Gratitude Day 126 – Fall

Mon., Sept. 24, 2018

Jeremiah 5:24 – They don’t say in their hearts, Let’s fear the Lord our God, who provides rain in autumn and spring and who assures us of a harvest in its season.

pumpkins

We have officially entered the fall season!

The days are cooler, the colors slowly changing and Friday night football is a constant. Just a few thoughts about fall:

  • I brought out the tube of fall decorations and have been changing up the décor of our house and porch. Nothing fancy, nothing special. Just a few things that remind us of fall. Maybe one day, I’ll snap a few pictures.
  • Appreciate the people who grow food for everyone else. They are working hard these days. And the prices they are receiving this year are challenging. How might you support an area producer this year?

combine down road

  • Fall is also a time of the year when big pieces of equipment are moving down the road in our area. If you see them, be patient. They take up more than their share of the road. While it may seem like they should pull into the shoulder (and some do), sometimes it doesn’t make sense. Traction is more challenging. Farmers want to avoid damaging equipment on uneven surfaces. Just because you can see them does not ensure they can fully see you. Slow down, make yourself known if possible and know they are doing their best. Most importantly, stay out of their way so no one gets hurt.

Pumpkin Spice latte for fall and winter weather

  • I like pumpkin spice in the right things; not everything. It’s not my favorite coffee or cappichino. But I love pumpkin bars and cake. It seems pumpkin spice everything is available this year!
  • Go to a pumpkin patch, a corn maze, an apple orchard. Get fun and family friendly.
  • Get outside and enjoy the days! Yes, the sun is setting sooner. You might need a jacket. Soak in all the sun you can these days. You’ll appreciate it more this winter.

It’s a great time of the year. Take it all in!

For the fall season opportunities, I am thankful.

Lord God – I pray we can appreciate this fall season. We pray for production agriculture producers and their safety these days. May we drink in all the sights, sounds and smells of the season. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Gratitude Day 125 – Worship

Fri., Sept. 20, 2018

Psalm 66:4 – All the earth worships you, sings praises to you, sings praises to your name!” Selah

As a Christian, I feel worshiping God is an important part of my spiritual journey. One way Christians worship God is by attending a worship service at a church. Yes, this is part of Hubby Rick and I’s weekly ritual. However, I also know one hour a week with God is not enough to sustain my spiritual soul until the following Sunday. This worship sustains me until, oh, about Sunday night. This isn’t God’s fault. It’s my problem. My soul needs more God-time than one hour a week.

radio

One way I bring worship into my daily live is in the car. Crazy as it sounds, my vehicle is a sanctuary for me. Regularly, I listen to Christian music or a favorite CD while driving. And when one of my favorite songs is playing, watch out! I sing right along! (And be thankful no one else can hear me.)

There are so many different genres of Christian music. It’s easy for people to assume their favorite style of Christian music is the “real” music that God likes. Sorry to tell you folks, I think God is far less discriminating that this. Music that sings praises to God and involves drawing people closer to God is probably more than alright with God. It’s as much about our attitude with the music as it is in the actual song itself.

 

The psalmist helped us see this. ALL earth worships God, the psalmist wrote. The singing songbird, the clanging gong, the noisy tractor can all be opportunities to worship God … as long as they help us see who God is and draws us closer to God. When I view the cockpit of my car as a sanctuary, I’m confident God rejoices in my worship.

CD

Where do you feel close to God? What opportunities arise in your life where you can worship God … outside of regular worship? I pray you grab these opportunities to become your sanctuary with God on a regular basis.

For worship opportunities, I am thankful.

I pray, Lord God, that you are pleased when I take moments throughout the week to worship you. May I seize the opportunities that come my way each week. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Gratitude Day 124 – Water

Thurs., Sept. 19, 2018

Psalm 23:2b-3a- He leads me to restful waters; he keeps me alive.

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While hiking recently, I walked along the Namekegon River in Northern Wisconsin. The water was terribly peaceful, restful and so serene. Yes, the river was high but just so beautiful and calm.

When you see water like this, it’s challenging to think of the destruction that water can do. Especially recently.

Hurrican Florence

Hundreds of people living in North and South Carolina would not consider water very tranquil these days. They are in the midst of the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Florence. I do not know the man in this photo, what he is thinking or what he has endured. Yet, do we not get a glimpse into his world?

Mao flooding

In areas not too far from where we live, huge amounts of water have led to significant flooding in many small Wisconsin communities. Some of these are communities are seemingly hanging on by a thread. They have very few businesses, aging populations and lower medium incomes. Local governments are scrambling to hold things together with limited resources. How much state and federal help will be available remains very elusive.

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How many references are there of water in the Bible? Hundreds. The number varies depending on which translation is used, but there is no question water is an integral part of God’s kingdom.

Every time I perform a baptism, I am reminded of the many ways water is used scripturally: how nothing was created out of water; the great flood, the parting of the Red Sea, Jesus’ baptism. We find countless examples of where water was used destructively and constructively in the Bible.

Rick and rope swing

It is no different today. Just more poignant when we are participants and not just readers.

 

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Possibly the most well-known verse in scripture about water is found in Psalm 23: “He leads me beside still waters.” Or, in the translation I used above, “restful waters.”

Don’t we all need encounters with the restful waters of the Lord? Especially after we’ve experienced an excruciating hurricane or flood or destruction caused by water?

I wish everyone could find a few moments and walk beside a peace river or creek this week. Hear ducks skim across the water. Observe fish leap out, thinking they are the king of their little pond. Run their hands through a babbling brook. Yes, water can be very destructive, hurtful and challenging. In these times, we also need to rediscover the still, restful waters God offers to us.

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Maybe we won’t have the opportunity to hike near a quiet river like I did. Just still quietly in a well-worn chair and drink deeply a cold glass of water. Or pause a few seconds longer under the shower. Praise God for water and the stillness it can represent.

For restful and still waters, I am thankful.

When we are overwhelmed by the destruction of water, it is challenging to think we can take moments to seek You in a calm manner. I pray we find the stillness of water in our lives this day, if only for a moment. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Gratitude Day 123 – Finances

Wed., Sept. 18, 2018

Mark 12:41-43 – Jesus sat across from the collection box for the temple treasury and observed how the crowd gave their money. Many rich people were throwing in lots of money. One poor widow came forward and put in two small copper coins worth a penny. Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I assure you that this poor widow has put in more than everyone who’s been putting money in the treasury.

widow's mite

Recently, a few people have asked about our financial situation. Why is this? Are they being noisy? Or is there another reason?

Since stepping back from serving two churches, my income has changed. While I have a part-time job, our disposable income has declined. Inquiries about our finances refer to whether we have made significant financial changes since we no longer have this income.

The short answer? No, we haven’t.

How is this possible? Because we developed an attitude about finances long before I stepped back from serving the churches.

I am not a financial planner. Nor is Hubby Rick. We are comfortable, but I would not classify us as rich. There are a lot of people with more resources than we have. I also know a lot of people who do not have the financial security we do. Was there a time after I stepped away from the churches when I questioned if this was a sound financial choice? Yes. When I turned back to our basic view about finances, my soul quieted.

Rick and I look at finances from a rather simplistic view. At earlier times in our lives, we both did not felt the financial security that we do now. Implementing a few guidelines have helped us move to the position we are today. Let me share these simple guidelines.

  1. Everything we have has been “loaned” to us by God. While we may say it is “our” house or car or retirement account, we believe all of our possessions are really God’s. God has entrusted us to be caretakers of them. This allows us to hold a little less tightly onto the things in our care. We want to be excellent caretakers. We are thoughtful and often consult with God before making a decision. We want to leverage things in our care for the glory and honor of God’s kingdom. If someone has a need and I have the ability to provide for this need, I share. Have there been times we have been burned? Honestly, yes. But the joy we receive from assisting someone outweighs the negative feelings when a situation doesn’t turn out well. Remembering that God has entrusted us with many resources makes us appreciate our ability to bless others with them as well.
  2. We follow a statement coined by John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist movement: “Earn all you can, save all you can and give away all you can.” Rick and I work hard and dutifully earn our income. We manage our resources for today and the future. We have funds available for current expenses and choices. We also save for the future. One of the best financial decisions I personally made was starting to plan for retirement in my mid-20’s. Sharing with others is not an afterthought. It is expected.
  3. We give to God first. Before I was married, I discovered the joy of tithing. Yes, the joy. I began giving a percentage of my income to God first, before other expenses. My focus shifted from giving what I had “leftover” to blessing God first. Once I began tithing, the rest of my resources did not disappear as quickly. Rick and I have continued tithing. The principle of tithing encourages people to give 10% of their income back to God. For some people, 10% is impossible. For others, 10% is not enough of a challenge. I encourage people to pick a percentage and stick with it. There maybe a time when you should decrease this temporarily or increase permanently. Determine this in a discussion with God.
  1. Know the difference between a “want” and a “need.” We need a roof over our heads, vehicles to drive, food to eat and clothes to wear. Almost everything else is icing on the cake. Do Rick and I have more than our basic needs? Certainly. Is our house larger and improved beyond what we need? Without a doubt. Every time we venture into “want” choices, we try to be thoughtful. Will this “want” to be a way to leverage the resources entrusted to us for God? Do we do this perfectly all the time? Absolutely not. Yet, we try to be thoughtful.
  2. Develop financial guidelines and habits, especially if resources are tight. Often, people say they will get their finances in order when they are in a more stable situation. I felt it was imperative to be diligent when I had less, so I could maximize the few resources I had. It becomes easy to think, “When we have just a little bit more, then …” Yet, it is never quite enough. So many people spend more than 100% of their income rather than a number less than 100%. Make choices now. Let your guidelines become habits that you simply live every day.
  1. Monitor your resources. We don’t follow a budget. We follow our guidelines. Once a month, I do a quick evaluation of our finances. This provides a snapshot of our finances today, which become part of a larger historical trend we follow. I handle our finances. This means Rick is not as familiar with the day-to-day situation. I make sure Rick is aware of our financial trends over time, which drives our choices and decisions.

While I could add to the list, these are the most important financial guidelines we follow. Following them have provided us with a sense of financial security and knowledge that God is part of our financial team.

What are the most important financial guidelines that you follow? How have they influenced your choices over time?

For knowing that God provides guidance to our family financial resources, I am thankful.

It was the woman who gave everything financially she had who Jesus acknowledged and applauded. Lord God, teach our hearts to see what we have as a loan from you. May we discover ways to leverage the resources we care for, so they bring glory and honor to your kingdom. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Gratitude Day 122 – Fall

autumn-autumn-colours-autumn-leaves-355302

Tues., Sept. 17, 2018

Leviticus 26:5 – Your threshing season will last until the grape harvest, and the grape harvest will last until planting time. You will eat your fill of food and live securely in your land.

Leaves are turning colors.

Just a bit.

Soon it will be fall.

 

The fields are turning golden.

More each day.

It’s time to harvest crops and all.

 

Crisp air in the morning.

Shorter days of sunlight.

Sweatshirt weather.

 

Pumpkins, apples and squash abound.

Orange and green and white all around.

Drink in the smells, the sights, the sounds.

Soon it will be fall.

 

For the changing of the seasons, I am thankful.

Hello Fall

O Great Artist, thank you for painting the days of fall. May your broad and wide strokes affirm for us that You are the Great Creator. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Gratitude Day 120 – My Day

Sat., Sept. 15, 2018

Psalm 118:24 – This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Today, my life is different than it was 10 months ago. On Dec. 1, 2017, I voluntarily stepped back from serving two churches as the pastor to focus on other things I felt God calling me towards. It has taken me awhile me to focus on this next phase of my life. Thank you for being a part of this journey. You, the readers of this blog, have become my congregation.

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What “things” represent a typical day in Dianne’s life today? Honestly, these things have not changed a lot. Here are the Top 10 things I use in my daily life, why are they important and how are they represent my daily spiritual journey.

bag

  1. A bag – A bag is as much a staple to my wardrobe as shoes. I have a couple different bags; either grey or black. I take a bag with me everywhere. I have never been a backpack girl; I’ve always been a bag lady. In high school, in college, or when traveling, I stuff a big bag full of things I “might” need. Most often with the items listed below. Daily, I try and “stuff” my day full of the things God desires for me to focus on, anticipating where God “might” call me to serve this day.

calendar

  1. A calendar – I have not made the jump to a digital calendar. Call me old school, but I LIKE to look at two pages with an entire month on them. A calendar is indispensable for me. Years ago, I inadvertently left my calendar at my parent’s house. My Mom overnighted it to me the next day. Seriously. A quick look at my calendar helps me see where I am serving God’s kingdom. How do I leverage my time for the glory of God?

notebook

  1. A nice notebook where I keep running to-do lists. The key word? Nice. I could use a phone app for this. But it gives this girl pleasure to cross something off a to-do list. Anyone else here written something down just to cross it off? Call me guilty, at least a couple times a week. I keep lists for many things. It’s my way of keeping random thoughts captured; thoughts I pray are inspired by God.

phone

  1. My phone. As much as I would like not to include this on my list, reality says something different. I use it for contact information, checking e-mail and social media, Google and playing Scrabble (the only game I allow on my phone.) My contact list is much smaller than God’s. Yet, I feel any person on my contact list is one placed there by God.
  1. My bible. See the broken spine and duct tape? It’s really, really worn. It’s been like this for months and I can’t drag myself to give it up. I bought a new bible earlier this year. It came in a nice box and sits on my desk. I’ve used it a few times. How can I squeeze all those slips of paper, cards, and little notes with the bible into the holder? Besides, it is much easier to find a bible verse I am looking for in the old bible because it’s already underlined. I pray these words guide me daily.

laptop

  1. My laptop. Yes, I often spend too much of my day sitting in front of this little piece of equipment. Yet, it is amazing how I can connect and communicate and share with people via my laptop. I think of the power the letters that the apostle Paul wrote. How we refer to them over and over via the New Testament. My words will not have the same impact as Paul’s words. I pray my words will make a difference to one person today.

shoes

  1. Running shoes. It’s summer, so I should have included my favorite sandals that I wear every day. The running shoes represent what I want to be doing every day; taking a walk or a run. I do this a few days a week; just not as much as I would like. These shoes are my FAVORITE running/walking shoes. A number of years ago when I was running five days a week, I bought a really nice pair of running shoes: Asics Gel Kayano’s. I think the first pair I bought was version #7. This latest pair is version #24. I have not bought every version in between but I have multiple pairs of Asics Gel Kayano’s. Worn beyond sensible running tread, they are my go-to-the-farm shoes, gardening shoes, mission trip shoes, easy walking shoes, etc. I have a pair for each purpose and maybe a couple extra. Running shoes remind me that the spiritual life is a daily journey; one I choose whether to include God or not.

library card

  1. Library card. I have a lot of books and am trying to lower my inventory. Before I buy a book, I see if it is available through the library. If it is, I check it out and decide if I want to buy it. (Yes, there are times I buy it right away.) The local library ladies know me on a first name basis. I always have a stack of “to read” books. I often “read” books by listening to them in the car. Reading is a way that I keep growing, learning and expanding my understanding. God challenges us to grow in wisdom. Reading is a way I do this.

necklace

  1. Necklace. This is special to me. After my Dad died, we had pendants of his thumb print made. About the same time, I found pendants with a “D” and “V” on them. The D is for Deaton, my maiden name. After my Mom died, we had pendants of her thumb print made. I group the four pendants together on this necklace. It’s a reminder of where I came from, who I am and my foundation.

grey sweater

10. Grey sweater. I have a collection of grey sweaters. Long ones, shorter ones, lighter-weight ones, heavier ones. Lighter-colored grey and darker-colored grey. I wear them ALL. YEAR. LONG. When clothes shopping, where do I most often end up? Looking at grey sweaters. I love a good sweater. When I put one on, it feels like God’s hands hugging and protecting me.

coffee

After taking the photo, I realized I missed a couple items. My journal, which I use most days, writing prayers to God. And a cup of coffee, which begins every day, most often with a devotion book, bible and journal.

What are the most important “things” you use throughout your day? How do they help you connect with God? How are they part of your spiritual journey?

For things throughout the day that remind me of my relationship with God, I am thankful.

Lord God – as we think about those things that are such an important part of our day, I pray we see them as part of how you speak to us and through us. As we recall the items we use daily, challenge us to connect these things to You and Your call of us in Your kingdom. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Gratitude Day 119 – Perennial

hydrangiaFri., Sept. 14, 2018

Isaiah 40:28 – Don’t you know? Haven’t you heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the creator of the ends of the earth. He doesn’t grow tired or weary. His understanding is beyond human reach,

I LOVE FLOWERS.

I love having flower gardens in our yard. I love having flowers around our house. I love walking by and seeing different flowers blooming at various stages of the spring, summer and fall.

I love having fresh flowers in the house. After we moved to our current home, I decided that I would always have fresh flowers in the house. I chose to have them on our kitchen island. I love walking into our house through the back door, scoot the small butler’s pantry and into the kitchen where there is a vase or pitcher of fresh flowers or a seasonal plant on the island.

coneflowerOn our porch, I have pots of annual flowers. This summer, they have been fantastic. We have had a warmer summer in Wisconsin, with more humidity than normal. This means the coleus, angel-winged begonias and sweet potato vines have exploded.

wheelbarrowYet, I also love having perennial flowers in the gardens and beds around the house and yard. Over Memorial Day weekend, I decided to dig out some of the boring plants in the beds and install more color and variety. My neighbor Claudine offered to give me some perennials from her flower beds. After spending over an hour poking through Claudine’s flower gardens, I pushed an overflowing wheelbarrow full of plants back to my house. I went to work, digging and moving and putting these flowers in my yard, along with some plants I had purchased at a couple area greenhouses.

Did I mention it was an unseasonably warm Memorial Day weekend?

hostaThis fall, some of those plants are now coming into their own. I need to spend an afternoon “tweaking” the flower beds. Some plants are bigger than I expected. Some already have little baby plants growing off of them. All beds have a few weeds growing in them.

bledding heartAs much as I love the bursts of color that annuals can quickly bring to a flower garden, I love using perennials as the foundation. The flowers that will grow back year after year. The plants that bring structure and depth and stability to the flower gardens.

What brings structure, depth and stability to your daily life? What provides the strong foundation that you go back to again and again?

For me, it’s faith in God. God is perennially a part of my daily life. Another word for perennial? Everlasting. Meaning God has no beginning and no ending. There forever.

sedumMany things in my life will change. Where I live. My job. My career. The flowers around my house. One thing is perennial. One thing is everlasting. God.

Does God make the perennial list in your life?

Almighty God – sometimes, it’s hard to understand who You are. When hurricanes are barreling down, and floods have drowned out people’s hopes and dreams, it is so easy to question where You are. Remind us anew that when You promise to be a part of our lives, You promise to perennially be there; not always remove every awful or potentially awful thing in our lives. May we appreciate and value Your perennial and everlasting presence in our lives. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Gratitude Day 118 – Perspective

Thurs., Sept. 13, 2018

1 Peter 2:4 – Now you are coming to him as to a living stone. Even though this stone was rejected by humans, from God’s perspective it is chosen, valuable.

I’ve been looking at the top of my piano and wanting something just a bit different. The decorations have been fine this summer. As we move towards fall, I am looking for something different.

White #1

I know. The easy fix would have been to put a few pumpkins and fall flowers in the vases. And I will do this soon. But I felt like it needed something just a bit more than this.

White Single

I looked at the rustic white candlesticks and had an idea.

Black.

Paint really is a designer’s best friend. It’s inexpensive and can change perspective of something so quick. I found a bottle of black spray paint in the basement. There happened to be a tarp in the back yard and so I went to work. Hubby Rick has taught me well: several thin layers of spray paint are more effective than one heavy, runny layer.

Painting

It was a beautiful day. Literally, each paint coat only took minutes to dry. Soon, all three candle holders were sufficiently black and ready to go back to their homes.

Black #2

Isn’t it amazing the difference some black paint makes?

If you prefer the rustic white before picture, it’s OK. It’s just a matter of perspective.

Black #1

Thankfully, we don’t always have the same perspective. We see things from different vantage points. We have different ideas and concepts and potential options. Sometimes, just a small shift in perspective can help us see something from a completely different perspective.

Whose perspective am I most challenged by? God’s.

Whose perspective do I most often appreciate, even when I’m not always happy and supportive in the moment? God’s.

Have you had the situation when you wonder why God was not more aware of your position? You question why God didn’t listen to you.

When we allow ourselves to see something from a slightly different perspective, we begin to see why God didn’t listen to us earlier. Praise the Lord.

It is so easy to ditch God and question God’s judgement on something. Occasionally, we become aware that God’s perspective really is more appropriate than our perspective. In the moment, it’s hard to see. But sometimes, I pray we see that God has a much wider and broader and deeper understanding than we ever will.

Black #3

For a different perspective than my own, I am grateful.

Lord God – thanks for being patient with us when we want something our way right now. I pray that we can open ourselves to the possibility of your perspective. Sometimes, just a slight shift is all it takes. I pray we let You help us see new perspectives. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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