Where Is God When Bad Things Happen?

Gratitude Day 278

Fri., May 31, 2019

Psalm 42:10 – Even my bones are in pain, while all day long my enemies sneer and ask, “Where is your God?”

Life can change literally in minutes.

Unfortunately, my friends Rob and Lisa Leach recently discovered this reality.

Rob, Lisa and their three daughters live outside of Linwood, KS on their dairy farm, Lin-Crest Farm. Late Tuesday afternoon, a mile-wide EF-4 tornado wiped out their farm. Every farm building and silo are gone. Their house sustained damage. Rob’s sister’s house is also a complete loss. At least a dozen of their 125 dairy animals were killed or had to be put down because of injuries. Unfortunately, they lost some of the greatest animals that ever grazed the farm’s hills, including animals they have shown across the U.S. Many of the surviving cattle have serious injuries requiring much veterinary care.

Rob and Lisa were home milking cows when the tornado struck. They were able to get to the basement of their house with their dogs. Their three daughters were in Wisconsin. Rob’s sister and her family rode out the storm in the basement of their house with a mattress over their heads. No family members were hurt in the storm.

Because of all the damage to the farm, vehicles could not get into the farm. As friends and complete strangers began arriving with trucks and trailers to move the remaining animals to other locations, people had to lead the animals down the driveway through the debris. On Wednesday, over 100 people showed up to express their deep concern and love for the Leach family, as well as begin the process of helping them salvage what remains of their farm.

The Leach’s are very aware that many, many other people in their community have been dramatically affected by this tornado as well. Rob has been a member of the local fire department for decades. Here are the words Rob posted on Facebook this week: “My Fire family has been incredible. More plan to come even as they have been dealing with countless emergencies in our beloved community. I can’t help but be overwhelmed with guilt for the kindness we’ve been shown. I can never repay it. We are well aware that we weren’t the only ones whose lives were affected in this little town that we love.”

I cannot imagine what Rob, Lisa and their daughters are experiencing right now. Shock, anger, disbelief and extreme sadness. Yet, their posts also reflect deep gratitude that no family member was hurt. They are terribly appreciative of all the people who have showed up to help and assist them. Already, dents into cleaning up the wreckage are being made.  

When these awful events happen, it is very easy to question where God was. Why didn’t God prevent this from happening to these salt-of-the-earth people? Here’s my response:

God was there as they sat huddled in the basement with a mattress over their heads.

God was there when the trucks and trailers simply showed up to move cattle.

God was there as each surviving animal was walked down the driveway and into a trailer to be moved to their next location.

God was there when people arrived with food and water.

God was there as so many volunteers have spent and continue to spend hours reopening the driveway and helping clean up the mess scattered through the trees, over the land and piles of rubbish dotting their farmland.

God was there as vets stitched up and attended to the animals that were injured by the storm.

Maybe, even more important, God will be with Rob, Lisa, their family and others who have been affected by recent natural disasters:

God will be there as the reality of what has just happened and how this affects their future truly sinks in.

God will be there as they begin to make decisions about what is next.

God will be there as they struggle with the financial implications they will need to address.

God will be there each and every step of this journey.

And someday, God will be there when this and other countless families and begin to formulate solid next steps, which may or may not look like how their lives were before the tornado.

I cannot begin to answer why this happened. Or what is the silver lining. All I can say is that God wants to journey with Rob, Lisa, their daughters and countless others who have had their lives turned upside down through this awful storm in their lives. God yearns and desires for those who are hurting, disappointed and feeling beat up. God is not here to “fix” everything but to be another set of shoulders to help bare the burden.

If we’d read the very next verse of Psalm 42 after the one posted above, we’d read this: Why am I discouraged? Why am I restless? I trust you! And I will praise you again because you help me, and you are my God.

The Leaches – I’m optimistic that God is here to help you. God may show up in a casserole, a skid steer filled with gas and ready to rock and roll, a donation to help you survive the next period of time. God may not look exactly as you think God should look. But God arrives most often in completely unexpected and unusual ways. I pray that you will let God and the thoughts and prayers of others be your source of strength in these next days and weeks ahead.

Maybe Rob said it best with these words: “Each day will get better. We will eventually find a new normal. From the bottom of our hearts, Thank you.”

For God’s presence in our lives, especially on the rotten days, I am grateful.

Almighty God – all we can do is lift up the Leach family and others recently affected by natural disasters and pray your presence will sustain them in the difficult days ahead. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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

Welcome to the World, Jensyn!

Gratitude Day 277

Thurs., May 30, 2019

Psalm 127:3– Children are a blessing and a gift from the Lord.

Daddy Darran, little Jensyn and Grandpa Rick

Let me introduce you to our newest grandchild, Jensyn Rose. She arrived May 20th at 5 lbs. 6 oz. She is pictured here with her dad, Darran, and Hubby Rick. Her Vielhuber siblings are Waylan, Ellie and Dylan.

This little peanut is our sixth grandchild. Each of these grandchildren is different and unique. Each is special in Rick and my lives. We truly know and believe each is a blessing and gift from the Lord. Each time another grandchild arrives, we believe our love does not become divided between more kids or grandkids. Quite the contrary. Rather love multiples and expands as another little person wiggles their way into our hearts and lives.

We pray that Jensyn will come to know our Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer in a very special way. We celebrate her little life, her parents, her siblings, her cousins and the opportunity to create special memories for years and years to come.

For another special little person in our lives, I am grateful.

Lord God – Thank you for the gift of Jensyn Rose. We pray that you will cover her with a shroud of our love and protection. May our love for her and all of our grandchildren only grow day by day. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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

Celebrating a Rite of Passage

Gratitude Day 276

Tues., May 28, 2019

Proverbs 16:3– Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.

It’s been a great few days.

High School Graduation. Celebrations. Cousins visiting. Playing cards. Meaningful conversations. Lots and lots of good food.

DSC08052

Last Friday, my youngest nephew, Kevin, graduated from high school. Hubby Rick and I, as well as the rest of our family, celebrated with him over the weekend.

High school graduation is truly a rite of passage. One of those important life accomplishments. A line in the sand between youth and adulthood.

DSC08051

Kevin graduated from the same high school that I did … a million years ago. I had not been to a graduation ceremony in this school gym in many years. It was a little surreal to sit in the bleachers and watch the Augusta High School class of 2019 graduate. It brought back memories:

  • High school friends that I still keep in touch with. And those I have less contact with.
  • Names of favorite teachers who taught and encouraged me.
  • As the band played “Pomp and Circumstance,” I recalled playing the exact same music.
  • The large fans positioned behind the stage where we sat. Breezes from the fans lifting the pages from the commencement address I would share off the chair where I would sit on which they had been carefully placed. Each of the speakers trying to locate the pages of our individual addresses after we were seated on the stage.
  • Walking to receive a diploma.

High school graduation is one of many rites of passage: baptism, confirmation, graduation, marriage. And then, there are the “unofficial” rites of passage as well: first kiss, mowing the lawn, driver’s license, opening your own bank account, purchasing a home, being present when someone dies, first flight on an airplane. All these rites of passage are significant, important and meaningful.

DSC08067

Life is full of these moments as well as many every day, ordinary things as well. In the 50+ years of my life, I have pondered so many times:

“What does God want me to do?”

“How do I handle this situation?”

“What direction should my life take?”

“Am I following God’s will for my life?”

DSC08040

Kevin will ask himself these, and countless similar questions, many times in his life. I continue to explore these questions and other deeply meaningful ones on a daily basis. As believers, this is what we should do: seek and desire God’s leading, guidance and influence in our lives. Every. Single. Day.

I have made mistakes. Kevin may someday look back at a choice and wished he had made a slightly different choice. This. Is. OK. Why? If we commit to God our desires and choices and wishes of our heart, someway, somehow God will honor these choices and the plan will be supported by God. Even when we make a decision or choice that might not be God’s first choice, God can help steer our lives in a slightly (or not so slightly) different direction and take what we’ve chosen and make something amazing and great happen.

DSC08107

Yes, there will and is disappointment. Heartache. The desire for do-overs. In these moments, I have often discovered this is when I grow the most. Learn something new about myself. Discover that I have abilities beyond what I imagined. God can and will use all of this for something wonderful … if we only trust God enough to allow it to so be.

DSC08104

No matter what stage of life you find yourself in these days, celebrate it. Throw yourself a little party for the latest accomplishment you felt good about. And go right back to God and ask God to continue paving the path before you.

DSC08022

Congrats, Kevin, on all the many, many things you’ve accomplished. You will do great things. Just please, take God along in your journey.

DSC08072

For observing another person journey through a significant rite of passage gracefully, I am grateful.

Lord God – We celebrate the people near and dear to our hearts who have accomplished a significant rite of passage. Inspire these people to be all that they can be. Encourage them to seek your heart as they make life decisions and choices. Thank you for consistently blessing the plans we make in consultation with you. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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

Stunned by Apple Blossoms

Gratitude Day 275

Wed., May 23, 201920190521_102802

Song of Solomon 2:3 – And you, my love, are an apple tree among trees of the forest. Your shade brought me pleasure; your fruit was sweet.

The streets and boulevards in our little town of Poynette are quite stunning right now. Would you like a little tour? Glad you are interested. Let me show you just a few of the reasons why the town is filled with the most precious whites, light pinks, dark pinks and rich pinks imaginable right now.

The crab apple trees are blooming.

20190521_103051

And they are gorgeous.

Driving down many streets, their stunning colors make you want to stop time and let them bloom all summer. But we know they won’t. And so, we enjoy the colors they elude right now.

Recently, I took a little tour around town and snapped a few pictures of these flowers in their hay-day.

20190521_102812

Notice the detail on the flowers.

20190521_123031

The different colors.

20190521_123159

If you look closely here, you will see trillium blooming in the background at our house.

20190521_103039

Right now, these trees are bringing me great pleasure. Their blossoms smell sweet. The sidewalks are littered with falling petals. And I’m drinking it all in.

20190521_123048

What is something this spring that is bringing you great pleasure? Take a minute and express your gratitude towards God.

20190521_123143

For the crab apple trees that draw me back to God’s glorious creation, I am grateful.

Lord God –Thank you, God, for creating these extra-special crab apple trees right now. And for putting on quite a show with their beauty and grace. May their beauty restore in me a deep sense of appreciation and pleasure. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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

Dear Spring – Where Are You?

Gratitude Day 274

Mon., May 20, 2019

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

Dear Spring –

Somehow, I feel like you forgot to stop this year. Yes, there was one or two days where temps were near normal. But we were hoping for more than one day here and another day there. If someone is holding you captive, please send an SOS. WE. MISS. YOU. Please decide to still show up this year. We’d love to have you stay for awhile.

Your Long-Lost Friends –

Hubby Rick & Dianne

If you live somewhere where spring has arrived in full force, can you please send it to Wisconsin? Somehow, it seems spring has forgotten to arrive. Yes, the birds are back and the spring flowers are trying not to shiver too much. We did have that one 75-degree day and it was beyond lovely. I had every door in the house open.

Since spring has been more than a bit elusive this year, I’ve tried to bring a little spring into the house. Here are a few quick and easy ways to make your house, and possibly your heart and soul, feel a little more like spring. All of these are super easy, not expensive and hopefully will brighten your house. Maybe your attitude as well, if it is missing spring.

20190511_172912

  1. Pick a green branch from the yard and put it in a vase. These were some in our backyard. When I was running recently, I saw some pretty branches in the road ditch with little flowers on them. I wished that I had the means to cut them with me, as I would have brought them home and stuck them in the vase as well! Yes, put a little water in the bottom of the vase. The leaves may only last a week or so … but since they are free, who cares?!! When they are wilting and sad looking, go pick some more.

DSC07597

  1. Find a pretty plant from the grocery store. A few people have asked about this plant. It’s a calla lily that I bought at the grocery store right before Easter for $9.99. Seriously. This little guy has brought way more than $10 of joy into my heart. I love the deep purple lilies. Every week more continue to open. Even granddaughter Ellie thought it looked “spectacular” on the table.

After I bought it, I brought it home and put it in a pretty container that I have. I left it in the plastic holder from the store because my pretty container doesn’t have a drain hole. This way, the lily won’t get too wet. Water as necessary. There is nothing quite like adding a little green into the house that spells S-P-R-I-N-G.

  1. Change a pillow. A couple weeks ago, I was asked to teach a class at a high school interior design class. I know. I am not an interior designer. I just like to have things I love in my house. Well, and yes, Hubby Rick has helped me redo a thing or two.

Anyways, I wanted to show students some easy design tricks. Switching out the pillows was one. Everyone agreed that the contrasting pillow looked better. Sometimes, just moving one little thing can breathe a new feeling into a space.

DSC07942

  1. Clean a drawer. Or maybe the refrigerator. Either one works. Our refrigerator needed a going through. It had been, um, let’s say, too long. It was amazing how good it felt to clean it out! I know. This isn’t one of those sexy jobs in the house. Who wants to spend a couple hours cleaning the fridge? I didn’t … but I’m glad I did. I was so excited to fill it with pretty, fresh veggies and fruits.

20190511_174420

  1. Set-up a fun seating area. Yes, the porch is ready for visitors. Please stop by for peach iced tea. Bring a jacket if you have to!

swings

We also have these fun swings in our backyard. Wanting to make them look just a little different from last year, I added different pillows and this nifty metal table. Done. They are ready for spring. Now just a few nice mornings to sit out there? Please?

Whether spring has fully arrived at your house our not, what is one little thing that you can do to add a feeling of spring? Something that will lighten you heart and soul. A small change that will make you smile each time you walk by?

I know that spring showers are necessary. And sometimes, this means gray days and a chill in the air. But I am so ready to rototill the garden, plant veggies and the beautiful zinnia hedge that absolutely makes our garden stunning. In the meantime, I’m going to enjoy these quick and easy ways that have made my days feel a bit more like spring, even if outside the window, it is less convincing.

20190511_172903

For the promise of more spring-filled days, I am grateful.

Lord God – As the days lengthen and the sun stays present just a bit longer, I am excited for the hope of those things that make my heart feel like spring. Yes, some have arrived. The trillium, the birds, the lawn getting mowed. Help me be patient and appreciate every day, whether the weather is just as I would prefer or not! Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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

A Gospel Lived by Action

Gratitude Day 273

Sat., May 18, 2019

Deuteronomy 4:9 – You must be very careful not to forget the things you have seen God do for you. Keep reminding yourselves and tell your children and grandchildren as well.

It’s Saturday morning! And here are just a few random thoughts on this cool Wisconsin weekend.

  1. It’s baseball season. Our house is clearly Milwaukee Brewers fans. Well, one is especially in love with the Brewers which means we’re all in love with the Brewers. Therefore, I receive updates about the Brewers at all hours of the day; most notably when Hubby Rick gets home from work as the sun is coming up and he is crawling into bed.

As much as we love and follow the Brewers, they aren’t our #1 teams. Sorry, Brewers. Whatever team our grandchildren are playing on outranks you.

We’re taking in as many of the grandkid’s games as we can. Friday night, we went to little Dylan’s game, which was his second game of the season. If you want to be entertained, take in a baseball game played by 7-year-olds. The rules are a little different. There are only four innings. Everyone gets to bat every inning. The coaches take turns pitching. Little bodies speckle the infield and the outfield. It’s not uncommon to see two little boys bust a move randomly in the outfield when they have lost interest in watching who is batting. There was one little girl on the opposing team. She barely hit the ball into play but started running towards first base after the coach encouraged her to do so. The catcher took his face mask off, just like the big boys do, grabbed the ball and threw it towards first base. He was right on the money and the ball bonked the little girl in the back of the helmet. At the end of the inning, she came running over to the sidelines and asked her grandma, “Did you see me get hit in the back of the head?”

20190517_182903

Here’s our little Dylan up to bat. Keep swinging, Dylan. We hope you, and your brother Waylan, have fun baseball seasons.

garage sale

  1. It’s garage sale weekend in our hometown. I’m not much of a garage-saler. Certainly, I don’t need more stuff. But … garage sale weekend is a good reason to visit the neighbors who are having a garage sale. And support the local Presbyterian church that has a food stand. I might have brought home a couple items to use when I host a bridal shower this summer. Shhh … don’t tell the Brewer fan in our household.

20190518_055240

  1. If sometimes you procrastinate, then this might be a book for you to read. I’ll be honest. It’s difficult to admit that yes, sometimes, I procrastinate. I do the “easy” things, wanting to quickly cross something off my to-do list, rather than focusing on the “important” things. Why do I do this? A project feels a bit overwhelming and so I delay starting it. Or I think it’s going to take a lot of time and I’m not in the right spot to mentally take it on. Too often, I am a perfectionist and I know this project maybe stretching my skill set. Or a whole host of other reasons.

This book is challenging me to rethink how I prioritize what I do, how I do it and delay putting off those things I say are important but don’t ever get around to. If you struggle with similar patterns, run to your library and get this book.

20190518_054843

  1. Love captured all in one photo. That’s the second-baser from last night’s game with Grandpa. Sometimes, this is how a sleepover looks in our house. Boys downstairs. Girls upstairs. Softly snoring as the sun just tips over the horizon. And I couldn’t love it more. These next generation Vielhuber’s who we pray see that faith is an important part of our lives. Not so much because we say it … but because we live it in the choices we make every day. We try to embody a quote often attributed to St. Francis of Assisi: “Preach the gospel daily. Use words only when necessary.”

20190517_182912

For special times with special little people in our lives, I am grateful.

Holy God – in this game of life, I pray the actions I make every day reflect my desire to reflect Your place in my life. May I always remember the best lessons are modeled in how I conduct myself every minute of the day, especially to those little people who we call our own. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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

Just a Little Talk with Jesus

Gratitude Day 272

Fri., May 17, 2019

1 John 4:11 – Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

I just wanted to feel closer to someone. I wanted this relationship to be at the place where I yearned for it to be. You know, like the person is REALLY a very good friend of mine?

At one point, I did feel close to this person. I’d spent time with this person and had shared much of my life with him.

Then, life happened. I got busy. I didn’t make time for the relationship. I chose everything over keeping a close relationship with this person. It wasn’t the other person who moved. Or stopped investing in me. Or no longer wanted to be on a first-name basis with me.

20190516_133814

It was me. I’d stopped counting on this person as a dear, close, personal friend.

Then, one day, I wanted it back. I wanted to, once again, share my biggest joys as well as my deepest secrets. I wanted to feel his unconditional love and lack of judgement. I wanted assurances that there would always be a soft place for me to land. I didn’t want to keep plodding along in life, knowing this relationship could and should be deeper. More intimate. More fulfilling.

I decided to reinvest in this relationship. I decided to reinvest in Jesus.

It’s not that I ever stopped believing in Jesus. Or praying. Or worshiping. I just wanted Jesus back inside of me.

If you want to feel close to someone, you have to invest time and energy into the relationship. If you don’t, you won’t feel close. This is what happened with my relationship with Jesus.

I no longer had private, personal conversations with Jesus. Prayer was more of a quick little event to cross off my to-do list. I had stopped talking with Jesus throughout the day and boy, did my heart feel it.

So, what should I do?

20190516_133747

I went back to the stories of Jesus. I committed to revisit and rediscover who Jesus was and what his purpose was. I would reread those accounts of Jesus’ life and make them personal for me.

Yes, I have read the gospel accounts hundreds of times. One semester of seminary, I think I read the gospel of John like 20 times for a particular class. This time? I’d read the stories of Jesus not because I was writing a sermon or planning what to teach during a class. I would read all four gospels, straight through, to see why Jesus is important to me.

20190516_133906

My plan included reading one chapter of a gospel every day. I started with Matthew because, well, it’s the first gospel in the New Testament. And continued with Mark, Luke and then John. Along with my well-worn Bible, I kept a journal where I wrote down interesting things that I read about Jesus each day. Most importantly, I write a couple sentences after reading each chapter about what this chapter meant to ME. Not someone else; another theologian or pastor or seminary professor. What did Jesus’ words and actions mean to me?

20190516_133618

For the last several months, nearly daily, I’ve pulled out my extremely well-worn Bible and read a chapter. My favorite Bible is running on fumes. It’s held together with, get this … duct tape. Honestly, it’s not even held together anymore. The spine is broken. Unless I hold the Bible together, part of it falls out when I open it up.

20190516_133707

Some days, reading the chapter was fun and easy. Other days, I’d read the words and think to myself, “What did I just read?” Some days, I was so confused about what I read yesterday that I would re-read the chapter again. Some chapters were confusing two days in a row.

Most weeks, I read a gospel chapter 6 days. I never let myself miss two days in a row. I was committed to completing this exercise.

What happened as I read through Matthew, then Mark, Luke and eventually John? I discovered a more personal Jesus just for me. When I came to a favorite chapter, I was excited to read it again. I rediscovered why having regular talks with Jesus is important, necessary and healthy. A broken relationship can be restored.

20190516_133654

I’m still figuring out who Jesus was, what lessons are most important and what to do with my life most days. But I do feel just a hare bit closer to him. I’m excited to read the Word of God again and let it speak to me.

Will there come another time in my life when I will feel far from Jesus? Yep. Will I need to redo this exercise sometime again? Absolutely. For now, I’ve rediscovering how important it is to spend with Jesus on a daily basis. Not because Jesus needs this; but because I do.

20190516_133734

For rediscovering a closer relationship with Jesus, I am grateful.

My Dear Friend Jesus – thanks for not giving up on my when I moved away in our relationship. Thanks for staying right there, waiting for me to discover how much I want you in my heart and life. Thanks for being patient with me. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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

Love in the Form of a Plant

Gratitude Day 271

Thurs., May 16, 2019

1 John 4:11 – Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

Love can show up in many different ways. Recently, it arrived at my house wrapped in a little planter filled with flowers.

 

It was Saturday. Hubby Rick and I were both home, doing various projects around the house. Mid-day, Rick asked if I knew that there was something on the porch for me. Actually, I hadn’t been out the front door and so, I wasn’t aware there was a little something just waiting for me to find it.

20190511_150136

It was this cute little planter with a variety of plants inside. Dropped off by my friend Jo.

Just because.

For me.

She was thinking of me and wanted me to know this.

Along with the plants, she left just the nicest little note. Hand-written just for me.

card from Jo

When I called Jo to let her know how meaningful her little gift was, I told her that there were big old fat tears rolling down my face.

No shame here. Just how it was.

Want to make someone feel like a million bucks? Send them just a little something, just because. Drop off a little gift that represents something that they love for no reason at all. Show them how much you care and respect and love them as a human being. You’ll be amazed how much your little effort will mean to them.

They just might have big old tears rolling down their cheeks and a smile plastered across their face.

Just try it. See what happens. No expectation. No desired return. Just a quick and little way to say to someone, “You’re special. You make a difference in my life. Maybe this little something will make a different in my life.”

It might even bring big old tears to your eyes.

20190511_150141

For Jo’s expression of kindness, caring and love, I am grateful.

Lord Jesus – thank you for bringing special people into our lives. Thank you for providing opportunities to share love and caring to someone else. May we be encouraged to do something … just because. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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

A Powerful Prayer

Gratitude Day 270

Wed., May 15, 2019

John 17:11b – (Jesus said), “Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one.”

It’s terribly powerful when someone prays specifically for you.

DSC06981

It’s happened to me many, many times. One thing I miss about Sunday mornings now that I am no longer serving as a pastor? Hubby Rick praying for ME on Sunday mornings.

We had this long-standing tradition. Before I left the house, we would stand in the kitchen and Rick would pray for me. If he happened to attend early worship with me, then he’d pray for me in the car before I walked into the church. Every Sunday, Rick asked that God would use me as God’s servant; speak through me; touch the hearts of those in worship. Those prayers helped get me in the right spot to lead worship.

These days, we still pray before we walk into worship. We sit in the car, grab hands, touch foreheads and ask that God speak to us during worship. If I am providing music, Rick asks that God use this to enhance worship as well.

Really, these prayer times? Probably my favorite time of the week. We stop, pause and are in union with Christ.

As a pastor, I have had countless opportunities to pray with and for people. There were many times when the prayer would end, a person would turn to me and say, “That’s the first time I have ever been prayed over.” Or specifically prayed for. It was very humbling to be in such intimate times with so many people.

On the last night of Jesus’ life, one of the last things he did at the Last Supper was pray for the disciples. Look at the verse above. Jesus pleads with the Father, “Protect them. Make them one in my Name.”

Jesus knew those disciples were pretty special people. He’d spent three long but quick years with those guys. He ate with them, slept with them, played jokes on them and walk thousands of miles with them. He taught them over and over and over. But his last gift to them? He prayed for them.

Talk about a humbling experience at the end of a super cool dinner party.

Jesus doesn’t stop there, though. Go to John 17 and read down a little further. At verse 20, Jesus now prays for ALL BELIEVERS. Jesus prays for you. Me. And everyone who wants to know him. Jesus opens up his prayer to include us all. He prays that WE will know him and why he came. He prays that believers will live in unity with each other. He petitions God that we, Christ’s believers, will choose not to let things pull us apart but that we will be one big family, just like the disciples. Maybe a dysfunctional at times family. Maybe a family that disagrees. But a family that holds onto essential Truths in our lives.

Somehow, I think we’ve forgotten that Jesus prayed for us. Prayed that we’d hear his message and decide to keep together with other believers. Prayed that we’d be protected from evil. Prayed that we would see Christ’s glory.

When we think of Jesus’ most powerful prayer, we often think of the Lord’s Prayer. I love the Lord’s Prayer. It’s deeply meaningful for me. I pray it every night after I crawl into bed.

widow's mite

But I also need to remember that one of the very last actions Jesus took was to pray for Me. For You. For everyone who yearns to know Him. Think of Jesus praying specifically over and for you. That’s what he does in this prayer. And it’s terribly powerful if we see it this way.

For Jesus’ prayer specifically for me and you, I am grateful. 

Holy Jesus – It’s so difficult to articulate how deeply meaningful it is that You prayed specifically for me. You yearn for us to be in union with You. I pray we stop and see how powerful Your prayer can be for us. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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

A Simple Shift

Gratitude Day 269

Mon., May 13, 2019

James 1:17 – Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

It is amazing how a simple shift can completely change a situation.

Well, in this case, it was really just a coat of paint.

I’ve previously shared photos of our front porch. It’s lovely. Really, you all should come and sit on it with me and we’ll drink gallons and gallons of peach iced tea. We’ll watch the cars drive by, we’ll talk about the books we’ve read, we’ll enjoy the birds and flowers and everything else spring.

porch

But I’m even more excited to have you visit … now that the porch looks like this!

20190511_174420

Isn’t it amazing what a little paint can do?

The wicker furniture looked nice. But a little, well, worn. Maybe a bit tired. Possibly like it had been to a few too many dances in the same outfit.

It just needed a little pick-me-up. A little spritz of fresh. A little shift that would declare that it was ready for a few more dances. Or at least, many more visitors.

About two-and-a-half years ago, we were given the furniture by a very nice couple. They wanted more room at their condo and thought this wicker furniture would look perfect on our porch. We brought it home and cleaned it up. The following spring, I found some new cushions, which gave it a little freshen-me-up then.

Now, it’s two years later. Two more years of wear and tear. Two more years of use and abuse. (It’s not really abused, as it sits under the porch. But it just sounded, you now, good.) Anyways, it was looking like the girl who needed a haircut or a new dress.

Remember that date night when Hubby Rick and I went to Menard’s one Saturday night? I brought home with me several cans of ultra-matte charcoal grey spray paint, specifically for freshening up the wicker furniture. (Note: read the label and make sure the paint is intended for whatever type of material you are covering.) On this past Saturday, decided to make the shift, the transformation. In just a few short hours, I had what looked like completely new furniture.

20190511_163435

This project is easy. You don’t have to be a skilled DYI’er to do it. Just place a tarp where you will be painting. I used the front yard, where all our neighbors could wonder what I was up to next.

20190511_163526

Then, I begin painting. This spray paint had primer in it, so I skipped the priming step. Also, we don’t expect this to be a long-term solution. If we use the furniture a couple more years, we’ll be thrilled.

Hubby Rick always tells me, “lots of thin coats is best.” I tried to follow his rule. Yes, the first coat was thicker than the other coats. But I didn’t try to cover everything during the first go-around.

20190511_163501

After the first coat, I let the furniture dry for a couple hours. Then, I went back and filled in with a second coat. Let it dry. A third coat was the final coat. Depending on what you are painting, more coats maybe required. Cushions would cover up huge portions of the wicker. I was also OK with a little “rustic” showing through. After it had dried a third time, Rick helped me move the furniture back up on the porch.

20190511_163534

We stood back and gushed about how great it looked.

As I was painting, I could tell that a little shift with paint was going to give the furniture a new life. Just a few coats of paint would make this furniture look like it fit in with the rest of the house. It’s new haircut or dress or whatever you want to call it (paint job) reminded me how sometimes, one little shift can make such a difference.

A card to a person who is struggling.

A text message that is just checking in.

An invitation to coffee just to see how someone is doing.

A piece of dessert that says, “I care.”

We can all claim the, “But I’m so busy card.” Or, “Next week, I’ll make time.” Or, “When things slow down.” Then, we’ll make time to do these things.

But does the day ever really arrive? A slot in our scheduled ever get opened up?

Only if we make it.

When we take the time and make the effort to do one simple thing for someone else, WE may truly be the hands and feet of God to that person. God can make great things happen in people’s lives. But sometimes, God needs messengers and helpers and partners to make these things happen. This is where we come in. We can be a special private partner of God … and not even know it. We can be the good and perfect gift initiated by God in which we are the conduit that allows this really cool thing to happen.

If we shift our priorities, shift our schedule, shift what is most important today, amazing little things can happen. On Saturday, I decided not to wait all summer to paint the furniture. I wanted to enjoy the freshened-up furniture all summer.

We can wait all summer to make a difference in someone else’s lift. To provide a slight shift in their day or perspective. Or we can do it today. It’s our choice.

So, please come sit on our porch for a while. If peach iced tea isn’t your thing, I’ll find something that is. And let’s let God shift our perspective for a couple hours.

20190511_174420

For God’s ability to help us shift our own and someone else’s perspective, I am grateful.

Almighty God – You do amazing things in our lives every day. And sometimes, you even use us in the process! Help me see the opportunity to make a little shift in someone else’s life today. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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