The Vulnerability Line

Gratitude Day 518

Fri., Oct. 1, 2020

James 1:2-3 – My fellow believers, when it seems as though you are facing nothing, but difficulties see it as an invaluable opportunity to experience the greatest joy that you can! For you know that when your faith is tested it stirs up power within you to endure all things.

There’s a line that can be easily crossed: when is too much information too much? And when is not enough information not enough?

It’s really a very personal question. Some people believe its case-by-case and person-by-person.

There are some people who leave little to the imagination. They tell you seemingly EVERYTHING whether you want to hear it or not. Hubby Rick often says, “Who needs all those details? I can tell the same story as you with one-quarter of the words.”

Yes, he would say that too often, I’m one of those people who share too much.

Contrast this with the person who requires significant wrangling to get any information out of. Details are NOT their friend and therefore, there is little need for them to be shared with anyone else.

I’m confident that either end of the vulnerability spectrum is not always the best. We can easily get bogged down in way too many details. But then again, there are often important details that never see the light of day.

And there’s a big, huge gap in-between the two ends of the spectrum. The land where some detail is good. More detail is helpful. Being able to not overreact or dramatize a situation is prudent. It’s the land of just the right amount of vulnerability.

The problem? Most of us are never quite sure where the line between too much, not enough and just the right amount of info should lie. We want to share helpful information but don’t want to bore folks with endless gossip and more of our own opinions than actual facts.

Yes, the actual topic has a huge influence on where that line gets drawn as well. Normal, run-of-the-mill stuff is not the same as the challenges and disappointments we all experience. Some things are simply too hard to share. We don’t want all of our dirty laundry aired for everyone to hear and see.

Yet, sometimes, it’s so helpful to know that maybe there’s someone else who has experienced or gone through a similar experience. Their wisdom and guidance can be invaluable.

If we’re willing to share. Make ourselves vulnerable. Crack open that land that we often don’t want anyone else to take a peek into.

Within families, couples, friend groups, some people simply maybe more vulnerable than others. We know who they are and love them. Then, there are those friends that when they do speak up, everyone else better listen. Closely. It maybe another decade before it happens again.

I watch some people who share ridiculous amounts of seemingly “private” information on social media. And others, simply read everyone else’s information and never post anything themselves. Neither is right. Neither is wrong. It just is.

When is too much too much? When are we too guarded and carry the burden of something ourselves and don’t allow anyone else to journey with us through a challenging time?

It’s not easy to know where that line is.

What I do pray … is that we always remember, with God, there simply is no line. Yes, God already knows what is going on. Is aware of our feelings and struggles and challenges. Yet, God wants to hear those insights and feelings and emotions directly from us. In our own words. God wants us to break open our hearts and souls and let vulnerability gush over every living thing in our life with God.

Why? Because when we share it with God, we no longer carry the burden ourselves.

Bad things are going to happen to us. It’s just going to happen. And when those things happen, we’ll decide how much and with whom we share the situation, our feelings and how we’re dealing with it. The line will be ours to choose.

What I do pray is that we don’t hold any of this back from God. Whether we tell everyone or no one, there is SOMEONE with whom our situation is safe. And that is God.

I pray we are absolutely as raw and vulnerable with God as we can be. That’s how God wants it.

For God’s deep desire to know every detail and challenge in our lives, I am grateful.

Blessings –

Dianne

Holy God – we often struggle with knowing where the appropriate sharing line should be. Well, some of us do. Others seemingly share EVERYTHING while we also know those people who seemingly share NOTHING. I pray that with You, we allow ourselves to be deeply vulnerable and open. May we remember that with You, there is no judgement. Expectation. Only grace. Amen.

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Let’s Make October A Month of Thanks

Gratitude Day 517

Wed., Sept. 30, 2020

Isaiah 38:19 – It’s the living who thank you as I do today. One generation makes your faithfulness known to the next.

They are two enormously powerful words: THANK YOU.

Two words, when put together, can express significant emotion, appreciation and insight into what is so important to us.

Two words, while easily said, I wish were shared more often.

In my credenza, I keep a manila file folder labeled, “Personal.” This is where I keep special cards or letters that people have sent me that I find deeply meaningful and personal. While it’s difficult to admit that I have this folder, there’s a significant reason why. When I’m having a bad day or struggling with whether or not what I do makes any difference, sometimes I pull out that file folder and read the little notes and letters it contains. Often, it’s the encouragement that enables me to look at what work lies before me … and keep going. It’s these thank you notes and letters that I know will remind me of why I sometimes do what I do.

At nearly every wedding I have performed, I encourage couples to sprinkle certain words into their daily vocabulary with each other daily and often. “Thank you” is definitely one of those phrases.

For some people, thank you rolls right out of their mouths with little effort. For others, these are words reserved only for special occasions. I’m of the belief that these two words must and should be said and repeated simply as often as possible.

Multiple times a day.

There’s something about knowing when someone else appreciates something that you have done. Yes, we shouldn’t need the “thank you,” I know. But it certainly feels good to receive it, doesn’t it?

I’m on a mission right now to encourage as many people as possible to treat each other with kindness. We DESPERATELY need more kindness and encouragement these days. Rather than expecting someone else to be the kindness, how about we ALL be the kindness?

Together. With “A Month of Kindness: October 2020.”

It’s really simple. Save, download or print the October 2020 calendar. Then, every weekend in October, send a thank you note to one person. Suggestions are provided for each day. It doesn’t have to be long. It can be a postcard. An e-mail would work … but I think an actual snail mail thank you would be more meaningful. Just write out 22 thank you notes during the month of October … and see what happens.

No need to send anything else in the envelope with the thank you. Just a simple note expressing your appreciation is all that is needed.

I keep thinking … if 100 people sent 22 thank you cards in October; we’d be sending 2,200 thank you notes. If 200 people sent 22 thank you notes, we’d be touching 4,400 people’s lives. If 300 people each sent these thank you notes? Together, we’d be reminding over 5,000 people that they do something that makes a difference.

Imagine over 5,000 people taking a thank you note, putting it in a manila folder labeled “Personal” and then storing it in a spot where they can go when they’re having a bad day. These thank you notes can have significant impact for years and years and years to come.

So, will you partner with me and send 22 thank you notes during the month of October? Will you hand out five copies of The Month of Thanks October 2020 calendar to friends and ask that they participate as well? Make it a family project. Ask a loved one to do this as well.

And see how your attitude changes after writing 22 thank you notes. Pay attention to how your loved one’s outlook may shift ever so slightly in the next month. Be amazed when people start telling others how they received a thank you note in the mail and what an impact it had on them.

22 cards. 30 days. Let’s do this together. Are you in? If so, please let me know. I can’t WAIT to see and hear about how these thank you notes are demonstrating kindness, joy and love in our communities and world that desperately needs it.

For your willingness to bring boatloads of kindness to our communities for the next month, I am grateful.

Blessings –

Dianne

Dear God – While we appreciate when someone shares “thank you” with us, I pray that we will choose to be ambassadors of kindness and thank you throughout the month of October. May we appreciate the power of these two words, embrace the possibilities that can happen when we express thank you and partner with you in encouraging others to be so grateful for many things in our lives. Amen.

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What I’ve Learned in the Last 60 Days

Gratitude Day 516

Mon., Sept. 28, 2020

1 Corinthians 12:27 – You are the body of the Anointed One, and each of you is a unique and vital part of it.

We’re into the last days of September. Summer is officially over … and it’s fall. I’ve been thinking about I’ve learned these last number of days and I’m reminded that taking time to reflect is SO. IMPORTANT.

Seriously.

Today, I’m sharing a few things that I have learned – or more appropriately – relearned in the last 60 days. Folks – these concepts ARE NOT complicated. I am constantly reminded that there is much that I’ve learned before … and just need to relearn again and again.

This is what 2020 looks like.

We’re four weeks into school in our area, which means that the last four weeks, we’ve packed weekend food bags for our local school district. When schooling went online in March and continued through the end May, we provided weekend food bags for students. We just completely reorganized how we did it to keep folks safe.

With more understanding of how we can be together and keep each other safe, we’ve welcomed back volunteers who feel comfortable packing bags. The first week back, all of the volunteers were SO EXCITED about having some place to go, something to do and could once again feel like they were contributing to our local community. IT WAS GREAT.

Local school districts continue to have significant needs. They need supplies to keep folks safe, just like everyone else. Add in families in your local community that have been hit financially by the pandemic, and we quickly see needs. There ARE ways you can help. A call to the school district’s social worker or student dean will help you find out what is needed. Do you have to make a huge financial donation to make a difference? NO. Believe me … every little bit help counts. Weather will be getting colder soon. Used coats for kids of all ages will be needed, along with hats, gloves, etc. Make your heart sing this week by doing a little something for your local school district.

Laughter is great medicine.

Did you laugh yourself through the Father of the Bride movies that came out over 20 years ago? Steve Martian stars as an over-zealous father whose daughter gets married. His on-screen wife, Diane Keaton, bails him out of jail after an incident at the grocery store about hot dogs and buns.

The writer of the earlier movies wrote a little movie during the pandemic. She recruited the original cast and they filmed a short new movie called Father of the Bride Part(3ish). Only 30 minutes long, this new version places the Banks family right in the pandemic, dealing with the stuff the rest of us are dealing with. Of course, the family gathers on a ZOOM call because, well, that’s what we do in 2020.

The movie is a breath of fresh air. Because it was filmed during the pandemic, each character filmed themselves in their own home. There were no professional camera people, make-up artists or such. The movie provides literally a real-life interpretation of how one family is making it through the pandemic.

Even more cool? The movie is FREE. It’s been released through Netflix. If, like us, you don’t have Netflix, you can go to Netflix’s YouTube page and watch it there for free. People are encouraged to donate to an organization providing meals to families with food insecurity in lieu of paying for the movie. Here’ the link. It’s family friendly, has a fun twist AND will make you laugh.

We all need a hobby. Seriously.

For years, Hubby Rick has said that I need a REAL hobby. One that I do on a regular basis. One that brings joy into my life.

Hubby Rick has lots of hobbies. He fishes and fishes and fishes. He has kayaked and kayaked and kayaked this summer. He rides bike, golfs and is so happy to be watching sports on TV again. When he wakes up in the morning, he goes outside and surveys the garden to decides what needs watering, what needs harvesting and removes any pesky weeds before they have a hot minute to live.

Naturally, his remodeling skills are the hobby that I desperately appreciate.

So, what are my hobbies? I bike and hike and walk. I am reading. I exercise and like to make our home feel cozy and warm. I have a variety of other things I do on and off; probably more off than on.

But in Rick’s opinion, not a REAL hobby.

Here’s something that I’m not sure qualifies as a hobby … but brings me joy. On Labor Day weekend, Hubby Rick and I wondered down to the local farmer’s market and bought a huge box of tomatoes. On Labor Day, I turned those tomatoes into salsa and spaghetti sauce and tomato juice.

Is it very cost efficient to spend a whole day canning tomatoes when I can probably buy a jar of spaghetti sauce for less than $3? Probably not. I’d like to think the homemade stuff tastes better with the love and care put into every jar.

What I do know is that for that whole day, I loved canning those tomatoes. I listened to books on tape and planned how I could most efficiently go through the planning process. (I know. Can’t my brain just ever rest?)

Yes, I’ve canned other things this summer. For some reason, canning those tomatoes was so cathartic for me. I pray you have an activity that you do every so often that feels the same for you.

Have Something You’ve Been Wanting to do for YEARS? JUST DO IT.

The day before our 20th wedding anniversary, Hubby Rick and I had no clue what we were going to do. In a very last-minute decision, we decided to cross a big one off of our bucket list and go sky diving.

I’ve shared about our adventure previously. I was not prepared for how many people commented back about how there was no way they could go sky diving. I’m not going to try and convince anyone that they should go sky diving … unless they want me to.

Here’s what I want to convince you of: DON’T put off doing that something you’ve always wanted to do. I know traveling in Italy isn’t possible right now. Or going to the South Pole. I’ll add a disclaimer to wait until the something is safe and possible right now, but “Just do it.”

We’re loving the things that completely make us think of summer … right into fall. And will do so until we can’t.

I’ve baked more peach pies this summer than I ever have. We’re finding fun places to hike and walk every weekend. Rick gets me in our kayaks about once a week. We’re drinking in every minute of sun and 60+ degrees weather that we can. We’ll be eating our meals on our porch until a serious coat is required.

Hubby Rick seriously thinks God should have made only one season: summer. Yet, we also love the leaves turning and pumpkins and going to the apple orchard. I hope you are as well.

I’m loving the volunteer gourds from our garden.

The last number of years, we’ve had a healthy crop of volunteer gourds in our garden. We’re never quite sure what each vine plant is when they begin growing, so we just let them go. This summer, the volunteer gourd plants took over a chunk of the garden.

We don’t plant the gourds. Every fall, I just throw this year’s gourds into the garden so they will compost. Every spring, some of those old gourds because the seed for this year’s harvest.

We have a wide variety of gourds this year. Hubby Rick is convinced at least some of the plants cross pollinated with the cucumbers because of their pretty stripes. I have them scattered around the house and the porches for fall décor.

Here’s the deal: every single gourd is different. Unique. Special. No two are alike.

Friends: if God can make each gourd unique, special and different, then God will also make each person different. Unique. Special with no two alike.

Sometimes, it’s easy to point out the parts of another person where things feel a little cross-pollinated. I’m sure plenty of people have done this about me, just as I have done about other people. Nonetheless, I celebrate how God created me just the way I am. Just the way you are. How we’re all unique, different and special.

It can be SO EASY for us to find ways that we’re more alike than the same in the next 60 days. I find myself doing this all too often. And I wonder why. And it makes my heart sad.

I saw this quote recently and I pray we will remember these wise words for the next couple of months:

I am way less concerned with who you vote for than I am with how you treat the people that vote differently than you do.

We may or may not know how each other votes. In the end, I pray that how we treat each other is far more important than an election. Can we agree to be uber kind to each other for the next period of time? Will we value the unique and special character of each other … even if sometimes it drives us a bit crazy? (Maybe I’m the only one who struggles with this …)

We need folks who model and prioritize kindness as a high core value right now. I’m going to TRY and be one of those people … and pray you will as well. (P.S. – Yes, you have permission to call me out on this when I’m not following my own suggestion.)

Take two minutes. Look at your calendar. Or the most recent photos on your phone. What little lessons have you discovered or maybe relearned these last couple of months? What are those lessons saying to you today? Maybe, just maybe, it’s how God is speaking to you. Right here. Right now.

Blessings –

Dianne

For lessons that I need relearning and rediscovering, I am grateful.

Holy God – Thanks for granting me the opportunity to look back over the past couple of months and find these lessons that help me grow in love of You and my neighbor. I deeply appreciate how You speak in and through them. Amen.

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Wednesday Prayer Day: What I Can’t Control

Gratitude Day 514

Wed., Sept. 23, 2020

Luke 12:22a: Jesus taught his disciples, saying, “Listen to me. Never let anxiety enter your hearts. Never worry about any of your needs,”

There are only so many things in this life that I can control.

Most often, it’s just the things within my tiny little realm of control: what I eat, wear, say and believe.

Most of the time, I can control what I do. Other times, I feel I don’t have an option.

Oh, and I control how I react. When something good happens. When something makes me sad. When someone says something to me. When life throws me a curve ball and I just want to scream, “God are You down here? If so, could you please be a little more obvious?”

And then, there are a whole bunch of things I cannot control. As much as I would love to take over and wrestle control away from someone else, it’s simply not up to me.

I can’t decide something for Hubby Rick. I can highly suggest … but that’s it. I can’t tell someone else what to do and expect them to do what I think is best.

I can’t make someone else’s choices. I can’t fix someone’s addiction. I can’t repair a challenged marriage. I can’t mend a severed relationship.

Nope, I can’t do any of these things.

What can I do?

Pray. Ask God to intervene. And pray some more.

And control what I can control: keep faith in God, humanity and myself. Discern when to speak and when to listen. Make sure my words are as encouraging as they can be. Slow down and experience life rather than charge through it. Life as Jesus taught me to live.

That’s about it.

Oh, and give the rest to God.

For a reminder to focus only on what I can control, I am grateful.

Almighty God – So often, we want to control things that aren’t ours to control. We want to take control of a situation because we’re convinced that we know best … when we may not. Rather than putting so much energy into things I can’t control, encourage me to focus on what I can control. Amen.

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A Letter to Hotmail

Gratitude Day 511

Fri., Sept. 18, 2020

2 Corinthians 11:16-20 – Let me come back to where I started—and don’t hold it against me if I continue to sound a little foolish. Or if you’d rather, just accept that I am a fool and let me rant on a little. I didn’t learn this kind of talk from Christ. Oh, no, it’s a bad habit I picked up from the three-ring preachers that are so popular these days. Since you sit there in the judgment seat observing all these shenanigans, you can afford to humor an occasional fool who happens along.

Dear Hotmail:

I’ve been a VERY loyal Hotmail e-mail customer for YEARS. DECADES, really. For way too long, I’ve hung onto my original e-mail address because I didn’t want to go through the hassle of letting every Tom, Dick and Harriet that I know about a new e-mail address. (Maybe, just maybe, I’ve wanted to keep the one last piece of evidence of my maiden name. If I was truly being honest, yes, this is the real reason for not giving up on my Hotmail address. But I digress.)

One day, I needed a g-mail address to activate a new Android phone. Highly disappointed that I couldn’t use my Hotmail account, I quickly made one up on the spot. I told no one about this e-mail address because I felt connected to that Hotmail address. Yes, the g-mail account is active. I only give it to companies that I don’t want to hear from. Basically, it’s a junk e-mail box.

Which leads me to the point of this letter. Over time, the amount of junk e-mail I received in my Hotmail account slowly went up and up. A few spam e-mails here. A few spam e-mails there. And then, wa-bam! I began receiving 100+ junk e-mails a day.

I would be happy if I never received another e-mail trying to sell me the newest Keto diet or CDB gummies or CDB oil again. I have never signed up for Netflix and therefore, haven’t had an issue signing into my account. Please stop sending me hundreds of e-mails that say I have. I’m not a great survey taker. Kindly let the folks over at CVS, Wal-Mart, Lowes and any other big box store that want to give me a $50 gift card for completing a survey that they can keep it for someone else.

I don’t have diabetes. My husband’s and I’s hormone levels are doing just fine. Our home doesn’t need a home warranty, nor do I have any interest in Bitcoin. For that matter, gambling is not my thing. Just stop sending me any e-mail related to gambling or betting.

If my teeth need fixing, I’ll happily go to my current dentist. My mattress is fine, and I don’t have any pets. I definitely know that I’m not the best candidate for a tarot card reading.

So, please, please, please … block all of these e-mails from arriving in my inbox day after day after day? Please?

Yes, an amazing thing happened about mid-March. When the pandemic began and everything was mostly shut down and we were all staying at home, I discovered one small silver lining. My junk mailbox was EMPTY! Literally, one day I was getting over 100. The next day, none. Zero. Nada.

I long for those days again. It was so fun to click on the “Junk” folder and find it empty! Or only with e-mails only from someone that I hadn’t added to my contact list.

Those days were beautiful. But short-lived. The 100+ days are back. My eyes glaze over, trying to find that one or two e-mails that I really need to read.  

Why can’t these e-mails just be stopped? My work Outlook address rarely lets a rogue e-mail in. But Hotmail? There is simply no filter, discouragement or stopping of all those e-mails cluttering up my life.  

I’ve tried blocking these e-mails, reporting them, labeling filters that would stop them in their tracks. Yet, Big Brother continues to let them in.

What I would like to know is where the e-mails that I really AM looking for are going. Every week, I discover at least one person who sent me an e-mail … that I never received. Someone I actually know! Who I have previously corresponded with! How do the extended warranty e-mails get through while the person I actually know gets filtered out??!!

And so, dear Hotmail, it’s time for us to say good-bye. To end our long-standing relationship. I’m so sad to not have dideaton@hotmail.com as my default e-mail address. Sometimes, all good things must come to an end. I guess we’re there.

Blessings –

Dianne D. Vielhuber

P.S. – If you want to respond to this letter, you and everyone else can now contact me at diannevielhuber@gmail.com. I’ll still be checking my Hotmail account for now but am committed to a long-term relationship with g-mail.  

For the opportunity to add a little humor to life when it feels so frustrating, I am grateful.

Dear God – I have no intention of cluttering up your desk with something as silly as junk e-mail. Please keep focused on the really big stuff, like hurricanes, wildfires, pandemics and the like. Yet, thank you for the gift of humor. It does help at times. Keep reminding me of this, which, is truly more important than irritating junk e-mails. Amen.

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Lessons from COVID-19: When Focus Is a Challenge

Gratitude Day 510

Wed., Sept. 16, 2020

2 Corinthians 12:9 – But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

Can I be real? Honest? Tell the truth?

I’ve been struggling lately. It’s not my health. Or Hubby Rick. I look at my life and think, “Wow! YOU. ARE. SO. LUCKY.”

So, what’s the problem?

Lack of focus. Procrastination. Letting things slide that I know are important.

This recovering Martha is just not feeling it these days.

Yes, I do get things done. I’ve taken moments and time to relish good things. Some days, there list is long. I accomplish much.

Other days? Not so much.

I think that we hit certain times in our lives when things just “flow” better than others. Some days, we hit on all cylinders. Others? We can’t get our act together.

Right now, I think it’s even more challenging. Most people are more than ready for something that feels and seems more “normal” in life to be part of our daily ritual. Yes, there are some things: baseball. NFL. School, although this probably feels anything but normal.

But I’m not sure there will be a day when suddenly, everything IS normal. Maybe, just maybe, this is OK. There are important lessons for us to take away from this time. I keep trying to sort out what those lessons are for myself.

What makes this time of history a bit different are the layers of challenges we’ve been living through. Pandemic + economic changes + division + racism + our feelings and emotions = a whole pot of mess.

I know that I’ve addressed this situation previously in the last six months. I bring it back up again now because, well, we’re still living in it. And maybe, we just need to keep extending ourselves and each other some grace. Understanding. Patience. Love.

If you, or someone you know, is feeling some of these same things, what are we to do? Here’s a few things I’ve been keeping in my life to help keep me centered.

I’m moving my body. I’m making sure that I exercise at least five times/week. If only for 20 minutes. The hardest part is tying the laces on my shoes. Once this is done, I’m committed to doing something: walking, biking, an exercise video. If your body isn’t up for much movement, walk for 10 minutes.

I’m taking time to do something that fills me: I’m reading. I use the word “reading” here a little loosely. I consider listening to books as “reading” a book as well. I’m reading a variety of things right now. I usually have a couple different books going. Some are lighter or a novel. Others relate to something that is dear to my heart. Rediscover something that fills your soul and do it for 10-20 minutes a day. Again, the length of time isn’t nearly as important as doing SOMETHING. Just for you. (P.S. – vegging out in front of the TV or on your computer doesn’t count. Make it something that truly brings life to your brain.)

I’m noting gratitude daily. This continues to be a mainstay for me. Every morning, I write down in a journal three things that I’m grateful for. For me, writing them down is important because I can go back and see all the wonderful things that I have to be grateful for. These aren’t big things but little things that happened in the last 24 hours that brought joy and happiness to my life. It literally takes two minutes.

I’m extending myself grace. Yes, things are taking longer. I’m not nearly as organized as this Martha usually is. And I’m trying to be OK with this. There are days I put off doing something and make time to do another task that fills my heart. Right now, we need these heart-fillers more than we need to be taskmasters. Seriously. Give yourself grace.

What are YOU doing these days to fill your heart? Soul? Allow space for you to live and feel all that’s going on these days? Folks – extend yourself, those you love and others around you a bit more grace these days. There will come a time when we’ll look back and be glad that we were more empathetic, caring and grace-filled if we do.

It’s Wednesday Night … which means that it is Devos with Dianne tonight on Facebook Live at 8 PM CT. Recently, I asked folks to share what they are missing during this time of pandemic. I received back lots of really great answers! I’ll be sharing them tonight on Devos with Dianne. It’s one you’ll want to tune into!

For being able to focus on grace these days, I am grateful.

Blessings –

Dianne

Holy God – Thank you for being so much more grace-filled with us than we are with ourselves. Thank you for being with us in this unsettling time. Help us be more grace-filled with ourselves and others. Amen.

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Be Still. Know that I am God.

Gratitude Day 507

Wed., Sept. 9, 2020

Psalm 46:10 – “Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations; I will be exalted in the earth!

The last few weeks have felt way too full. There have been lots of good things … but maybe just a few too much.

It hit home for me when Hubby Rick shared a little story with me. He was having a cook-out with some friends earlier this summer. I wasn’t able to join because of another commitment. When someone asked where I was, Rick shared his normal response, “Out saving the world. You know Dianne. She begins the day figuring out who she’s going to help today.”

Rick said all of this with admiration. But it stopped me. Once again, I’ve let my husband down. Too often, he gets relegated to the bottom of the importance list.  Again, and again. I’ve lost count of how many times Rick has been replaced with something else I deemed more important. In just the last week.

Rarely does he complain. His acknowledgement of this most often happens via a story that he shares as part of a conversation he’s had with someone else. I often wonder what the response back to him is. Probably not as much admiration as he expresses and a lot more “Hmmm.”

When Rick asked me last week if we could squeeze in a kayak outing with our friends Dave and Kris, it moved to the top of my priority list. For a few hours, other things COULD and WOULD wait. In total honestly, I mentioned a couple errands that I would like to do as long as we would be “in the area.” Ever multi-tasking and trying to be efficient, Rick complied, and the date was set.

We loaded our kayaks up into his 1995 pick-up. It used to be my father-in-law, Tony’s, pick-up. Rick acquired it after his Dad passed away. It is two-wheel drive. (Who has one of those anymore?) It is old enough to vote. For many years it was the vehicle we had with the least number of miles.

The truck has a cassette player. Tony always listened to polka music in the truck. The cassette he usually listened to remains in the truck’s cassette player. Often, we’ll crack up the tunes for a bit and remember Tony. On this day, the music was silent as Rick and I took the opportunity to reconnect and share during the drive to the pre-appointed park where we’d meet our friends.

After a picnic in the park, all four of us launched our kayaks into Mirror Lake and paddled up and down the lake. For many minutes, the world slowed. The hum of traffic from the interstate remained close at hand and increased in volume as we paddled underneath bridges that crossed the lake. We stopped short of the dam at the upper end of the lake and retreated back in the direction we came from. Along the river, the landscape replicates the scenery the area around Wisconsin Dells is famous for: layers of shelfed rock formations that stick out from the landscape. Incredibly beautiful, we agreed to return back later in fall when the leaves are turning color to see the anticipated color explosion.

I tried not to feel guilty about taking an afternoon to drink in the great outdoors. I willed myself not to think about what else I COULD be doing. I tried to stay in the moment and be still with our friends. Nature. Hubby Rick. Myself. Almighty God.

Be still and know I am God.

It’s hard to know God when we’re so busy running from one thing to the next. It’s impossible to know God when we fill our lives with everything but quiet. Most often, God chooses not to compete with all of the noise, and we miss out on opportunities to hear God speak directly to us. It saddens my heart to observe how many times I choose noise and busyness over quiet and stillness.

Be still. Know I am God.

The lesson never grows old. It’s never mastered and always applicable.

Today. Tomorrow. Next week.

Be still.

Know I am God.

For the opportunity to be still and see God, I am grateful.

Blessings –

Dianne

Almighty God – My heart is reminded of how often I choose something of this world rather than making sure I’ve met you each day. Forgive me for the times I’ve chose busyness and noise over stillness and You. May I take even a few moments and find You today. Amen.  

REMINDER: Devos with Dianne tonight on Facebook Live at 8 PM CT. Tonight’s topic: courage.

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A Prayer for September

Gratitude Day 505

Wed., Sept. 2, 2020

Holy God –

The mornings are a bit chillier and the sun sets earlier.

The crunch of the leaves under our feet and the drying of the crops are clearly signs that another season is closing and a new one approaching.

It’s a season in which so many things discover hibernation while others simply die.

While these signs of the closing in of fall help us think of warm fall scents and smells and tastes, we are also acutely aware of the challenges that are such a part of our daily lives. Whether we have been directly affected by the shifts and changes in our society, we know these times may change what we consider “normal” for good.

And this can scare us.

Breed fear into us.

Make us yearn for more normal times all the more.

And yet, this is also where we can discover fully what it means to have faith in You.

For when we come to You with our heavy hearts, they become lighter. Easier. More manageable.

May this be our first line of reaction … rather than our last. May we embrace You in ways that surprise and amaze us. May we discover new ways to look at old situations and discover hope.

Hope for today. Hope for tomorrow. Hope for situations that seem too big to fix.

You are the one who can orchestrate this and so much more. Thank you, almighty God. Amen.

For the blessing of a prayer, I am thankful.

Blessings –

Dianne

Holy God – Accept my prayer. Help me make it mine. Amen.  

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Listening Is a Good Thing

Gratitude Day 503

Sat., Aug. 29, 2020

James 1:19 – Know this, my dear brothers and sisters: everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to grow angry.

It’s Saturday morning. I feel like I’ve had a variety of things buzzing through my brain and happening in my life this week. Thank you for giving me a place to share some of those buzzings and happenings. I appreciate every one of you that takes times to read along. I pray there is something here every time I write a post that resonates with you. Today is a wide variety. I suggest a few options of reading beyond this post and encourage you to grow your faith in a variety of ways this weekend.

This. This is how Hubby Rick and I celebrated our 20th anniversary: we went SKYDIVING! Seriously. It was a rather 11th hour decision. In a very casual conversation over lunch the day before our anniversary, we mentioned about talking different times about going skydiving. But we never had. I went online, found two appointments for the following afternoon at a location not too far from our house and signed us up! In less than 24 hours, we were jumping out of a plane on a tandem dive!

It was exhilarating. Amazing. A rush. All those words that others share about sky diving. We went on tandem dives, which means we were basically strapped to another person who is a diving expert. Yet, you get all the emotions and feelings from diving.

Moral of the story: if there’s something you’ve been thinking about doing, DO IT! We are glad we did.

A shout-out to our friends, Mel and Ruth Ann, who are celebrating their 50th anniversary today! Mel and Ruth Ann have been the coordinators of our local food pantry for years. Decades. A long time. We consider them special people in our lives. In a pandemic world, it’s difficult to celebrate such an event. After food distribution one night this week, a few of us food pantry folks gathered together for cake and ice cream. Very casual, low-key and a surprise! Have a great day, Mel and Ruth Ann. You inspire Rick and me.

The value of personal thank you notes never diminishes. Just yesterday, Hubby Rick and I received a hand-made thank you note from a young gal who we dearly love. She and her family had been to our house last weekend. She took the time to draw and write a very personal thank you note. As both Rick and I read the thank you note, we once again know why we dearly love her: because she is real. Sincere. Appreciative. All in a 13-year-old teen. This is a great reminder and lesson for the rest of us. Take note: thank you notes NEVER grow old. Rather than expecting one to show up in your mailbox? Send one to someone (or just a plain old card.) It will add a smile to the person’s face and a lift to their step.

I needed to read this article. Maybe you do as well. Unfortunately, I have find myself spending too much time on my phone and social media just the last couple of days. This article, Malls and Museums, is written by Tsh Oxenreider and addresses her struggle with perspective of social media. It’s just a great overall reminder of how life is changing these days.

We live in Wisconsin, which has seen plenty of national attention this week because of the shootings in Kenosha, WI. It saddens my heart as these struggles with race continue in America.

Here’s what I want to say about the race challenges in our culture today. First, I feel very unqualified to speak about them because I have not experienced what black people have. I’m a white woman. My perspective is so different from a black person’s perspective. I cannot and will not say that I understand how they feel because, well, I can’t.

What I can do is listen. Try to hear their feelings and their position. And so, this is what I’m doing. There are two specific recordings that I have found helpful for me and so I share them with you. First, I encourage you to listen to Julia Jackson’s interview from the beginning of the week. She is the mother of Jacob Blake, who was the man shot in Kenosha, WI last Sunday. Her words are powerful. Important. Speak volumes.

For more extended listening, please go to YouTube and listen to the Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man series put together by former NFL player Emmanuel Acho. A few months ago, he recorded his first conversation, which has led to a series of conversations. Some of the folks in the subsequent conversations you may know. Others, you may not.

Take the time to listen to them all. It doesn’t have to be all in one setting. Do it over a period of time. But LISTEN.

In the part 2 conversation with Roger Goodell, commissioner of the NFL, Roger encourages people to listen. Really listen. He says that too often, we don’t always listen to what someone else is saying. We only have conversations because we want someone else to affirm our position. This is not really listening, he says. (FYI – the conversations with Roger were released before the happenings this week when many professional athletes chose not to participate in a game or practice.)

I agree with Roger Goodell. And this is why I’m trying to listen to folks who know a lot more about this than I do.

Listen. It’s what I want to try and do more of this weekend. Next week. Every day.

For the reminder of the need to listen, I am grateful.

Blessings –

Dianne

Dear God – What began 20 years ago at a service where we committed ourselves to You and each other, Hubby Rick and I celebrate today. Thank you for bringing us together and being with us as we experience married life together. I pray we see You as the glue that holds us together today and every day going forward. Amen.  

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Lessons from the Bees

Gratitude Day 501

Mon., Aug. 24, 2020

Proverbs 15:14 – A wise man is hungry for truth, while the mocker feeds on trash.

They were literally busy as bees.

I LOVE hydrangeas. Well, I love most flowers but there are a few that top the list. Hydrangeas are one of them. I’ve long waited for our hydrangea bushes to be in bloom. And FINALLY, they ARE.

One of my guilty pleasures is having fresh flowers on our kitchen island. When I walk into the kitchen in the morning to begin a pot of coffee, my heart just smiles when I see fresh flowers greeting me.

When the hydrangeas made their glorious appearance, of course, I longed for a bouquet of them to grace the kitchen.

Clippers in hand, I went to go cut a few springs. And this is what I found:

Busy bees. Busy insects. Busy, busy busy guys and gals drinking in the nectar from the hydrangeas.

Not one or two. But hundreds of little insects going about their business with nary another care in the world. They were so focused and so intent on their business, I’m not sure they even realized that I was there observing them. They certainly did not let my presence distract or stop them.

They just kept going and going.

Drinking and drinking.

Doing their job and doing their job.

I felt a little like I was invading their space. Joining their sanctuary, not quite invited. Certainly, my presence didn’t slow them down or halt their activity. They were laser focused on going about their bees-ness.

As I chose which springs to snip, making sure that I was not interfering with their activity, I was humbled by their intentness. Their focus. Their commitment. They knew their job, and this was their priority.

 Such a wild contrast for me these past few months. In the midst of all that’s going on in the world right now, I often feel distracted. Unfocused. Lacking clarity. While I KNOW and BELIEVE some very basic things, my focus has not been laser-like, nor my attention fully committed.

Quite unlike these insects and bees and busy bodies.

Yes, we need time to step back and refocus. Yes, we go through transitions in life and must allow for space so this can happen. Yet, we must also fill our hearts and souls with the best nectar we can find. Drink on it often. Daily. Fill ourselves with the Spirit that is committed to guiding our ways, truths and actions.

These busy bees knew what they needed to fill their little bodies and souls.

Maybe I’m just a bit jealous of their clarity and focus.

The truth is they need the nectar and they sought it. Drank it. Made it their priority.

Likewise, I just need to find my nectar. Seek it. Drink it.

Fill my heart and soul with the best truth for me today. Avoid the trash that will distract me hourly. Keep grounded in the One who is my truth. And know the rest will fall into place.

For the busy bees who carefully grabbed my attention, I am grateful.

Blessings –

Dianne

Holy God – it is so easy to find ourselves distracted and unfocused these days. It’s easy to drink the trash that perpetuates this. Rather, may we find You as the One who gives us truth. Help us drink deeply of these truths today. All week. Minute by minute and hour by hour. Amen.  

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