Gratitude Day 174 – Worship

Sun., Dec. 9, 2018

Psalm 122:1- I rejoiced with those who said to me, “Let’s go to the Lord’s house!”

The Rookie

In the movie The Rookie, Dennis Quaid plays Jim Morris. Based on a true story, Jim coached high school baseball. When his team makes the state high school playoffs, he fulfills a promise to the team and tries out for a major league baseball team. Never mind that Jim is in his 30’s and has a family. When he consistently throws the ball 98 mph at a try-out, he is signed to a minor league team.

It’s a tough summer for Morris. He’s traveling in a bus with a bunch of college kids, while his wife and family are home, barely paying their bills. He’s questioning why he’s pursuing this dream. After an opportunity to remember why, he walks into the locker room before a game and approaches another player, Brooks. Morris says to Brooks, “Today is going to be a good day. Today, we get to play baseball.”

Today is Sunday. Today is going to be a good day. Today, we get to worship God.

A little over a year ago, I stepped down from serving two churches as the pastor. After planning weekly worship for 18 years, Sunday mornings have been very different the last year. Yes, I have had the opportunity to fill the pulpit many times. Some Sundays, like today, I will provide music for a worship service. Whether I’m the pastor leading worship or the pianist sitting behind the piano, I look forward to Sunday because this is the day we get to worship God.

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I’ve been asked whether Hubby Rick and I have found a church home. Quite honestly, we worship in a variety of churches. Most months, we worship at a different church every week of the month. This has been a big change for both of us. Our Sunday morning routine is very different than it was for the previous 17 years of our marriage. I don’t leave home before Rick. We go to worship together. Sometimes, we even get to sit next to each other for some or all of the worship service. Every Sunday, we get to worship God.

Believe it or not, worship is the single most popular act in the United States on a weekly basis. Even in a time of declining church attendance, more people will attend worship service today than will attend a professional football game. More people will take time to gather with other people of their particular religion than will go to a theater production.

 

I know, you may find this hard to believe. But it’s true.

In the many years I actively served faith communities and congregations, more than one person approached me and shared their reason why they did not attend worship on a regular basis. It was the only day of the week they could sleep in. They needed a break. They had gotten out of the habit of going to worship. They can’t find a worship service that “speaks” to them. They don’t want to be hypocritical and go to church when they aren’t sure what they believe. And the list goes on … and on … and on.

Here’s the deal. Worship is not something we do because we feel like it. There are many things we do, even if we don’t always feel like it. Do you only go to work when we feel like it? If most of us only exercised when we felt like it, there’s a whole bunch of people who would never exercise again.

Here’s the truth: feelings can be great liars. Feelings allow us to justify anything, if we allow it. If we only do things when we really feel like it, there’s a whole bunch of stuff that would never get done, including worship.

Too often, we talk ourselves in or out of something because we don’t feel it. We justify our actions by declaring that it would be inauthentic to do this task if our heart isn’t in it. Here’s where worship is different: worship is an act that develops a feeling for God, not a feeling for God that is an act of worship. Through worship, we begin to feel things of and for God that we would not experience unless we worship God.

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What about those people who say they can’t find a worship service that speaks to them? There will be days when worship is going to resonate with you more than other worship services. Unfortunately, we’re not all on the same page at the same time. You WILL attend a worship service that is a dud. I’ve been to these worship services. I’m confident I’ve led some of these duds. Worship is not just about style or a particular kind of music or liturgy. Worship is not about us. It’s about God. It’s looking beyond whatever happens in worship and finding the One True God who created you, who loves you and who deeply wants to be in relationship with you. This is worship. Period.

Instead of the line he said in the movie, think of Dennis Quaid saying these words to Brooks, “Let’s go to the house of the Lord!” Let’s discover who God is for us today, whether we feel like it or not. Let’s look beyond the worship elements and simply meet the Lord. Worship is a matter of the heart; our heart being open to discovering God anew today. And when we open ourselves to God, I believe amazing things can happen.

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For the opportunity to worship today, I am grateful.

Holy God – Advent is such a special time of the year. A time for us to prepare for the coming of the Christ child. I pray we make regular worship a part of this preparation. Help us be on a journey to Bethlehem with Mary, Joseph and the angel. May we be amazed what happens to our hearts when we worship you. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Gratitude Day 172 – Right “Nutrition”

Thurs., Dec. 6, 2018

Matthew 6:25 – (Jesus said,) “I tell you, do not worry. Don’t worry about your life and what you will eat or drink. And don’t worry about your body and what you will wear. Isn’t there more to life than eating? Aren’t there more important things for the body than clothes?

Earlier this week, I went to donate blood. I had this appointment set-up for a while.  The American Red Cross said that my blood type “is in high demand.” I think this simply means they are running low on blood.

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I donate blood regularly. Basically, it’s an easy way to help someone else out. And gives me a good excuse to indulge in foods I usually avoid.

I planned my afternoon around appointment. I arrived early to the donation site, as I had some business to attend. I signed-in to give blood at the appointment desk. While I waited for someone to help me, I held the completed rapid pass in my hand.

Early in the initial exam, blood is tested to make sure there is enough iron. There have been times when my blood has been borderline low for iron. For the last number of months, I have increased my protein intake and lowered my carb intake. This seemed to help my iron levels, as the last time I donated blood, the person who tested my iron was mightily impressed. I was way over the minimum.

I didn’t think much about whether or not I would have enough iron this go around. Until I was tested … and I didn’t pass. The woman kindly suggested she take a blood sample from a finger on my other hand. I quickly obliged. And once again, my iron level was too low. This time by a measly 0.1%.

Just 0.1% that stood between me donating blood and being differed. A little sliver of iron that kept me from making it onto the next station at the donation center.

I was shocked. Just a few weeks ago, my iron levels were, well, amazing. How could of they changed so quickly?

Yes, I was highly disappointed as the woman threw my rapid pass in the garbage while I went to find my coat.

We feed our bodies with lots of things: some good things, some bad things and a whole bunch of things in-between. I am not a rigid diet-follower. I know what foods I should avoid or eat in moderation … and which ones are calorie dense.

So how could it happen that I was low on iron?

When we let something go off of our radar screen, it just slips away. Just like my earlier noteworthy iron levels. They were great … but not this donation day. I kept thinking, “If I only had eaten a peanut butter sandwich or an egg an hour earlier …”

“Nutrition” and what we feed our bodies comes in many different ways. Food and drink are obvious. Jesus acnowledged that our bodies need more than just actual food. How do we feed our spiritual needs? Emotional and mental needs? What about physical needs? These are all very real needs in our bodies. Do we provide good nutrition in these areas as well?

Like many people, some days I do better in all nutritional needs than others. Some days, I just blow it.

These days, I don’t subscribe to a specific diet, which I know I will fail. Rather, I aim to eat healthy 80% of the time and allow some cheating in the other 20%. The challenge is keeping the 20% in check.

We look for “food” in our lives in many different ways: real food, drink, movement and activity and stretching. “Nutrition” can be games that activate our brains, reading, a great conversation with someone or a bubble bath. We can feed ourselves through worship, mediation and spiritual practices.

Do you spend as much time “feeding” the other need areas of your body as you spend feeding the nutritional side of your body? Or do you skimp in this area? How can you best “feed” our brain, soul and body?

If I’m low on iron in my body, there’s a good chance I’m low on some other “nutritional” need my body has. I just didn’t get tested for it. Do I listen to my body enough to know when I need to “feed” my body emotionally, mentally, spiritually or physically? And do I make this a priority?

Yes, I was a bit embarrassed to leave the donation site so quickly. As I drove towards away, I was given the opportunity to ponder whether I’m feeding all areas of my life. And I know I’m lacking in more than just iron.

How about you? Are you getting the nutritional needs you have? Or is something lacking?

Just like my need for iron could have been easily fixed with a little attention, often other “nutritional” needs can be easily remedied. It’s making these nutritional needs a priority.

It’s the season of Advent. A time of waiting. A perfect time to take just a bit of time and assess your full nutritional needs. And commit to just a couple simple acts to feed your body every day.

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For a reminder to pay attention to “nutritional” needs, I am grateful.

Lord God – thanks for another little life lesson which taught me more than I anticipated. Help me to think of the unmet nutritional needs in my life … and discover a way to fulfill them. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Gratitude Day 171 – Humor with Honesty

Wed., Dec. 5, 2018

Genesis 30:33 – My honesty will be a witness about me in days to come. 

Today, the 41st president of the United States will be honored and remembered. President George H.W. Bush’s life of service will be recalled.

When I think of his most famous quotes as a president, this is the one that comes to mind:

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Don’t you love his honesty?

His other most famous quote might be: “Read my lips. No new taxes.”

Unfortunately, #41 would later come to regret saying these words.

I think this President would say words mattered. This is why he wrote so many letters throughout his life. He wanted people to value words like he did.

This is a man who believed in and dedicated his life to service. Service to his country, his wife, his family and his values.

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Somehow, even his service dog understood President Bush’s value of service. And now, he follows his master’s model of service.

Honesty. Service. Dedication.

Not bad traits to embody.

All wrapped together with his honest words.

For humor with honesty, I am grateful.

Holy God – I pray we value honesty, service and dedication to the same degree that you do. May we be inspired by those who have lived these examples and choose to reflect these values which we learn from you in our daily living. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Gratitude Day 170 – Peace at Home

Tues., Dec. 4, 2018

Luke 1:56 – Mary stayed with Elizabeth about three months. Then she returned home.

I’ve had so much fun decorating the inside of my house for Christmas this year. Would you like to see some of the ways I’ve transformed my house into a peaceful Christmas place?

Good. I’d like to show you.

Just like the outside, I have some things old, just a few things new and all things simple and easy.

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Let’s begin with the tree. I’m a fresh tree tsar. Only real trees in my house. Years ago, my Mom wanted to switch to an artificial tree. She was afraid I would not come to her house for Christmas if she had an artificial tree. Yes, I still went. But in my house, I like the real deal.

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For years, I have used mismatched ornaments. A bit of this, a bit of that. Many that were given to me. This year, I didn’t plan on using new ornaments … it just kind of happened. My sister Debbie had some in her car. I had a few that I bought at Target. Soon, these were the only ornaments on the tree.

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Except this one. This ornament will ALWAYS be on our tree. It’s an ornament Rick received the first Christmas after his son Nate was killed. The funeral home had a special service for families who had lost a loved one in the last year. There were snowflake ornaments for each lost loved one on a tree, which were given to families at the service.

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On the banister going upstairs, I like to hang greens. Yes, these are artificial. (Sigh.) I haven’t figured out how to have fresh greens inside a month.

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This is the original front screen door for our house. Hubby Rick found it in the carriage house, covered with chicken poop. He power washed it, I put a coat of polyurethane on. It’s been on the stair landing since. It’s super easy to change out the decorations throughout the year.

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My Mom had a huge Christmas village. Last year, which was her last Christmas with us, she gave away pieces to her family. I’m enjoying having them out this year.

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My florist sister helped decorate my house. A bonus for me? Lots of fresh evergreen arrangements. Here’s my favorite, which is in our formal parlor.

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These decorations match nicely with the black tin on the table.

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In our dining room, Debbie made another fun arrangement for the table.

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We created a little village here, with fresh greens in the old milk bottles.

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While I prefer to decorate with burgundy over true Christmas red, we did incorporate a few red items. With the evergreens and the teal, it all fits together.

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In our television room, we have a fun centerpiece with a strand of little lights going through it.

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I’ve had this statue of Mary, Joseph and the baby for years. And I still love it.

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We decided to add just a bit of Christmas to our remodeled downstairs bathroom. The candles were given to me last year by a dear friend. They fit in perfect with the brush broom trees, which are all the rage this year.

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When I look out the kitchen window, I see these two ornaments, part of the bargain shopping I did at Target. And looked … it snowed!

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My favorite Christmas decoration of all? The Nativity. I have two in the formal parlor. This is one that my Mom gave me.

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The peaceful Nativity does not show us the wide range of emotions Mary experienced the months before Jesus’ birth. She was so unsure of everything that she stayed with her elder cousin, Elizabeth, for several months. Even though Elizabeth was too old to bear a child, she did. Shortly after Elizabeth’s son John was born, Mary returned to her little village of Nazareth. It was time to go home and prepare for the birth of her son. Did she know she would leave Nazareth again, this time for Bethlehem? Rather than giving birth at home, Mary was in a village where she knew virtually no one.

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Mary knew home is wherever you feel close to God.

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I feel this when I walk into my house. It’s a place of peace, calm and comfort.

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I pray your home will be a place of peace this Christmas; a place where you can discover anew the miracle of Christmas.

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For a home where I feel God’s peace, I am grateful.

Lord God – those months preceding Jesus’ birth were filled with so many emotions for Mary. She lived and stayed in many places. I’m confident, they all became a home for her. I pray we find your peace and calm this Christmas season in a special place; one where we can discover You anew each day. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Gratitude Day 168 – Unwrapping Christmas

Sat., Dec. 1, 2018

Matthew 2:11 – The Wise Men went to the house. There they saw the child with his mother Mary. They bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures. They gave him gold, frankincense and myrrh. 

As you read the following quote, please note the year it was written:

“Twenty-five years ago, Christmas was not the burden that it is now. There was less haggling and weighing, less quid pro quo, less fatigue of body, less wearing of soul; and most of all, there was less loading up with trash.”

–  Meredith Deland in Harper’s Bazaar, 1904

Can you imagine what Meredith Deland might say today if she observed some of our Christmas traditions? Might she be even more appalled?

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In the last years, I have tried to unwrap Christmas and refocus on the true meaning of what I feel Christmas is: the birth of a baby that became the Savior of the world. Yes, it’s hard to give up those traditions which we have embodied for years. (True confession: I ordered Christmas cards again this year. A lot of them, even though I keep thinking I’m going to edit this whole deal. So, I send them out again because LOVE hearing from people that I often do not see.) I will bake our favorite cookies. But there are areas where I try to pull back the glitzy wrapping paper and get to the true heart of Christmas.

One way I do this is how I approach gift-giving. I’m not trying to convince anyone to stop giving gifts to people they love. I encourage us to be more thoughtful in how we go about gift-giving.

To help spur us into why reconsidering gift-giving, look at these statistics:

53.1% of people report receiving unwanted gifts during Christmas. This amounts to $16 billion of unwanted gifts every year. (What COULD be done with this money?!) Reports indicate 18% of gifts are never used and 4% of gifts are immediately thrown into the trash.

This speaks nothing of overspent Christmas budgets. Or how one-quarter of Americans are still paying off last year’s gifts.

What are we to do? How can we reframe Christmas gift-giving into something more meaningful? Can we stop buying for those who really don’t need or want a gift? Can find joy in other ways?

Here are a few suggestions to help us unwrap Christmas:

  • Stop purchasing gifts for those who don’t need or want a gift. Choose alternative ways to celebrate. For many of us, if we “need” something, we find a way to get it. “Waiting” until Christmas for a special gift happens less often. From the beginning of our marriage, Hubby Rick and I agreed NOT to purchase each other Christmas gifts. Rather, we make contributions towards families who have a need. Last week, Rick announced that he had completed his Christmas shopping. A young driver that Rick works with will soon begin his second round of cancer treatment. The co-drivers collected money and gave it to him at Thanksgiving. I’m confident my “Christmas” present is important to this family that has young children. Each year, Rick and I pick families and given them a little extra cash at the holidays. The cards and letters back from these families have made us cry. In subsequent years, often these same families have paid forward our gift to another family in need. Rick and I love giving these gifts as our presents.

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  • Wrap up special and funny family items and turn it into a gift exchange. This is my FAVORITE way we have unwrapped Christmas. My nieces and nephews would agree. For the last several years, I have put together the Deaton family gift exchange. I wrap up items from our family. Some are special and meaningful, i.e. – my Dad’s dog tags. Others are quite silly – the 4-H songbook when my siblings and I used to go Christmas caroling to shut-ins. I include little stories with the items. At our Deaton Christmas, we open these gifts in an orchestrated way. The process has become so special I’ve had to create “rules.” To learn more about how we do this, read my post about the Winnebago camper, the highly coveted gift in last year’s exchange. Family members repeated tell me: DON’T STOP doing the Deaton family gift exchange. This event special because it has also become a way we pass family history and stories from generation to generation.
  • Make a gift. Last year, I made a crayon wall hanging for our granddaughter, Ellie. After she opened it, I realized her brothers felt disappointed they didn’t receive something like this. This year, I am making presents for our three youngest grandkids. Being crafty is not a requirement. I still have the shelf my Dad made for each of his kids one Christmas. My sister-in-law Linda gives us canned goods from her garden each year.
  • Make a donation to charity. While Charitable Tuesday is past, I am confident charities will still accept donations. It can be a monetary gift or an in-kind gift. Take your children or grandchildren shopping and let them pick out items to donate. Our local food pantry is encouraging people to donate toiletries this Advent. Blankets, pj’s, coats (new or gently used) – there’s always a need.

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  • Make a birthday box for Jesus. I will share this calendar during kid’s time at church on Sunday and encourage their families to make a birthday box for Jesus. They can give the box to a family in need or bring it to Christmas Eve worship, where it can be donated to the local food pantry.
  • Memorable “silly” presents. We do this with our grandkids and Rick’s kids. I wrap items from the Dollar Store or other silly items in little gifts bags. We take turns opening these bags and seeing what silly thing is inside. There is always exchanging after we’re done, because who wants pink bifocals other than Grandpa? The kids talk about the oranges, apples, flarp, and goofy mustaches they got at our Christmas celebrations.
  • Plan a special outing. Pick something you can do together: sledding or ice skating, a movie, bake cookies and deliver to neighbors or something else that you come up with. We’ve stayed overnight at a hotel with a waterpark with our grandkids and nephews in lieu of more presents. Create a tradition which focuses on something other giving gifts and expresses how special our loved ones are.

Yes, I am buying a few Christmas presents. It’s hard to completely get away from this, especially when kids or grandkids are involved. I’ve watched our grandkids count how many packages each received and compared with each other. When this happens, this as an opportunity to unwrap why we give gifts at Christmas.

The wise men didn’t show up empty-handed at the stable. While their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh seemed unpractical for a baby, their symbolism was powerful; then and now. Giving gifts can be very powerful and positive. Maybe we just need to unwrap how and why we give them this Christmas season.

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For the chance to unwrap Christmas and focus on heart-felt gift giving, I am grateful.

Holy God – unfortunately, we’ve taken the concept of giving gifts, represented by the wise men, and often turned it into something driven by consumerism and unrealistic expectations. May we be inspired to unwrap Christmas in a new way this year. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Gratitude Day 167 – What I Learned in November

Fri., Nov. 30, 2018

Ecclesiastes 11:8 – No matter how many years anyone might live, let them enjoy all of them.

The days maybe long but long but the years are short.

I’m not sure who came up with this quote. But I feel like this is my life.

Actually, I feel like the days AND the years are short.

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This is why at the end of the last few months, I’ve sat down with my calendar and looked it over. What have I learned the last 30 or so days? What is something that I want to remember and keep close to my heart? Then, I’ve taken those little thoughts and turned them into something to share. Why? I hope it encourages us all to stop with a cup of coffee, tea or favorite beverage and reflect.

So, what have I learned during November? Here we go!

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  • The motto for my life maybe truly be: jack-of-all-trades and master-of-none. Every day seems so different. One day, I’m officiating a wedding. The next day, I’m playing taxi for a friend. A couple days later, I’m helping plan a community harvest dinner because I’ve double-booked myself and will be in Louisville, KY helping show and transport sheep instead of cooking in Wisconsin during the dinner. Over the years, I’ve accumulated a little bit of information about a whole lot of different things. Maybe you’ve noticed this on my blog! Does it seem like I have ADHD when it comes to blogging??!! My point is this: I’m confident God takes us on this wonderful journey of life. Sometimes, we may go through or experience something that doesn’t make complete sense at the time. Somehow, everything will get pulled back together and make sense … in God’s time. For now, I strap on a seat belt and enjoy the ride!

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  • I tried something new this month: A Paint Nite! Lacking the crafty gene, I still signed-up for an opportunity to paint a sign. I’ve hung the sign in our beautifully remodeled bathroom. Here it is. Doesn’t the sign’s black background looks stunning in our grey, white and black bathroom? On the day I participated in this Paint Nite, I signed up for another one! Yikes! Another group of friends invited me. I just couldn’t say no.

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  • When we moved into our current 110-year-old house, the relator told us we were moving onto one of the best neighborhoods of our little town. She’s right. Several times in the last months, Hubby Rick and I have hosted neighborhood get-togethers. Mid-November, we hosted another one. Our great neighborhood is changing! Several couples and people have lived here for years. Literally, years. These couples have known each A LONG time. Then, there is Rick and I. We’ve lived here 3+ years. We’re younger than the old-timers but much older than the three mid-to-late 20ish couples who have purchased homes on our street. While we cover different generations and have unique perspectives, when we get together, we truly have a great evening. We eat, chat, discover new things about each other and all leave with smiles on our faces. Sometimes, we need to get up from behind our computer, tablets, phones and TV’s and have real conversations with neighbors. Try it. Maybe you’ll discover some new things and people! Our neighborhood is planning another gathering for January!

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  • Right after Thanksgiving, Rick and I enjoyed a couple quiet days at home. We didn’t do a lot. One morning, we actually sat in bed with our laptops. A couple years ago, I would have never imagined my non-tech-savy hubby would be doing this. While I was catching up on e-mail, Hubby Rick was watching YouTube videos about installing bathroom tile. We are in the middle of building a new master bathroom. And trying to make it quite nice. While Rick has installed tile before, he is feeling out of his comfort zone with the tile I’ve picked out. Anyways … those couple quiet days WERE WONDERFUL. Simply blissful. After leaving the house sparingly, I convinced Rick to go somewhere Saturday night. We went to Pizza Hut for the salad bar. We are officially boring. There were a lot of things I could have tackled. And I did some things. I also decided if I’m going to put some Mary into my life, Ms. Martha needs to chill once in a while. Amazingly, she did. And she liked it. There will be enough opportunity for things to fill our days, nights and weekends in the next few weeks. For those couple of days, I tried not to feel guilty about a slower pace.

Before you become occupied with your Christmas to-do list, take a minute. The years are short. Sometimes, the days feel even shorter. What was something meaningful you discovered in November? Reflect. Enjoy. Savor.

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For opportunities to reflect, explore something new, gather with neighbors and just be, I am grateful.

Almighty God – we’re on this journey of life with you. I pray that we do not overlook or miss the great life-lessons you place before us. May our days not become so packed we miss spending moments with you. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Gratitude Day 166 – Rustic Wonderland

Thurs., Nov. 29, 2018

Matthew 1:20 – But as Joseph was thinking about this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. The angel said, “Joseph, son of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary home as your wife. The baby inside her is from the Holy Spirit.

What makes a house and a home?

Little touches that say to family and friends, “You are loved and welcome here.”

I love to decorate for Christmas. Why do I do this? Because I pray our house will not just be another house on the block. I hope our house will be viewed as a home where people are loved and welcomed. This is why I created a Rustic Wonderland on our front porch. When people drive or walk by or bound up the steps to our lovely porch, I pray they feel like this would be a good place to stay for a while.

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My goal this year was to decorate using only things I already had. Buy nothing new. Find new ways to use what I have. Enjoy the results thoroughly.

Why? I am so ready to not purchase things. I am so ready to simply repurpose what we have. I am so ready to shop what’s in the house and carriage house and spend more time enjoying the finished results than create something that takes lots of time, energy and resources to pull together. Yes, I love having a pretty porch during the holidays. Yet, I feel too often we focus on the “what” of Christmas rather than remembering the “why” we celebrate the season.

So, welcome to our Rustic Wonderland. Ready for a little tour?

Good. I’m excited to give you one.

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Sister Debbie helped me pull this together. Fortunately, she is an excellent florist. She can whip together beautiful arrangements before I can get her the things, she needs to make them. She created all of the gorgeous evergreen arrangements, inside and outside of the house. (In a couple days, I’ll show how we decorated the inside of our house.)

Here’s how we went about putting together a Rustic Wonderland.

We began with a clean slate. I removed the summer furniture and fall decorations. Debbie contributed the greens and wreath. Other than one strand of lights we had to buy, everything else come from our house or the carriage house.

You’ll find a lot of old things on our porch that help us remember important phases, people and times of our lives:

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  • The well-used washtubs were my mother-in-law’s. With quite rusty bottoms, Debbie put ice cream buckets filled with oasis into the tubs. Into the oasis, she inserted various kinds of pine, evergreens, logs and twigs to create the designs. Hubby Rick cut the birch logs years ago. I keep recycling them. After placing the tubs into position, we put a brick in the bottom to keep the tubs stable.

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  • In the summer, the grey shotgun containers are filled with flowers. Why not use them now for evergreens? Because they are quite deep, we put a brick in the bottom, then the ice cream bucket with oasis, which makes for easier decorating.

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  • When I was a young girl, this sled was a Christmas present. The baler twine pull has been on this sled for YEARS. Hubby Rick found the skates at his former house years ago. I love to combine these two items together as they represent both of our former lives.

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  • Rick made this bench. It is usually in the entry way of our house. Since the Christmas tree is now there, we moved it to the porch and used it as a centerpiece for the Rustic Wonderland.

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  • The green box? Just like a tool box that used to be on a John Deere tractor on our farm when I was growing up.

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  • This enamel wash bin looks super cute with the antique lantern, greens and pine cones. The lantern came from Rick’s parent’s house.

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  • To make the wreath fit in with everything old, we simply added a different bow. For a fun twist on displaying the wreath, hang it with burlap or ribbon.
  • A quick design tip? Fill any container with pine cones from the yard. Add a little ribbon or evergreens if you wish.

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I hope these Christmas decorations beg friends and guests into our home. A porch or entry way is the first statement people observe about the folks who live inside the house. The message I would love for people to take away from our porch? “This isn’t just a house. It’s a home.”

After Gabriel visited Joseph, he didn’t take her to his house. He took her into his home. He wanted this young teenaged-girl to feel like his home would be a safe place for her. Joseph wanted this girl, specially chosen by God to carry God’s son, to know she was loved and welcomed into his humble abode.

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What does the entrance to your home say about you and your family? Is it inviting? Does it welcome your family and visitors into a place where memories will be made? Where they will be loved and welcomed?

Want to see what our Rustic Wonderland looks like at night?

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For houses that become homes, I am grateful.

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Holy God – It’s a subtle detail, but an important one. Joseph took Mary to his home, not his house. May we follow his example and create safe places for our families, friends and guests where they will always feel loved and welcomed. Amen.

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Blessings –

Dianne

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Gratitude Day 165 – Spiritual Gifts

Wed., Nov. 28, 2018

1 Corinthians 12:8-10 – To some people the Spirit gives a message of wisdom. To others the same Spirit gives a message of knowledge. To others the same Spirit gives faith. To others that one Spirit gives gifts of healing. To others he gives the power to do miracles. To others he gives the ability to prophesy. To others he gives the ability to tell the spirits apart. To others he gives the ability to speak in different kinds of languages they had not known before. And to still others he gives the ability to explain what was said in those languages.

I did not receive the spiritual gift of being crafty.

I believe this. I know it. I am aware of my limits when it comes to all-things-crafty.

So, what made me think that I should sign-up for a sign painting party?

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My friend Tracy.

While in college, I belonged to a woman’s organization called Association of Women in Agriculture or AWA. I have SO MANY fond memories of AWA. I lived in the AWA houses for two years. My bestest college friends were involved in AWA. These are the ladies continue to be important people in my life.

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When the current college students invited alumni to participate in a sign painting night, my AWA friend Tracy contacted several friends and encouraged us to join her. Without thinking this through, I signed-up. Had I paused long enough to realize my non-existant crafty gene would need to surface, I might have skipped out.

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When an e-mail came asking me to pick a board and a design, I still didn’t feel too far outside of my comfort zone. I could do these things. Thankfully, someone else prepared the patterns to put on the boards. All I had to do was paint some letters, right?

Wrong.

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I found a Christmas-themed sign that I liked. It fits the décor of my house and didn’t seem too complicated. I envisioned creating the sign in like an hour followed up with time to chat.

 

This is not exactly how it turned out. Remember, I don’t have the spiritual gift of craftiness.

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When we arrived, our chosen board laid next to our chosen pattern. My board was natural colored. I wanted a black background. My first step was to paint the entire board. Just before I began to paint, Tracy arrived. She also knows that craftiness is not her spiritual gift and opted to make this purely a social outing. Not wanting her to sit out of all the fun, I recruited her to help me. Two non-crafty people would be better than one non-crafty person, right?

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Thank goodness we were next to some college students who are blessed with the crafty gene. They became our trusted guides.

Ultimately, Tracy and I knew painting a sign was not the highest priority of the night. Creating a sign was purely a vehicle by which college students and alumni could hang out together. Highlights of the night: seeing my friend, meeting college students and alumni I did not know while sharing a couple hours with other women interested in agriculture.

Tracy and I puttered away on my sign, chatting about lots of things as we worked. When we hit a topic that peaked the interest of the college girls, they chimed in. Tracy and I enjoyed hearing their perspectives on a topic, often different from our, uhm, mid-life points of view.

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Because of the black background, my sign required a bit more work. Eventually, finishing the sign took the effort of a village. Tracy and I recruited Cierra to help us. As everyone else was tearing down tables, cleaning brushes and putting paint away, we were still working on my board. Cierra has more of the crafty gift in her little finger than I have in my entire body. She was the perfect assistant.

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Several times, the New Testament lists various spiritual gifts. One example is found in 1 Corinthians 12:8-10. Read the list again. See what gift is not listed? The gift of being crafty.

Amazingly, God gifted each one of us with very special and unique spiritual gifts. Your spiritual gifts are not the same as mine. Thank goodness we don’t all have the same gifts. This would lead to a very boring world!

When we feel we do not have a particular spiritual gift, does this give us permission to shy away from participating in something which utilitzies this spiritual gift? Absolutely not! Humbling ourselves to discover something new can be meaningful. We become clearer about what our spiritual gifts are. It allows others to use their spiritual gifts for our benefit. It helps us keep perspective and know none of us have all the necessary spiritual gifts.

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Each sign turned out unique and special, just as the spiritual gifts we have are unique and special. Rather than become frustrated when we lack a spiritual gift, may we celebrate and affirm the gifts God has blessed us with. Over time, our spiritual gifts may change. May we be open to how God works in and through our lives and appreciate every single spiritual gift we have. Just as importantly, may we choose to share our spiritual gifts within God’s kingdom.

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For unique spiritual gifts, I am grateful.

Almighty God – thank you for creating us individually unique. May we celebrate the spiritual gifts we find within our lives and use them for the glory and honor of your kingdom. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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