Gratitude Day 208 –  Count Your Blessings

Fri., Feb. 1, 2019

Mark 13:18 – Pray that it doesn’t happen in winter.

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Students from the Benton School District may not be the only ones who might need to be re-introduced to their school today. Most schools in the State of Wisconsin cancelled school Monday – Thursday this week. Some school superintendents and principals came up with entertaining and fun ways to annouce school closings. But after days of being cooped up, kids and parents are ready for a more normal schedule today.

We’ve lived through the artic vortex this week. A few personal highlights:

  • When Hubby Rick was coming home from work early Thursday morning, the temp gauge in the car said -35 degrees. This was BEFORE windchill. And was the coldest temperature Rick can ever remember. Ever. (After a very long work week, I’m not sure Rick stuck his nose outside on Thursday once he was home. And he deserved to sit inside all day.)
  • No mail on Wed. and Thurs. this week. First time I ever remember this. Ever.
  • While driving home on Thursday evening, the temp on my car said -7. And this was the current heat wave of the week!
  • Ninety percent of the conversations this week were about the weather. We didn’t know what else to talk about.

Like many people, I’m counting my blessings this week. We have a warm home with a working furnace. We have warm clothes and hot food. We have vehicles that ran in the cold weather. While we were outside at times, our exposure was not constant. When the sun came out, it actually was very pretty.

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Even when the temps and wind chill are ridiculously brutal, we still have opportunities to count our blessings. I pray we all are just a bit more appreciative of what we have these days, rather than what we don’t.

For blessings too numerous to count, I am grateful.

Almighty God – we choose every day if our glass if half full or half empty. I pray that on this very day, we choose to count our blessings and feel very blessed, no matter what is happening in our lives. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Gratitude Day 161 – Thankful

Thurs., Nov. 22, 2018 – Thankfulthankful

Psalm 118:29 – Give thanks to the Lord, because he is good. His faithful love continues forever.  

The pies are baked. The corn casserole for the community dinner is laid out, ready to be assembled in the morning and popped into the oven. Yes, I cheated and bought the dinner rolls rather than making them. Someday, I’m going to really learn how to make good dinner rolls. But not this week.

Instead of making dinner rolls, I had a meaningful conversation with a dear friend on Thanksgiving Eve night. In the moment, conversation was a higher priority than making rolls. And I don’t regret the choice.

A year ago, I would have tried to do both: make bread and carry on a conversation. These days, I trying to have a little less busy-body Martha in my life and a little more contemplative Mary.

Sometimes, I feel like I’m wasting time.

Sometimes, I feel like I don’t get enough done.

Sometimes, I delay doing something seemingly important for another day.

It’s hard to let go of Martha. But she’s trying.

Why? Because I don’t want to miss out on the little things. Too often, we focus only on the milestone moments of life: baptisms, first day of school, prom night, graduation, first car, first job, first apartment by ourselves. Marriage, first child and buying a house. A 40th birthday and then a 50th. All important events. All milestones. All significant.

But what about the afternoon sitting by the lake? The bike ride with a grandchild? The good book that just wants to be read?

When Hubby Rick and I were dating, I remember us promising each other to make sure we always would take time to just be with each other. We have … and we haven’t. More so because of my lack of prioritization than Rick’s. We have wonderful moments and we have days in which we don’t see each other awake.

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How might we find the important little moments of today? Put down our phones and have a conversation with the people around us rather than on social media. Turn off the television during dinner and go around the table and share something that you so appreciate in your life. And then, keep the T.V. off and play a game that works for all the ages present. Go outside and take a walk and marvel at the beauty of the world around you. And when you do pick up the phone, may it not be to check Black Friday deals but to call someone who you weren’t able to see today. Tell them that you love and appreciate them and make a date to get together soon.

And simply be thankful. Give thanks not for the big things in life … but for the seemingly insignificant. Appreciate the young boy’s comments about his Mom. After she died of cancer, he was asked what was the most special memory of his Mom that he had. His answer? When she sat with him on the couch and they ate popcorn together.

Sit with someone and eat popcorn today. And cherish every minute of it.

Everything else can wait for a day. Even the dishes could wait.

I am convinced the most meaningful times in my life will always be the simplest of times that I would love to recapture. Like going for a ride with my Dad and talking cows. Snuggling on the couch with a grandchild. Having a cup of coffee with my Grandmother. Picking out fabric with my Mom. Matching my hand in Hubby Rick’s hand.

These are the things I am thankful for today.

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And this card. It was made by one of the kids from one of the churches that I used to serve. It came in the mail just recently. Somewhere, somehow this little person knew to include God in the card, along with Thanksgiving. Just a little reminder that God’s love endures forever.

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For the simple and deeply meaningful moments in life, I am grateful.

In some ways, it seems to silly to need a day in which we stop and remember to be thankful and grateful, Holy God. I pray we find your love and blessings in the littlest of moments of every day. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Gratitude Day 127 – Blessing Others

Sat., Sept. 29, 2018

Ruth 2:4 – Just then Boaz arrived from Bethlehem. He said to the harvesters, “May the Lord be with you.” And they said to him, “May the Lord bless you.”

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I love being able to bless other people. It’s one of my favorite things to do. This is one reason why I’ve become involved in a program called Blessings in a Backpack.

This is a program which helps provide weekend food to school students who might not otherwise have enough food. Our local Blessings program works with our local school district to provide this food to students who would be blessed in having this food. In our local program we provide 10 items of food a week: 2 breakfast, 2 meal items and 6 snack items.

It is amazing to watch this program work. The majority of the food is purchased through our local grocery story, who works with our program to provide the food at the most reasonable price possible. Volunteers order the food, pick-up the food, pack the food and deliver the food to the schools. Our volunteer leadership team coordinates the volunteers, finances, connection with the school, administrative roles and marketing promotion.

This past week was National Blessings in a Backpack. Here are the volunteers and owner of the local grocery store who packed the food bags that were delivered to the school on Friday.

Why do I choose to be involved in this program? Because it is providing food to students. I feel making sure every student in our school district has adequate food is my responsibility and my opportunity. Some of you may feel this is not your calling or responsibility. Yet, I feel we all have the opportunity influence kids in our community. This is one way that I choose to be involved. I envision every time a student receives a food bag they feel blessed and cared for.

Maybe being part of a local Blessings program is not feasible for you. I challenge you to become creative and discover a special way that you can support school-aged you in your community:

  • Mentor or tutor student(s) in your local school district.
  • Help cover the cost of lunches for students who many not have funds to do this
  • Provide funds for a student’s lunch break
  • Listen to students read
  • Help a student with homework on a regular basis
  • Volunteer to help with recess
  • Be a volunteer assistance in a classroom or homeroom regularly
  • Ask at your school or library how you could support local kids
  • Pray for the school, administration, students, teachers and all staff.

Whether you have school-aged kids or not, we have unique opportunities to be a part of the kid’s lives within our community. This is how we shared important things from generation to generation.

No matter your age, physical abilities or other commitments, I pray you find a way to support kids within your community.

For the ability to bless school-aged students, I am thankful.

Almighty God – thank you for the opportunities that we come along to bless others. I pray we seize the opportunities to give your love, grace and peace into other’s lives. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Gratitude Day 83 – God’s Inheritance

Mon., July 16, 2018

God firstEphesians 1:18 – I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people …

This past weekend was a blessing:

  • Writer’s conference
  • A new friend
  • A fair
  • Checking on my nephew’s lambs
  • Needed rain
  • A long walk and couple quiet hours Sunday morning
  • Worship at the church where I grew up
  • Dedication of a communion set in honor of my Mom
  • Time with family and friends
  • Picked green beans from the garden when I got home

We have a rich inheritance in God’s kingdom. Do we stop long enough to see it and appreciate it?

I pray so.

For this rich inheritance, I am grateful.

Lord God – you are such a part of our daily lives. I pray we see it, welcome it and appreciate it. I pray we do not take it for granted. I pray our hearts are tuned into you and your place in our lives today. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Gratitude Day 82 – Perspective

Sat., July 14, 2018

2 Corinthians 12:7 – I was given a thorn in my body because of the outstanding revelations I’ve received so that I wouldn’t be conceited. 

“Cancer has been a blessing in my life,” she said.

That’s right. A blessing.

Liz Curtis Higgs

Liz Curtis Higgs is an author and a speaker. While sharing her story, Liz explained how God has used cancer to teach her about life. Doused with honest humor, Liz had her audience in stiches about cancer. She spoke openly about the wig she was wearing and how this too has been a blessing. Somehow, she turned her hairpiece into a story that none of the attendees will forget.

For 30 minutes, Liz captivated a room filled with people who want to be successful writers, much like she is. She taught us how to do this with her own story. She explained how her journey with cancer this last year has taught her new things; things she wanted the rest of us to learn from her. I’ll share just a couple of her great one-liners:

  • Liz has discovered that everything she’s been teaching through her writing and speaking is true.
  • When someone is hurting, they just want to hear that you love them and that you are praying for them.
  • When we deal with the thorns in our lives, God will lavish God’s love on you.
  • Learn to love a good insult. Through it, may we learn to delight in it.

Liz packed a lot of punch into her words. She did it very humbly and openly. She has made me look at the thorns in my life from a new perspective.

For this, I am grateful.

Holy God – thank you for the gift of perspective. The honesty that cancer can be a blessing. Someone may read these words and think cancer has not been a blessing to them or their family. I pray this thorn in their life will be turned into a blessing. This can only happen through the power of your Holy Spirit. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Gratitude Day 63 – Attitude  

 

attitude of gratitude

Mon., June 11, 2018

Acts 24:3 – Always and everywhere, most honorable Felix, we acknowledge this with deep gratitude.

For the last two-plus months, I have reflected with gratitude upon some simple aspect of my life through words. Something that happened in my day, a little aspect of Hubby Rick and mine’s life or something that I have observed.

I have a very blessed life. A very blessed life. I have everything I need and a whole lot of stuff that I want. I have some “stuff” that I’m not sure I need or want. Life is so much more than possessions. It is relationships, opportunities, challenges and every-day life realities.

Today, we will begin this day and we will determine what our attitude is about this day. Only I will decide what my attitude for today will be. Yes, others can influence it. People I know and may not know will test it. At the end of the day, when I crawl into bed, I alone will determine if I represented the attitude God longs for me to represent. Have I embodied an attitude of deep gratitude, even for challenges? Or was my attitude adversely affected and portrayed to others?

And then, I will repeat this tomorrow and the next day and the next day. The next week, the next month, the next year (God willing.)

When I think about possible challenges in my life, it takes me about .5 seconds to think of someone else who has way more significant challenges than I do. People will real challenges. I pray that I never loose sight of this. Even on my worse days, these days are still better than so many other situations people endure day in and day out.

I pray my attitude of gratitude is honest, consistent and God-directing. Only I will choose my attitude today. I pray it is a good one.

Almighty God – I pray that my attitude reflects your love and grace in my life this day. May my attitude be grounded in your place in my life. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Gratitude Day 13 – Food

Blessings bags

Sat., Apr. 14, 2018

Matthew 5:35-36 – (Jesus said), “‘For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat; I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink; I was a stranger and you took me in; 36 I was naked and you clothed me; I was sick and you took care of me; I was in prison and you visited me.’

Friday mornings are Blessings mornings. This is the day a group of volunteers’ pack weekend food bags for students in our local school district. Each Friday, we provide food for students who might not otherwise have enough food for the weekend. Weekly, students receive 8-10 items: 2 breakfast items, 2 meals and at least four snacks. These items will not cover all their weekend food needs. Our goal is to ensure students have something to eat.

Are there hungry students even in our little Poynette School District? What I do know is there were 56 students this Friday morning that may not have enough food. I am grateful we can provide some food for the weekend.

I became involved in the Blessings in a Backpack Program over 18 months ago. After the local school board confirmed support of our local Blessings program, we organized a great group of volunteers to carry out the program’s mission. There are six core volunteers who oversee an area of the program: shopping and packing, volunteer coordinator, community coordination, fundraising, financial and overall coordination. Another 25 volunteers help pack and distribute weekly food bags.

Do the weekend food bags make a difference? The stories say so. One little boy was sick on a Friday morning. When the school nurse wanted to call a parent to pick him up, he said he wouldn’t leave until he had his food bag. After winter break, two girls showed up in the school office on Friday morning. The volunteer drop-off person was also in the office. The girls asked her if she is “the food lady” because they wanted to make sure they would be getting food bags.

The Blessings program is so well supported in our community it basically runs itself. Volunteers just do their jobs. The financial support has been not been short of amazing. I was reminded of this again this week, when several substantial unsolicited donations showed up out of the blue. Every gift, whether large or small, indicates support of feeding hungry kids. And for this, I am grateful.

I have been involved in many, many different volunteer groups in my life. All with good missions. All with great volunteers. All with great purposes. The group I am the most humbled by is our little Blessings in a Backpack Program. Why? Because everyone wants to help feed hungry kids. Period. There are no other motivations. Everyone has the same goal.

For this, I am grateful.

Lord God – when Jesus said to “feed the hungry,” he was serious. We lift up the students and families who are a part of any Blessings in a Backpack program. We also pray for anyone, anywhere how has a food need. May we be your hands and feet in our local communities and take seriously Christ’s call to feed the hungry. Thank you for the many, many people who help feed the hungry every day. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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