What We Have in Common with a Pumpkin

Gratitude Day 528

Wed., Oct. 28, 2020

Matthew 5:16 – So don’t hide your light! Let it shine brightly before others, so that the commendable things you do will shine as light upon them, and then they will give their praise to your Father in heaven.”

Maybe you’ve heard the story of being a Christian is kind of like a pumpkin. It’s a little story that I have often shared with kids this time of year. It’s just a nice little story that helps us see faith through the eyes of a child … and a pumpkin.

It begins with being picked. When we got to get a pumpkin, it begins with looking at all of the options and choosing one. Likewise, every day, all day, God chooses you.

The pumpkin maybe a little dirty and needs a good cleaning. Likewise, God is already to wash our “dirt” away.

God isn’t just interested in a pretty outside. God wants to know what is on the inside. We cut out the top of a pumpkin when we make a jack-o-lantern. And yes, God looks deep inside of us.

There’s some good stuff in there … but there’s also some yucky stuff. God has a great knack for getting rid of the yucky stuff.

All those seeds that are not helpful? God can deal with. The seeds of doubt, hate, greed. The seeds of disappointment, fear and lack of patience.

Who ever sees a sad pumpkin? Don’t we put smiles on them? Yes … just as God loves to see our smiling face.

Finally, a light inside the pumpkin makes it easy for the world to see it. I pray we keep God’s light inside of us for all the world to see as well!

Because it is Wednesday, tonight is Devos with Dianne on Facebook Live at 8 PM Central Time. Tonight is one of those times you really do NOT want to miss! A family who has experienced COVID-19 will be joining me. In their own words, Linda, Jerry and Sara will share how this virus and the pandemic have affected them, their family and their faith. I encourage you to share this post and invited someone to join me tonight during Devos with Dianne. At 8 PM, just look for my live video under Dianne Deaton Vielhuber. See YOU tonight!

For lessons even from a pumpkin, I am grateful.

Blessings –

Dianne

Holy God – so many little lessons that we can find right in our normal, everyday lives. Lessons about life. Faith. You. Me. Thanks for the story of the pumpkin. May my light shine brightly for You today. Amen.

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Home Is About the Heart

Gratitude Day 526

Fri., Oct. 23, 2020

Psalm 26:8 – Lord, I love your home, this place of dazzling glory, bathed in the splendor and light of your presence!

Home. I’m spending a lot of time at home these days.

Have been for months.

Don’t see this changing ANY time soon.

Home. It’s my place of refuge. Safety. Calm.

Often, we are conditioned to “think” that we need to go someplace else to find time to take a break. Relax. Enjoy. In fact, just a couple weeks ago, I said to Hubby Rick, “Can we just run away for the weekend.”

But we didn’t. We stayed home.

I’m already contemplating how much time I’m going to be at home this winter. Lots and lots of time. Rather than thinking of this as a “I’m so over being home all the time,” I’m shifting my perspective.

I’m celebrating that I GET to spend all this time at home.

We know the saying, “Home is where your heart is.” Honestly, I LOVE our home. With all the hours I spend at home, I celebrate that our home is a place that I LOVE. All the old woodwork. The gorgeous (if sometimes mismatched) hardwood floors. The “50 shades of grey” as Hubby Rick calls the various wall colors throughout our home. The little pieces from Rick’s family and my family. The items Hubby Rick and I have curated over 20 years of marriage. Things that mean absolutely nothing to anyone but him and I.

In the last five years, we’ve torn apart, rebuild and remodeled almost every square inch of our home. We’re rounding the corner on finishing the last room. (Hubby Rick painted the ceiling yesterday!) It’s just an old house that we’ve poured some love into. But it’s our house. Our home.

In this world where everything is ultimately temporary, I try to be careful about putting too much stock into the material things of this world rather than the ultimate rewards that are far more important. Rather than cultivating a blog and focusing only on decorating and the best deal at Target, I challenge myself to see my home as one more tool in my toolbox to find peace and contentment in my life. Yes, I want a home that I love. But I don’t want my home to be more important than my faith and relationship with God.

Yet, as we spend SO. MUCH. time at home these days, does it not beg that we create a sanctuary that we love? Enjoy? And brings us peace?

Yes. Definitely. Without a doubt.

From this perspective, I’ve been thinking about home and the looming long winter and our choice to limit being in groups. To keep my heart and soul fed and filled this winter, I know this involves having a home that makes my heart happy. Sing. Breathe.

That’s why I’m thinking a bit more about how to curate my home which will allow those things to happen. How can I create space that makes every day feel like I’m on vacation … even if it’s right at my normal address?

Here’s how I’m thinking about this right now:

  • As much as I love a beautiful looking space, creating a sanctuary is more than nicely placed furniture or cool lighting. It’s layering in those things that draws us back to memories that we love and cherish. Smells. Tastes. Sounds. Textures. I LOVE the smell of coffee ALMOST as much as I love the taste. How can I create this smell beyond the time the coffee pot is warming today’s brew? What music or other sounds take me to the spots that mean the most to me? What foods that I make will make me close my eyes as they melt in my mouth … and make the whole house smell like that spot that you don’t want to leave?
  • Making sure there’s lots of light in the spaces where I spend more time. Yep, the days are getting shorter. The dreary, wet days like we had yesterday can be depressing. So, when there is light, I want it to flood over every surface around me. It is AMAZING what a bit of sunshine can do for the soul. How can we capture this as much as possible? Along with this, having greens and/or living plants in space helps me feel like the outdoors has come inside as well.
  • Rethink the spaces we have and determine if maybe something should be shifted. A few years ago, I put a chair in my office where I do daily devotions and reading. It’s a chair that I love having. Are there other spaces in our house that should be shifted to accommodate more of the things we do as we spend so much time at home? I’m thinking where’s a place to have a puzzle out. A space where I can actually do a hobby. Maybe our bedroom isn’t the best place to do the online workout videos that I do daily. This weekend, I’m going to walk through the house, think about how we use the space and challenge myself to wonder if there’s other ways we could utilize them.
  • Use the things that I love the most regularly. So often, we put something away we treasure because we don’t want it to get broke or damaged. Years ago, I determined that if something is special to me, I want it out where I can see it, enjoy it and use it. I use the dishes my grandmother bought when she was first married. My father-in-law’s favorite fishing pole is part of our décor. You can probably find a milk can on our porch twelve months of the year.
  • Which leads me also to my next idea: if I don’t love something, I get rid of it. It’s easy to keep those things that have been given to us or that we’ve moved from house to house to house. There ARE things that I moved many, many times that I want to keep. And there’s a whole bunch of stuff that I no longer enjoyed and got rid of so someone else could love and enjoy. Over time, I developed a style of less is more and the less must be things I want to pack up and move to the next house we live in. Otherwise, it’s time to get rid of it. Now.

Whether your home is 800 square feet or a few thousand, does your home bring you a sense of peace and joy? No matter how many other people you might share this space with, do you have a little spot (even if it is terribly tiny) where you can go, close your eyes and know your heart is happy? What smells, sounds, tastes and different textures can you layer in that truly make your home “feel” like you and the memories most special to you and your family?

Hubby Rick and I love spending time outside in God’s great big creation that is ultimately God’s home. Yet, we can also create the same awe and admiration within the space where we live much of our daily lives. This IS pleasing to our hearts and souls. It’s a way we can prepare for the upcoming winter. It’s creating a home that feels safe and like we’re at a happy spot every single day.

For a home that makes my heart sing, I am grateful.

Blessings –

Dianne

Dear God – when we look at your creation and all that You call home, it inspires us. It often speaks to us. I pray that having a home and space that reflects Your glory will bring us peace. May we see having a home that is a respite for our hearts and minds is part of the tools that allows for joy and contentment in our lives. Amen.

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Lessons from COVID-19: Having Enough Bandwidth

Gratitude Day 525

Tues., Oct. 20, 2020

Matthew 14:23 – After the crowds dispersed, Jesus went up into the hills to pray. And as night fell, he was there praying alone with God.

It is AMAZING how one phone call can completely change a day.

Or an e-mail.

Or unexpected news.

These things can be WONDERFUL. Great. Exciting. Bring life into your heart and joy into your step.

Or … they can deflate your life faster than a popped balloon.

Seriously.

Honestly, there are some days when it just feels like we can handle those expected things without missing a step.

Other days?

We look at the caller ID and groan. Loudly.

It amazes me. Sometimes, I can problem solve and figure things out in a flash. It happened yesterday. A friend called to share some information. Just a little information. Soon, I had diarrhea of the mouth. Giving her ideas and suggestions and people to contact and ….

I think I asked her twice if she wanted me to keep going. Or to stop. I hope my suggestions were a tiny bit helpful. Otherwise, I AM SO SORRY.

Then, there are the days, when one tiny little thing puts us over the edge.

This happened on Sunday. I had something planned in the evening. Right before this begin, I received a short text. Could I send an e-mail and figure something out? Like, right now?

Maybe it was because I knew I had another commitment. Maybe it was because there had been countless energy put into this very situation earlier in the day. It doesn’t matter because at the moment I was trying to log onto my meeting and send an e-mail and reply to the text, my bandwidth was exhausted.

Done. Gone.

Unfortunately, the folks on the virtual meeting met my frustration of being out of bandwidth. Once again, I AM SO SORRY.

What’s bandwidth? It’s our energy, attention and ability process through things at any given time. It’s like the ability to deal with something at any particular time. It’s the space we have within our heads and our bodies to be patient, kind, helpful and positive.

Or not.

There’s probably a technical definition of bandwidth, which I’m not sure I am explaining very well. Let me try this way.  

Enough bandwidth – you wake up and get out of bed at the time you planned the night before. The first sip of coffee or tea or beverage of choice fills your belly with warmth that carries you into the day. There comes a time in the day when you think yourself, “Wow! I’m getting a lot done!” And you are! Even if there’s a little hiccup along the way, you keep perspective, problem solve and move on.

Not enough bandwidth – Every seems to be going wrong. Literally, everything. All you can think to yourself throughout the day is, “Can’t I just get ONE break today?” And it never seems to show up. “Will this day EVER END?”

I feel like a lot of us are operating without adequate bandwidth these days.

Maybe it’s COVID-19.

Maybe it’s the election.

Maybe it’s because there is less sunlight and it’s colder and we know winter is coming. (This is completely Hubby Rick these days.)

Maybe it’s because we know it’s going to be increasingly more difficult to get out and do things AND be socially distanced and keeping others safe.

Maybe it’s because our income has decreased, and food prices go up weekly.

Maybe we are sick and tired of trying to home school kids and work from home and cook every meal of the week.

Maybe we’re concerned about a loved one who is ill, sick and/or vulnerable health wise.

Maybe we just want to go to a concert or a football game or a movie … and we can’t.

Maybe all we REALLY want is good old long HUG.

Maybe ….

All these things, and a whole bunch more, can lead to inadequate bandwidth. Days when nothing seems to be going right and we just want to crawl under the covers and come out when it’s spring. Or post-COVID-19. Or after the election. Or …

Friends – It’s pretty clear to me these days that one of most important things we need to do is protect our bandwidth. Keep ourselves in a spot where we operate out of a capacity where we handle and manage things. When our bandwidth is depleted or exhauster or inexistent, a whole lot of negative can happen. To our loved ones. To strangers. To neighbors. To ourselves.

Can I encourage you to monitor just one thing this week? Watch your bandwidth.

  • When do you have enough energy and attention and ability to handle things?
  • When do you not?
  • What are the common denominators of when you have enough bandwidth? Is it a particular time of the day, time of the week, encounter with a particular person that affects you more than other things?
  • What do YOU need to do to increase your bandwidth before the next day? DO IT. (Well, as long as it’s safe.)
  • What do YOU need to STOP doing to increase your bandwidth? Stop it TODAY.

This lesson maybe from COVID-19 or other things going on in our lives right now. But I’ve discovered this about myself: I’ve spent way too many days without adequate bandwidth. I knew it. I felt it. I saw it. But I didn’t do enough about it.

These days, I’m at least recognizing that my bandwidth is down. My to-do lists are a bit shorter. I’m trying to let myself breathe and build up bandwidth before the next day.

It’s not a coincidence that all four gospels tell us that there were times Jesus went off by himself to pray. Why did he do this?

He needed more bandwidth. It was just that simple. If Jesus needed more bandwidth, what makes me think that I don’t need more bandwidth?

Hmmm.

Once again, it’s Jesus that helps me see something about myself that should be so obvious, and I ignore. Thank you, Jesus. Once again.

Bandwidth. How is yours?

For discovering a need for bandwidth, I am grateful.

Blessings –

Dianne

Holy God – Too often these days, we’re operating out of limited and depleted bandwidth rather than adequate bandwidth. Help me see when I’m lacking bandwidth. Place it upon my heart ways that I can replenish my bandwidth. Amen.

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

Saturday Round Up – Trusting God

Gratitude Day 524

Sat., Oct. 17, 2020

Psalm 9:10 – May everyone who knows your mercy keep putting their trust in you, for they can count on you for help no matter what. O Lord, you will never, no never, neglect those who come to you.

Somedays, I feel so close to God.

And then, there are the more common ones where it’s just a wee bit harder.

On those days, where’s what I remember: God didn’t move. I did.

God is still there, friend. Plugging right along. Just waiting for you to pause and say, “Hey, God. It’s me.”

I’ve pulled together a few things I’ve encountered recently that has helped me come back to God. To trust that no matter what is going on, God is RIGHT. HERE. With me. And always will be.

This book: The Sun Does Shine by Anthony Ray Hinton.

This is the author’s story of his wrongful 1985 arrest and conviction of two counts of capitol murder in Alabama. A poor black man, it was a case of mistaken identity and a skewed system of justice. During his 30 years on death row at a state prison, Hinton became a beacon, transformed his own spirit as well as those of his fellow inmates. Civil rights attorney Bryan Stevenson won Hinton’s release in 2015.

Why read this book? It shows a glimpse into Hinton’s story of hope, love and justice. This inspirational story shows how a person’s freedom can be taken away but not his imagination, humor or joy.

This cake: Apple Cider Donut Cake.

OK, I know. A cake isn’t going to make you feel closer to God. I get it.

But I still wanted to share this cake with someone, anyone who is a fan of apple cider donuts. If this is you (or you just like ANYTHING apple,) then this cake is JUST. FOR. YOU.

Seriously.

I ate two pieces of it the night I took it out of the oven.

Maybe celebrate the apples of the season? Too much of a stretch?

Either way, just enjoy this cake. If it’s too much, porch-drop some of it at your neighbors. They will think you are a little ray of sunshine in their day.

Yes, it takes a little more effort … but it’s worth it. So does Hubby Rick, which is notable because he isn’t a huge sweets fan. But this one? He gave it two thumbs up and has been slicing away at it.

Here’s the link to the recipe I used.

These swings.

Yes, they are the swings from our back yard. Honestly, it doesn’t quite look like this right now. There are leaves on the ground and the flowers in the pots are looking a little sad. But I sat in the swings this week. Just for a bit. I just sat. Did nothing and listened. To my heart. My soul. For God.

Even if you don’t have swings in your yard, take a hot minute. Sit. Listen. Be.

(Like the swings? Sorry. I can’t send you to a link. They are custom made for me by Hubby Rick. I know. I’m so lucky.)

This exercise: Devos with Dianne from 10.14.20.

If you haven’t watched it, please do. I share an exercise of how to be kind to YOURSELF. It’s a little reminder that before we care for everyone else, we must care for ourselves first. Even if you don’t have Facebook, you can click on the link and watch. Hope you enjoy!

A reminder: COVID-19 isn’t going away. Anytime soon. It’s here. It’s daunting. We’re in this for the long haul. Seriously.

Unfortunately, until we personally know someone or know someone who knows someone, it may not feel personal or real. But it is. My heart is sad for the folks who have it and are struggling. My heart is sad for those who feel the fall-out has been too much.

As much as we WANT it to go away and to go away fast, it isn’t. Yet, I know that God IS with those who are feeling stressed, discouraged, distracted and challenged. Find your swing. Sit awhile and say, “Hey, God. It’s me.”

God always loves to hear from you. God will never neglect those who come to God. Thank you, Jesus.

For finding ways to trust God in daily life, I am grateful.

Blessings –

Dianne

Dear God – Thank you for never being very far away. And always being there for me. Thanks for not giving up on me when sometimes it’s hard to trust. Thanks for being patient with me. Amen.

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

Wednesday Prayer Day – Resolving Opposite Prayer Requests

Gratitude Day 523

Wed., Oct. 14, 2020

James 4:3 – And if you ask, you won’t receive it for you’re asking with corrupt motives, seeking only to fulfill your own selfish desires.

I know that it’s happening right now. People are praying for exact opposites to happen:

For “their” candidate to win the presidential election.

Or another election.

For a referendum to pass or not pass.

For people’s minds to be changed to their “correct” position.

How can all of these prayers be answered?

They can’t.

Someone is going to be disappointed. We just pray that it won’t be us.

And my heart becomes sad.

Prayer IS important. It’s mandated by Jesus as a way for us to draw closer to God, share our heart with God and have confidence that God wants what is best for us.

The problem is … sometimes we get it wrong.

Our prayers aren’t the best prayers.

Our prayers are more about US than they are about GOD.

We convince ourselves if we just pray hard enough, God WILL see it our way.

And my heart becomes sad.

Don’t get me wrong. God is interested in every single last detail in your life and our world. God’s desk never gets too cluttered that God forgets the desires of your heart. But here’s the deal. Sometimes we get it wrong. And we aren’t wise enough to see, believe or know this.

And my heart becomes sad.

My heart becomes sad because I’ve tried to bargain with God myself … more than once. My heart is sad because I know better than to pray these self-serving prayers … and yet I still do. My heart is sad because in my prayers, I’m already setting up the structure of winners and losers … and forget that in God, there are no losers. Only winners.

Can we be a little more careful with our prayers in the days ahead? Can we hear that prayer is more about transforming ourselves than transforming God? Can we allow ourselves to trust in God even when these self-serving prayers we reiterate aren’t answered … and we just want to blame and give up on God?

Answering prayer isn’t about us. It’s about God. Thank goodness there is someone who knows a lot more than we do … and will provide God’s will to prevail

Yes, we can be angry. Mad. Blame God and assure everyone that God has let you down when those prayers aren’t answered exactly like we would like.

God will still love you. God will still advocate for you. God will never leave you.

Now, if we can only remember that it’s not really about us. It’s only about God.

For a necessary attitude adjustment about prayer, I am grateful.

Blessings –

Dianne

Holy God – We want You to trust us and our prayer requests when really what is necessary is us to trust You. Remind me again that You have this. Now, help me depend upon You, no matter what happens in the days and weeks ahead. Amen.

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

Lessons from COVID-19: For the Long Haul

Gratitude Day 519

Tues., Oct. 6, 2020

Luke 10:42 – The Lord answered her, “Martha, my beloved Martha. Why are you upset and troubled, pulled away by all these many distractions? Are they really that important? 

It’s the 6th of October. And yet, does anyone else feel like it’s been 50 days since October began?

I live in Wisconsin and unfortunately, we’re making national news because of the dramatic uptick of COVID cases in our state. I find myself focusing on things that I have ZERO control over. And this sucks up my energy. And it frustrates me that once again, I let this happen.

I keep thinking that it’s OK not to be as productive these days. And find more space to reflect and be. That being a human machine all the time isn’t necessary. Maybe, it’s OK to give ourselves a break.

A few days ago, I read this sentence:

“Instead, come sit with me,” Jesus said. “Only this is really important.”

These are words that I wrote and published in The Mary Experiment: When DOING and BEING Collide. Words I wrote because I felt maybe others needed to hear as well as myself. And somehow, I got so caught up in what’s going on right now that I haven’t embraced them as I should.

How I wish that we could just sit and have a cup of coffee together.

Share live and funny stories and serious thoughts.

Laugh and cry and get quiet when we have something important to say.

Listen intently and maybe even give a hug or a touch when it feels appropriate.

Know that we’re here for each other … because we all need someone in our corner.

On Sunday, I had my weekly chat with my 90-year-old Aunt Beverly. It didn’t take long for me to see that she’s beyond tired of the pandemic and how it has disrupted life. Yes, she WAS able to leave her facility last week. For the first time in over six months, she received an infusion she historically received weekly to stay off breast cancer. You see, Aunt Beverly has had breast cancer multiple times. But because of COVID-19, she hasn’t had an infusion since early March.

And now, it’s October.

For a brief part of a day, Aunt Beverly “got out of jail” and was able to something that felt more “normal.” Remember – this “normal” thing was a treatment to try and keep breast cancer at bay.

But it was a glimpse of normal.

Folks – we’re in this COVID-19 spot for a while. For the long haul. Even with a vaccine (which we don’t know when one will be available), things won’t quickly return to “normal.” There will still be concerns and challenges. We’ll still need to do those things that slow the spread.

So how do we keep focused and in tune with God and ourselves in these days that seem to stretch forever but zoom by too fast?

Come sit with Jesus. Only this is important.

And remember this: You are amazing. You are special. You do great things. You are loved by God. And You are enough.

Enough.

Today. And tomorrow.

In God, we are enough.

Thanks be to God.

For God’s presence with us in the long haul, I am grateful.

Blessings –

Dianne

Almighty God – it’s easy to keep thinking the short-term is more important than the long haul. But you aren’t a short-term problem solver. You fix long-term issues with grace and mercy. May we come back to you time and time again and simply sit at your feet. May we know this IS enough. Amen.

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

What I’ve Learned in the Last 60 Days

Gratitude Day 516

Mon., Sept. 28, 2020

1 Corinthians 12:27 – You are the body of the Anointed One, and each of you is a unique and vital part of it.

We’re into the last days of September. Summer is officially over … and it’s fall. I’ve been thinking about I’ve learned these last number of days and I’m reminded that taking time to reflect is SO. IMPORTANT.

Seriously.

Today, I’m sharing a few things that I have learned – or more appropriately – relearned in the last 60 days. Folks – these concepts ARE NOT complicated. I am constantly reminded that there is much that I’ve learned before … and just need to relearn again and again.

This is what 2020 looks like.

We’re four weeks into school in our area, which means that the last four weeks, we’ve packed weekend food bags for our local school district. When schooling went online in March and continued through the end May, we provided weekend food bags for students. We just completely reorganized how we did it to keep folks safe.

With more understanding of how we can be together and keep each other safe, we’ve welcomed back volunteers who feel comfortable packing bags. The first week back, all of the volunteers were SO EXCITED about having some place to go, something to do and could once again feel like they were contributing to our local community. IT WAS GREAT.

Local school districts continue to have significant needs. They need supplies to keep folks safe, just like everyone else. Add in families in your local community that have been hit financially by the pandemic, and we quickly see needs. There ARE ways you can help. A call to the school district’s social worker or student dean will help you find out what is needed. Do you have to make a huge financial donation to make a difference? NO. Believe me … every little bit help counts. Weather will be getting colder soon. Used coats for kids of all ages will be needed, along with hats, gloves, etc. Make your heart sing this week by doing a little something for your local school district.

Laughter is great medicine.

Did you laugh yourself through the Father of the Bride movies that came out over 20 years ago? Steve Martian stars as an over-zealous father whose daughter gets married. His on-screen wife, Diane Keaton, bails him out of jail after an incident at the grocery store about hot dogs and buns.

The writer of the earlier movies wrote a little movie during the pandemic. She recruited the original cast and they filmed a short new movie called Father of the Bride Part(3ish). Only 30 minutes long, this new version places the Banks family right in the pandemic, dealing with the stuff the rest of us are dealing with. Of course, the family gathers on a ZOOM call because, well, that’s what we do in 2020.

The movie is a breath of fresh air. Because it was filmed during the pandemic, each character filmed themselves in their own home. There were no professional camera people, make-up artists or such. The movie provides literally a real-life interpretation of how one family is making it through the pandemic.

Even more cool? The movie is FREE. It’s been released through Netflix. If, like us, you don’t have Netflix, you can go to Netflix’s YouTube page and watch it there for free. People are encouraged to donate to an organization providing meals to families with food insecurity in lieu of paying for the movie. Here’ the link. It’s family friendly, has a fun twist AND will make you laugh.

We all need a hobby. Seriously.

For years, Hubby Rick has said that I need a REAL hobby. One that I do on a regular basis. One that brings joy into my life.

Hubby Rick has lots of hobbies. He fishes and fishes and fishes. He has kayaked and kayaked and kayaked this summer. He rides bike, golfs and is so happy to be watching sports on TV again. When he wakes up in the morning, he goes outside and surveys the garden to decides what needs watering, what needs harvesting and removes any pesky weeds before they have a hot minute to live.

Naturally, his remodeling skills are the hobby that I desperately appreciate.

So, what are my hobbies? I bike and hike and walk. I am reading. I exercise and like to make our home feel cozy and warm. I have a variety of other things I do on and off; probably more off than on.

But in Rick’s opinion, not a REAL hobby.

Here’s something that I’m not sure qualifies as a hobby … but brings me joy. On Labor Day weekend, Hubby Rick and I wondered down to the local farmer’s market and bought a huge box of tomatoes. On Labor Day, I turned those tomatoes into salsa and spaghetti sauce and tomato juice.

Is it very cost efficient to spend a whole day canning tomatoes when I can probably buy a jar of spaghetti sauce for less than $3? Probably not. I’d like to think the homemade stuff tastes better with the love and care put into every jar.

What I do know is that for that whole day, I loved canning those tomatoes. I listened to books on tape and planned how I could most efficiently go through the planning process. (I know. Can’t my brain just ever rest?)

Yes, I’ve canned other things this summer. For some reason, canning those tomatoes was so cathartic for me. I pray you have an activity that you do every so often that feels the same for you.

Have Something You’ve Been Wanting to do for YEARS? JUST DO IT.

The day before our 20th wedding anniversary, Hubby Rick and I had no clue what we were going to do. In a very last-minute decision, we decided to cross a big one off of our bucket list and go sky diving.

I’ve shared about our adventure previously. I was not prepared for how many people commented back about how there was no way they could go sky diving. I’m not going to try and convince anyone that they should go sky diving … unless they want me to.

Here’s what I want to convince you of: DON’T put off doing that something you’ve always wanted to do. I know traveling in Italy isn’t possible right now. Or going to the South Pole. I’ll add a disclaimer to wait until the something is safe and possible right now, but “Just do it.”

We’re loving the things that completely make us think of summer … right into fall. And will do so until we can’t.

I’ve baked more peach pies this summer than I ever have. We’re finding fun places to hike and walk every weekend. Rick gets me in our kayaks about once a week. We’re drinking in every minute of sun and 60+ degrees weather that we can. We’ll be eating our meals on our porch until a serious coat is required.

Hubby Rick seriously thinks God should have made only one season: summer. Yet, we also love the leaves turning and pumpkins and going to the apple orchard. I hope you are as well.

I’m loving the volunteer gourds from our garden.

The last number of years, we’ve had a healthy crop of volunteer gourds in our garden. We’re never quite sure what each vine plant is when they begin growing, so we just let them go. This summer, the volunteer gourd plants took over a chunk of the garden.

We don’t plant the gourds. Every fall, I just throw this year’s gourds into the garden so they will compost. Every spring, some of those old gourds because the seed for this year’s harvest.

We have a wide variety of gourds this year. Hubby Rick is convinced at least some of the plants cross pollinated with the cucumbers because of their pretty stripes. I have them scattered around the house and the porches for fall décor.

Here’s the deal: every single gourd is different. Unique. Special. No two are alike.

Friends: if God can make each gourd unique, special and different, then God will also make each person different. Unique. Special with no two alike.

Sometimes, it’s easy to point out the parts of another person where things feel a little cross-pollinated. I’m sure plenty of people have done this about me, just as I have done about other people. Nonetheless, I celebrate how God created me just the way I am. Just the way you are. How we’re all unique, different and special.

It can be SO EASY for us to find ways that we’re more alike than the same in the next 60 days. I find myself doing this all too often. And I wonder why. And it makes my heart sad.

I saw this quote recently and I pray we will remember these wise words for the next couple of months:

I am way less concerned with who you vote for than I am with how you treat the people that vote differently than you do.

We may or may not know how each other votes. In the end, I pray that how we treat each other is far more important than an election. Can we agree to be uber kind to each other for the next period of time? Will we value the unique and special character of each other … even if sometimes it drives us a bit crazy? (Maybe I’m the only one who struggles with this …)

We need folks who model and prioritize kindness as a high core value right now. I’m going to TRY and be one of those people … and pray you will as well. (P.S. – Yes, you have permission to call me out on this when I’m not following my own suggestion.)

Take two minutes. Look at your calendar. Or the most recent photos on your phone. What little lessons have you discovered or maybe relearned these last couple of months? What are those lessons saying to you today? Maybe, just maybe, it’s how God is speaking to you. Right here. Right now.

Blessings –

Dianne

For lessons that I need relearning and rediscovering, I am grateful.

Holy God – Thanks for granting me the opportunity to look back over the past couple of months and find these lessons that help me grow in love of You and my neighbor. I deeply appreciate how You speak in and through them. Amen.

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An Opportunity to Join a Book Study Small Group

Gratitude Day 513

Mon., Sept. 21, 2020

Luke 10:41-42: The Lord answered, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things. One thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the better part. It won’t be taken away from her.”

When I look at my faith journey and think about when I grew the most, it often has been when I’ve participated in a small group of people who wanted to learn more about faith.

Together.

Time and time again, I’ve witnessed my faith grow and expand and discover new things when I’m together with a bunch of folks who want to deepen their faith and understanding.

This is what Jesus modeled. It’s a great example for us to replicate.

That’s why I’m so excited to offer a special opportunity for folks who are interested in exploring their faith on a little deeper level.

Together.

During October, I’m offering a weekly small group virtual book study on The Mary Experiment: When DOING and BEING Collide, the book I published last fall. It will be help online on Sunday evenings from 7-8 PM Central Time for four weeks. Together, we’ll explore the book’s main principles and see how we can embrace a little more Mary-ness in our lives.

I don’t know about you … but this pandemic has kicked my butt. I just find myself struggling with focusing, finding meaning and allowing myself to grow from what we’re learning right now. I’m yearning and longing for a small group that will allow me to really dig a little deeper into my faith in such an unsettling time. I’ve wondered if there might be 12 other folks who’d like to join me in this journey.

The book study will begin on Sun., Oct. 4. Here’s what we’ll study each night:

Sun., Oct. 4 – Intro, Chapters 1-2

Sun., Oct. 11 – Chapters 3-7

Sun., Oct. 18 – Chapters 8-11

Sun., Oct. 25 – Chapters 12-15

This will all be online, so it doesn’t matter where you live! It’s open to the first 12 people who let me know they are interested. I do want to keep the group small, as I feel this allows for more interaction in our time together.

How do you sign up? Please e-mail me at diannevielhuber@gmail.com and let me know: your name and best e-mail address. Once the group is assembled, I’ll send out information about the study and how to participate.

If you need a copy of the book, it can be purchased through Amazon at:

I’m truly excited to work through a book study together with other people. And pray that you will consider being one of those folks.

For an opportunity to deepen my faith through a small group, I am grateful.

Holy God – Too often, we try to grow our faith on our own. Or within a bubble. Yet, Jesus modeled for us the importance of exploring faith within community of others. I pray this book study will provide 12 folks an opportunity to look at life and faith in a deeply meaningful way. Encourage those people who would benefit from such a study to join this opportunity. Amen.

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Making a Difference in Poynette, Population 2503

Gratitude Day 512

Fri., Sept. 18, 2020

Acts 20:35: I’ve left you an example of how you should serve and take care of those who are weak. For we must always cherish the words of our Lord Jesus, who taught, ‘Giving brings a far greater blessing than receiving.’”

For the last five years, Hubby Rick and I have lived in Poynette, WI, population 2503.

There are a lot of great people in our little village. People we’ve come to know. People we call friends and neighbors. Folks we love and who in turn, love us.

Earlier this year, the Poynette Village Board created a Volunteer of the Year Award for an area person who gives of themselves within our community. At their board meeting this past week, they handed out the inaugural award to Mel and Ruth Ann Waugh.

I don’t know the process by which the Waugh’s were selected. What I do know is there is not another couple within this community who are more deserving.

For over ten years, the Waugh’s have headed up the local food pantry. Completly support by the local community, our little food pantry receives no financial backing from outside of the donation’s area folks, businesses and companies give, along with some grants. Each month, it serves between 55-75 area families; many who depend upon it greatly.

A ton of folks partner in making the food pantry an integral part of the community. But it’s the Waugh’s who are the hub of the wheel from which all spokes spread out. When locally grown potatoes are ready to be donated, it’s the Waugh’s that receive the phone call. When excess sweet corn or carrots or onions or tomatoes or other vegetables need a home, the Waugh’s are contacted. When the Scouts, the post office, area churches and the Poynette National Honor Society collect food for the pantry, the Waugh’s arrange drop off. If someone needs community serve hours, the Waugh’s may coordinate for this to happen at the food pantry.  

For several winters, the Waugh’s have spent several well-deserved weeks of sabbath in Alabama. When it came time to organize who would do what while they are gone, a team of people filled the various roles the Waugh’s have assumed. Since the Waugh’s recognize the value of allowing other people to serve within the community, these teams now fulfill some of the roles that the Waugh’s previously assumed.

With health and safety in mind, the decision was made to limit the number of people volunteering at the pantry during the pandemic. The Waugh’s have provided much of the people power during these last six months.

If the school district needs additional snacks for a classroom, the Waugh’s make it happen. If snow boots or jackets or extra gloves are needed, the first line of contact is often the Waugh’s.

Serving their community is not an afterthought for the Waugh’s. It’s their first thought. Just yesterday, they helped pack the weekend Blessings food bags for school-aged kids. When we looked into starting the Blessings program, it was Ruth Ann who said the food pantry would donate the necessary $5,000 to get it rolling.  

For about 10 years, the Waugh’s coordinated the assembly and delivery of Thanksgiving and Christmas meals to folks within our community who might not otherwise have a holiday meal. For years, Mel and Ruth Ann organized and had these meals delivered before they gathered with their own family.

My first contact with the Waugh’s began when I started serving a church in the Poynette community. It didn’t take long for me to discover if there was something I needed, I could call the Waugh’s and they would do what they could. Countless times, the Waugh’s hosted kids at their farm for a fall hayride, bon fire and fun night of Wednesday Night Church School. When something at the church needed repair and Rick wasn’t available, Mel would be down shortly after I called him to check it out.

It takes a village to raise kids in a community. It takes a village to serve and help those who are going through a hard time. It takes a group of people who have a servant’s heart and a willingness to ask, “What can I do?” and then go ahead and do it.

This is what Mel and Ruth Ann have done in our little community. They have donated their time, energy, gifts and leadership in so many ways. When it came time for someone to receive the first Poynette Volunteer of the Year Award, I hope there was even a second option of who should receive it.

It’s people like the Waugh’s that inspire me … and hopefully you … to see where and how you can make a difference in your community. Too often, we expect someone else to do it. Folks like the Waugh’s accept the responsibility to do what they can to make a difference in people’s lives, one person at a time. And they do it.

Thank you, Mel and Ruth Ann, for all that you have done for our little community of Poynette, population 2503. You’ve made a huge impact on many of those people’s lives. You make a different in our village.

Here’s another little story that shows how one person is making a difference in his village. I think you’ll enjoy watching it.

For wonderful examples and witnesses of local servant leadership and hearts, I am grateful.

Almighty God – when Jesus said, “Help the poor,” he meant it. And when he said, “Feed the hungry,” it was not a suggestion but a mandate. Thank you for folks like Mel and Ruth Ann Waugh who heed these words and put them into action. Amen.

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