“This IS Crazy” or “This IS Awesome!”

Gratitude Day 365

Thurs., Nov. 21, 2019

Psalm 89:7: God is respected in the council of the holy ones; God is awesome and revered more than all those around him.

Some days are just plain crazy.

These are the days that are have every living minute filled. Or you are trying to be in more than one place at the same time. Maybe your crazy day includes something that happened completely out of the blue.

But was the day crazy … or was it simply awesome?

I feel like the last week has been a little crazy. Over the weekend, I spent several days in Louisville with my sister, nephew and a bunch of other Wisconsin kids who were showing sheep at a national sheep show. Going to the sheep show was really OK. What made it a little crazy? It was also the weekend that my first book would officially launch.

Imagine this: on the day that the first book I ever published was the #1 New Release Inspirational Christianity book on Amazon, I was driving home a truck over-filled with kids, backpacks, and blankets while over tired people tried to get some much-needed sleep. The truck was pulling a trailer completely filled with various breeds of sheep who had just been on a whirl-wind adventure.

Is this crazy … or is this awesome?

There have been so many days when I think to myself, “How crazy are you?” because the day is so full of non-stop activity and doing and running.

Maybe those days ARE crazy. But maybe, those days are simply AWESOME because I get to do some rather interesting and fun things.

There’s a fine line between crazy and awesome. Sometimes, it’s simply in the eye of the beholder. What I might think is crazy, you find totally awesome. And vice versa. Just about the time I think I’m getting put over the edge because something is so crazy, another person revels how awesome the opportunity is.

So, before you land something into the “crazy” category, pause. Think. Reflect. It may feel crazy … but possibly, you have an awesome opportunity laying right before you. YOU decide if this thing is completely crazy and ridiculous. Or if it is the most awesome for this day. Week. Or month.

Something can move from crazy to awesome in less than half-a-second. We choose where it lands. I pray that we see life filled with lots of awesomeness and celebrate every single bit of awesomeness in our lives.

For crazy and awesome days, I am grateful. 

Dear God – Help us keep perspective. When the day feels full and demanding and possibly too much, help us see that we can define the day. We get to choose whether we see the day as crazy or awesome. I pray we appreciate all the awesome moments that happen every day. Amen.  

Blessings –

Dianne

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A Runny Nose

Gratitude Day 364

Tues., Nov. 19, 2019

Acts 19:36: Since these things cannot be denied, you ought to be quiet and do nothing rash.

Over the weekend, I was gone for a few days with my sister, nephew and a group of kids showing sheep at a show in Louisville, Kentucky.

I left with the beginnings of a cold.

I came home with a full-blown one.

Sometimes, this just happens.

I notice that at times when I stretch myself too thin, my body reacts by not being at the top of its game. My nose runs. I ache. I’m tired but don’t always rest well. I cough and cough. I just feel a bit miserable.

Maybe, just maybe, it’s our body’s way of demanding a little bit more self-care.

Sometimes, we give up and let our bodies rest. Other times, we try to keep going.

I’ve done both. With a variety of results.

It’s November and way earlier than I would like for a cold to settle into my body. But it’s here.

Yes, I’ve drank fluids. And tried to rest. But it’s hanging on.

We’ve all had them. And wished them away. Yet, sometimes, these colds just linger on.

Maybe they are a sign that we aren’t invincible. Are not always in control. Need to slow down. Stop and just be a hare more.

Listen to your body. Hear what it says to you today. I think our bodies try to tell us a lot more than we sometimes give them credit for.

Pause today, if only for a couple minutes. Breathe slowly. Close your eyes. Quiet your mind. Sit still. And listen to you. Your body. Allow God to come into your heart and mind and speak. Just be.

And then, go forward with your day. But only AFTER you’ve listened to yourself. God. The quiet around you.

For moments to slow down and listen, I am grateful. 

Holy God – too often, we expect a message from You to be plastered on a billboard or arrive in some profound way. May we discover that sometimes, you speak to us in the quiet. When we finally slow down. When we allow ourselves to slow down and simply hear. Amen.  

Blessings –

Dianne

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When God Speaks …

Gratitude Day 363

Sun., Nov. 17, 2019

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.

Self-promotion isn’t my deal.

In fact, it goes against most every grain in my body to even type these words and talk about something so near and dear to my heart.

But here goes.

Today, the first book that I have authored officially launches. On Nov. 17, 2019, The Mary Experiment: When DOING and BEING Collide, is available for all the world to see, read and explore.

It’s a book about life. Finding an appropriate tension between doing, working and constant activity versus being, sitting and experiencing a more realistic pace of life.

This recovering Martha has felt challenged by this her entire life. She still struggles with when to sit. When to do. When to be. When to “git ‘er done.”

I’m still discovering more about this every day. Quite honestly, I’ve accepted the reality that this WILL be a place where I will feel stretched most days of my life.

And this is OK.

Why did I create my own Mary Experiment? Over and over, people have shared with me their struggles with this issue. I’ve watched friends and listened to people opened up their hearts about whether they were making right choices. I don’t have all the answers. I simply wanted to create an opportunity for the Martha’s of this world to know they aren’t alone. And for Mary’s to learn a little more about their Martha friends.  

The real reason I wrote this book? I heard God speak to me. Interestingly, via Hubby Rick. He literally stopped me in my tracks when he asked, “When will the things that I say are ‘most important’ truly become my top priorities? When will I be available for something other than work?”

Rick’s words challenged me to look deeply into the story of when Jesus visits sisters Martha and Mary. Martha is BUSY. Mary SITS at Jesus fit. Rather than saying one is “right” and the other is “wrong,” why can’t we have both? Likewise, what does this story say to modern-day Mary AND Martha’s? How can I encourage myself and others to create more joy, peace and contentment in our lives?

From this context, The Mary Experiment came to life. For the next few days, the Kindle version of The Mary Experiment is FREE! I pray folks will download the book and begin their own Mary Experiment. Just as Hubby Rick needed to get my attention, possibly, this book might get your attention. Or you will share this with someone you know who struggles with these issues.

If you prefer a non-Kindle version, a paperback version is available as well. Here’s the Amazon link for either version: https://www.amazon.com/Mary-Experiment-DOING-BEING-Collide/dp/1734228008/ref=sr_1_1?crid=1ZC6CE7Z46H09&keywords=the+mary+experiment&qid=1573937653&sprefix=the+mary%2Caps%2C339&sr=8-1

There are questions and a prayer at the end of each chapter. I encourage you to use the complete Journal and Reflection Questions guide available here for free to develop your own Mary Experiment: https://app.convertkit.com/forms/designers/1110952/edit

As challenging as it is to self-promote something I’ve written, I do so for one reason. God spoke to me. Possibly, God will use me to speak to someone else. It took me awhile to listen. Honestly, I AM STILL trying to listen to God. My deepest prayer is that the words of this book will become an opportunity for someone to re-examine their choices and life. If just one person thinks, “I can so related to this book. I feel like she’s talking to me,” I will feel like God has worked through me.

This recovering Martha is at a sheep show on the day her first book launches. Here’s Black Jack checking out The Mary Experiment before he moves to his new home in Rhode Island.

For God speaking to me via Hubby Rick, I am grateful. 

Dear God – When we are BUSY, it is so easy to keep going and not STOP and examine WHY we are so BUSY. Thank you for speaking directly to me. I pray the words of the Mary Experiment will bless and speak to someone else. Amen.  

Blessings –

Dianne

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The Empty Container

Gratitude Day 362

Thurs., Nov. 14, 2019

Philippians 2:7-8: (Jesus) emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death—even death on a cross.

It happens, oh, about once a week.

I open the refrigerator and find a perfectly empty, but dirty, container inside.

And it always makes me smile.

I’m not quite sure WHY Hubby Rick does this. Maybe to put a smile on my face? But it happens repeatedly.

And not just in the refrigerator. One day this week, I opened the chest freezer in the basemen. You know, the one that holds all the good stuff? What did I find right on top?

An empty, but dirty container.

Rick uses these containers to put food in for his work lunch. They are always dirty. When they appear, I’m never quite sure what day they are from. Yesterday? Two days ago? Last week?

Just once I want to ask Rick, “Why don’t you walk the five steps and put the container in the sink?”

Just once.

Sometimes, I THINK he wants to reuse the container. I know. Eww. Other times, maybe he’s lazy. And then, there are the times when possibly he does it just to make me smile.

Or irritate me.

This is the deal about marriage. I could get upset about the dirty containers in the refrigerator. Or I can smile and let them go.

Maybe it’s not dirty containers at your house.

Maybe it’s dirty underwear on the bathroom floor.

Or shoes right inside the door.

Possibly its toothpaste left in the sink.

You pick whatever it is that sometimes is just a wee bit annoying. And let it go … because there may be a day when you wished the underwear were on the floor. Or you were tripping over the shoes as you push open the door.

And yes, maybe you might long to have an empty, but dirty, container in the fridge.

As I opened the container this week and examined the evidence of what used to be inside the container (pasta with veggies), I had this little moment. A moment when I remembered someone who emptied themselves for MY benefit.

His name was Jesus.

He emptied himself for my benefit. For your benefit. He took upon himself my dirty and ugly sins and did not get disgusted by them. He took them anyways. When he looked inside of me, Jesus doesn’t say, “Eww.”

No, he says, “This is a child that I love.”

And he says this to you as well.

I didn’t put the dirty container back in the fridge. I walked the five steps over to the kitchen sink and put it there because the dish washer needed to be emptied.

As I dropped the container into the sink, I was thankful that I have a husband who does these things just for me. Just so I could remember who emptied himself for me. And it put a smile on my face and in my heart.

For Jesus’ choice to empty himself just for me, I am grateful. 

Holy God – Thank goodness You don’t look inside of me and say, “Eww.” You overlook every awful and disgusting thing that I have done … and love me anyway. Please help me aspire to be as forgiving as you are. Amen.  

Blessings –

Dianne

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Veteran’s Day

Gratitude Day 360

Mon., Nov. 11, 2019

Psalm 33:20-22: Our soul waits for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name. Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in you.

It’s November 11th. This means it is Veteran’s Day.

I ran across this interesting way to remember Veteran’s Day. It’s not unique to me. Yet something I thought was so interesting.

Missing Man Table

This table is reserved to honor our missing comrades in arms.

The cloth is white – symbolizing the purity of their motives when answering the call of duty.

The single red rose displayed in a vase, reminds us of the lives of these Americans and their loved ones and friends, who keep the faith awaiting answers.

The red ribbon symbolizes our continued uncertainty, hope for their return and determination to account for them.

A slice of lemon reminds us of their bitter fate, captured, and missing in a foreign land.

A pinch of salt symbolizes the tears of our missing and their families – who long for answers.

The lighted candle reflects our hope for their return – alive or dead.

The Bible represents the strength gained through faith to sustain us and those lost from our country, founded as one nation under God.

The glass is inverted – to symbolize their inability to share this evening’s toast.

The chair is empty – they are missing.

If you know a veteran, take just 30 seconds and thank them today.

Here’s a photo of my favorite vet. It’s my Dad, Richard Deaton. He was a Korean War veteran. And I remember and thank him today.

For appreciation of all of our vets, I am grateful. 

Holy God – Thank you for being our help and shield. And thank you for all the many people who have provided help and shield for the people of our country. May we completely appreciate the various ways they have kept us safe. Amen.  

Blessings –

Dianne

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The Second Saturday of November

Gratitude Day 359

Sat., Nov. 9, 2019

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

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

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

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

Welcome winter.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blessings –

Dianne

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What Season Is It??

Gratitude Day 354

Fri., Nov. 8, 2019

Psalm 104:19:  God made the moon for the seasons, and the sun too, which knows when to set.

As I look out my office window, things just don’t seem right.

We’re barely a week into November and there’s a sheet of whiteness everywhere.

Wisconsin Trick-or-Treaters won’t forget Halloween 2019. It’s the first time many of them wore snow boots with the costumes because, well, there was snow.

Even my Christmas cactus is confused. Christmas is something like six weeks away, but her blooms are in full force. Right now. She saw the snow and felt the cold coming through the window to her right and decided, “Well, it MUST be time to bloom.”

So sorry, my friend but your clock sprang ahead instead of falling back.

We live in rural Wisconsin. It’s been a challenging fall for those folks who feed the rest of us. It’s been wet, wet, wet. And now with snow, snow, snow, there is nary a farmer who isn’t frustrated. Thousands and thousands of acres of beans and corn are NOT in storage bins, safe and at the right level of dryness. No, they are shivering in 20-degree temperatures and covered in a pretty, but unhelpful layer of snow.

This leads to cranky farmers. Disappointed families. People trying to hold things together in spite of low prices, crappy weather and burnout. People who need our prayers because they aren’t sure what season it is. Their calendar says one thing, but the great outdoors is playing a different tune.

The beans and corn still in the fields? Makes my blooming Christmas Cactus seem very insignificant.

No matter what “season” of life you are going through, God is with you. When things don’t see to be following the anticipated season, pause. Take a deep breath. Turn your eyes towards the One who never leaves you. And buckle up for another day that may be filled with unexpected situations.

Some unexpected seasons add joy to our hearts. Others make us wonder where God is. No matter what, God IS with YOU.

Hear this again: God IS with YOU.

For God’s presence in every season, expected or unexpected, I am grateful. 

Holy God – It’s a very chilly morning in Poynette, Wisconsin. The snow and cold and late sunrise feel very Januaryish. Please be with all of the farmers who are struggling with unharvested crops. Please be with anyone who is in a season that feels very challenging and difficult. Remind us all day long that You are with Us. Amen.  

Blessings –

Dianne

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My Newest Spiritual Gift

Gratitude Day 353

Thurs., Nov. 7, 2019

1 Corinthians 14:40:  But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way.

Can I tell you a little secret?

I’ve discovered a new spiritual gift about myself.

Actually, it’s not new. It’s been hanging around FOREVER. I’m just finally willing to admit something to myself.

In the New Testament, we hear about different spiritual gifts. You know, the things God gifts us with. Special things that God has graced us with an extra dose that we are just a little better at than the average, normal person.

We’re told that we ALL have spiritual gifts. Some people are leaders while others are gifted with teaching. I know some people who are bathed with wisdom and others who are mighty pray warriors and have the gift of intercession; praying on the behalf of someone else. We can quickly identify the people in our lives who are helpers and who has hospitality down to a tee.

Just how many spiritual gifts there varies a bit. Some biblical scholars say 22. Others say less. The truth is there are A LOT of potential spiritual gifts … and we have ALL been blessed with at least a few.

Over the years, I have taken a variety of spiritual gift tests. These are designed to assist people in identifying what spiritual gifts are high on their radar screen. Many of these tests also clarify what spiritual gifts we have not been graced with. These types of tests are especially helpful when building a team or leadership group. It’s best to have people with a variety of gifts. If everyone is a visionary on a team, implementation of all those great ideas will be a problem.  

In all of those spiritual gift tests that I have taken, there is one spiritual gift that I know I have that never shows up: Procrastination.

Yep. There it is. My secret spiritual gift that I have been trying to keep under the radar for YEARS. Well, maybe decades. And sometimes, not so well.

Often, I have labeled my procrastination as “not having enough time.” I justify delaying something because I have not yet been inspired to tackle something. I often convince myself that I truly get more done when I have more things to do. Often, this is true.

Unfortunately, I also have a great track record of pulling things together in the 11th hour. Even if I have utilized my spiritual gift of procrastination, things often come together in the end. Another spiritual gift of mine, making sure everything is just right, conflicts with procrastination. Because I have delayed doing something, making everything error free or just right becomes a bit overwhelming in the end.

I also find a ton of opportunities to assist in procrastination these days. I hop on the internet to look one thing up. And 30 minutes and six websites later, I remember what I intended to look up. A quick look at a social media account that swallows up 20 minutes or reading online news or playing a game on my phone are all wonderful procrastination enablers.

Truthfully, I love order. My heart is at peace when things are in their place. I use a variety of ways that help keep my life somewhat focused. But all the best systems in the world won’t overcome procrastination … unless I choose otherwise.

There are moments when I feel I keep ahead just a little bit. It’s a lovely feeling. So why do I allow myself to let procrastination sweep back into my life?

Because I’m a Christian who needs grace. Daily. No matter how skilled my spiritual gifts may be or how well I try to implement them, I will always be just a little shy of where I’d like to be.

And this, my friends, is where grace steps in. Grace reminds me that I don’t have to be perfect. Or off the charts. I just need to partner with God and appreciate the unique and special ways God has blessed me.

Do I stop working hard? Or trying to kick procrastination to the curb? No.

I know procrastination isn’t really a spiritual gift. It’s more like a thorn in my side that I struggle with. But isn’t it more fun to think of it as a spiritual gift?

Today, I value myself and the ways God has called me to serve. Do. Be. And celebrate all the spiritual gifts God has instilled within me because God loves me. Today, I love myself, procrastination and all.

For embracing ALL of my spiritual gifts, I am grateful. 

Almighty God – thanks for blessing me with special spiritual gifts; ones that I use daily within Your kingdom. May I embrace that I still struggle with parts of my personality. I pray that I see Your grace as enough to help me love myself as much as You love me. Amen.  

Blessings –

Dianne

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Wednesday Prayer Day

Gratitude Day 352

Wed., Nov. 6, 2019

1 Kings 8:28:  Lord my God, listen to your servant’s prayer and request, and hear the cry and prayer that your servant prays to you today.

It’s Wednesday. This means its prayer day at Simple Words of Faith.

For Hubby Rick and I, we have a person that we know who we have limited contact with right now. Recently, our best means of contact is by sending e-mail messages.

We are trying to encourage this person. We hope our messages bring a bright spot into this person’s life. The person is dealing with some challenges in their live. We pray that we can be an encouragement.

One way we have tried to do this is by including a prayer in our e-mails. We include the person’s name and ask God to watch over this person. We acknowledge that we don’t know all the details of the situation … but God does. It has become a way for us to close our e-mails and turn the situation over to God.

Often, people will say, “I’m praying for you.” Honestly, sometimes I think we do. Other times, I think we say this as a simple platitude. Please, please, please do not tell someone that you are going to pray for them … unless you really intend to do so. If you do not intend to pray for them, just don’t go there.

If you would like a prayer of encouragement at the beginning of your day, please sign up for my free morning prayer text. Those who enroll receive a free prayer text at 7 AM central time. It’s less than 300 characters, so it’s quick and short. I send them out as a way to encourage people to choose to bath their day in prayer. If you would like to receive a morning prayer text, simply text simplewordsoffaith to 33222.

What is something that YOU would like prayers for today? Please let me know. I would love to surround it with prayer.

For community through shared prayer, I am grateful. 

Holy God – may we see prayer as our first resort in turning a situation over to you; and not our last resort. Remind us to only tell people that we are praying for them if we intend to do so. Amen.  

Blessings –

Dianne

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The Next Six Months

Gratitude Day 351

Mon., Nov. 4, 2019

Proverbs 25:11:  Words spoken at the right time are like gold apples in a silver setting.

This quote totally hit me.

Six months. The beginning of May. What would you like to be different about your life today and what it could be in six months?

When I think about these types of things, I typically think of these types of things:

Beings 20 pounds lighter

Having saved $X

My house completely organized (whatever that looks like!)

And a few other things.

But as I reflect upon this question right now, I am thinking of slightly different answers. To understand this, I began by looking back at my life and how it looked May 1, 2019. How has it changed since then? What has happened that I didn’t anticipate?

We’ve had a new granddaughter since then.

We finished our master bedroom and closet.

And the personal biggie for me: I am SO CLOSE to being a published author.

Did I expect this to happen six months ago?

Honestly, no.

But it is.

Had I not set a goal for myself in July to publish by Thanksgiving, it would not have happened.

Because of this, I am SO EXCITED to see what happens the next six months.

Yes, I would like to fit into a smaller size pants.

I would like to make a little money off of my book.

And I hope our back storeroom is cleaned out and all things dealt with.

But there are other things that excite me more these days. I’m not completely sure what they are. Or what they will look like. But I’m going to spend some time this week and think about it.

Pray about it.

Write down some big, audacious and hairy goals along with a couple small, exceptional ideas.

And see if they happen.

Everything stays the same unless we decide to do something different.

These words came to me at just the right time. Words that encourage me and spur me towards what might be next.

Will you find a few minutes this week to think and pray about what might be next for you? Rather than just doing the same things and expecting different results, how will you focus your energy, time, gifts and resources?

I’m excited for what can happen to YOU in the next six months. Please keep me posted.

For opportunities that lie ahead of us, I am grateful. 

Dear God – sometimes, it is easier to be safe and guarded and predictable. Can you encourage us to open our well-kept boxes just a bit and begin to explore something new in the next six months? May Your will be very clear to us. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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