Saturday Round Up – Trusting God

Gratitude Day 524

Sat., Oct. 17, 2020

Psalm 9:10 – May everyone who knows your mercy keep putting their trust in you, for they can count on you for help no matter what. O Lord, you will never, no never, neglect those who come to you.

Somedays, I feel so close to God.

And then, there are the more common ones where it’s just a wee bit harder.

On those days, where’s what I remember: God didn’t move. I did.

God is still there, friend. Plugging right along. Just waiting for you to pause and say, “Hey, God. It’s me.”

I’ve pulled together a few things I’ve encountered recently that has helped me come back to God. To trust that no matter what is going on, God is RIGHT. HERE. With me. And always will be.

This book: The Sun Does Shine by Anthony Ray Hinton.

This is the author’s story of his wrongful 1985 arrest and conviction of two counts of capitol murder in Alabama. A poor black man, it was a case of mistaken identity and a skewed system of justice. During his 30 years on death row at a state prison, Hinton became a beacon, transformed his own spirit as well as those of his fellow inmates. Civil rights attorney Bryan Stevenson won Hinton’s release in 2015.

Why read this book? It shows a glimpse into Hinton’s story of hope, love and justice. This inspirational story shows how a person’s freedom can be taken away but not his imagination, humor or joy.

This cake: Apple Cider Donut Cake.

OK, I know. A cake isn’t going to make you feel closer to God. I get it.

But I still wanted to share this cake with someone, anyone who is a fan of apple cider donuts. If this is you (or you just like ANYTHING apple,) then this cake is JUST. FOR. YOU.

Seriously.

I ate two pieces of it the night I took it out of the oven.

Maybe celebrate the apples of the season? Too much of a stretch?

Either way, just enjoy this cake. If it’s too much, porch-drop some of it at your neighbors. They will think you are a little ray of sunshine in their day.

Yes, it takes a little more effort … but it’s worth it. So does Hubby Rick, which is notable because he isn’t a huge sweets fan. But this one? He gave it two thumbs up and has been slicing away at it.

Here’s the link to the recipe I used.

These swings.

Yes, they are the swings from our back yard. Honestly, it doesn’t quite look like this right now. There are leaves on the ground and the flowers in the pots are looking a little sad. But I sat in the swings this week. Just for a bit. I just sat. Did nothing and listened. To my heart. My soul. For God.

Even if you don’t have swings in your yard, take a hot minute. Sit. Listen. Be.

(Like the swings? Sorry. I can’t send you to a link. They are custom made for me by Hubby Rick. I know. I’m so lucky.)

This exercise: Devos with Dianne from 10.14.20.

If you haven’t watched it, please do. I share an exercise of how to be kind to YOURSELF. It’s a little reminder that before we care for everyone else, we must care for ourselves first. Even if you don’t have Facebook, you can click on the link and watch. Hope you enjoy!

A reminder: COVID-19 isn’t going away. Anytime soon. It’s here. It’s daunting. We’re in this for the long haul. Seriously.

Unfortunately, until we personally know someone or know someone who knows someone, it may not feel personal or real. But it is. My heart is sad for the folks who have it and are struggling. My heart is sad for those who feel the fall-out has been too much.

As much as we WANT it to go away and to go away fast, it isn’t. Yet, I know that God IS with those who are feeling stressed, discouraged, distracted and challenged. Find your swing. Sit awhile and say, “Hey, God. It’s me.”

God always loves to hear from you. God will never neglect those who come to God. Thank you, Jesus.

For finding ways to trust God in daily life, I am grateful.

Blessings –

Dianne

Dear God – Thank you for never being very far away. And always being there for me. Thanks for not giving up on me when sometimes it’s hard to trust. Thanks for being patient with me. Amen.

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

Making a Difference in Poynette, Population 2503

Gratitude Day 512

Fri., Sept. 18, 2020

Acts 20:35: I’ve left you an example of how you should serve and take care of those who are weak. For we must always cherish the words of our Lord Jesus, who taught, ‘Giving brings a far greater blessing than receiving.’”

For the last five years, Hubby Rick and I have lived in Poynette, WI, population 2503.

There are a lot of great people in our little village. People we’ve come to know. People we call friends and neighbors. Folks we love and who in turn, love us.

Earlier this year, the Poynette Village Board created a Volunteer of the Year Award for an area person who gives of themselves within our community. At their board meeting this past week, they handed out the inaugural award to Mel and Ruth Ann Waugh.

I don’t know the process by which the Waugh’s were selected. What I do know is there is not another couple within this community who are more deserving.

For over ten years, the Waugh’s have headed up the local food pantry. Completly support by the local community, our little food pantry receives no financial backing from outside of the donation’s area folks, businesses and companies give, along with some grants. Each month, it serves between 55-75 area families; many who depend upon it greatly.

A ton of folks partner in making the food pantry an integral part of the community. But it’s the Waugh’s who are the hub of the wheel from which all spokes spread out. When locally grown potatoes are ready to be donated, it’s the Waugh’s that receive the phone call. When excess sweet corn or carrots or onions or tomatoes or other vegetables need a home, the Waugh’s are contacted. When the Scouts, the post office, area churches and the Poynette National Honor Society collect food for the pantry, the Waugh’s arrange drop off. If someone needs community serve hours, the Waugh’s may coordinate for this to happen at the food pantry.  

For several winters, the Waugh’s have spent several well-deserved weeks of sabbath in Alabama. When it came time to organize who would do what while they are gone, a team of people filled the various roles the Waugh’s have assumed. Since the Waugh’s recognize the value of allowing other people to serve within the community, these teams now fulfill some of the roles that the Waugh’s previously assumed.

With health and safety in mind, the decision was made to limit the number of people volunteering at the pantry during the pandemic. The Waugh’s have provided much of the people power during these last six months.

If the school district needs additional snacks for a classroom, the Waugh’s make it happen. If snow boots or jackets or extra gloves are needed, the first line of contact is often the Waugh’s.

Serving their community is not an afterthought for the Waugh’s. It’s their first thought. Just yesterday, they helped pack the weekend Blessings food bags for school-aged kids. When we looked into starting the Blessings program, it was Ruth Ann who said the food pantry would donate the necessary $5,000 to get it rolling.  

For about 10 years, the Waugh’s coordinated the assembly and delivery of Thanksgiving and Christmas meals to folks within our community who might not otherwise have a holiday meal. For years, Mel and Ruth Ann organized and had these meals delivered before they gathered with their own family.

My first contact with the Waugh’s began when I started serving a church in the Poynette community. It didn’t take long for me to discover if there was something I needed, I could call the Waugh’s and they would do what they could. Countless times, the Waugh’s hosted kids at their farm for a fall hayride, bon fire and fun night of Wednesday Night Church School. When something at the church needed repair and Rick wasn’t available, Mel would be down shortly after I called him to check it out.

It takes a village to raise kids in a community. It takes a village to serve and help those who are going through a hard time. It takes a group of people who have a servant’s heart and a willingness to ask, “What can I do?” and then go ahead and do it.

This is what Mel and Ruth Ann have done in our little community. They have donated their time, energy, gifts and leadership in so many ways. When it came time for someone to receive the first Poynette Volunteer of the Year Award, I hope there was even a second option of who should receive it.

It’s people like the Waugh’s that inspire me … and hopefully you … to see where and how you can make a difference in your community. Too often, we expect someone else to do it. Folks like the Waugh’s accept the responsibility to do what they can to make a difference in people’s lives, one person at a time. And they do it.

Thank you, Mel and Ruth Ann, for all that you have done for our little community of Poynette, population 2503. You’ve made a huge impact on many of those people’s lives. You make a different in our village.

Here’s another little story that shows how one person is making a difference in his village. I think you’ll enjoy watching it.

For wonderful examples and witnesses of local servant leadership and hearts, I am grateful.

Almighty God – when Jesus said, “Help the poor,” he meant it. And when he said, “Feed the hungry,” it was not a suggestion but a mandate. Thank you for folks like Mel and Ruth Ann Waugh who heed these words and put them into action. Amen.

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

A Smile for Saturday – COVID-19 Style

Gratitude Day 509

Sat., Sept. 12, 2020

Deuteronomy 31:8 – The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”

As we approach the six-month mark of living in a COVID-19 influenced society, it’s becoming clear to me that many are growing weary of this pandemic. While we’d love for things to return to “normal,” I’m not sure this is happening any time soon. We’re still navigating the precarious world of balancing health and safety with doing the things that we want to be able to do. It’s a fine line, a fine tightrope that we’re often walking. It’s clear to me that we’re not all in agreement of how this should look and work, which only adds to the defeatism that so many feel.

That’s why it is so important that some folks are creative enough to help us continue to smile, laugh and bring joy and happiness into our lives.

Enter schoolteacher Paul Miller.

Paul is a teacher at Appleton East High School in Appleton, WI. He created a parody on the “Friends” theme to welcome back his students to school this fall. He spent a day writing and recording the video with the help of his wife.

The response? A-MAZ-ING.

I don’t know Paul. I ran across his little video purely by coincidence. To say that his video has created lots of laughs, follow-up media contacts and a great example of how to make lemonade out of lemons.

As per tradition, Paul begins the school year with a song. This year, he took his normal challenge a step further. He rewrote the words to fit into our current COVID-19 situation.

Paul told a local TV station, “Learning is about being uncomfortable and challenging your skills and pushing your ideas, so I try to get a little uncomfortable in front of the students on the first day.”

What is Paul’s main message in his back-to-school video? He’ll be with the kids, no matter what. Whether they are in their pj’s while attending class and not able to see each other in person, he will be with them. For them. Helping them learn.

Don’t be afraid. Don’t be discouraged. I’m with you.

Pretty good words, right? Teach Paul Miller has the right message we all need to hear right now. While I don’t know Paul, I’m confident he’s taking these words to heart and plans to live them out EVERY. SINGLE. SCHOOL. DAY.

Back to our current situation. Yep, it’s easy to feel discouraged right now. Many of us ARE afraid of a whole bunch of things.

But someone else is with you. Us. Will not leave us. Ever.

Who?

God. Look at the first at the top of this post. Read it again. Insert your name at the beginning of the verse. Remind yourself again and again and again. God will be with you. Through this pandemic. On the rotten, awful days. On the days that don’t make sense. On the days you just want something to be normal.

Who will be there?

God.

Now, just don’t give up on God. Let God be your ever-present, ever-consistent friend that is there for you.

Because God already is.

Thanks, Paul Miller, for being there for your students. So are a million other teachers right now.

And for everyone out there, God is there for you. Amen.

For God’s presence with us always and always, I am grateful.

Blessings –

Dianne

Dear God – Too often, we look for someone, somewhere to be present with us. We forget that You are always here with us. We turn every place but to You looking for comfort and peace when Your presence has been there right along. Thank you for always being present. When we are discouraged, may we turn to You. When we are afraid, may we come first to You. Amen.

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

Lessons from the Serenity Prayer

Gratitude Day 506

Sat., Sept. 5, 2020

Proverbs 20:24 – A person’s steps are from the Lord; how then can people understand their path?

There is SO. MUCH. we CANNOT CONTROL.

Yep.

So much.

This has been highly re-enforced in our lives the last six months.

While we’d like to control many, many things, there are some things hugely out of our control. It’s so easy to spend lots of time of things we can’t control vs. what we can control.

I get it. We want to change people’s minds. We want to advocate for our position. We want to place our fingerprint on things we are passionate about.

I also try to do these things.

It’s OK to advocation. Encourage. Petition.

As hard as it is, sometimes, we need to let go. Know when to let be. Accept something as out of our domain.

The Serenity Prayer is a short little prayer that reminds us of this. Theologian Dr. Reinhold Niebuhr is often attributed as it’s author. Its source might have come from one of Niebuhr’s students and collaborators, Winnifred Crane Wygal. Wygal included the prayer in a newspaper article in the 1930’s. Later, it was included in a 1940’s book of worship in an altered form.

The most popular version of the prayer is a shortened prayer:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.

Knowing the difference. Not always easy.

May I encourage you to take a few minutes and listen to a great reminder of this? It’s performed by The Skit Guys. Generally, their little ditties are fun and make you laugh. This one is a bit more serious. And a way for us to ponder what we can and cannot change.

For wisdom to discern what I can change and what I cannot change, I am grateful.

Blessings –

Dianne

Holy God – in a time and place where there are many things we cannot change, gently encourage us to keep perspective. God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference. Amen.  

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

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.  

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

On a Scale of 1 to 10 …

Gratitude Day 499

Sat., Aug. 15, 2020

Philippians 4:13 – I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

It’s one of the common phrases that I say. Think. Ponder.

It’s as much of my make-up as the color of my hair. (Well, at least the outward appearance of my hair.)

I say it to myself. Hubby Rick. My friends. Family. People who are struggling. When I’m struggling. To people who really don’t want to hear it.

“On a scale of 1 to 10, where does this land?”

Imagine a 10 as being the most AWFUL thing ever. Really. Most awful. Not what you think is awful today. But most AWFUL EVER. I remember attending a workshop a million years ago where this was discussed. Research says that a 10 is death by torture. But the researchers discovered that the 10 can always get worse because the death could be slower and more tortuous than it currently is. (I know. Talking about torture. This is a great way to get people to continue reading a blog.)

Anyway, think of your 10. What is the absolute most AWFUL thing ever?

Now, think about what is something that when it happens and could be viewed as a challenge but in reality, it’s a little blip on the map. In fact, it is so insignificant that it really shouldn’t even take up air space. Thought process. Energy. It should just be immediately passed over and you should go onto the next thing. Quick example: when ice comes out of the ice maker on the fridge, falls on the kitchen floor and leaves tiny little puddles on the floor.

Alright. So, do you understand the scale of 1 to 10?

Now, think back to those things that happened this past week that got under your skin. Irritated you. Made you get a little huffy, even if only internally. Rank them on your scale of 1 to 10.

Here’s a couple quick ones from my last week:

Having the moped quit running while I was riding it.

Waiting for someone to call me back that didn’t see my message.

Having files sent to me with wrong information.

Watching someone say good-bye to a loved one.

I intentionally put them in increasing order how they would fall onto my 1 to 10 scale.

Part of the problem with this? What is a number 8 or 9 or me maybe a 1 or 2 for you?

A few years ago, Hubby Rick said why I never vacuum out the inside of my vehicle. He wondered aloud why I don’t take more pride in my car and wash it more frequently. For me, washing my car is like a -2. Keeping the inside is higher, maybe a 3. Now for Rick, making sure the outside of the car looks nice is like a 6. Big difference from me.

He really didn’t get it until I pointed out that for me, clean floors in the house is a 6 and he would rank it much lower. Then, the light bulb went on.

In daily life, I think it is SO. EASY. to take something that is probably a 2 or a 3 or a 4 and turn it into a 6 or a 7 or an 8. Yes, for some people this situation maybe high. But often, we take a relatively insignificant situation and amp it up way too much.

The problem is right now, we’re dealing with a whole bunch of stuff that could be remarkably high for some people (whether or not to send their child to physical school vs. virtual school) and less dramatic for others. We can all think of the person who wearing a mask is a -5 and for someone else, it’s a 12.

In reality, I think too often, most of us spend way too much time and energy on 1’s, 2’s and 3’s and may even have a tendency to turn them into something bigger than what they really are. And this leaves us little energy and headspace to deal with the really big stuff; the 8’s, 9’s and 10’s.

Especially now. During a pandemic. In a time when there is so much divergence on what’s important. When folks are all over the board on what REALLY. IS. IMPORTANT.

My best suggestion today? When you find yourself overreacting to something, quickly ask yourself, “Where is this one a scale of 1 to 10?” When someone else is getting way too caught up and exerting so much energy and time on an issue that is a 3 or less, ask them where they see this falling on their scale. Maybe they will reconsider their approach.

I keep trying to remind myself to spend my absolute best energy, time and headspace on the 8’s, 9’s and 10’s in my life. Some days I do better than others.

And then, there are the days, when I fail miserably.

Reminding myself to turn to God and ask for guidance on where this falls on God’s scale is also a super good way to gain perspective. If God isn’t going to spend more than five minutes contemplating something, then why am I?

Often on Saturdays, I share a list of little tidbits that I’ve collected throughout the week. Today, I’m just sharing one big tidbit. I’m also going to throw in a song that I’ve been turning to over and over again this week, looking for inspiration.

Sit back. Close your eyes. Listen for the next five minutes. Hear God speak to you. Let God remind you that it’s so important to let go of the things on the lower end of the priority scale. And if you are dealing with some big ones right now? May you hear and feel that your soul can be well.

For God’s desire to always may my soul well, I am grateful.

Blessings –

Dianne

Almighty God – May my soul turn to Your soul today and know this is enough. If I’m hurting, Your soul hurts as well. If I’m celebrating, Your soul is excited as well. Help my soul be well today. Amen.  

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

Simple Things for Saturday

Gratitude Day 495

Sat., Aug. 8, 2020

Proverbs 3:5-6 – Trust in the Lord with all your heart; don’t rely on your own intelligence. Know him in all your paths, and he will keep your ways straight.

A well-known woman shared this week that she is experiencing low-grade depression right now. Whether you agree with her views, please hear her words. She’s struggling and trying to figure it out. She’s made herself very vulnerable. She’s admitting that we all have a point where the angst of what we’re living through right now can be, well, too much.

When I saw the headline and read the first few sentences of a particular news story, an epiphany came over me. I’ve found myself feeling off of late. OK, honestly, like for a few months but more so lately. Yes, I do things. Yet, I find myself flittering away time. I choose easy, low hanging fruit rather than focusing on the really important things. I do the simple, easy, and no-brainer tasks rather than digging deeper and really thinking about various things.

Let me be clear. I’m not depressed. What I’m saying is that things just feel out of whack right now. Making tough decisions just feels harder than normal. Everything seems to take longer. What I have planned for one week keeps rolling into the next week and the following week. Again, and again.

Today, I realized that I’m not sure that I’ve ever really been in a situation quite like this before. Yes, I do things. For the most part, I get the big stuff done. But the new stuff? The dreams I think about? The desire to put myself out there and try something different and new? Things that normally excite me? I lack the desire to dig in and get them done.

When I heard Mrs. Obama’s confession this week, I stopped for a minute. I connected. I realized that some of her words could be my words. I’ve been thinking for days about whether or not to share how I feel in light of this revelation because, well, my situation isn’t dire. Or earth-shattering. Or making a difference whether we have food on the table and a place to live.

I’m not dealing with a dying person. Neither Hubby Rick nor I are unemployed. We’re doing fine and continue to know and believe that we’re some of the least affected people in all of this situation. Still true today.

Yet, I also know things just feel off. Weird. Not normal. I keep praying that my focus will improve. That I will pick something to complete and actually do it. I keep hoping that there will be a little desire within me to make this next week the one when I make a shift back into a more productive mode.

So far, this hasn’t really happened.

And so, I keep bumbling along.

Why am I sharing this? Just in case someone else is bumbling along right now, not quite feeling the way you’d like, please be OK with it. I know that I will have another productive season in my live. I know that we’re living in a time and place that feels and is vastly different from anything we’ve experienced before.

And so, I keep trying to give myself some grace. Space. Permission to let this time be filled with low hanging fruit. And saying this is OK.

Here’s what I’m trying to do right now. Not give up on myself. Trust in the Lord with all my heart. Keep plugging along. Being OK with extra breathing space right now. Knowing that emotionally, mentally, spiritually and physically this maybe the best medicine for me right now.

If you find yourself in a similar situation, can we bumble along together?

On a lighter side, here are a few things that I’ve enjoyed recently.

This story. It’s an incredible story about forgiveness. Seriously. Take the time to watch.

Yes, it’s been a month since the 4th of July, but take a minute a listen this song performed by some members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. A few orchestra members socially distance on the lawn of a house and cheered up their neighbors. Listen one of John Philips Sousa’s greatest songs.

This book. I read it over a decade ago. Feeling the need for grace in my life, I recently re-read it. It’s interesting to see how society has shifted in the last 10+ years. Yet, there’s still a lot of relevant stuff here about our need for grace and how we view grace with others.

I close today with this. It’s not original to me. I’m not quite sure where it came from. Nonetheless, the message is one that I feel we could all use.

And let’s keep trusting in the Lord. Not rely only on myself. Looking towards God to keep our paths straight.

For a God who doesn’t give up on me, I am grateful.

Blessings –

Dianne

Dear God – thanks for being patient me more so than I am patient with myself. You know what’s going on with me. You know where I’m struggling. Keep present with me. Keep speaking with me. Help me to keep trusting in You. Amen.  

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

Saturday Thoughts

Gratitude Day 480

Sat., June 27, 2020

Proverbs 24:3 – By wisdom, a house is built; by understanding it is established.

We’ve been eating lettuce out of our garden for over a week now. And it’s WONDERFUL! Hubby Rick picked this lettuce before it rained yesterday. Believe me … it’s yummy!

Fresh lettuce and fresh fish … that was dinner Friday night at the Vielhubers! While Rick has been on his Sabbatical, he’s gone fishing a few times. This was part of his haul from Friday afternoon. In full disclosure, I know the photo isn’t great. Why? Rick took the photo. On his flip phone. I was running an errand when I received this text with the photo: Fri. Nite fish? No wasted characters on Rick’s flip phone. (Side note – Phones are almost a nuisance for Rick. His stayed behind when he went fishing. I only know because I heard it ringing while he was gone.)

If you are looking for something new to watch, try Belgravia. This is created by Julian Fellows, who also was involved in Downtown Abby. Belgravia is also set in England. It begins in 1815 and jumps to 1840 in the middle of the first episode. Personally, I don’t find Belgravia quite as riveting as Downton Abby. But for someone who finds the upstairs/downstairs and English hierarchy interesting, Belgravia does include this as part of the storyline. Belgravia is distributed by Epix. If you are an Amazon Prime member, the first two episodes are free. Then, you can sign-up for a 7-day trial period of Epix, which I did, and am making my way through the rest of the available episodes. I have discovered that sometimes, I like to have something in the background when I’m working on something that is not in a room with a television. This show fits this bill.

These scripture cards. I’m not one to promote something that requires people to buy. But this time, I’m breaking my own rule. I have followed Emily Lex for quite a while. She used to blog regularly but has transitioned into doing other things. During 2019, she painted a little miniature painting EVERY. DAY. OF. THE. YEAR. Yup, 365 of them. She posted her little paintings on Instagram daily. She’s not doing the same this year. But people loved her little paintings. She has turned some of them into scripture cards. The paintings have a scripture verse with them on little cards. And she’s selling them. Many of her followers have requested being able to purchase her cards. This is one way she is making them available. I’m anxious to receive a set. Just take a look at the cards. They are pretty and fun to look at.

There truly is no place like home. A couple weeks ago, our 89-year-old neighbor, Kathleen, shared with me two notecards that she had ran across. The outside of the notecards is a pencil sketch someone made of our current house. The house was sketched at a time when there were more trees around the house. Immediately, I knew that I wanted to frame one of the notecards and keep as a remembrance of this old house. The photos do not do justice of the notecard and frame. I took them at the wrong time of the day. Yet, I think this little card shows how our house has changed over the years. In the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, Kathleen and her family lived in this house. At the time, it was set-up as two apartments with one upstairs and the other downstairs. Since we have lived here, we have converted it fully back to a single-family dwelling.

I love this house. There are parts of this house that remind me of the house on the farm where I grew up. It has a front and a back staircase, just like that house. The front staircase is a beautiful open staircase, much like the one I grew up with. Hardwood floors, wood siding, a peaked attic: these are all reminiscent of the house from my childhood. During the last few months when we’ve all spent so much time at home, I’ve loved this house even more.

I know it’s silly to place so much happiness in a house. I know it’s far more important to treasure things outside of this world than those here and now. Yet, truly, I do believe this is more than a house; it’s a home. Our home. Where Rick and I have created lots of memories. Yes, we’ve tried to restore it and make it feel loved once again. Whenever someone walks into our house (which, of course there has been very little of lately), we want them to feel welcomed. Loved. Like they have just been wrapped in a warm blanket on a cold winter night.

Kathleen could have kept the notecards for herself. She also lived in this house. With her family. Yet, it’s such a small but meaningful gesture to have this framed notecard that I can take with me when we move out of this home someday. We have no plans to move right now. But when we do? I’ll leave the second card behind for the next family with hopes that they will make this house a home as well.

For the feeling of when your house is a home, I am grateful.

Blessings –

Dianne

Dear God – Who knew when we moved into this house nearly five years ago how much we would come to love our little place. Thank you for making this house available to us at that time. More importantly, thank you for inspiring us to make this our home. Amen.

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

It’s Saturday Morning!!

Gratitude Day 477

Sat., June 19, 2020

Hebrews 4:9 – So you see that a sabbath rest is left open for God’s people.

As we begin the weekend, just a few thoughts from my desk this morning.

Hubby Rick is on a four-week Sabbatical!! For the last 20 years, Rick has worked for a Wisconsin-based company called Kwik Trip. They have a company policy when an employee has worked for the company for 20 years, the employee is eligible for a four-week Sabbatical. Rick’s 20th anniversary was May 20th. He had been debating when to take his Sabbatical for a while. Recently, he decided to take it mid-June through mid-July. So, last Sunday was the official beginning of his Sabbatical.

This is very generous of his company to do this. Management sees a time for renewal as important. So far, Rick has been very committed to helping his son with a basement remodeling job and has put in lots of time with this project.

Originally, we had anticipated spending some of Rick’s Sabbatical in Italy. Obviously, this will not be happening right now. Someday, we will get to Italy. Just not right now.

An Amish buggy at a Kwik Trip store. Just a little humor for today!

He hopes to get in some fishing, kayaking, biking, etc. I look forward to a few day trips with Rick.

Have you watched the Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man videos? If not, please take the time. Ex-NFL player Emmanuel Acho released an initial video in early June. He sits down to have an “uncomfortable conversation” with white American and shares his views on racism, system racism, social injustice, rioting and the hurt blacks are feeling today. Here’s a link to the original video:

The next video included a conversation with Matthew McConaughey, a very thoughtful conversation. Here’s the link for this video:

Just this week, the third video included Emmanuel having a conversation with Chip and Joanna Gaines and their five children. There are times when the conversation is a bit uncomfortable, which makes the videos even more real. Check out this conversation here:

Here is a person who is trying to help those of us who do not fully understand racism today. Here’s an opportunity for us to discover more.

Looking for a novel to read this summer? Here’s one that is set in 1932 and the Great Depression.

This Tender Land, written by William Kent Krueger, is set in Minnesota. It tells the story of two orphaned brothers who end up at a Native American teaching school. With two other orphans, they travel the Mississippi looking for a place to call their own. I listened to this on books on tape and enjoyed the story.

Missing baseball this summer? Hop on Facebook and watch worship this Sunday with Midland UMC at 9:30 AM. I’m filling in for Pastor John whose wife, Julie, had some health issues this week. Full disclosure: it was taped Friday night. On my porch. You will hear some background noise because, well, we didn’t do a studio taping but used what we had! My friend Mindy joined in with some music. There’s nothing fancy about this worship service. Amateur might be a good description. BUT it might give your baseball craving a little fulfillment! I’ll share the video on my personal Facebook page as well on Sunday. Here’s Midland’s page: https://www.facebook.com/midland.umc

Let’s make room for Sabbath this summer. I know it feels like almost everything has been cancelled this summer. BUT Summer 2020 HAS NOT been cancelled. Just as Rick is on his Sabbatical for the next few weeks, we have this wonderful opportunity find Sabbath in our lives. See those open boxes on your calendar? Keep some of them open and write the word “Sabbath” in them. Then, promise and commit to yourself to make room for Sabbath. What does Sabbath look like? It’s doing the things (or not doing the things) that will refresh your heart and soul. Bring some peace back into your life. Fill up your empty gas tank and prepare you for the next season of your life.

I am aware that some of the things that have been canceled maybe those things that fill you. So, be creative. Find other ways to fill your heart and soul this summer. I’m really trying to be thoughtful about this right now. I pray that you will be as well. We can make Summer 2020 a fantastic summer … if we CHOOSE to!

Have a great weekend. Celebrate Father’s Day with the special guys in your life. Enjoy finding Sabbath time this summer.

For many different things that feed my heart and soul, I am grateful.

Blessings –

Dianne

Holy God – Encourage me today, this weekend, this summer to NOT FILL every waking moment with activity. Busyness. Yes, we may be disappointed that some things aren’t happening this summer. I pray that we see this as a wonderful season to fill our hearts and souls with Sabbath. Rest. Renewal. In You. Amen.

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

What I Learned in May

Gratitude Day 466

Sat., May 30, 2020

Psalm 119:116 – Be true to your word, Lord. Keep me alive and strong; don’t let me be ashamed because of my hope.

Does anyone else feel like the month of May has been FOREVER? Like 90 days long? I look at my May calendar and it is has a lot more open, white days than a “normal” May calendar would. But honestly, I’m not sure what normal is anymore!

We’re navigating a tough time right now. It’s not just the COVID-19 stuff that has my heart confused. We’re watching incredible videos that are difficult and impossible to understand. Responded to an awful incident with more violence just feels and seems crazy to me.

Life feels a lot like this sign right now: crazy curvy and a lot unknown ahead. I snapped this photo while driving a few days ago because, well, I feel like it’s a great metaphor for how I feel about life right now. As much as we’d like the road to be straight and predictable and reliable, it isn’t. Nope, it’s a lot unpredictable.

Will there in-building school this fall?

Can we ever plan a vacation again?

When is it “safe” to return to worshiping at a church building?

What can we do this summer, after so many concerts, sporting, fairs, and fun summer events have been canceled?

Will working at home continue for how longer? Will some folks just continue working from home indefinitely?

And on, and on, and on.

It is easy to worry about these and a million other things. Yet, worry, to me, is one of the most useless emotions we can have. Worry accomplishes little, other than distracts us, gets us worked up and zaps a whole bunch of energy.

Of course, the natural question is, what do we do instead of worry?

Start with J.S.T. Just. Sit. There. With God. Listening. Being. Waiting. Maybe something will come along. Maybe nothing will. Both are good. Both are fine.

Then, find a way to serve someone else. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. Seriously. Nothing difficult or challenging. Just a little way to take your mind and energy off of what you don’t have control over and directed towards something you CAN control.

Our neighbor Kathleen is rounding the corner towards 90. She desperately wants to stay in her home. Before the virus stay in place began, she started receiving Meals on Wheels five days a week. While this is great, I wondered what Kathleen did for weekend food. It didn’t take me long to realize this IS something I can help with.

Now, part of my Saturday routine is to make a few things to walk over to Kathleen. It’s usually extra food that I’ve made for Hubby Rick and myself. When I drop it off, Kathleen and I have a visit. Kathleen admits she enjoys the visit just as much as the food. Honestly, it does both of our souls good. I’m trying a few new recipes and Kathleen gets to try them out.

I’m convinced one of the most important take-aways we can take from this time of life is simply how important it is to bless other people because we feel blessed ourselves. Even if you aren’t sure you are blessed one particular day, still serve, and bless another. It may shift your perspective on your personal interpretation of how blessed you feel.

Choose hope. Hope is what encourages me to stay strong with God. Hope is what promises days filled with peace and love. Hope is what assures me that no matter what the road looks like ahead, God and I will navigate it together. Every. Single. Day.

And this, my friends, is what I relearned in May. Nothing new. Just old lessons that needed to be revisited.

Thanks be to God.

For relearning lessons, I am grateful.

Blessings –

Dianne

Hello God – Oh, how often I forget important life lessons. As I am gently, or not so gently, am reminded of just a few lessons again of late, may I see them as gifts from You, Lord God. Thank you for continuing to teach my heart and soul. Amen.

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