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.

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

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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When Relationships Are Important

Gratitude Day 410

Fri., Feb. 21, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Even when the gift seems like such a simple thing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blessings –

Dianne

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

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Creative Ideas for Valentine’s Day

Gratitude Day 403

Mon., Feb. 10, 202

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

This is the week folks celebrate Valentine’s Day!

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

Make them cookies.

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

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

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

GLUTEN-FREE SUGAR COOKIE

Cookie:                                                          Icing:

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

1 tsp baking powder                                 ¼ c softened butter

½ tsp salt                                                       1 tsp vanilla extract

1 c sugar                                                       1 ½ c confectioners’ sugar

¾ c softened butter                                   2 tsp vanilla

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 eggs

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Meal Out Gift Card

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

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

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

An Extra-Large Handmade Card

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blessings –

Dianne

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Love Is on the Porch

Gratitude Day 401

Fri., Feb. 7, 202

Proverbs 4:6: If you love Wisdom and don’t reject her, she will watch over you.

About a month ago, I posted a couple pictures of our front porch on social media, bemoaning that it was time to take down the Christmas lights. I just wasn’t ready to do so. It’s so peaceful to look out and see the white lights on our porch at night.

Suddenly … you guys gave me a great idea! Keep the winter decorations and just adapt them for Valentine’s Day! Put a few hearts on them and your porch will be ready for Valentine’s Day.

What a great idea!

And exactly what I did.

In true confession: about a week ago, I unplugged the timer by which the lights came on at night. The timer was off and it was easier to unplug than fix the time.

But after putting a few Valentine’s with the decorations, the timer is going back in! At least for next week.

The Valentine’s took very little time. Using internet templates and running colored paper through the printer and just a bit more tweaking, they were done.

And it took about 60 seconds to hang them up.

But it took the Christmas decorations into Valentine’s and it just makes my heart happy.

Sometimes, our days just need a little joy. Happiness. Fun. Lightness. Silly as it sounds, these Valentine’s did exactly this for me.

It’s crazy, I know. But such a great reminder. Simple is good. Easy is good. Using what you have is great. Editing something to make it special for you? A win-win.

Pause for a minute or three. What little simple, silly thing could you do this very day that would bring just a bit of joy into your heart? A lightness and appreciation into your step? Plaster a smile onto your face and make the edges of your mouth turn up every time you see it?

It doesn’t have to be hearts on your porch. It’s really more about loving something that you have. Use the God-given wisdom you have been given and find some little way to bring a bit of joy into your heart and life. It can be simply a wonderful thing.

For simple joy that now resides on our porch, I am grateful.

Blessings –

Dianne

Dear God – too often, we overlook the simple. The easy. The meaningful ways we can add joy to our lives. May your wisdom become our wisdom in loving to find these little bits of happiness in our lives.  Amen.

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

God in Simple, Daily Living

Gratitude Day 391

Mon., Jan. 20, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’m calling it my daily photography devotion.

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

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

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

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

On Instagram, find me at diannedeatonvielhuber.

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

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

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

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

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

Blessings –

Dianne

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

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January’s Word = KINDNESS

Fri., Jan. 3, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

Can this all please just stop?

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

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

KINDNESS.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hold the door open for someone.

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

Listen before you speak.

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

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

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

Turn off your phone and be present.

Just be kind.

Just love them.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blessings –

Dianne

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

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A Prayer for 2020

Wed., Jan. 1, 2019

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.

Happy 2020!

As we begin a new year, it’s a time to pause. Reflect. Ponder. Think.

And the best way to begin a New Year?

Simple. Prayer.

John Wesley began a movement over 200 years ago. Eventually, it became known as the Methodist movement, which are the roots of the United Methodist Church. Wesley believed in the covenant of prayer: the connection between God and a person. The opportunity to humans to connect with God in a deep and personal way.

Exactly what I believe as well.

He used a prayer at the end of the year to inspire him for the upcoming year. Today, I encourage us to pray this prayer at the beginning of a new year as an opportunity to begin things in a spiritually connected way. Please, let’s pray Wesley’s Covenant Prayer together:

I am no longer my own, but thine.

Put me to what thou wilt,

Rank me with whom thou wilt.

Put me to doing, put me to suffering.

Let me be employed for thee or laid aside for thee,

Exalted for thee or brought low by thee.

Let me be full, let me be empty.

Let me have all things, let me have nothing.

I freely and heartily yield all things

To thy pleasure and disposal.

And now, I glorious and blessed God,

Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Thou art min and I am thine. So be it.

And the covenant which I have made on earth,

Let it be ratified in heaven. Amen.

Maybe not a bad prayer to use at the beginning of EVERY day in 2020?

For the opportunity to covenant with God today, I am grateful.

Blessings –

Dianne

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2020 Bible Reading Plan

Gratitude Day 383

Tues., Dec. 31, 2019

Psalm 119:105: Your word is a lamp before my feet and a light for my journey.

Often, not having a plan is a plan to fail.

While we can have great intentions and grandiose ideas, unless we plan for achieving a goal, well, most often, it just remains a dream. A cool idea. Something we hope someday will become a priority.

At the beginning of 2018, I planned to read through all four gospels of the New Testament. My plan was very simple: read through a chapter a day until I finished all four gospels.

By last spring, I had accomplished the plan. While I didn’t have a target date by which to finish this, I kept plugging along until I had read all four accounts of Jesus’ life. I missed some days … but gave myself grace.

It was a wonderful experience.

So often in the last number of years, I read scripture because I was preparing a message. Or teaching a class. Or researching something. This time, I committed to read these four different stories about Jesus life purely for my benefit and enjoyment.

And I rediscovered things I had forgotten or quite honestly, didn’t observe in previous readings. A picture of who Jesus was, why he came to earth and his purpose in doing so became clear once again.

I enjoyed this experience so much; I plan to do it again in 2020. With a twist. This year, I want to plan to read through the entire New Testament. So, I put together a plan for myself.

Then, I realized: maybe, just maybe, someone else might like this plan. So, I’m making my 2020 Bible Reading Plan available for anyone who might want to read through the New Testament as well.

I also want to keep this plan realistic and doable. That’s why I incorporated these guidelines:

  • There are five readings a week, on Mondays through Fridays. No readings for Saturday and Sunday! This gives me an opportunity to make sure I am always caught up by Monday morning.
  • I LOVE to read through John’s Gospel during Lent. So, I planned it this way. I also like to keep Luke and Acts together because they were written by the same author. The problem child is Revelation. It’s at the end of the year, during Advent, which I am not sure I am thrilled about. But when is it best to read Revelation?
  • Using this lay-out, there were a few extra days than chapters of the New Testament. I purposely found Old Testament passages that fit into the church calendar at specific times of the year to fill out the calendar.
  • My experience is that I can read through a chapter of scripture in less than 10 minutes. PLEASE DON’T SPEED READ. Take your time. Savor each chapter. I like to have a journal where I write down things that caught my attention. Maybe a verse that especially is meaningful to me that day.

Honestly, I feel reading scripture is one way that my faith has grown significantly. As I read God’s word to God’s people, I discover more about who God is for me. Are there parts of the New Testament that are confusing and possibly contradict each other? Yes, if you see it this way. Another way to think about scripture is these are God-inspired words written at a very different time. They can speak to us today as well if we allow them to.

It is my plan to read through the New Testament in 2020. Here’s my plan so I will not fail. Please join me on this journey and together, let’s see what God is saying to us this next year. I invite you to share this plan with others. Together, let’s do this! Here is a downloadable PDF of my 2020 Bible Reading Plan:

For the opportunity to discover more about God and my relationship with God in 2020, I am grateful.

Holy God – I am so looking forward to letting the words of scripture light my path and life in 2020. Together, may we discover a deeper relationship with each other, inspired by words that help me know you more. Amen.  

Blessings –

Dianne

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