6 for Saturday

Gratitude Day 332

Sat., Sept. 28, 2019

Matthew 20:26: (Jesus said,) “But among you it is quite different. Anyone wanting to be a leader among you must be your servant.”

On occasion, I have posted what I call “6 for Saturday.” Basically, these are six random thoughts/things going on in my life.

Here’s today’s version.

While it’s football season, we’re still in baseball mode. Hubby Rick LOVES the Brewers. Imagine this: it’s 5 AM. Rick has just arrived home from his 12-hour overnight shift, during which he has probably listened to three MLB games on the radio. This would include an east coast game, a Midwest game and a west coast game. Because it’s VERY IMPORTANT that I know how all of those teams did at 5 AM, I get the recap of last night’s games as Rick crawls into bed. Who pitched well. Who had a home run. Where the Milwaukee Brewers (our team of choice) is in the playoff rankings. It was rather exciting this week when the Brewers secured a spot in the playoffs. When the NFL games began a couple weeks back, Rick informed me that “it’s too early for football right now. I’m still into baseball.” Baseball is it, my friends. I am filling a pulpit this weekend, which means I get to preach. I’ve decided a message tying baseball to the spiritual journey is most appropriate. Hopefully, there are a few baseball fans in attendance, other than my hubby.

I am hosting a one-day garage sale today. I am not a garage sale person. I don’t beat the bushes for the best deal. I have never actually hosted my own garage sale. I’ve hosted the church garage sale at my house and taken things to other people’s garage sales. When I floated this idea past Rick a few weeks ago, he got onboard and decided he had things to sell as well. Why am I having a garage sale? I’m still in the purge mode. I’m at the point where the things I’m getting rid of are nice and many. It’s time to say good-bye. I PRAY a few people stop by and fall in love with stuff they can’t live without because I can.

My favorite book genre right now is historical fiction. And I found another great book: Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate. The book tells the story about a fictional Mississippi River family in the 1930’s. While living near Memphis, the family’s five children were taken away from their parents and become wards at the Tennessee Children’s Home, which did exist and was run by Georgia Tann. Tann was an early promoter of adaption. While her concept was noteworthy, how she connected kids and potential families was riddled with layers upon layers of impropriety. Modern-day Avery Stafford discovers that her grandmother has a well-hid secret. The two stories intertwine and take the reader on a wonderful journey. What happened at the children’s home was deplorable. This book brings to light a fascinating story.

Fall is officially here. I pulled out a few decorations before company arrived last weekend. Rather than shades of orange, red and yellow, I’m feeling more neutral this fall. I’ve decided this is A-OK. I’m using white and grey with a hint of blue; decorations I already had. We have two large pumpkins in our garden that I’ll decorate with after our garage sale. Listen to your heart. Make your soul sing with happiness.

Look at this beautiful picture of Madison, WI. We live about 30 minutes from downtown Madison which is surrounded by four lakes. Wisconsin’s capital sits on a narrow isthmus where two of these lakes nearly touch. This is such a gorgeous picture, showing exactly how downtown Madison looks.

I’m making this my quote of the week. Jesus was so unique in his approach to leadership in that he turned the generally accepted leadership style upside down. In his day, Jewish leaders distanced themselves from certain responsibilities because they felt these jobs were “beneath them.” But look at what Jesus says. Don’t expect to be a leader unless you also plan to serve. Today, we put so much emphasis on being a good leader. Jesus says, “Before you can declare yourself a leader, first, you must be a servant. Period. End of story.” I recently read where the number of volunteers in the U.S. is declining. We are forgetting that leadership begins with how we treat others. We discover this best when we allow ourselves to serve others rather than expecting to be served. This is a lesson that never grows old. One that needs to be repeated and repeated and repeated.

I’m inspired by the leader Jesus. Who inspires you? How do you view the concept of servant leadership? How can you serve someone else today and, in the meantime, model leadership?

For Christ’s example of servant leadership, I am grateful. 

Lord God – thank you for Jesus’ example and words which encourage us to be leaders AND servants. May we discover a way to serve You and someone else today. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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A Mediocre Life

Gratitude Day 331

Thurs., Sept. 26, 2019

1 Corinthians 3:18: Stop fooling yourselves. If you count yourself above average in intelligence, as judged by this world’s standards, you had better put this all aside and be a fool rather than let it hold you back from the true wisdom from above.

Is it wrong to want a mediocre life?

Yes, there was a time when I thought that I wanted to be someone. You know, a person whose names was recognized. Noteworthy. This was decades ago. Honestly, somewhere along the line, I lost this passion. Drive. Desire.

Now, I’m thinking mediocre is JUST. FINE.

It’s not that I’ve decided to sit on the couch all day, watch daytime television and eat bowl after bowl of ice cream. (I dream about the ice cream but I also want to fit into my pants.) I think there are opportunities for us to make small, significant contributions to our local communities day after day.

But my perspective has changed. I don’t desire to have a building named after me. Or anything else, for that matter.

I’m comfortable checking out at the grocery store and no one knowing who I am.

Or walking into the school and no one saying, “Pastor Dianne!”

I am committed to serving God, trying to make a difference in God’s kingdom and sharing my gifts and talents. I just don’t need special recognition or acknowledgement of this.

I can happily do without anyone being any more the wise.

Here’s the challenge: most people my age have been taught to work hard. Nothing wrong with this. The problem? We were also taught to keep moving towards something bigger and better and more notable. Yes, we need people like this. Our country and communities and local projects need a cheerleader who is willing to give of themselves. This is necessary.

What we don’t need to someone who does it purely for the recognition. Or atta–boys. It’s OK if the house isn’t perfectly clean or everything may not be in it’s place. It’s OK if we forget to pay a bill or miss an appointment. We can’t do everything right ALL. THE TIME.

It just isn’t possible.

These days, I’m being OK with moments when I accept “good enough.”  I’m trying to stop putting so much pressure on myself to do everything just “right,” whatever that means.

I’m trying to be more comfortable with dedicating time towards what is really important and life giving. I want my wisdom to be rooted in God’s wisdom; not the other way around. I’m trying to be more accepting of mistakes and being OK with today’s progress.

It’s taking time. It’s shifting my perspective. It’s downscaling my previous expectations.

Instead, I’m trying to be content with my mediocre life. And appreciate all that I have rather than focus on what I think I’m missing out of.

For a mediocre life, I am grateful. 

Dear God – I pray that we can be content and satisfied with where we are at in our life stage. Help us desire and year for a life in which we seek Your wisdom above our own. . Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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A Whirlwind Family Tour

Gratitude Day 330

Wed., Sept. 25, 2019

Acts 10:2:

He and all his family were devout and God-fearing; he gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly.

My heart is very full, following several days full of family opportunities.

On Friday, I picked up two cousins at the airport. Cousins Heather and Renah flew to Wisconsin from Maryland because my niece, Carissa, married Jesse, on Saturday. It was a lovely wedding and celebration with lots of fun.

I hope the official photographer captured a better family photo taken on my camera. Clearly, Hubby Rick must have made me laugh and some other family caught it as well.

On Sunday, my sister Debbie and I traveled with our cousins to central Iowa. We attended a 60th anniversary party for my Mom’s first cousin, Jerry and his wife, Katherine in Ames. They have four daughters. It has been decades since we’ve seen these daughters. When my sisters and I were kids, we visited our grandparents each summer. We often played with these four sisters. It was great to reconnect with them at the anniversary party.

During our summer grandparent visits, we also rode the Story City Carousel, which we did again on this trip. For dinner, we visited another second cousin, Butch, at his farm.

We visited various cemeteries. Debbie and I found our paternal Deaton grandparent’s grave.

My Mom’s maiden name was Sowers. We knew of an old Sowers cemetery just outside of Story City, Iowa. Butch gave us directions, to the cemetery, which included “walk between the two houses like you own them. The cemetery is behind the houses.” He was right. While we felt a little awkward tramping through someone’s yard, the cemetery was just as described.

It has been about 30 years since I had been to this cemetery. It includes the founding Sowers family that settled in the Story City area in the mid-1800’s. One of the homeowners chatted with us. She and her husband take care of the cemetery.

We traveled to a rural cemetery where my Mom’s family is buried. We found Heather and Renah’s dad’s grave, our grandparents, great-grandparents and great-great-grandparents from the maternal side of my family. We drove by the first farm where my parents farmed, as well as the farm where my maternal grandparents farmed. After lunch at a favorite restaurant of my maternal grandmother’s, we took Heather and Renah to the Des Moines airport. Amazingly, they made it back to Maryland before Debbie and I made it to our respective homes in Wisconsin.

While the weekend was a whirlwind trip with lots of driving, it was wonderful to spend so much time with our adult cousins. We never had cousins who lived near by while growing up. We’ve always lived in different states. It was fun to share stories and learn new trivia about our families because we remember different things.

We don’t get to pick our families. We do get to pick whether or not we develop relationships with family members. After years of little contact with our first cousins, we have re-established relationships with several. Life will always be busy. It’s up to us whether or not we choose to maintain relationships with our cousins who have the same grandparents as we did. It’s a heritage built on farming, faith in God and being hard-working people. We commented about how many of our current genetic and personality traits have passed down from generation to generation.

We often comment how important family is. It’s weekends like this past one where I am reminded how important it is to spend time with family, share stories and connect through God.

For wonderful family time, I am grateful. 

Holy God – thank you for special time with family the past few days. Sometimes, it’s easy to focus on how we view life differently from other family members. I pray we cling to those things which we hold in common together. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Acceptance

Gratitude Day 329

Tues., Sept. 24, 2019

Romans 15:7: Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.

Acceptance is such a hard thing.

Acceptance of ourselves.

Acceptance of situations we can’t control.

Acceptance of someone else.

Acceptance of letting go.

Acceptance of disappointments.

Acceptance of unfulfilled dreams.

Acceptance of new situations.

Acceptance of change.

Not accepting ourselves? Then, we are saying to God, “I’m not good enough.”

What an awful thing to say to the One who created us.

Be gracious today. Be patient. Be loving. Be accepting.

For the constant lesson of acceptance, I am grateful. 

Dear God – Why is it so easy for you to accept me … and so difficult for me to accept others?  Myself? Situations out of my control? Bless me with a new understanding of acceptance today. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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When You Say “I Will”

Gratitude Day 328

Sat., Sept. 21, 2019

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

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

Dear Carissa & Jesse –

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

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

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

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

Blessings –

Uncle Rick & Auntie Dianne

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

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

Blessings –

Dianne

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Give Thanks

Gratitude Day 327

Fri., Sept. 20, 2019

Philippians 4:4: Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!

It was right there in front of me. I just needed to read it.

“Give Thanks.”

Late last night, I pulled out a few fall decorations. Company is arriving today. Maybe I should make the house look a hare bit more like fall?

Nothing like waiting until the last minute.

As Hubby Rick snoozed in the TV room, I quietly moved a few things around. Pulled out the pumpkins. Switched out a few flowers. Drank in the scent from the pumpkin candle. And called it “good enough.”

This morning, I walked through the dining room. Fog hung outside, heavy and dense. Light was barely breaking through to begin the day. Crisp air wafted through the front parlor, coming through an open window. I sat on the couch in this room, which seldom has visitor. With a cup of coffee in hand, slowed down and saw the words.

“Give Thanks.”

The list would be long and cumbersome and laborious if I accounted for everything I am thankful for. It would begin and end with blessings I have beyond my imagination.

And so, let’s just leave it at, “Give Thanks.”

What are you thankful for today?

For the ability to give thanks and rejoice today, I am grateful. 

Almighty God – May I rejoice and be thankful for all the blessings I have in my life today. “Give Thanks” seems too shallow. Maybe not enough. Thankfully, Your heart knows all that is in my heart.  Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Today Will Be Enough

Gratitude Day 326

Thurs., Sept. 19, 2019

Matthew 6:34: Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

I see the quote on the sign. And I want to make those words my words. I want to believe these words. I want to say, “Dianne, whatever you do today WILL be enough.”

But it only lasts about 30 seconds. My mind is racing. How will I ever accomplish all that is on the docket today?

Breath. Pray quickly. Breath.

Maybe another cup of coffee will make things all better.

Right?

Wrong.

The docket list sits just around the corner, along with stacks of papers and jobs and responsibilities behind my desk.

Whatever you do today will be enough.

Oh, I so want to believe this. But feel failure is lurking along the fringes of today. Waiting for me to fail. Knowing that at the end of the day, there’s a good possibility that I will feel disappointed. In myself.

Almost two years ago, I began a journey. An experiment. Could this dyed-in-the-wool Martha busy body find a bit more Maryness in her life? She’s the sister who chose not to do but opted to sit at Jesus’ feel and be with him. After decades of doing, doing and doing … could I slow down to the posted speed limit and allow myself to sit at Jesus’ feet and learn from the teacher?

There have been brief moments of breakthrough, followed by days of overdoing and overcommitting. Every time I feel that I’ve made a tiny step forward, my contentment of “having things under control” washes down the drain.

Anyone else feel my struggle? Question their enough? Long for a life that feels more manageable?

Generally, I do not think of myself as a person who worries. There is one exception. Will I accomplish enough today? Will I get the “right” things done?

Will today be enough?

Breathe. Pray, even if quickly. Let the Spirit wash over you and quiet your soul.

Let whatever you do today be enough.

For a place to share my struggles, I am grateful. 

Holy God – come to me. Come to my sister or brother who is struggling today. May we know that we are enough. Our today is enough. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Lessons from the Ducks

Gratitude Day 326

Tues., Sept. 17, 2019

John 19:14: “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—

We may be familiar with the passage of scripture where Jesus assures us that he is our shepherd. He knows every single sheep and his sheep know them. We know his voice and he knows our voice. We desire and long to be with our shepherd, just as he longs for us to be in his loving arms.

Do you think Jesus can also be a Royal Duckmaster?

While Hubby Rick and I spent a few days enjoying some Sabbath, we traveled with friends to Memphis, TN. Our friends arranged for us to stay at the historic Peabody Hotel. You might know this as the duck hotel.

The Peabody is a grand, southern hotel. It’s been a hotel for most of the last 150 years. In fact, it was celebrating their 150th anniversary while we were in town.

The Peabody was a part of the original downtown Memphis and is one of the last iconic hotels remaining in Memphis. While some people visit the Peabody to see this great example of a time-tested hotel, let’s be real.

Most people visit because of the ducks. Five little guys who waddle around the Peabody like they own it because, well, basically they do.

Ducks have a long-standing tradition with the Peabody. All the way back to the 1930’s. Frank Schutt, the general manager of the hotel at the time, had returned from a weekend hunting trip to Arkansas. He and his friends left three live duck decoys in the fountain, which they found highly amusing. The ducks were such a hit that since then, five Mallard ducks (one drake and four hens) make the fountain their play station every day.

The ducks live in a quite substantial penthouse, a replica of the Peabody, on the hotel’s roof. At 11 AM every day, the ducks ride down the elevator. When they reach the lobby, a red carpet has been rolled out for them that leads them to the huge travertine marble fountain in the hotel lobby. The ducks frolic around the fountain until 5 PM, when they leave the fountain and take the red-carpet walkway back to the elevator and return to their home on the roof.

All of this is highly choreographed by the head Duckmaster. In 1940, one of the hotel’s bellman volunteered to care for the ducks. He earned the title of Duckmaster after he trained the ducks to march into the hotel lobby to a John Philip Sousa march.

Yes, one of the “must see’s” in Memphis is the march of the ducks. It’s easy to see the ducks know exactly what to do. Their trip to and from the elevator takes really only seconds as they know the route well. Of course, the Duckmaster, decked out in a fancy red jacket, is there to make sure no one strays from the red carpet.

On the day we watched the ducks march back to the elevator, an assistant Duckmaster was chosen and named. It happened to be her birthday. Apparently, she requested to be the assistant Duckmaster for the day and her wish was granted.

It’s clear these ducks know exactly what to do. When to do it. Where to go. How to get there. They are not amateurs at being the Peabody ducks. No, they know exactly what to do.

As Jesus’ sheep, are we as skilled as the Peabody ducks? Do we listen and follow directions as well as the ducks? Do we stay on the path that keeps us aligned with God’s kingdom?

I know there have been too many times when I’ve wandered off the path, thinking I could manage better on my own. While in hindsight, the path was rather clear, I thought I knew better than Jesus and chose my own path. Sometimes, I follow the voice of the Shepherd … sometimes, I don’t. Some days, I waddle along following God’s desires for me. Other days, I’m more than happy to rebel.

Yes, the analogy only goes so far. I have a lot more choices than the ducks do. My environment is not as closely contained as the Peabody ducks. I have more opportunities to wander away and make alternative choices. But just like the Duckmaster, Jesus is constantly hanging around and waiting for me to need him once again. Sometimes, Jesus even sends assistants to help me and I ignore then or completely miss them.

If only I was as loyal as the Peabody ducks.

If only my life was as easy as being a duck.

For a good shepherd who constantly seeks me out, I am grateful. 

Lord God – we are very fortunate to have a Good Shepherd who knows us better than we know ourselves. Who makes himself available to us constantly. Who knows your exact voice. May we yearn to design our lives around being great followers of the Good Shepherd. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Being a Good Friend is Always in Style

Gratitude Day 325

Sat., Sept. 14, 2019

Luke 10:36-37: “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

Being a good friend never goes out of style.

Ever.

This story has been shared all across the U.S. And it’s a good one. It also happened within the school district where I graduated high school!

The first day of school can be daunting. It was for 4-year-old Axel. Nervous about his first day, his mom wanted to mark the occasion by taking a picture of him on the school bus. While Axel was super excited to go, when the bus door opened, he started crying.

The bus driver, Isabel Lane, had an opportunity to make a difference … and she did. She comforted Axel and showed him an open seat right behind the driver’s seat. Lane held out her hand, Axel grabbed it and they became friends. Lane knew Axel needed to be comforted and this was the best she could do at the time. Axel’s mom snapped this photo. She declares that Axel now gets on the bus every day, ready to go to school. Best part? He loves school.

While his teachers may be great and he gets to meet new friends, my guess is Axel’s bus driver has made all the difference. She embraced the opportunity to be his first new friend with his school experience. Thank you, Isabel, for being Axel’s Good Samaritan. Being a friend to every person who steps on your school bus is always in style.

This story is a bit of a follow-up from a blog that I did earlier this spring.

In 2018, Brenda Statz’s husband committed suicide. They farmed and milked cows. For years, Hubby Rick picked up their milk and delivered it to a processing facility. When Rick stopped hauling milk, his son Darran hauled the Statzs’ milk. While the Statz’s had stopped milking cows before Leon committed suicide, the stress of farming was an issue for him.

Earlier this summer, NBC came to the Loganville, WI area and captured information about this story, as well as how the current challenging dairy and agricultural industries are impacting farmers. Here’s the story aired on the NBC nightly news a few weeks ago. If you look closely, you will see Darran, Rick’s son, who has a cameo appearance. He’s the guy kneeling down by the milk tank. He’s at Randy Roeker’s farm, who is also featured during the story.

Loganville is a small, rural Wisconsin community. After Leon committed suicide, others came forward and shared the stress they are feeling because of the challenging state of agriculture. A group now meets regularly at one of the Lutheran churches in Loganville. It’s open to anyone struggling. Speakers share information. My guess is that knowing there are other people who have some of the same feelings that you are having is the most comforting aspect of this group. People have a place where they can share what’s going on in their lives. While some of these people may have been geographical neighbors for years, they are discovering and sharing a new way of being a friend.

Being a neighbor never goes out of style.

How might you be a good neighbor today?

Jesus tells the story of a man who is attached by robbers while traveling along a road. Two mean, one a priest and another a Levite, walk by the man and choose not to help him. These are religious leaders who should have known that helping their neighbor is the second most important commandment in God’s kingdom. But they chose not to.

Instead, it was the Samaritan who stopped and helped this man. Samaritans and Jewish people didn’t really get along during Jesus’ day. He took pity on the injured man and bandaged his wounds. It’s the Samaritan who found a safe place for the same to stay and even covered the expense of doing so. As the story ends, we discover it’s the person who extended mercy who is identified as a good neighbor.

Maybe you won’t see an injured person along the side of the road today. But you might see someone who is scared and anxious who just needs a helping hand. Or someone who is going through an awful time who needs a listening ear and a long hug.

Be a good neighbor. It’s always in style.

For the opportunity to be a good neighbor, I am grateful. 

Lord God – too often, we see an opportunity to do something and we justify inaction by saying, “Someone else will do this.” But maybe, just maybe, You put us in this situation so we could be a Good Samaritan. A good friend. May we embrace these opportunities before us today. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Dusting Off Faith

Gratitude Day 324

Thurs., Sept. 12, 2019

2 Thessalonians 1:3:  We ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love all of you have for one another is increasing.

Sometimes, it takes time to fully appreciate something. A little maturity can go a long way.

Several winters ago, Hubby Rick built the crème del-la crème of playhouses for three of our grandchildren. Basically, he built a miniature version of Waylan, Ellie and Dylan’s real house for the kids to play in. This wasn’t just any old playhouse. It has a loft, furniture, curtains and even electricity. Shutters on the outside, a chimney and a front porch make the house seem very real. The gate doors on one side of the house make it practical. Rick spared no amount of energy or effort in making this the playhouse one any kid would want in their back yard. For the full story, take a few minutes and read this.

Fast forward several years. A couple weeks ago, granddaughter Ellie asked if I would help clean-out the playhouse. Over time, things have accumulated in the playhouse. There’s sand and dried play dough and leftover bottles and food wrappers inside. The chickens used it for awhile as well as some hornets. While well-loved, the cleaning lady needed to pay it a visit.

After school, Ellie and I went to work to restore the beauty of the playhouse as much as we could. We ran into a few challenges. The sliding windows are broken. Rick put indoor/outdoor material in the loft which was now covered with a layer of sand.  While I was prepared for cleaning, the cleaning lady didn’t bring any tools along to fix a few missing screws. Those fixes will wait for another day.

We hauled everything out of the playhouse and cleaned it all up. Ellie chose what she wanted back inside, which we neatly arranged after a good cleaning. We put in a rug in the center, one I had at home. It used to be at Rick’s mom’s house. As Ellie and I laid it down, I mentioned how she had a little piece of her great-grandmother’s house now in her playhouse.

After we were done, we closed up the doors and reopened them like a reveal. It was so fun to see the expression on Ellie’s face as she saw the playhouse through new eyes and with a bit of maturity. While I know this playhouse has been used extensively, it just needed a little elbow grease to bring it back to a place where books will be read, pretend meals fixed and games played. She laid on grandma-great’s rug and let out a big sigh. It was like she felt home all over again.

Faith is maybe a bit like the playhouse. When faith first becomes personal, we are excited and can’t wait to share our experience with someone else. Initially, faith often feels easy and simple. Over time, faith can begin to feel a little more challenging. It gets bogged down by real life and complications and others who want to root in and take up residence. Faith usually doesn’t disappear. It just gets covered up with a layer of sand or mud or dirt.

When we are able to dust off faith and clean up some of our habits in which we become a bit lazy in practicing our faith, slowly, we begin to feel more optimistic about faith. With just a little work, maybe faith won’t look so difficult or hard and actually will inherit a whole new feeling. Faith never left us or disappeared. It just simply was covered up by other things. With a little effort, cleaning and going through, faith looks refreshed, remade and ready for another whirl.

When Ellie’s dad got home, she quickly asked him to go see the cleaned-up playhouse. Her one caveat? He had to take off his boots before he could enter. She wants her cleaned-up playhouse to stay this way. A little older Ellie longs for it to be used again; this time, with a little more care and attention.

FULL DISCLOSURE: Unfortunately, we didn’t take any before photos. And my helped snapped the photos included with this post.

For the opportunity for faith to grow and mature, I am grateful. 

Holy God – sometimes, we feel like faith isn’t worth the effort. We put our energy into other things or decide that something else is a higher priority. God – forgive us for the times when this happens. And when we’re ready to dust off our faith and explore it again, thanks for always being ready to be a part of this. Help us mature in our faith and find it anew as often as we need to. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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