Gratitude Day 67 – Mission Trip

mission trip image

Mon., June 18, 2018

Ephesians 6:7-8 – Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do, whether they are slave or free.

We have arrived in the Washington D.C. area

After two days of travel from Wisconsin, our group of almost 100 youth and adults is bunkered down at a church for the week. We’ll spend our days serving people by helping repair their homes and properties. Evenings will be times of worship and hanging out. Great friendships. New experiences. Lots of laughs. Opportunities to be God’s hands and feet. Hopefully lives that will be forever changed.

Hubby Rick and I are chaperones on this trip. We’re excited that our two oldest grandsons, as well as a couple girls, are part of our smaller group. Already, we see the kids discovering new friends. It warms our hearts to observe this.

My posting maybe a little less frequent this week. We’ll see how the week goes. Hanging out with the kids and other adults will be a priority. Yet, I expect to see many gratitude spottings this week. More than I’ll be able to record.

For this, I am grateful.

Thank you for this group of youth and adults who are willing to serve You and those around us this week. I pray for all who will be participating in a mission trip this summer. May we truly experience profound ways to serve You, Almighty God, and your kingdom. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Gratitude Day 66 – What I Learned from Dad

Deaton__Richard

Sat., June 16, 2018

Proverbs 1:8 – Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction; don’t neglect your mother’s teaching;

This Sunday is Father’s Day. The last couple of days, I have been thinking about what my Dad taught me. He’s been gone for 5+ years. Yet, his spoken and unspoken instructions to my siblings and I ring loudly in my life. Here’s just a few things I learned from my Dad.

  1. Work hard. According to my Dad, nothing was unobtainable. If you work hard enough, you can accomplish anything. Literally, anything. There were times when maybe he expected a lot of his children at a young or too early age. He was not afraid to let us try things. While letting us fail was harder, I discovered from my Dad not to set boundaries on what I could tackle.
  2. Be involved in your community. Rather than just talk about how things could be different, my Dad become involved and looked for ways he could be part of the change. My Dad was involved in a variety of local non-profit, volunteer causes. Every time I serve our local community, I pray it reflects what my Dad taught me by his example.
  3. Purchase locally. Often, my Dad spoke of this. If you could buy something locally (especially when we’re talking small town America), buy locally. Even if it means paying a little more. As a small business owner, i.e. – dairy farmer, he wanted local businesses to be available for our farm. This meant being a religious buyer of everything locally he could. Sometimes it really is a lot easier to purchase something online. But there are other times, I follow my Dad’s example and buy as much locally as I can.
  4. A Commitment is a Commitment. Backing away from something you agreed to do was not acceptable. Period. Honestly pairs with this as well.
  5. Laughing is OK. There were times when laughing wasn’t part of my Dad’s vocabulary. Times were tough in the 1980’s for my parents. Later in life, he was able to relax more, laugh more and enjoy being more. I pray I can discover this as well.
  6. It’s OK to show emotions. Again, this is learned-later-in-life trait. For years, my Dad was stoic. But things happened. Life moved on after some difficult times. I would never say my Dad was terribly comfortable giving a hug. He never became comfortable in wearing his emotions on his sleeve. There were times when he got choked up because something touched him deeply. I appreciated those moments and was proudest of my Dad in those precious times.
  7. Be Humble. Would I say my Dad changed the world in a dramatic way? No. His mission was to affect and influence the people’s lives he had contact with. This, he did. My Dad never sought attention. Recognition made him uncomfortable. He was more than happy to contribute, add value and lead, all from behind the scenes.

For some people, Father’s Day is a difficult day. If you are one of those people, I apologize for this post. I pray that in reflecting upon the values my Dad taught me, you can also think about the values others have modeled for you.

Thanks, Dad, for this and so much more.

For this, I am grateful.

As my heavenly Father, I appreciate you, Lord God. Thank you also for allowing me to have a man in my life who modeled so many important and wonderful values and traits. Be with those who are struggling this Father’s Day weekend. May they find peace in your arms. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Gratitude Day 66 – Letting Go of Superwoman

superwoman

Fri., June 15, 2018

Matthew 19:26 – Jesus looked at them carefully and said, “It’s impossible for human beings. But all things are possible for God.”

The music builds. One second, she’s a seemingly “normal” woman, dressed in business casual and carrying a stylish handbag. A second later, a bright red cape flies behind her perfectly proportioned body, covered from head-to-toe in spandex. A huge “S” covers her torso. She calls into action her special super-power. In the bat of an eye, Superwoman is off to conquer her next big adventure or save a person’s life.

We feel a little flutter in our tummy. Maybe, we, too, can be a super-hero. Maybe we too, can change people’s lives.

Unfortunately, I have bought completely bought into the idea that being a Superwoman is possible. Average will no longer cut it. I must up my “A” game and develop my own skill set of super-powers. I, too, must be Superwoman, I convince myself.

What is a Superwoman or Superman? While your definition may vary from mine, here are a few thoughts.

Superwomen handle multiple jobs (paid or unpaid), are heavily involved in their local community and seldom miss a child or grandchild’s special event. The dishwasher cleans this morning’s breakfast dishes before anyone rushes out the door, ready for post-dinner dirty dishes. A meal sizzles on the stove or in the oven as he or she stands at the counter paying bills. The house is company-ready at all times. The fridge is stocked with items for an unplanned, last-minute meal to be delivered to the neighbor who has just gone through a family tragedy. Her children’s school notes are signed on time. A color-coded family calendar hangs visible. An extra $100 is tucked in her wallet “just in case.” She knows just when to contact a struggling friend, rarely allows for an accumulation of unanswered text and e-mail messages, and gathers her slew of great friends together for a memorable evening in a moment’s notice.

Anyone else feeling miserable, highly underqualified for the job and overwhelmed all at the same time?

Did you see my hand shoot up quicker than yours?

I have spent most of my life trying to be this Superwoman. And failing miserably. It may seem I have things together on the outside. But on the inside, I yearn for peace. Contentment. An afternoon to sit on the beautiful swings Hubby Rick recently built and installed in our backyard (I should post an update) … and not feel guilty.

Over and over, I have willed myself to get my life under control. To cut back on the great opportunities that are part of my life. Be more efficient with my time. Lose the 10 pounds my doctor really, really wants me to drop once and for all. Have the right thing to say. Keep the snarky comment to myself.

My will lasts about 30 minutes and I fall off the Superwoman bandwagon.

This week, I tried to be Superwoman and failed. Work things haven’t been accomplished. I missed a funeral because of another commitment. Why didn’t I reschedule this? These next few days will be overfull. I am not sure I am mentally, emotionally or spiritually in the right place.

My thoughts are clouded with, “Who have I let down this week?” Maybe what I should be pondering is, “Why have I let myself down again?”

Then, I see these words in my journal: God sees something in me that I don’t see in myself. I see all my fears and insecurities and worries and just general yuck. God looks at me and sees something entirely different. God sees something God can use for God’s plan and purpose.

The words are a paraphrase from Everyday Holy: Finding a Big God in the Little Moments by Melanie Shankle. I took Melanie’s words and personalized them. I tried to get this Superwoman to see that I don’t have to be super-human. What is impossible for me is possible for God. I don’t have to be all, do all and understand all. This is not my job. It’s God’s job.

Today, I’m trying to extend myself a bit more grace. A bit more acceptance. A bit less Superwoman and a bit more Dianne. If only for today.

For this, I am grateful.

Lord God forgive me for the times I think I must be Superwoman. Help me let go of when I want to be all and do all rather than resting in your loving arms. May Your peace and contentment rain over my day and bring me joy, happiness and gratitude. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Gratitude Day 65 – Words

booksWed., June 13, 2018

Mark 13:31 – Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will certainly not pass away.

Recently, I read two autobiographies written by two people who grew up very different from my upbringing.

J.D. Vance wrote Hillbilly Elegy. He grew up poor in the Ohio Rust Belt in a town that was hemorrhaging jobs and hope. His parents struggled with addiction nearly all of his life. Mostly raised by his grandparents who never completed high school, J.D. writes an almost unbelievable story of how a boy who grew up on the wrong side of the tracks eventually graduated from Yale Law School. Even as he has tried to achieve the American dream, he struggled with his socioeconomic background. It is a very interesting story of the brokenness and strengths of the white working class.

Educated is written by Tara Westover. It is her story of surviving a unique family. Born in 1986 to Idaho survivalists, she was 17 when she set foot for the first time in a classroom. Eventually, she saw there was more beyond the mountains where she lived and taught herself enough to take the ACT and was admitted to Brigham Young University. Only then did she begin to discover the world in which she lived and had left, only to question if there was still a way home.

As I have read these books, I have reflected upon my story: the assumptions I made about life based on where and how I was raised, the influence my parents had in my life and how I viewed opportunities around me. Yes, I grew up very different from J.D. and Tara. Yet, their memoirs have allowed for some self-reflection on my part.

Maybe, their stories have encouraged some reflection about Jesus’ story. His memoirs are captured not by himself, but by others. We hear four different accounts of his life, written by four different authors in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Each story reflects upon Jesus’ life from a different perspective and written for a different audience. Yet, each story allows us to discover the time in which he walked the earth, how others reacted to him and what his purpose in coming to earth influenced his life.

Of course, his life is so different because, well, Jesus was God’s son. Jesus gave us a promise. Even if he was not here on earth, his words would not pass away. They would always be here. We have his words captured so we can read and re-read them in the gospel stories.

J.D. and Tara’s words are now also captured in such a way that they will never pass away. One reason I write is because sometimes it is easier for me to capture my thoughts through writing them. We each have a backstory. We each have a story of what is happening in our lives today. We each can be part of Jesus’ story and see how his words can influence our life today. And tomorrow.

For this, I am grateful.

How can we every thank you for inspiring people to write down the words and stories we find in scripture: words that hopefully encourage and comfort us. Some of these words may also confuse us. Yet, they show us how important words are and how we learn through stories. Use our lives, our stories and words, to continue to learn and deepen our understanding of You, our Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer.  Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Gratitude Day 63 – Attitude  

 

attitude of gratitude

Mon., June 11, 2018

Acts 24:3 – Always and everywhere, most honorable Felix, we acknowledge this with deep gratitude.

For the last two-plus months, I have reflected with gratitude upon some simple aspect of my life through words. Something that happened in my day, a little aspect of Hubby Rick and mine’s life or something that I have observed.

I have a very blessed life. A very blessed life. I have everything I need and a whole lot of stuff that I want. I have some “stuff” that I’m not sure I need or want. Life is so much more than possessions. It is relationships, opportunities, challenges and every-day life realities.

Today, we will begin this day and we will determine what our attitude is about this day. Only I will decide what my attitude for today will be. Yes, others can influence it. People I know and may not know will test it. At the end of the day, when I crawl into bed, I alone will determine if I represented the attitude God longs for me to represent. Have I embodied an attitude of deep gratitude, even for challenges? Or was my attitude adversely affected and portrayed to others?

And then, I will repeat this tomorrow and the next day and the next day. The next week, the next month, the next year (God willing.)

When I think about possible challenges in my life, it takes me about .5 seconds to think of someone else who has way more significant challenges than I do. People will real challenges. I pray that I never loose sight of this. Even on my worse days, these days are still better than so many other situations people endure day in and day out.

I pray my attitude of gratitude is honest, consistent and God-directing. Only I will choose my attitude today. I pray it is a good one.

Almighty God – I pray that my attitude reflects your love and grace in my life this day. May my attitude be grounded in your place in my life. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Gratitude Day 62 – Survival

Sun., June 10, 2018

James 2:15-17 – Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food.  If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

A foster child was asked what he wanted in a family. His response is this:

Foster Child wants in a family

Most of us do not have to worry about a toothbrush or running water.

A coat or food.

Most of us have what we need and a whole bunch of what we want.

For this, I am grateful.

For those who don’t have what they need, I pray we and others can provide for their needs.

Almighty God – you know who has immediate needs. People who do not have very basic things. Open our hearts to helping those who only dream of stability in their lives. Bring forth opportunities for us to make a difference. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Gratitude Day 62 – Protection

Polo

Sat., June 9, 2018

Psalm 16:1 – Protect me, God, because I take refuge in you.

I never anticipated having a polo shirt with these words on it: Chaplain Vielhuber and Poynette Police Department. But I do.

This winter, our local Poynette Police Department started a volunteer chaplaincy program. I was asked to be a part it. I think it’s important to be involved in the local community, so I agreed. Along with three other local clergy, we comprise the Poynette Police Chaplaincy Program.

One day for each of the last three months, we attended training provided by the Wisconsin Department of Justice.  Seasoned chaplains guided us in our new roles. We were encouraged to ride-along with local police. This has been a great way to understand the department, local officers and our role as chaplains.

The clergy volunteer to be on-call for two-week increments. I am currently on call. Unfortunately, my first opportunity to serve was an epic fail.

My phone rang Thursday night. Hubby Rick and I were about 30 minutes from home. I had just dropped off Mr. Jeep for his summer adventure. Rick had been golfing with a couple buddies. I joined them for dinner. An officer called and asked if I could assist in a death notification to a family. The conversation continued:

Me: Sure, would love to. Unfortunately, I’m 30 minutes away. I will hop in the car right now …

Silence.  

Officer: Maybe I should see if one of the other clergy is available.

Me: OK. Please let me know what you find out. But I can start driving now.

Officer: Just wait. I’ll call you back.

He called back. Another clergy was available and was on his way to assist.

While I was thankful another clergy was nearby, I felt crappy. I had an opportunity to serve … and it hadn’t worked out.

I know. There will be another time when the on-call clergy won’t be immediately available. I will have an opportunity to step-in. But in the moment, I would have preferred to be available when the call came.

Friday, I saw the officer who had called me the previous night. He assured me everything had worked out fine. I thanked him for contacting me and asked he call again.

By becoming involved in our local police department, it has been confirmed these positions are under-rated. Law enforcement personal work rotating shifts and deal with situations no one yearns to be a part of. They are the ones charged with protecting our community. As a chaplain, I am to support them and be a safe place for them to land if need be. As God protects me, I pray that I can be an extension of God’s protection to others.

On Friday, I received my official chaplain polo shirt. I still am amazed the words police – chaplain – Vielhuber are all on one shirt. It is a new adventure I never expected.

Yet, for this opportunity, I am grateful.

Lord God – thank you for the people who have been called to protect and serve our communities: police, firefighters, EMT’s and others. I pray they see themselves as extensions of your cloud of protection. I lift up those families who have been lost a loved one in a line-of-duty incidence. May your grace be especially with them. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Gratitude Day 61 – Have a Good Summer, Mr. Jeep

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Fri., June 8, 2018

Galatians 6:6 – Those who are taught the word should share all good things with their teacher.

We watched as our 2004 Jeep pulled out of the Kwik Trip parking lot. Internally, I thought, “Have a good summer, Mr. Jeep.”

At times, the street by our house could be mistaken for a used car lot. Lately, we have had four vehicles playing musical parking spots. Some on the street. Some in our carriage house. Four vehicles for two drivers. I know. A wee bit of overkill.

Hubby Rick and I knew we needed to reduce inventory. For a couple weeks, we talked and prayed about options. Then my friend Mary Ann visited and saw all these vehicles. The next day, she emailed a possible solution. Her granddaughter is participating in a summer ministry program. College students visit communities and hold bible school programs. The program needed two vehicles for the summer. Could we loan one of our vehicles?

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Quickly, Rick and I committed our 2004 Jeep. Yes, it’s an older vehicle. It has over 200,000 miles. 204,994 to be exact. But, the college girls could use it for the summer.

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This has been Rick’s “work” vehicle. It’s also the “farm truck.” It had a few quirks. Last week, Rick tweaked some things that needed tweaking. The front windshield was replaced. It had cracked when Rick tried to squeeze in a little-too-long 2×4. Sometimes, it has electrical issues. While the driver’s window now works, the other three still aren’t working. Thankfully, the air conditioner works like a champ.

We arranged things with our insurance company. I lined up a time to meet someone to hand it over. Everything was ready to go.

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But then, Rick began to wonder out loud if this was a good decision. Over the years, we have loaned out many vehicles to lots of different people. We do this because we feel everything we have is really God’s. As joint caretakers, God “loans” us things. It is our responsibility to use these things for God’s glory. Letting the girls use the Jeep falls into leveraging our possessions for God’s kingdom.

Sometimes when we have loaned a vehicle, something has happened outside of our control. What would happen if the Jeep broke down? What if it stopped working? What if …

Finally, Rick admitted that he is taking over the worrying mode his father often embodied. Either, we would have faith the vehicle would help the girls on their mission work. Or we wouldn’t.

This Jeep is the only new vehicle I have ever had. As I drove it to make the exchange, I remembered how a few weeks after we purchased it, I took a group of kids with it on a mission trip. When we got home, Rick was surprised there was paint on the upholstery. Why had I not been more careful? While I wanted to respect this, we had been using it for God’s work. Paint can be removed.

Faith is looking into the future and not knowing what exactly is going to happen. And being OK with this. I pray that our Jeep will help the college girls who will be using it this summer. I am thankful to share in this ministry, if only through our vehicle.

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Have a good summer, Mr. Jeep. We’ll be anxious to hear stories of your great adventures.

For this, I am grateful.

Lord God – thank you for bringing forth this opportunity to share within your Kingdom. We pray the girls who drive the Jeep, those they minister to and anyone they meet will come to love you. We pray this ministry will make a difference in people’s lives this summer. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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