A Small Sliver of the Big Picture

Gratitude Day 465

Thurs., May 28, 2020

Ecclesiastes 3:10 –I have thought about this in connection with all the various kinds of work God has given to mankind.

When the envelope arrived in the mail, my name as the recipient was hand-written on the front. This was enough to intrigue me and encourage me to rip it open right away.

Inside, I found this simply delightful little gift.

It was from a friend. Someone I met a few years ago. A person with whom I instantly connected in the first time that we met. She has a beautiful soul that bubbles with laughter and tears and smiles and hugs all in the very same sentence.

For over two months, she has not been working. I’ve ran into her a couple times at the post office and we pretend to hug and share a few words. I’m optimistic that there will soon be a day when we can have a real conversation and giggle and share those things that often are left unspoken.

It was after one of those chance meetings at the post office that the envelope showed up at my house. With this bookmark and a little hand-written message inside. Here’s what it says:

Please accept this small gift as a gentle reminder that we are all connected. By creating a large picture and cutting it into bookmarks, I am reminded of the bigger picture – connection. By the separation and decoration, I am reminded we each have our own beauty to share. When we are all pieced together, we participate in the bigger picture.

All I can say is this: Amen.

Amen, sister.

What a beautiful, beautiful story. My friend paints a picture. Then, she cuts the picture into bookmarks and sends them to folks with a little message that says your bookmark is part of a larger picture. Likewise, your soul, your heart is part of a larger picture as well.

In these days of social distancing and continued limited contact, do we not need to hear that we ARE connected? Part of the large picture? Have our own beauty to share?

God’s picture is SO. MUCH. BIGGER. Then our picture. How God sees us fitting into this picture may be different from what we see. God gifts us with incredibly unique and special gifts. Our role is to discover those gifts and then leverage them for the glory and honor of God’s kingdom.

Just like my friend did. When she put her pictures into bookmarks for others to enjoy.

How I would love to know what the rest of the photo looked like. But I don’t. Instead, I relish the details, the colors and unique character of the little piece I have been entrusted with. Thanks be to God.

For connections beyond ourselves, I am grateful.

Blessings –

Dianne

Dear God – Thank you for helping orchestrate special connections with other people in my life. When I struggle to see exactly how I fit in, give me glimpses of the large photo so I can be comfortable in knowing that my sliver is part of a much bigger and totally beautiful painting, crafter by You. Amen.

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

J.S.T.

Gratitude Day 464

Wed., May 27, 2020

Mark 1:35 – Early in the morning, well before sunrise, Jesus rose and went to a deserted place where he could be alone in prayer.

It began with a glass of my favorite iced tea. On our gorgeous porch.

Just me and some iced tea. Add in an optional notebook and a writing utensil.

Oh, and one more thing: the letters: J.S.T.

Hmm … what is J.S.T.

My new slogan: Just Sit There.

Truth? The last number of days have been, well, interesting. A variety of things, good and challenging, that have taken up rent in my brain. Some of it is good. And could be exceptionally good.

Other rental space? Not so much.

And so, I sat. No agenda. No computer. I did set the alarm on my phone for 30 minutes. I had promised myself to only include the phone for the timer. No other reason.

It was amazing how much life I observed while simply sitting. A whole bunch of different birds, out chirping and singing away. It had rained earlier in the afternoon. Now, the birds were out getting dinner and sending little love notes to each other.

Clouds rolled by and new formations were formed. The wind picked up and slowed down again.

All while I simply sat. Watched. Listened. Observed.

Most days, I begin the day with a time of reading and prayer. But honestly, most often, I’m trying to get through this so I can cross it off of my to-do list. Yes, there is contemplation. But it’s not the same. It’s planned. Expected.

The J.S.T time? No schedule. No agenda. Nothing. Just me and my thoughts when they come about.

I never get tired of reading how Jesus often went away by himself. To pray. To listen. To J.S.T. Did he always receive a profound, life-changing thought or inspiration in these moments? I don’t know. What I do know is that he could just be and that was enough.

Maybe there is something going on in your or a loved one(s) life that is distracting you. Or maybe you’re trying to juggle working from home with homeschooling and other things. I think we’re all getting a little stir-crazy from being cooped up for weeks on end. It’s easy for our thoughts to venture in an unhealthy place.

Sometimes, we just need space to sit. Be still. Be. And listen. If you want to write a thought down, do so in your notebook. If not, just be. Listen to your soul. Know that this might be the most valuable 30 minutes of your day.

If you feel like you are struggling right now, hop on over to a podcast that I recently recorded about mental health. You can find it here:

And pour yourself a glass of your favorite summertime drink and join me on the porch for Devos with Dianne at 8 PM central time on Facebook Live. I’ll have my peach iced tea. And we’ll think about how J.S.T. can make a difference in our lives.

I wish you could join my on my porch. Have included just a few photos so you feel like you have.

For moments of just sitting still with God, I am grateful.

Blessings –

Dianne

Why do we make things so complicated, God, when maybe all we really need to do is sit with You? Encourage me to find J.S.T. time for just You and me. Amen.

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

It’s Wednesday Prayer Day!

Gratitude Day 460

Wed., May 20, 2020

Numbers 6:23-26 –Now the Lord said to Moses, “Tell Aaron and his sons that they are to give this special blessing to the people of Israel: ‘May the Lord bless and protect you; may the Lord’s face radiate with joy because of you; may he be gracious to you, show you his favor, and give you his peace.’”

On Wednesdays, I love to focus on prayer and share some of the insights I try to embrace in my personal prayer life.

Recently, I ran across a musical video that takes a blessing and turns it into a totally beautiful musical setting.

Here’s the setting for the scripture the song is based on: Moses has led the Israelites out of Egypt. It took ten plagues for Pharaoh to release his main work force and it only happened after the plague in which the eldest son was killed. Moses and the Israelites left hastily. After the were gone, Pharaoh had releaser-remorse and wanted his skilled workers back. He sends his army after the Israelites and they are swallowed up in the Red Sea.

Now Moses and the Israelites are wandering through the dessert. The early chapters of Numbers give instructions for taking a census, how to set-up their camp and variety of other things. But right in the middle of these instructions, God comes to Moses and tells him to have his relative Aaron and Aaron’s sons shower the people with an incredibly special blessing. It’s a blessing that might have been used in worship. It’s a prayer that pours out God’s special blessing upon God’s people.

I encourage you to relax for a few minutes. Listen to this music video. Pray the same words that Moses prayed over the Israelites. May this prayer richly bless you today.

For God’s blessing upon us today, I am grateful.

Blessings –

Dianne

Dear God – thank you for these special words: The Lord bless you and keep you, the Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon and give you peace. Amen.

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Lessons from COVID-19: Should Busy Be a Four-Letter Word?

Gratitude Day 459

Tues., May 19, 2020

James 1:10-11 – But a rich man should be glad that his riches mean nothing to the Lord, for he will soon be gone, like a flower that has lost its beauty and fades away, withered—killed by the scorching summer sun. So, it is with rich men. They will soon die and leave behind all their busy activities.

Things are feeling a bit different these days. Hubby Rick and I drove on the interstate a few days ago. While Rick drives this same patch of highway every day he goes to work, I had not been on it for WEEKS. Literally, weeks.

The first thing I noticed?

The traffic. The last time I had been on this stretch of road, it was a few semis and us. Seriously. Not much else. But this more recent day? Lots more regular car and truck traffic. People like us, driving somewhere, that we had not been in a long, long, time.

In our area, some stores are beginning to open; most with capacity limits. In fact, our beautician contacted me recently and wanted to know if Rick and I wanted haircuts. My reply looked like this:

“YES!!! HOW SOON???”

The salon has multiple safety measures in place, which we will gladly abide by. I know a haircut sounds rather silly right now. Yet, all of our neighbor ladies are feeling very much like I do these days. A haircut cannot come soon enough.

Make no mistake. We’re a long way from “normal.” I still avoid shopping any more than I have to. When it is necessary, I purposely choose times that I think will be less busy than another time. Soon and very soon, I will have to go to the grocery store. We can’t live on condiments alone.

I’ve been having this running conversation in my head these last number of weeks: Do I really want things to return to “normal.” Is “normal” what we really want? What we should want?

Do we want to be constantly –

  • Overscheduled?
  • Overcommitted beyond belief?
  • Unable to have meals with our family?
  • No longer appreciating finding ways to entertain ourselves with our own devices?

There are so many great things that have happened. Actual book sales have soared. We’re having real phone conversations with people and being creative about how we celebrate and honor life events for those we love. We’re planting gardens and sourcing food locally and baking; my, how we are baking. We are walking and biking and playing games outdoors.

Yes, I know there is significant stress around work and jobs and homeschooling and finances and a whole host of other things. Depression and anxiety and stress are very real and not to be glossed over.

How we greet each other may not change for, well, quite a while. Being with a large group of people outside of a grocery store or big box store may not happen for a hot minute. Curbside and delivery and mail order will continue to be more of the norm. Thinking of how our actions affect someone else must be more than a fleeting thought because, well, it’s not just about ourselves anymore. It wasn’t before, but somewhere along the line, we kind of forgot this.

I pray that we use the word “busy” less … and “blessed” or “appreciative” more.  May we focus less on having a “perfect” life and prioritize our most valuable players (MVP’s) of our lives as being far more significant than having just the right accessory for our bathroom.

I read these words from my book, The Mary Experiment: When DOING and BEING Collide recently. They hit me hard because, well, am I living my own words? Not. So. Much. This is the passage:

Rather than trying to achieve a perfect life, let’s put our time, energy, and resources into having a meaningful life. We can be so busy that we don’t have time to live. Let’s choose life over busyness. Can we adjust the size of our life gardens, so they are more manageable? Will you let your list of person MVP’s guide your choices? Will you intentionally develop a personal relationship with God, center it around listening, and allow it to undergird your very being?”

The Mary Experiment, p. 101

Before we rush back to our crazy, over-flowing lives, may we intentionally decide to ease back into life. Put back into place only those things that we absolutely love and bring us joy. Let’s choose life over busy and see how that works for awhile longer.

For silver linings from challenging times, I am grateful.

Blessings –

Dianne

Holy God – Thank you for being with us these last number of weeks. As we have tried to discover and reflect upon what truly is most important to us, I pray we continue to focus our daily living on these choices. Thanks for being along with us in this journey. Amen.

On Devos with Dianne this week, I’ll be addressing YOUR faith questions! If you have a question that You would like me to answer, please let me know ASAP! Love to have you join me on Wednesday night a 8 PM CT on Facebook Live.

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