God Wants a Comma and We Put a Period

Gratitude Day 38

Thurs., July 25, 2019

Jeremiah 29:11 – I say this because I know what I am planning for you,” says the Lord. “I have good plans for you, not plans to hurt you. I will give you hope and a good future.

The last few weeks, I’ve been committed to working on a specific project. Here’s a little hint in case you don’t know. I’m working on a book.

Yep. I’m going to publish a book.

It’s taken me longer than I anticipated to pull together a rough draft. Lately, I’ve made some traction in making progress with the book. Just recently, I committed to a rough draft completion date.  

I planned to send quite a bit of time book writing this week. Yes, I have written some. But not near as much as I anticipated. Of course, over lunch today, Hubby Rick says, “Got the book done?”

Sometimes, it’s my lack of discipline why I don’t accomplish as much writing as I would like. I tackle other “easy” projects instead of the more difficult and challenging project of formulating sentence after sentence. I do the things that I don’t have to really think about rather than designing sentences that have substance as well as charisma to hold a reader.

But then, there are the unexpected interruptions that distract me as well. An unexpected phone call that then leads into something that takes hours of my time. Or an e-mail that needs a response before an upcoming meeting. Rather than working on the next chapter of the book, I spend valuable time crafting just the right response.

Time and time again in my life, I feel God leading me in a direction. I dutifully follow this leading and feel my obeidience should be rewarded. God will make this path easier because I actually listened.

I want commas at the ends of sentences as well as clear direction with no distractions and solid focus.

Instead, I feel God inserting commas and unexpected situations that creep into my life. These things quietly, but constantly, ping until I respond to them.

And so, I keep trying to put periods and God keeps replacing them with commas.

I know there’s a lesson here. I believe God’s timing is more insightful than my timing. This still doesn’t mean that at times, I prefer my timing.

If only I can remember God’s words, “Dianne, I have some amazing things planned for you. Good things. In fact, some great things. Just be patient. You’ll discover hope and find a secure future … if you will only let me continue to insert commas into your life.”

Alright, God. I get the message. Commas. Not periods.

Where is God trying to insert a comma into your life? Are you accepting of this … or still trying to put a period there?

Remember God’s words, “I have some amazing things planned for you. Good things. In fact, some great things. Just be patient. You’ll discover hope and find a secure future … if you will only let me continue to insert commas into your life.”

Timing is tricky. It can be oh, so discouraging. Maybe, just maybe, the comma will become something way beyond your imagination. And then, you’ll be glad God insisted on a comma rather than your period.

For God’s plan for my life, I am grateful.

Holy God – please be patient with me when I want to put a period when you feel a comma is more appropriate. May I yearn for Your plan for me. Amen.

Blessings –


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Top 10 Things to Pray For

Gratitude Day 307

Wed., July 24, 2019

Matthew 6:5-6 – (Jesus said,) “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

It’s a question that I’ve often been asked as a pastor: What should I pray for?

The quick and simple answer?


If this still seems vague and daunting, here’s my list of Top 10 Things I Pray For:

  1. Myself. God is a safe place to spill my guts and “tell all.”
  2. Thanksgiving and gratitude for God’s presence in your life and the world.
  3. Forgiveness for God to heal your heart and soul.
  4. Those most important to you.
  5. Clarity in your work, personal life and spiritual life.
  6. Those struggling with health concerns, someone affected by something outside of their control, anyone who needs someone advocating on their behalf.
  7. Those who are feeling lonely, abandoned or confused.
  8. Your church and denomination.  
  9. People in positions of influence.
  10. Dedicate the day to following God’s leadings in your life.

What are the Top 10 Things you pray for?

For me, prayer is personal. Yes, there are times Hubby Rick and I pray together. I also feel I need quiet time with God. I need the opportunity to share with God the deepest corners of my very being. Personally, I prefer praying quietly and by myself, with no one aware this is even happening. Jesus encourages us to do so in private and I think this is awfully good advice.

Contrary to most people’s beliefs: there isn’t a “right” way or a “wrong” way to pray. The only wrong way? Not praying at all.

If you are struggling in having the words to share, go easy on yourself. Simply pray the Lord’s Prayer. It covers all the bases.

For communicating with God through, I am grateful.

Our Father in heaven, may your name always be kept holy. May your kingdom come and what you want be done, here on earth as it is in heaven. Give us the food we need for each day. Forgive us for our sins, just as we have forgiven those who sinned against us. And do not cause us to be tempted, but save us from the Evil One. The kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours forever. Amen.

Blessings –


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For a great adventure when school shopping, I am grateful.

Holy God – how fortunate we are for the opportunities for kids to learn and grow in knowledge and education. While it maybe a few weeks before school officially begins, place before us opportunities where we can support little people around us. Amen.

Blessings –


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A Fun School Shopping Trip

Gratitude Day 306

Tues., July 23, 2019

John 7:15 – The Jews there were amazed and asked, “How did this man get such learning without having been taught?”

Monday was a Grandma day for me. I had the great privilege of spending the day with three of our grandkids, Waylan, Ellie and Dylan.

It was truly a fun day. As we talked about how to spend the day, the kids suggested that we go school shopping.

This is something I’ve often done with our grandkids. It’s a way that I feel Hubby Rick and I can support his kids and our grandkids. And so, I’ve tried to make it an adventure rather than a challenging event.

The kids remembered going school shopping last year. Both years, we met Grandpa Rick for a picnic at the park. Last year, we were done school shopping when we met Grandpa. This year, we went shopping afterwards. I was reminded how tying these two events together has really become a tradition for us.

So, if you will be taking kids or grandkids school shopping, what are my best suggestions? Here they are.

  • Select a timeframe when you know you won’t be rushed. School shopping takes longer than anticipated. Even the kids were surprised how long it took for us to cross everything off of their lists. If you feel like you are trying to “squeeze” this in-between other scheduled time slots, find a different time. The kids, and myself, really enjoyed school shopping because I wasn’t constantly looking at my watch. We just took the necessary time.
  • A basket for each kid. This is one of our favorite traditions. Each kid gets their “own” basket and fills it with their supplies. When checking out, each kid gets their own “bag” full of goodies. It makes it easier to keep track of what items are for what kid. When we got to the car, they loved going back through “their” bag and oohing and aahing over their favorite purchases. Yes, it takes longer at the checkout. Thankfully, we had a patient checkout person. But it really makes it fun for each child.
  • Follow the lists. We didn’t make the decision until the very day we went shopping. I looked up the shopping lists on my phone and downloaded them so we could go back and refer to them multiple times. Some lists are very specific, i.e. – particular brands for certain items. We took the time to follow the lists and went back through a second time and made sure we had everything on the list.
  • Let the kids pick out their items, as much as possible, following the lists. Every year, I’m surprised how some of the kids love to match their items and follow their self-picked “theme.” It happened again this shopping trip. It allows for their personalities to come through, even with school shopping. When we got back to their house, the kids were so excited to share with their Dad what they picked out.
  • Set the tone for a fun upcoming school year while supply shopping. Sometimes, kids aren’t excited about going back to school. I was pleasantly surprised how school shopping spurred great conversations about looking forward to school this fall. Yes, it’s over a month before school officially begins. But the kids were already chatting about moving to a new school, seeing friends and meeting new teachers as something to look forward to.
  • Immediately, put the bags of school supplies away for school. On the way back to the house, we had a specific conversation about how these supplies ARE FOR SCHOOL. Dad helped get them put away so when the first day of school rolls around, they will be ready to go.
  • End a fun outing with a little treat. Yes, our school shopping adventure ended with a quick stop for ice cream. Everyone declared it one of the best afternoons we’d spent together. I know. Unbelievable.

Maybe you don’t have kids or grandkids that you can assist with school shopping. You still can make a difference in some little people’s lives. Our local community has a school supply drive to help provide items for kids who might not have everything they need once school begins. Get a list and go buy a few things! Every little bit helps. Throughout the school year, classrooms run out of specific items. A stash for teachers is very helpful.

As we were checking out, the kids quickly realized what financial commitment is needed to buy supplies. I was impressed that they figured out how much it cost per child to cover their supplies. If you feel that you can help another family out with this expense, it’s a great way to pay it forward and support them.

Unfortunately, I didn’t snap a photo of the kids with their bags loaded with school supplies. Back at my house and a very quiet car, I cleaned out left-behind pieces of our school shopping trip. I relived the great conversations we had. And wished I could capture their big smiles of being able to pick out items that they are excited to have for this upcoming school year.

School shopping can be stressful … or it can truly be a fun event. Every day, we run into situations that can be taxing. With a slight shift of attitude and approach, they can be turned into a fun adventure. We make these choices. We help influence others as to how they view these times in their lives. Our little school shopping adventure yesterday reminded me that every moment I have with our grandkids is special and important. I want to make the most of every single one of them … even when shopping for school supplies

For a great adventure when school shopping, I am grateful.

Holy God – how fortunate we are for the opportunities for kids to learn and grow in knowledge and education. While it maybe a few weeks before school officially begins, place before us opportunities where we can support little people around us. Amen.

Blessings –


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Perspective During Very Warm Days

Gratitude Day 305

Sat., July 20, 2019

Jonah 4:8 – As the sun rose higher in the sky, God sent a very hot east wind to blow, and the sun became so hot on Jonah’s head that he became very weak and wished he were dead. He said, “It is better for me to die than to live.”

It’s been a HOT week in Wisconsin!! I saw an image on Friday that the temperature was like 150 degrees warmer than exactly 6 months ago. Heat index on Friday? Like 105. Six months ago? Wind chill factor was at least -45.

Hubby Rick was one of those complaining six months ago about the cold. Well, in reality, everyone was. When coming home from work early one morning, the temperature gage on the car registered -38. Without the windchill factor. This was the lowest temperature he had EVER seen in his (cough) 65-years.

I don’t like the cold … but I’m not sure +105 heat index is my cup of tea either. We have a beautiful old house … with hot water heat. This means our house lacks duck work for traditional central air. Yes, I know there are alternatives. I just haven’t convinced my heat-loving husband that it’s worth the investment. He’d rather hone-up the heating system.

And so, our only air conditioner is a window unit that we have in the dining room on the main floor. Our bedroom and my office are on the second floor. It’s been a tad bit warm there this week. I have fans going. I kept the windows closed during the day and open only when it has cooled off at night to let in some cooler, fresh air. But it’s still HOT. Friday afternoon, I brought my laptop and work downstairs and set-up shop on the dining room table. Right in front of the window air conditioner.

On the other hand, Rick is LOVING every minute of these days. Yes, he loves HOT. He loves HUMIDITY. Yes, he’s not completely sane. He doesn’t mind showering four times a day. I prefer life when I feel dry after toweling post shower. These days, I don’t.

And yet, I’m reminded that life really could be SO. MUCH. WORSE. What about the people who are feeding farm animals in the awful heat? Been there, done that. Not fun. Or the days when we baled hay on a terribly hot day like we’ve had this week? Almost suffocating trying to stack those little square hay bales in a very warm barn with little or no breeze.

Anyone who has worked an outdoor job this week needs the weekend off. Seriously. But I know that not everyone who works these types of jobs will have this luxury.

We weren’t one of the 12,000 people who live in downtown Madison who lost all electricity on Friday when two transmitters for the local gas and electric company started on fire. Those folks didn’t have electricity all day yesterday, including many businesses. Imagine having to move all the refrigerated food in a grocery store really quick.

I know I’m dating myself … but there was no AC in the old farmhouse where we grew up. Car air conditioning was rolling down the windows (with an actual knob that cranked) and driving 60 miles/hour down the road.

Rick and I had a conversation about what it must be like to live in Bagdad or some dessert place where it’s over 100 all summer long. Yes, there isn’t the humidity like we have. But do the people ever tire of the heat, day after day? Rick wants to move there and find out. For like six months. Seriously.

I’m not convinced I want to tag long for more than a week or two.

I know we aren’t the only part of the U.S. that has experienced heat in the summer. I’m not ready to move to Kansas or Texas or Atlanta and live there in June, July and August. Rick would love to do so; right after Bagdad.

The heat is to break today, which is Saturday. And for the next 10 days, we’ll all have to find something else to talk about other than the heat. We’ll open our windows and go for walks outside and drink peach iced tea on our porches. And we’ll recall those dog days of summer from last week.

It’s summer. It’s supposed to be hot. It’s supposed to be humid. And I just thank God that we have days like these so when 80 degrees rolls around, we think about getting a jacket out after the sun goes down.

For warm days that help me keep perspective, I am grateful.

Lord God – please be with those who are experiencing hot, humid and not dealing so well with it. Please be with those who may not have a cool place to cool down. Please with those who work outside and can’t escape the elements as easily as some others. Please help us keep perspective. Amen.

Blessings –


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Evasive Blessings

Gratitude Day 304

Fri., July 19, 2019

Exodus 14:13-14 – But Moses answered, “Don’t be afraid! Stand still and you will see the Lord save you today. You will never see these Egyptians again after today. You only need to remain calm; the Lord will fight for you.”

Stand still. Remain calm.

Wow. Great advice. So hard to do.

But sometimes, these are the words we need to hear.

Hubby Rick and I know we are very blessed people. We preach it. We believe it. We really, really try to live it.

Yet, there are those one or two places in our lives that we wish were different. Quite honestly, these “places” are relationships with people we dearly love. We have struggled with these relationships. We have prayed over and around the through them. Some of the challenges with the underlying issues are not in our control. We struggle with knowing what to do. When do we step in? When do we hold? When do we simply keep on praying?

As a pastor, people have come to me and asked for advice and insights when they are in the thick of a relationship that is struggling. I have tried to listen and hear. When asked, I’ve gently suggested options. I also know that, at times, I’ve probably given really bad advice.

My heart has been heavy because I feel like there is so little I can do. While I can’t speak for Rick, I believe he feels the same way. Yes, we’ve tried to address it. Yes, we’ve bathed it in prayer. Yes, we’ve waited and hoped and dreamed that it would be different. But the changed relationship, so evasive, remains more of a challenge than a blessing.

Then, this thought came to me this week: “How easy it is to mishandle blessings that come too easy or too quickly.”

Stand still. Remain calm.

This is the advice Moses gave the Israelites as they were scurrying away from Pharaoh and the Egyptians. Pharaoh told the Israelites to leave Egypt. He’d had enough of the 10 plagues. With sender’s remorse, Pharaoh realized he had lost his worker bees. The people who actually did all the manual labor to build those beautiful wonders in Egypt WERE GONE! He needed them back. Now.

Pharaoh and his army are coming after the Israelites. The gap is closing in. The Israelites fear they will now die in the dessert. Moses speaks.

Stand still. Remain calm. The Lord will fight for YOU.

Folks: I don’t know what disappointment you maybe experiencing in your life today. Maybe no one knows, other than you. But God knows. God cares. God hears your pleadings and is just as disappointed as you are. God fights for YOU.

As you think about the challenge in your life, it’s easy to wonder: Will this particular blessing ever arrive? Will it look different from what you would prefer? Does your vision of the blessing need to shift?

As I work through these questions and thoughts about my situation, I encourage you: Stand still. Remain calm. The Lord is with You. Amen.

For God’s desire to fight for me, warts and all, I am grateful.

Dear God – You know all the details of whatever situation may be weighing us down today. You know our desire to have this challenge be turned into a blessing. Help us to simply stand still. Remain calm. Keep our faith in You. Amen.

Blessings –


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Refresh Wednesday – Making My Home My Sanctuary

Gratitude Day 303

Wed., July 17, 2019

Proverbs 8:34 – Come to my home each day and listen to me. You will find happiness.

If you walked into my home, I pray that you WOULD find happiness. Because this is how I long for my home to be.

One filled with happiness.

One filled with joy.

One that immediately lowers your blood pressure.

One that feels like a respite, because for me, it IS my respite.

I love being home … because I love our home. I love a day when I can just be home. All. Day. Long. There are times when Hubby Rick will say, “Can’t we just stay home?” We both enjoy just being in the place where we feel joy. Happiness. Content.

Does this describe your home? If so, YEAH! If not, what would it take for your home to feel like this for you?

One of the reasons why I love our home is because it represents who we are. I love old things. I enjoy things that remind me of happy days. I look forward to walking into our home and knowing that my heart will beat just a bit slower because it truly is a place I love to be.

If your home doesn’t quite feel like this, what can you do? Here are just a few suggestions I have used to make our house truly feel like a home.

First, leave your house. Walk down the sidewalk or driveway, far enough away so you can get a good perspective of your home. Stop and turn around. How does your heart feel? What comes to mind? Are you excited to walk into your home? Why or why not?

Now, walk to the front door. RING THE DOORBELL. Yes, seriously, pretend you are a visitor coming to your house. Open the door and walk through the house. As you do, take note. What do you LOVE about your house? Where would you take me so we could sit and drink peach iced tea? What areas of your home bring you the most joy?

As you walk through your home, note what spots aren’t your favorite. What is it about an area that makes your face cringe? Make a list of these areas and put them in order of “easy fix” to “most difficult fix.” Pick the #1 “easy fix” area and make a date with yourself to fix it in the next week.

Now, grab an empty box. Walk through your house a second time and put anything in the box that you do not 1) love; or 2) brings you happiness. If you do not love something and if it doesn’t bring you joy, then remove it from your house. It doesn’t matter how much it cost. Or who gave it to you. Or why you inherited it. If an item does not make you feel good about it, then move it out of your house. Let someone else love it. If there is something in the box that you feel someone else would love, ask them. Otherwise, put the box in your car immediately. Next time you are remotely close to a thrift shop, happily make a donation. If large pieces of furniture are involved, this might require another set of hands, truck and help. Put a sticky note on it with the word “Donate” written on it. Enlist the necessary help to have the item(s) removed from your home in the next week.

How do you deal with those areas that make you cringe? The quickest and easiest fix is always paint. I know it’s all Captain Obvious, but a simple coat of paint can change so much. Remove everything from the area before you paint. When it’s ready to be re-decorated, only put things back into the space that you love or bring you happiness. Load everything else up for the thrift shop or sell.

Sometimes, an area just needs a little tweaking. I “shop my house” and find something I have and move it to a new space. When you only have things you love and that bring you happiness, moving them into their best location is really easy and fun.

If a space is still looking dull, add some plants or flowers. If you can not grow plants to save your soul, use nice artificial ones. It is amazing how plants and/or flowers make a room feel alive and fun.

Now, if reading this is making you a little anxious, that’s OK. Maybe you feel starting a project like this is too overwhelming. Or not something you can do. It’s out of your wheelhouse.

If a little respite area, a little spot where you can go and be and drink your favorite refreshment sounds wonderful, don’t give up. Find a little spot just for you. Put your favorite chair in it. Have it face outside so you don’t have to see the rest of the home. Make this a little place where you can stop, be and release all those things that fill up your life. Let one little spot be enough.

Whether you filled up your car with items to get rid of or just created a spot for a chair … now, breathe. Smile. Fill your soul with happiness. Be content that your home is your safe place.

For a home that is my respite and happy place, I am grateful.

Holy God – we can find you in so many different and wonderful places. I pray that our homes are places where we see Your thumbprints in our daily lives. May we discover the joy and happiness of creating our houses into homes where we see you daily.  


Blessings –


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Be Six Again

Gratitude Day 302

Mon., July 15, 2019

Ecclesiastes 7:3 – Choose sorrow over laughter because a sad face may hide a happy heart.

Hubby Rick has a daily goal which is really very simple but rather profound: make someone laugh each day.

Or at least smile.

On most days, he bats 100%.

Often, I’m the one whom he works his magic on.

And I am so thankful for this.

I’m too serious. I make lists. I like to check things off of lists. I like to plan. I like to know what I’m going to be doing today before, well, noon.

Rick is anything but these things.

He loves to make light of things. He flies by the seat of his pants. What he gets done today is a joy. And why plan tonight when we need to see what the weather will be like tomorrow.

Truth be known? He is a lot more fun to be around.

And I am so thankful for this.

I’m the grandparent who disciplines. I’m the grandparent who sets boundaries. I’m the grandparent who makes sure we are fed, hydrated and on time.

Hubby Rick? Well, he’s the fun grandparent. The one whose very name or presence brings a smile and joy to their hearts. He’s the one who the neighbors stop by to see what he’s up to because, well, with Rick, you just never know. There’s always a surprise lurking just around the corner, waiting to be exposed and laughed over. 

And I am so thankful for this.

Somehow, the man never really stopped being six.

Don’t get me wrong. He works hard, plays hard and has an endless amount of ideas and ways to do things. But he also makes sure that whatever job is at hand is done with just a bit of lightness. Fun. Laughter.

And I am so thankful for this.

Today, discover every possibility you can to bring joy and laughter to someone’s day. Not unnecessary or fake laughter. But true, honest-to-goodness reasons to laugh and smile and extend joy.

That’s all. Nothing more. Just some good old laughter.

And then, at the end of the day … see how it feels. Recall how it felt.

Be six again.  

Be thankful for this.

For the gift of laughter and those who love to make it part of their ordinary, everyday living, I am grateful.

Dear God – thank you for the gift of humor and laughter. May we intentionally discover and live joy and laughter every day. Yes, there are days when maybe it’s hard to find joy and happiness. But may knowing You bring a smile to our faces and joy to the day. Help us be six again. Amen.

Blessings –


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Lessons from Reroofing a House

Gratitude Day 301

Sat., July 13, 2019

Numbers 16:3  – and Aaron and said, “Why do you think you’re so much better than anyone else? We’re part of the Lord’s holy people, and he’s with all of us. What makes you think you’re the only ones in charge?”

It was a sight to be seen. Ten Amish men replacing the roof on the house just down the street.

Hubby Rick and I live in a Jamieson house that was built in 1906. The original Jamieson house is on the end of the block and across the street from our house. This original 6,000 square foot house makes our 3,000 square foot house look like a shack. Just like our house needed some loving when we moved into it, the original Jamieson house was also in need someone who could love it back.

The original Jamieson house has lived multiple lives. It was a restaurant, a bed and breakfast, a single dwelling house and probably some others. When Mason and Alex bought it about two years ago, it had been on the market for a while. While everyone loves the Jamieson house, the new owners would be taking on a significant project.

And so, Mason and Alex have been working away at this ginormous house. Today, when I looked out our door, this is what I saw:

A group of Amish men working together to replace the large roof. And they did it in one day.

Who are the Amish? A group of people who have purposely chosen to live a simple life. They do not drive cars, have electricity nor use rubber tires. Some sects allow phones for business purposes, but the general rule has been no phones as well.

In Wisconsin, there are a variety of Amish communities. When I was in middle school, about 100 Amish families moved into the area where I grew up. There was a milk co-op that still accepted can milk, which greatly influenced the decision. Amish from three other sects moved into the community and brought together new families for future generations.

In Amish territory, you see lots of mailboxes labeled Bontrager, Miller and Stoltzfus. Their white-clobbered houses, simple barns and corral of horses are easy to pick out. When my Dad was alive, he befriended many Amish. When someone wanted to interview or visit the Amish, a good entry point was through my Dad because the Amish trusted my Dad.

Where Rick and I don’t live in an Amish community. They live about 20-30 miles away. Today, many Amish make their living in construction, roofing, woodworking and other non-farm occupations.

Was I surprised to see a group of Amish men on Mason and Alex’s roof? Absolutely not. With their dark pants and suspenders, straw hats and light-colored shirts, it’s easy to distinguish them.

Sometimes, non-Amish people cannot understand Amish choices. They use a phone or lift for business … but not own it. They hire people to drive them … but will not own a vehicle. The stock trailer in front of Mason’s and Alex’s house? Used to move their tools … without a horse.

While Amish beliefs are different from mine, some values I admire. Their commitment to family is amazing. It’s not uncommon for Amish from other communities to travel great distances when a new barn needs to be built … in just a couple days. They are fiercely loyal within their sects and hold each other accountable to the highest degree possible.

They are committed to their faith, values and belief structure. No. Questions. Asked. They carefully do not draw attention to themselves nor their community. Humble, selfless and simple are as much a part of them as their skin.

Whether we embrace their belief structure or not, we can appreciate and commend them for consistently following their beliefs. When in college, I asked my Dad to take me to an Amish farm so I could interview them for a school paper. As I sat at their long kitchen table in a very simple house, I asked this couple close to my age the same question in multiple ways. “How do you live without the modern conveniences non-Amish people consider essential?” The answer was always the same: “We don’t really know what we do not have and what we are missing out.”

The Amish remind us of a simpler time. One filled with fewer distractions, more commitment to helping each other and supporting our community. We like to think and say we do these things today. While we do, our approaches often pale in comparison to the Amish communities.

The Amish know they aren’t perfect. They are keenly aware that they need God’s grace. While we live our lives differently from the Amish, I pray we can appreciate parts of their values and lifestyle. Thank you to the 10 Amish men who reminded me of this today, while reroofing the original Jamieson house down the street.

For a gentle reminder to remain committed to my community, family and faith, I am grateful.

Almighty God – while we often want to point out how Christian groups are different from each other; I pray we value and appreciate how we are the same. Thanks for this reminder of community and commitment to their faith today … all while a group of guys reroofed a house. Amen.

Blessings –


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Filling Your Soul

Gratitude Day 300

Fri., July 12, 2019

Psalm 143:6  – Then I lift my hands in prayer, because my soul is a desert, thirsty for water from you.

Some days we just need, well, a little soul filling.

Thursday was one of those days for me.

This is Sauk County Fair week. Grandson Waylan exhibited beef cattle yesterday. We spent most of the day watching the beef show. Waylan loves the fair … just like I did as a kid. And he loved showing animals.

I grew up showing animals … just not beef animals. Our family showed dairy and my sisters and I showed sheep. Preparing to exhibit projects at the fair, no matter what the project, teaches great life skills. Kids have the opportunity to learn, discover new things, commit to something, finish something they started, and experience the fact that not everyone can win first place all the time. I fondly remember days of exhibiting at fairs. As we ate lunch with Rick’s sister, Linda and Rick recalled their 4-H fair days and how this was the highlight of their summer.

Hubby Rick and I took in most of the other exhibits. Rick’s favorite barn? The chickens, rabbits and ducks. By then, grandson Dylan was tagging along with us. When Dylan was invited to “pet” a pig, of course, he convinced Grandpa to join the fun.

Once home, Rick and I both had a few things we wanted to do. After Rick finished mowing lawn, he started a fire in the back yard and sat on one of the swings. Yes, there were other things I could have done. But sometimes, I need to take my own advice. Let those things wait. Take in the moment to be present with my spouse. Watch the fireflies come out at dusk. And drink a glass of peach iced tea.

And so, I did.

Best time of the week.

Yes, there are lots of other things we COULD have done today. We COULD have scurried home after the beef show, and I COULD have done some work.

But we DIDN’T.

Instead, I had wonderful conversations with people I haven’t seen at the fair for a long time. We looked at every pig and silkie chicken and ate food from the 4-H food stand.

Once home, I COULD have tried to do a whole bunch on things … but I DIDN’T. I sat with my husband and watched the fire and fireflies and remembered how truly blessed we are.

If your soul is feeling a little tired or dry or exhausted, slow down. Take a few minutes or hours or a whole day and feed it with things that remind you how truly blessed you are. No matter what is happening in your life today, there remain thousands of things to be thankful for. I pray you stop long enough to count a few hundred of them.

For days that allow for my soul to feel full, I am grateful.

Holy God – too often we fly through days, not counting the minutes and seconds and only focusing on crossing off as many to-do items on our lists as possible. Or we think we “must” do something to stay ahead of the game. Forgive us for the times when we are so busy living our lives that we fail to see what is most important in our lives. Thank you for a day filled with quiet, strong reminders of how blessed I am. Thank you for truly filling my soul. Amen.

Blessings –


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It’s All in the Pronunciation

Gratitude Day 299

Thurs., July 11, 2019

Acts 27:5, 7a, 8  – When we had sailed across the open sea off the coast of Cilicia and Pamphylia, we landed at Myra in Lycia. We made slow headway for many days and had difficulty arriving off Cnidus. When the wind did not allow us to hold our course, we sailed to the lee of Crete, opposite Salmone. We moved along the coast with difficulty and came to a place called Fair Havens, near the town of Lasea.  

After Hubby Rick and I were married, we lived in Baraboo, WI. One time, one of our brother-in-law’s asked us, “What’s the deal with this town called Ma-ZOM-o-nee?”

It took about 1.5 seconds and Hubby Rick and I realized he was talking about MAY-zo-may-nee.

It’s all about the pronunciation. Just a few years later, our zip code was non-other than 53560, for Mazomanie.

ithaca road sign on a blue sky background

Once, I was asked if I knew where I-THA-KA is. It took me a couple seconds to realize they were asking about ITH-a-ka.

Growing up, our family lived about 20 miles from Eau Claire, Wisconsin. For years, every spring when the UW-Eau Claire men’s basketball team played in the NCAA Division 3 finals, the announcers produced the team as the U-Claire Bluegolds.  Could SOMEONE help them get the pronunciation correct? Please?

About 20 years ago, the Madison, WI daily paper, The State Journal, printed the funniest story on the front page. It listed all the names of Wisconsin towns that many non-Wisconsinites can not pronounce correctly. Top of the list? Mazomanie. Where Hubby Rick and I were living at the time.

Let’s see how many of these you know:






Here’s the correct pronunciation:






If you’ve spent any amount of time reading the Bible, you soon run across names that are nearly impossible to pronounce. Some are people’s names. Some are names of towns. Believe me … we’ve all stumbled through many of these names.

A couple years ago, Hubby Rick was the lay liturgist one Sunday morning. One role for this person is to read scripture during worship. I dutifully ran off the script for Rick the night before and laid it on the coffee table for him to review. After reading it and discovering the names of a whole bunch of towns he had no clue how to pronounce, he said to me, “Seriously. THIS is the scripture for tomorrow? There was no other scripture you could have chosen?”


The next day, Rick stood at the lectern. He read something like this: When we had sailed across the open sea off the coast of Baraboo and Reedsburg, we landed at Madison in Wisconsin. We made slow headway for many days and had difficulty arriving off Janesville. When the wind did not allow us to hold our course, we sailed to the lee of Arlington, opposite DeForest. We moved along the coast with difficulty and came to a place called Fair Havens, near the town of Sun Prairie.  

By the second line, the entire congregation was chuckling along as Rick read, replacing the biblical towns with names of nearby towns and cities everyone knew and had been to. Somehow, this scripture seemed to make more sense to everyone sitting in a pew that day.

As a pastor, I have butchered more than my fair share of names. This is why I haven’t said the last names of family members while reading the obituary at a funeral in years. I KNOW I will pronounce a name wrong. So, I stick just to first names.

Here’s the deal. No matter who says your name or your hometown wrong, God STILL. KNOWS. WHO. YOU. ARE. There’s no doubt in God’s being what the correct pronunciation of your name is, where you call home and how you prefer your hometown to be said. In fact, God knows every last detail of your life, even more so than you do. And somehow, God knows this about everyone you do and don’t know. How God does this is way beyond me. I just relish that somehow, someway, it happens.

Thanks be to God.

Thanks, God for knowing my name, where I live and how to pronounce it all.

For God’s unending knowledge of everything, I am grateful.

Dear God – Yes, we stumble through names of people and names of cities and sometimes, even names of countries. You see beyond the words and know our hearts and souls. Thanks be to You, O God. Amen.

Blessings –


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