God of the Small Things

Gratitude Day 462

Sat., May 23, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mr Rosebud tree the end of the week.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blessings –

Dianne

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

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Spring Planting

Gratitude Day 458

Mon., May 18, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blessings –

Dianne

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

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Welcome Weekend!

Gratitude Day 453

Sat., May 9, 2020

“Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: ‘Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.’”

Good Saturday morning! This is the day that the Lord has made! Let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Sometimes on Saturday’s, I share just a few random things that have been floating around in my life. Just little pieces of inspiration that I pray bring some joy into your weekend/week. Let’s get started!

The local farmer’s market in our community is opening this weekend. We plan to go down this morning and support it. I love to support local. And this is one way we can do this. I encourage you to do the same if the opportunity is available to you.

On Wednesday nights, I’ve been sharing Devos with Dianne on Facebook Live. It’s a time where I do a 20-minuteish devotion. This week, the weather was so nice I sat out on our beautiful screened-in porch. The topic? Where have you seen someone extend joy and kindness to someone else lately. If you miss Devos with Dianne on Wednesday nights, you can also go back and watch it later.

Have you seen the movie Five Feet Apart? We had not until recently. In these days of social distancing, it’s a fascinating movie to watch, although it was released over a year ago. The movie is about 17-year-old Stella who basically lives at a hospital as a cystic fibrosis patient. Her life is filled with routines and boundaries, which give her a sense of control. This is, until she meets Will, a charming teen with the same illness. While there is an attraction between the two CF teens, restrictions dictate that they must maintain a safe distance between them.

Living at a care facility right now is challenging. My nearly 90-year-old aunt has been on lockdown for two months. While she is an incredibly positive person, it is becoming wearing. Click on this little story that shares how one community reached out to the folks at the local nursing home and assisted living to brighten their days during this extended time of isolation. The person who organized this and owns Creative Touch Floral? She just happens to be my sister, Debbie.

When I think of Mother’s Day, I immediately think of trillium. It’s a wildflower that usually blooms this time of year. Growing up, we used to pick buckets full of trillium on Mother’s Day. We have a small patch in our yard that is blooming right now. My attentive Hubby Rick covered them for me last night because he knows how much I love trillium and the memories these flowers well up inside of me.

Speaking of Mother’s Day, here’s a shout out to all of you Moms, grandmas, daughters, and women who are influential in someone else’s life. I pray that you have a wonderful weekend, knowing that how we remember the special women in our lives will be quite different this year. Nonetheless it’s a wonderful time to reach out to those women who are important to us. My Mom is gone. But I have plans to let another woman who means a lot to me know this. If your Mom is gone, I encourage you to do the same.

Have a wonderful weekend, my friends. And thanks for following along with Simple Words of Faith. You mean the world to me!

For those women who have inspired us, I am grateful.

Blessings –

Dianne

Holy God – thank you for bringing important role models and mentors into my life. Sometimes, this is our Mom. Sometimes, it’s another woman. It’s not just one woman who has touched us, but often a group of different women. Thank you for the role these women have played in my life. Amen.

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Stay In Saturday

Gratitude Day 445

Sat., Apr. 25, 2020

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

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

RICK:  What do we have going this weekend?

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

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

RICK:  What do we have going this weekend?

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

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

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

But I don’t.

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

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

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

Here we go.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blessings –

Dianne

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

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Holy Saturday

Gratitude Day 439

Sat., Apr. 11, 2020

Luke 23:34a: Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they’re doing.” They drew lots as a way of dividing up his clothing.

I’ve often wondered what the disciples did on that Saturday after Jesus’ death. The disciples celebrated the Passover meal with Jesus on the night before he died. A few of the disciples stood shocked at the foot of the cross and watched their fearless leader for the past three years die.

And then … what?

For most of the day, it was the Jewish day of Sabbath, which would have begun on Friday evening at sundown and continued until sundown on Saturday.

It appears that they hid. After Peter had been identified as one of his followers late on Thursday night, not once, but three times, none of them were crazy about being out in public. They chose to participate in a voluntary stay-in-place.

With no internet. No Netflix. No Facebook or Instagram. They didn’t get out the sidewalk chalk and create beautiful designs for others to see. They didn’t Facetime their family and let them know they were OK. Or have a family game night via ZOOM. They didn’t plan their Friday night fish curbside pick-up or sew masks for the neighborhood clinic or nursing home.

They did …

We’re not really sure. Maybe they replayed all the things that had happened with their teacher from the past three years; wondering how many times he dropped hints and they missed them. Or ignored them. Or didn’t take him seriously.

Possibly the examined every little detail from the Passover meal and wondered how they could have not understood what he was saying. His words still seemed very confusing.

More likely, they were so overcome with disbelieve and shock that the man who had hand-picked them to come into his inner circle was gone that they had no words to speak. And so, they hid. They sat. They cried. They wept.

A careful dissection of the four gospel accounts yields seven sayings that Jesus said from the cross in the last hours of his death. These sayings are often recalled and revisited during Lent and Holy Week because they share so much about who Jesus was, why he came to earth and what it means for us today. Here’s one of those sayings:

Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they’re doing.”

Most often, we associate Jesus saying them to the Roman guards who stood at command around the cross, carrying out their required duty of executing him. Guys who didn’t really have a choice about their role, other than this crucifixion happened to fall on the day they were assigned to this particular duty.

Yet, there was something different about how this man handled the last hours of his life. He didn’t ridicule them. Chastise them. Belittle them.

Instead, he prayed for them. He forgave them.

Whether they thought they needed it or not.

I see Jesus’ ring of forgiveness going much farther and deeper than just the Roman soldiers. Was not he also praying for his inner circle, his disciples, whether they were at the scene or not? Was not he praying for the Sanhedrin and the Jewish religious leaders who were so determined to make sure he died? Was he not praying for the Roman Governor Pilate, who really wanted nothing to do with Jesus’ death, to the point that he symbolically washed his hands after condemning him to death?

And was Jesus not also praying for you. For me. For all of humanity, who too often do not know or understand how what we do affects others? Ourselves? And God?

On this Holy Saturday, do you feel a little stuck? Stuck in the middle of a world crisis that often feels confusing and leaves us in disbelief? Stuck between making sure this pesky virus is not spread yet wanting to have some sense of normalcy in our lives? Stuck between how to slowly reopen a shuttered country that will appropriately balance human toll with trying to jumpstart a confused economy?

Maybe, we don’t feel all that different from the disciples, who huddled in the upper room, scattered with remnants from the Passover meal still present. Confused. Unsure. Maybe even a bit scared?

So, what do WE do on this day between Good Friday and Easter Sunday? May I suggest that on this Holy Saturday, it’s best to just be. Be with our emotions. Be with our confusion. Be with our sadness. And hear Jesus’ words again:

Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they’re doing.”

Whether we know if we’re doing the right things or not, it’s OK. God is with us. Jesus forgives us. Dawn will come tomorrow and with it, hope.

For eternal and everlasting forgiveness, I am grateful.

Blessings –

Dianne

Almighty God – while we often applaud the changes that have happened in the last 2,000 years, there are some things that remain very much the same. Our need for forgiveness. Grace. Hope. May we allow ourselves to tumble through these feelings today. Amen.

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Celebrating Palm Sunday

Gratitude Day 433

Sat., Apr. 4, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blessings –

Dianne

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

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Refresh this Weekend

Gratitude Day 425

Sat., Mar. 21, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blessings –

Dianne

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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