God of the Small Things

Gratitude Day 462

Sat., May 23, 2020

Luke 16:10 – (Jesus said,) “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much.”

We often think of Memorial Day weekend as the unofficial beginning of summer. Yet, the weekend may feel quite different. Many Memorial Day celebrations cancelled. Normally full of graduation parties, many of these have been delayed. Brat Fest has been canceled. Normally, lots of bands would be playing outdoors and neighborhood gatherings or chicken BBQ’s. Things are just a lot different this year.

Yet, there are lots and lots of reasons to celebrate this weekend:

  • We live in a country based on the ability to make choices.
  • We can hang our flags outdoors.
  • We can visit a cemetery and remember loved ones.
  • We can appreciate the folks we know who have served in the armed forces.
  • We can know that we are loved by Jesus.

So, rather than being disappointed in what we cannot do this weekend, let’s celebrate what we CAN do. And do it well.

I’m reminded again and again simply how important the little things are. These little things have captured my attention lately:

This book. It’s written by a man who was a doctor and was diagnosed with cancer while finishing up his residency. The book wasn’t quite finished when he passed away, but it was published. This man love literature. He was a skilled surgeon. He integrated his faith into both. An interesting read for those who struggle with how science and faith and words fit together.

Mr Rosebud tree the end of the week.

This tree. It’s blooming again in our yard and its beauty stuns we every year.

These kayaks. We dusted them off on Thursday and took three grandkids kayaking. Yes, the water was chilly. We might need one more, as we couldn’t fit all of us in two kayaks. We’re looking forward to using them more this summer.

This baby bird. While the grandkids were at our house this week, they discovered this new bird. He didn’t quite know how to fly yet.

This picture. It’s taken just a couple miles from one of the first churches that I served in Denzer, WI. A local lady took it. Isn’t it so cool?

These apple blossoms. They are blooming right now and are stunning.

How many wonderful, little things can you explore, discover and enjoy this weekend? A whole lot more than you’d ever expect.

For God’s blessings in the little things, I am grateful.

Blessings –

Dianne

Holy God – May we never tire of the little things that often are the big things. Amen.

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Let’s Have a Big Old Graduation Celebration!

Gratitude Day 454

Mon., May 11, 2020

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.

Over the weekend, I was going through some boxes of things and ran across items from when I graduated: my diplomas and the tassels I received. Each time I participated in a graduation ceremony, high school, college bachelor’s degree and seminary master’s degree, it felt like a monumental event in my life. I had completed a benchmark moment in my life. I had hope for the next period of my life and felt I was moving towards the next major step in my life.

As I looked held the memories from my graduation days in my hands, the truth was not lost on me that so many graduates this spring will not have the same opportunity that I did. They won’t get to walk across a stage and hug and high-five their fellow classmates. Family won’t travel from afar to recognize this significant event in their lives. This spring’s graduation celebrations will be so different from my graduations.

I had awards banquets and parties and celebrations and pictures. I donned a robe and mortar board and ceremoniously moved the tassel from one side of the cap to the next after we received our diplomas. I attended classmates’ celebrations and said good-bye to favorite teachers with promises to keep in touch.

Graduating seniors are experiencing a completely different culture this spring. One day they were attending classes at school; the next day, they weren’t. Many missed spring sports and the hope of accomplishing a goal in the process. For this spring’s graduates, the end of the school year seems quite different because, well, it is.

I’ve been impressed with the creativity that various schools have embodied to honor their graduates: signs, banners and online recognitions. Principals making personal visits to graduates. Senior of the day postings in social media. Anything that could help this year’s graduates feel even a little bit special for a hot minute.

My guess is that we all know at least one person who will be graduating this spring. Whether is high school, college, a graduate degree, kindergarten, 8th grade or a tech school: they won’t be having a ceremony like we’ve historically experienced. There won’t be any hot gyms for families to sit in or caps that fall off a graduate’s head too easily. Senior skip day has turned into a couple months’ worth of missing school. Scholarship winners won’t get to shake hands with donors nor medals put around necks for those who achieved specific accomplishments. Families won’t spontaneously break out into applause after their loved one’s name is read and we won’t get sick of ham sandwiches and potato salad during the month of May.

Graduates have reason to feel cheated. Disappointed. Let down.

So, I want to do just a little something to help them feel special. Honored. Recognized.

This Wednesday night, I invite you to invite those people you know who are graduating this spring for a special edition of Devos with Dianne. We’re going to celebrate the heck out of their accomplishments and shower them with lots of love. No, it won’t be a graduation ceremony. Nor will Orpah drop in and give advice. But let’s take a few minutes and let this spring’s graduates have a hot minute of recognition.

In order for this to work, I need your help. First, contact those people you know who are graduating and invite them to Devos with Dianne on Wed. night, May 13, at 8 PM on Facebook Live. Tag them with this post or forward it to them and ask them to join you. Send me a digital photo of the graduate(s). We’ll show them during Devos with Dianne and I’ll invite everyone to virtually applaud.

Then, on Wednesday night, encourage them to hop online with us, wearing their cap and grown. I’d love for people to share photos of their graduate while we’re online watching Devos, decked out in their cap and gown. Make the time special by having a cupcake or something else ready to celebrate. Bring a candle and we’ll light them together to honor these grads.

What if you don’t know a graduate? Show up anyways!! We need the rest of YOU to be the audience and celebrate their accomplishment! We need folks to virtually high-five them and clap as their name is read and show them so serious love.

Each time I graduated; I was very aware that God had a plan for the next phase of my life. Maybe I knew what it would look like. Sometimes, I didn’t. What I did know is that I wanted God to be a part of my journey and my plan. This year’s graduates need this encouragement, just as much as I did, when I received my diploma. Let’s join together in praying for their journeys. Celebrating their accomplishments. Blessing the next step of their journey.

I pray that together, we have a FANTASTIC time Wednesday night honoring our graduates. But I need YOUR help to make this work. Send me photos of the graduates you know. Invite them to participate Wednesday night. Show up so together, we can honor and bless them.

For God’s involvement with this year’s graduates, I am grateful.

Blessings –

Dianne

Dear God – We know you didn’t cause all of these graduation celebrations to be delayed or canceled. We know you love every single graduate and have a special plan for their lives. Inspire us to creatively honor and bless them this week. May we show up and applaud all of their hard work. We know you’ll be at our virtual graduation celebration, ready to bless these graduates. I pray we invite those who are ready to be blessed by You. Amen.

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Welcome Weekend!

Gratitude Day 453

Sat., May 9, 2020

“Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: ‘Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.’”

Good Saturday morning! This is the day that the Lord has made! Let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Sometimes on Saturday’s, I share just a few random things that have been floating around in my life. Just little pieces of inspiration that I pray bring some joy into your weekend/week. Let’s get started!

The local farmer’s market in our community is opening this weekend. We plan to go down this morning and support it. I love to support local. And this is one way we can do this. I encourage you to do the same if the opportunity is available to you.

On Wednesday nights, I’ve been sharing Devos with Dianne on Facebook Live. It’s a time where I do a 20-minuteish devotion. This week, the weather was so nice I sat out on our beautiful screened-in porch. The topic? Where have you seen someone extend joy and kindness to someone else lately. If you miss Devos with Dianne on Wednesday nights, you can also go back and watch it later.

Have you seen the movie Five Feet Apart? We had not until recently. In these days of social distancing, it’s a fascinating movie to watch, although it was released over a year ago. The movie is about 17-year-old Stella who basically lives at a hospital as a cystic fibrosis patient. Her life is filled with routines and boundaries, which give her a sense of control. This is, until she meets Will, a charming teen with the same illness. While there is an attraction between the two CF teens, restrictions dictate that they must maintain a safe distance between them.

Living at a care facility right now is challenging. My nearly 90-year-old aunt has been on lockdown for two months. While she is an incredibly positive person, it is becoming wearing. Click on this little story that shares how one community reached out to the folks at the local nursing home and assisted living to brighten their days during this extended time of isolation. The person who organized this and owns Creative Touch Floral? She just happens to be my sister, Debbie.

When I think of Mother’s Day, I immediately think of trillium. It’s a wildflower that usually blooms this time of year. Growing up, we used to pick buckets full of trillium on Mother’s Day. We have a small patch in our yard that is blooming right now. My attentive Hubby Rick covered them for me last night because he knows how much I love trillium and the memories these flowers well up inside of me.

Speaking of Mother’s Day, here’s a shout out to all of you Moms, grandmas, daughters, and women who are influential in someone else’s life. I pray that you have a wonderful weekend, knowing that how we remember the special women in our lives will be quite different this year. Nonetheless it’s a wonderful time to reach out to those women who are important to us. My Mom is gone. But I have plans to let another woman who means a lot to me know this. If your Mom is gone, I encourage you to do the same.

Have a wonderful weekend, my friends. And thanks for following along with Simple Words of Faith. You mean the world to me!

For those women who have inspired us, I am grateful.

Blessings –

Dianne

Holy God – thank you for bringing important role models and mentors into my life. Sometimes, this is our Mom. Sometimes, it’s another woman. It’s not just one woman who has touched us, but often a group of different women. Thank you for the role these women have played in my life. Amen.

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Emptying Out the Kitchen

Gratitude Day 452

Fri., May 8, 2020

Mark 8:4 – His disciples responded, “What do you expect us to do about it? Buy food out here in the desert?”

It’s become my newest coronavirus distraction: how long can I wait before going to the grocery store?

A few weeks back, I decided that this was a great time to really clean out the food in the fridge, the pantry, and the freezer. The fridge needs a good cleaning. Wouldn’t it be easier if it were nearly empty? There are things in the pantry that, well, either need to be used or thrown out. And the freezer? I always like to see the bottom of our chest freezer at least once a year.

Most years, as Lent rolls around, I promise myself that this year, I’m really going to use up a lot of the food that we have. This lasts until my first trip to the grocery store. Soon, the pantry is as full as it has ever been.

But this time? I’m telling myself that I’m committed. Now that I’m telling you this as well, the pressure is on; right?

I am allowing for two caveats: milk and eggs. But that’s it.  

Slowly, I’ve been finding ways to use those things that should have been used up awhile ago. But weren’t. About a week, I ran out of white sugar. Now, I’m being creative with substitutions.

I am a self-proclaimed salad-aholic. Seriously, if the lettuce is fresh and crisp, I could eat one EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. I chopped up the last Romaine lettuce on Monday. Hubby Rick had tacos and I had a taco salad. How long can I go without a salad? We shall see.

As time goes on, I’m becoming more creative. The only fresh vegetable that remains is a bag of carrots and a few slices of cucumber. We had an appetizer bar for lunch today: artichoke dip with toast squares, cocktail wieners, and dip with cucumbers. I know. It’s not completely carb friendly … but was really fun to see how many appetizers I could come up with!

Thankfully, there are veggies and fruit in the freezer. We have plenty of meat as well. I kept thinking that I would delay going to the story until later this week. After another evaluation of the reserves on hand, I’m going to see if I can stretch it another week or so. There are still plenty of condiments in the fridge yet … so we’re good to go.

So, what’s the big deal about seeing how much food I can use up before going to the grocery store? Turning this into some theological lesson might be a stretch … right?

As we go through this pandemic, I keep thinking that things really could be SO. MUCH. WORSE. I think back to World War II and how so many things were rationed. I have a couple of my grandparent’s ration cards yet. Sugar, tires, coffee. While some items have had limits on them at various times and this may happen again, generally speaking, we CAN buy what we need as well as what we want. I’m not sure that we have truly experienced a desert-like situation of not being able to get what we want at the grocery store.

I think of the thousands of people who have made much more significant sacrifices than I have in these last weeks. My sacrifice seems meager. Not enough. Too easy.

Another part of this little lesson and exercise is gaining a deeper appreciation for the large quantity of cheap food we have here in the United States. The average percentage of disposable income we spend on food is much less than other countries in this world. We have access to basically anything we want at any time of the year. I remember paying over $1 for a single orange when I lived in Kazakstan one winter. My monthly salary was supposed to be $150/month … when I got paid. The 69 cents I paid for an orange several weeks ago feels like a steal.

As we sit down to eat lunch together these days, Hubby Rick often says, “What concoction do we have today?” I’m not sure it’s a good sign when I have to explain what is before us.

Am I just trying to “trick” my brain into thinking this tiny, little sacrifice is, well, at least something? Of course, I am! But then again, I’m not trying to feed teenagers or kids. Or a picky eater.

Call it a COVID-19 coping mechanism. Call it reducing inventory. Call it what I should be doing on a more regular basis. Maybe it’s a little way to let my creative side come out these days as I figure out what’s for dinner … based solely on what’s in the house. We’re still a long way away from a desert-like kitchen. I squirrled away the ingredients for Rick’s favorite salad a couple weeks ago. He will be so surprised!

For trying to fully appreciate all the high-quality food we have available to us, I am grateful.

Blessings –

Dianne

Dear God – for most of us, a reliable quantity of food is just a given. Having to wait for a cut of meat is truly a first-world problem. I pray that we can develop a deeper appreciation for the cheap, high-quality food source available to us.  Amen.

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39 Years Ago, a Thing Happened

Gratitude Day 450

Mon., May 4, 2020

Joshua 1:9: Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Thirty-nine years ago, on May 3rd, a thing happened.

No, I didn’t get my driver’s license. (It would be a few more years before this happened.) Nor did I discover my first boyfriend.

Actually, it was something that happened within my spiritual life.

I confirmed my faith at the Augusta United Methodist Church.

I was in 8th grade and had completed two years of instruction to prepare me for the day when I would assume responsibility for my own spiritual journey. In the tradition I am involved, confirmation is when a person “confirms” the promises their parents made on their behalf at baptism. Promises in which the person declares their faith in God and the Holy Trinity. Their believe in sin in this world and their ability to sin. How we will support the church.

It felt like a big day, which it was. Three other classmates and I had met with Rev. Barnes weekly during the school year. Now, it was time for us to publicly share our desire to declare our belief in God and commit to making God part of our spiritual lives forever.

Honestly, I didn’t understand all of this when I was confirmed. I don’t blame Rev. Barnes for my lack of understanding. It had much more to do with me not listening or comprehending. At the time, confirmation felt more like a rite of passage: an important life event that was what teens my age did. My elder siblings were confirmed. Now, it simply was my turn.

Because of a family death, Rev. Barnes was not able to be in worship on Confirmation Sunday. A retired pastor, Rev. Walker, lived in the community. He led worship this day. Actually, Rev. Walker was the pastor when I was baptized, so it was kind of neat he was leading worship the day I was confirmed.

I think I expected something “special” to happen that day. Like, I would suddenly feel closer to God and understand just who God was. Maybe this happens for some people on their confirmation day. Honestly, it didn’t happen for me. In my memory, it seemed like a nice worship service. But I’m not sure that I felt any differently spiritually on May 4th than I did on May 2nd.

I did take seriously my commitment to be involved in the local church. As a teen, I participated in a variety of activities and leadership roles at this church. My first “official” public speaking role (outside of 4-H) happened at this church. I served because, well, that was the commitment I had made. I watched my parents serve in a variety of roles, inside and outside of the church, and this is what I was going to do.

It took years, and I literally mean YEARS before I began to understand what a personal relationship with Jesus looked like. When I left for college, I drug the Bible that my parents gave to me on Confirmation Sunday with me. But let’s be honest. It basically collected a lot of dust. After college, I became involved in a church and volunteered for a variety of roles. I dated a guy for awhile who questioned why I was so involved at my church. My response spoke more about “this is what I am supposed do” than understanding that living one’s faith means loving God and your neighbor as an expression of your faith … and this involves service within a faith community.

I was near 30 when I signed up for a Bible study where I begin to see what confirming one’s faith really means. This time around, I read a significant part of the Bible. I began to hear God’s promises over and over. I saw God’s presence as a major thread through humanity for thousands of years, as well as my own life. Faith was no longer something I understood just in my head; faith now became much more personal and something in my heart.

Finally, I began to understand faith differently in my life. I felt different, allowed faith to affect choices that I made and wanted to let God into all the areas of my life. For years, I was what I would call a really good pew Christian: someone who sat in the pew week after week. I gave, I served, I shared my gifts. But now? I let God into my daily decision making. I prayed earnestly for others and myself. I realized that if God was going to be a part of my life, then God needed to be involved in all areas of my life. Period.

This is the time of year when many teens “confirm” their faith. They reaffirm the baptismal vows that their parents made for them earlier in their life. They make promises to assume responsibility for their own spiritual journey. Many of these confirmation celebrations have been postponed and delayed until they can happen within a faith community worshiping physically together.

Whether you are a student who is disappointed in having to wait for their confirmation Sunday; or someone who isn’t really sure what faith is; or confirmed at some point but still not sure what this really means: here’s my message is you: No matter where you are in your spiritual journey, you don’t have to know everything there is to know about God. It ain’t going to happen. And this is OK.

Simply, give yourself some space and opportunity to know God on a personal level. As a friend. As one of those people you turn to when you’re having a rotten day and you need a shoulder to cry on as well, as well as on those great days that you really want someone to celebrate something super cool that happened in your life. Let God be one of these people who you turn to.

God doesn’t promise easy lives if we profess our faith in God. God doesn’t remove every hardship or challenge that comes our way. What God does assure of us is that we don’t ever have to be alone. And this, my friends, is Good News.

Today, we all have an opportunity to confirm our faith in God. We can do this anywhere. I invite you to speak with God for a bit today. Share your heart. Let go of your fears and disappointments. Will you feel closer to God if you do? I can’t say for sure. What I can say is that if you do this day after day after day, maybe something inside of you will begin to slowly change.  As you allow God to see more of your life, you will discover opportunities to include God in more of your life.

Spiritual journeys aren’t always about earthquake events. Yes, they can be. More often, spiritual journeys are taking a few small steps forward, followed by a leap back, more small steps forward followed by something that causes backslide. Our spiritual lives are not a spring. They are a marathon.

I pray you “confirm” your faith in God this day, even if you aren’t fully sure what this means. Confirm to love God and neighbor with every thread of your being. Agree to share some of your special gifts with the rest of God’s kingdom. And commit to seeking God out more in your daily life.

For the opportunity to discover God and confirm my faith, I am grateful.

Blessings –

Dianne

Dear God – thank you for being patient with us as we explore faith and what it means to us. May we explore this journey together. Amen.

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What I Learned in April … and March

Gratitude Day 448

Thurs., Apr. 30, 2020

Ephesians 1:18: My prayer is that light will flood your hearts and that you will understand the hope that was given to you when God chose you. Then you will discover the glorious blessings that will be yours together with all of God’s people.

When 2020 began, I challenged myself to pause at the end of each month and reflect upon little things that I discovered or rediscovered or relearned in the previous month.

I was doing so good. And then, COVID-19 happened. Somehow, this little exercise got lost the end of March. So today, I offer up a plate of little ideas that have been muddling through my brain this past period of time. As you read through the things that I have discovered/rediscovered/relearned, think about what your growing edges have been these past few weeks.

The most Captain Obvious statement I could make: the entire world has shifted in the last 60 days because of something we call COVID-19. We can talk about 100-year floods and 9.11 and tsunami’s and the Great Recession as life-changing events. And they were. Yet, it’s a pesky, lethal, infectious virus that will be the defining life event for many of us.

What’s different about COVID-19? It doesn’t discriminate based on geography, age, socio-economic and a whole host of other reasons. Yes, certain people groups are more susceptible. Yet, it has caused disruption into EVERY. SINGLE. PERSON. WE. KNOW. Our friends who live outside the United States. Those who are discovering how to help home school their children. Our high-risk neighbors who must be oh, so careful about who they expose themselves to. Our front-line workers whose essential occupations should never be taken for granted again.

The impact is life-changing and never ending. We’re watching our food chains become terribly displaced and challenged beyond belief. Our country which is often touted as having the best healthcare in the world as experienced more positive cases and deaths than anywhere else in the world. More Americans have died from COVID-19 than during the Vietnam war.

Shortly after this crisis was declared a pandemic, Hubby Rick shared with our grandkids that they would be living through an event that will forever change their lives. I do not believe his statement was overstated and probably understated. This is the event by which all other crisis will be defined.

My Aunt Beverly lives in Denver, CO. She will be 90 in July. Aunt Bev lives in a care facility. Since March 8, she has been able to leave her room only once a day, for the sole purpose of walking down to get her mail. Otherwise, she eats every meal in her room. Her only “visitors” are the facility’s staff. Recently, she wrote me this:

“It is so difficult being in our rooms all the time. They even bring own meals to us ‘at home.’ I’m so weary of being cooped up. I’ve lived through world wars and lots of other events, but this pandemic is the worst.”

We have our own stories and interpretations of how this pandemic has affected us. The lens through which we process this virus is most often based upon where we are affected the most. These stories are oh, so different. The story of an exhausted nurse treating COVID-19 patients is not the same as a dairy farmer who is dumping milk because processing chains couldn’t shift fast enough. Small business owners hoping to reopen their life’s passions are as important as the creative means by which teachers are educating from afar. And the list goes on and on and on …

Crisis have the opportunity to pull out the best within ourselves … if we make this choice. I pray that we all choose to do all the good we can today and tomorrow and the next day as we journey through this time together.

All those things we “thought” were so important? Well, they’ve been put on “hold.” For some, these things are huge disappointments. No graduation ceremony. Missing your high school prom. Sporting events and birthday parties and confirmation celebrations and delayed weddings. The list is long, deep and difficult.

Some people feel terribly “robbed” of these benchmark times in their lives, as they should. The grief and disappointment are real. It is not to be minimized.

Yet, somehow, we’ve reclaimed some things that were too often lost in the shuffle. Eating meals together. Cooking at home. Time to play games and have real conversations. There has been more dog walking and people walking outside than in years. Our neighbors and Hubby Rick have been working on our lawns for weeks. Some of us have rediscovered the art of real phone calls and sending cards and letters. These are all good things. I pray we remember these are special opportunities and times which should continue beyond stay-in-place orders.

Most of us truly are all old dogs learning some new tricks these days, including myself. Online meeting platforms are getting heavy workouts these days. Artists desperate to uplift and encourage folks are collaborating and creating content in new and different ways. We’re worshiping in new ways, visiting the doctor virtually and depending upon curbside pick-up like never before. The latest fashion statement is a mask, often styled to express our passions and interests.

How will all of this translate tomorrow and next week and next month as we eventually begin moving towards our previous lives? I’m confident there will become new definitions and expressions of “normal” in our lives. We have unique opportunities to embrace ideas and concepts that previously were considered too sacred to change. This will be scary for many people and warmly embraced by others. I pray we embrace grace and compassion as we navigate new “norms” in our lives.

What lessons have you discovered about yourself in these last weeks? Where do you find yourself cautious about timid versus anxious and stressed? I pray that we see this time as important. Necessary. Potentially life changing. A time to lean into our faith and be guided by the One who loves us, cares for us and journeys with us. Amen.

For life lessons that keep challenging us, I am grateful.

Blessings –

Dianne

Dear God – Some of us embrace new and different things openly. Others, only kick and scream. May we have open hearts to hear the lessons and stories that you long for us to observe and hear. May we embrace grace and compassion as we journey through this time together. Amen.

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Stay In Saturday

Gratitude Day 445

Sat., Apr. 25, 2020

2 Corinthians 6:6: We have proved ourselves to be what we claim by our wholesome lives and by our understanding of the Gospel and by our patience. We have been kind and truly loving and filled with the Holy Spirit.

Before COVID-19, this would be a normal conversation between Hubby Rick and I on Thursday afternoon. (FYI – Rick’s workweek starts on Sunday and he works nights. So, when it gets up on Thursday mid-day, it’s the beginning of his weekend.)

RICK:  What do we have going this weekend?

DIANNE: Tonight, I have _____. Tomorrow, I’m doing ____ during the day and in the evening, we are _____. Saturday looks like ____. And on Sunday, we will be worshiping ____.

Since mid-March, this is how this conversation now goes:

RICK:  What do we have going this weekend?

DIANNE: Same as last weekend. Whatever we want to do at home.

Anyone else feel like you’ve had a year of Saturday’s in which you’ve stayed home and done, well, almost nothing? Or hopefully something?

By now, I should have every closet cleaned out. Every picture put into a book. And a complete plan for how we’re going to remodel the last room in our house.

But I don’t.

Please let me know that I’m not the only one who has failed miserably in getting those things done that never seem to quite get accomplished.

So, instead of accomplishing all those things, what have I been doing?

Finding remarkably interesting things online to distract me. Take up my time. Pivot me from what I should be doing. And I’m all ready to share those things with you as well!

Here we go.

Forgiveness 75 years later. 2020 marks the 75th anniversary of the ending of World War II and the liberation of concentration camps across Europe. Earlier this month, 60 Minutes aired a piece that shows how the history and experiences of various concentration camp survivors is being preserved. It is simply fascinating. What I found extremely interesting in this piece is the various survivors views on forgiveness. It’s a start reminder that we do not have to have similar views on faith, God, and forgiveness. I encourage you to be touched by this piece I found very meaningful. (Click on the underlined sentence and you will be taken to the story. )

I’ve been listening to this book on audio tape. Honestly, I’m spending A LOT less time in the car these days. And this is normally, where I listen to audio books. I’ve had this book on loan from the library for too long and decided that yes, I can listen to it while working in my office. A few months ago, I shared with you the book The Tattooist of Auschwitz. Cilka’s Journey is written by the same author, Heather Morris, and features a character from the first book. In Cilka’s Journey, World War II has ended. Cilka was a Jewish POW. Because she received special treatment from German officers, she is back in a camp. I have about 25% of this book left to listen to and am enjoying it. The story is heart-wrenching but the book is well-written.

Somehow, I never ran across the musical group Home Free until this week. They are a country-tinged a cappella vocal group from Mankato, Minnesota. Think Pentatonix with a twang. The group won The Sing-Off in 2013. (Clearly, I haven’t been much of a follower of these types of TV contests.)

They have a few traditional Christian songs. I think you will like their version of “How Great Thou Art.”

Now, if you like country music, this rendition of “Elvira” features the Oak Ridge Boys and has fantastic harmony and singing. If you like tight harmony, you will like this song:

The best lesson about stewardship I have heard in a long, long time. Actually, the lesson is about way more than stewardship. The storyteller is someone you will recognize. The star the story is a Kansas farmer. If you watch nothing else from this e-mail today, please, please, please take 5:30 minutes to watch this. And then, challenge yourself to think of how you might let the best of yourself shine in your neck of the woods today.

Another focus of mine right now? Finding an extra dose of patience today. And tomorrow. And the next day. It can become so easy to feel that what we personally want should be at the top of our list. But honestly, can we please just realize this is really not what is needed. Patience, my friends, really is where it’s at. Patience so we can keep the number of affected people down. Patience that we can let the best of ourselves come out and be what we others see within us. I pray we allow the Holy Spirit to grace us with this patience.

While it’s another Stay In Saturday at the Vielhuber’s, we will make the most of our day. I pray you will as well. Just in case you’re feeling a little disconnected, read this and pretend we’re having a cup of coffee together. Stay well and safe, my friends.

For ways we can make the most of our days at home, I am grateful.

Blessings –

Dianne

Dear God – This is such a different time in our world right now. I pray that we see this time as one in which we slow down. Enjoy little things in life. Celebrate small wins rather than feeling the need to hit home runs every day. Thanks for  Amen.

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A Prayer for Today

Gratitude Day 441

Wed., Apr. 15, 2020

Romans 8:26: In the same way, the Spirit comes to help our weakness. And while they dance, people sing: “The source of my life comes from you.”

Hello God –

Just stopping by to say, “Good Day.” And share a few things I’ve been thinking about.

Sometimes, people wonder where You are right now. And here’s what I say:

You are present with the people I know who have COVID-19 right now, even as their health maybe declining.

You are with the folks who are slowly recovering from the virus, who are trying to get stronger.

You are with the people who have been laid-off and not sure what to do next about employment.

You are with all the small business owners who have shuttered their businesses and wondering if reopening makes sense.

You are with the business owners who are still operating, often with employee’s set-up at home, but aren’t sure how they are going to make their next payroll.

You are with the doctors who are stumped by a virus they know very little about.

You are with the nurses who are exhausted and sheltering from their families to keep them safe.

You are with every parent who is learning homeschooling on the fly … while also being the PE instructor, the lunchroom supervisor … and still trying to work from home.

You are with every single person who is staying in place by themselves and feeling a bit isolated.

You are with every dairy producer who has had to dump milk, knowing the local food pantry can’t keep up with demand.

You are with every graduate who feels cheated of a graduation ceremony right now.

You are with the girls who look at their Prom dresses and wonder if it will be worn.

You are with every child who just wants to have a birthday party … and can’t.

You are with every couple who has had to delay their wedding plans.

You are with every family who has lost a loved one and had to be creative in making funeral arrangements.

You are with family who can’t be with their loved one in the hospital and depend upon nurses and caregivers to hold their loved one’s hand.

You are with the folks in nursing home and care facilities who haven’t been able to have visitors for weeks, as well as with the family members who yearn to visit and can’t.

You are with the families trying to decide what they can pay for this week and what can wait.

You are with the person who is feeling depressed, isolated and very alone.

You are with the child who longs to be with their friends at school … and can’t.

You are with the teachers who want to connect with students but are finding it challenging.

You are with the police officers, fire fighters and EMT’s that are called to serve in new ways.

You are with the truckers who are trying to get product safety to right locations.

You are with those folks who make sure there is food to by at the local grocery store.

You are with the delivery people who drop off packages at people’s homes.

You are with the folks who volunteer at food pantries and provide weekend food bags to students to help ease the challenge of food insecurity.

Be with us when we get distracted and can’t focus on what’s important because we are feeling a bit out of sorts.

Be with those who are feeling dark and alone. Bring a ray of sunshine into their lives.

Be with those who question what their next step should be. Help them to be patient and turn to You.

And for those of us who feel that You have left the building and aren’t present in our lives, find some small way to help us know that You will never leave us.

Now, simply grant us patience when our prayers aren’t answered immediately as we would prefer. Drown us in patience and humility and compassion for those who may see things differently than we do.

And when we no longer have words to say, remind us that the Holy Spirit will step in and pray on our behalf. Thank you for this wonderful gift.

Amen and Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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See you tonight on Devos with Dianne at 8 PM on Facebook Live!

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Holy Saturday

Gratitude Day 439

Sat., Apr. 11, 2020

Luke 23:34a: Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they’re doing.” They drew lots as a way of dividing up his clothing.

I’ve often wondered what the disciples did on that Saturday after Jesus’ death. The disciples celebrated the Passover meal with Jesus on the night before he died. A few of the disciples stood shocked at the foot of the cross and watched their fearless leader for the past three years die.

And then … what?

For most of the day, it was the Jewish day of Sabbath, which would have begun on Friday evening at sundown and continued until sundown on Saturday.

It appears that they hid. After Peter had been identified as one of his followers late on Thursday night, not once, but three times, none of them were crazy about being out in public. They chose to participate in a voluntary stay-in-place.

With no internet. No Netflix. No Facebook or Instagram. They didn’t get out the sidewalk chalk and create beautiful designs for others to see. They didn’t Facetime their family and let them know they were OK. Or have a family game night via ZOOM. They didn’t plan their Friday night fish curbside pick-up or sew masks for the neighborhood clinic or nursing home.

They did …

We’re not really sure. Maybe they replayed all the things that had happened with their teacher from the past three years; wondering how many times he dropped hints and they missed them. Or ignored them. Or didn’t take him seriously.

Possibly the examined every little detail from the Passover meal and wondered how they could have not understood what he was saying. His words still seemed very confusing.

More likely, they were so overcome with disbelieve and shock that the man who had hand-picked them to come into his inner circle was gone that they had no words to speak. And so, they hid. They sat. They cried. They wept.

A careful dissection of the four gospel accounts yields seven sayings that Jesus said from the cross in the last hours of his death. These sayings are often recalled and revisited during Lent and Holy Week because they share so much about who Jesus was, why he came to earth and what it means for us today. Here’s one of those sayings:

Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they’re doing.”

Most often, we associate Jesus saying them to the Roman guards who stood at command around the cross, carrying out their required duty of executing him. Guys who didn’t really have a choice about their role, other than this crucifixion happened to fall on the day they were assigned to this particular duty.

Yet, there was something different about how this man handled the last hours of his life. He didn’t ridicule them. Chastise them. Belittle them.

Instead, he prayed for them. He forgave them.

Whether they thought they needed it or not.

I see Jesus’ ring of forgiveness going much farther and deeper than just the Roman soldiers. Was not he also praying for his inner circle, his disciples, whether they were at the scene or not? Was not he praying for the Sanhedrin and the Jewish religious leaders who were so determined to make sure he died? Was he not praying for the Roman Governor Pilate, who really wanted nothing to do with Jesus’ death, to the point that he symbolically washed his hands after condemning him to death?

And was Jesus not also praying for you. For me. For all of humanity, who too often do not know or understand how what we do affects others? Ourselves? And God?

On this Holy Saturday, do you feel a little stuck? Stuck in the middle of a world crisis that often feels confusing and leaves us in disbelief? Stuck between making sure this pesky virus is not spread yet wanting to have some sense of normalcy in our lives? Stuck between how to slowly reopen a shuttered country that will appropriately balance human toll with trying to jumpstart a confused economy?

Maybe, we don’t feel all that different from the disciples, who huddled in the upper room, scattered with remnants from the Passover meal still present. Confused. Unsure. Maybe even a bit scared?

So, what do WE do on this day between Good Friday and Easter Sunday? May I suggest that on this Holy Saturday, it’s best to just be. Be with our emotions. Be with our confusion. Be with our sadness. And hear Jesus’ words again:

Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they’re doing.”

Whether we know if we’re doing the right things or not, it’s OK. God is with us. Jesus forgives us. Dawn will come tomorrow and with it, hope.

For eternal and everlasting forgiveness, I am grateful.

Blessings –

Dianne

Almighty God – while we often applaud the changes that have happened in the last 2,000 years, there are some things that remain very much the same. Our need for forgiveness. Grace. Hope. May we allow ourselves to tumble through these feelings today. Amen.

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