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.  

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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