God in Simple, Daily Living

Gratitude Day 391

Mon., Jan. 20, 2019

1 Thessalonians 4:1-2: Let me add this, dear brothers: You already know how to please God in your daily living, for you know the commands we gave you from the Lord Jesus himself. Now we beg you—yes, we demand of you in the name of the Lord Jesus—that you live more and more closely to that ideal.

Most often, I begin my day like this. While still in bed, I say a short prayer to God, asking for guidance and wisdom throughout the day. “Help me focus on the most important things for me to seek today,” I ask over and over and over.

Focus lasts, on a good day, about, oh, 30 minutes. I make coffee, begin to think through what priorities I have for the day. Before I know it, I’m soon sidetracked by things that simply pull me away from focusing on what’s most important.

I see something on my phone and get lead down a rabbit trail.

Something on the internet pulls me into a hole of wasted time.

One call or e-mail changes up the entire day.

All of those great intentions before I rolled out of bed in the morning seem and feel like a distant request.

Yes, there are days that I get back on track. Refocus. Remember what’s most important. I still get good things done and even cross a few things off a to-do list. But it’s oh, so easy to lose focus of finding the most important things that I should seek in a day.

Most days, I prioritize time in the morning to spend moments with God. I have a consistent routine that I follow. Yes, this helps with focus. But it’s unrealistic to think that a few sentences of prayer in the morning will bath my entire God with good choices and me seeking guidance from God.

The last few days, I’ve been trying a new thing: finding God through pictures. I’ve always admired photographers and would love to be one of those people who cranks out beautiful pictures that people ohh and ahh about. But I’m not.

Nonetheless, I CAN use a camera … even my phone camera … to see God in a slightly different perspective. In the very simplest of things in life. So sometime throughout the day, I’ve been picking up my phone and taking just one or two pictures that remind me to slow down and seek God. Right then. Right now. In the middle of the day. Or the end of the day. Or somewhere in-between.

The pictures are ordinary. Simple. Natural. Nothing extra-ordinary. They challenge me to find God in the simplest of things in my very ordinary, vanilla days.

I could keep these photos to myself and let it be. But … I’m challenging myself to take it one small step further. Lately, every day, I’ve posted these photos on my social media accounts; on Facebook and Instagram. I write just a few sentences of what I found in the simple moments that the photo was taken. What inspiration I’ve discovered in my day. Where I hear and feel God speaking to me.

I’m calling it my daily photography devotion.

I’ll be honest. Sometimes, I struggle with social media. Yes, I have Facebook and Instagram accounts. Historically, I’ve posted some but certainly not every day. Well, I post these blogs on Facebook every time I write one. But really, this is what I share the most on social media: my blog posts.

I’m hoping these photos will be just another little way to connect with folks. To challenge myself and others to find God in our simple, ordinary, vanilla lives. To celebrate and be grateful for where we can see God. To orient ourselves sometime during the day to seeking God, God’s wisdom and guidance in what I do throughout the day.

So, I would love to have you follow me along with these photos. If you are on Facebook, please friend and follow me at Dianne Deaton Vielhuber. PLEASE make sure you follow my PERSONAL account! If you see my name next to a logo with an animal in the center, this account is for my work! (You can follow this if you’re into bulls and cows and such. But you won’t find my daily photos here!)

I also have a Facebook page for Simple Words of Faith … and I’ll begin sharing the photos there as well.

On Instagram, find me at diannedeatonvielhuber.

I’d love to hear feedback on the photos and sayings as well. If you find the photos or thoughts inspiring, PLEASE encourage others to follow these as well.

I know not everyone is on social media. IT’S OK!! We don’t all have to be. I anticipate some of those photos showing up in my blog posts as well from time to time.

One of the reasons I write this blog is to encourage others to find faith in the simplest of ways in our daily lives. Faith doesn’t have to be complicated, difficult or feel out of reach. I believe faith should be part of our daily triumphs and challenges. In reach. The little ways that we find gratitude and inspiration.

Thanks for following along in this journey as I share simple ways that I find faith in my life. I pray that it inspires you to do the same!

For finding God in the simplest of ways, I am grateful.

Blessings –


Holy God – Forgive me for all the days I plan to take you along … and leave you in the dust. Forgive me for getting distracted and pulled away for focusing on You. Thank you for placing it upon my heart the opportunity to find you in pictures … in the simple areas of my life. I pray this is another great way for me to connect with You. Amen.

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Gratitude Day 390

Mon., Jan. 20, 2019

Psalm 107:1: Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.

It should not be a hard transition … but it has been.

This new decade, 2020, has started slowly for me. Shortly after the beginning of the year, Hubby Rick and I went on vacation. It was a gift to be away for over a week and spend time with family.

But I’ll be honest. Transitioning back to real life since getting back as been, well, not as easy as I thought it would be.

The first few days were jam-packed full. We’ve had a distraction in our lives and my heart has needed time to process this. And the words just have not come as easily as I would like. Words for this very blog. Words to describe how I feel. Words about what and where I should focus this next stage of my life.

Sometimes, I just have not been very efficient with my time. Normally, I’m planning and mapping out and thinking and doing. But quite honestly, I just have not felt like doing this.

It’s so unlike me.

Maybe, just maybe, what I need to do is give myself a bit of grace.

A bit of space.

Permission to explore and be OK with this.

In my Bible, I often keep little things that have struck a chord with me. This is where the following prayer has been kept for years. I don’t know who wrote it … I didn’t. But I wish that my heart, and your heart, can hear these words today:

Slow us down, Lord.

Ease the pounding of our hearts.

By the quiet of our minds.

Steady our hurried pace

With a vision of the eternal reach of time.

Give us amidst the confusion of our day

The Calm of the Everlasting hills.

Break the tensions of our nerves and muscles

With eh soothing music of the singing streams.

Teach us the art of taking minute vacations

Of slowing down to look at a flower …

  To chat with a friend … or pat a dog

  … to read a few lines from a good book.

Remind us each day of the fable of the hare and the tortoise,

That we may know that the race is not always to the swift;

That there is more to life than increasing its speed.

Allow us to look upward into the branches of the towering oak

And know that it grew great and strong because it grew slowly and well.

Slow us down, dear God,

And inspire us to send our roots deep into the soil of life’s enduring values,

That we may grow toward the starts of our greater destiny.


If you need to hear these words today, I pray you find peace in them.

For permission to slow down, I am grateful.

Blessings –


Dear God – thanks for the words of this prayer and the person who wrote them. May I embody them today. Amen.

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Are You Listening?

Gratitude Day 389

Sat., Jan. 18, 2019

Matthew 13:9: Are you listening to this? Really listening?

This is how I closed my last e-mail: See you in a week or so.

So, hmmm … how did a week stretch into two weeks?

It just did.

I could tell you all the excuses I can find that are for real. Like, how it took us one-and-a-half days to get home because of bad weather in Chicago. Bad weather = an unexpected flight to Key West AND an overnight in Dallas. Or how about an hour after we finally got home, we held our last Christmas celebration. For real. In very Martha-like fashion, I pulled together a meal with a help from the local deli. Two long travel days ended with windshield time taking grandkids home and visiting family. Thank goodness Hubby Rick took last Sunday night off!

Yes, a week off means more time at work the following week. And unexpected distractions that well, took more of me than I care to admit. It was Wednesday before I finished up the vacation laundry. Seriously. I walked around laundry baskets for days before the last clean piece of clothing was finally put away.

In the midst of this, I made one little change that has made a difference in my spiritual life. As 2019 closed out, I shared a 2020 Bible Reading Plan which takes you through the entire New Testament in 2020. I tried to make it realistic by only including scripture passages for five days a week. A chapter a day for five days per week, and YOU can read the entire New Testament! (Plus a few bonus passages.)

Determined to follow my own plan, I packed the smallest Bible I have for vacation. Trying to take less baggage, you know. When I got home, I decided that I wanted to use a different translation than I normally do. For years, I have used the NIV translation in my personal devotions. Wanting to switch it up, I pulled out my copy of The Message written by Eugene Peterson. The Message is the Bible in contemporary language. It’s not so much a literal translation of the Greek (New Testament) or Hebrew (Old Testament). Rather, it’s a personal message written in words we can all relate to.

One of the first days, I used The Message, I ran across this in Matthew 13:

(Jesus says,) “Are you listening to this? Really listening?”

Yikes. I stopped dead in my tracks.

Matthew 13 includes a well-known parable in which Jesus tells about harvesting seed. Some seed falls on the road, which doesn’t take root. Some seed falls on the road, which is a metaphor for a person who hears God’s word and responds enthusiastically. But when the emotion wears off or something difficult happens, well, faith dies. Some seed gets enveloped by weeds. This person lets worry and wanting more strangle what is heard. Once again, faith falls to the wayside.

Finally, Jesus tells how some seed falls on the good earth and produces a huge harvest. This person takes the News they have heard and shares it with others.

Are you listening to this? Really listening?

Of course, we always see ourselves as the seed that falls on the good earth with a hearty harvest. It’s someone else whose faith doesn’t take root or turns away when something difficult happens in their life. Even if there are weeds in our life, well, we can name a lot of other people who have way bigger weeds than we do.

We focus on the seed. But …

Are you listening to this? Really listening?

I think of the Verizon guy who spent a couple years traveling around the U.S. asking people if they could hear him now. Today, the Verizon guy is no longer the Verizon guy. He’s the spokesperson for another cell phone company. I’m not sure why he jumped ship. My guess is some other company got his attention and he listened to them more than he listened to Verizon.

Who do YOU listen to?

If I was truly honest, I would admit that there are way too many other things in my life that I listen to … before I listen to God. Sure, every once in a while, I stop and listen. But too often, the clamoring noise of “the urgent” occupies me. Or the distractions that lure we away from what I know should be my focus wins out.

Today, I am committing this day to listening to God. Will my life be dramatically different at the end of the day? I have no clue. Will God speak to me in a profound way? Not so sure. What I do know is this:

I have spent way too much of my life listening to all the other voices in my life and ignoring the voice of God.

It’s time to take back listening. Listening to God. Whether I receive a profound message or even some little small message from God today, it’s time for me to use my two ears more than my one mouth. It’s time to really listen to God.

For new reminders out of a different translation of the Bible, I am grateful.

Blessings –


Holy God – I’m a little ashamed at how seldom I truly listen for You in my life. Forgive me for letting all the other noises drown you out way too often. Speak to me today. Quietly or loudly. In a still, small way or with a demanding voice. I pray I hear You in my life today. Amen.

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Leaving on a Jet Plane

Gratitude Day 388

Sat., Jan. 4, 2019

Hebrews 4:9: So, you see that a sabbath rest is left open for God’s people.

There will be a time today that Hubby Rick and I will be leaving on a jet plane.

Yep, we’re getting out of the Wisconsin winter and going someplace WARM!

And we are excited! We’re going with family and cousins and will be enjoying sun and water and all things that make a vacation great.

I already know it will be fabulous!

Truth? A little secret?

I almost feel like it’s a little extravagant that we get to go on such a nice vacation. It’s not like completely over-the-top. But it will be nice. Fun. Warm. I can almost feel the warm of the sun on my face … and we are still in the cold!

Honestly, there’s a bit of me that feels guilty. Not everyone gets to take a vacation this winter. Some will trudge through the snow and cold ALL. WINTER. LONG. While here we are, jetting off somewhere south.

Should I feel guilty that we get to go on vacation? It’s a mixed bag for me. It certainly makes the winter feel less oppressive when we get to spend some time where it’s warmer.

Do I wonder whether it’s a good utilization of our resources? No … and yes. Rick loathes winter and a week away always puts him in a better mood for the rest of the winter. Yet, I also know it makes the rest of winter more bearable for both of us.

I also know this will be a great opportunity to spend time with family and cousins. Growing up, my family didn’t spend much time with our cousins. It just didn’t work out. As adults, I think it’s so cool that we CHOOSE to do things together. And I think we are all the richer for it.

So, I’m thinking of this time away as Sabbath. Time to recharge. Refuel. Refocus. Rethink. Relax. Reconnect.

I am a huge promoter of Sabbath. For me, Sabbath isn’t just a day of the week when we worship God. It’s time when we slow down our normal schedule and be. It’s Mary time. Yes, it will be filled with fun activities and good food and great laughs. But it’s also an opportunity to listen. Be. Get filled.

Whether you are able to get away for several days this winter or not, YOU can create Sabbath in your life. Spend an afternoon doing something that fills your tank. Create moments each day to read or meditate or be. Take an activity you love to do and turn it into time you spend with God.

We all are a little better after Sabbath. We all need time to decompress. We all need a fresh look at life.

See you in a week or so.

For the opportunity for Sabbath this next week, I am grateful.

Blessings –


Dear God – thank you for the example of Sabbath. Even You carved out space to be and recharge. I pray we discover ways to do this in our own lives. Amen.

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January's Word = KINDNESS

Fri., Jan. 3, 2019

Zechariah 7:9: The Lord of heavenly forces proclaims: Make just and faithful decisions; show kindness and compassion to each other!

My mission during the month of January is very simple: SHOW KINDNESS.

Sorry if it feels like I’m yelling at you. But please. Can we all just be a bit more kind to each other?

I’m tired. I’m tired of people nit-picking and thinking only of themselves. I’m tired of the world looking only through the lenses of ME, ME and some more ME!

Can we stop wanting to make sure that WE get something first and please, just please, think of someone else BEFORE we think of ourselves?

The hurtful things often said make my heart sad. The way we react before thinking how our words and/or actions will affect someone else disappoints me. Why is it when we are hurting, we want to make sure someone else gets hurt as well?

Can this all please just stop?

Full disclosure. I know that I have hurt people. I have said things that should not have been said. My actions have not always been kind.

This is why the word I’m focusing on every day in January is very simple.


Can we please be kind first? Then, we don’t have to make apologies for what we say and do.

Can we please be kind first? And see how much good we can spread around!

Can we please be kind first? And be AMAZED at how easy it is?

What would happen if we poured love into the people around us, as well as the communities in which we live … even when we don’t feel like it?

What would happen if we INTENTIONALLY chose to be agents of kindness every single day?

What would happen if we chose kindness before criticism? Grace before judgement? Love before hate?

I don’t think we ever outgrow the need for kindness. We don’t ever stop needing kindness ourselves. Therefore, wouldn’t everyone else love a little kindness as well!

Will you partner with me? Find one teeny, tiny way to express kindness to someone everyone day throughout the month of January?

Hold the door open for someone.

Smile at someone who seems grumpy and upset. Try to make them smile!

Listen before you speak.

Take in the neighbor’s mail. Shovel their sidewalk. Sit and chat with them for 30 minutes.

Pick up the phone and call that person you have been meaning to call … and haven’t.

Pay for the treat the person in front of you is purchasing … just because.

Turn off your phone and be present.

Just be kind.

Just love them.

Kindness breeds kindness. Happiness breeds happiness. When you extend some smallest little form of kindness, this person is more likely to be kind as well. Instead of fretting about someone’s imperfections, be kind to them. You aren’t perfect either. Grant them grace. Behavior is often mimicked, whether we see it or not.

Avoid letting someone else steal your kindness. No matter what, stay kind. Yes, you may name how someone is trying to hijack your kindness. Then, gently move on. Let’s be kindness givers … not takers.

Be aware of how you treat other people. Kids, grandkids and others hear how we talk to each other. How do you respond to the people you love the most when we first see them? Are you excited and happy? Or do you ignore them? Being kind is simply an extension of how much we value someone.

When there is a disagreement or anxiety or a rift, what words do we use? We can still be kind even as we express our opinion.

Kindness is not just a special event treat. It should be part of our daily arsenal that gets used over and over and over. How we choose to use kindness in our every day life speaks loudly about how we view kindness.

Train yourself to be kind. Find ways to be kind in your speech, conduct, love, faith and purity.

I would love to hear your examples and stories of kindness: ways you discovered how to express kindness. Or examples of how kindness was extended to you.

If we want there to be an alternative to the rhetoric we so often hear, see and witness, it is up to US to set a new standard. Create a new barometer. Become the kindness police.

For the opportunity to be kind every single day, I am grateful.

Blessings –


Dear God – It’s really very clear in Your word: show kindness. Rather than expecting someone else to model kindness to us, may WE choose to exemplify kindness in every possible situation that we can through this next month. Amen.

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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.



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 –


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.

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A Prayer for 2020

Wed., Jan. 1, 2019

Jeremiah 29:11: I know the plans I have in mind for you, declares the Lord; they are plans for peace, not disaster, to give you a future filled with hope.

Happy 2020!

As we begin a new year, it’s a time to pause. Reflect. Ponder. Think.

And the best way to begin a New Year?

Simple. Prayer.

John Wesley began a movement over 200 years ago. Eventually, it became known as the Methodist movement, which are the roots of the United Methodist Church. Wesley believed in the covenant of prayer: the connection between God and a person. The opportunity to humans to connect with God in a deep and personal way.

Exactly what I believe as well.

He used a prayer at the end of the year to inspire him for the upcoming year. Today, I encourage us to pray this prayer at the beginning of a new year as an opportunity to begin things in a spiritually connected way. Please, let’s pray Wesley’s Covenant Prayer together:

I am no longer my own, but thine.

Put me to what thou wilt,

Rank me with whom thou wilt.

Put me to doing, put me to suffering.

Let me be employed for thee or laid aside for thee,

Exalted for thee or brought low by thee.

Let me be full, let me be empty.

Let me have all things, let me have nothing.

I freely and heartily yield all things

To thy pleasure and disposal.

And now, I glorious and blessed God,

Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Thou art min and I am thine. So be it.

And the covenant which I have made on earth,

Let it be ratified in heaven. Amen.

Maybe not a bad prayer to use at the beginning of EVERY day in 2020?

For the opportunity to covenant with God today, I am grateful.

Blessings –


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Reaching Maximum Capacity

Gratitude Day 382

Mon., Dec. 30, 2019

Proverbs 30:1: The words of Agur, Jakeh’s son, from Massa. The man declares: I’m tired, God; I’m tired, God, and I’m exhausted.

I had reached my maximum capacity.

While my brain wanted to think differently, my body knew better.

Last week, Hubby Rick and I came down with awful yucky colds/flu/bugs that hung around for several days. I started to feel yucky on Christmas Eve. But I wasn’t going to slow down for Christmas Eve worship (my favorite!), hosting family at our house, spending time with friends and helping with our grandchildren.

Nope. Planned events would go on.

When I got home Thursday night after a long day, I was ready for bed. For the next oh, 48+ hours, I spent most of them in bed.

On Saturday morning when I wasn’t up by mid-morning, Hubby Rick came checking on me. He has NEVER seen me spend this much time in bed; even post-surgery.

It just seemed like my body could not move. It just wanted to stay wrapped up in warm blankets and do nothing. Or almost nothing.

The whole situation is a little ironic. Just weeks earlier, I launched my first book, The Mary Experiment: When Doing and Being Collide. In the book, I share how I have tried to slow down my Martha tendencies and build more Mary-ness into my life.

Quite honestly, the last many weeks had been full-on Martha will barely any Mary-time. More than once, I felt a little hypocritical. I’ve let people into my life and tried to convince others and myself that I had changed. But had I really changed?

Not as much as I would like others to think.

And then, my body got a bug that didn’t go away. For days. Soon, I discovered that all I wanted, no, needed, was some Mary time.

I had reached my maximum capacity. And if the only way I would slow down was to physically become ill, then, this is what my body would do.

Ms. Martha-pants would be required to slow down. Let her body recharge, regroup and replenish. Whether I liked it or not, my body was saying, “I’m tired. I’m exhausted.”

Thankfully, I did not have much planned those days. As much as I was looking forward to a couple quiet days when I could do some planning and catching up, there was a different plan. And I needed to discover and follow Plan B.

Folks – we each have a maximum capacity that is unique to us. Your maximum capacity is different than mine. And when you reach your maximum capacity, how your body responds and forces you to slow down may be different than how my body responds. Often, I get sick. Congested. Run down. Tired. Exhausted. My chest is filled with junk. My body aches all over.  And there is only one prescription that really heals me: rest.

So, when I don’t respect or honor my maximum capacity, Plan B gets rolled out. I can will myself to keep going. Often, I do. But there comes a point when it’s best to stop. Surrender. See the larger picture. Rest.

These days between Christmas and New Year’s are often get days to SLOW DOWN. Rest. Enjoy. Savor. Get filled with the right things. Before you reach your maximum capacity and something happens that causes YOU to shut down, I encourage you to make sure YOU don’t reach your maximum capacity.

Instead, fill yourself with the best things that inspire you and give YOU joy.

For days to lower my maximum capacity into a more manageable range, I am grateful.

O God – too often, we think we know best … when really, we don’t. Help us respect and honor our maximum capacities. Encourage us to stop flirting with overload in our lives and slow down and savor the things that fill us. Amen.  

Blessings –


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Telling Stories

Gratitude Day 381

Tues., Dec. 24, 2019

Luke 2:6: While they were there, the time came for Mary to have her baby.

I love to tell stories.

This is one of the main reasons I blog: so, I can tell stories.

Often, the stories are about what is going on in our little Vielhuber world. Something that’s happened to me, Hubby Rick, our grandchildren. Someone we’ve encountered. Or something that has happened to someone that we know and love.

The stories maybe funny, sad, touch your heart or maybe, even make you think. I tell the stories from my perspective and often wonder if others who have experienced the story would agree with my observations or not. But then I remember: this is my story and my perspective.

Likewise, your stories are told from your perspective.

One challenge with stories?

People don’t remember them the same way.

Hubby Rick and I can recall the same event. Often, our details are slightly different. Of course, we think our version and details are right. And sometimes, we just have to agree to disagree.

Christmas is based upon a story. The story of the birth of a baby named Jesus Christ. We are told he was God’s son and born to a teenaged girl named Mary. This is the most retold story of all time. Think of all the children’s Christmas programs. The musicals and plays and movies and dramas that have been created to tell this story over and over. And the details? Well, they aren’t all the same.

Sometimes, we take liberties with this story. We envision how we think the story might have played out. Or we create details that make the story more interesting. It’s hard to relate to a culture from 2,000 years ago, so we adapt the story to accommodate today’s culture and perspective. Is it wrong to do this? Depends on who you ask!

Tonight, we remember and celebrate the birth of a baby. A baby named Jesus who came into this world to change the world forever; which he did. No matter how you see or read or experience the story being told, it’s the basic story that is most important.

And however, you celebrate and remember this story, I pray we let this story make a difference in our lives. Not just for one night or one day. But every day.

This story is the story that has changed history for all time. I pray it’s a story that changes how you view this world, your life, our call and your purpose.

Have a most blessed Christmas, my friends. And thank you for reading along with the stories that I tell here in Simple Words of Faith. I value and love every single person who reads along. I only pray that sometimes my stories encourage you and your story.

Now, one more way to tell the story:


For stories that change us and make us truer to our calling as Christians, I am grateful.

O Holy Night – I pray we celebrate the story that changed the world tonight. Speak to us once again, Most Holy God. Thank you for creating a story that is so special we keep telling it over and over and over. Amen.  

Blessings –


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When Life Throws You Lemons

Gratitude Day 378

Fri., Dec. 20, 2019

Psalm 9:9: The Lord is a safe place for the oppressed— a safe place in difficult times.

When something difficult happens, it is never easy. But around the holidays? It seems even more challenging.

Recently, our dear friend Tatev had an unexpected lemon thrown into her life. Tatev is from the country of Armenia. She is currently working on her PhD at Michigan State University. For many years running, Tatev has spent Christmas with Hubby Rick and me. It’s become an annual tradition for her to travel from Lansing, MI to Poynette, WI. While it’s not traveling to Bethlehem and Tatev has the advantage of more modern transportation, this has become her Christmas homage.

Once in Wisconsin, we spend several days celebrating Christmas, reconnecting and doing fun things together. Often Tatev has participated in Christmas Eve worship. I always knew that I could just write her into the program.  

Tatev planned to spend Christmas 2019 with us as well. About a week ago, tickets were purchased so she could make her annual trek to Poynette.

And then, life changed. Really, it almost stopped for Tatev. Her father unexpectedly passed away last Saturday. It was a shock for Tatev, her Mother and her sisters.

For Tatev, being so far away only made the situation more challenging. Her family encouraged her to stay in American and continue with her “normal” life. But honestly, how can anyone really revert back to “normal” when your world has been turned upside down?

When Tatev and I spoke Saturday night, it became clear that she wanted, no needed, to go back to Armenia. Overwhelmed by her emotions and feelings, Tatev was struggling on trying to decide what to do. When I suggested that I start looking for flights, she accepted my offer to make her travel arrangements.

Per Armenia tradition, the funeral was held three days after the person’s passing. With the time change involved, it was IMPOSSIBLE to get Tatev back to Armenia before the funeral Nonetheless, we agreed that getting Tatev back still priority.

On Sunday morning, a ticket was booked. Tatev would leave on Tuesday and arrive in Armenia on their Thursday. This made the most sense, as Tatev needed to make a couple arrangements with the university before leaving the country.

On Sunday night, I spoke with Tatev again to confirm the travel plans. Her friend Erika was with Tatev. After Tatev and I spoke, Erika came on the phone line. Sunday morning, I had quoted Tatev a ball-park figure for the airfare. By Sunday night, people from Michigan had provided more than enough money to cover the airfare. Erika had shared with folks from where Tatev has participated in church know of her circumstance. In less than 12 hours, several people provided funds to cover more than what was needed for the ticket.

I knew of some other folks who also wanted to support Tatev. We reached an agreement and agreed that the additional funds would be used for incidental travel expenses, as well as be available for Tatev and her family once she arrived in Armenia.

Here’s the deal. Loosing a loved one is difficult. Losing a loved one close to the holidays is painful. Losing a loved one who is half of a world away is ridiculously impossible to navigate. While no one can remove Tatev’s pain and hurt, we could help her get back to her family as quickly as possible. And this is what we did.

I don’t know the names of all the folks who helped cover Tatev’s plane ticket. I don’t need to know them. What I do know is that when life threw Tatev a lemon, they tried to offer her just a little bit of lemonade.

Fortunately, Tatev and I have a wonderful mutual friend named Pam. Pam knows Tatev’s family and was able to attend the funeral. She was met Tatev at the Yerevan airport when Tatev arrived in the middle of the night.

I’m confident each one of us can quickly find someone who is going through one of life’s lemons right now. We can’t fix every situation, nor should we try to do this. What we CAN do is step in and serve up just a little bit of lemonade in their situation.

I know that it’s Christmas next week. I know we all have lots of things to do. But if you become aware of a lemony situation in someone’s life, please stop. Listen. Hear what the person is saying and help them figure out what their next best step is. You can’t remove the lemon for their life … but you might be able to make even a small glass of lemonade for them. Along with the Lord, may we be a safe place for them to land during any difficult time.

For opportunities to witness to others and help them turn a lemony situation into just a bit of lemonade, I am grateful.

Holy God – You are definitely aware of those around us who are struggling with lemony situations. Place it upon our hearts ways that we can take their challenging situation and create just a bit of lemonade for them. Amen.  

Blessings –


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