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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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.

When We Look Beyond Ourselves

Gratitude Day 475

Tues., June 15, 2020

Matthew 23:11 – The greatest among you will be the one who always serves others from the heart.

“A mission project is anything 30 miles from your house,” said Lyle, one of my seminary professors.

Lyle made this statement to remind us that mission work does not require going overseas, leaving the country, or even going to another state. It can be as simple as doing something for your neighbor … near or far.  

And sometimes, it’s serving a loved one by helping them out.

Hubby Rick has been working on a mission project the last week: drying walling at his son’s house. There are bonuses: getting to see grandkids on a regular basis, the feeling of helping someone out and being able to set your own hours.

Sometimes one of the kid’s helps out. Sometimes Hubby Rick’s wife cleans up behind or helps get pieces of drywall down into the basement. Sometimes there is an ice cream treat towards the end of the day.

For most people, there is great reward in serving someone else. The satisfaction of helping someone just for the sake of helping. The ability to improve a situation. The opportunity to add value to someone else’s life by sharing your gifts and talents.

Jesus made it very clear to the disciples: “The greatest folks around are the ones that serve from their heart.” Not expecting recognition in return. Or notoriety. Or special accolades. No, those who simply give have it right.

Just in case you think hanging drywall is the only way to serve, well, let me assure you there are lots of other opportunities. The possibilities are only limited by your imagination. Even in these days of limited contact with others, there are deeply meaningful ways we can bring joy into someone else’s life.

When I’m feeling a bit down or discouraged or disappointed, it is amazing how doing something for someone else can bring about an immediate attitude adjustment. When we look beyond our own challenges and discover that someone else has more difficult situations in their life, it is amazing how we can shift our attitudes. Perspective is always a great way to re-consider what’s going on in your life at the moment. And sometimes, oh, so necessary.

If you are feeling a little blue today, tomorrow or the next day, never fear. Simply take some of the despondent energy and put it towards serving someone else. You may be surprised how this affects you and your attitude!

And sometimes, post-drywall hanging involves walking the goats = double bonus!

For Hubby Rick’s reminder of service, I am grateful.

Blessings –

Dianne

Holy God – so often, we circle in on what looks difficult in our little world. Encourage us to look beyond ourselves and see how we might impact another person’s life through service. Speak to us ways that we can enjoy helping another. Amen.

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

Lessons from COVID-19: In the Words of a Survivor

Gratitude Day 468

Wed., June 3, 2020

3 John 1:3 – Some of the brothers traveling by have made me very happy by telling me that your life stays clean and true and that you are living by the standards of the Gospel.

I love to tell stories. I cherish capturing a sliver from a person’s life and exploring how this snapshot speaks of something that can be inspirational and encouraging for others.

Today’s story, I pray, is such a chronicle. One that will speak to you, as well as be a storyline that maybe, just maybe, you will share with someone else.

This is Linda Johnson. She is a COVID-19 survivor.

And she is ready to share her story.

This 70-something-year-old woman lives in Fond du Lac, WI with her husband, Jerry, who is currently doubling as her nurse. Historically, Linda has been a healthy and highly active woman. She exercised regularly, had a calendar full of activities that included groups and causes she enjoyed, as well as warmed lots of bleachers while attending her grandchildren’s events.

Mid-March, all of this came to a screeching halt before much of the country went into stay-in-place mode. By then, Linda was in a hospital and just trying to breathe. Literally.

In early March, Jerry provided transportation for family members who had just returned from a cruise. Jerry and Linda spent a couple hours with these folks. They shared hugs and handshakes. Unbeknownst to them, these loved ones had come in contact with passengers from another cruise ship that had people who tested positive for COVD-19 onboard.

Following the visit, Linda developed every symptom of the coronavirus, except a sore throat. On March 13th, a long swab tested her for the virus. Before the results were officially confirmed, she was admitted to a hospital because of escalating symptoms. This hospital would be Linda’s home for the next 19 days; nine of which were spent on a ventilator.

Never able to physically enter the hospital throughout Linda’s hospital stay, Jerry also tested positive for the virus. He cared for himself while under quarantine in their home.  Other family members had symptoms and tested positive for the virus. In other like situations, family would gather together to encourage and support each other. With COVID-19, everyone remained quarantined in their own home.

“The most challenging aspect of this entire experience was looking at my husband’s face when he had to go home from the parking lot and leave me at the hospital,” Linda says. “I realized that I was going to have to do this without an advocate, which challenged me to never give up hope.”

Amazingly, the hospital staff provided not only physical care for Linda; they also cared for Linda’s and Jerry’s emotional needs as well. Hospital staff never complained about having to change personal protective equipment (PPE) each time they left her room, even if their only purpose for entering the room was to give Linda a glass of water. Staff sat with her, held her hand, read her cards and provided regular updates to Jerry and the rest of their family.

“They (health care providers) performed such courageous acts, in caring for me as well as the other COVID-19 patients,” Linda says. Hospital staff were learning about the virus on the fly because the Center for Disease Control (CDC) was also gathering information from early cases. With no established guidelines to follow, the staff constantly explored different regimes to bring comfort to Linda and other COVID-19 patients.

Going on the ventilator was a huge decision that the Johnson’s and their three adult daughters did not take lightly. Linda spoke with her entire immediate family before going on the vent. Just in case.

“Throughout my hospital stay, the only time I specifically asked God for something for me is when I went on the vent,” Linda explains. “I didn’t want to remember the days I was on the vent … and I don’t.”

Unlike many patients, Linda never felt anxious while on the vent. People often experience hallucinations from the sedation medication. Linda did experience hallucinations. Yet, her memory of these hallucinations is very relaxing. Calm. They were filled with music, vivid colors, stars, and swirls in the sky, which helped her remain calm while on the vent.

In fact, Linda says throughout her entire hospital stay, she remained uncharacteristically calm and non-anxious. She attributes this to the army of prayer warriors around the globe who were committed to lifting her up in prayer. Familiar with the “Footprints in the Sand” writing before her coronavirus journey, the words from this saying take on enhanced meaning these days. “I have discovered that during troubled times, Jesus literally carries us,” Linda shared.

Completely helpless in fixing her own situation, Linda placed her heart and soul in God’s hands, willing to accept whatever the result. Since the “bus didn’t come and pick me up, I’m confident that God has a plan for me,” Linda says. “Now at home, I’m doing a lot more listening these days. I’m paying more attention. We can’t just expect God to listen to us. We need to put ourselves in a place where our hearts and souls can listen to God.”

While on the vent, Jerry and Linda were not able to communicate. Throughout Linda’s hospital stint, Jerry kept a detailed log at home of her medical situation based on his many conversations with medical staff. “She never felt far away,” Jerry says, “as she was always in my heart.” Hospital staff kept Jerry and his daughters informed and spent extra time to help them fully understand the challenges of treating an unknown disease.

Linda clearly remembers the first time she spoke with Jerry after getting off the vent. While she couldn’t really “talk,” these high school sweethearts feel this whole experience has drawn them closer together.

They know this journey has changed them … for the good. “During the months of the safer at home order in a normal year, I would be doing spring cleaning,” says Linda. “This year, a physical spring cleaning didn’t happen. Instead, I had a spring cleaning of my life; one that cleaned my heart, my mind and my life in general.”  

Linda challenges herself to maintain the peace and calmness she experienced while in the hospital in her current daily life. As she feels better and becomes more able to do things, distractions creep in. Early on, she struggled with survivor’s guilt. While hospitalized, Linda didn’t watch the news. Once home, she became aware of COVID-19 patients who didn’t make it, including people with young children. Linda questioned why she was spared … and these people were not. Her purpose now is to wait for God to reveal what God has in mind for her life as a coronavirus survivor. “I need to be gracious and accept the grace that I survived this pandemic. Now, I wait and see what is in store for my future,” Linda says.

These days, the Johnson’s appreciate their marriage, family, and neighborhood a lot more. For weeks, their friends and neighbors provided meals for Jerry and eventually for both of them. A natural hugger, Linda wanted to assure her grandchildren that she was okay. Once home, she drew herself on butcher block paper and mailed a copy to each of her grandchildren to symbolically hug them. Unsure when she will be able to physically hug loved ones, these days, she uses the COVID kiss; bumping elbows.

Aware that some people downplay the severity of COVID-19, Linda hopes that sharing her story changes this. “First, I needed to let my body physically heal. As my body gets stronger, I know that it is now time for me to deal with the emotional side of being a coronavirus survivor. This includes sharing my story,” says Linda.

In 2019, her spring calendar was packed full of sporting events, concerts, exercise class and volunteering. May 2020 only included two priorities: visits to the COVID clinic and donating plasma. Jerry has donated plasma four times. Just last week, Linda cleared the many necessary tests which allowed her to donate. They are optimistic that their plasma will help other COVID-19 patients.

Committed to making sure this “spring cleaning” is purposeful and significant, Linda relies on God to help her achieve the right teeter-totter balance point between listening and serving God versus the world’s distractions. She yearns for a clean heart that seeks the Lord in all that she says, does and lives. “My work is not done,” Linda concludes. “I pray that I will be enlightened with how I can do God’s work after coronavirus.”

For Linda’s lessons from COVID-19, I am grateful.

Blessings –

Dianne

Healing God – thank you for the physical healing that Linda and so many other COVID-19 patients have experienced. Hold those families who have lost loved ones tightly in your palm. May they know Your healing presence in a different way.  Bath us with emotional healing as well, drawing us closer to You so we can have a spring cleaning of our hearts and souls. Amen.

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Getting Creative with Relationships

Gratitude Day 424

Fri., Mar. 20, 2020

2 Corinthians 5:18: All this comes from the God who settled the relationship between us and him, and then called us to settle our relationships with each other. 

Last week, Hubby Rick was going through an album with some old family photos. A cousin had loaned it to us, and he was enjoying a trip down memory lane.

When it came time for lunch, Rick showed me this photo. It is from when he was a young boy. And then, he asked me who it looks like.

Let me help you with this riddle. Here is a picture of our grandson Dylan.

Notice any resemblance?

For years, I have reiterated how much Dylan looks like Hubby Rick. What makes it even more interesting? It’s not just his physical looks and cheeky grin that resemble his grandfather. It’s his personality, his mannerisms and his quick-witted comebacks.

This is the same grandchild that burst into his house one day after school, looking for his Grandpa. He saw our car in the driveway and was so optimistic that Grandpa Rick was the one who would be there when he and his siblings got off the bus. His big smile changed when he saw me. Immediately he said, “Why can’t Grandpa Rick be here when we get off the bus? Why does it have to be YOU?”

Yep, sometimes we are just chopped liver.

Among all of the aspects of life that has recently changed … and changed quickly … is community. Relationships. Our ability to interact, encourage, support and be there for other people. As we are encouraged to keep safe distances from other people and limit our time in public, the amount of daily interaction with people we love and care about has changed. Dramatically.

Think of the older person who hasn’t gotten out of their living situation … for DAYS.

Think of the family who has a person with a compromised immune system. They are limited their social interactions to keep their loved one SAFE.

Think of those couples getting ready to have a baby. Many hospitals are instituting a one-person only rule while the expectant mama is at the hospital. And if that one person, say the expectant mom’s partner, is sick, well, they are escorted to the door and sent home. It may seem harsh, but this is the REALITY we live in.

Then, there are the parents who are able to work from home and have become the defacto part-time teacher, part-time lunch person, part-time PE instructor, part-time parent who is trying to creatively engage kids who are missing their friends and their normal routine.

Even if that person looks a lot like you or another family member, let’s be real. Our patience can sometimes get thin … even with the people we love the most and who are most precious in our sight.

Yes, we have technology which allows us to Facetime and Skype and Zoom with other people. We can sit outside a window and wave and hold our hands to opposite sides of the same window. We can send cards and letters and texts and e-mails. But it’s not quite the same, is it?

I pray we take extra time and steps to engage and be “present” with other people who are struggling with increase isolation and social distancing. I pray we develop extreme levels of patience and understanding with each other. I pray that we allow ourselves to be more positive and implement more slowness to anger than quickness to anger.

Yesterday, I baked a big batch of biscuits. Yes, I could have whipped up half a batch rather than a full batch. But these biscuits? I hope they will spur me to put a few on a couple plates and encourage me to check in on some of my neighbors. Yes, they are only biscuits … but they are a lifeline to checking in with those who live in our neighborhood who may be feeling a bit lonely, isolated and on an island right now.

It’s time for us to be creative with relationship. Find new ways of connecting with those around us, near and far, that are special to us. Commit to reaching out to just one person each day and checking in on them. You may be pleasantly surprised how much joy this little random act of kindness will bring into your life.

Whether you are an introvert or an extrovert, we all need COMMUNITY. Community is created with interactions with other folks. Maybe our tried-and-true go-to methods aren’t as easy right now. But certainly, we have opportunities to creatively touch base with those we love and care for. They don’t have to be blood. They don’t have to look anything like you. Their personality may be completely different from yours.

You just have to love them. Nothing more. It’s really that simple. Now, go and create some community and re-enforce your relationship with them. TODAY.

For valued relationships, I am grateful.

Blessings –

Dianne

Holy God – thank you for so many special people in my life. Thank you for bringing in so many different and unique people who enhance and make my life special. I pray that we embrace creative and unique ways to connect and encourage and support those around us right now. May we maintain and grow strong relationships and community in our lives. Amen.

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

Jesus’ Role in Your Life

Gratitude Day 385

Thurs., Jan. 2, 2019

John 14:6: Jesus answered, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Understanding YOUR role is pretty important.

As an employee, a spouse, a parent, a volunteer, a grandparent, a caretaker … each of these roles has different responsibilities.

Right?

Right.

Sometimes, how we view our role … and how someone else views our role may not be the same.

One of the joys in my life is getting to help regularly with three of our grandchildren. Sometimes, their Dad, Hubby Rick’s son Darran, will not be home from work when the kids get off the bus. My role is to be there when the kids get home, see if they have homework that needs to be done, and take care of anything they might need some help with. Usually, I make sure they are fed, or supper is ready when Dad gets home from work.

I view my role with the kids as part of my responsibilities of being a grandparent. Often, grandparents step in when parents aren’t able to be available for their kids. They fill in the gaps or pick up the slack. We take grandkids to practices, attend their games, plan a special activity, make cupcakes, take them on adventures, make sure they have a special outfit for the Christmas program and bless them with treats.

At least this is how I view my role as a grandparent. This is what my grandparents did with me. It’s what I want to do with our grandchildren.

A few weeks ago, when I was with the kids, 8-year-old Dylan wanted me to agree with something. I nixed the idea as I felt this was something he should not be doing. He came back with, “Dad would let me do it.”

I replied, “Dad’s not here, so we’re not going to do this.”

Dylan quickly replied, “But your Dad’s assistant.”

Hmm … my role was now defined as an assistant. Based on my experience, assistant’s can have a whole bunch of roles. Often, they take care of details for someone else, which in reality, I often do. Yet, I also hope my role as a grandparent means something as well.

Fast forward a week or two. Again, Dylan and I were discussing something. This time, his reply went like this, “You’re just Dad’s babysitter.”

This immediately received a reaction from the other two siblings. Older brother Waylan quickly said, “She’s more than our babysitter.”

I get it. Sometimes, roles can be confusing. Challenging. Unclear. Thank you, Waylan, for understanding that I want to be more than an assistant or a babysitter. I want to be their grandparent.

We’re in the midst of the Christmas season which runs for 12 days after Christmas Day. On the eighth day after his birth, Mary and Joseph presented Jesus at the synagogue for official naming. They follow the instructions given to them in advance and name him Jesus.

While his official name is Jesus, his role is often reflected in a variety of names: Messiah, Savior, Christ, Wonderful, Counselor, the Word, Redeemer and others. Each of these names reflects a slightly different nuance of Jesus’ role and purpose on earth. Sometimes, we get hung up on how one man, Jesus, can have all these roles and purposes. We get confused on Who Jesus was and What his purpose was.

Just like Dylan and my role.

Take a minute. What roles does Jesus have for you? In your life, how do you see Jesus making a difference? Who do you want Jesus to be for you in this year? This decade? Today? Tomorrow?

Write those words, those roles on a sticky note. Place this note someplace were you will see it EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. May it become a reminder of Whose you are and Who you long for Jesus to be in your life.

On those days when you struggle with who Jesus is? Take Waylan’s advice. God is more than your babysitter.

For discovering Jesus’ role and purpose in my life, I am grateful.

Blessings –

Dianne

Holy God – sometimes, we aren’t clear of Your role in our lives. We want to assume roles for ourselves beyond our capacity. Help us pick words that reflect how we want to view you for this next year. Amen.

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

My First Book Signing Ever

Gratitude Day 371

Mon., Dec. 2, 2019

Ecclesiastes 5:3a: Remember: Dreams come with many cares.

This past Saturday was a special day.

It was an amazing day.

It was full and active, but my heart was very full.

It was the day of my official book launch and signing event.

The morning began with over 30 ladies making porch pots in the original carriage house on our property. My sister Debbie and her staff were excellent. They helped these ladies design and make attractive and beautiful Christmas porch pots. Each porch pot was unique and different; created to match the personality of the person who made it.

We received so many positive comments, how the porch pot workshop was crazy fun. It helped people get into the Christmas spirit. I wished that I would have had time to ooh and aah over every single pot. Unfortunately, I didn’t.

Why? Because I was in the house preparing for a book signing for my first official book that I have published! It’s called The Mary Experiment – When DOING and BEING Collide. It’s based on the biblical story of sisters Martha and Mary. Martha is a busy woman, taking care of Jesus and the other guests at her house. Meanwhile, Mary simple sits and Jesus’ feet and drinks in everything he tells her.

I am a Martha who yearns for more Mary in her life. The last couple of years, I have worked towards finding more Mary moments. The book captures my struggle and journey of trying to implement little bits of Mary into my daily life.

It was not lost on me that I planned a completely Martha day on Saturday. Lots of activities. Lots of food. More than could really be done in a day. But I try to do it all.

I was instructed that my main role for the day was to sign books. I spent a chunk of the day in a chair, personalizing books as I signed them, sharing the story of how the book came to be and reading a short section of the book.

One woman said to me as she came through the line, “I have never been to a book signing event before.”

I responded by saying, “I haven’t either. Today is my first book signing event as well.”

As I planned for the day, I just put it together the way I thought it might work. Knowing that I often take too much on, when people volunteered to help me, I accepted their offer. This is difficult for me and yet, an opportunity for me to practice what I wrote. With lots of help and patient people, it truly was a wonderful day.

Let me share a few other highlights of the day:

For the past 18 months, a group of ladies were involved in helping me with the book. These God Squad ladies would meet with me every month or two. I would share with them a couple chapters that I had written, and they gave me wonderful feedback. While not all of the ladies were able to attend, many did. They presented me with an apron that says, “Hospitality Badge,” which was so fitting! If you want to understand the story behind this, take a look at chapter 5. It will make more sense.

On Friday, two of our grandchildren decided to stay overnight with us. My sister’s family and other helpers were already planning on staying with us. When grandkids want to stay overnight, you make it work. Nine-year-old Ellie was excited to be a part of Saturday. When we got to our house, she immediately wanted a job to help out. Little Dylan came to me and wanted to know if he could have a copy of the book. I think he envisioned a children’s book and was disappointed there are not more photos in the book. I did make sure and point out the picture and Grandpa Rick and me. Both kids wanted me to personalize their book for them, which I was happy to do.

Ellie was so enamored with the thought of me being an author that she asked if I would help her write a book. What Grandma wouldn’t want to do this? Ellie asked for a notebook and started jotting down ideas. I pray that there will be a day when together, we will publish a book. In contrast, Dylan’s favorite part of the day? All the shrimp he got to eat. Seriously. I am told he ate platefuls of shrimp. And maybe a cookie or two as well.

It was so interesting and fun to see people from different stages of my life. I was impressed with those who took time to travel a bit and be present with me. How deeply meaningful this was for me.

As I was thinking about Saturday and a message that I could share with those in attendance, I decided this was the message that I wanted to share: chase your dreams. Go after them. Don’t be afraid. For years, well decades, I have thought about writing a book. It took until I was 52-years-old for this to happen. Yet, I also did not want to wake up one day and think, “I wish I would have tried.” Whether the book is successful or not, I followed my dream. And this feels good.

What dream have you been putting off? Why? What is one step that you can take this week towards beginning the process of achieving your dream? Is this dream inspired by God? If so, what is holding you back from going after this dream?

What’s next for me? I’m not sure. What I do know is following a dream inspired by God is worth the effort.

For God-inspired dreams, I am grateful.

Dear God – I pray that when You place a dream on my heart, I listen. I pray that when You inspire me, I take heed. May You be THE guiding light in my life. Amen.  

Blessings –

Dianne

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The Captured Moment

Gratitude Day 345

Thurs., Oct. 24, 2019

Ezekiel 10:10:  And as for their appearance, the four looked alike, something like a wheel within a wheel.

Once in a while, a moment is captured that is priceless.

This is one of those moments.

Let me introduce you to the two participants. On the left is our youngest grandson, Dylan. He is 7, soon to be eight. He’s in second grade. He repeatedly tells me that he DOES NOT like school. Yet, he also recently told me that he’s doing third grade work because second grade work is “way too easy.”

On the right is Hubby Rick.

I’m not sure what the conversation was about. Or who was talking smack to whom. It was just one of those moments that I wanted to freeze and keep in my memory bank forever.

Maybe I am biased, but there just seems to be so much said in this photo without a single word being uttered.

Love.

Trust.

Respect.

Admiration.

Usually, when Rick and Dylan are jangling back and forth, there’s lots of one-upping each other. This day, there’s a break in the conversation; just long enough for the moment to be captured.

Sometimes, I look at Dylan and anticipate that he is so very much like Rick at that age. Yes, they look alike. But it’s their similar personality, mannerisms and word choices that about do me in.

Each of our six grandchildren are unique and special. I wish I had more individual shots of each one from this day to show how their Grandpa pulls out their unique personality. For now, we’ll just have to let this one be sufficient.

This. This is what makes me laugh and smile and brings joy to your heart.

Look on your phone or camera. Find a photo that brings joy to your heart. Show it to everyone you see today.

And they will smile right back.  

For captured moments that bring great joy, I am grateful. 

Holy God – May we truly appreciate the smallest and most cherished moments of today. Help write them on our hearts and minds, so when we’re having a challenging day, they will put a smile on our face and joy in our hearts. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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