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.

Checking Off the Things You CAN Do Today …

Gratitude Day 423

Sat., Mar. 14, 2020

Galatians 6:2: Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.

TRUTH: I don’t watch the news daily. In fact, I kind of avoid it.

But last night, I watched the news. The national news and the local news.

TRUTH: Watching the news, especially the national news, was a bit unsettling. The entire broadcast was about the coronavirus. There’s a lot to take in and evaluate. In my state of Wisconsin, the Governor has said ALL schools will be closed Mar. 19-Apr. 5.

While many of us are focusing on what feels unsettling, maybe even a bit scary right now, I encourage us to focus on how we can share each other’s burdens. As followers of Christ, what CAN we do when things feel so off-kilter? I’ve put together a little checklist for us to use:

_____   Offer to help those who might be a bit more compromised around you. Get their groceries, pick up a prescription or run an errand for someone who might not feel comfortable going out into public right now. Whether this is an elderly neighbor, a friend who has anxiety or the mom who doesn’t want to take their child into a public setting, reach out to them and see how you can fill the gap.

_____   Contact a local service organization and see where they need help. Deliver meals on wheels. Help at the food pantry. Serve food at a homeless shelter. These folks still need services. Let’s make sure there isn’t a gap.

_____   Pick up some gas or grocery gift cards and give them to those people whose jobs maybe compromised right now. You know – those people who work at places that have closed right now. Waiters and waitresses at restaurants that will not have as many customers. Janitors who don’t have buildings to clean. They still have needs. You can fill a small gap.

_____   Drop off a treat at the local clinic or hospital. These folks are working overtime right now trying to keep the rest of us healthy and safe. Call in advance to find out what kinds of treats they will accept before you make your famous chocolate chip cookies, only to find out the workers won’t be able to eat them.

_____   Say thank you to public officials (EMT’s, fire, police officers) when you see them. Or go out of your way to extend your appreciation for taking extra precautions at this time.

_____   Drop off a bag of groceries to a family whose children are home for the next few weeks unexpectedly. Extend a hand to those who struggle with food insecurity. Or offer to babysit young children so parents can go to work.

_____   Find ways to manage your feelings and anxiety. Be careful not to add additional fear in how you conduct yourself right now. Spend extra time meditating and praying. Go to YouTube and listen to uplifting and inspirational music.

_____   Maintain community with those who may feel isolated and alone right now. As we spend more time at home and have less opportunities to be with groups of people, we can easily feel disconnected from others. Contact those who are alone and may not have as much opportunity to be with others. Even if you physically cannot be with a person, you can still be in touch.  

_____   Continue to support the economy. As we hunker down more in this next period of time, businesses will feel the affect. Try to support them as you can. If you order online, leave treat as the door for delivery people.

_____   Pray and pray and pray. We are not in this alone. God is definitely with us. Pray that those influential in making decisions that affect millions will be guided by God. Pray for those who have been and maybe affected by the virus. Pray that a vaccine will be forthcoming. Pray that people react appropriately. Every time you wash your hands, PRAY.

For many people, this is truly the first time we have experienced something of this magnitude affecting so many people in so many different ways. No, it’s not the first time a pandemic has happened. But there are generations of people living today who have not lived through a situation quite like this.

What can we take away from this all? GOD. IS. WITH. US. TODAY. TOMORROW. ALWAYS. Amen.

For knowing that God is always with us, I am grateful.

Blessings –

Dianne

Almighty God – remind us again and again and again that YOU. ARE. WITH. US. As we struggle to make sense of the world health situation right now, may we clearly see engage with you, each other and create a sense of community that we desperately need. Amen.

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

March Madness and More

Gratitude Day 418

Sat., Mar. 7, 2020

Psalm 119:130: Understanding your word brings light to the minds of ordinary people.

I truly believe that life is made up of a whole bunch of little moments that end up being big moments in our lives. In life’s journey, too often we focus on “big” moments; things that feel like watershed moments when life shifts.

These guys are important. The day we get married. A first child. A new job.

Yet, there are a whole bunch of moments that are smaller in nature in the moment but often the moments that teach us more about ourselves that we will ever know.

Here are a few little moments that seem like just ordinary run-of-the-mill deals at the time. But I feel teach us a lot about who we are, what is important to us and how we live our lives.

It’s March Madness Time. This means if you love basketball, you can watch a game almost every day of the week. And then some.

It’s high school basketball tournament time in Wisconsin. This means each game is one and done. Win it, your team moves on. Lose and you are done for the season.

College roommates with Megan – Lisa, Megan, Dianne and Barb

For the last few years, Hubby Rick and I have been following our dear friend Megan’s team. Megan’s mom, Barb, and I were college roommates. Barb is one of my “go-to” gals. If I ever needed someone or something, she is someone I could “go-to.”

Megan is a senior. We have watched her play volleyball and basketball the last number of years. Megan has been instrumental in the teams she plays on. She’s the captain, a skilled player and very competitive.

Her basketball team had high expectations this year. Going into tournament time, their stellar record seeded them high. Yet, their one and done happened this week.

It was a huge disappointment for the team, the coaches, the parents and everyone who follows the team. The season didn’t end how everyone hoped it would.

Some of the girls on Megan’s team will play college sports. Megan could but is choosing not to. Yet, the skills and attributes she learned in sports will serve her well into her future. Teamwork. Hard work. Persistence. Giving it your all. Loosing well.

Life is full of wins and losses. At the end of every game, there is a winner and a looser.  It can be heart-breaking to lose. Winning is a lot more than the final score. I am so excited to watch Megan take what she’s learned from sports and translate these skills into little moments throughout her life that will make big impacts. This is what great leaders do. This is what people who see beyond the scoreboard focus on. This is taking what seems like a big loss in the moment and making it mean more than one game.

What started as a chance meeting over 21 years ago has become a life-long friendship. One moment at a retreat all those years ago shifted my life in a big way.

When I began the path to becoming a pastor, I was required to attend a weekend retreat. There were about a dozen people there. During a break, Mary Ann came over and introduced herself. She felt that we had met before. We discovered that she knew one of my sisters. Since that moment, we’ve been life-long friends.

Mary Ann could be my mom. She has children my age. We have multiple common interests. We regularly share ministry and personal moments with each other.

While Mary Ann and I often plan things for the two of us to do together, the last number of years, once a year, we include our husbands. We have our annual card-playing day. This week, Hubby Rick and I traveled to the Floerke’s and we spent hours playing cards and laughing together.

It’s such good medicine to just let the world pause and see whether the guys or the gals have the better cards for the day. We don’t solve the worlds problems or even our own problems. We simply enjoy the small moment of playing cards speak well into our lives.

Like playing cards, we can’t control what we are dealt. What we can control is how we respond. React. Deal with life. Some “hands” make life more challenging. Other hands allow for growth or creativity. Yep, there are times when it feels like everyone else has the better cards. Yet, we still hang in there and play anyways. Big lessons from a little card game.

What little things have happened to you this week that can have a big impact in how you look at life? What seemingly simple and ordinary moments help you define what is big and most important in your life?

This is what faith is. Discovering that there is something beyond ourselves that helps us find meaning and purpose in the million ordinary moments of our lives. Knowing that life’s scoreboard is not the same as what is at the end of a game. Letting the ordinary words of God bring us comfort on challenging days. And surround us with each and every little thing that makes us each 24 hours of our day.

Today may feel like a very ordinary day for you. And that’s OK! I pray you will see how the ordinary, little moments of today become part of the big moments that impact our faith and how we live our lives.  

One last thought for today:

For little things that are the big things, I am grateful.

Blessings –

Dianne

Dear God – when the big life moments happen, thanks for being there. When little things happen every day that feel ordinary and mundane, thanks for being there as well. May we see You in the little moments and connect them to the big things of life. Amen.

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

What Will You Dow with an Extra Day today?

Gratitude Day 414

Sat., Feb. 29, 2020

Psalm 19:2: One day gushes the news to the next, and one night informs another what needs to be known.

It’s not too often that we get to type “Feb. 29.” Or say “Feb. 29.” Today is one of those very unique days that we have every four years. The extra leap-year day.

We have a friend Stan whose birthday is today. He can officially say that he is 17 today … although we all know otherwise!

Since it’s not very often that we have another Feb. 29, what are YOU going to do with an extra day this year? Will it be another regular day? Or will it be just a little different? Think about it. An whole extra 24 hours. How will you embrace it?

Will you …

Spend extra time with loved ones?

Sleep more?

Catch up with those projects that have been looming for days or weeks or months?

Spent extra time outside enjoying God’s creation?

Will you embrace extra time to do one of your favorite hobbies?

Or will you pretend it’s just another day?

I’m hoping to do some and all of these things. Spend time with loves ones. Work on getting closer to getting our taxes pulled together. Take in some extra time with Hubby Rick. Love the life that we have together.

Just a few other thoughts for the weekend.

If you want a simply wonderful book to read, literally RUN to the library or the bookstore or download it now:  The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. I’ve shared repeatedly about loving to read historical fiction. While I have read (or more accurately listened) to lots of historical fiction books in the last year, truly, my favorite is this book.

It’s a story about two sisters set in France during World War II. Hannah’s writing style if superb. She includes just the right amount of detail to draw you into the story and make you yearn for more and more. She crafts a heart-wrenching story that makes you cry and cheer for the main characters at the same time. It’s currently being made into a motion picture. Do yourself a favor. Read the book now.

So, go make today a great day. It will be awhile before there is another Feb. 29. Make the most of today!

For an extra day to love life, I am grateful.

Blessings –

Dianne

Dear God – in our unique way to tracking time, we get an extra day today! May we love it and live it fully. Amen.

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

The Bane Between “Today” and “The Good ‘Ole Days”

Gratitude Day 411

Sat., Feb. 22, 2020

Romans 12:2: Don’t be conformed to the patterns of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your minds so that you can figure out what God’s will is—what is good and pleasing and mature.

Yesterday, Hubby Rick and I stopped a visited his 101-year-old Aunt Mil. Mil never married and never had children. Her mother, Rick’s grandmother, immigrated to the United States as a young woman from Czechoslovakia. In 1911, Grandma Vielhuber had a ticket for the Titanic. Circumstances happened and she did not get on the ship. Later, she came to American with her sister. Their goal was to make enough money to return to the old country and open a bakery.

Grandma Vielhuber never left the United States. Instead, she was married twice. After her first husband died a mysterious death, she married the man who was Rick’s Grandpa Vielhuber. She gave birth to six children; one which died as an infant. She worked hard and raised a family. Later in life, Grandma Vielhuber built a house in Madison, which is where Mil lived until she moved into an assisted living a couple years ago.

Mil still speaks with a broken old country accent. Her room is intentionally sparse, with only the absolute necessities. As frugal as the day is long, Mil has lived a life focused on finding pleasure in the simplest of things: a beautiful flower garden, lunch with those she cares for and recording the weather EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

Imagine a person who has never had a cell phone. May not know what the internet is. (Mil worked for the University of Wisconsin-Madison but retired before e-mail and the internet were necessities within the workplace.) Facebook and Instagram are as foreign to her as an African safari. She does not need 144 characters on Twitter to let anyone know how she feels about something. Just ask her and she will tell you. Point blank.

Yes, Mil is old fashioned. Set in her ways. Opinionated. Yet, she can recall events at 101-years-old that most of us have only read about. Not in an encyclopedia but on Google.

It is amazing to watch a woman who has lived her life basically the same way for decades … and is completely comfortable with it. Does she know what she is missing out on because she doesn’t have a smartphone … let alone any phone? Nope. Is the value of what she feels is important to her influenced by those who purposefully try to influence trends and stances by social media? Absolutely not. Will what she value today be any different today than it was tomorrow? A most certain and emphatic, “No.”

As I sit at my laptop and type these words, I am very much aware how technology, the internet and social media are tools that I depend upon. Tools that I have embraced and utilize and leverage. Yet, I hope and pray that I see them purely as “tools” and not the “end all” for what is important to me.

Yet, the question begs to be asked: “Is there a point when all these ‘tools’ that we embrace, and use become counter-productive to our culture?”

You bet.

I get tired of the fake news that is quickly re-posted and repeated without any vetting or discernment. I know that I spend too much time on social media and let it pull me away from nurturing deeper and more meaningful real-life relationships. Do I enjoy seeing what is going on in other people’s lives? Yes. But do I need to scroll through more sponsored posts and ads than actual real-life content to find those few valuable nuggets of content that comes from real people that I know?

There’s a bane between today and yesterday. A struggle between how much technology/new-fangled stuff/screen time/the latest and greatest with a simpler, more wholesome time when people had real conversations and didn’t depend upon text messages. Too often, I see us hiding behind our safe and comfortable screens rather than making an actual phone call to a person and have a real-life conversation. I know that I am as guilty as the next person and that I am calling the kettle “black” right now.

The Apostle Paul wrote about this nearly 2,000 years ago; long before we relied upon things held in a person’s hand for a barrage of information. “Be careful,” Paul said. “It’s easy to conform to what the world says is important rather than challenging your mind to dig a little deeper and see what God says.” It’s not just the source of our information that Paul is challenging us on. It’s the depth of what we ponder and think about that Paul wants us to explore as well. Will our faith and interaction with culture be an inch deep and an ocean wide … or are we willing to look deeply into our souls, relationships, minds and experiences and see where God is leading us? Do we take time to really listen to God, explore God’s word and see where we are being led? Or do we depend only upon what culture says?

Personally, I do not think Paul says we should ignore culture and what is happening in the world around us. Theologian Karl Barth explained it this way: hold the newspaper in one hand and scripture in the other and make sure one influences the other. With fewer actual newspapers being read these days, maybe our 2020 interpretation of this might go something like this: it’s OK to have a smartphone with lots of access to news and information and Google. But let’s not forget to run all of this information through a lens of God’s priorities as well.

Some may say Aunt Mil is living in a time and place that is no longer relevant for today. And they may be right. Yet, there is a poignant lesson for the rest of us as well. When technology/the internet/social media/search engines/platforms become the center of our focus and universe, then it’s time to re-evaluate. We can have quality time with each other and leave our phones behind. We don’t have to have immediate access to information and entertainment and what is going on in everyone else’s lives that we forget to live our own life.

Yes, I will be using technology today. I’ll check e-mail multiple times throughout the day. I’ll post something on social media and smile when someone else thinks the content I post is worthwhile. Yet, I hope that I also am fully aware that there is more to my life than staring at a screen. I pray you know and embrace this today as well.

For opportunities to learn from our elders and embrace culture with our faith, I am grateful.

Blessings –

Dianne

Holy God – it seems that Paul’s words to keep culture and faith in the appropriate tension are even more appropriate than when he wrote them nearly 2,000 years ago. May we not see the tools of today’s culture as a means to an end. May we embrace knowing You as the center of our faith and life. Amen.

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

Make Today Amazing!

Gratitude Day 408

Tues., Feb. 18, 2020

Psalm 145:6: They will tell about the amazing things you do, and I will tell how great you are.

Did you know that today will be amazing? Yes, it will … because you simply are an amazing person! You are amazing because you were created by an amazing God. I pray that you will be blessed all day long.

Today, I’m sharing a mishmash of things that have been speaking to my life lately.

This book. When reading for fun, I am terribly into historical novels. The Tattooist of Auschwitz clearly fits into this category. The storyline is inspired by true events. Lale Sokolov. A Jew, Lale went to Auschwitz with the hope that if he went to a concentration camp, the rest of his family would be sparred. Because he knew multiple languages, he is put to work marking people when they arrive with the number they would be known by.

Because of his unique position, Lale sees and experiences a different type of life at the concentration camp. This includes risking his own life to provide food for other prisoners to keep them alive. Lale falls in love with Gita and hopes for the day when he and Gita can live as husband and wife.

The author, Heather Morris, met the true-life Lale and captured his story in this book. It’s a gut-wrenching, lovely example of how people endure the most difficult of situations. I just became aware that there is a sequel called Cilka’s Journey. I have this book on hold through the library and can’t wait to read/listen to it!

This music. When I’m working at my computer, I often yearn for some quiet, background music that won’t distract me. I’ve tried a variety of YouTube videos, which are also free. I’ve tried lots of these videos. This is one that I adore because it is real Christian songs played on the piano with no music. You can listen quietly to the music doing a variety of things … and no one has to know its Christian music.

https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/awesome-country-apple-fritter-bread-5618421

This bread. I LOVE quick breads, muffins, and such. Lately, I’ve cut back on carbs. But on Saturday, I just like I wanted to make something. So, I made this apple fritter bread. It’s intended to taste like an apple fritter but without the deep frying.

I would say it’s quite successful. I was even more happy that I made it when a friend popped in for a spontaneous visit! We had cups of coffee and thick slices of this bread and agreed it tastes quite nice. It’s easy and with no special ingredients, easy to make. Unfortunately, I didn’t take a picture of my loaf before it was all gone. (P.S. – Marci – here’s the recipe!)

The Mary Experiment. Several people have shared that they are working through the book with a small group of people. This truly warms my heart!! This is EXACTLY what I hoped people would do! I hope many of you will find a couple people to discuss the book with. Use the questions at the end of each chapter. Or download the full study guide, available here for free: https://app.convertkit.com/forms/designers/1110952/edit

If you live within in a few hours of Madison, WI, I will happily come and join in your group for an evening. It would be very rewarding for me to meet with and hear what others are discovering about themselves as they read this book. Just send me an e-mail (dideaton@hotmail.com) or contact me on Facebook.

Speaking of Facebook … if you happen to follow me there, would you be so kind as to leave a review? You can either do it on the Simple Words of Faith page or the Dianne Deaton Vielhuber Page. When people visit my sites for the first time, they often look at reviews written by other people. If you find benefit from either the blog posts or the daily text message prayers, please mention this in your review. Thanks in advance for providing these!

And if you know someone who might enjoy reading these blog posts, please refer them! I know many of you read these off of social media. I encourage you to sign-up through simplewordsoffaith.com to receive the blog posts as an e-mail as well. Not receiving the daily text prayers? Just text simplewordsoffaith to 33222.

No matter what is going on in your life today, God and I both think you are AMAZING! Go make it a great day!

For a God who created each of us as amazing people, I am grateful.

Blessings –

Dianne

Hi God – You truly are amazing. When I see your fingerprints in my life, the lives of others and in the world around us, I pray that I will never stop being amazed as well. Thank you for always being with me. Amen.

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

You ARE God’s Story

Gratitude Day 402

Sat., Feb. 8, 202

Isaiah 5:7: I have given you the story of God’s people. 

I love stories. I love to tell them, write them, share them and hear them.

So, when I heard about a new children’s book that tells the story of God creating the world, I felt the need to have a copy.

It’s a lovely little book that begins in the very beginning. A little boy and his friends go on a journey to discover the beginning of all things. The illustrations are fantastic. The words easy to read. It takes the creation story and makes it tangible and realistic.

Before the book ends, it makes the story personal with these words:

But always remember, ‘cause this much is true,

God had a purpose for making you YOU.

Amen. Again, and again, AMEN!

In the next pages, readers are challenged to take the gifts and talents and shticks that God has given us and use them to make a better world. With simple little examples, the author makes this realistic and doable.

This little power-packed book ends in a special way. God didn’t stop with the creation story. No, it was just the beginning. Here’s how the book ends:

Amen. Again, and again, AMEN!

This wonderful little book almost wants me to try and write a children’s book. Not sure I will but it reminds me that we can take God’s story, our story, and put it into words that work for all ages.

Amen. Again, and again, AMEN!

This week, I was reminded of another story that has a powerful ending. It’s based on the song, “It Is Well.”

Originally, the words were written by Horatio Spafford. A successful attorney and real estate investor, he lost a fortune in the great Chicago fire in 1871. About the same time, his beloved four-year-old son died of scarlet fever. Feeling a vacation would do his family some good, he sent his wife and four daughters on a ship to England with the plan to join them after completing some business.

However, the unimaginable happened. As the ship traveled across the Atlantic Ocean, there was a terrible collision. The ship sunk and more than 200 people died, including all four of Horatio’s daughters. Once his wife, Anna, arrived in England, she sent a telegram to her husband with these words: “Saved alone. What shall I do?”

Horatio quickly took a ship headed for England. The captain was aware of the tragedy. When his ship approached the spot where the previous ship had sunk, he summoned Horatio to let him know that they were passing through the area where his daughters had died.

While going through this area, Horatio’s soul filled with words of comfort and hope. These words became a well-beloved hymn:

When peace like a river, attendeth my way,

When sorrows like sea billows roll, whatever my lot thou hast taught me to know,

It is well, it is well with my soul.

Contemporary Christian singer Kristene DiMarco has reworked this hymn into a more contemporary version. Take a listen to her version. Listen carefully to the words which honor Horatio’s words so well:

I don’t know what is going on in your life today. I don’t know if you have struggled this week or if you feel very filled. This is what I do know:

God had a purpose for making you YOU.

You are part of God’s story because …

The story God wrote was just the beginning.

If there is a storm in your life right now, I pray that you can find peace that God is with you in this part of our story. And the day when you can confidently say, “It is well, it is well with my soul.”

Amen. Again, and again, AMEN!

For being part of God’s amazing and wonderful story, I am grateful.

Blessings –

Dianne

Holy God – it is amazing to think of your ability to create a world so unique and special and creative. It is even more amazing to ponder how you have made each one of us special and unique. Thank you for making us US! If our story includes some type of struggle right now, I pray we can turn to you and say, “It is well with my soul.”

Amen.

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

Lessons from January

Gratitude Day 397

Sat., Feb. 1, 2020

Hebrews 11:4: It was by faith that Abel obeyed God and brought an offering that pleased God more than Cain’s offering did. God accepted Abel and proved it by accepting his gift; and though Abel is long dead, we can still learn lessons from him about trusting God.

February 1st! The first month of 2020 is gone …

Today, I look back and think about the lessons I learned (or really, re-learned) this first month of 2020.

Sabbath is good. Sabbath with family is important.

Hubby Rick and I had the unique opportunity to join my sisters, some cousins and other extended family on a Caribbean cruise. This is the first time we had done something like this, and it was definitely a success! Growing up, my siblings and I didn’t spend lots of time with cousins. Only two cousins lived rather close (2 hours) and they moved when I was still in elementary school.

Now as adults, we have discovered it’s fun to do things together! The lesson here: make time for relationships (new or rediscovered) as an adult. Yes, we have a common heritage. Yes, our personal experiences of that heritage may be different. Celebrate and enjoy where you are today and appreciate your heritage!

Life’s rhythms change. Find a new way to enjoy and celebrate each day. Back from our Sabbath, I found it a little difficult to jump back into life. So, I thought about how I could embody each day in a slightly new and different way. While I have been on social media for years, I have always been slightly protective of what I post. Recently, I started posted a picture a day which reflects some little area of my life. These pictures are more of me than anyone else. They are a way for me to celebrate the most normal parts of my day and give thanks to God for these ridiculously “normal” parts of my life.

So, follow me on Instagram (diannedeatonvielhuber) or Facebook (Dianne Deaton Vielhuber – make sure it’s my personal account and NOT my work admin account) if you want to see where I see God in my daily, ordinary, every-day life. I pray these photos encourage others to discover God as well!

If reading the Bible has become stale for you, try a different translation. I have used the NIV translation of the Bible for devotions for YEARS. Back from our Sabbath, I picked the The Message one day. It’s not that The Message was new for me. I’ve used it historically at various times. This version was sitting on my bookshelf.

What I discovered is the biblical stories came alive in a slightly different way for me because, well, the words ARE DIFFERENT! It’s brought forth a new freshness as I read scripture. Sometimes, just a slight shift CAN make a difference!

One more for the road. I’ll let the words speak for themselves.

We are never too old to discover new lessons in our lives. Where has God been speaking to you? Where have you made a slight shift and discovered something different about yourself?

Lessons are SO IMPORTANT. Realizing them in our lives is also important.

Have a great weekend!

For new or re-discovered lessons in my daily life, I am grateful.

Blessings –

Dianne

Holy God – thank you for continuing to be a living God in my life. A living God that is active and present and challenging me to discover new things about myself. Or simply relearn things that I might have forgotten or pushed aside. May I celebrate regular lessons in my life. Amen.

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

Simple Saturday

Gratitude Day 393

Sat., Jan. 25, 2019

1 Peter 2:9: But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people who are God’s own possession. You have become this people so that you may speak of the wonderful acts of the one who called you out of darkness into his amazing light.

Just in case no one has told you this week … YOU ARE AMAZING!

You are a special person, created by God, to do great things for God’s Kingdom!

Each day, you extend kindness and do great things for God’s kingdom. You put others first and find a way to make things work.

Thanks for being AMAZING!

Now … just a few things I’m thinking about this day.

Yesterday, I donated blood. It’s just a small way that I could extend kindness to someone else. Each day, I’m sharing a photo from my day and a few thoughts about how this little thing is a part of my daily spiritual journey. To see these thoughts, please Facebook friend me at Dianne Deaton Vielhuber or follow me on Instagram at diannedeatonvielhuber. I know not everyone has social media … so I’ll try to share here sometimes as well.

Two months ago, I launched The Mary Experiment. It’s been such a rewarding experience! Every week, someone sends me an e-mail or tells me how the book has helped them. I LOVE THIS! My deepest desire in writing this book was to inspire and encourage others. So, thanks for sharing … and please continue to do so. If you haven’t purchased the book, it’s available on Amazon in both Kindle and paperback versions.

People share with me how much they enjoy the reflection questions and prayers at the end of each chapter. I would LOVE to have conversations with people about The Mary Experiment and encourage others to reflect on their own personal journey. How can this happen? We could have a book signing at a location near you. I could visit a small group you are a part of and we could dig deeper into the reflection questions or go through some of the free devotional guide. I would love to speak to a any size group about my experiences. Honestly, I am open to anything! If you have an idea of how I can be a part of something you are aware of or a part of, please contact me. Let’s have a conversation! It makes my heart so happy when others share with me their experience of reading the book. Let’s help make it available to more people!

Promise to take a few minutes for YOURSELF today. Do something that you love, enjoy or relish time to do. Make it 15 minutes or 30 minutes or a full hour! Hit the pause button on life and do something that fills you up and restores you. Find a little way to include some Mary time in your life. Drink it in. Celebrate it. Remember that YOU are AMAZING! Thanks for reading along here at Simple Words of Faith. I appreciate everyone of you AMAZING people!

For all the AMAZING people who I get to share life with, I am grateful.

Blessings –

Dianne

Holy God – may we appreciate this day and being part of You AMAZING family. I pray we never take this for granted. Amen.

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

Are You Listening?

Gratitude Day 389

Sat., Jan. 18, 2019

Matthew 13:9: Are you listening to this? Really listening?

This is how I closed my last e-mail: See you in a week or so.

So, hmmm … how did a week stretch into two weeks?

It just did.

I could tell you all the excuses I can find that are for real. Like, how it took us one-and-a-half days to get home because of bad weather in Chicago. Bad weather = an unexpected flight to Key West AND an overnight in Dallas. Or how about an hour after we finally got home, we held our last Christmas celebration. For real. In very Martha-like fashion, I pulled together a meal with a help from the local deli. Two long travel days ended with windshield time taking grandkids home and visiting family. Thank goodness Hubby Rick took last Sunday night off!

Yes, a week off means more time at work the following week. And unexpected distractions that well, took more of me than I care to admit. It was Wednesday before I finished up the vacation laundry. Seriously. I walked around laundry baskets for days before the last clean piece of clothing was finally put away.

In the midst of this, I made one little change that has made a difference in my spiritual life. As 2019 closed out, I shared a 2020 Bible Reading Plan which takes you through the entire New Testament in 2020. I tried to make it realistic by only including scripture passages for five days a week. A chapter a day for five days per week, and YOU can read the entire New Testament! (Plus a few bonus passages.)

Determined to follow my own plan, I packed the smallest Bible I have for vacation. Trying to take less baggage, you know. When I got home, I decided that I wanted to use a different translation than I normally do. For years, I have used the NIV translation in my personal devotions. Wanting to switch it up, I pulled out my copy of The Message written by Eugene Peterson. The Message is the Bible in contemporary language. It’s not so much a literal translation of the Greek (New Testament) or Hebrew (Old Testament). Rather, it’s a personal message written in words we can all relate to.

One of the first days, I used The Message, I ran across this in Matthew 13:

(Jesus says,) “Are you listening to this? Really listening?”

Yikes. I stopped dead in my tracks.

Matthew 13 includes a well-known parable in which Jesus tells about harvesting seed. Some seed falls on the road, which doesn’t take root. Some seed falls on the road, which is a metaphor for a person who hears God’s word and responds enthusiastically. But when the emotion wears off or something difficult happens, well, faith dies. Some seed gets enveloped by weeds. This person lets worry and wanting more strangle what is heard. Once again, faith falls to the wayside.

Finally, Jesus tells how some seed falls on the good earth and produces a huge harvest. This person takes the News they have heard and shares it with others.

Are you listening to this? Really listening?

Of course, we always see ourselves as the seed that falls on the good earth with a hearty harvest. It’s someone else whose faith doesn’t take root or turns away when something difficult happens in their life. Even if there are weeds in our life, well, we can name a lot of other people who have way bigger weeds than we do.

We focus on the seed. But …

Are you listening to this? Really listening?

I think of the Verizon guy who spent a couple years traveling around the U.S. asking people if they could hear him now. Today, the Verizon guy is no longer the Verizon guy. He’s the spokesperson for another cell phone company. I’m not sure why he jumped ship. My guess is some other company got his attention and he listened to them more than he listened to Verizon.

Who do YOU listen to?

If I was truly honest, I would admit that there are way too many other things in my life that I listen to … before I listen to God. Sure, every once in a while, I stop and listen. But too often, the clamoring noise of “the urgent” occupies me. Or the distractions that lure we away from what I know should be my focus wins out.

Today, I am committing this day to listening to God. Will my life be dramatically different at the end of the day? I have no clue. Will God speak to me in a profound way? Not so sure. What I do know is this:

I have spent way too much of my life listening to all the other voices in my life and ignoring the voice of God.

It’s time to take back listening. Listening to God. Whether I receive a profound message or even some little small message from God today, it’s time for me to use my two ears more than my one mouth. It’s time to really listen to God.

For new reminders out of a different translation of the Bible, I am grateful.

Blessings –

Dianne

Holy God – I’m a little ashamed at how seldom I truly listen for You in my life. Forgive me for letting all the other noises drown you out way too often. Speak to me today. Quietly or loudly. In a still, small way or with a demanding voice. I pray I hear You in my life today. Amen.

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