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.

Leaving on a Jet Plane

Gratitude Day 388

Sat., Jan. 4, 2019

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

There will be a time today that Hubby Rick and I will be leaving on a jet plane.

Yep, we’re getting out of the Wisconsin winter and going someplace WARM!

And we are excited! We’re going with family and cousins and will be enjoying sun and water and all things that make a vacation great.

I already know it will be fabulous!

Truth? A little secret?

I almost feel like it’s a little extravagant that we get to go on such a nice vacation. It’s not like completely over-the-top. But it will be nice. Fun. Warm. I can almost feel the warm of the sun on my face … and we are still in the cold!

Honestly, there’s a bit of me that feels guilty. Not everyone gets to take a vacation this winter. Some will trudge through the snow and cold ALL. WINTER. LONG. While here we are, jetting off somewhere south.

Should I feel guilty that we get to go on vacation? It’s a mixed bag for me. It certainly makes the winter feel less oppressive when we get to spend some time where it’s warmer.

Do I wonder whether it’s a good utilization of our resources? No … and yes. Rick loathes winter and a week away always puts him in a better mood for the rest of the winter. Yet, I also know it makes the rest of winter more bearable for both of us.

I also know this will be a great opportunity to spend time with family and cousins. Growing up, my family didn’t spend much time with our cousins. It just didn’t work out. As adults, I think it’s so cool that we CHOOSE to do things together. And I think we are all the richer for it.

So, I’m thinking of this time away as Sabbath. Time to recharge. Refuel. Refocus. Rethink. Relax. Reconnect.

I am a huge promoter of Sabbath. For me, Sabbath isn’t just a day of the week when we worship God. It’s time when we slow down our normal schedule and be. It’s Mary time. Yes, it will be filled with fun activities and good food and great laughs. But it’s also an opportunity to listen. Be. Get filled.

Whether you are able to get away for several days this winter or not, YOU can create Sabbath in your life. Spend an afternoon doing something that fills your tank. Create moments each day to read or meditate or be. Take an activity you love to do and turn it into time you spend with God.

We all are a little better after Sabbath. We all need time to decompress. We all need a fresh look at life.

See you in a week or so.

For the opportunity for Sabbath this next week, I am grateful.

Blessings –

Dianne

Dear God – thank you for the example of Sabbath. Even You carved out space to be and recharge. I pray we discover ways to do this in our own lives. Amen.

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

The Longest Night

Gratitude Day 379

Sat., Dec. 21, 2019

Isaiah 9:2: The people walking in darkness have seen a great light. On those living in a pitch-dark land, light has dawned.

Today is the longest night

Or the shortest day of the year.

It’s not any shorter hours-wise.

For those of us who live in the northern hemisphere, it’s the day with the least amount of possible sunlight in the day.

The day when the sun comes up the latest and dips below the western skyline the earliest.

When I was a child and growing up on a farm, I remember coming home from school on Dec. 21st. While us kids often wanted a short break before heading outside to do our evening chores on the farm, I remember my Mom encouraging us on Dec. 21st not to wait. “It will be dark soon,” she would say. If we wanted any daylight to aid us in doing chores, we needed to get our feet into boots, put on our chore coats and move on outside … as quickly as possible.

We don’t know the exact date that Jesus was born. In fact, we’re not sure what month or even what season. Late December was chosen because this is when the least amount of light is possible. It’s like all the people have seen such darkness in the world. And now, the Light of God is coming into the world.

Why wouldn’t the Light arrive during the longest nights of the year?

Why wouldn’t the Light want to shine as brightly as possible?

Yesterday, Hubby Rick put up a lighted star on the side of our carriage house. Usually, there is also a nativity in this area. The nativity isn’t out yet … but the star is. Just before we ate dinner last night, Rick said, “Have you seen the star in the east?”

I thought he was being funny, when in reality, he just wanted me to look out the window and see the star of the east on the side of our carriage house.

It was dark. The light shone bright.

The Light of the World has come.

We celebrate it again in just a few days.

If you are feeling darkness in your life right now, turn east and find the star.

If you wonder if God loves you, turn east and please find a star that is shining bright, for you and all the world to see.

If you are feeling a little frazzled or distracted or not prepared for Christmas, just stop. Stop. Turn east. Find the star. See the Light of the World.

This IS enough.

This IS Christmas.

This IS what is most important.

See the light.

Feel the light.

Give thanks to God.

Amen.

And if you need just a bit of inspiration today, listen to a favorite Christmas carol.

For the Light of the World on the longest night of the year and every other night, I am grateful.

Dear God – Thank you for bringing light into a dark and often dreary world. Thank you for shining brightness into my life. May I reflect Your love to those around me. Amen.  

Blessings –

Dianne

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

Christmas Sights & Sounds

Gratitude Day 375

Sat., Dec. 14, 2019

Luke 2:19: But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 

Today, I want to drink in the sights and sounds of Christmas. And I want to treasure them all.

We will be celebrating Christmas with my Deaton family today. For several years, we have celebrated Christmas with the Deaton’s a couple weeks before Christmas. This way, we CAN all be together. And we love it.

Over the years, we’ve developed a few fun traditions. We will have the Deaton white elephant gift exchange. Rather than buying gifts, I put together gifts that reflect our family. These are things from our parents and our grandparents and my childhood. Some of these things are fun. Some are silly. Some are very popular. Others – not so much. We do this because it’s a great opportunity to remember our family. We tell stories and while versions maybe slightly different, it’s OK. It just allows us to laugh and share together. The sight of people opening these gifts, wondering what they opened and if they REALLY want these items is priceless.

We take turns organizing a craft for the kids to do. Sometimes, the big kids may do the craft as well. Just another fun way to see each other spend time together.

Of course, we’ll have a meal together. Maybe play cards. Catch up. Laugh. Smile.

I have a new little surprise this year. Going through my Mom’s things, I found some old slides and plan on having a little slide show. Maybe it will be more interesting for some than others. And it’s really OK.

I realized last night that I forgot a couple things at our house. But the day will go on. The sights, the sounds … they will make for a very special day.

Quite honestly, the Deaton Christmas is the ONLY day we are ALL TOGETHER. Seven years ago, it was the last time we were all together with my dad. We knew his time was short … and so did he. He didn’t feel well that day and it was an emotional afternoon. Two years ago, it was the last time we were all together with my mom. She fell the day before the Deaton Christmas and within days, was on Hospice.

Rather than look at these days and be sad, I choose to celebrate that we had these special days with our parents shortly before they passed away. The sights and sounds of those Christmas celebrations are so important to me.

Yes, it’s a mere 14 days before Christmas Eve. I know there is always a lot going on this time of the year. But PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE. Slow down. Take in the sights and sounds of the Christmas season. So, what if that one last batch of cookies doesn’t get baked? It’s OK. The cards don’t get sent out until January or are only posted on a social media account? It’s really OK. Take a drive and look at the lights. Go Christmas caroling. Watch a favorite movie. Spend less time shopping and more time creating special sights and sounds of Christmas memories that you WILL treasure way beyond whatever gift that didn’t get wrapped and put under the tree.

For your Christmas listening pleasure, click here and let you ears receive a wonderful bouquet of music:

For a day filled with sights and sounds of Christmas as we celebrate with family today, I am grateful.

Dear God – rather than anticipating Christmas like a firehose that blasts life, may we treasure the smallest and best Christmas sights and sounds. Challenge us to grasp the smallest things that make our Christmas special this year. Amen.  

Blessings –

Dianne

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

Saturday Inspiration

Gratitude Day 373

Sat., Dec. 7, 2019

Amos 5:14: Seek good and not evil, that you may live; and so the Lord, the God of heavenly forces, will be with you just as you have said.

Happy Saturday!

I am a person who loves to be inspired by others. I am a person who loves to be inspired by regular people doing little things that become extraordinary things day after day. Here’s a few things that have inspired me lately.

This Mom. It’s not too often that a Mom has three sons playing in the NFL at the same time. But Connie Watt does. Watch her share. The interview is about 10 minutes long … but it’s worth the time. Connie did not raise her boys to be NFL players. She raised sons who would be outstanding individuals that would inspire others. Oh, and she just happens to be from Wisconsin. You may have heard of her eldest son, JJ Watt. He’s not afraid to do big things for ordinary people through his foundation. And Connie helps him do it.

This 5-year-old boy named Michael. This week, Michael found his forever family. He was adopted! What makes the story super heart-warming? He invited his entire kindergarten class to witness this happen! Look at the picture. The hearts Michael’s friends are waving behind him. They are cheering him on. I don’t know all the details of what happened in this Kent County courthouse in Michigan. What I do know? This little boy was so excited to share a life-changing event with his friends. And the school, the teachers, the parents made it happen. Talk about a life lesson. Right here. Right there. A super cool Christmas present wrapped up in all the right kind of love.

A woman named Elizabeth. For the first time in a couple months, I’m sharing a message in worship tomorrow. I’ve felt inspired to dig a little deeper into the story of Elizabeth and Mary, found in Luke 1:39-45. When Mary discovers she is pregnant, she visits her elder cousin, Elizabeth, who happens to also be pregnant even though she’s way too old to be carrying a child. I feel both of these ladies are inspiring: Elizabeth for being so willing to mentor a younger woman and Mary for knowing she needed to seek the comfort of a seasoned woman. Whether you are a bit older or just getting started in your adult life, there’s lots here. I encourage you to spend just a few minutes with this story today.

I love sharing stories because I feel it is through stories that we CAN inspire ourselves and others. How will you write your story today? Who can you inspire with some little random act of kindness? What can you do to express love to a person near and dear to your heart?

For daily inspiration, I am grateful.

Dear God – Thank you for gifting us a book chuck-full of stories of inspiration. We call it the Bible. I pray we use these stories, as well as ones that we encounter every day, to inspire us to seek good and not evil.  Amen.  

Blessings –

Dianne

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

Filling out Hearts with Good Things

Gratitude Day 367

Sat., Nov. 23, 2019

Psalm 107:8-9: Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for humankind, for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.

It’s the weekend before Thanksgiving … and time to just be a wee bit reflective about the upcoming holiday. Today, I’m thinking about some of the traditions that I have experienced today and how they relate to life now.

In Wisconsin, it’s opening deer hunting weekend. Growing up, my Dad went hunting with the neighbors. Sometimes, I went with him. Other times, I stayed back and helped take care of chores on our family dairy farm with my mom and sisters. I really preferred the later of these two choices.

This morning, Hubby Rick headed out with our eldest grandson to go deer hunting. Truth: Rick outgrew a need to go hunting years ago. Another truth: when your grandson asks you to take him hunting, you go hunting. My role? Pack a cooler with snacks and make a thermos of hot chocolate for Braeden before they left. Wish them well and pray that they, and all the other deer hunters, remain safe today and throughout the week hunting.

While many of us will gorge ourselves with too much food this week, there are other families who are trying to figure out how to make sure they have a traditional Thanksgiving meal. We live in a fantastic community. On Thursday night, our local food pantry provided 50 meals to local families who might not otherwise have a real Thanksgiving dinner. Our local grocery store, Piggly Wiggly, partners with our local food pantry in helping provide these meals. While people are checking out, they are encouraged to donate towards this cause. The Pig helps provide the meals. Each meal is valued at $60. This means, $3,000 was put towards making sure 50 families will have a Thanksgiving dinner this week.

Ruth Ann and her husband Mel manage our well-tuned food pantry, along with a huge group of volunteers. Extra volunteers showed up this week to help get the turkey dinners organized and ready for distribution.

While at the pantry on Thursday night while families were picking up their dinners, Ruth Ann shared that four families, who previously have received turkey dinners at Thanksgiving, contacted her this year. They said that they do not need a dinner right now and wanted another family who really needs the dinner to receive one.

This type of attitude and desire to helps others makes our little community a great place to live.

Read the envelope. I don’t know Bridget and I don’t know the farm where she works. What I do know is that the dairy industry right now is struggling … and has been for five years. Record numbers of farms have declared bankruptcy in 2019. Farms are not only struggling with low milk prices; this year’s crops have also been a huge disappointment because of poor weather and growing conditions.

Yet, this dairy farm went out of their way to thank an employee for making sure their animals are well-cared for. They are being thankful no matter what their current situation is. Hats off to this farm. You are teaching others how to be a good employer.

One of my favorite Thanksgiving memories involves my Grandma Deaton. A number of years ago, my parents came to my house for Thanksgiving. They brought along my Grandma Deaton, who is in her late 90’s at the time. When they arrived at my house, she was so excited to help prepare the meal. We baked pies and peeled potatoes and prepped the stuffing. This little 115-pound pint of a lady wanted to get her hands into rolling out the pie crust. She laid out the newspaper on the counter for the potato peelings like she had thousands of times previously. She chattered non-stop about how she was so excited to be at my house for one night.

At this point in her life, Grandma was living at a nursing home. I think she felt like a little child on a big adventure because she got to leave the nursing home for a night. All the ladies at her meal table were jealous that she got to pack an overnight bag and split the joint, if only for one night. We lad a lovely Thanksgiving dinner that year. But looking back, I think watching my Grandmother help me make the dinner was even more precious.

What are your family traditions around Thanksgiving? What are the aspects of this week that you LOVE? What is a way that you might change-up how to celebrate the many blessings in your life? How can you create a special memory this year, whether for a grandchild, a local family, someone you work with or for yourself?

Rather than making sure the gravy has no lump or the turkey is “just right,” let’s contemplate how we can feed others, whether with food or a good deed or a special memory, this Thanksgiving week.

Dear God – No matter what is going on in our lives right now, I pray that we give thanks. Thanks for a place to live. Thanks for family and friends. Thanks for food. Thanks for clothing. Thanks for a vehicle to drive. As we encounter someone who may not have these things, soften our heart towards them. May we help create a special thanksgiving blessing for someone else this year. Amen.  

Blessings –

Dianne

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

The Second Saturday of November

Gratitude Day 359

Sat., Nov. 9, 2019

Isaiah 41:10: “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

The days of peach iced tea are probably over for a while. With winter arriving quick, early and with a presence, I’m thinking hot chocolate will become a more regular drink.

Last night, Rick was curled up on the couch. Have I ever mentioned that he REALLY dislikes winter? Well, he does.

He was covered up in a blanket and informed me that he has no intention of putting the blanket away until April.

Welcome winter.

So, here’s just a few things that have been whirling around in my life these past few days. Maybe something here will inspire you today!

A new Christmas song. Yes, I’ve seen the cartoons about staying in the right lane. October is for Halloween. November is everything Thanksgiving. And then, December welcomes Christmas.

BUT … I ran across a new Christmas song and REALLY want to share it with you. So, if you prefer no Christmas until after Thanksgiving, skip the next portion. If not, read along.

Grammy-winning artist Chris Tomlin released a new Christmas song called “Christmas Day” the beginning of the month. It’s part of a collection of songs that will be released before Christmas. Tomlin says he loves to create new music to worship Jesus.

Here’s the video. Take a listen. Let me know what you think!

If you are looking for an interesting historical fiction book, try The Shoemaker’s Wife by Adriana Trigiani. The book starts in the 1910’s in Italy and takes the reader on a journey from Italy to the United States through the eyes of an Italian boy named Chiro. He eventually becomes a shoemaker in the United States and marries a young gal he met back in Italy who is also in the U.S.

The story is historically based on the author’s grandparents who were from Italy and both moved to the U.S. I did not realize this until after listening to the book. At the very end, the author was interviewed, and she shared the book’s connection to her grandparents.

As I listened to her story, I wished that I would have asked my grandparents more about their early history. While I know some things, I know there is much more that I could have learned.

If you know a person who has an interesting story to tell, go and listen to them! Drag it out of them. Do not let their interesting stores die because no one keep them as part of family history.

Some days are just better than others. And this is OK. Recently, I had a day when I felt in a funk. Nothing seemed to work right. All the things I wanted to get done just never quite got finished. I haven’t been sleeping well and was tired.

It just was king of a rotten day. When Hubby Rick made a joke at dinner, her did not receive the response he was looking for.

I really try to be a positive person. But let’s be real. It’s nearly impossible to always put on a happy face.

Reality is so much more honest. Give yourself permission to be OK. Embrace it.  Accept it. And move on. There is no advantage for me to stay stuck in a difficult spot. One bad day is not a pattern. It’s an oops.

I’m confident today will be a better day. I know this because I will make sure it will be a better day. I will be inspired by the many ways I can express gratitude in my life. I know that

For perspective even on yucky days, expected or unexpected, I am grateful. 

Lord God – be patient with me when I’m having a yucky day. On these days, please keep me focused on all the goodness in my life rather than being discouraged by the challenges. May we always know that you are with me. Amen.  

Blessings –

Dianne

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

Overflowing Gratitude

Gratitude Day 350

Sat., Nov. 2, 2019

2 Corinthians 4:15:  All these things are for your benefit. As grace increases to benefit more and more people, it will cause gratitude to increase, which results in God’s glory.

As I was beginning this post, I realized that TODAY is the #350th gratitude post that I have done. WOW. This means, I’ve accounted for 350 different ways I’ve found gratitude in the past number of months.

What have I discovered about gratitude? Here’s a few things.

No matter what is going on in your life lately, YOU can ALWAYS find something to be GRATEFUL for. Period. On Friday, three of our grandkids didn’t have school. So, Hubby Rick and I spent the day with them. We did some fun things and had a great day. We were in the car on the way back to their house when something happened between the kids in which the youngest, Dylan, felt very upset. And all the emotions came running out.

I had a quick stop to make. When I got back to the car, it was determined that people would rotate their spots in the car so Grandpa could sit in the very back with Dylan. He talked to Dylan about what had happened and how even though something happened that upset him, he STILL had much to be thankful for. He always has enough food. He has his own room in a nice house. He has people who love him, which Rick shared with him how much he loves him.

The whole conversation was maybe 60 seconds long. Did it completely change Dylan’s attitude? I don’t know. What it did do was refocus Dylan on what he has rather than what he feels he didn’t have.

Quite honestly, I think there are a lot more people than our 7-year-old grandson who could hear this lesson and remember it in their lives. Including me. This is exactly WHY I started focusing on gratitude.

Expressing gratitude should not be a last resort but a first resort. When we feel beat-up in life, it becomes very easy to focus on how we have been wronged. When this happens, we often can only see what we would like different. When we can turn to gratitude first, then it reframes our whole situation. Too often, we think of gratitude only when things are going well. Personally, I think it’s even MORE important to discover and articulate gratitude when nothing seems to be going right.

Small gratitude is just as important as big gratitude. I think we get caught up in the idea that unless we go big with gratitude appreciation, then it isn’t truly gratitude. I completely disagree. Big gratitude can be too easy. When we are clear in expressing gratitude for the smallest and most everyday things, then we develop a deeper appreciation for everything. When we handle small things well, God may offer us more difficult situations. This can overwhelm us, or we can see this as an opportunity to positively affect God’s kingdom. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not the size that’s so important to God. It’s our heart.

I plan to keep looking and sharing my personal gratitude experiences because it’s good for my soul. And hopefully, once in a while, my thought resonates with someone else.

What are YOU grateful for today? How do YOU celebrate gratitude in your life daily? How has this affected YOUR life?

For discovering gratitude in so many different ways, I am grateful. 

Holy God – I pray we see gratitude as something that is so very basic in our lives; as much as air and water. Instill within us gratitude in every cell in our bodies. May our appreciation and gratitude inspire and encourage others to do likewise. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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

A Lovely Home

Gratitude Day 346

Sat., Oct. 26, 2019

Psalm 16:1:  The property lines have fallen beautifully for me; yes, I have a lovely home.

It’s Saturday. Unfortunately, I won’t be watching much college football today but attending a ministry meeting. Before I take off for this, I just wanted to share a few things that have been playing on repeat in my heart and soul this week.

On Friday, the leaves literally rained down. We had a hard frost Thursday night. On Friday, every tree in our neighborhood lost many of its leaves. So many of our neighbors had their yards raked and looking nice. Yesterday, around every tree was a puddle of crisp fall-colored leaves. Leaves that crunched while walking through them. It was a gorgeous crisp fall day.

This song has been on repeat in my brain ALL. WEEK. LONG. It’s not a new Christian song. Maybe I just needed the message shared in the words right now.  Here’s the first verse and chorus:

Lord, I come, I confess
Bowing here I find my rest
Without You I fall apart
You’re the One that guides my heart

Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You

Just click on the link and listen to the words while you enjoy the rest of this post.

I enjoyed the lovely Downton Abbey movie this week. I came a little late to the Downton Abbey series. Once I discovered it, I so enjoyed it. If you haven’t seen the series, not to worry. Two of the main characters, Mr. Carson and Mrs. Hughes, bring you up to speed at the beginning of the movie. My favorite part? The Dowager Countess played by Maggie Smith does not disappoint with her well-known zingers. But we also see more of her heart in the movie. Even old bittys can share their softer sides.

Prayer is so important. Earlier this week, I blogged about Pray without Ceasing. For those of you that shared a prayer request or celebration, thank you. Someone asked if I had a prayer request to share back. And yes, of course, I do. Lots of them. I apologize for being vague … but let me just say that Hubby Rick, I and our family appreciate any prayers offered for us. Rick and I are fine. Sometimes, things happen that we cannot control nor understand. I’ll leave it there for now.

Finally, a great joy in our lives this past week was we are officially moved into our remodeled master suite. And we LOVE it. We took a section of the upstairs and made it into a proper master suite. There was a bedroom in this area. You are seeing the new and improved remodeled version. I’m loving the décor. It just feels so “us.” This room has a king-sized bed. It feels very luxurious after sleeping in a full-sized bed our married life. We are amazed how much warmer this room is. The windows face south and the sun pours into the room during the day. Blinds on the windows provide a way to darken the room when Rick is sleeping after his night shift.

Rick built us a great walk-in closet. I finally moved our clothes and such into the closet. We designed a system that fits our needs and budget. It’s just right for us.

Now that we are using this area, I wonder why it took so long to get us moved. We are waiting for the plumber before we finish the new master bathroom, which is across from the closet. In between the bathroom and closet is a new laundry closet. I wanted everything completed before moving into the space. I’m glad that I didn’t wait any longer.

One night, Rick and I were sharing how much we enjoy this room. It feels so grown-up for us to have this bedroom. It’s not an over-the-top bedroom but so beautiful compared to the humble beginnings in which we were raised. The bedroom and closet were not very expensive updates. A little planning, elbow grease and DIYing application can truly change a space. I truly appreciate having a home that speaks to us and literally has become us.  

As Psalm 16:1 says, “I have a lovely home.” Hubby Rick and I have chosen to make this a place that is special to us. We have chosen to invest ourselves and our assets into creating a space that we love and love being in. We feel so very blessed that we have had the opportunity to do so.

When life is challenging or the days are long, we both love just coming home. To our lovely home. And this is a very, very good thing.

For being blessed with a lovely home, I am grateful. 

Lord God – Whether its crunchy leaves or a song on repeat or the joy of falling into a bed in a room that brings such peace, thank you for these small daily reminders that we are truly blessed. No matter what is going on in our lives, I pray we always see your hand of blessing making fingerprints in our lives. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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

Six for Saturday

Gratitude Day 342

Sat., Oct. 19, 2019

Matthew 7:12: (Jesus said,) “In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets.”

It’s Saturday … the weekend. Here’s just a few random thoughts from the Vielhuber household. You just might notice a theme here.

Everyone is in the customer service business. Treat others the way you’d like to be treated. In the last two weeks, I’ve received good customer service. Other times, it’s been rather rotten. Whether you are “officially” a customer service person or not, we ALL have opportunities to be kind, thoughtful and respect of other people. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

The Golden Rule is golden because it should reflect how we want to treat others. When you have an opportunity to make someone feel special, take the extra 30 or 60 seconds and do it. Seriously. Most of the time, this is all it really takes.

Don’t judge a person’s life by their cover. What’s on the inside my surprise you. In Ripon, WI, Dennis Valstad was just an ordinary guy. He worked at the local canning facility and later the dry cleaners. Not wanting to retire, he drove fertilizer truck and delivered fire trucks.

Dennis died this summer. After his funeral, his will was read. Everyone who attended his funeral or visitation received a share of $500,000. After careful tallying, 267 people each received $1,872. In a family of five, each person received a check.  

Dennis also left gifts to other charities and organizations. Most people would not have thought Dennis had these resources. A couple who are planning a destination wedding intended to invite Dennis to their wedding and pay for his travel expenses. Instead, Dennis’ gift will help cover wedding costs.  

Moral of Dennis’ story? Be creative in being a good person. Surprise someone by being completely different than what might be expected.

People love to support local needs. I am thankful to be involved in a couple local programs which help people teetering financially. Yesterday, the board for one of those groups met. This group provides food for needy families in our community.

I’m so proud to be part of a group that makes it easy for people to get food. We don’t ask about income or job status. If possible, we’d like an address. That’s it.

People may wonder how the food pantry can have enough when we make it so easy to qualify. I say, “Be generous in your giving and others will want to be a part of this.” I see this over and over. Be generous with your time, talents and resources. Others will do likewise. When we set the example of holding loosely to what we have, God blesses this. It’s easy to do the right thing … if we allow ourselves to look beyond wanting to make too many rules.

Another reason why people are generous with our local food pantry? They know every donated dollar, can of food and loaf of bread stays local. Right here in our community. People love to support something that truly affects their neighbors.

Working together to help others is always a good thing. As I sat at the food pantry annual meeting, I thought about how this program works closely with another program I’m involved with; our local Blessings in a Backpack Program. Because we’ve developed a great relationship with the school, we are able to supply very specific needs the school students. When we’ve had extra Blessings food, we’ve made it available at local community events.

I could go on and on with other examples. My point? Wheels do not need to be remade. Partner with others to get things done. Make a difference with small, little things that make a huge impact on other people’s lives. THIS is living the golden rule.

Begin to think now about how YOU can make a difference this holiday season. It’s a time of year when people tend give a bit more. Hubby Rick and I talk through how we want to help others before the end of the year. We have an unwritten guideline that says we will give to others about the same that we spend on Christmas gifts each year.

Why do we do this? For most of the people we will give gifts, the gift is not a necessity. Rick and I feel it is just as important to share with those who have true NEEDS; not just WANTS. It’s a way that we can look beyond ourselves and see where there are gaps and try to help with those gaps.

Be in the customer service business every day. This goes back to my first point. I know we’re all busy and don’t always make time to do everything we could or should. I’m very guilty of this myself. I should stop and chat with my neighbors more. I could be more patient with a representative on the phone. Sometimes, I just need to take a deep breath. Not focus on the clock and be the hands and feet of God to someone else today. When I do this, I am rarely disappointed.

For every opportunity to live the golden rule that comes my way today, this week and this month, I am grateful. 

Dear God – We spend so much time focusing on how we want others to treat ourselves that we forget to think about how WE are treating others. Challenge us to think less of our needs and more of how we can assist someone else today. Help us become comfortable about going outside of our closely held boxes and shine Jesus’ love upon them. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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