Wednesday Prayer Day – Be Still

Gratitude Day 497

Wed., Aug. 12, 2020

Psalm 46:10 – Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations; I will be exalted in the earth.

Be still.

And know that I am God.

Sounds lovely, doesn’t it?

Yet, being still really isn’t that easy.

Especially during a pandemic.

Should kids go to school or not?

Should there be sports this fall?

Whan an effective vaccine be found?

Be still?

Right.

Rather than honoring God as God, we sit perched on our executive chairs of control. We are SO. SURE. We know what is best for ourselves and everyone around us. And we go out of our way to make sure everyone knows who is in charge.

Listen again.

Be still.

Listen. Hear. Know.

Stop trying to be God. Take over. Be in control.

Instead, let God do God. Take a break. Turn your faces upward and towards God rather than burying them in your cell phones. Whatever it is that is demanding too much, just stop. Organize a stay-cation with the One who is God. Spend  time every day just simply being with God. Reconnect with God’s constant place in your life.

Be still.

Know God.

That’s all.

Amen.

For the reminder to be with You, I am grateful.

Blessings –

Dianne

Holy God – Be still. Know that God is God. The end. Amen.  

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

Tonight is Devo’s with Dianne – 8 PM on Facebook Live. See you then!

Lessons from COVID-19: How 130 Birthday Cards Can Change A Person’s Life

Gratitude Day 496

Tues., Aug. 11, 2020

Psalm 9:1 – I will thank you, Lord, with all my heart; I will talk about all your wonderful acts.

Nothing like 130 birthday cards to brighten up a 90-year-old woman.

A few weeks ago, I asked if 90 of my friends would be willing to send a birthday card to my Aunt Beverly. She was turning 90 and of course, her birthday plans had all been canceled because of COVID-19. Having been sequestered to her room at a care facility since March 8, Aunt Beverly was down. Discouraged. Disappointed.

Until the birthday cards started showing up.

At first, there were just a few cards. One day, 13 arrived. A couple days later, she had a total of 22 cards. On the actual day of her birthday, Beverly had 87 birthday cards. From across the United States.

And she was so pleased.

After the cards started arriving, I “called” her for our typical Sunday worship/devotion time. She began our conversation with, “Dianne, what have you done? Why am I getting all these cards? Many of them from Wisconsin?”

There was no getting around it. I had to clue her in about what was happening because hopefully, a lot more cards would be arriving.

And they did.

A few days before her birthday, Aunt Beverly was able to see her son, Steve, for the first time in about four months. It was required that they meet outside. Beverly toted the cards along to show Steve. She was so excited to show them to him.

On the actual day of her birthday, my two friends Mary and Rhoda jo

ined me for a special call to Aunt Beverly. Steve had dropped off bread and juice at the front desk and it had been delivered to Beverly’s room. This allowed for us to have communion together … something Aunt Beverly had not had for months. There was a little hesitation when she couldn’t get the juice bottle open, but she did. It was a special moment when we honored Aunt Bev by celebrating communion together.

While not quite 90 cards arrived by her birthday, I was optimistic there were still some on there way. The cards continued to arrive for about another week. The numbers continued to climb and toppled out at 130.

Aunt Beverly has been completely amazed with all of the cards. She’s looked through them several times. She loves to see the various places from where they came from. It truly has brought so much joy to her life.

Her favorite part? Easy. How many of the cards were addressed to Aunt Beverly. It has tickled her so much how many of the cards where personalized just for her.

Aunt Beverly has requested that I let my friends know how much these cards mean to her. I’m sure you all understand that it’s not really possible for Aunt Beverly to respond to each person individually. She and I hope this group “thank you” will suffice.

Nonetheless, Aunt Bev wants everyone to know how much she has enjoyed your cards. One of the challenges of growing old is outliving your friends. Yes, this is Aunt Bev’s case. Yet, she now feels like she has gained a whole new bunch of friends. From all across the United States.

So, from the bottom of our hearts, “thank you” for making one woman’s day/month/year. Recently, a friend shared with me a news story she saw on national TV. It featured a woman who turned 90 and was in the same situation as Aunt Beverly. In a care facility and unable to celebrate her birthday, she received something like 80 cards.

Well, you guys blew that number out of the park! While Aunt Beverly didn’t make national news, the joy and excitement and pleasure she has received from those cards truly outshines being on national television.

Sometimes it works out that my friends Rhoda and Mary join in for my Sunday devotion/worship time with Aunt Beverly. The three of us called her this last Sunday. It’s been so fun for these ladies develop a friendship with someone new. I’m not sure who feels more special about it: Aunt Beverly or my friends. In the end, it has been so fun to watch how these ladies, who have never physically met, are choosing to become friends as we spend a little time reflecting upon God together.

Here’s my little encouragement for today: please never underestimate the power of a card. Or some little act of kindness. When we choose to do one little thing each day for someone else, I think we would be amazed to observe how our demeanor and feelings about ourselves WILL change. Try it … and find out.

In letting Aunt Beverly have the last word, she specifically wanted to me to thank all of her new “nieces and nephews” from across the United States for remembering her birthday. And she loves you all.

For those willing to help brighten one woman’s life, I am grateful.

Blessings –

Dianne

Holy God – I pray that we NEVER forget how important the little things are. It’s so easy to put all of our time and energy into the seemingly big things. Yet, it’s amazing how doing a little thing every day can profoundly change our attitudes, feelings and outlook. I pray we will find little ways to make a difference every day. Amen.  

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

Just in case you’d like to send Aunt Beverly another card, here’s her address again:

Aunt Beverly Anderson

10200 E Harvard Ave Apt 200

Denver, CO  80231-3946

Simple Things for Saturday

Gratitude Day 495

Sat., Aug. 8, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So far, this hasn’t really happened.

And so, I keep bumbling along.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blessings –

Dianne

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

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

Lessons from Judging: The Time I Judged at the County Fair

Gratitude Day 494

Mon., Aug. 3, 2020

1 Corinthians 4:4b-5a – Because the Lord is the one who judges me. So don’t judge anything before the right time—wait until the Lord comes.

As a youth, one of the highlights of the summer was participating in the county fair. Held the middle of July, it was a week full of activities, exhibiting, friends, possibly winning some awards and most definitely learning how to lose gracefully.

Each spring, I would go through the entry book and pick out items and classes that I wanted to participate in. In the 10 plus years that I exhibited at our county fair, I tried a variety of projects. Most years, I tackled more projects than I should have. The day before the fair, I would be sewing buttons on my clothing project while something was baking in the oven. We’d still have dairy cattle to clip, sheep to wash and produce to pick out of the garden. It was always a mad dash and rush, along with some very strategic organizing, to get everything to the fairgrounds and entered.

Yet, it was always a memorable week. My paternal grandparents always made the trip for Iowa and warmed the bleachers while my siblings and I showed sheep and dairy cattle. We took turns working in the food stand and participating in various programs. As a young 4-Her, I learned character when earning a ribbon that wasn’t blue and a class winner.

This past week, I was invited back to participate in the Eau Claire Summer Showcase. This was county fair week where I grew up, slightly renamed because, well, pulling off a county fair during a pandemic is challenging.

With significant modifications and regular consultation with the county health department and parks and recreation department (who oversees the grounds where the fair is located), the fair was not a typical county fair. The Summer Showcase was closed to the public. Needing to limit the number of physical bodies on the grounds, organizers strategically developed a schedule limiting the number of people while giving youth an opportunity to present their projects. Items were disinfected regularly and all kinds of other precautions were implemented and carried out. For example, breeding animals were only on the grounds the day they were exhibited.

Months before COVID-19, I was asked to judge at the fair. Trying to limit exposure, participating judges were asked if they would be so kind to judge additional departments. This is why I judged food, food preservation, houseplants, cut flowers, some Exploring projects as well as the dairy cattle.

On the day Hubby Rick and I drove to the fair, we discussed judging. Because I’ve had my projects evaluated and previously serving as a judge, I empathize with those who feel a project has been evaluated differently than anticipated. Sometimes, we’re disappointed. Other times, we surprised with the results.

Clearly, “judging” is very subjective. What I like and prefer maybe very be different from another’s opinion. As I pick winners and champions, it feels very subjective. In a normal fair situation, youth may be present to hear comments and reasons for placings. In a COVID-19 fair, it became extremely important to me that feedback be provided on a comment card. During the dairy cattle show, I tried to explain to every youth my reasons behind the choices, making the show educational as well as a learning opportunity.

In the last few days, I’ve thought often about what it means to be a “judge.” Am I qualified? Can I appropriately explain my opinions and give others permission to have their own opinion? Will I be consistent? Will youth walk away from this experience feeling like they gained knowledge or learned something new? Can we have fun and make this a great experience, even during a pandemic?

It’s humbling to be asked to judge. Yet, I find myself judging other people and situations outside of a fair situation ALL. THE. TIME. I elect myself judge and jury about a situation where I may or may not know all the details. I expect grace for myself and justice for everyone else. I often assume that my opinions are best, right and can explain my reasons why.

Paul wrote in a letter to the church at Corinth to be careful about judging. “The Lord is the one who judges,” writes Paul. Wait until the Lord comes to judge, he continues. God will search the secret purposes of people’s hearts.

Yes, this sounds judgmental on God’s part. Often, it is read this way. Yet, I see SO. MUCH. GRACE. in God. At the end of the day, I think God has a much clearer perspective on judging than I do. Thank goodness.

Part of participating in a county fair, as well as many other situations, IS to receive feedback on something that we do. If we’re honest, there’s a part inside of each one of us that yearns for positive feedback. We want to hear all the good we do and skip over the yucky stuff. For the young gal whose heifer was not cooperating during the dairy show yesterday, I assured her that the first year I showed cattle, I stood at the bottom of a class. While difficult in the moment, it was a moment that I learned something about myself. I discovered that I need grace for myself … just as much as I need to extend grace to others.

I certainly do not have the whole judgement deal figured out. It’s a topic that I go back to and never quite get it solved. This week, I realized this is OK. When I try to be the one who is the ultimate judge, then I’ve lost sense of Whose I am. Yes, I can express my opinion about things and even share my reasons. At times, I am asked to render my opinion. But ultimately? I need to let God remain in the driver’s seat when it comes to judging. And so many other things.

For a not-so-gentle reminder about judging, I am grateful.

Blessings –

Dianne

Dear God – Please forgive me for the many, many times that I felt my judging was so much better than Your ability to judge or someone else’s. Keep right in my heart that You are the ultimate judger; not me. May I respect and honor this in my life. Amen.  

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

Lessons from COVID-19: I Wish …

Gratitude Day 492

Tues., July 28, 2020

Psalm 86:2 – Guard my life, for I’m your faithful friend, your loyal servant for life. I turn to you in faith, my God, my hero; come and rescue me!

Mid-March seems like such a long time ago.

A time when we ate inside restaurants, attended basketball games, watched movies on a big screen and hugged one another.

While so much seems different today than 4.5 months ago, there are also things I wish we would embrace and celebrate for years to come.  

I wish we would celebrate that COVID-19 ramped up just as spring began. I hope you have enjoyed hours and hours outside this spring and summer. I can’t imagine how much more virus fatigue we would have now IF the first U.S. cases happened in November … right before the holidays and as winter began. Hibernation would have taken on a whole new meaning!

I wish we truly appreciate the little things to the depths of our hearts and bellies: hugging an unseen grandchild or grandparent; an unexpected phone call or card in the mail; time to sit and be; the beautiful flowers and garden produce we’re raising this year. I pray we see these as the very most important things in life and not whether we have the latest material item or the largest bank account.

I pray we remember to purchase things locally and appreciate those who keep our communities running. May we all be more appreciative of our local teachers and school administrators, essential personal and those who’ve kept working for the benefit of others within our community.

I wish we are more filled with grace: slower to judge, faster to assist a person in need and more committed to seeing things from God’s view and not just our own. May we listen carefully when someone has a different position than we do about something and be patient until it hurts. I pray we accept that we’re not the only ones with the best and right ideas.

I wish that we make ourselves more of the solution than the problem. May we bring forth an attitude of easing the challenges rather than adding to them.

I wish and pray we make sound choices these days. For ourselves. For others. For the benefit of loved ones.  

I pray that we depend upon God and not ourselves as these days of COVID-19 drag on. May we turn to the One who desperately wants to support and uphold us … whether we want to be held or not.

For long-term lessons that we can discover and embrace from COVID-19, I am grateful.

Blessings –

Dianne

Dear God – So often, we focus on the short-term when there is so much we can discover when we keep a long-term view as well. Certainly, You are committed to the long-term design. May we embrace and come to You to help us discover this right now. Amen.  

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

Lessons from COVID-19: Virus Fatigue

Gratitude Day 490

Mon., July 20, 2020

2 Corinthians 12:9 – But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

It seems that everyone has an opinion these days.

Should we wear a mask or not?

Would it be best for school this fall to be in person, virtual or a combination?

Is there enough testing or too much testing?

If you don’t have an opinion about one of these or a million other topics related to COVID-19, be careful. You might not want to tell anyone because, well, then everyone will try and convince you that their opinion is right. Heaven forbid that someone has an opinion different from yours. Can you still be friends with someone who has a different opinion.

Maybe. Possibly. Sometimes not.

I’m calling it virus fatigue. We’re four months into this pandemic and quite honestly, we’re all more than a little over it.

And yet, we’re not. Numbers continue to be reported daily. Hot spots are reeling back in their decisions. We live day-by-day, week-by-week wondering whether or not it’s safe for kids, staff, and bus drivers to resume some form of in-school education. Will there be fall sports? While some churches have reopened, some have closed back up their in-person worship and are back online. Other churches are wondering if and when they should begin gathering again. The list goes on and on and on.

Virus fatigue is real and we’re all more than a little over it.

Some people continue to see their workloads at record levels while others are wondering what will happen when the additional unemployment benefits run out the end of the month … and they still don’t know when they will return to work. Will there be another package to help businesses and families and state and local communities that are overwhelmed with additional costs because of a pesky little virus?

Anyone else feeling like this virus has commanded too much of their lives right now?

Campers and kayaks and boats are high demand items right now. As well as trampolines, bikes, and swimming pools. If you want a stand-up freezer, put in your order now for possible Christmas delivery. Sunday, Hubby Rick and I drove to an extremely popular state park about 30 minutes from our house. We planned to wade in the water, go for a hike, take a nap in the shade. After driving past miles of cars parked along the shoulder, we realized that everyone within a hundred miles must have had the same idea. We quickly adverted our plans and headed to a quiet village park along a river where only a couple other families were enjoying their Sunday afternoon.

We’re all ready to do something pre-virus “normal” because virus fatigue is real … and it’s more than set-in.

I think back to earlier generations that endured world wars for years. Accepted restrictions on sugar, tires, and coffee for months and months. Just a few months into our generation’s most devastating situation and we’re quick to blow our trumpet for what we believe in, how we’re being deeply affected, and what everyone else is doing wrong.

I’m tired of virus fatigue because it’s giving us permission to treat each other poorly. To focus only on what we want or what we think is best. We’ve become expert scientists, doctors, economists, educators, infectious disease professionals, predictors, and politicians overnight … all simultaneously. All in the name of virus fatigue.

So, what’s the alternative? How might we discover a less destructive and more helpful way to plod through this pandemic that we’re not sure how long will last?

Let me offer just a few suggestions.

  1. Remember to love God. No matter how difficult this situation is and how you are being affected personally, please, please, please keep the One who loves you and knows what’s best for you in your hind pocket. Please don’t try and do this on your own. Virus fatigue will only continue to overwhelm you and upset you and distress you. When you turn to the One who has enough grace for you, your family, all of your friends as well as your enemies, then, you will discover how deep, wide and big God’s grace is for you as well.
  2. Remember to love your neighbor. All of them. Even the ones you’re not that crazy about loving. Especially the ones that have a vastly different opinion about the status of our current situation than you do. Love them so much it hurts because the truth is, God loves you even more than this. If you deserve this much love, then certainly everyone else does as well. Period. While we often would like to think we should get an extra pass of grace, thank goodness God is a lot less judgmental than the rest of us are.
  3. Follow these two suggestions … and everything else will eventually work itself out. Not on our timetable or maybe exactly how we would prefer. When we keep the most important things as the most important, it’s AMAZING how so much else simply fades away.

Certainly, I don’t have all the answers for virus fatigue. I only have three suggestions. I’m going to try and focus on these things and see how my energy, attention, and love for God changes. Want to join me? I hope you do.

If you need just a few minutes of reprieve from virus fatigue, click on this link. Then, sit back and simply listen.

For God’s grace that has no end or beginning, I am grateful.

Blessings –

Dianne

Lord God – how fickle we are when we must endure a challenging situation. How often we focus on where it personally hurts the most rather than empathizing with someone else’s situation. How easy it is to assume we have the best ideas and ideas. Bath us in Your grace today. Place I upon your hearts the immediate need to simply love You and our neighbors today. Tomorrow. The next day. Even when we don’t want to. Amen.

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

Lessons from COVID-19: Ministry In Your Own Back Yard

Gratitude Day 486

Tues., July 14, 2020

Acts 1:8 – (Jesus said,) “Rather, you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

We’ve watched so much happen in the last four months; things we could have never anticipated or expected even five months ago. When these unforeseen events happen, it’s easy to look for someone else to “fix” these challenging situations; even the ones in our own back yard. Yet, sometimes, we’re the ones called to help with the “fixing.”  

Meet Jackie Goplin. Jackie is many things.

She’s a wife and a Mom to Brad and Julie. She’s a farmer, with her husband Eric and son Brad, who is the sixth generation to farm on their family dairy farm. She’s active in her local church, where she serves as music director and financial secretary. Along with her husband, she’s produced and directed 20 community musicals. They hope they can complete their 21st production that was canceled because of COVID-19. She’s a retired high school music teacher. In fact, my connection to Jackie goes back a few decades when she was my high school band director.  

It’s her most recent title that got my attention and caused me to reconnect with Jackie after many, many years. She’s one of those “fixers” that has bridged two important components of their local community, kids and dairy farmers, and sought to support both through this pandemic.

As soon as schools shut down during the pandemic, providing food to students and families that rely on free and reduced breakfast and lunch became imperative for local communities. Across the United States, dairy producers were asked to dump their highly crafted raw milk because processing facilities did not have immediate demand for this perishable product. With schools and restaurants closed, dairy processing plants found themselves with millions of pounds of milk that were no longer needed until alternative ways of processing the milk could be established.

Jackie and her family farm near Osseo, WI, a very rural community. Jackie taught down the road at the Whitehall School District for 22 years. The Goplin’s attend Peace Lutheran Church of Pigeon Falls. With milk processing facilities in nearby towns, word quickly spread about the possibility of these processing facilities having to ask their patrons to dump milk.

Step in Jackie and a few of her friends. Beth Stay attends the same church as Jackie. Convicted that there must be something that could be done, Beth approached Pastor Mary Ann Bowman. Pastor Mary Ann quickly brought Jackie into the conversation because, well, she and her family are dairy farmers.

The duo were inspired by Rich Miller, a milk hauler from Ellsworth, WI, who personally contributed $5,000 to buy cheese curds and donate them to local food pantries. His donation was quickly doubled and allowed Ellsworth Creamery from having to ask dairy producers to dump milk.

Jackie and her friends modified their response and created a program called Curds for Kids which provides cheese curds to families in several school districts within Trempealeau and Clark counties. Curds for Kids includes cheese curds with the free food distribution that school districts coordinate for families within their districts. During the school year, six school districts included cheese curds in their food packages. Over the summer, four districts have continued to include cheese curds in their weekly distributions.

How the food is distributed to families varies depending on the school district. Some schools send buses to families each week. Other school districts partner with local food pantries. In other areas, families come to the school and pick-up their packages. Curds for Kids works with each school food service department to accommodate their system in supplying the cheese curd portion of the food boxes.

Curds for Kids was truly started on a wing and a prayer. Known as a very generous and community minded congregation, Peace Lutheran Church of Pigeon Falls provided the initial funds to kick-start the program. Jackie, Beth, and Pastor Mary Ann leveraged local TV stations, spread the word via social media and contacted Feed My People in Eau Claire, WI, which has non-profit status. Feed My People partnered with Curds for Kids from the beginning and is the financial arm of the organization. They handle collecting funds and paying expenses, which allows the volunteers to focus their time and attention on coordinating the program as well as raising funds.

Amazingly, Curds for Kids raised $20,000 in about ten days, which allowed the program to know it would be able to provide cheese curds through the end of the school year. Since April 15th, Curds for Kids has provided 15,000 1-lb. packages of cheese curds to students. Several company sponsors have made very generous contributions which has allowed the program to continue into the summer. One of Jackie’s former students had t-shirts made and is currently in the third round of selling them. Another former student held a concert and raised money. Through lots of personal contact to local businesses, Curds for Kids raised about $50,000 to support their curd distribution.

Much to the organizer’s surprise, they also received another generous $15,000 donation from Returning the Favor. Hosted and coordinated by Mike Rowe, who is best known for his television series, Dirty Jobs, Returning the Favor reached out to Jackie and Beth this spring. After several virtual meetings with producers, Returning the Favor surprised Jackie and Beth with their donation mid-June. Pastor Mary Ann helped coordinate the announcement, which included a cow boasting the financial contribution and lots of area folks driving by and celebrating. Returning the Favor’s donation cemented cheese curd donations for the rest of the summer.

Curds for Kids has brought these rural communities together in so many ways. It provides a healthy food source for kids as well as continues to support local dairy farmers; many which are family farms that have a huge financial imprint within these communities. It allows for continued dairy product promotion and education. The partnerships between the school districts, plants that produce the cheese curds and the volunteers demonstrates how folks working together CAN make a difference.

Spiritually, Curds for Kids provided the church and its congregants a way to help others through a pandemic. As volunteers work together for a good cause, they see cheese curds as a new way of evangelism and doing good works within their community.  

Personally, Jackie found herself idle at the beginning of the pandemic. Normally, she would have been working at school three days a week. Now, she uses those hours to help others and fill a gap that quickly came to light at the beginning of the pandemic.

What is the future for Curds for Kids? The organizers continue to figure this out as they go along. Currently, they are working with food service staff to see if cheese curds can be part of the regular food service offerings. Will they keep distributing 1-lb. packages of cheese curds for students to take home as well? It all depends on their financial backing. “We’ll keep handing out cheese curds until we run out of money,” Jackie says.

So often when we think of Jesus’ directive to share the gospel with others, we assume it’s someone else’s responsibility. Or that it requires going on a mission trip to a place far, far away. Jackie and her friends are a reminder that God calls everyone of us to serve in God’s kingdom right in our own backyard. Thank you for accepting this call, Jackie. We pray that the curd ministry continues for many months ahead.

To donate to Curds for Kids, please go to Feed My People and click on the Donate Now button.

To watch the Returning the Favor announcement, please click here. The Curds for Kids portion begins at 5:00.

For those willing to do ministry in their own back yard, I am grateful.

Blessings –

Dianne

Holy God – Thank you for the Spirit’s presence in Jackie, Beth, and Pastor Mary Ann their willingness to be the fixers within their community. May their story inspire others to do the same. Amen.

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

Lessons from COVID-19: Navigating Change When the World Has Changed

Gratitude Day 483

Tues., July 7, 2020

Deuteronomy 31:6 – Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Have you felt a little overwhelmed with all the stuff going on right now?

The last four months have ushered in SO. MUCH. CHANGE in our lives.

Change.

Some people love it.

Some people loathe it.

We’ve ALL been experiencing lots and lots of change lately. A lot of this change is out of our control. Navigating consistent change can be too much; especially when it feels like it happens almost daily.

The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (WDACTP) has put together a podcast series that addresses recognizes how challenging all this change can be. Their podcast, Rural Realities, provides helpful information for all people, whether you live in a rural area or not.

I love it when I have the opportunity to partner with a group of people who are genuinely interested in helping other folks. When I was asked to be part of Rural Realities, I didn’t hesitate. If something I share would help one person, well, I wanted to be a part of this.

The Rural Realities podcast includes information about a variety of topics related to recent changes and agriculture. My podcast addresses how we can deal with all of these changes internally. I would love for you to listen along and let me know what you think! Please feel free to share the podcast with someone you know who might be struggling right now.

Here’s the link:https://datcp.buzzsprout.com/1160120?fbclid=IwAR3woZ8uvQdD47zayxoUcNMlC1T-lfJubyq63-iLq1Xrw9Xp9Je7IFDurlw

It is so easy to become overwhelmed with life these days. Let’s not try and go it alone. If you are feeling like everything is too much, please reach out to someone. We all have change limits. When we reach our limit, it’s best to say, “I need help.” I can’t fix anyone’s problems … but I will listen. And I pray we remember the One who will be strong and courageous with us when we’re feeling down, overwhelmed or out of our league.

For those who have listened to me when I felt overwhelmed, I am grateful.

Blessings –

Dianne

Holy God – some days, things may feel OK. And then, another day, everything feels like it is just too much. Help us to know when we need help. Assistance. A listening ear. May we not go it alone but reach out. Amen.

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

Wanted: 90 Birthday Cards

Gratitude Day 482

Mon., July 6, 2020

Psalm 90:14 – Fill us full every morning with your faithful love so we can rejoice and celebrate our whole life long.

Can I ask for you folks to help me out? Please?

A few weeks back, I shared my Aunt Beverly’s story. She lives in an assisted living in Denver, CO. And she has been confined to her room since March 8th.

Almost four months. We’re nearing 120 days since Aunt Bev has been able to leave her room for anything other than an occasional pick-up of her mail.  

All of her meals are delivered to her room. Her son is able to drop off things at the front desk for her. But basically, Aunt Bev has been confined to her room for four months.

I CAN’T. EVEN. IMAGINE.

After I shared Aunt Beverly’s story, many of you replied back with me how much her story touched you. So now, I’m going to ask for a little help back in return.

All for Aunt Beverly.

You see, she turns 90 on July 17th. The past weekend, several cousins and family members were planning on celebrating with her in Denver. Of course, everything was canceled.

Her children are not overly optimistic that Aunt Bev will be able to do anything special to celebrate her birthday. They are coming up with some creative ideas to try and honor their mother. Yet, they are struggling with how to properly honor this vibrant woman who will most likely be stuck in her room as she becomes a nonagenarian.

So, can you PLEASE help me?

Recently, during our weekly visit/chat/devotion, Aunt Beverly shared with me that basically all of her friends have died. She misses having friends, even more so during this pandemic restriction time.  

That’s why I’m hoping that 90 of my friends will adopt Aunt Bev and make her their friend, if only to celebrate her 90th birthday.

Here’s my goal. I’m looking for 90 of my friends/acquaintances/people who follow Simple Words of Faith to send Aunt Beverly a birthday card.

That’s it. Just send a card. Nothing else. If you have a birthday card, great. If you don’t, send whatever card you have. Slap a 55-cent stamp on the envelope and send it on its way. Please try and have the card arrive by July 17th, which is the actual date of Aunt Beverly’s birthday. If it’s a day or two late, PLEASE send it anyways.

Can you PLEASE help me out?  

I’ve checked with her kids. They are completely on-board with throwing her a card shower. They are so excited for me to ask 90 people to send their mother 90 cards. Can we overflow her mailbox so much that the staff have to set-up a special box? Will we get enough people to send her a card that she will spend the ENTIRE day opening birthday cards? Are there at least 90 people who were moved by Aunt Beverly’s story enough that they will send her a card for her 90th birthday?

Let’s address the cards to Aunt Beverly and have the staff at her care facility wondering where all these family members have been that sent her a simple card for her birthday.

Can we help Beverly celebrate her whole life long in the next 11 days by receiving so much love from people who simply want to bless her special day? With a card?

PLEASE, can you help me out?

I’m counting on all of you. And I’m confident you won’t let me down.

Here’s her address:

Aunt Beverly Anderson

10200 E Harvard Ave Apt. 200

Denver, CO  80231-3946

From the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU. I can’t WAIT to see how many cards Aunt Beverly receives.

For help in celebrating a special woman’s birthday, I am grateful.

Blessings –

Dianne

Dear God – For even the most vibrant of people, being confined to a room for four months is wearing. I pray that You will help keep Aunt Beverly’s spirits up, as well as be brightened by an overabundance of birthday cards. I pray that together, we can make her life and birthday so incredibly special. Amen.

If you know someone else who LOVES to send cards or would like to help celebrate Aunt Beverly’s birthday, please share this blog post with them.

Embrace the Year That Looks a Bit Scary

Gratitude Day 478

Mon., June 22, 2020

Hebrews 10:31 – It’s scary to fall into the hands of the living God!

For many people, change is scary.

Difficult.

Daunting.

Intimidating.

We love comfortable. We yearn for predictable. So, when things like a pandemic, awareness of persistent inequality, ridiculous quick unemployment, a sluggish economy, and an unknown future stare us in the face, life feels unmanageable. Scary. Overwhelming.

As people begin and continue to post comments and pictures wishing 2020 was over, my heart gets sad. Every day IS a gift from God. I wish we would treat them as carefully as other valued gifts rather than wishing them away …

So, let’s think about the remainder of 2020 from a slightly different perspective:

  • Let’s see these challenging days as opportunities to discover something new about ourselves. Others. The world.
  • May we welcome the unlimited opportunity to grow and welcome the new branches that lead us into areas we could not previously imagine.
  • Let’s embrace change as a gift … and not a four-letter word. Maybe, just maybe, we’ve been too complacent for far too long.
  • Can we wrap our heads and hands around the possibilities that are sitting right there in front of us? Just waiting for us to see them.
  • May we finally listen to the clanging sound that has been trying to open our hearts for far too long to something we’ve never even considered.

Most importantly, may the unsureness of each day force us seek God and know that God yearns for us to listen. And may we have enough good sense to finally stop and listen.

The year 2020 is FAR from being over. No, it’s just beginning. Let’s embrace and celebrate each day and know this may be a pivotable year for so many.

For optimism in days ahead, I am grateful.

Blessings –

Dianne

Dear God – Sometimes, we so casually wish a day or a week or a timeframe away. Instead, help us to celebrate each day. May we embrace the new things You’ve led us to and turned our scaredness into trust in You. Amen.

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