Today, It’s All About the Flag

Gratitude Day 463

Mon., May 25, 2020

Psalm 33:20 – We put our hope in the Lord. He is our help and our shield.

This. This is the symbol for today, Memorial Day.

Yet it has more personal meaning for me. Attached to the flag is a tag with this information:

Richard Deaton

US Army – Korea

This is my Dad’s flag. It’s a flag in honor of him that the Augusta VFW has in honor of him. On Memorial Day, the local VFW displays a flag for every veteran that used to live in Augusta and has died. (Well, except those Memorial Days when it rains. Because some of the flags are so fragile, the flags are kept safely stored on rainy Memorial Days.) This is the flag used to honor my Dad.  

When the weather is acceptable, hundreds of flags line the streets and cemetery. It’s a breath-taking sight. Current members spend hours preparing, hanging the flags, and then storing them afterwards. It’s truly a labor of love in which the respect local veterans and their service.

My Dad served in the Army during the Korean conflict. He was stationed in Germany as part of the Cold War defense. Yet, his service there qualified him as a Korean War vet. Dad spoke very little about his time in the service. I know this isn’t unusual, as it’s difficult for folks who have not served to relate and understand.

On this Memorial Day, many celebrations, parades, and gatherings have been cancelled. I pray we still find ways to remember this important day. Recognize those for whom this day is set-aside. Appreciate the freedom and choices we have in this country; opportunities we have because freedom is something others have guaranteed through their service.

Shields are important because they offer protection and safety; from enemies, from people who can lead us down a challenging path; from natural occurring events that are destructive.

We all need shields in our lives, not just for spiritual reasons but for other reasons as well. Yet, may we always see God as the one, true protector and shield in our lives. I pray as we see flags out and about today, we’ll pause. Reflect. Be thankful. Appreciate. Honor. Remember.

For God’s shield of protection in my life, I am grateful.

Blessings –

Dianne

Almighty God – we thank you for the many, many ways that You protected us each and every day; especially the ways we do not see. Amen.

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God of the Small Things

Gratitude Day 462

Sat., May 23, 2020

Luke 16:10 – (Jesus said,) “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much.”

We often think of Memorial Day weekend as the unofficial beginning of summer. Yet, the weekend may feel quite different. Many Memorial Day celebrations cancelled. Normally full of graduation parties, many of these have been delayed. Brat Fest has been canceled. Normally, lots of bands would be playing outdoors and neighborhood gatherings or chicken BBQ’s. Things are just a lot different this year.

Yet, there are lots and lots of reasons to celebrate this weekend:

  • We live in a country based on the ability to make choices.
  • We can hang our flags outdoors.
  • We can visit a cemetery and remember loved ones.
  • We can appreciate the folks we know who have served in the armed forces.
  • We can know that we are loved by Jesus.

So, rather than being disappointed in what we cannot do this weekend, let’s celebrate what we CAN do. And do it well.

I’m reminded again and again simply how important the little things are. These little things have captured my attention lately:

This book. It’s written by a man who was a doctor and was diagnosed with cancer while finishing up his residency. The book wasn’t quite finished when he passed away, but it was published. This man love literature. He was a skilled surgeon. He integrated his faith into both. An interesting read for those who struggle with how science and faith and words fit together.

Mr Rosebud tree the end of the week.

This tree. It’s blooming again in our yard and its beauty stuns we every year.

These kayaks. We dusted them off on Thursday and took three grandkids kayaking. Yes, the water was chilly. We might need one more, as we couldn’t fit all of us in two kayaks. We’re looking forward to using them more this summer.

This baby bird. While the grandkids were at our house this week, they discovered this new bird. He didn’t quite know how to fly yet.

This picture. It’s taken just a couple miles from one of the first churches that I served in Denzer, WI. A local lady took it. Isn’t it so cool?

These apple blossoms. They are blooming right now and are stunning.

How many wonderful, little things can you explore, discover and enjoy this weekend? A whole lot more than you’d ever expect.

For God’s blessings in the little things, I am grateful.

Blessings –

Dianne

Holy God – May we never tire of the little things that often are the big things. Amen.

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Spring Planting

Gratitude Day 458

Mon., May 18, 2020

Luke 13:19 – (Jesus said,) “It is like what happens when someone plants a mustard seed in a garden. The seed grows as big as a tree, and birds’ nest in its branches.”

On Saturday, Hubby Rick and I spent much of the day outside working in the yard and garden. We begin the day by walking downtown to the local farmer’s market and buying some vegetable plants: tomatoes, peppers, and Brussel sprouts. Once home, Rick went to work getting the plants into the ground. He planted other things in the garden as well. Later, he weed whacked and mowed the lawn.

I dedicated the afternoon to cleaning out the flower beds and moving a variety of plants. Sometimes, things just need to be adjusted and moved. Some plants do not take off as well as I would like. Or their size is different from what I anticipated. A couple plants didn’t winter well, and some perennials were spreading faster than I would like. Another bed is completely overgrown, so I wanted to thin out the day lilies. While this bed is not completely done, I moved many day lilies to a new little flowerbed next to our carriage house. By evening, both Rick and I were feeling like we had accomplished lots in our yard.  

Our timing was spot-on. We anticipated that it would rain Saturday night and most of Sunday. Yesterday, we had a wonderful and nice, all-day gentle rain that will jump-start our little garden and all the various flowers that were planted and moved on Saturday.

This is how plants begin: small seeds that are buried into the ground. With appropriate water and sunlight, soon the shoots poke out of the ground. Seeds become plants, which hopefully become beautiful veggies or fruits or lovely flowers. We are already tasting that first tomato and feeling the crunch of carrots in the fall, as well as anticipating the cucumber slices that will dazzle on salads or become perfectly crunchy pickles.

But with the plants also comes the weeds which can take over unless they are dealt with. Or sometimes, the plants reproduce quickly, and they begin to encroach on other flowers, and they take over a garden. There are also the plants who are stressed and do not make it through the winter. And yes, sometimes after a plant is moved to a more ideal spot, it thrives and grows and loves it new little piece of land.

Our faith journeys are no different. At times, we get just the right sunshine and water and our spirits feel rich and full. Other times, we’ve allowed the weeds of sin and evil to demand too much value property in our hearts and lives. Maybe we keep reproducing one area of our lives that prevents other areas of our lives from completely blooming and getting what they need. Hopefully, we are wise enough to cut back on this area and allow other areas the time and attention that they need.

Plants and flowers often start out as just tiny, little seeds. With the right environment and nurturing those seeds can grow into fantastic plants and flowers. The goal is for beautiful fruit and flower to be produced which become wonderful rewards as a result of the fruits of our labor.

As warm spring temperatures finally arrive and seeds become sprouts, it’s a wonderful opportunity for us to contemplate how our faith is growing. Are there some spots that need some weeding or holes that need attention? Is the fruit and produce results that we’re proud of? Do we need to shift some things around so that we keep our highest priorities in mind?

Jesus is the master gardener; ready and willing to be a part of your growing cycle. He is the one that can help take a little seed of faith in your life and allow it to grow into something beautiful. Spring is a fantastic time to contemplate your spiritual journey: where you can make slight adjustments and how you can continue to grow in whys that will produce fantastic results.

And it all starts with just a tiny little seed. Nothing more. Nothing less. I pray this little seed is tuned towards Jesus, the master gardener, and ready to be nurtured for the glory of God’s kingdom.

For the seed of faith inside each one of us, I am grateful.

Blessings –

Dianne

Dear God – there are so many life lessons around us. I pray that we pause, see these in our lives and reflect upon how we can embrace them in our lives. Amen.

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When It’s Not Always Going Good

Gratitude Day 455

Tues., May 12, 2020

Psalm 51:6 – You deserve honesty from the heart; yes, utter sincerity and truthfulness. Oh, give me this wisdom.

I love this little person’s honesty. Their raw account of “telling like it is.”

For some people, honesty is where the buck stops. For others, it’s a bit, well, more challenging.

I like to be honest. I want my word to be worth it’s weight in gold. I pray people will not question whether what I say is honest … or not.

But let’s be real. Sometimes, it’s easy to stretch the truth, just a bit. It’s easy to leave out an important detail or put too much emphasis on another detail. Other times, we simply don’t want to hear the truth.

As much as we yearn for the truth, there are times when we’d prefer a little less honesty, for we don’t like the other person’s honesty.

Our perspective is different. And our perspective is right.

Honesty is very much tied up into wisdom. Isn’t there times when it’s easier to be honest than others?

Sometimes, we would rather not say the truth because it will be hurtful. Disappointing. Not well received.

And so, sometimes, honesty becomes a dance. A two-step that sometimes feels like we’re a bit out of step. We’re just learning. In the meantime, we’re stepping on each other’s feet.

Here’s the thought for today: keep pursuing honesty, even when it’s difficult. Hard. Potentially hurtful. Keep dancing the dance, figuring out the steps. There will be days when it feels like it’s not going good. That’s when the Father steps in and helps us along. Thanks be to God.

For God’s wisdom being available to us, I am grateful.

Blessings –

Dianne

Holy God – Sometimes, honesty just feels a bit easier than others. As much as we want to be honest, we weight in the consequences of being honest. Grant us Your wisdom in all that we say in do. Amen.

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Let’s Have a Big Old Graduation Celebration!

Gratitude Day 454

Mon., May 11, 2020

Jeremiah 29:11 – I know the plans I have in mind for you, declares the Lord; they are plans for peace, not disaster, to give you a future filled with hope.

Over the weekend, I was going through some boxes of things and ran across items from when I graduated: my diplomas and the tassels I received. Each time I participated in a graduation ceremony, high school, college bachelor’s degree and seminary master’s degree, it felt like a monumental event in my life. I had completed a benchmark moment in my life. I had hope for the next period of my life and felt I was moving towards the next major step in my life.

As I looked held the memories from my graduation days in my hands, the truth was not lost on me that so many graduates this spring will not have the same opportunity that I did. They won’t get to walk across a stage and hug and high-five their fellow classmates. Family won’t travel from afar to recognize this significant event in their lives. This spring’s graduation celebrations will be so different from my graduations.

I had awards banquets and parties and celebrations and pictures. I donned a robe and mortar board and ceremoniously moved the tassel from one side of the cap to the next after we received our diplomas. I attended classmates’ celebrations and said good-bye to favorite teachers with promises to keep in touch.

Graduating seniors are experiencing a completely different culture this spring. One day they were attending classes at school; the next day, they weren’t. Many missed spring sports and the hope of accomplishing a goal in the process. For this spring’s graduates, the end of the school year seems quite different because, well, it is.

I’ve been impressed with the creativity that various schools have embodied to honor their graduates: signs, banners and online recognitions. Principals making personal visits to graduates. Senior of the day postings in social media. Anything that could help this year’s graduates feel even a little bit special for a hot minute.

My guess is that we all know at least one person who will be graduating this spring. Whether is high school, college, a graduate degree, kindergarten, 8th grade or a tech school: they won’t be having a ceremony like we’ve historically experienced. There won’t be any hot gyms for families to sit in or caps that fall off a graduate’s head too easily. Senior skip day has turned into a couple months’ worth of missing school. Scholarship winners won’t get to shake hands with donors nor medals put around necks for those who achieved specific accomplishments. Families won’t spontaneously break out into applause after their loved one’s name is read and we won’t get sick of ham sandwiches and potato salad during the month of May.

Graduates have reason to feel cheated. Disappointed. Let down.

So, I want to do just a little something to help them feel special. Honored. Recognized.

This Wednesday night, I invite you to invite those people you know who are graduating this spring for a special edition of Devos with Dianne. We’re going to celebrate the heck out of their accomplishments and shower them with lots of love. No, it won’t be a graduation ceremony. Nor will Orpah drop in and give advice. But let’s take a few minutes and let this spring’s graduates have a hot minute of recognition.

In order for this to work, I need your help. First, contact those people you know who are graduating and invite them to Devos with Dianne on Wed. night, May 13, at 8 PM on Facebook Live. Tag them with this post or forward it to them and ask them to join you. Send me a digital photo of the graduate(s). We’ll show them during Devos with Dianne and I’ll invite everyone to virtually applaud.

Then, on Wednesday night, encourage them to hop online with us, wearing their cap and grown. I’d love for people to share photos of their graduate while we’re online watching Devos, decked out in their cap and gown. Make the time special by having a cupcake or something else ready to celebrate. Bring a candle and we’ll light them together to honor these grads.

What if you don’t know a graduate? Show up anyways!! We need the rest of YOU to be the audience and celebrate their accomplishment! We need folks to virtually high-five them and clap as their name is read and show them so serious love.

Each time I graduated; I was very aware that God had a plan for the next phase of my life. Maybe I knew what it would look like. Sometimes, I didn’t. What I did know is that I wanted God to be a part of my journey and my plan. This year’s graduates need this encouragement, just as much as I did, when I received my diploma. Let’s join together in praying for their journeys. Celebrating their accomplishments. Blessing the next step of their journey.

I pray that together, we have a FANTASTIC time Wednesday night honoring our graduates. But I need YOUR help to make this work. Send me photos of the graduates you know. Invite them to participate Wednesday night. Show up so together, we can honor and bless them.

For God’s involvement with this year’s graduates, I am grateful.

Blessings –

Dianne

Dear God – We know you didn’t cause all of these graduation celebrations to be delayed or canceled. We know you love every single graduate and have a special plan for their lives. Inspire us to creatively honor and bless them this week. May we show up and applaud all of their hard work. We know you’ll be at our virtual graduation celebration, ready to bless these graduates. I pray we invite those who are ready to be blessed by You. Amen.

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Stay In Saturday

Gratitude Day 445

Sat., Apr. 25, 2020

2 Corinthians 6:6: We have proved ourselves to be what we claim by our wholesome lives and by our understanding of the Gospel and by our patience. We have been kind and truly loving and filled with the Holy Spirit.

Before COVID-19, this would be a normal conversation between Hubby Rick and I on Thursday afternoon. (FYI – Rick’s workweek starts on Sunday and he works nights. So, when it gets up on Thursday mid-day, it’s the beginning of his weekend.)

RICK:  What do we have going this weekend?

DIANNE: Tonight, I have _____. Tomorrow, I’m doing ____ during the day and in the evening, we are _____. Saturday looks like ____. And on Sunday, we will be worshiping ____.

Since mid-March, this is how this conversation now goes:

RICK:  What do we have going this weekend?

DIANNE: Same as last weekend. Whatever we want to do at home.

Anyone else feel like you’ve had a year of Saturday’s in which you’ve stayed home and done, well, almost nothing? Or hopefully something?

By now, I should have every closet cleaned out. Every picture put into a book. And a complete plan for how we’re going to remodel the last room in our house.

But I don’t.

Please let me know that I’m not the only one who has failed miserably in getting those things done that never seem to quite get accomplished.

So, instead of accomplishing all those things, what have I been doing?

Finding remarkably interesting things online to distract me. Take up my time. Pivot me from what I should be doing. And I’m all ready to share those things with you as well!

Here we go.

Forgiveness 75 years later. 2020 marks the 75th anniversary of the ending of World War II and the liberation of concentration camps across Europe. Earlier this month, 60 Minutes aired a piece that shows how the history and experiences of various concentration camp survivors is being preserved. It is simply fascinating. What I found extremely interesting in this piece is the various survivors views on forgiveness. It’s a start reminder that we do not have to have similar views on faith, God, and forgiveness. I encourage you to be touched by this piece I found very meaningful. (Click on the underlined sentence and you will be taken to the story. )

I’ve been listening to this book on audio tape. Honestly, I’m spending A LOT less time in the car these days. And this is normally, where I listen to audio books. I’ve had this book on loan from the library for too long and decided that yes, I can listen to it while working in my office. A few months ago, I shared with you the book The Tattooist of Auschwitz. Cilka’s Journey is written by the same author, Heather Morris, and features a character from the first book. In Cilka’s Journey, World War II has ended. Cilka was a Jewish POW. Because she received special treatment from German officers, she is back in a camp. I have about 25% of this book left to listen to and am enjoying it. The story is heart-wrenching but the book is well-written.

Somehow, I never ran across the musical group Home Free until this week. They are a country-tinged a cappella vocal group from Mankato, Minnesota. Think Pentatonix with a twang. The group won The Sing-Off in 2013. (Clearly, I haven’t been much of a follower of these types of TV contests.)

They have a few traditional Christian songs. I think you will like their version of “How Great Thou Art.”

Now, if you like country music, this rendition of “Elvira” features the Oak Ridge Boys and has fantastic harmony and singing. If you like tight harmony, you will like this song:

The best lesson about stewardship I have heard in a long, long time. Actually, the lesson is about way more than stewardship. The storyteller is someone you will recognize. The star the story is a Kansas farmer. If you watch nothing else from this e-mail today, please, please, please take 5:30 minutes to watch this. And then, challenge yourself to think of how you might let the best of yourself shine in your neck of the woods today.

Another focus of mine right now? Finding an extra dose of patience today. And tomorrow. And the next day. It can become so easy to feel that what we personally want should be at the top of our list. But honestly, can we please just realize this is really not what is needed. Patience, my friends, really is where it’s at. Patience so we can keep the number of affected people down. Patience that we can let the best of ourselves come out and be what we others see within us. I pray we allow the Holy Spirit to grace us with this patience.

While it’s another Stay In Saturday at the Vielhuber’s, we will make the most of our day. I pray you will as well. Just in case you’re feeling a little disconnected, read this and pretend we’re having a cup of coffee together. Stay well and safe, my friends.

For ways we can make the most of our days at home, I am grateful.

Blessings –

Dianne

Dear God – This is such a different time in our world right now. I pray that we see this time as one in which we slow down. Enjoy little things in life. Celebrate small wins rather than feeling the need to hit home runs every day. Thanks for  Amen.

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Celebrating Palm Sunday

Gratitude Day 433

Sat., Apr. 4, 2020

John 12:13: They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, “Hosanna!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Blessed is the king of Israel!”

Tomorrow begins my favorite week of the year: Holy Week. It’s a week that allows us to remember, celebrate and rediscover just why Jesus came to this year, who he was and what this still means for us today.

The week begins remembering his triumphant entry into Jerusalem. As he rides on a donkey, people are so excited! They wave branches and lay their cloaks on the road in front of him. The irony is not lost that in quick order, nearly every friend becomes a foe and turns against Jesus.

So, how do Christians celebrate and honor Jesus in light of not being able to worship together on Palm Sunday? Here are a few suggestions:

Decorate with homemade Palm leaves. You can print them from here. Color them. Put them on windows, your table, etc.

Listen to your favorite Hosanna! songs. Here’s one of mine.

Decorate your home for Easter. Some of us may be wondering if getting out eggs and other Easter decorations are important when no one but us will see them. Let me tell you this: it IS important for us! Put out a few of your favorite Easter things; at minimum a bunch of eggs on your table or in a bowl. It will brighten up your attitude!

Participate in online worship. There are lots of options right now.

Choose a specific time tomorrow to celebrate Palm Sunday in your home. Read the story. Wave your homemade palm branches. Pray and be with God.

It maybe very easy to skip Holy Week this year. I think it’s more important than ever to be intentional about finding ways to have some “normal” activities in our lives right now. Please make Holy Week one of them.

For the opportunity to make Palm Sunday personal for me, I am grateful.

Blessings –

Dianne

Lord God – it may feel like there is no “normal” right now. Yet, Easter IS coming. Holy Week is upon us. Place ways upon our hearts that we can honor, celebrate and remember these special events this next week. Amen.

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It’s Time for Lemonade and Clay

Gratitude Day 427

Tues., Mar. 24, 2020

Isaiah 64:8: You, Lord, are our Father. We are nothing but clay, but you are the potter who molded us.

How well do you deal with change?

Do you thrive in change? Dread change? Resist it at all costs?

No matter your perspective about change, we’re sure experiencing a lot of it these days. Seemingly every day, there is another change in how daily life exists around us.

Today, the state I live in, Wisconsin, announced that tomorrow begins a stay-in-place order. Thousands of small businesses closed their doors yesterday for now. Will all those doors reopen at some point?

It remains to be seen.

It’s a tough call. Shut down much of the economic engine our country thrives on, which is having devastating impacts on our economy, OR limit the potential spread of COVID-19 by ordering people to stay home and potentially save more lives.

It’s a terribly unfortunate decision many governors, mayors and other elected officials are having to make. I’m confident no one relishes making these kinds of changes; ones that dramatically affect people’s lives. It’s impossible to think there will any winners.

It is such a strange time for all of us. Having never experienced something quite like this, my mind wanders. For most of us, this situation is hopefully a once-in-a life-time deal. Yet, I wonder back to World War II and how folks lived with limited rations. I remember the gas rations in the mid 1970’s and the long lines of people wanting to buy gas. I remember the somberness after 9/11.

In most every previous situation, physically, people came together and shared their feelings and emotions. This time around? We’re told to stay home. Isolate. Limit contact.

I am a person who normally looks at a situation and begins figuring out how to make lemonade from whatever lemons were dropped into our lives. My brain has already shifted and is pondering how this situation will change my worldview, my priorities and where Hubby Rick and I dedicate our resources of time, energy, talent and financial means.

Honestly, I’m still sorting this out. But I pray that when we are beyond this initial scare, I WILL look at life differently. I WILL adjust my schedule and focus on what is most important as the main priorities of my life. I WILL know that the sour lemons that have upset our lives have been turned into lemonade.

Do I know exactly what this will look like in my future? Absolutely not. What I do know is that I want to be intentional about looking at the various things I do and how I dedicate my resources towards God’s kingdom. As I continue to sort through this, I do know a few things:

  • The constant “doing” will be tempered. I will thoughtfully and intentionally choose which areas of my life will continue. Some things will stay behind.
  • I will build more down time into my life; time which will allow for me to draw close to God and be guided by God’s love and mercy.

Isn’t it AMAZING … that we CAN live without non-stop sports? Shopping at the mall? Schedules jam-packed full?

This truly is a time to contemplate the tension between DOING and BEING. Figuring out what God calls us to do and what we call ourselves to pursue. To be clear about what is most important and how do we embody this into our lives.

These are some of the topics I review in my book, “The Mary Experiment: When DOING and BEING Collide.” To encourage folks to pick up a copy who may not have one. For the next several days, the Kindle version will be available for $.99. If you are aware of someone who is struggling with making sense of how God is speaking to them, encourage them to get a copy of the book. It’s a great Lenten read, as well as in light of what we’re all experiencing right now.

Here’s the link to the book on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Mary-Experiment-Where-DOING-Collide-ebook/dp/B08173NBBZ/ref=sr_1_1?crid=2LUZH78HBKNN3&keywords=the+mary+experiment&qid=1585029278&sprefix=the+mary+exper%2Caps%2C185&sr=8-1

I also am feeling called to try something completely new for me: sharing a Lenten devotion time. It will be open to anyone! On Wed., Mar., 25, at 8 PM Central Time, please join me for a 15-minute devotion on Facebook Live. My intention is to make this a weekly devo time, where we can gather on Facebook and just share a few minutes together. I will be hosting it under my personal Facebook name, Dianne Deaton Vielhuber. Invite a friend to join us as well! And please bring your prayer requests along.

I love the image God gives us: God is the potter; we are the clay. God will mold us and shape us if we allow ourselves to let God do this. Maybe it’s not making lemonade right now. Maybe it’s being clay that can we shaped. I pray we allow God to shape us into something more spectacular than we already are!

First step for this to happen? Allow ourselves to live within the tension of DOING and BEING to collide in our lives.

For God’s desire to mold me like clay, I am grateful.

Blessings –

Dianne

Holy God – Few of us are willing to ready look at change. We just want things the way they always have been. This isn’t our reality right now. May we allow ourselves to become clay that is molded and shaped by you. Amen.

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Refresh this Weekend

Gratitude Day 425

Sat., Mar. 21, 2020

Zephaniah 3:17: The Lord your God wins victory after victory and is always with you. He celebrates and sings because of you, and he will refresh your life with his love.”

Today, I’m a little sad. Hubby Rick and I were planning on attending a wedding. But of course, the whole deal has been changed. Who is getting married? Rachel and John.

Rachel’s parents are our dear friends, Lisa and Bob. Lisa and I were roommates in college. As little as a week ago, they were still giving the green light for the wedding. But as things have changed throughout the week, so have their wedding plans. The couple is getting married today; in a social distancing environment, abiding by the no-more-than 10 rule enforced. Yes, we are disappointed that we won’t be able to attend. Yet, I know our disappoint pales in comparison with the adjustments and multiple change of plans the couple and their families have made all week long. So, a big shout-out to John and Rachel. Have a wonderful wedding day!

As Rick and I talked about these disrupted wedding plans, we thought about other times when people’s wedding plans were adjusted. How many couples found themselves quickly getting married during World War II? My Dad flew back to the States from Germany during the conflict the Korean Conflict on a two or three-week pass to marry my Mom. I know these stories are not intended to make John, Rachel and any other couple’s with wedding plans right now feel better. A marriage is not based solely on the wedding day. It’s based on far other more important things: commitment, love, perseverance, hope, joy, and a bunch more. No matter the situation of when a couple gets married, the people in the marriage will determine what they focus on throughout their marriage.

For all of us, the week has not turned out how any of us would have anticipated. Honestly, one would think I’d be caught up on a lot more things than I am. If you are feeling like your to-do list didn’t shrink much this week, IT’S OK. We need time to process, gather information and work through what’s going on. Some of us also yearn for opportunities to do something towards helping those who are struggling.

The highlights of my week revolve around being able to put together a bunch of extra food bags for school kids as well as responding to needs at our local food pantry. We’ve put together a group of people that are involved in the local food pantry and/or our student weekend food program to coordinate efforts in meeting food needs within our community. We’ve already seen increase usage in both programs, so we want to be ready to serve. We’ve had great response from volunteers and other organizations to partner with us.

Now, not everyone can and should be helping with community response efforts. Be realistic about our situation. Sometimes, your best help is keeping yourself safe and healthy.

Today, I also want to share a few resources for you and your family. If you are looking for some things to do while staying at home, here are a few suggestions.

Watch the movie Hamilton. A little over a year ago, Hubby Rick and I went to Chicago and watched it. We LOVED it, which says a lot, because quite honestly, Rick isn’t a Broadway kind-of-guy. Whether you have seen it before or not, here is a LINK to the full Broadway version.

If you are looking for a book to read, use THIS LIBRARY APP. It’s a free and easy way to get books without leaving home! Need suggestions? Recently, I “read”, i.e. – listened to two of Kristin Hannah, The Great Alone and The Nightingale. I am looking forward to checking out more of her books! Cilka’s Journey is sitting on my desk, ready to be listened to as well. I LOVED Heather Morris’ first book, The Tattooist of Auschwitz.

Bake something. During Lent, I give up sugar. So, I’m being a bit more creative with this one. Honestly, there it is so rewarding to pull something piping hot out of the oven and anticipate that first bite! I made JoJo’s Biscuits from Magnolia Table recently. I am only allowing myself one a day!

Sit with a cup of steaming hot peach tea and just be. Here’s one brand I enjoy. Honestly, I plan to do this for a bit today.

And if you need a song to pick you up, listen to this. Right now. Seriously.

All this stuff going on right now can be a bit overwhelming. Let’s not forget that God has this. God is with us. God can breathe new life into your soul … if you simply ask God to do so.

For God’s breathe in my life today, I am grateful.

Blessings –

Dianne

Dear God – help me to pause today. Seek You. Find You. Spend time just with You. Breathe life into me. Grant me Your peace. Amen.

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Getting Creative with Relationships

Gratitude Day 424

Fri., Mar. 20, 2020

2 Corinthians 5:18: All this comes from the God who settled the relationship between us and him, and then called us to settle our relationships with each other. 

Last week, Hubby Rick was going through an album with some old family photos. A cousin had loaned it to us, and he was enjoying a trip down memory lane.

When it came time for lunch, Rick showed me this photo. It is from when he was a young boy. And then, he asked me who it looks like.

Let me help you with this riddle. Here is a picture of our grandson Dylan.

Notice any resemblance?

For years, I have reiterated how much Dylan looks like Hubby Rick. What makes it even more interesting? It’s not just his physical looks and cheeky grin that resemble his grandfather. It’s his personality, his mannerisms and his quick-witted comebacks.

This is the same grandchild that burst into his house one day after school, looking for his Grandpa. He saw our car in the driveway and was so optimistic that Grandpa Rick was the one who would be there when he and his siblings got off the bus. His big smile changed when he saw me. Immediately he said, “Why can’t Grandpa Rick be here when we get off the bus? Why does it have to be YOU?”

Yep, sometimes we are just chopped liver.

Among all of the aspects of life that has recently changed … and changed quickly … is community. Relationships. Our ability to interact, encourage, support and be there for other people. As we are encouraged to keep safe distances from other people and limit our time in public, the amount of daily interaction with people we love and care about has changed. Dramatically.

Think of the older person who hasn’t gotten out of their living situation … for DAYS.

Think of the family who has a person with a compromised immune system. They are limited their social interactions to keep their loved one SAFE.

Think of those couples getting ready to have a baby. Many hospitals are instituting a one-person only rule while the expectant mama is at the hospital. And if that one person, say the expectant mom’s partner, is sick, well, they are escorted to the door and sent home. It may seem harsh, but this is the REALITY we live in.

Then, there are the parents who are able to work from home and have become the defacto part-time teacher, part-time lunch person, part-time PE instructor, part-time parent who is trying to creatively engage kids who are missing their friends and their normal routine.

Even if that person looks a lot like you or another family member, let’s be real. Our patience can sometimes get thin … even with the people we love the most and who are most precious in our sight.

Yes, we have technology which allows us to Facetime and Skype and Zoom with other people. We can sit outside a window and wave and hold our hands to opposite sides of the same window. We can send cards and letters and texts and e-mails. But it’s not quite the same, is it?

I pray we take extra time and steps to engage and be “present” with other people who are struggling with increase isolation and social distancing. I pray we develop extreme levels of patience and understanding with each other. I pray that we allow ourselves to be more positive and implement more slowness to anger than quickness to anger.

Yesterday, I baked a big batch of biscuits. Yes, I could have whipped up half a batch rather than a full batch. But these biscuits? I hope they will spur me to put a few on a couple plates and encourage me to check in on some of my neighbors. Yes, they are only biscuits … but they are a lifeline to checking in with those who live in our neighborhood who may be feeling a bit lonely, isolated and on an island right now.

It’s time for us to be creative with relationship. Find new ways of connecting with those around us, near and far, that are special to us. Commit to reaching out to just one person each day and checking in on them. You may be pleasantly surprised how much joy this little random act of kindness will bring into your life.

Whether you are an introvert or an extrovert, we all need COMMUNITY. Community is created with interactions with other folks. Maybe our tried-and-true go-to methods aren’t as easy right now. But certainly, we have opportunities to creatively touch base with those we love and care for. They don’t have to be blood. They don’t have to look anything like you. Their personality may be completely different from yours.

You just have to love them. Nothing more. It’s really that simple. Now, go and create some community and re-enforce your relationship with them. TODAY.

For valued relationships, I am grateful.

Blessings –

Dianne

Holy God – thank you for so many special people in my life. Thank you for bringing in so many different and unique people who enhance and make my life special. I pray that we embrace creative and unique ways to connect and encourage and support those around us right now. May we maintain and grow strong relationships and community in our lives. Amen.

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