SLOW DOWN …

Gratitude Day 390

Mon., Jan. 20, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s so unlike me.

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

A bit of space.

Permission to explore and be OK with this.

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

Slow us down, Lord.

Ease the pounding of our hearts.

By the quiet of our minds.

Steady our hurried pace

With a vision of the eternal reach of time.

Give us amidst the confusion of our day

The Calm of the Everlasting hills.

Break the tensions of our nerves and muscles

With eh soothing music of the singing streams.

Teach us the art of taking minute vacations

Of slowing down to look at a flower …

  To chat with a friend … or pat a dog

  … to read a few lines from a good book.

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

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

That there is more to life than increasing its speed.

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

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

Slow us down, dear God,

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

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

Amen.

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

For permission to slow down, I am grateful.

Blessings –

Dianne

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

If you have enjoyed this blog, please pass it along to someone else who will also enjoy it.

Leaving on a Jet Plane

Gratitude Day 388

Sat., Jan. 4, 2019

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

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

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

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

I already know it will be fabulous!

Truth? A little secret?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See you in a week or so.

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

Blessings –

Dianne

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

If you have enjoyed this blog, please pass it along to someone else who will also enjoy it.

2020 Bible Reading Plan

Gratitude Day 383

Tues., Dec. 31, 2019

Psalm 119:105: Your word is a lamp before my feet and a light for my journey.

Often, not having a plan is a plan to fail.

While we can have great intentions and grandiose ideas, unless we plan for achieving a goal, well, most often, it just remains a dream. A cool idea. Something we hope someday will become a priority.

At the beginning of 2018, I planned to read through all four gospels of the New Testament. My plan was very simple: read through a chapter a day until I finished all four gospels.

By last spring, I had accomplished the plan. While I didn’t have a target date by which to finish this, I kept plugging along until I had read all four accounts of Jesus’ life. I missed some days … but gave myself grace.

It was a wonderful experience.

So often in the last number of years, I read scripture because I was preparing a message. Or teaching a class. Or researching something. This time, I committed to read these four different stories about Jesus life purely for my benefit and enjoyment.

And I rediscovered things I had forgotten or quite honestly, didn’t observe in previous readings. A picture of who Jesus was, why he came to earth and his purpose in doing so became clear once again.

I enjoyed this experience so much; I plan to do it again in 2020. With a twist. This year, I want to plan to read through the entire New Testament. So, I put together a plan for myself.

Then, I realized: maybe, just maybe, someone else might like this plan. So, I’m making my 2020 Bible Reading Plan available for anyone who might want to read through the New Testament as well.

I also want to keep this plan realistic and doable. That’s why I incorporated these guidelines:

  • There are five readings a week, on Mondays through Fridays. No readings for Saturday and Sunday! This gives me an opportunity to make sure I am always caught up by Monday morning.
  • I LOVE to read through John’s Gospel during Lent. So, I planned it this way. I also like to keep Luke and Acts together because they were written by the same author. The problem child is Revelation. It’s at the end of the year, during Advent, which I am not sure I am thrilled about. But when is it best to read Revelation?
  • Using this lay-out, there were a few extra days than chapters of the New Testament. I purposely found Old Testament passages that fit into the church calendar at specific times of the year to fill out the calendar.
  • My experience is that I can read through a chapter of scripture in less than 10 minutes. PLEASE DON’T SPEED READ. Take your time. Savor each chapter. I like to have a journal where I write down things that caught my attention. Maybe a verse that especially is meaningful to me that day.

Honestly, I feel reading scripture is one way that my faith has grown significantly. As I read God’s word to God’s people, I discover more about who God is for me. Are there parts of the New Testament that are confusing and possibly contradict each other? Yes, if you see it this way. Another way to think about scripture is these are God-inspired words written at a very different time. They can speak to us today as well if we allow them to.

It is my plan to read through the New Testament in 2020. Here’s my plan so I will not fail. Please join me on this journey and together, let’s see what God is saying to us this next year. I invite you to share this plan with others. Together, let’s do this! Here is a downloadable PDF of my 2020 Bible Reading Plan:

For the opportunity to discover more about God and my relationship with God in 2020, I am grateful.

Holy God – I am so looking forward to letting the words of scripture light my path and life in 2020. Together, may we discover a deeper relationship with each other, inspired by words that help me know you more. Amen.  

Blessings –

Dianne

If you have enjoyed this blog, please pass it along to someone else who will also enjoy it.

Christmas Sights & Sounds

Gratitude Day 375

Sat., Dec. 14, 2019

Luke 2:19: But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 

Today, I want to drink in the sights and sounds of Christmas. And I want to treasure them all.

We will be celebrating Christmas with my Deaton family today. For several years, we have celebrated Christmas with the Deaton’s a couple weeks before Christmas. This way, we CAN all be together. And we love it.

Over the years, we’ve developed a few fun traditions. We will have the Deaton white elephant gift exchange. Rather than buying gifts, I put together gifts that reflect our family. These are things from our parents and our grandparents and my childhood. Some of these things are fun. Some are silly. Some are very popular. Others – not so much. We do this because it’s a great opportunity to remember our family. We tell stories and while versions maybe slightly different, it’s OK. It just allows us to laugh and share together. The sight of people opening these gifts, wondering what they opened and if they REALLY want these items is priceless.

We take turns organizing a craft for the kids to do. Sometimes, the big kids may do the craft as well. Just another fun way to see each other spend time together.

Of course, we’ll have a meal together. Maybe play cards. Catch up. Laugh. Smile.

I have a new little surprise this year. Going through my Mom’s things, I found some old slides and plan on having a little slide show. Maybe it will be more interesting for some than others. And it’s really OK.

I realized last night that I forgot a couple things at our house. But the day will go on. The sights, the sounds … they will make for a very special day.

Quite honestly, the Deaton Christmas is the ONLY day we are ALL TOGETHER. Seven years ago, it was the last time we were all together with my dad. We knew his time was short … and so did he. He didn’t feel well that day and it was an emotional afternoon. Two years ago, it was the last time we were all together with my mom. She fell the day before the Deaton Christmas and within days, was on Hospice.

Rather than look at these days and be sad, I choose to celebrate that we had these special days with our parents shortly before they passed away. The sights and sounds of those Christmas celebrations are so important to me.

Yes, it’s a mere 14 days before Christmas Eve. I know there is always a lot going on this time of the year. But PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE. Slow down. Take in the sights and sounds of the Christmas season. So, what if that one last batch of cookies doesn’t get baked? It’s OK. The cards don’t get sent out until January or are only posted on a social media account? It’s really OK. Take a drive and look at the lights. Go Christmas caroling. Watch a favorite movie. Spend less time shopping and more time creating special sights and sounds of Christmas memories that you WILL treasure way beyond whatever gift that didn’t get wrapped and put under the tree.

For your Christmas listening pleasure, click here and let you ears receive a wonderful bouquet of music:

For a day filled with sights and sounds of Christmas as we celebrate with family today, I am grateful.

Dear God – rather than anticipating Christmas like a firehose that blasts life, may we treasure the smallest and best Christmas sights and sounds. Challenge us to grasp the smallest things that make our Christmas special this year. Amen.  

Blessings –

Dianne

If you have enjoyed this blog, please pass it along to someone else who will also enjoy it.

The Fish Farmer

Gratitude Day 368

Tues., Nov. 26, 2019

Mark 1:16: As Jesus passed alongside the Galilee Sea, he saw two brothers, Simon and Andrew, throwing fishing nets into the sea, for they were fishermen.

We officially have a fish farmer in our family.

Last Friday, our youngest grandson, Dylan, turned 8. For his birthday, he received a 5-gallon fish tank and money to pick out things to put inside of the tank, including fish.

Sometimes, I am at the house when Dylan and his siblings get off the bus. On Monday afternoon, right away, the conversation steered towards going to town to get fish and accessories for Dylan’s fish tank. Once I confirmed this was OK with their Dad, we headed into town.

Granddaughter Ellie had some money to spend as well. While Dylan and his older brother, Waylan, checked out the fish stuff, Ellie and I found something that she wanted. When we saw the boys getting a basket to put their future purchases in, I knew it was time to head to the fish section.

Dylan and Waylan discussed various fish options; which fish could co-habitat together and which ones would not. A helpful and nice young man helped us sort through how many fish we could put in a 5-gallan tank He knew which ones would be suited for this environment as well as get along. We switched fish out a couple of times until we were convinced the right mix was achieved. We had a long discussion about whether to get a couple shrimp. Dylan didn’t want real plants in his tank, so this idea was mixed. Before we left the fish department, Waylan had a bag with a fish in it as well.

We did not buy any of the pet mice that Dylan was convinced he also wanted.

While checking out, two ladies behind the counter appropriately oohed and aahed over the fish choices. The kids were discussing possible names for their new pets. The only confirmed name that I am aware of is Whiskers for the catfish.

On the way back to their house, Dylan carefully held his fish on his lap. Out of the blue, he asked me, “Dianne, how do you spell your name?” Sister Ellie correctly spelt my name for him.

Dylan said, “Oh, no. I spelled your name wrong at school today.” He explained how he had to write the blessings of his life on a sheet of paper. Dylan wrote my name D-I-E-A-N on his blessings paper. Would his teacher know that he was talking about me?

Truthfully, I could care less how he spelt my name on his blessings page. That I even was included on this sheet? Pure amazement and joy. This is the same kid, who a few weeks earlier said to me, “Why can’t Grandpa be here when we get home from school? Why does he have to work?”

About once a week, I get to spend an afternoon/early evening with these three grandkids after school. Every time we are together, it’s a little adventure. Why? Because we make it one. It warms my heart when the kids come to me for a hug for no reason. Or they spontaneously share something that happened at school. I love creating special little memories that they and I treasure. It’s more of a blessing to me than I am to them.  

This is a week when we think about blessings. I’m guessing this is why Dylan filled out a blessings sheet at school. It’s easy to come up with the “expected” blessings. Try to be more creative. Think of someone who made a difference in your life, if only for a brief minute. Thank God for this person … and go replicate this behavior to some fish farmer in your life.

For opportunities to help little people become fish farmers, I am grateful.

Holy God – It was no mistake that Jesus called fishermen to be part of his inner circle of disciples. These fishermen understood hard work, staying with something, not letting disappointment cloud judgement and working together as a team. May these lessons … and blessings … be something we embrace today. Amen.  

Blessings –

Dianne

If you have enjoyed this blog, please pass it along to someone else who will also enjoy it.

“This IS Crazy” or “This IS Awesome!”

Gratitude Day 365

Thurs., Nov. 21, 2019

Psalm 89:7: God is respected in the council of the holy ones; God is awesome and revered more than all those around him.

Some days are just plain crazy.

These are the days that are have every living minute filled. Or you are trying to be in more than one place at the same time. Maybe your crazy day includes something that happened completely out of the blue.

But was the day crazy … or was it simply awesome?

I feel like the last week has been a little crazy. Over the weekend, I spent several days in Louisville with my sister, nephew and a bunch of other Wisconsin kids who were showing sheep at a national sheep show. Going to the sheep show was really OK. What made it a little crazy? It was also the weekend that my first book would officially launch.

Imagine this: on the day that the first book I ever published was the #1 New Release Inspirational Christianity book on Amazon, I was driving home a truck over-filled with kids, backpacks, and blankets while over tired people tried to get some much-needed sleep. The truck was pulling a trailer completely filled with various breeds of sheep who had just been on a whirl-wind adventure.

Is this crazy … or is this awesome?

There have been so many days when I think to myself, “How crazy are you?” because the day is so full of non-stop activity and doing and running.

Maybe those days ARE crazy. But maybe, those days are simply AWESOME because I get to do some rather interesting and fun things.

There’s a fine line between crazy and awesome. Sometimes, it’s simply in the eye of the beholder. What I might think is crazy, you find totally awesome. And vice versa. Just about the time I think I’m getting put over the edge because something is so crazy, another person revels how awesome the opportunity is.

So, before you land something into the “crazy” category, pause. Think. Reflect. It may feel crazy … but possibly, you have an awesome opportunity laying right before you. YOU decide if this thing is completely crazy and ridiculous. Or if it is the most awesome for this day. Week. Or month.

Something can move from crazy to awesome in less than half-a-second. We choose where it lands. I pray that we see life filled with lots of awesomeness and celebrate every single bit of awesomeness in our lives.

For crazy and awesome days, I am grateful. 

Dear God – Help us keep perspective. When the day feels full and demanding and possibly too much, help us see that we can define the day. We get to choose whether we see the day as crazy or awesome. I pray we appreciate all the awesome moments that happen every day. Amen.  

Blessings –

Dianne

If you have enjoyed this blog, please pass it along to someone else who will also enjoy it.

A Runny Nose

Gratitude Day 364

Tues., Nov. 19, 2019

Acts 19:36: Since these things cannot be denied, you ought to be quiet and do nothing rash.

Over the weekend, I was gone for a few days with my sister, nephew and a group of kids showing sheep at a show in Louisville, Kentucky.

I left with the beginnings of a cold.

I came home with a full-blown one.

Sometimes, this just happens.

I notice that at times when I stretch myself too thin, my body reacts by not being at the top of its game. My nose runs. I ache. I’m tired but don’t always rest well. I cough and cough. I just feel a bit miserable.

Maybe, just maybe, it’s our body’s way of demanding a little bit more self-care.

Sometimes, we give up and let our bodies rest. Other times, we try to keep going.

I’ve done both. With a variety of results.

It’s November and way earlier than I would like for a cold to settle into my body. But it’s here.

Yes, I’ve drank fluids. And tried to rest. But it’s hanging on.

We’ve all had them. And wished them away. Yet, sometimes, these colds just linger on.

Maybe they are a sign that we aren’t invincible. Are not always in control. Need to slow down. Stop and just be a hare more.

Listen to your body. Hear what it says to you today. I think our bodies try to tell us a lot more than we sometimes give them credit for.

Pause today, if only for a couple minutes. Breathe slowly. Close your eyes. Quiet your mind. Sit still. And listen to you. Your body. Allow God to come into your heart and mind and speak. Just be.

And then, go forward with your day. But only AFTER you’ve listened to yourself. God. The quiet around you.

For moments to slow down and listen, I am grateful. 

Holy God – too often, we expect a message from You to be plastered on a billboard or arrive in some profound way. May we discover that sometimes, you speak to us in the quiet. When we finally slow down. When we allow ourselves to slow down and simply hear. Amen.  

Blessings –

Dianne

If you have enjoyed this blog, please pass it along to someone else who will also enjoy it.

When God Speaks …

Gratitude Day 363

Sun., Nov. 17, 2019

Luke 10:41-42: The Lord answered, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things. One thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the better part. It won’t be taken away from her.

Self-promotion isn’t my deal.

In fact, it goes against most every grain in my body to even type these words and talk about something so near and dear to my heart.

But here goes.

Today, the first book that I have authored officially launches. On Nov. 17, 2019, The Mary Experiment: When DOING and BEING Collide, is available for all the world to see, read and explore.

It’s a book about life. Finding an appropriate tension between doing, working and constant activity versus being, sitting and experiencing a more realistic pace of life.

This recovering Martha has felt challenged by this her entire life. She still struggles with when to sit. When to do. When to be. When to “git ‘er done.”

I’m still discovering more about this every day. Quite honestly, I’ve accepted the reality that this WILL be a place where I will feel stretched most days of my life.

And this is OK.

Why did I create my own Mary Experiment? Over and over, people have shared with me their struggles with this issue. I’ve watched friends and listened to people opened up their hearts about whether they were making right choices. I don’t have all the answers. I simply wanted to create an opportunity for the Martha’s of this world to know they aren’t alone. And for Mary’s to learn a little more about their Martha friends.  

The real reason I wrote this book? I heard God speak to me. Interestingly, via Hubby Rick. He literally stopped me in my tracks when he asked, “When will the things that I say are ‘most important’ truly become my top priorities? When will I be available for something other than work?”

Rick’s words challenged me to look deeply into the story of when Jesus visits sisters Martha and Mary. Martha is BUSY. Mary SITS at Jesus fit. Rather than saying one is “right” and the other is “wrong,” why can’t we have both? Likewise, what does this story say to modern-day Mary AND Martha’s? How can I encourage myself and others to create more joy, peace and contentment in our lives?

From this context, The Mary Experiment came to life. For the next few days, the Kindle version of The Mary Experiment is FREE! I pray folks will download the book and begin their own Mary Experiment. Just as Hubby Rick needed to get my attention, possibly, this book might get your attention. Or you will share this with someone you know who struggles with these issues.

If you prefer a non-Kindle version, a paperback version is available as well. Here’s the Amazon link for either version: https://www.amazon.com/Mary-Experiment-DOING-BEING-Collide/dp/1734228008/ref=sr_1_1?crid=1ZC6CE7Z46H09&keywords=the+mary+experiment&qid=1573937653&sprefix=the+mary%2Caps%2C339&sr=8-1

There are questions and a prayer at the end of each chapter. I encourage you to use the complete Journal and Reflection Questions guide available here for free to develop your own Mary Experiment: https://app.convertkit.com/forms/designers/1110952/edit

As challenging as it is to self-promote something I’ve written, I do so for one reason. God spoke to me. Possibly, God will use me to speak to someone else. It took me awhile to listen. Honestly, I AM STILL trying to listen to God. My deepest prayer is that the words of this book will become an opportunity for someone to re-examine their choices and life. If just one person thinks, “I can so related to this book. I feel like she’s talking to me,” I will feel like God has worked through me.

This recovering Martha is at a sheep show on the day her first book launches. Here’s Black Jack checking out The Mary Experiment before he moves to his new home in Rhode Island.

For God speaking to me via Hubby Rick, I am grateful. 

Dear God – When we are BUSY, it is so easy to keep going and not STOP and examine WHY we are so BUSY. Thank you for speaking directly to me. I pray the words of the Mary Experiment will bless and speak to someone else. Amen.  

Blessings –

Dianne

If you have enjoyed this blog, please pass it along to someone else who will also enjoy it.

The Empty Container

Gratitude Day 362

Thurs., Nov. 14, 2019

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

It happens, oh, about once a week.

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

And it always makes me smile.

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

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

An empty, but dirty container.

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

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

Just once.

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

Or irritate me.

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

Maybe it’s not dirty containers at your house.

Maybe it’s dirty underwear on the bathroom floor.

Or shoes right inside the door.

Possibly its toothpaste left in the sink.

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

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

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

His name was Jesus.

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

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

And he says this to you as well.

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

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

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

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

Blessings –

Dianne

If you have enjoyed this blog, please pass it along to someone else who will also enjoy it.

Looking for a Good Christian Book?

Today and tomorrow, I have partnered with 12 other Christian authors. We are offering the Kindle version of our books for 99 cents each!! But only for two days.

Here’s a link to the 13 books, which includes The Mary Experiment. Each of these authors is like me: self-publishing their book. We’re all trying to get into the Christian publishing world and are partnering together to encourage each other.

So, if you are looking for a new book to read, check some of these out. Just click on the link below.

 Author Collaboration Promotion

Remember – this offer is good for Nov. 13 and 14th only!!

Have a blessed day.

Blessings –

Dianne