ll see. I am going to dedicate the next 30 days towards trying to align what I choose as the most important things in my life with how I live my life. I’ve printed off little cards listing my top 5 priorities and strategically put them in places where I have to see them everyday.

Do you remember the definition of insanity? It’s doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

Interestingly, I’ve chosen to do this during April, which is historically a time when I have more commitments. Rather than wait another month, it’s a great time to work through choices when my time is more limited.

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Is it time to align things in your life with what you feel is really important? Please join me on this journey this April. I am excited to hear your story and what you discover about yourself this month!

For rediscovering something meaningful for me personally, I am grateful.

In our culture that offers so many choices and options, it’s easy to forget what is most important to You and to ourselves. May You help us identify those things what give us energy and purpose. Help us find ways to embrace these choices more in our every-day lives. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Gratitude Day 213 – 20-Minute Thursday

Thus., Feb. 7, 2019

Philippians 4:23 – The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.

At the beginning of 2019, I was determined to break down little sections of my day into 20-minute intervals. These little time windows provide me opportunities to knock something off my to-do list in a relatively short period of time. Rather than being overwhelmed with the time needed to do something, I simply dedicated 20-minutes towards it.

For the first time in a really loooooong time, I’m feeling like there are moments (not days, not hours, not weeks), when I have just a bit of control over my life schedule.

20-minutes

Mind you … there remains lots of opportunities for improvement. But when I think of a task in terms of 20-minutes, my attitude changes. I can do something for 20-minutes.

Interested in a couple 20-minute examples? Good. Here they are.

Exercise. Earlier, I shared how a 20-minute exercise interval has help me be more consistent with exercise. There have been a couple days when I haven’t exercise. But generally, I’ve been very committed to this. It is amazing. I CAN talk myself into walking for 20-minutes. Or lifting weights. Or doing a workout video. Some days, I have set-aside two 20-minute exercise times. Or maybe a 20-minute and a 10-minute. These bite-sized windows of exercise feel manageable for me.

Cleaning. Our hard wood floors really needed a good cleaning, especially the butler’s pantry and the kitchen. Like, down on your hands-and-knees cleaning. In one 20-minute timeframe, I not only cleaned these two rooms … but all the wood floors in the house! Something I had been dreading for a few days … done in 20-minutes!

Correspondence. Who doesn’t love receiving a real letter or card in the mail? A true handwritten one? I know that hand-written letters and cards may soon be extinct. Because I appreciate them, I keep sending them.

Each year, I begin January with great expectations of doing this. By week two, the enthusiasm has waned. I’ve already missed a birthday or two. I give up.

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This year, I am using a weekly 20-minute window for correspondence. Yes, I have been late with some cards … but progress has been made.

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I began by getting the cards I have organized. I keep them in a couple different containers near my desk. For this box, I made dividers for different kinds of cards. As I put cards in their appropriate category, I made sure the card had an envelope that would fit.

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Now, once a week, I spend 20-minutes getting the next batch of cards ready to send. I put them in a pre-designated spot until they are ready to be mailed; a spot I see every day. If I need a reminder of what day to send a card, I just put a little sticky note on the envelope.

 

Preparing a card gives me a minute or two to think about this person, why I keep in touch with them as well as an opportunity to pray for them. I thank God for their place in my and other’s lives. As I seal the envelope and attach the return label and stamp, I ask God to bless them and their family.

We will be on vacation next week. This week, I put together Valentine’s to send to our grandkids. I want these five precious people to know their Grandparents love and pray for them. (I think they like getting mail. Maybe it’s just the Subway gift cards.)

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The Apostle Paul wrote many letters. And, we are able to read some of them! These letters, found in the New Testament, were written to specific people. Sometimes, Paul was responding to questions he or someone else had been asked. Other times, he shared something important on his heart. I doubt Paul ever envisioned billions of people still reading his correspondence from about 2,000 years ago. And yet, we do.

 

Take 10-minutes and read the last few sentences of some of Paul’s letters. Look at the New Testament books of Romans, 1 & 2 Corinthians, Philippians, Ephesians and Colossians. Or the personalized letters he wrote to specific people: 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon. See how often Paul ends his letters, praying for the people.

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Maybe we think the correspondence to someone else or a prayer for the intended recipient of the card will make a difference in their lives. Interestingly, I think it also makes a difference in our lives, 20-minutes at a time.

How a 20-minute interval of sharing correspondence adds value to my daily life, I am grateful.

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Lord God – in this hurry, scurry world that we live in, we often fail to slow down enough to send messages of appreciation to those we care for. Place it upon our hearts someone we can reach out to this very day.  Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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