Community of Believers

circle of handsOct. 5, 2013

Ecclesiastes 4:12

Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

If something awful happened to you or a close loved one, who would be the first person you would call? How many people would you call? These people are your closest community of believers.

I am a person who likes being around other people. Yet, there are times when I love to have time just for myself. I know it is very helpful for me to explore challenges, share joys and sort through things in life with other people. I depend upon other people to support me. They are my community of believers.

Community is as biblical as it gets. Look at the verse above. “Three strands is not quickly broken.” Why three and not two or four? I believe it is because of the Trinity. This sentence is a reminder that the Trinity was together from the beginning and will be together forever.

The basis for Christian community should always be rooted in how the three persons of the Trinity – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – are in community themselves. One person of the Trinity cannot be independent from the other three. They are always together, even when Jesus was walking this earth. The Holy Spirit and the Father were a part of Jesus’ death on the cross and every other act he participated in.

If community is necessary within the Triune God, then should it not also be part of our spiritual journeys? If one person of the Trinity needs the other two, why should Christians think we can successfully grow spiritually by alone? I do need time to read scripture and pray by myself. But I also know that when I explore how faith integrates with my daily life, this is best done in the context of other believers.

Not every conversation I have with someone must include a spiritual nature. Sometimes we just need space to be friends. When situations come along that do need more serious conversation, I pray I can be a person who listens and has compassion because I know there will be times when I need to call upon others. I am thankful to have a wide circle within my community. Thanks be to God.

Sometimes we forget, Lord God that you do speak to us. It’s just through someone who is part of our community of believers. Thank you for bringing into my life people who support me and journey with me. May I be this for someone else this week. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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No Lone Rangers

churchOct. 4, 2013

Hebrews 10:25

You should not stay away from the church meetings, as some are doing, but you should meet together and encourage each other. Do this even more as you see the day coming. 

For the last three months, Rick and I have a conversation every Saturday night. It goes something like this. Me: “Where do you want to go to church tomorrow?” Rick: “Some place where church starts no earlier than 10 AM.”

This is not Rick’s response every week; just the first few weeks. For the first time ever for Rick and 20+ years for me, we do not always know where we are going to worship on Sunday. We have attended a variety of churches: different denominations, worship styles, locations, etc. About six weeks ago, I discovered during worship that I missed being part of the same congregation.  I miss seeing the same folks every week, knowing how worship will flow and the support of the same congregation members.

The places we have visited have been friendly. We see friendly and familiar faces. It’s just different. I do get to sit by Rick every week! But if completely honest, a little something is missing right now.

This experience has re-enforced my belief in the necessity for Christians to be part of a regular faith community. Those who believe in God really need a place to call “home”: a place where they are missed when not present; a place where fellow Christians support and encourage them; a place people can be vulnerable and grow.

People have shared with me various reasons they do not feel it is necessary to be part of a regular church family. Some reasons maybe valid. But I wonder what these people do when in crisis. Where do they turn? Do they have other Christians to celebrate the high points of life? For all of those days in-between, who helps keep them inspired to grow spiritually?

Ponder these questions. The early Christians were warned not to be lone rangers: to maintain their spiritual lives alone. With modern technology, the ability to worship on-line and connect with like-minded folks without all the challenges that can be part of a faith community, it is enticing to be a lone ranger. Please don’t. Spiritual faith is best done in community.

A woman was not happy with her church and stopped worshiping. An elderly man asked about this. The woman reeled off a bunch of reasons, concluding she did not feel the church was meeting her needs. The elderly man thought for a moment. Then he said, “I have been married to my wife for 52 years. Most days, she has prepared three meals a day for me, about 56,000 meals. Most of these meals I do not remember. I can say she has lovingly fed me for 52 years. Some meals were good. Some were not very good. But she always fed me. For this, I am very grateful.”

Almighty God: thank you for creating safe places for us to explore and grow our faith. You are very much aware of the times the church has let us down. Somehow, we focus more on this than the times we have let-down the church by not being present and withholding our gifts, talents, witness and service. Place in my heart a deep desire to be part of a regular faith community so I can grow spiritually as well as serve you.  Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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The Spiritual Life Day 2 – Depending Upon the Fuel

holy-bibleOct. 4, 2013

Hebrews 4:12

God’s word is alive and working and is sharper than a double-edged sword. It cuts all the way into us, where the soul and the spirit are joined, to the center of our joints and bones. And it judges the thoughts and feeling in our hearts. 

Whether you have a favorite Bible or not, the next step seems logical: crack open that bad boy and use it. This is how people discover that God’s Holy Word as the fuel for our spiritual lives.

This works best when a person follows a Bible reading schedule. A quick Google query will bring up a gazillion different options. Choices abound: ones that cover the Bible in a year, the New Testament in a year, the Old Testament in the year, etc. Some Bibles are specifically laid-out so to read through them in a year.

I prefer a reading schedule in which you read from different sections of the Bible every day. Starting in Genesis and expecting to plow straight through is one way to ensure you won’t complete the task. On the daily reading schedule I am currently using, I’ve been reading in Leviticus. If I was only reading from Leviticus and not getting a New Testament reading or a Psalm or Proverb, the detail about wave offerings would have done me in.

Another option is to sign-up on online. Readings are delivered right to your e-mail. Then, you just actually have to read them! One such resource is biblegateway.com. I prefer reading out of my Bible. I use my Bible and circle, underline, sticky-note sections that are important and meaningful for me. This helps me find something latter on.

Some think it really isn’t necessary to have a schedule to follow. I’ve tried that route. I was once again reminded that failure to plan is a plan to fail.

Do I follow the reading schedule 365 days a year? No. I strive for 5-6 days a week. When I was actively serving a church, I rarely did a personal devotional on Sunday. I most often read in the morning and I wanted that time to prepare myself for worship. I double up to stay on schedule.

I’m not convinced a person MUST read through the Bible in a year. Give yourself realistic goals. Read a chapter a day, or a chapter a day from the Old Testament and the New Testament. Whether you complete the reading schedule in the designated timeframe or you take a bit longer to accomplish it, the important point is to get yourself into God’s word.

“But it’s not my job to read the Bible. That’s the pastor’s job.” One of the most enriching times for my spiritual journey was the 34-weeks in which I participated in a Bible study group in which we read 75% of the Bible. Being in the words daily changed my understanding of being a Christian. Had I not taken this class, would I have become a pastor? I’m not so sure. Your pastor should read the Bible. But faith is personal. Discover the stories yourself. It’s the best way to get the complete, big picture of God and what it means to a member of God’s family. It is one of the ways God will speak to you.

Finally, pick a regular time of the day to read your bible. Unless I do it first thing in the morning, it won’t get done. There was a time when I read my Bible often during my lunch break at work. Pick a specific place you will most often do it. Carve out time in your day and make it just like brushing your teeth.

There comes a time when your car gets low on fuel. You wheel into the gas station and refuel. Think of reading scripture daily as topping off your spiritual life. Without it, there will come a time when you won’t have any fuel left in your tank.  This is one way Jesus refueled his tank. May it be so for us. 

Lord God: help me discover the most appropriate way to consistently read your scriptures. When I get tired and want to stop, inspire me to continue. When I don’t completely understand something, let it be OK. As I read your story, speak to me. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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The Fuel of the Spiritual Life

holy-bibleOct. 2, 2013

Luke 24:45

Then Jesus opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.

Think about the Bibles you have. Do you have a favorite Bible? Are there certain ones you received at significant times in your life?

I still have the third-grade Bible I received. Because it is a King James Version, it hasn’t been used very much. I have a couple Bibles I received at Confirmation. It didn’t make sense to receive a Bible after completing Confirmation. That’s why the confirmation students I have worked with received a Bible at the beginning of Confirmation.

When I started seminary, all students had to purchase a specific Oxford Annotated NRSV Bible. It cost something like $65. Six months after Rick and I were married, we honeymooned on a mission trip to Brownsville, TX. Rick decided to stay in Texas a couple more weeks beyond the trip. The only Bible we brought along was this NRSV Bible. I left with the other folks, leaving behind Rick and my Bible. Rick brought back the Greyhound bus. He checked two bags: one with tools and another with his clothes and my Bible. The tool bag eventually made it back to Madison. The other bag never did. Rick felt awful that my Bible was now in the land of unclaimed luggage at some bus terminal. Our hope is someone found the Bible and made it their own.

I have a variety of Bibles in a variety of translations, sizes and styles. I have a small Bible I can easily take on pastoral calls. When people see the tiny type, they gasp. I have a couple Bibles I use personally. When I began serving churches, a kind man gave me a nice Bible in which my sermon pages fit perfectly. I have used this Bible to preach nearly every sermon. It is quite worn these days.

In order for a person to develop their spiritual nature, it is vital to have a Bible that he or she really likes, is age and style appropriate. Recently, my nephew Kevin called. He joined a Youth Group. But his Bible is the early-reader Bible. He wanted a suggestion for a teen Bible. I gladly offered to get the Bible for him. When I stopped at my other sister’s house recently, another nephew Zach was returning from church, carrying the Bible I’d given him. These moments make my heart sing.

Where is your favorite Bible? Has it been used lately or is it just collecting dust on top of it? Like Kevin, do you lack an appropriate Bible? If you’d like a more user-friendly Bible, get yourself a different Bible NOW. It is vital for your spiritual development.

How long would you expect your car to run without gas? Our Bibles should be the fuel that sparks our spiritual lives. Would you let your car run down to empty and expect it to run? Hardly. Would you put gas in your vehicle that has been sitting in a barrel for five years and expect it to run as usual? Probably not. How well would your diesel vehicle run with unleaded fuel? Dismally. Then why do we expect our spiritual lives to grow without the fuel of an appropriate Bible?

If you have a Bible you enjoy, go get it. Hold it in your hands. Thumb through it and look for parts you have forgotten about or never discovered. Place your hand on top of it and pray: 

Lord God: thank you for this book which tells me your story. Thank you for the thousands of people whose spiritual journeys are recorded in this book. Now, help me make it my story. May your story and the stories of others help me discover what it means to be a follower of you. Thank you for making your Holy Words available to me. Speak to me often as I read your story. May these words become the fuel of my spiritual journey.  Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Do You Trust God?

trustOct. 1, 2013

Hebrews 11:1

Faith means being sure of the things we hope for and knowing that something is real even if we do not see it.

Tuesday mornings are busy. I go to Rick’s son’s house by 6:45 and stay with the younger two kids. After breakfast, we go back to my in-laws where I help my mother-in-law with her morning routine. As I get lunch started, the kids play, trying to keep the roar low enough so Grandpa Rick can sleep.

Today, then we went to Aunt Judy’s. Nephew Andy was just leaving with the combine, so we watched him wheel out with his huge John Deere. We picked grapes and pears. Ellie and Dylan both helped put pears in a bag. As I picked grapes, Ellie helped put them in the five-gallon bucket, often tasting them. When we were done with the pears and grapes, Aunt Judy gave us a ride in the Kubota to the apple orchard where we picked a few apples. Then, it was time to go back to Grandma-Greats for lunch.

On the way, we listened to “clapping music,” i.e. – VBS music. After listening to a jazzy rendition of “This Little Light of Mine,” a quieter song came on. It’s called “Faith” and based on Hebrew 11:1. It is one of my favorite songs. As I listened, I contemplated the words:

It seems like there’s so much to hope for, so many dreams that I wish they all could come true. And when I think about your ways Lord, it gives me so much faith in all that you do. Faith to see beyond what I can see. Faith to know that you will do great things. Oh, I will trust you Lord, I’ll always believe. As I hang on my faith, Jesus, you are holding on to me.

Constant faith is hard. There are times when faith seems easier and makes more sense. I have faith; but sometimes I wonder how I am to live my faith these days. It’s not as bold and strong as it once was and in that, there is some disappointment.

As these words hung in my mind, I heard from the back seat, “Dianne.” I said, “Yes, Ellie.” She replied, “Dianne, you know, I trust in God.”

Ellie is three. Some may say she doesn’t know what she is talking about. But she knows who God is. She talks about VBS often and wants to go back. She knows what trust is. In her little mind, she can trust God for the moment.

When I started a year of family leave, I wanted to look at the whole of myself and see how I might become more the person God desires for me to be. The challenge is that days, weeks and months get quickly filled. When are we to have time to fully discern, contemplate and examine this? I decided that during October, I am going to be more intentional about this. Daily, I want to explore my spiritual wholeness.

I feel a person of God must examine all areas of their life. While I can’t do a complete overhaul in a month, I want to explore four areas: my spiritual life, my emotional well-being, my mental capacity and my physical body. Each week, I will focus on one area. Tomorrow, I’ll begin with the spiritual life.

I invite you to join this journey. Will our lives be much different on Nov. 1st? I do not know. But let’s be intentional about our faith, our wholeness before God and if and how we trust God. Like Ellie, can we say, “You know, I trust God?” 

Dear God: It seems like there’s so much to hope for, so many dreams that I wish they all could come true. And when I think about your ways Lord, it gives me so much faith in all that you do. Faith to see beyond what I can see. Faith to know that you will do great things. Oh, I will trust you Lord, I’ll always believe. As I hang on my faith, Jesus, you are holding on to me. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Lessons from Flour

Sept. 24, 2013

Exodus 16:31

The people of Israel called the food manna. It was like small white seeds and tasted like wafers made with honey.

The logo I often look for while shopping.
The logo I often look for while shopping.

 

One of the many gluten-free products I use.
One of the many gluten-free products I use.

 

Several years ago, my mother-in-law was diagnosed with Celiac disease. This means she cannot eat anything with wheat or regular flour in it. At the time of her diagnosis, finding gluten-free items at the grocery story was difficult. I searched on-line for alternative flours and ordered them. I bought gluten-free cookbooks and googled recipes. As Celiac disease has become more common and some people choose not to eat as much gluten, more gluten-free products are available.

Last fall, Ersel was also diagnosed as type-2 diabetic. When I began family leave, I armed myself with a couple gluten-free, sugar-free cookbooks. Of course, the internet is a well of information and why having internet access is helpful!

I have discovered new ways to cook. While I have cooked gluten-free many times, now I cook gluten-free and sugar-free most days of the week. And it is different! There is a reason why we use wheat flour. Some things have been more successful than others. A challenge is keeping things moist. Tonight’s biscuits were as light and fluffy as those made with regular flour. After multiple attempts, I found an acceptable pie crust recipe but am not convinced “flaky” and “gluten-free” can be in the same recipe. Likewise, various sugar forms have different results.

For 40 years, the Israelites wandered the desert and had only two things to eat: manna and quail. Imagine 40 years of the same food, day after day. When manna is described as “wafers made with honey,” I hope it was sweet and not as dry as some of the gluten-free things.

Many people have a love relationship with food. We love good food. Why did the Israelites have to eat the same thing for 14,600 days? God wanted them to depend upon God and not what they ate. They became so bored with manna they complained and complained and even wished they had never left Egypt. That’s a pretty low pot-shot, considering what Moses and God went through.

I know there are days my mother-in-law would love to have a peanut butter sandwich with real bread. But she cannot. On the days we’re not at the farm, I cook with all the regular flour I want. I eat peanut butter toast most mornings. I try creative ways to cook without gluten, just as the Jews tried preparing manna in different ways. The message for us in the same: let’s not let something get in the way of our dependence of God. Even food. Even wheat.

It really is too easy to let something such as food get in the way of our dependence upon you. Maybe it’s food today and money tomorrow. Help us identify those things that keep us from full depending upon you. Place a desire for us to only want to have you.  Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Failed Communication

Sept. 22, 2013

Psalm 66:19-20

But God has listened; he has heard my prayer. Praise God, who did not ignore my prayer or hold back his love from me.

Finally ... a phone with a working mobile hotspot!
Finally … a phone with a working mobile hotspot!

 

An early concern about being at my in-laws was having internet service. They do not own a computer and their farm is in a bad location. A neighbor told me how difficult it has been to get internet service. I knew this would be a challenge.

After no internet the first week, I went to our cellphone provider and got a hot spot, a portable modem. The sales person assured me if I had cell phone reception, the hot spot would work. I had 15 days to try it.

The hot spot was less than hot. It worked one second and the next second, not at all. Things that should take a couple minutes took 30-60 minutes, if at all. I returned it. The next suggestion was using an Android phone as a mobile hotspot. For years, I had a Blackberry. I had tried an Android a couple times but always returned to a Blackberry. To get internet service, I purchased a new phone.

The second day I had the phone, it would not charge. I went to another store for help. The day after I switched phones, the entire company went down for a week to update their system. No one’s account could be accessed. The only option was a loner phone until their system was back up.

Sometimes, the new phone charged and sometimes the mobile hotspot worked and sometimes it didn’t. I had 15 days to try this phone. I stopped twice to report the phone was not charging and internet was spotty. The store ordered me a replacement phone. The shut-down drug on and I am only near this store one or two days a week. To get internet service, I went to the neighbor’s or the library or Culver’s. It was becoming quite a hassle.

On day 16, I went to the store. The system was up and running. Because it was after day 15, they would not exchange the phone even though the new one was in the store. My only option was to have the main company send a new phone to my in-laws. Ugh. More hassle.

The phone arrived and I got it activated. But internet service was still not working. Back to the store. The sales reps were stumped. Another call to the main company. The drivers were out-of-date. With updated drivers, back at the farm, I sat with bated breath. Finally, I had a phone with a working mobile hotspot.

This was a two-month ordeal plus several multiple hour phone calls about billing.  Rick asked if internet was necessary. I feel it is. Recently, the mobile hotspot came in handy. While at a Christian women gathering, the speaker needed an internet connection for her equipment work. It took a few tries to get her equipment connected to my mobile hotspot, but it did and she shared her presentation.

At multiple points through this aggravating and irritating process, I have thought of communication with God. How many times has God tried to communicate with me and my system was shut down? Maybe I caught part of the message but because of a malfunction, I missed some. When have people tried to share with me a message of God and I simply did not have good customer reception? When my prayers do not get immediately answered in the way that I want them answered, I blame God’s drivers for being out-of-date. When I do get an answer and I don’t like it, I pray up complaints and want a refund.

Let us be thankful that we have a God that never stops communicating with us, even when we get frustrated and think it’s a hassle to communicate back. God’s cell phone and internet service are never down. Thanks be to God. 

Lord God, you never stop speaking to us, though we struggle to pause long enough to listen. Slow us down enough to listen for your voice in our lives. Call us, O God, once again. Thank you for always hearing our prayers and being patient with us. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Wrapped Up in the Right Things

DSC01246

Braeden's 5th grade team is also in red.
Braeden’s 5th grade team is also in red.

Sept. 16, 2013

Proverbs 4:25-26

Keep your eyes focused on what is right, and look straight ahead to what is good. Be careful what you do, and always do what is right.

What would fall in American be without football? Last Saturday, Rick and I watched two football games in which our two oldest grandsons played. Bryce is in 4th grade. His game was an intramural game with 11 kinds on a team. The coaches rotated the kids through various positions the entire game.

Then, we watched Braeden’s game. In 5th grade, his team played a team from another school. Braeden’s team had 22 players, enough for two 11 player sections. In the first half, Braeden’s section played defense and the other 11 kids played offense. They switched at half-time.

Braeden’s team played with a little more skill and precision, but not without error. Penalties and fouls were pointed out but yards were not lost. While playing defense end, the boy blocking Braeden simply wrapped his arms around his waist and held/hugged him. One coach told Braeden how to legally get loose and not give up. But it was hard to get out of the hold.

Sometimes we get wrapped up in things that get in our way. Nearly every day, I begin with a “to-do” list. Most days I would need 30 hours day to get everything done. By mid-day, I am often distracted and doing things not on the list. At day’s end, I sometimes feel defeated because I did not accomplish more. It happened again tonight!

Sometimes, the distractions are more important than anything on the to-do list. But I also let distractions be an excuse for not doing something I’m unexcited about doing. Life is not simply a to-do list. Jesus began every day with a detailed to-do list. He let himself be guided by the Spirit. But he clearly knew what was most important: daily spending time with his Father; developing strong relationships with those closest to him; making time for people on the fringes of society.

As Rick’s son, Darran, was picking up the youngest two kids from me late this afternoon, he said the last several days had been filled with endless delays. We can get frustrated and overwhelmed by things out of our control. Or we can seem them as opportunities to capture something we otherwise would have missed. Distractions and delays can annoy us … or they can be the Spirit teaching us. Which option do you focus on? May we be encouraged to do what is right, even if it wasn’t part of our original plan.

Lord God – why do we sometimes lack patience? Why do we get wrapped up in not doing the right things? I pray that daily, we will seek our guidance in our lives so we can look straight ahead and see what is right. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Running for the Crown

Items ready to hand out to the athletes.
Items ready to hand out to the athletes.

 

Just part of the water at our pit stop.
Just part of the water at our pit stop.

 

DSC01202

Here's comes an athlete!
Here’s comes an athlete!

 

Blue-clad t-shirt volunteers lined up to fuel-up Ironman athletes.
Blue-clad t-shirt volunteers lined up to fuel-up Ironman athletes.

Sept. 15, 2013

1 Corinthians 9:24-25

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.

 

On Sun., Sept. 8, Madison hosted the Ironman Wisconsin. This is a physically daunting event where participants swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles and run a full marathon (26.2 miles) in one day. I volunteered at a bike pit stop station in Mt Horeb, 20 minutes from our home. I was humbled to hear people had driven three hours from Chicago that morning to volunteer at the pit stop.

As the swim began at 7 AM, we set up the pit stop. We handed out water, a power drink, GU packets (a carbohydrate gel packet), bananas and small energy bars. We were instructed how to properly hand out items, not get in the way, slow participants down or cause accidents.

The bike route was two loops of the same route. Our pit stop was mile 30 and mile 70. Just before 9 AM, the first professional participants came whizzing by. Despite the pit stop being on a slight incline, these uber athletes were not fazed. We noted the first woman. After the professionals, athletes arrived in groups. Most athletes had drinks and food strapped to their bike. Some simply refreshed their water or power drink supply. Others depended upon what we were handing out.

I was a banana hander-outer. We told the athletes what we had. In a few hours, I yelled “Banana!” hundreds of times. It was helpful when the athletes told us what they wanted. Some hand-offs weren’t clean. There was another banana person after me, so they had another opportunity to snag one.

One way to enter an Ironman is to volunteer. Several folks at the pit stop planned on being in line the following morning with their blue “volunteer” t-shirt to sign-up for the 2014 event. While it sounded intriguing, I should try a mini-triathlon before signing up for the granddaddy. I also need to get into better shape and see if my aging body can handle the physical stress of a full-blown Ironman.

What these athletes do is amazing. I have biked over 100 miles on a ride and run a full marathon. Just not in the same day. The winner crossed the finish line at 8:40:15. He ran a 3:06:09 marathon. While not Olympic marathon speed, he completed a 4:34:58 bike ride before switching bike clips for running shoes. The first-place woman crossed at 9:47:07. She averaged 20.52/miles/hour on her bike and 7:28 minutes/mile running. Impressive.

When the New Testament was written, Olympic events happened in Greece. Winners were crowned with a natural wreath of olive branches and leaves which lasted just a while. They soon died. As Paul wrote about running for a crown, people knew he was talking about this. The crown we should be running for should be an eternal crown. It doesn’t come from completing the Wisconsin Ironman. It comes as we complete the task Jesus gave us of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.

Watching the Ironman Wisconsin was impressive and inspiring. Every clapped loudly as two brothers came by.  One has Cerebral Palsy. His brother road a three-wheeled bike with his brother strapped to the front. Another man pedaled up the hill with a disabled woman strapped to a tag-along behind his bike. As impressive as the professional athletes are, true Ironman heroes are the Joe-average athletes who train thousands of hours with time away from families, friends and jobs. As the day continues, it is less physical and more of a mental and emotional challenge.

The most important race I shall ever run is testifying to the good news of God’s grace. Some days, it’s easier to do than others! At times, it is emotionally and mentally draining, as well as physically and spiritually. My goal is not to be the best Christian: it’s to represent God’s grace in my daily living, attitudes and choices. When we do this, I believe there is an eternal crown waiting for us.

It was truly inspiring and amazing to witness athletes complete an Ironman. May it renew within me a passion to complete the greatest race of my life: to witness to Your grace daily. Give me the mental, emotional, physical and spiritual maturity to complete this great race for your kingdom. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Shepherding Sheep

Ellie checking out Frost in the shed with Bambi in the background.
Ellie checking out Frost in the shed with Bambi in the background.

Sept. 9, 2013

John 10:14-15

Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep and they know me, just as my Father knows me and I know the Father. So I sacrifice my life for the sheep.

The lambs arrive! Flower is on the right and Bambi is on the right.
The lambs arrive! Flower is on the right and Bambi is on the right.

Raising sheep has been in my family for a long time. My sisters and I raised sheep through 4-H. Later, my Dad kept some sheep. My nephew Kevin is the latest Deaton to have sheep.

For years, I have talked about having a couple calves or sheep. This summer, Rick relented. Possibly he wants me to enjoy something for myself as I help care for his folks. He decided a couple sheep were easier than a couple calves or something else.

We made arrangements with Kevin to borrow a couple sheep and try it. There is a fenced in pasture close to Rick’s son, Darran’s house. We asked if we could section off a small part for the sheep. Darran was agreeable. Since I was going to be near Augusta one day, we decided I should bring the sheep back. Rick had only a day to make fence. Six-year-old Waylan came out and helped Grandpa build fence. Darran even helped out.  Waylan was so anxious for the sheep to arrive. He talked non-stop about the lambs.

Flower and Bambi have been a hit. They are very tame. The grandkids can easily pet and catch them. When I do something with the sheep, Ellie and Waylan are willing helpers. Rick built a little three-sided shed. After we put it in the pasture, I lead them into it. The next day, they comfortably laid in the shed. They knew it was theirs.

Flower and Bambi are from the same flock. But I’m not sure they were “best” friends before arriving at our farm. They quickly became best friends. When I walk or bike by, the lambs start bellering as soon as I am in sight. They come running down to the fence. They love attention.

Soon, Flower will need to be bred so she can have a lamb. We decided to keep lambs at our farm a few more months. This past weekend, Kevin showed sheep. On the way home, we sent Flower home. In exchange, Bambi’s twin sister came back with us. As soon as the lambs into different trailers, Flower and Bambi were baaing back and forth. They missed each other. While Frost is Bambi’s twin sister, maybe she forgot this and wanted her latest best friend, Flower.

While Kevin and his mom spend a lot of time with the sheep, it took a minute for Flower to remember them. Of late, Darran, the kids and I have been her shepherd. We have fed her, watered her and given her attention. When Kevin tried to sooth her, she didn’t buy it.

Today, Ellie, Dylan and I went out to see how Frost is adjusting to her new digs. Bambi and Frost were in the shed. Frost let the kids pet her and feel her soft wool. We talked to her and she warmed up quickly. The lambs followed us down to the gate. Bambi knows who might feed her and Frost tagged along. They know we are their shepherds for the next several months, something we enjoy.

Jesus told us that he is our good shepherd. When we are his sheep, he knows everything about us: what we like or don’t like; what makes us happy and sad; how our voice sounds and how we want to be loved. There’s one difference with him as our shepherd. He was willing to sacrifice his life for our benefit. He just didn’t act as our shepherd. He lived as our shepherd.

Would I give up my life for Flower or Bambi or Frost? Hard question. It wasn’t a hard question for Jesus. He just did it. What a shepherd.

Lord God – How easy it is to blame you when we encounter a pressured-filled situation. We want to change You rather than change ourselves. Help us remember that you walk with us through those faith preserving times of our lives. Encourage us to discover faith that perseveres. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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