When It’s Not Always Going Good

Gratitude Day 455

Tues., May 12, 2020

Psalm 51:6 – You deserve honesty from the heart; yes, utter sincerity and truthfulness. Oh, give me this wisdom.

I love this little person’s honesty. Their raw account of “telling like it is.”

For some people, honesty is where the buck stops. For others, it’s a bit, well, more challenging.

I like to be honest. I want my word to be worth it’s weight in gold. I pray people will not question whether what I say is honest … or not.

But let’s be real. Sometimes, it’s easy to stretch the truth, just a bit. It’s easy to leave out an important detail or put too much emphasis on another detail. Other times, we simply don’t want to hear the truth.

As much as we yearn for the truth, there are times when we’d prefer a little less honesty, for we don’t like the other person’s honesty.

Our perspective is different. And our perspective is right.

Honesty is very much tied up into wisdom. Isn’t there times when it’s easier to be honest than others?

Sometimes, we would rather not say the truth because it will be hurtful. Disappointing. Not well received.

And so, sometimes, honesty becomes a dance. A two-step that sometimes feels like we’re a bit out of step. We’re just learning. In the meantime, we’re stepping on each other’s feet.

Here’s the thought for today: keep pursuing honesty, even when it’s difficult. Hard. Potentially hurtful. Keep dancing the dance, figuring out the steps. There will be days when it feels like it’s not going good. That’s when the Father steps in and helps us along. Thanks be to God.

For God’s wisdom being available to us, I am grateful.

Blessings –

Dianne

Holy God – Sometimes, honesty just feels a bit easier than others. As much as we want to be honest, we weight in the consequences of being honest. Grant us Your wisdom in all that we say in do. Amen.

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Let’s Have a Big Old Graduation Celebration!

Gratitude Day 454

Mon., May 11, 2020

Jeremiah 29:11 – I know the plans I have in mind for you, declares the Lord; they are plans for peace, not disaster, to give you a future filled with hope.

Over the weekend, I was going through some boxes of things and ran across items from when I graduated: my diplomas and the tassels I received. Each time I participated in a graduation ceremony, high school, college bachelor’s degree and seminary master’s degree, it felt like a monumental event in my life. I had completed a benchmark moment in my life. I had hope for the next period of my life and felt I was moving towards the next major step in my life.

As I looked held the memories from my graduation days in my hands, the truth was not lost on me that so many graduates this spring will not have the same opportunity that I did. They won’t get to walk across a stage and hug and high-five their fellow classmates. Family won’t travel from afar to recognize this significant event in their lives. This spring’s graduation celebrations will be so different from my graduations.

I had awards banquets and parties and celebrations and pictures. I donned a robe and mortar board and ceremoniously moved the tassel from one side of the cap to the next after we received our diplomas. I attended classmates’ celebrations and said good-bye to favorite teachers with promises to keep in touch.

Graduating seniors are experiencing a completely different culture this spring. One day they were attending classes at school; the next day, they weren’t. Many missed spring sports and the hope of accomplishing a goal in the process. For this spring’s graduates, the end of the school year seems quite different because, well, it is.

I’ve been impressed with the creativity that various schools have embodied to honor their graduates: signs, banners and online recognitions. Principals making personal visits to graduates. Senior of the day postings in social media. Anything that could help this year’s graduates feel even a little bit special for a hot minute.

My guess is that we all know at least one person who will be graduating this spring. Whether is high school, college, a graduate degree, kindergarten, 8th grade or a tech school: they won’t be having a ceremony like we’ve historically experienced. There won’t be any hot gyms for families to sit in or caps that fall off a graduate’s head too easily. Senior skip day has turned into a couple months’ worth of missing school. Scholarship winners won’t get to shake hands with donors nor medals put around necks for those who achieved specific accomplishments. Families won’t spontaneously break out into applause after their loved one’s name is read and we won’t get sick of ham sandwiches and potato salad during the month of May.

Graduates have reason to feel cheated. Disappointed. Let down.

So, I want to do just a little something to help them feel special. Honored. Recognized.

This Wednesday night, I invite you to invite those people you know who are graduating this spring for a special edition of Devos with Dianne. We’re going to celebrate the heck out of their accomplishments and shower them with lots of love. No, it won’t be a graduation ceremony. Nor will Orpah drop in and give advice. But let’s take a few minutes and let this spring’s graduates have a hot minute of recognition.

In order for this to work, I need your help. First, contact those people you know who are graduating and invite them to Devos with Dianne on Wed. night, May 13, at 8 PM on Facebook Live. Tag them with this post or forward it to them and ask them to join you. Send me a digital photo of the graduate(s). We’ll show them during Devos with Dianne and I’ll invite everyone to virtually applaud.

Then, on Wednesday night, encourage them to hop online with us, wearing their cap and grown. I’d love for people to share photos of their graduate while we’re online watching Devos, decked out in their cap and gown. Make the time special by having a cupcake or something else ready to celebrate. Bring a candle and we’ll light them together to honor these grads.

What if you don’t know a graduate? Show up anyways!! We need the rest of YOU to be the audience and celebrate their accomplishment! We need folks to virtually high-five them and clap as their name is read and show them so serious love.

Each time I graduated; I was very aware that God had a plan for the next phase of my life. Maybe I knew what it would look like. Sometimes, I didn’t. What I did know is that I wanted God to be a part of my journey and my plan. This year’s graduates need this encouragement, just as much as I did, when I received my diploma. Let’s join together in praying for their journeys. Celebrating their accomplishments. Blessing the next step of their journey.

I pray that together, we have a FANTASTIC time Wednesday night honoring our graduates. But I need YOUR help to make this work. Send me photos of the graduates you know. Invite them to participate Wednesday night. Show up so together, we can honor and bless them.

For God’s involvement with this year’s graduates, I am grateful.

Blessings –

Dianne

Dear God – We know you didn’t cause all of these graduation celebrations to be delayed or canceled. We know you love every single graduate and have a special plan for their lives. Inspire us to creatively honor and bless them this week. May we show up and applaud all of their hard work. We know you’ll be at our virtual graduation celebration, ready to bless these graduates. I pray we invite those who are ready to be blessed by You. Amen.

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Welcome Weekend!

Gratitude Day 453

Sat., May 9, 2020

“Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: ‘Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.’”

Good Saturday morning! This is the day that the Lord has made! Let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Sometimes on Saturday’s, I share just a few random things that have been floating around in my life. Just little pieces of inspiration that I pray bring some joy into your weekend/week. Let’s get started!

The local farmer’s market in our community is opening this weekend. We plan to go down this morning and support it. I love to support local. And this is one way we can do this. I encourage you to do the same if the opportunity is available to you.

On Wednesday nights, I’ve been sharing Devos with Dianne on Facebook Live. It’s a time where I do a 20-minuteish devotion. This week, the weather was so nice I sat out on our beautiful screened-in porch. The topic? Where have you seen someone extend joy and kindness to someone else lately. If you miss Devos with Dianne on Wednesday nights, you can also go back and watch it later.

Have you seen the movie Five Feet Apart? We had not until recently. In these days of social distancing, it’s a fascinating movie to watch, although it was released over a year ago. The movie is about 17-year-old Stella who basically lives at a hospital as a cystic fibrosis patient. Her life is filled with routines and boundaries, which give her a sense of control. This is, until she meets Will, a charming teen with the same illness. While there is an attraction between the two CF teens, restrictions dictate that they must maintain a safe distance between them.

Living at a care facility right now is challenging. My nearly 90-year-old aunt has been on lockdown for two months. While she is an incredibly positive person, it is becoming wearing. Click on this little story that shares how one community reached out to the folks at the local nursing home and assisted living to brighten their days during this extended time of isolation. The person who organized this and owns Creative Touch Floral? She just happens to be my sister, Debbie.

When I think of Mother’s Day, I immediately think of trillium. It’s a wildflower that usually blooms this time of year. Growing up, we used to pick buckets full of trillium on Mother’s Day. We have a small patch in our yard that is blooming right now. My attentive Hubby Rick covered them for me last night because he knows how much I love trillium and the memories these flowers well up inside of me.

Speaking of Mother’s Day, here’s a shout out to all of you Moms, grandmas, daughters, and women who are influential in someone else’s life. I pray that you have a wonderful weekend, knowing that how we remember the special women in our lives will be quite different this year. Nonetheless it’s a wonderful time to reach out to those women who are important to us. My Mom is gone. But I have plans to let another woman who means a lot to me know this. If your Mom is gone, I encourage you to do the same.

Have a wonderful weekend, my friends. And thanks for following along with Simple Words of Faith. You mean the world to me!

For those women who have inspired us, I am grateful.

Blessings –

Dianne

Holy God – thank you for bringing important role models and mentors into my life. Sometimes, this is our Mom. Sometimes, it’s another woman. It’s not just one woman who has touched us, but often a group of different women. Thank you for the role these women have played in my life. Amen.

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Emptying Out the Kitchen

Gratitude Day 452

Fri., May 8, 2020

Mark 8:4 – His disciples responded, “What do you expect us to do about it? Buy food out here in the desert?”

It’s become my newest coronavirus distraction: how long can I wait before going to the grocery store?

A few weeks back, I decided that this was a great time to really clean out the food in the fridge, the pantry, and the freezer. The fridge needs a good cleaning. Wouldn’t it be easier if it were nearly empty? There are things in the pantry that, well, either need to be used or thrown out. And the freezer? I always like to see the bottom of our chest freezer at least once a year.

Most years, as Lent rolls around, I promise myself that this year, I’m really going to use up a lot of the food that we have. This lasts until my first trip to the grocery store. Soon, the pantry is as full as it has ever been.

But this time? I’m telling myself that I’m committed. Now that I’m telling you this as well, the pressure is on; right?

I am allowing for two caveats: milk and eggs. But that’s it.  

Slowly, I’ve been finding ways to use those things that should have been used up awhile ago. But weren’t. About a week, I ran out of white sugar. Now, I’m being creative with substitutions.

I am a self-proclaimed salad-aholic. Seriously, if the lettuce is fresh and crisp, I could eat one EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. I chopped up the last Romaine lettuce on Monday. Hubby Rick had tacos and I had a taco salad. How long can I go without a salad? We shall see.

As time goes on, I’m becoming more creative. The only fresh vegetable that remains is a bag of carrots and a few slices of cucumber. We had an appetizer bar for lunch today: artichoke dip with toast squares, cocktail wieners, and dip with cucumbers. I know. It’s not completely carb friendly … but was really fun to see how many appetizers I could come up with!

Thankfully, there are veggies and fruit in the freezer. We have plenty of meat as well. I kept thinking that I would delay going to the story until later this week. After another evaluation of the reserves on hand, I’m going to see if I can stretch it another week or so. There are still plenty of condiments in the fridge yet … so we’re good to go.

So, what’s the big deal about seeing how much food I can use up before going to the grocery store? Turning this into some theological lesson might be a stretch … right?

As we go through this pandemic, I keep thinking that things really could be SO. MUCH. WORSE. I think back to World War II and how so many things were rationed. I have a couple of my grandparent’s ration cards yet. Sugar, tires, coffee. While some items have had limits on them at various times and this may happen again, generally speaking, we CAN buy what we need as well as what we want. I’m not sure that we have truly experienced a desert-like situation of not being able to get what we want at the grocery store.

I think of the thousands of people who have made much more significant sacrifices than I have in these last weeks. My sacrifice seems meager. Not enough. Too easy.

Another part of this little lesson and exercise is gaining a deeper appreciation for the large quantity of cheap food we have here in the United States. The average percentage of disposable income we spend on food is much less than other countries in this world. We have access to basically anything we want at any time of the year. I remember paying over $1 for a single orange when I lived in Kazakstan one winter. My monthly salary was supposed to be $150/month … when I got paid. The 69 cents I paid for an orange several weeks ago feels like a steal.

As we sit down to eat lunch together these days, Hubby Rick often says, “What concoction do we have today?” I’m not sure it’s a good sign when I have to explain what is before us.

Am I just trying to “trick” my brain into thinking this tiny, little sacrifice is, well, at least something? Of course, I am! But then again, I’m not trying to feed teenagers or kids. Or a picky eater.

Call it a COVID-19 coping mechanism. Call it reducing inventory. Call it what I should be doing on a more regular basis. Maybe it’s a little way to let my creative side come out these days as I figure out what’s for dinner … based solely on what’s in the house. We’re still a long way away from a desert-like kitchen. I squirrled away the ingredients for Rick’s favorite salad a couple weeks ago. He will be so surprised!

For trying to fully appreciate all the high-quality food we have available to us, I am grateful.

Blessings –

Dianne

Dear God – for most of us, a reliable quantity of food is just a given. Having to wait for a cut of meat is truly a first-world problem. I pray that we can develop a deeper appreciation for the cheap, high-quality food source available to us.  Amen.

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Wednesday Prayer Day – Praying Together

Gratitude Day 451

Wed., May 6, 2020

Acts 1:14: They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.

It’s Wednesday … and this means its prayer day.

One of the most powerful ways that we can pray is when we literally pray together with another person.

Like – we actually stop what we are doing with another person … and pray.

Loving couple holding hands close-up on wooden background

Now, as a pastor, I realize that this maybe more expected for me to do than for other people. I’ve had thousands, and I truly mean thousands, of opportunities to pray with and for other people.

In a hospital room.

While serving someone communion.

Before and/or after a meeting.

While visiting someone in their home.

As someone shares with me a challenging situation in their life.

During worship.

Over the phone.

A typed prayer as part of an e-mail.

With kids.

With teens.

With adults.

With seniors.

Yes, I am extremely comfortable praying with other people. But there was a time when this wasn’t the situation.

Early on as a pastor, I remember making those first pastoral calls. Someone was sick and I should visit them, like right away. I remember going to someone’s house and stopping to see them. I didn’t know them, other than their name. I spent time with them finding out what their situation was. And as it drew time for me to leave, I knew that I should pray for them. But how was I to do this?

I began by asking if I could pray for them. Never did someone say that I could not pray for them. Often, I would lay my hands-on top of their hands. (Yes, these were the days when we could still touch another person outside of our home.) And I prayed with them.

It wasn’t necessarily a long prayer. Actually, if it got too long, people became uncomfortable. Yet, I asked God to be with them, heal them in whatever ways was best, and comfort them. Most often, I closed with the Lord’s Prayer.

And that was it.

Simple.

Easy.

Just a minute or possibly two.

Helen was confined to her home. She didn’t get out very often and usually only to go to the doctor. Her husband had died years earlier and she didn’t have any children. A retired farmer, Helen and I had lots of things to chat about. We’d end our visit by joining in communion together, followed by me praying.

But then, the most wonderful thing always would happen. Helen would pray for me. Rick. Our family. My ministry. The church.

It was incredibly powerful to listen to this white-haired lady simply intervene for me. This was an important lesson when the pastor was ministered to.

Somewhere along the line, Helen had discovered the power of praying for and over other people. And I was a wonderful recipient of her prayers.

It made such an impression upon me that here, 10 years later, I’m still talking about Helen praying for me.

Folks – we often say, “I’m praying for you,” which is really nice of us to say. But can we take it one step further and actually pray with that person? Pause life for one or two minutes … and pray together with them? It is so powerful when you are prayed for and over. Please give this gift to another person.

It was near the end of Helen’s life. She was in a nursing home and hadn’t been out of bed in days. On an oxygen machine, Helen found it exceedingly difficult to speak more than a couple words at a time. Yet even in our last visit together, here’s Helen praying for me after I prayed for her.

I have experienced many touching moments while serving other people. But this is truly one of the most memorable moments that I have personally experienced: when a woman ready to achieve her eternal reward prayed for me.

May I encourage you to pray with and for someone else this week. You might be amazed how this feels for both you and the other person. Not quite sure what to pray with someone else? Simply pray the Lord’s Prayer together. It need not be any more complicated than this, folks.

For the gift of praying with and for another person, I am grateful.

Blessings –

Dianne

Almighty God – thank you for the wonderful gift of prayer. Thank you for Jesus’ gift of teaching and witnessing prayer over and over. May I embrace prayer as a gift that I receive and one that I share. Amen.

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39 Years Ago, a Thing Happened

Gratitude Day 450

Mon., May 4, 2020

Joshua 1:9: Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Thirty-nine years ago, on May 3rd, a thing happened.

No, I didn’t get my driver’s license. (It would be a few more years before this happened.) Nor did I discover my first boyfriend.

Actually, it was something that happened within my spiritual life.

I confirmed my faith at the Augusta United Methodist Church.

I was in 8th grade and had completed two years of instruction to prepare me for the day when I would assume responsibility for my own spiritual journey. In the tradition I am involved, confirmation is when a person “confirms” the promises their parents made on their behalf at baptism. Promises in which the person declares their faith in God and the Holy Trinity. Their believe in sin in this world and their ability to sin. How we will support the church.

It felt like a big day, which it was. Three other classmates and I had met with Rev. Barnes weekly during the school year. Now, it was time for us to publicly share our desire to declare our belief in God and commit to making God part of our spiritual lives forever.

Honestly, I didn’t understand all of this when I was confirmed. I don’t blame Rev. Barnes for my lack of understanding. It had much more to do with me not listening or comprehending. At the time, confirmation felt more like a rite of passage: an important life event that was what teens my age did. My elder siblings were confirmed. Now, it simply was my turn.

Because of a family death, Rev. Barnes was not able to be in worship on Confirmation Sunday. A retired pastor, Rev. Walker, lived in the community. He led worship this day. Actually, Rev. Walker was the pastor when I was baptized, so it was kind of neat he was leading worship the day I was confirmed.

I think I expected something “special” to happen that day. Like, I would suddenly feel closer to God and understand just who God was. Maybe this happens for some people on their confirmation day. Honestly, it didn’t happen for me. In my memory, it seemed like a nice worship service. But I’m not sure that I felt any differently spiritually on May 4th than I did on May 2nd.

I did take seriously my commitment to be involved in the local church. As a teen, I participated in a variety of activities and leadership roles at this church. My first “official” public speaking role (outside of 4-H) happened at this church. I served because, well, that was the commitment I had made. I watched my parents serve in a variety of roles, inside and outside of the church, and this is what I was going to do.

It took years, and I literally mean YEARS before I began to understand what a personal relationship with Jesus looked like. When I left for college, I drug the Bible that my parents gave to me on Confirmation Sunday with me. But let’s be honest. It basically collected a lot of dust. After college, I became involved in a church and volunteered for a variety of roles. I dated a guy for awhile who questioned why I was so involved at my church. My response spoke more about “this is what I am supposed do” than understanding that living one’s faith means loving God and your neighbor as an expression of your faith … and this involves service within a faith community.

I was near 30 when I signed up for a Bible study where I begin to see what confirming one’s faith really means. This time around, I read a significant part of the Bible. I began to hear God’s promises over and over. I saw God’s presence as a major thread through humanity for thousands of years, as well as my own life. Faith was no longer something I understood just in my head; faith now became much more personal and something in my heart.

Finally, I began to understand faith differently in my life. I felt different, allowed faith to affect choices that I made and wanted to let God into all the areas of my life. For years, I was what I would call a really good pew Christian: someone who sat in the pew week after week. I gave, I served, I shared my gifts. But now? I let God into my daily decision making. I prayed earnestly for others and myself. I realized that if God was going to be a part of my life, then God needed to be involved in all areas of my life. Period.

This is the time of year when many teens “confirm” their faith. They reaffirm the baptismal vows that their parents made for them earlier in their life. They make promises to assume responsibility for their own spiritual journey. Many of these confirmation celebrations have been postponed and delayed until they can happen within a faith community worshiping physically together.

Whether you are a student who is disappointed in having to wait for their confirmation Sunday; or someone who isn’t really sure what faith is; or confirmed at some point but still not sure what this really means: here’s my message is you: No matter where you are in your spiritual journey, you don’t have to know everything there is to know about God. It ain’t going to happen. And this is OK.

Simply, give yourself some space and opportunity to know God on a personal level. As a friend. As one of those people you turn to when you’re having a rotten day and you need a shoulder to cry on as well, as well as on those great days that you really want someone to celebrate something super cool that happened in your life. Let God be one of these people who you turn to.

God doesn’t promise easy lives if we profess our faith in God. God doesn’t remove every hardship or challenge that comes our way. What God does assure of us is that we don’t ever have to be alone. And this, my friends, is Good News.

Today, we all have an opportunity to confirm our faith in God. We can do this anywhere. I invite you to speak with God for a bit today. Share your heart. Let go of your fears and disappointments. Will you feel closer to God if you do? I can’t say for sure. What I can say is that if you do this day after day after day, maybe something inside of you will begin to slowly change.  As you allow God to see more of your life, you will discover opportunities to include God in more of your life.

Spiritual journeys aren’t always about earthquake events. Yes, they can be. More often, spiritual journeys are taking a few small steps forward, followed by a leap back, more small steps forward followed by something that causes backslide. Our spiritual lives are not a spring. They are a marathon.

I pray you “confirm” your faith in God this day, even if you aren’t fully sure what this means. Confirm to love God and neighbor with every thread of your being. Agree to share some of your special gifts with the rest of God’s kingdom. And commit to seeking God out more in your daily life.

For the opportunity to discover God and confirm my faith, I am grateful.

Blessings –

Dianne

Dear God – thank you for being patient with us as we explore faith and what it means to us. May we explore this journey together. Amen.

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May There Be A Day When …

Gratitude Day 449

Fri., May 1, 2020

Exodus 32:5: When Aaron saw how happy the people were about it, he built an altar before the calf and announced, “Tomorrow there will be a feast to Jehovah!”

May there be a day when we

Hug our grandchildren

Dance at a wedding reception

Cheer on the little league team

And sit underneath the Friday night lights to watch football.

May there be a day when we

Swim at the pool

Gather for a picnic with neighbors and friends

Check out books inside the library

And linger over a long lunch with our BFF’s.

May there be a day when

Kids have sleepovers

Teachers relish their rowdy classrooms

Graduates are high-fived

And we ride to school or practice or book club with the person down the street.  

May there be a day when we

Swing at the park

Visit our loved one at the hospital

Fill a church for a funeral

Celebrate communion together

And open plastic bags for candy during a parade.

In the meantime,

May we treat each other with extra doses of grace

Shore up our souls with tons of patience

And bring goodness into someone’s life each day.

May we choose to

Think of others more than ourselves

Love our neighbors more fiercely than we ever have

And amaze God with our abilities to be creative and thoughtful in how we uplift and minister to each other.

When the day comes and we celebrate those things we have now set aside,

May we remember deeply all those who made incredible choices for the benefit of others.

Edit our lives to include only the very best

And grasp the profound lessons that we have lived through.  

This is our moment

This is our time

To discover just who God calls us to be

And let this be our guiding light.

May we celebrate and deeply thank the Lord

Whose one set of footprints witness to how we were carried so tightly through this sandy time of our lives.

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Amen.

For the hope of celebrating together one day, I am grateful.

Blessings –

Dianne

Almighty God – thanks for carrying us through these days. We look forward to the day when we can have a feast together in Your honor. Amen.

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What I Learned in April … and March

Gratitude Day 448

Thurs., Apr. 30, 2020

Ephesians 1:18: My prayer is that light will flood your hearts and that you will understand the hope that was given to you when God chose you. Then you will discover the glorious blessings that will be yours together with all of God’s people.

When 2020 began, I challenged myself to pause at the end of each month and reflect upon little things that I discovered or rediscovered or relearned in the previous month.

I was doing so good. And then, COVID-19 happened. Somehow, this little exercise got lost the end of March. So today, I offer up a plate of little ideas that have been muddling through my brain this past period of time. As you read through the things that I have discovered/rediscovered/relearned, think about what your growing edges have been these past few weeks.

The most Captain Obvious statement I could make: the entire world has shifted in the last 60 days because of something we call COVID-19. We can talk about 100-year floods and 9.11 and tsunami’s and the Great Recession as life-changing events. And they were. Yet, it’s a pesky, lethal, infectious virus that will be the defining life event for many of us.

What’s different about COVID-19? It doesn’t discriminate based on geography, age, socio-economic and a whole host of other reasons. Yes, certain people groups are more susceptible. Yet, it has caused disruption into EVERY. SINGLE. PERSON. WE. KNOW. Our friends who live outside the United States. Those who are discovering how to help home school their children. Our high-risk neighbors who must be oh, so careful about who they expose themselves to. Our front-line workers whose essential occupations should never be taken for granted again.

The impact is life-changing and never ending. We’re watching our food chains become terribly displaced and challenged beyond belief. Our country which is often touted as having the best healthcare in the world as experienced more positive cases and deaths than anywhere else in the world. More Americans have died from COVID-19 than during the Vietnam war.

Shortly after this crisis was declared a pandemic, Hubby Rick shared with our grandkids that they would be living through an event that will forever change their lives. I do not believe his statement was overstated and probably understated. This is the event by which all other crisis will be defined.

My Aunt Beverly lives in Denver, CO. She will be 90 in July. Aunt Bev lives in a care facility. Since March 8, she has been able to leave her room only once a day, for the sole purpose of walking down to get her mail. Otherwise, she eats every meal in her room. Her only “visitors” are the facility’s staff. Recently, she wrote me this:

“It is so difficult being in our rooms all the time. They even bring own meals to us ‘at home.’ I’m so weary of being cooped up. I’ve lived through world wars and lots of other events, but this pandemic is the worst.”

We have our own stories and interpretations of how this pandemic has affected us. The lens through which we process this virus is most often based upon where we are affected the most. These stories are oh, so different. The story of an exhausted nurse treating COVID-19 patients is not the same as a dairy farmer who is dumping milk because processing chains couldn’t shift fast enough. Small business owners hoping to reopen their life’s passions are as important as the creative means by which teachers are educating from afar. And the list goes on and on and on …

Crisis have the opportunity to pull out the best within ourselves … if we make this choice. I pray that we all choose to do all the good we can today and tomorrow and the next day as we journey through this time together.

All those things we “thought” were so important? Well, they’ve been put on “hold.” For some, these things are huge disappointments. No graduation ceremony. Missing your high school prom. Sporting events and birthday parties and confirmation celebrations and delayed weddings. The list is long, deep and difficult.

Some people feel terribly “robbed” of these benchmark times in their lives, as they should. The grief and disappointment are real. It is not to be minimized.

Yet, somehow, we’ve reclaimed some things that were too often lost in the shuffle. Eating meals together. Cooking at home. Time to play games and have real conversations. There has been more dog walking and people walking outside than in years. Our neighbors and Hubby Rick have been working on our lawns for weeks. Some of us have rediscovered the art of real phone calls and sending cards and letters. These are all good things. I pray we remember these are special opportunities and times which should continue beyond stay-in-place orders.

Most of us truly are all old dogs learning some new tricks these days, including myself. Online meeting platforms are getting heavy workouts these days. Artists desperate to uplift and encourage folks are collaborating and creating content in new and different ways. We’re worshiping in new ways, visiting the doctor virtually and depending upon curbside pick-up like never before. The latest fashion statement is a mask, often styled to express our passions and interests.

How will all of this translate tomorrow and next week and next month as we eventually begin moving towards our previous lives? I’m confident there will become new definitions and expressions of “normal” in our lives. We have unique opportunities to embrace ideas and concepts that previously were considered too sacred to change. This will be scary for many people and warmly embraced by others. I pray we embrace grace and compassion as we navigate new “norms” in our lives.

What lessons have you discovered about yourself in these last weeks? Where do you find yourself cautious about timid versus anxious and stressed? I pray that we see this time as important. Necessary. Potentially life changing. A time to lean into our faith and be guided by the One who loves us, cares for us and journeys with us. Amen.

For life lessons that keep challenging us, I am grateful.

Blessings –

Dianne

Dear God – Some of us embrace new and different things openly. Others, only kick and scream. May we have open hearts to hear the lessons and stories that you long for us to observe and hear. May we embrace grace and compassion as we journey through this time together. Amen.

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Calvin’s Answered Prayer

Gratitude Day 447

Wed., Apr. 29, 2020

Psalm 18:6: I was in terrible trouble when I called out to you, but from your temple you heard me and answered my prayer.

While we can have a variety of tools in our spiritual toolboxes, one tool that for me is non-negotiable is prayer.

While we often think of prayer as a formal pouring out of our desires and needs to God, I think it is much, much more than this.

First, prayer is not so God can hear our requests. God already knows them before we utter them. No, prayer is more for us than for God. Prayer is our way to recognizing that there are just some things of this world that are way bigger than us and our ability to create effective change. Prayer provides a means for us to pour out our guts to God … and enlist God’s help.

Yes, prayer should be more than this. It should be praising God as well as recognizing where we fail to shine for God’s kingdom. Too often, prayer becomes a laundry list of what WE want God to do … and enlisting God to do it NOW!

And when this happens, it truly IS a beautiful thing.

Monday was one of those times when prayer was answered, and a little boy named Calvin received a new liver.

The story begins a few weeks ago when Calvin’s mother, Sarah, saw signs that something wasn’t quite right with her newborn son. Sarah called Calvin’s doctor but because of COVID-19, there was hesitation about bringing Calvin in right away. A couple weeks later, Calvin had his two-month check-up in person with his doctor where his unusual symptoms were explored. Calvin was immediately sent to the Children’s Hospital for more testing where it was determined that his liver was not working properly. On April 21, Calvin went on a transplant list.

While the transplant doctors preferred a pediatric liver, they were also aware that this might not be possible. After a couple days of a private search, Calvin’s parents were encouraged to begin a widespread public search for a living donor. In just a couple of days, the request was shared thousands of times and 200 people began the application process. This was incredible because of the extremely specific requirements for a donor.

On Mon., Apr. 27, Calvin received a liver transplant. The liver became available because another family said good-bye to their child and made a liver from their child available for donation. Yesterday, Tues., Apr. 28, became the two weeks mark that Calvin had been in the hospital. It truly is amazing that his condition was diagnosed, he was put on the transplant list AND he received a transplant all within two-weeks. Maybe even more significant is that the transplanted liver is already working in little Calvin’s body.

Talk about answered prayer. I’m confident little Calvin was on hundreds of prayer chains and thousands of individual prayer lists. Not only Calvin, but also his parents, the doctors and healthcare providers.

Calvin’s situation could be labeled a variety of things: a miracle, an answered prayer. It is both of these things and more. Some might say he was “lucky.” Yet, it’s impossible to thank God for Calvin’s liver, knowing that another family is facing a completely different outcome for their child.

Why do some prayers seemingly “get” answered and others don’t? Is it because someone didn’t pray hard enough or long enough or wasn’t sincere in their prayer? Absolutely not! It is because someone made a deal with God and now, they have to uphold their end of the deal? I honestly don’t think this is how God works.

What I do believe is that there is great comfort for this family in knowing their little guy received a liver this week and his body seems to be accepting it. Would of this happened without the prayers of thousands and the sharing of his need for a heart on social media? It’s not my place to answer this.

It is my prayer that we see prayer as a necessary and vital tool in our spiritual toolboxes. Doing so will not guarantee that every prayer request we make will get answered. It just doesn’t work this way. Having prayer as a main tool in your tool chest is a reminder that no matter how smart, skilled, articulate, nice, or outspoken you are, prayer isn’t about what we ask of God. It’s how we allow ourselves to be changed and modified through the process of prayer.

Calvin has a long way to go. His parents are very much aware of this. But for today, he’s doing oh, so good. Did the prayers of many make a difference in Calvin getting a liver this week? It’s not my place to say. What I do believe is that WE can be changed through the ritual and commitment to prayer.

This, my friends, is what I pray has also happened to hundreds and thousands of us this week.

So often, I hear people say, “I’ll pray. It’s the least I can do.”

Honestly, I’m thinking prayer is THE MOST important thing we can do, not for God’s benefit but for our own. Amen.

For Calvin’s new liver, I am grateful.

Blessings –

Dianne

PLEASE JOIN IN … It’s Devos with Dianne at 8 PM tonight on Facebook Live!

Holy God – Thanks you for coming into Calvin’s little life. We pray for the family who lost a loved one and yet made the liver available to Calvin. We lift up their disappointment as well. May you provide Calvin’s health care providers the absolute best knowledge and information to help Calvin make it through these next days. We lift up Calvin’s parents and family as well. May you provide all with comfort. Amen.

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