Gratitude Day 35 – Trillium

trillium

Wed., May 9, 2018

Song of Songs 2:12 – Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come; the cooing of doves is heard in our land.

My heart sang when I noticed the white flowers peaking out between the dark green leaves on the north side of our porch. They beckoned me to come take a glimpse.

Yes, the trillium are just beginning go bloom.

Trillium are a flower from my childhood. I grew up on a Wisconsin dairy farm. Our land included acres of woods. I always felt spring had arrived when blankets of trillium covered the floor of the woods. They would arrive around Mother’s Day and grace the earth for about two weeks. Normally pure white flowers, towards the end of their blooming season, some trillium will have pink streaks across their petals.

This is how I remember celebrating Mother’s Day. After morning chores, we would go to church, which was followed by dinner at home. (Growing up, the meal in the middle of the day was not called lunch. It was called dinner. The last meal of the day was called supper.) In the afternoon, we would take empty ice cream buckets to the woods and pick trillium. Buckets of them. We’d each be carrying two or three buckets of the tri-stared flowers. After getting them home, we would display them throughout the house. Their beauty would bring a breath of spring to the house for the next week or so.

In Wisconsin where I live, trillium are a protected flower. This means they are not to be picked unless they are on your private property. The buckets of trillium picked off our land? Perfectly fine. One year while in college on Mother’s Day, we had made our annual trek to pick trillium. I wanted to take just a few back with me to college. I set a bucket of freshly-picked flowers on the floorboards by the front passenger seat in the car. During the 150+ mile trip back to school, I kept an eye on the speedometer. If I was stopped, I didn’t want to lose the precious trillium.

Today, my heart feels like spring has finally arrived. The trillium are here. A season of singing has commenced. The cooing of people’s voices as they “ooh” over them can be heard.

For this, I am grateful.

Lord God – the delicateness, the beauty, the memories certain flowers drum up in our hearts and minds. All created by you. Just for our benefit. Thank you so much.  Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Gratitude Day 33 – Give Thanks

give thanksMon., May 7, 2018

2 Corinthians 1:11 – Please help us by praying for us. Then many people will give thanks for the blessings we receive in answer to all these prayers.

During worship on Sunday, there came a time when I truly felt at home. Many years ago as a pastor, I began using the song “Give Thanks” after the offering rather than the Doxology. Some people really love the Doxology. I really love “Give Thanks.”

Why? Early in our marriage, Hubby Rick’s eldest son was killed months before we were married. There were times it was a challenge to make sense of this accident. Nate was just 21. So much life to live. Sed quickly because of a snowmobiling accident.

Many days, Rick would come home and sing, “Give Thanks.” It was a purposeful way for him to remind himself that in everything, he wanted to give thanks. In the good days, give thanks. In the awful days, give thanks. In the days that are too busy, give thanks. In the days when life is too difficult, give thanks. In the days that may seem boring and predictable, give thanks.

Simply, give thanks.

Read (or sing) the words of this worship song:

Give thanks with a grateful heart
Give thanks to the Holy One
Give thanks because He’s given Jesus Christ, His Son

Give thanks with a grateful heart
Give thanks to the Holy One
Give thanks because He’s given Jesus Christ, His Son

And now let the weak say, “I am strong”
Let the poor say, “I am rich
Because of what the Lord has done for us”

And now let the weak say, “I am strong”
Let the poor say, “I am rich
Because of what the Lord has done for us”

Give thanks with a grateful heart
Give thanks to the Holy One
Give thanks because He’s given Jesus Christ, His Son

Give thanks.

Today’s bible verse reminds us of something important in our daily lives. Most Christians pray. What tops our prayer list? Our needs, our wants, where we want God to intervene and intervene now. Here, how are we encouraged to pray? For all the blessings we have received because of answered prayer. It seems so much easier to criticize God for unanswered prayers than to give thanks to God for answered prayer. Too often, we dwell on the prayers that don’t get answered as we desire and give little credit for when a prayer is answered in an amazing and surprising way.

As we stood and sang this song during in worship, my heart felt very full, blessed and at peace. I just wanted to express my thanks to God for all the answered prayers, the blessings in our lives and the ways God works in our lives we take for granted. I just wanted to give thanks.

For this, I am grateful.

Almighty God – I pray we give thanks to you this day: for things we see and the things we don’t see. For our place in our lives even when we take it for granted. For all the prayers you have answered which have had an impact in our lives. We give you thanks. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Gratitude Day 32 – Yummy Rhubarb

Sun., May 6, 2018

Genesis 6:21 – Store up enough food both for yourself and for them.

Contrary to the bible verse, I’ve been trying to clean out my freezer. With summer coming, I like to try and minimize the amount of food carried over from one year to the next.

Friday, we had plans to visit our friends, Howard and Rhoda. We would pick up Friday night fish and eat at their house. Wanting to take along a dessert, I checked the freezer. A few lingering containers of last year’s rhubarb were still hanging out. A double-banger: I would help clean-out the freezer AND get to make one of my favorite desserts. If cleaning out the freezer means sharing food with others, I’m all in.

I love rhubarb. There are many, many different ways to make it. My favorite? Rhubarb crisp. There are a variety of recipes. I want oatmeal in my version. Here is my favorite recipe:

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Notice: I’m not afraid to write in my cookbooks. (This is how I knew that I had the right recipe.) For years, I never thought to write in my Bible. While attending seminary, a professor talked about making your Bible your friend. He shared how he writes in his Bible to help him find certain passages more quickly. I immediately embodied his strategy and have been using it ever since.

If writing in a Bible is OK, then should writing in other books be OK? As well as cook books? You bet!

So, while the first pot of coffee was brewing early Friday morning, I whipped up the rhubarb crisp and popped it into the oven. Fifty minutes later, a heavenly aroma was wafting through our house. The rhubarb crisp was done. This is what it looked like. I made a double batch from the recipe:

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We had a wonderful evening with our dear friends, Howard and Rhoda. At the end of the meal, I was happy to hear they also like rhubarb as I served up the crisp. Yes, I broke my “no sugar” rule and had just a little bit of rhubarb crisp. The urge was stronger than my willpower.

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Thanks, Howard and Rhoda, for hosting us on Friday night. We had a great time.

We made a little exchange before we left. Rhoda had read about Rick’s “lost” rain gauge. While at the hardware store on Friday, she picked up a new one. The lost rain gauge dilemma has been solved! We brought home a new rain gauge. They are enjoying the rest of the rhubarb dessert.

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For Rick’s new rain gauge, as well as tasty rhubarb crisp, I am grateful.

Hospitality is one of the spiritual gifts we sometimes overlook. Thanks for bringing into our lives wonderful people like Howard and Rhoda. As Howard’s health continues to change, we pray for him and others struggling with Parkinson’s disease. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

P.S. – I brought along Joanna Gaines’s cookbook, so Rhoda would have a chance to thumb through it as well. She was very impressed!

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Gratitude Day 31 – A New Cookbook!

Fri., May 4, 2018

Genesis 27:4 –Cook some of that tasty food that I love so much and bring it to me. I want to eat it once more and give you my blessing before I die.” 

A package arrived on our front porch today from a friend. Surprised by this box, a huge smile crept across my face as I opened it.

Inside was this:

20180503_113258Yep, Joanna Gaines new cookbook, “Magnolia Table.”

I wasn’t just grateful for this book. I was excited as well!

I will admit: I am a Gaines follower. I watch the shows. I study pictures of her designs and use them for inspiration in our old Victorian farm-style house. Her basic style resonates with me.

When we redid the kitchen in this house, I KNEW white cabinets were in my future. Hubby Rick was convinced wood cabinets were the only option. When it came time to order them, I went by myself, as encouraged by Rick, so I could order exactly what I wanted. When the white cabinets arrived, Rick dutifully installed them, following the little sketch I drew on a used piece of paper. They are lovely and exactly what I had in mind.

More than one person while walking through our house have brought up the names of Chip and Joanna Gaines. We aren’t Chip and Joanna. We do not plan on going into the business of flipping houses. However, I will admit that recently, I walked into the former upstairs kitchen. Someday, it will be a master bathroom. Rick was in the room and we were going to talk design and lay-out. The first words were, “OK, Chip. What do you have in mind?”

I only spent about five minutes thumbing through the cookbook today. Here are my first quick reactions:

  • It’s more than a cookbook. It’s a story. Joanna shares tidbits about how she created the recipes and why she included them.
  • There are a variety of recipes inspired by the various lines of her heritage as well as traditional southern recipes.
  • It’s not a cookbook for someone carefully watching their diet. This is soul food. I have made some changes to my diet since the first of the year. I will not be cooking from this cookbook every day if I want to continue these eating habits. However, I do plan to use this cookbook; just in moderation.

Food is an important part of our culture. It’s how we gather together. Around a meal, sharing our lives along with something to eat. Think about it. Communion is a meal for Christians to remember why Christ came to earth.

In the scripture from Genesis, Isaac is old. He instructs his son Esau to go hunting and make the wonderful stew he is known for. He wants one more serving of this special stew before he dies. If we would keep reading the story, we would discover that Esau’s twin brother, Jacob, is encouraged by his mother, Rebekah, help make some stew and take it to Isaac before Esau does. Then, Jacob will receive the family blessing. This is exactly what happens; all over a bowl of stew.

20180503_113338I found a special place in a nook between those white cabinets for my new cook book. It’s right next to one of my Mom’s cookbooks. They will keep each other company there. Both are also pretty good cooks.

For this cookbook, as well as my Mom’s cookbook, I am grateful.

Lord God – I think of all the times great fellowship has happened over a meal! The many ways food is used to celebrate important event within the church. After a special event such as a baptism, a wedding or a confirmation. Even after the death of a loved one as a continuation of a person’s celebration of life. Each time we come to the communion table, we participate in a special meal ordained by you. Thank you for the people who love to cook and share their food. May we continue to be inspired through the breaking of bread to connect with brothers and sisters in Christ. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

P.S. – We had more rain today. Rick still hasn’t found the rain gauge!

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Gratitude Day 30 – Spring Rain

rain

Thurs., May 3, 2018

1 Kings 18:41 – Then Elijah said to Ahab, “Go and enjoy a good meal! For I hear a mighty rainstorm coming!”

It’s spring. It’s time for rain.

On Tues. night, we had a rainstorm: thunder and all. Wednesday brought forth more rain. While it hasn’t rained all day, these have been wonderful showers. Neighbor Sharon has we had about 2” last night. Hubby Rick spent time today trying to find our rain gauge. Apparently, he put it in a place he wouldn’t forget where it was … and just can’t remember where that is!

Rain means green grass, blooming flowers, seeds sprouting from the ground.

For this, I am grateful.

The gift of life in spring should never cease to amaze us, Lord God. And these lovely rains tease more new life into our world. Thank you for the gift of rain. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Gratitude Day 29 – Call the Midwife

Call the Midwife

Tues., May 1, 2018

Luke 24:11 –But the story sounded like a fairy tale to the men—they didn’t believe it. 

I love a great historical fiction story. Cue the music for … “Call the Midwife.”

“Call the Midwife” is a historical fiction television story set in England. The show was initially inspired by the best-selling memoirs of the late Jennifer Worth. In them, she tells colorful stories of families and midwifery in London’s East End. The show follows the nurses, midwives and nuns from Nonnatus House, who assist the poor expectant mothers of Poplar. We learn more about these women and their interactions within their tight-knit community.

I stumbled upon this PBS show a few years back. Having missed a couple seasons, I checked out DVD’s from the library and caught up. As the seasons move from the 1950’s to the 1960’s, we see how medicine changed: increased emphasis on prenatal care, gas used to ease pain and the importance of cleanliness. We also see glimpses of other culture changes: the availability of television, understanding alcohol addiction and teaching teenaged girls how their bodies change.

Tom & Barbara

Tonight, I watched this week’s episode; a heart-wrenching story about midwife Barbara who happens to be married to the popular local clergy curator, Reverend Tom. Barbara contracts septic meningitis with fatal results. A freshly married young couple, Reverend Tom sits at the bedside of his ailing wife in the very same hospital where he has sat with so many other people and families.

In the last few years, historical fiction has truly become one of my favorite genres. I find it fascinating to rediscover the culture and challenges people of a different era experienced. While specific problems maybe different from what we experience today, it is easy to trace similar threads to the present.

After watching the episode, my thoughts turned to what is my favorite historical fiction story. While there are many possibilities, the choice is easy. My favorite historical book is none other than the Bible. It’s a trick question because I do not believe the Bible is fiction. I believe the story as true. While I cannot explain everything the Bible portrays, I choose to see God’s hand in all that happens in this story. I get to be part of the story today.

Many, many people have read the Bible or heard the story of Jesus and thought, “This can’t be true. It must be a fairy tale.” When the disciples arrive at the tomb on Easter morning, one version of the Bible portrays the disciples as contemplating the resurrection as a fairy tale.

Whether I can fully explain and grasp the depth of the stories found in the Old and New Testaments, I choose whether I allow these stories to become part of my story. Will they affect how I live my life and the choices I make?

The story of Reverend Tom and Barbara grabbed my attention. Life is very precious. It can change literally in an instant. Life’s delicacy says each day truly is a gift. Did I live today like the present it is?

This storyline is one I pray we have heard before. Long time ago, a theologian said that most of the time, we know the right choices, decisions and priorities. Sometimes, we just need to be reminded of them. This is what “Call the Midwife” did for me today. This is what the story of the Bible should do for us every day.

For this, I am grateful.

Thank you for being the master story teller, Almighty God. For using words and images and people to help me learn about you. Thank you for including me as part of your story. May I see today as a very special gift that I use to honor your story in my life. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Gratitude Day 28 – A Curved Shower Rod

shower rod new

Mon., Apr. 30, 2018

1 Chronicles 17:2 – And Nathan replied, “Carry out your plan in every detail, for it is the will of the Lord.”

This winter, we remodeled our downstairs bathroom. Earlier, I shared a few pictures of the final product.

I continue to be so excited about this transformation. But there was one little detail that bothered me. The shower rod. A couple times when showing guests the bathroom, I’d slide the shower curtain. Meanwhile, the rod slid down the side of the shower and eventually created a pile on the floor of the shower.

I know. In the grand scheme of things, a shower rod is like a -10 on the importance scale. So many other things are much more important. Yet, the bathroom just seemed a little unfinished because of this silly shower rod.

I bought the rod from a large home improvement store. I think it cost $5. No rods attachable to the wall were available. So, I opted for the cheapest version possible.

A few weeks ago, I quickly looked online for a rod that could be attached to the wall. I could not find a rod small enough for this space. And gave up.

Last week, I again googled: “wall mounted 36” shower rod.” This time, one came up! A rounded one! In our last house, we put a rounded shower rod in one bathroom. I am now completely sold on the extra space a rounded rod allows.

A few days later, the rod arrived. While it had been laying in the bathroom for a few days, on Saturday, I asked hubby Rick if he could please install it. He carefully mounted it into the grout between the tiles. And rehung the shower curtain.

The rod is not very fancy. It cost $13. Easily the same amount of money for us to each lunch. I know it’s silly how this one little detail makes me feel like the bathroom is now complete. But it does.

Details. Some people love them. Some people despise them. For those who know success is in well-managed details, we thrive on them. For those who think details drive them nuts, not so much. I know it’s a little ridiculous that this shower rod makes me feel like the whole bathroom is finally finished.

Look around today. Take notice of all the crazy little details God places in our lives. The tiniest of veining on a plant leaf. The wisp of a cloud high in the sky on a perfectly blue-skied day. The thousands of different shades of aqua in the ocean. God is a God of detail.

There are times hubby Rick and I wonder if we should clutter God’s desk with our seemingly detail-oriented prayer requests. I am an advocate for cluttering. What seems like a no-big-deal detail maybe just what God yearns for us to notice. The simplest of detail that creates peace in our lives really is important.

Quickly – one last comparison of the shower rods. Left is the previous. Right is the new curved, attachable rod.

For this, I am grateful.

Lord God – You are a God of details. The millions of little details you manage and keep straight amazes me. The tiniest of detail that we may think is just a coincidence is orchestrated by you. May we see how details matter to you. And can matter to us. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Gratitude Day 27 – The Porch is Open

20180428_163203

Sun., Apr. 29, 2018

Job 29:23 – My words were eagerly accepted like the showers of spring

There are many wonderful little parts of our 110-year-old house. But when people visit, the place we receive the most “ooh’s” and “aah’s” is the porch.

20180428_163425The front of the house is flanked by a nice big, deep porch. This leads into a screened-in wrap-around porch on the south side of the house. Either location is a lovely place to have lunch, visit, drink coffee or quietly start the day.

20180428_163249A couple summers ago, some friends gave us some wicker furniture for the porch. Last spring, I changed out the cushions and loved how they looked. Then, I set-up the front porch as a lounging area. I had great intentions of using the porch a lot last summer. While we often used the table for meals, the lounging area was less consistent.

20180428_163321Spring has been slow in arriving in Wisconsin. Today, it was a bit chilly, but the sun was shining. Rick and I agreed it was time to get the summer furniture on the porch. It was time to open up the porch for visitors.

20180428_163212I still had winter decorations on the porch. After removing these and vacuuming up dead needles and such, I moved the rug to where the wicker furniture would go. After a quick squirt with the hose, the furniture was positioned. Next, came cushions and pillows. I found a few accessories to make the space feel a bit quainter.

20180428_163350We didn’t have time to sit and enjoy the porch furniture today. But I’m hoping soon this will be a regular occurrence.

20180428_163436Today, I am grateful the porch is open and ready for company. I just need to add a sign the church kids gave me last fall.

20180428_163406Stop by anytime. I’ll have the lemonade or coffee ready.

20180428_163525For a porch ready for company, I am grateful.

20180428_163416I await the wonderful conversations that will happen on the porch this year, Lord God. I anticipate many great exchanges of words, watered by your wisdom, to float throughout this area. Thanks for a cozy place for people to gather and simply be. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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