And Then the Four Weeks Were Gone …

Gratitude Day 485

Fri., July 10, 2020

Judges 15:19a – So God split open the hollow rock in Lehi, and water flowed out of it. When Samson drank, his energy returned and he was recharged.

A short four weeks ago, Hubby Rick began his four-week Sabbatical from his job. In just two days, he will resume driving truck four nights a week.

Clearly, he’s a little sad to be going back to work. A self-proclaimed sun worshipper, he has not complained once about the heat and humidity of the last number of days. Instead, he takes three showers a day and may even go for a bike ride during the most brutal timeslot of the day. His silver white hair contrasts quite loudly with his deeply browned skin. He knows the chances of him dealing with melanoma in some future date are much higher than most other folks.

While on Sabbatical, Rick has gladly accepted opportunities to do “mission” work for other folks. Sometimes I tagged along. Other times, he loaded up his tools and put in hours helping someone with a project. While his project list at home is shorter, it is not wiped cleaned. And we’re both OK with this. Rick is an extremely hard worker. Yet, he also appreciates time to enjoy things that he loves: a long walk, fishing in his kayak, both of us dipping our paddles into the water on the same adventure, wearing out the tires on his bike, hitting golf balls and keeping our lawn, garden and landscaping in tip-top shape.

Some nights, he grilled dinner. Other days, I made meals. We don’t keep a strict meal schedule and may find ourselves searching the refrigerator on our own when our tummies are grumbling. We enjoyed a couple short get-a ways with just the two of us and had planned days with grandchildren, which often involved some sort of water activity.

During these last four weeks, I know that I spent too much time in my office whereas Rick spent endless hours outside. Sometimes when I walked downstairs to replenish my water bottle, I’d discover him taking an afternoon siesta on the couch, recharging himself for his next round of activity.

Rick and I are night and day. Ying and yang. Mary and Martha. Planning in advance for Rick is a couple hours whereas I would have loved to make a list of everything we wanted to do while he was on Sabbatical. Hopefully, I was wise enough to realize this was not MY Sabbatical; it was Rick’s. And I must give him space to do what he wanted to do and not purely what I had in mind.

He never tires of reminding me how much he LOVES the summer and how every day is truly a gift from God. Rick has a light and giving heart and maximized these qualities the last four weeks.

One of Rick’s qualities that I admire the most is his ability to find joy EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. He has the art of seeing good in most every everything he encounters. He needs no recognition and simply quietly goes about his business with the ultimate goal to bring happiness and joy to someone else.

Of the qualities that I struggle, Rick seems to have in abundance. Clearly two opposites attracting, some of his Mary-ness has rubbed off on my Martha-ness that focuses too much on getting things done. He is a living parable that daily reminds me to focus on those things which truly mean the most to me … and forget about the rest.

With this little glimpse into what retirement might look like for us, I enjoyed watching Rick thrive in this Sabbatical. It’s certainly an encouragement for me to be less tied to what I THINK must happen versus paring down to what MUST be done each day.

For Rick’s time of Sabbatical, I am grateful.

Blessings –

Dianne

Holy God – Thank you for this time when Rick can refresh. Thank you for the variety of ways he has served others through mission work. I pray that You bless his return to work. Amen.

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

Gratitude Day 468

Wed., June 3, 2020

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

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

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

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

And she is ready to share her story.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blessings –

Dianne

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

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Staying In Place With the Same People/Person

Gratitude Day 444

Fri., Apr. 2, 2020

Ecclesiastes 9:9: Live happily with the woman you love through the fleeting days of life, for the wife God gives you is your best reward down here for all your earthly toil.

As we move into week five of stay in place, we’re all figuring how just how much we LOVE being with those people who reside in the same house as we do.

Yes, these are the people we are to love the most. Every. Single Day. The people who we’d go to the ends of the earth for. The people who we’d move heaven and earth for.

Well, most of the time.

Except when they leave their underwear on the bathroom floor. Every. Single. Day.

Or drive us nuts with their burping, and possibly, even, their breathing.

While we love them with all of our heart and soul, is all this “together time” testing some of your patience? Love? Choices?

As my late mother-in-law would sometimes say, “In my marriage, I never once considered divorce. Killing, yes, but never divorce.”

Yes, it was always said tongue-in-cheek.

And now, I’m wondering if her son ever has those same thoughts …

Honestly, I must say that the stay-in-place at our Vielhuber household has really been pretty good! We’re both still working, although I’m working from home. We eat lunch together nearly every day, sometimes go for a walk or bike ride. In the evenings when Hubby Rick is home, sometimes we play Scrabble or watch a movie. We’ve both found plenty of things to keep ourselves occupied and yet make time to chat, connect and do things together.

What more could we ask for?

 Now, if you’re feeling like the walls of your house are getting smaller weekly or daily, it’s OK. As much as you can love the people in your house, there will be times when they might drive you just a bit crazy. This is normal. OK. And expected.

So, give yourself permission to go outside and exercise … all by yourself.

Take a drive around the block, blast the radio and pretend that you are going on a road trip to your favorite destination. Come home and tell everyone what a great time you had.

Pour yourself a cup of coffee, call or ZOOM your BFF and imagine that you are sitting at a café and chatting up a storm … without anyone from your house.

Sneak into the grocery store and buy a small container of your favorite ice cream. EAT. THE WHOLE. THING. BY YOURSELF. And please, don’t feel guilty about it.

Go into the bathroom. Close the door. Maybe, even lock the door. And sit. By yourself. Read a magazine. Or a book. Ignore when someone wants you to open the door until the fourth or fifth attempt.

Then, make your housemate’s favorite things for dinner. Spend hours eating together, playing a game and eating popcorn for dessert. Laugh and smile and remember these are the people that you choose to love the most. They are the loves of your life and they mean the world to you. You would kill for them.

For those of you who are staying at home by yourself, treat yourself to things as well. You just might have to get a little more creative when it comes to playing the game together. Facetime your loved ones. Move the pieces for them. And laugh until you cry.

Be safe. Treasure this time. Smile when you can. Laugh out loud. Cry when you must. And celebrate the best rewards of your life: your family.

For loved ones in my life, I am grateful.

Blessings –

Dianne

Holy God – grant us patience to fully love those in our lives, even when they drive us a bit crazy. May we find ways to cope and not drive everyone around us crazy as well. Amen.

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When Relationships Are Important

Gratitude Day 410

Fri., Feb. 21, 2020

Ephesians 4:2: Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.

Most days, I take relationships for granted. While I like to think that I know today is called a gift for a reason, it is also very easy to just assume those people who are so important to us will always be there.

So, we become complacent. Take the day for granted. Promise ourselves that “tomorrow, we’ll make time” for an important relationship.

Folks … let’s not wait until tomorrow. If a relationship IS important, allow for this TODAY!

Whether the relationship is a partner, a child, a grandchild or a friend … it’s worth the extra time in effort.

Hubby Rick and I have been married for nearly two decades. Sometimes, we’re super good about making sure each other knows how important this relationship is to us. Other times? We fail to do so.

But when we take time to bear one another in love, it is amazing how special we both feel.

Would you like a couple examples of how we bear each other in love and make our relationship important? Good! I’m ready to share a few simple ideas.

Small expressions are deeply meaningful. Neither Rick nor I would consider gifts our main love language. We do not get gifts for each other on a regular basis. So, when a gift shows up? It’s kind of a big deal.

Even when the gift seems like such a simple thing.

Hubby Rick likes to “surprise” me at holidays. Often, I won’t receive a card or some other indication of a holiday until, well, a few days or a week or two later. Imagine my surprise on the most recent Valentine’s Day when I discovered this little gift sitting on the kitchen island. Rick works nights. He put out this little gift for me before he went to bed.

But it goes beyond candy and a card. Reese’s cups are my FAVORITE candy. Hands down. Rick knows that I’ve been carefully observing what I eat these days. So, he gave me a box of candy with just a few Reese’s. If I’m going to indulge, then best I indulge with what I really like!

And the card? Well, I didn’t realize how cool this was initially! For the past number of years, Scrabble has been my go-to game. I love the challenge of coming up with words and finding ways to get more points with a word. So, when I opened the card and saw this, my heart simply melted. (NOTE: the letters for WIFE are ACTUAL Scrabble letters! How cool!)

My guess is Rick stopped on his way to work at Walgreens or some other store, ran in and in five minutes, was back in the car. BUT what we picked out for me? Things he knew would be something I would love and appreciate.

Gifts do not have to be large. Big. Out of this world. Reese’s cups and a Scrabble card? What is a girl not to love!

Compared to Rick’s little treats for me, how did I do? Well, it took me a couple days to fully get my gift to Rick together. He is not a big sweet person. If there is one sweet he likes, it’s a lemon meringue pie. Yep, that’s what he got. The entire pie.

Prioritize time with those who you love. Rather than gifts, quality time is more of Rick and my love languages. When we make time to do something fun together, it really is a home run.  

For a few weeks this winter, there was an ice castle exhibit a couple hours from our house. I thought this would be a fun date night for us. Rick took a night off of work and we spent the afternoon and evening in Lake Geneva, culminating by going to the ice castles. The temperature was about 30 degrees, which made for a love night. Snow fell while we were there which made it almost seem magical. Built into the ice castles are lights which change colors. There are places to sled, fire pits with benches around them, water fountains and just a great event for the entire family.

We took our time and enjoyed the evening. We had opportunity to talk about various things, people watch and just be together. We agreed this was a great night.

Now, if getting away for an evening isn’t possible, find a way to do something at home that becomes quality time. Sometimes, we go for a bike ride together (yes, even in the winter!) or a walk. Rick likes it when we bike to a hill not too far from town, walk up and down the hill and then ride our bikes back home. When we choose to do something that the other person enjoys do, we make significant deposits into their love banks. Highly recommended.

Focus on a project that the other person would love. For the past year, Hubby Rick spent countless hours remodeling an old apartment-sized kitchen in the upstairs of our house into a master bathroom.

The space had a complete overhaul. Right down to the studs.

He spent hours and hours getting things just right. When we realized that installing a shower this big was a larger project than he anticipated, he watched hundreds of YouTube videos for suggestions on how to do things right. And when I say hundreds, I’m not exaggerating.

Rick knew this bathroom was something I was looking forward to. While it took awhile to get everything completed, it turned our gorgeous. It truly is a wonderful example of how remaking something can be amazing.

The project does not need to be a bathroom overhaul. It can be a 10- or 15-minute job that simple says to the other person, “I care for you and I want to give something to you just because.”

When I think of all the hours Rick spent getting the bathroom right, I feel loved and appreciated. You can do this same thing for someone else.

Ephesians is clear: be patient, humble and gentle. When we embody these characteristics, we speak loudly to those we love how important they are to us. Yes, we can say the words, “I love you” to someone regularly. And we should! But our actions towards another always speaks than our actual words. This is how we bear one another in love.

For opportunities to honor an important relationship, I am grateful.

Blessings –

Dianne

Dear God – too often, the people who mean the most to us get our leftovers: whatever is left over at the end of the day. Encourage us to prioritize those most special relationships in our lives and make them a priority. Amen.

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Simple Respect

Gratitude Day 394

Tues., Jan. 28, 2019

Philippians 2:29: So, welcome him in the Lord with great joy and show great respect for people like him.

Recently, I recalled something that happened early in my marriage to Hubby Rick with two friends. These two women got such a kick out this little story, I thought you might as well.

Rick and I had been married just a few days. I was living in an apartment before we were married. We planned to move into a house owned by one of the churches that I served at the time. However, they were doing some remodeling to the house and it would be a few weeks. So, Rick “moved in” with me at the apartment after we were married.

At the time, I was attending seminary and gone several days a week. I use the words “moved in” rather loosely. When I was gone, Rick often stayed at the house where he raised his kids. If showing up with a couple grocery bags filled with a few items of clothing “moving in,” well, I guess Rick “moved in.” Honestly, I think his clothes stayed in a laundry basket most of the time we lived at the apartment because we knew that soon, we would be moving. Then, he would move more things.

We tried to get used to living with each other and not feeling awkward about learning each other’s idiosyncrasies. One day, Rick helped me with some of those. It was a weekend when I was back from seminary. I planned to get a few groceries and Rick shared with me three of his non-negotiables when it came to grocery shopping.

  1. There is only one kind of ketchup: Hunt’s. Don’t bring anything else home.
  2. It’s OK to shop frugally … but not when it comes to toilet paper. Buy the good stuff. Period.
  3. He would only eat creamy peanut butter. No crunchy for him.

As silly as these three “rules” sound, it really was very helpful for me to learn these things from the get-go. Rather than me showing up with Heinz and crunchy peanut butter, I knew from the beginning how to keep my new husband happy.

In reality, Rick gave me a huge gift. Rather than showing up with the wrong stuff and then telling me, he made it clear right away. Rick is a simple guy. He’s not really into flashy or high maintenance. By sharing with me what was important to me, he was demonstrating to me great respect. He was trying to make it easier for me. And believe me, I appreciated it!

Rick also established for us a way to share those things that ARE important. By including something as silly (but important) as TP in this early conversation, it became clear that he was OK exploring the topics that might see, well, uncomfortable. Suddenly, it became possible for us to share other little things that are important to us.

Too often, we dance around those things that may seem silly but in reality, ARE important. How much easier life would be if we could simply be honest, respect each other and share specifically how we feel about something. Of course, it MUST be done with care and compassion, not speaking down to the other person. Respect is only extended when the situation is handled in a way that honors the other person.

I have extremely hard to always fulfill Rick’s simple requests. Yes, they may see simple and silly. But is it not a great reminder that often, it’s not the BIG things that make a difference but the simplest of things?

May we discover meaningful and simple ways to honor and respect those that mean the most to us today.

For simple lessons that teach me about respect and honor, I am grateful.

Blessings –

Dianne

Dear God – Thank you for placing it upon Hubby Rick’s heart to share those simple yet poignant choices he desires. Help us to extend respect and honor to those we love dearly by honoring them compassionately with how we treat them. Amen.

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Our Special Thing

Gratitude Day 366

Fri., Nov. 22, 2019

Ephesians 5:25: As for husbands, love your wives just like Christ loved the church and gave himself for her.

We don’t have a favorite song.

Or a dance we call “our own.”

There’s not one particular restaurant that we have claimed as “a special place.”

What we have is this.

This little message between Hubby Rick and me.

Last weekend, I was gone for several days. We’ve been putting in a new master bathroom in the upstairs of our house. A few weeks ago, I asked Rick if we could PLEASE have it completed before Thanksgiving.

So, while I was away, the bathroom mice were completing final projects.

Rick knows me well. He knows that when I come home, the first place I will go is to the latest project he has been working on so I can see the progress. We’ve done this dance before. He is anxious to hear my response to his latest bit of handiwork.

Rarely is he home when I get home. So, it’s become his thing to leave me a little message.

It’s become our “special” thing.

I have hearts in all shapes and sizes that he’s left me with a remodeling project. There’s the really big one he cut out of cardboard that sappy me still has tucked away in a closet. There are ones on paper towels or a piece of wood or whatever was handy.

There are a couple that I don’t have because, well, it was impossible to keep them. The first message left for me was painted on a kitchen wall. I left if for a couple days, but unfortunately, it was eventually painted over.

Then, there was the message he left me in a bathroom in our former house. We were remodeling the bathroom that I used. This time, he drew a big heart with his special message right on the green board on the back wall of the shower. It was right up by the ceiling and not where tile would eventually cover. Did I mention that he drew the message with a Sharpie? Just in case you decide to do something like this, be warned. Sharpie does not cover well with primer. It took MULTIPLE layers of primer before the Sharpie stopped bleeding through. For a while, we were afraid the message might always be visible.  

Every time I see one of these special messages from Rick, it brings a smile to my face. I never tire of seeing them. I don’t anticipate them … but they sure make me feel special.

It truly is one way that Hubby Rick shows his love for me. It’s one way that he gives of himself so that I NEVER forget or take for granted that he wants me to know how special I am to him.

Just like Christ never tires of loving the church.

Sometimes, we think displaying love must be some big, exorbanent production. Let me be very clear. These hand-written messages that come in the shape of a heart mean more to me than an expensive piece of jewelry. Or a fancy dinner out. They ARE Hubby Rick. They are his tune, his dance, his way of showing me how I special I am in him world.

Guess what. It works.

Who might you show just a little special out-of-the-blue affection today? Whether it’s a spouse, a child, a grandchild, a neighbor, a special friend or someone else, how might you express your respect for them today?

For Hubby Rick’s unique way of displaying our special thing, I am grateful. 

P.S. – I’ll show more of the master bathroom soon!

Holy God – Thank you for loving us unconditionally. And thank you for instilling in Hubby Rick’s heart a desire to replicate this. May we be inspired to express our gratitude and love to others. Amen.  

Blessings –

Dianne

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The Empty Container

Gratitude Day 362

Thurs., Nov. 14, 2019

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

It happens, oh, about once a week.

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

And it always makes me smile.

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

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

An empty, but dirty container.

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

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

Just once.

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

Or irritate me.

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

Maybe it’s not dirty containers at your house.

Maybe it’s dirty underwear on the bathroom floor.

Or shoes right inside the door.

Possibly its toothpaste left in the sink.

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

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

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

His name was Jesus.

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

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

And he says this to you as well.

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

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

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

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

Blessings –

Dianne

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When You Say “I Will”

Gratitude Day 328

Sat., Sept. 21, 2019

Mark 10:9: “Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

A little note for my niece Carissa and her finance, Jesse, who will be married today.

Dear Carissa & Jesse –

Today, you are making the second most important decision of your life when you choose who your spouse will be. It’s the second most important decision because the first most important decision is choosing to have God in your lives. As you are having this marriage confirmed within the spirit and eyes of God, you combine both of these big choices into one single event.

When you say “I will” today, you are saying “I will” to many things:

  • I will love my spouse unconditionally; even when they irritate me, leave their underwear on the bathroom floor and are late for dinner … again.
  • I will honor this person the way I desire for them to honor me.
  • I will pray for and with this person knowing that when two people carry the yoke of any problem, it is lighter. Most importantly, I will turn over this person to God and ask for God’s guidance in their life, my life and our marriage.
  • I will overlook the meniscal flaws and instead make sure to point out the positive ways they affect my life.
  • I will stand with my spouse on the crappy days as well as the good days.
  • I will encourage my spouse to grow into the person God calls them to be, knowing this may look different from what I prefer.
  • I will listen to my spouse more than I will speak.
  • I will be my spouse’s biggest cheerleader.
  • I will extend the respect I desire for myself to my spouse.
  • I will frequently revisit the reasons why I chose this person as my spouse. I will extend the list of reasons why I want to spend the rest of my life with this person.
  • I will hold this person’s hand when they are challenged. I will hug them every time we have been blessed beyond our expectation.
  • I will expect our best years as something in the future.
  • I will keep my relationship with God as the foremost relationship in my life, followed quickly by my relationship with my spouse.
  • I will anticipate and know that God journeys with us. It is just our responsibility to make sure and include Go in our marriage every day.

Please enjoy and celebrate today. And tomorrow and every day forward, continue the important choose of recommitting to your spouse once again. Do this every morning. I pray your love and commitment to one another will only deepen and expand.

Blessings –

Uncle Rick & Auntie Dianne

For the joy of celebrating Carissa and Jesse’s marriage, I am grateful. 

Holy God – bless today the joining together of Jesse and Carissa. I pray you become the strong third string that holds their marriage and relationship together.  Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Happy Anniversary, Hubby Rick.

Gratitude Day 318

Mon., Aug. 26, 2019

John 15:9 – (Jesus said,) “As the Father has loved me, I have also loved you. Remain in my love.  

Dear Hubby Rick –

On this day, nineteen years ago, we said, “I do.”

What a glorious day this was. A day that forever changed my life and one that I never want to take for granted. It is the day by which so many other events in my life are measured by.

Often, I think of something as “post-marriage” or “pre-marriage.” I celebrate the precious moments that we have had together and often wished you had been a part of my life much earlier; even though I’m not sure you would have fully “liked” that Dianne.

I have discovered so much more about myself, other people and relationships because of your spot in my life. My faith has matured, my compassion deepened, and my experience grown. I’ve explored feelings, situations and realities that I would have never encountered without you in my life. Walking with you has made me a better person.

Thank you for being patient with me when I needed to process something or come to a clearer understanding of something going on in our lives. Please forgive me for all the times I have poked fun at you; especially your age. You’ve continued to love and care for me, even in moments when I disappointed you and let you down.

While we had weathered a few challenging storms before our wedding day, we were not always prepared for various situations in our marriage. Together, we have remained committed to each other above everything else; something that makes me love you even more.

One day, you told me that while there would be times when it appeared that I would not be the most important priority in your life. But at the end of the day, I always would be the most important thing in your life, after your relationship with God. Thank you for this gift. Unfortunately, I needed to hear this, know this and believe this. I admire you for taking this commitment seriously and living it. When I have failed to live with this same commitment towards you, thank you for accepting me with my flaws and shortcomings.

I pray that I view every day with you truly as a gift. I celebrate every opportunity we have to spend time just with each other. While we have collected chestfulls of memories in these nineteen years, I pray that we are blessed with many more years and opportunities to build our memory banks.

Thanks for adding laughter and humor to my life. Thanks for supporting so many of my crazy ideas and thoughts. Thanks for listening and encouraging me. Thanks for praying with me, sharing a faith journey together and keeping our relationship always rooted in God’s love for us and each other.

Most of all, thanks for saying, “I do.”

All My Love –

PD

For the blessing of Hubby Rick being my husband and such an important part of my life, I am grateful.

Lord God – thank you for bringing a spirit-filled man named Hubby Rick into my life. Thank you for drawing us together and helping us fall in love. May we always see our relationship as rooted in Your love and celebrate the ways you made us so unique and different from each other. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Be Six Again

Gratitude Day 302

Mon., July 15, 2019

Ecclesiastes 7:3 – Choose sorrow over laughter because a sad face may hide a happy heart.

Hubby Rick has a daily goal which is really very simple but rather profound: make someone laugh each day.

Or at least smile.

On most days, he bats 100%.

Often, I’m the one whom he works his magic on.

And I am so thankful for this.

I’m too serious. I make lists. I like to check things off of lists. I like to plan. I like to know what I’m going to be doing today before, well, noon.

Rick is anything but these things.

He loves to make light of things. He flies by the seat of his pants. What he gets done today is a joy. And why plan tonight when we need to see what the weather will be like tomorrow.

Truth be known? He is a lot more fun to be around.

And I am so thankful for this.

I’m the grandparent who disciplines. I’m the grandparent who sets boundaries. I’m the grandparent who makes sure we are fed, hydrated and on time.

Hubby Rick? Well, he’s the fun grandparent. The one whose very name or presence brings a smile and joy to their hearts. He’s the one who the neighbors stop by to see what he’s up to because, well, with Rick, you just never know. There’s always a surprise lurking just around the corner, waiting to be exposed and laughed over. 

And I am so thankful for this.

Somehow, the man never really stopped being six.

Don’t get me wrong. He works hard, plays hard and has an endless amount of ideas and ways to do things. But he also makes sure that whatever job is at hand is done with just a bit of lightness. Fun. Laughter.

And I am so thankful for this.

Today, discover every possibility you can to bring joy and laughter to someone’s day. Not unnecessary or fake laughter. But true, honest-to-goodness reasons to laugh and smile and extend joy.

That’s all. Nothing more. Just some good old laughter.

And then, at the end of the day … see how it feels. Recall how it felt.

Be six again.  

Be thankful for this.

For the gift of laughter and those who love to make it part of their ordinary, everyday living, I am grateful.

Dear God – thank you for the gift of humor and laughter. May we intentionally discover and live joy and laughter every day. Yes, there are days when maybe it’s hard to find joy and happiness. But may knowing You bring a smile to our faces and joy to the day. Help us be six again. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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