Gratitude Day 257

Sat., Apr. 20, 2019

Acts 1:14 – They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.

I shared earlier in the week how sometimes, Hubby Rick and I go to a faith-based movie on Good Friday.

Well, we did it again!

I know it sounds weird. A movie on Good Friday? Mind you, we are not regular movie-goers. We pay to go to a movie theater like once or twice a year. It may be a whole another year before we sit in those nice, reclining seats again …

Friday morning, Rick asked what I wanted to do. Mentally, I had a long list of things on my to-do list. But when he asks this? It’s his key words for “how about a date?” Or “how about some time for just the two of us.”

Breakthrough movie pic

I grabbed the opportunity and suggested going to the movie “Breakthrough.” I found the trailer online and we watched it. Soon, I was checking possible local movie times. While we usually have gone to church first and then a movie, we were attending an evening worship service. So, we went to the movie in the afternoon instead.

Based on a true story, in January 2015, John Smith fell through the ice in a pond. He was underwater for about 15 minutes and then rushed to a hospital where doctors could not get a pulse. The attending ER doctor was ready to proclaim his time of death. John’s mother, Joyce, walked into the room where John was. She prayed and asked the Holy Spirit to come and be with her son. Before long, John had a pulse.

Break Through praying

He was transferred to another hospital. A doctor with expertise in dealing with people who have been submerged in water was frank with John’s parents and said he didn’t expect the 14-year-old boy to make it through the night.

Break Through in hospital

John did. Joyce loved her son through impossible odds. People prayed for John’s recovery. Miraculously, John walked out of the hospital just a few weeks after the accident and returned to normal teenager life.

It’s a story of love, faith and never giving up. It shows the dynamics of a pastor and a family from the church he serves. We see how difficult it is for people to journey through crisis. We watch a community surrounds the Smith family with prayer, love and support.

Break Through dr

The movie also tries to deal with the difficult question of, “Why?” Why does it seem that God heals some people and not others? How does God choose who is healed and who isn’t? The harsh reality of life not always being fair is part of the story line. If you are looking for an exact answer to this question, I’m sorry. You will be disappointed.

Sometimes, people say, “I prayed, and God didn’t answer my prayer. I’m done praying.” Yep, this has happened. To thousands of people. Yet, there are John Smith examples when the unimaginable happens.

When Jesus died on Good Friday, nobody ever expected to see him alive again. Yet, miraculously, on Sunday morning, the tomb was empty. All those times he told his disciples that he was going to die and come back to life and no one seemed to listen or hear? Jesus proved that he lives up to his words. What he said would happen actually did.

If you feel God has not answered a prayer that you really, really wanted answered, I am sorry. It’s not that your faith isn’t strong enough or deep enough. I can’t answer the “Why?” question either. What I can say? Prayer makes a difference. Prayer can change you. Prayer helps us accept help and not journey alone through difficult and challenging times.

Break Through family

If you are looking for a movie of hope, prayer and faith, then Breakthrough maybe a movie for you to see.

For gratefulness of stories of hope and love and prayer, I am grateful.

Tomorrow, we can witness a miracle. It’s a miracle that is sometimes hard to believe and imagine. Whether we fully understand or accept this miracle, may we know that you love us right where we are at. Thank you, Lord Jesus. Amen.

Blessings –


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Lessons of Death, Hope and Resurrection

Gratitude Day 253

Wed., Apr. 17, 2019

1 Peter 1:3 – Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

ND from rear

Nearly 21 years ago, I visited the Notre Dame Cathedral. When I heard that it was on fire on Monday, like many others, I recalled the time I had visited this beautiful church in Paris.

I was traveling with my friend Kristin. We spent 40 days traveling in Europe. The last several days, we toured Paris. Of course, we spent time at the Notre Dame Cathedral.

Throughout this trip, we visited some magnificent churches. We were amazed by St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. In Florence, I was awestruck by the Duomo. The unfinished La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona was so different. We took in St. Paul’s in London. With so many churches to visit and see in Europe, we quickly made a rule: no more than three churches a day. Otherwise, we lost some of the amazing features of the churches we visited.

What do I remember about Notre Dame? The stain-glassed windows. Hands down, the most beautiful stained glass I have ever seen. The beauty of the rose window is most difficult to describe and impossible to capture in a photograph.

rose window

Construction of Notre Dame took nearly 200 years and was completed in the 1300’s. As Kristin and I walked about the cathedral, the light and windows were overwhelmingly beautiful. How the cathedral was designed, built and structured to capture light and enhance the stained-glass windows without the tools of our modern-day era were beyond our capacity to comprehend.

The interesting timing of the cathedral’s fire at the beginning of Holy Week is not lost on people. During the most difficult week of the Christian calendar, Parisians lost one of their most beautiful buildings in the city. Something like 30,000 people visit the cathedral every day.

What might be something we can take away from this event? How might we look at our faith from a slightly different perspective this Holy Week?

Holy Week will go on whether there is this cathedral or not. Services won’t officially be held at Notre Dame. However, I anticipate thousands and thousands of people will visit. The commitment to rebuild is there. Someday, hopefully, there will be worship services conducted in this building again. It is a powerful message that good can come out of an awful event.

Faith is more than a building. One of the more touching moments I saw in coverage of the fire was the spontaneous group of people who stood near the cathedral singing. People can and will continue to worship whether this building is useable or not. Thanks be to God.

notre-dame-fire inside

With God, there is always hope. In the grand scheme, the fire could have been even more devastating. Stories of fire fighters forming a human chain to remove pieces of art and treasured items from the building is inspiring. An unburnt cross hanging amongst the rubble sends a strong message. Christian faith is unique in that we have hope of something more to come. Death doesn’t have the last word; hope does.

ND outside night

As we recall the difficult events that happened during the last hours of Jesus’ life, may we remember that he always had hope. He knew how the story would end. He knew that death would not have the last word. Jesus knew hope is a powerful emotion … when we embody its powerful nature.

I pray the people of France have hope this Holy Week. I pray we see this fire as one more opportunity to embrace the hope of our faith.

For hope in our Christian journey, I am grateful.

Holy God – may we see the fire of such a beautiful cathedral as not something You chose to happen but simply one of those things that happens. I pray we find hope in You this day and week. Amen.

Blessings –


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A More Realistic View of Grief

Gratitude Day 249

Fri., Apr. 12, 2019

Psalm 119:28 – My spirit sags because of grief. Now raise me up according to your promise!

Much of what we discover, we already know. We just need to remember it.

stages of griefWhen I recently saw this picture of grief, this is exactly how my soul felt. I’ve seen this diagram multiple times before. But maybe, I just needed to see it again today. And remember that grief is rarely linear, logical or predictable. No, most often, grief feels like one hot mess. Our hot mess.

When we think of grief, we most often associate grief with the death of a loved one. This is a very real grief situation. But grief can happen a million other ways. Just a few of those possibilities:

  • Loss or change of a job
  • Significant other’s job situation changes
  • Geographical move
  • Moving into a different living situation
  • A significant health issue for you
  • A significant health issue for a loved one
  • An addition to the family
  • When someone moves out of your house
  • Death of a pet
  • The seasons
  • Change in financial situation
  • Change in status with a person who is important to you
  • Addiction
  • Depression
  • Change in weight
  • Feeling let down by someone
  • Loosing or letting go of an item of value to you

And yes, about a million more.

While we may promote a change in our lives and even think it’s a great idea, grief can still be part of the process. Any time there is a “change” in our lives, the real possibility of letting go of something can put us into a tailspin of grief.

Grief is tricky. Some days, we think we can handle it. The next day? Not so much. Even the anticipation of a significant change in our lives can begin the grief process. (Think – knowing a child will be moving away, going to college, etc.)

While most people like to think we are strong and can handle grief, sometimes, we can’t. Sometimes, grief is simply overwhelming. And then, the line goes crazy in every direction, except a seemingly helpful direction.

If you are experiencing grief about something big or small right now, what are you to do? I don’t have all the answers to grief, but I just share a few things to ponder.

  1. Recognize and realize that you are grieving. Let yourself be sad. Disappointed. Let down. If you don’t acknowledge there is grief, you won’t be able to deal with it in a helpful or constructive way.
  2. Grief affects people differently, even if you are going through the grief situation. Spouses, family members, siblings will respond to how they feel in very different ways. Some ways maybe more constructive than others. It’s difficult to watch a loved one turn to unhealthy modes of dealing with grief. Sometimes you can help them; sometimes you can’t.
  3. Give yourself a break. Allow for more self-care. Cut back on expectations of yourself and others. Grieving people need space to process, be sad and decompress. It can be easy to add things into your life to mask and hide the pain. Or bury it. Instead, choose to establish ways for you to experience and journey through the grief.
  4. Be OK with doing things differently. At times, we have such high expectations of ourselves and others. We “expect” ourselves to do something because “this is what we do.” It maybe difficult and painful to continue these things. It’s OK to switch it up and do something different. Create new memories and ways to look at life.
  5. Find a way to express your disappointment. Some people journal. (I know this isn’t for everyone.) Some find a dependable and non-judgmental friend. A trained professional can be very helpful. People need a safe place to let their thoughts and ideas get outside of their minds and bodies. Find a place to do this. Moving through grief takes time. Lots of time. There will be a step forward and lots of steps backwards. There will be moments of joy and hours of confusion.
  6. Lean upon grace. One reason why I believe Jesus died on the cross? So, we would know that God has experienced the ultimate grief of loosing a child. In this event, God has experienced every feeling of grief that we have. This can give us hope that we know a God who struggles with grief and disappointment and sadness as well.

Let your grief be messy. Let your grief be complicated. Let your grief help define who you are. And let hope guide you through it as well.

For understanding that grief can be messy, I am grateful.

Holy God – when we feel overwhelmed or confused or sad about something happening in our lives, may we remember that it’s OK. You are with us. You walk with us. You actually know how grief feels. Help us turn towards you in our struggles and disapointments. Amen.

Blessings –


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God’s Sense of Humor

Gratitude Day 248

Thurs., Apr. 11, 2019

Genesis 21:6 – Sarah said, “God has given me laughter. Everyone who hears about it will laugh with me.”

God certainly has a great sense of humor.

We experienced all four seasons in Wisconsin in less than 72 hours. Monday was in the 70’s; the first day we’ve experienced lovely temperatures like this in about six months. A wee bit of summer.


On Tuesday, it was in the low 60’s. A beautiful spring day. We’ve been waiting for these tiny purple flowers that carpet our backyard to grace our presence once again. They burst forth on Tuesday and they were simply beautiful!


Wednesday, it snowed. Really snowed. Heavy globs of snow came down in clumps. In 30 minutes, those precious little purple flowers were shivering and looking for coats and wondering who screwed up the seasons.


As we trudged through the wet and shivered because we probably didn’t wear a warm enough jacket (in spite of the forecaster’s predictions), we silently cursed.

Meanwhile, God laughed. A big belly laugh that thundered through the skies as we wondered who forgot to look at the calendar and see that spring officially began a few weeks back.

Baseball games and softball games and track meets will be canceled this week. Tractors stationed at the edge of sheds, just waiting to be driven to the field, will patiently wait. Bags of rubbish raked last weekend are now one cold, soggy mess.

And God continues to chuckle as we wave fists towards heaven and question God’s sanity.


Haven’t we had enough winter? Can’t we catch a break? The words “global warming” are tossed around again this week for the millionth time; words we’re growing leery of hearing as well as speaking.

By now, God must be laughing so hard at us, tears are clearly rolling down God’s checks.

Meanwhile, we are dumbfounded. I hear a branch crack and fall to the ground from the pine tree just outside my window. The weight of the snow affects one more thing this winter. A picture of social media showed snow hanging on the clothes line, as of it were real clothes. We’ve run out of words, expressions and adages.

Once again, I imagine God taking a Kleenex and wiping away the tears, as God looks at us and laughs.

Is this how Sarah felt? She was an old lady. She should have been a grandma by this stage of her life. Instead, she’s resigned to the fact that a child is out of the question. Daily, she lives with other Jewish woman whose lives revolve around their children and their children’s children. Sarah has no explanation why she was denied offspring. As Husband Abraham was no spring chicken either, they can’t imagine a baby coming into their lives now. When God shares with Abraham that soon, his wife Sarah will have a baby, he can’t wrap his head around it.

Sarah overhears the conversation and just laughs. What else can this grey-haired woman do? She? Have a baby? Right.

In the end, it’s God who has the last laugh. It’s God how oversees a complex plan in which Sarah actually bears a child, much to her and Abraham’s amazement. And yes, Abraham’s offspring eventually outnumber the stars in the sky.

God’s sense of humor is not often the first attribute we think of when we think of God. Just in case we needed a reminder, it came down in sheets of snow today.


And who says, “God doesn’t have a sense of humor?”

For humor that should never cease to amaze us, I am grateful.

Lord God – in case we needed a reminder of Your sense of humor, I think we got the message today. Once again, may we be amazed with how unique and different Your perspective is. Amen.

Blessings –


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When Left-Overs Are All You Have to Give

Gratitude Day 245

Sat., Apr. 6, 2019

Philippians 2:3-4 – Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

How about a little round-up of thoughts as this weekend begins?  As well as a shout-out to Hubby Rick’s favorite baseball team …

cover back

Put your phone down.

It’s been a full week. Friday morning, Rick suggested Chinese take-out for dinner Friday night. So, I on my way home from work, I picked up dinner. I didn’t call ahead. I ordered after I arrived at the restaurant. After placing the order, I sat and waited. I realized that I had left my phone in the car. There were a few papers on a small table next to the chair where I was sitting. They were from Feb. 16, 2019. I perused through them but just didn’t find anything that captured my interest.

So, I just sat. In the chair. And did nothing. Absolutely nothing while I waited for our food. Well, I did people watch.

When was the last time you just sat and did nothing? Absolutely nothing?

Too often when we are in these kinds of situations, we pull out our phones and let our noses get buried in them. I’ve done it a thousand times. Maybe, just maybe, we need to discover life beyond our phones and electronic devices. Can we just sit? Is it any wonder our children and grandchildren have no clue how to sit and do nothing? In 30 seconds, they are bored and looking for external entertainment.

Yes, we can live without phones while waiting for Chinese take-out. I think we can live without them more often than we try. Can we set our phones aside for a period of time this weekend … and just be?


It’s Peach Iced Tea season!

We finally had a couple days above 50 degrees here in Wisconsin. And I celebrated by making peach iced tea. It’s my favorite summer-time drink. I’m just starting the season a little early. Hubby Rick DOES NOT like iced tea. So, I keep a stash of individual packets on hand and mix them just for myself. For some reason, peach is my favorite flavor. Try it … you might like it! Yummm.


Living Your Top 5 Priorities Today

It’s been one of those weeks where Hubby Rick and I have barely seen each other, awake or when one of us is asleep. He works nights and doesn’t get home until somewhere between 4 am and 6 am. There are many times that he’s crawling into bed when I’m crawling out.


On the blog this week, we explored identifying our Top 5 Priorities. One of my priorities is having a strong life-giving relationship with Rick. When I got home Friday night, I put the Chinese food in the TV room because … the Brewers were playing! Honestly, one-way Rick feels I express quality time with him is when I sit and watch part of a Brewer game with him. Or take interest when he’s sharing with me a recap of last night’s game which he listened to in the truck while working. So, we watched the game together until I fell asleep on the couch. (Yep, this is the reality at the Vielhuber household … on a Friday night …)


Is baseball my favorite thing in the world? Nope. But Hubby Rick loves to watch the Brewers. If he is one of my priorities, then I better discover how to speak baseball with him. I need to know the player’s names, who is on a hitting streak (Christian Yelich) and who has an injury right now (Josh Hader) and what Tommy John surgery is. Will this knowledge change my life? No. Will it enhance my relationship with my spouse? Yep. When we take an interest in what is important to people who are important to us, they notice. Period.


This is exactly what Paul writes about when he says, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”


There are days and weeks when I have felt Rick has gotten “the leftovers;” whatever else was “left-over” after a full week. I’ve given more to other things than to our relationship. Left-overs are OK once in a while. But when this becomes the norm, there’s a problem.

While this is OK once in a while, when we person consistently feels like they are getting leftovers, they question your commitment to them. Leftovers are not prioritizing a top priority for the long-haul.


This was one of those weeks. Thankfully, I have a very patient and humble husband who realizes there will be weeks like this. This is why watching the Brewers (for as long as I stayed awake!) must be a priority. (P.S. – They won!!)

Maybe, I’ll surprise Rick with some Brewers tickets sometime soon … for a real date night. And I promise not to fall asleep while at the park.


For a spouse who is patient with me, I am grateful.

Lord God – Help us find long moments this weekend where we can be … without technology. May we discover how special the world is around us when we stop burying our noses into things that pull us away from You and the world around us. Help us invest in those relationships that are most important to us … and not just give them the leftovers. Amen.

Blessings –


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Serving through the Piggly Wiggly

Gratitude Day 244

Fri., Apr. 5, 2019

1 Peter 4:10 – Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.

In basketball, coaches talk about the 6th player in. He or she is the first person off the bench. While not a starter, she or he plays a very important role. They must be ready to enter the game at any time, ready to relieve whoever needs a break.

The Seattle Seahawks NFL football team boasts of their 12th man. Affectionately, the Seahawks call the crowd, their fans, their 12s. They consider them their “secret weapon.” This organization views their fans as such an integral part of their organization that they retired the #12 jersey.

Hubby Rick and I live in the small community of Poynette, WI. With only about 2,000 residents, Main Street is three blocks long. There’s not a stop light within miles.

There are many great things about small towns. More than once, I’ve been asked, “Oh, you are the ones that live next door to Kathleen?” This is correct. Other times, we’re asked, “Aren’t you the Hahn’s neighbors?” Yes, we are. We are often known because of who we live next to. In small towns, people know where to get a car fix, what plumber to call and what place has the best burgers in town.

Sometimes, it’s for these very reasons some people choose not to live in a small town. Some want to fly under the radar and do their own thing.

In small communities, there are often limited resources. Sometimes, people step in and make a difference to their community.


This is Bob Saftig. He was my local grocer, that is, until last week, when he sold the business. For about 14 years, Bob has been one of Poynette’s 6th person in. He’s been one of the 12s in our community. He’s been a silent, yet important, presence that has made a significant impact in our little community.

Bob is more than just the guy who used to own the local Piggly Wiggly. He has been a huge supporter of the local Poynette Food Pantry and Blessings in a Backpack Program, which provides weekend food for kids who might not otherwise have enough food to eat. Both of these programs have made a huge difference in our community. There are lots and lots of people who are involved in these groups. While Bob’s role has been more behind-the-scenes, his contributions are just as important.

When Ruth Ann took over coordinating the local Food Pantry, Bob explained how to buy groceries based on sales. Many items are on sale on a regular rotation. When a product is on sale, stock up. Some sale items have a limited purchasing quantity. When soup is on sale for 3/$.99, a customer only gets the sale price for the first three cans they buy. If four cans of soup are purchased, the fourth can is at regular cost.


This is where Bob understood how to be the 6th person in. If Blessings buys 120 cans of soup, there are 40 receipts for the soup. Three cans are rung up one at a time, so we get the sale price. Bob pays his workers to ring these up, which probably means he’s not making any money on this sale. But Bob wants to be one of the 12s for the Poynette community.

Through the Piggly Wiggly, needy families receive food baskets with a turkey at Thanksgiving and a ham food basket at Christmas. Bob and his staff work with our programs to keep food costs as low as possible. This means we can assist more people because Bob chooses to support his community.


Thursday night, volunteers from our two groups gathered to say “thank you” to Bob. This was our little way of thanking Bob and the Piggly Wiggly for supporting our community. It surprised me to hear Bob share how he encouraged other grocery store owners to support their local groups like he does. However, they could not be convinced this made financial sense to them.

Bob attributes his parents for his attitude. Yet, Bob sets a great example for his employees. I’ve seen him moping the floor at the store, stocking shelves and doing whatever needed to be done. All to serve others.

Local businesses have lots of opportunities to be the 6th person in. We can choose to be a 12 in our local community. Thank you, Bob, for being these in our small community of Poynette. You’ve made a huge difference in many people’s lives.


For Bob’s example of service, I am grateful.

Holy God – may we see a great opportunity to serve You and someone within our community today. I pray we see ourselves as one of the 12s in your kingdom, right where we are. Amen.

Blessings –


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Gratitude Day 207 – What I learned in January 2019

Thurs., Jan. 31, 2019

Proverbs 24:32 – I observed this and took it to heart; I saw it and learned a lesson.

On this last day of January, I pulled out my calendar and thought about what are some life lessons that I’ve discovered or rediscovered this month. Personally, I find this exercise helpful. Why? It’s so easy to let time go by without any evaluation. Each time I take a few minutes and do this, I discover a lesson that I want to take to heart.

So, what are some lessons I learned this past month? Thanks for asking!


  1. In the central upper Midwest, we’ve ended the month with record-breaking cold weather. An Artic Vortex came screaming into Wisconsin and has hung around for a while. It has been officially colder in Wisconsin than at Mount Everest and Antarctica this week. The cold was preceded by two snow events. In the last two weeks, most schools in Wisconsin have canceled classes and events for six days!! Wednesday and Thursday – no mail delivery!

Many folks have stayed home or changed plans to stay out of the ridiculously cold temps. But some people can’t. As a chaplain with the local police department, I ride with the officers every so often. I had a scheduled ride-along one night during the blistering cold temps. Yes, I could have canceled. But if Officer Scott was working, why shouldn’t I join him? It’s more than police officers who work no matter what. It’s fire fighters, EMT’s, and other rescue personal. It’s farmers and ranchers, carrying for their animals. Its people helping those who have problems because of the cold. It’s the homeless. It’s the fragile folks.

Hubby Rick is a night truck driver and has worked every night since Sunday. Yes, he dresses accordingly, but yikes, it’s been cold! When he crawled into bed after a long shift, he asked when we are moving to Belize. He might have packed his bags right then, had I agreed.


Today’s sun is deceiving. But doesn’t it look pretty?


  1. Recently, I dusted off an old hobby – sewing. For years, I sewed lots of things. Then, life happened. At Thanksgiving, I decided to make quilts for our youngest three grandchildren for Christmas. It was a bit of a push, but worth it. After they opened them, granddaughter Ellie wanted to be wrapped in her quilt like a burrito. Of course, her brothers followed suit. It was fun to watch them enjoy their quilts. And made the effort so worth it.


  1. One of my new mantras for the year is 20-minutes. I’ve picked things important to me and dedicate 20-minutes a day to them. I use this concept with exercise and my devotional life. We often think we don’t have time to do something. Maybe, we really only need 20-minutes. This plan helps me focus on things important to me, if only for a short period every day. Best of all: it’s working!


  1. A challenge that I’m still struggling with? Working on the most important things everyday and not just the urgent. I’m not sure I’ll ever get this fine-tuned. But naming the struggle is step one in dealing with it.

As you get ready to flip the calendar to February tomorrow, first pause. Think about the things that have been most meaningful to you in the last four weeks. What was something that you’ve been struggling with and would love to make progress? Ponder these things in your heart. Learn a lesson from the first month of 2019. Take it to heart and grow from this lesson.


For learned and relearned life lessons, I am grateful.

Lord God – too often, we think lessons must be big and important life revelations. More often, you speak to us in a still, quiet voice of everyday life. I pray we see your hands touching our lives in these small and important daily lessons. Amen.

Blessings –


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