Gratitude Day 196 – Refresh Wednesday

Wed., Jan. 16, 2019

Philemon 1:20 – Yes, brother, I want this favor from you in the Lord! Refresh my heart in Christ.

Recently, I took a few hours one afternoon/evening and thought about what some goals are I have for myself in the next 365 days. I was not making resolutions. I contemplated areas where I want to improve in myself.

Goals vs. resolutions. Is there a difference?

I believe there is. Would you like to know my perspective?

Good. Here it is.

A resolution is a firm decision to do or not do something. A goal is the ambition to work towards a desired result. A resolution says, “From here on out, I will (or will not) …” A goal says, “Step by step, I’m going to work towards …”

See the difference?

I can “will” myself not to eat sugar. But I know there will be a day when I will. If I make a resolution not to eat sugar, I set myself up for failure. If I make a goal to consume less sugar and work towards a specific goal, I give myself grace to achieve this over time.

So, what is one of my goals for 2019?

Not to ADD more to my life but to freshened up things that are already a part of my daily journey.

Rather than look at a complete life overhaul (which is exhausting, demanding and unrealistic for me), I want to challenge myself to make slight changes and adjustments. Maybe it’s more of a mind shift in how I think about things. But after years and years of trying to do the overhaul method and failing miserably, I challenged myself to come up with a different approach.

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Freshen up it is.

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Here’s a very simple but quick way to illustrate what I mean.

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Before Christmas, we decorated our beautiful front porch for the holidays. Our gorgeous porch is the first spot that welcomes people into our home. It truly is the place where people can begin to feel the warmth and welcome I desperately want them wash over them as they come into our home.

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My sister, Debbie, helped decorate for Christmas. We took very simple things I already had, tastefully arranged them and inserted some beautiful evergreen arrangements Debbie whipped up. I purposefully suggested keeping this area less Christmasy and more wintery so it could transform from pre-Christmas to post-Christmas with little effort.

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The post-Christmas biggest challenge? See the cute little bench. The one Hubby Rick made from a $12 headboard that I purchased at a thrift shop? It needed to go back inside the house. It moved out here to make room for the Christmas tree. But now, the bench needed to go back inside the foyer, it’s rightful location.

This would be a quick refresh, not a big overhaul.

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First step – remove the white Christmas lights sprinkled in throughout the decorations. While it still looks cool at night, it is time to stop turning on the Christmas lights. Sigh.

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Second step – move everything off the bench, clean it and move it inside.

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Third step – move existing decorations around to make a winter wonderland without the bench.

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Total time to refresh the porch? 10 minutes.

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The only added item is the bin that now holds the sticks of wood. The bin was inside the parlor over Christmas. The sticks of wood were outside. I just put them back together and found a spot for them. Done.

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The whole refreshing time did take a few more minutes. Once everything was in its place on the porch, I put the bench back in its normal spot inside and added a few things to make it look cozy. I think this took another 5 minutes.

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And my heart sang with joy.

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Why remake when all we have to do is refresh?

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Where can you spend 15-20 minutes today and refresh something that will bring joy to your heart?

I’m calling today “Refresh Wednesday.” Look for more “Refresh Wednesday’s” coming up; little things I’m doing to help me work towards achieving goals in the next 365 days. Things that are quick, easy and help my heart sing.

For a quick refresh in my life, I am grateful.

Almighty God – You designed us just the way we are. Yes, you might want to make a few changes to our choices and behavior. But you give each of us unique personalities and perspectives. Place on our hearts little ways we can refresh our life today. Help us see the best way towards long-term change may not be a huge overhaul but simple steps on a regular basis. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Gratitude Day 151 –  Accepting Unexpected Change

Thurs., Nov. 8, 2018

Romans 12:2 – Don’t be like the people of this world, but let God change the way you think. Then you will know how to do everything that is good and pleasing to him.

I anticipated a normal, run-of-the-mill dentist appointment. It didn’t quite turn out this way … and I’m the one who ended up learning a lesson in the process.

Would you like to hear the story?

Good. I’d like to share.

I had a dentist appointment this week. Two-and-a-half hours before the scheduled time, the office called and asked if I could take an appointment in 30 minutes. The problem? I live 30 minutes from the office. I needed a few minutes to pull things together. We agreed that I would be at the office in 45 minutes.

I arrived exactly in 45 minutes. As I was checking in, the receptionist got a little hesitant look on her face. “Just so you know, Sara is out sick today. You’ll have one of the other hygienists today.”

I did not do a good job hiding my feelings. Let’s just say my body language, as well as my verbal response, let her know exactly how I felt.

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Here’s the deal. I don’t really go to the dentist. I go to see my hygienist Sara. Until this week, she is THE ONLY person who has cleaned my teeth in like 25 years. When Sara switched clinics, I switched clinics. When Sara switched dentists within a clinic, I switched docs. When I make an appointment to see Sara, she schedules a longer-than-normal appointment because she knows we’ll need additional time. It is amazing how much of life can be shared in 60-minutes, even when I have instruments in my mouth at least part of the time. This is how it is. It has been this way for years.

I was less than diplomatic when I shared with the receptionist that I had just traveled 30 minutes to a rescheduled appointment, at their request, to find out Sara would not be my hygienist? Had I known Sara was unavailable, I would have simply rescheduled the appointment.

Then, out came Jo, who would be my hygienist for the day. In the 45 minutes it took for me to get to the clinic, Jo read my chart. She realized that I don’t come to see a particular dentist. Every six months, I come to see Sara.

Jo apologized profusely. She felt bad that I had gone out of my way to fit a time slot that worked for her. Standing feet from the little room where I would have my teeth cleaned, it didn’t make sense to reschedule the appointment. I simply followed Jo back to the room where Sara always cleans my teeth.

I knew this appointment would be just fine. I had just planned for the appointment to go one way and it turned out different from the little plan I had in my brain.

I pride myself in being open to change. More often than not, I’m the one advocating for an open mind or a new way of thinking.

That is, until my dentist, no, my hygienist, appointment was changed.

Together, Jo and I, decided to make this appointment a good experience for both. Honestly, Jo did a great job. She is a wonderful lady who took time and care with my teeth and gums. She followed the same cleaning procedures that Sara does. She chatted right along, knowing that this is what would normally happen between Sara and I. Jo shared things that possibly Sara and I might have discussed.

As normal, Dr. Brad spent just a few minutes looking at my teeth and declaring them good for another six months. As Jo wrapped up my appointment, she loaded up a generous goodie bag for me to take home.

What did I learn while sitting in the dentist’s chair as Jo cleaned my teeth? There have been many times in my life when I’ve been in Jo’s shoes. Someone really would have preferred a different pastor to handle a particular occasion … and they ended up with me. Or I stepped into a situation mid-stream. I tried to replicate how someone else might have handled the next steps to make a person feel more comfortable and probably failed. Many times, something happened outside of my control and I was the one who tried to make peace with the affected person.

A different hygienist for the day was perfectly fine. I hope that I’ve made a new acquaintance. I pray Jo can look beyond my initial rudeness and accept my apology for not concealing my feelings better. But in the end, maybe it was OK to be honest about how I felt. It allowed for us to have a meaningful conversation. We chatted about how we appreciate those consistent people in our lives, even if we only see them a couple times a year. We talked about faith and how it is a part of our daily lives. I commented about how I probably wasn’t being the ideal witness of my faith while at the dentist office, also sharing that pastors deal with real life, just like other people.

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The next time I’m at the dentist office, I hope I run into Jo and Sara. Maybe we can all have a few minutes to chat and catch up … and see the beauty of an unexpected change at the dentist office as an opportunity to grow.

BTW – hope you’re feeling better, Sara!

For daily opportunities to learn about myself, I am grateful.

Holy God – thanks for being patient with me when I don’t handle a situation as I should. Forgive me for being rude and thinking of only myself.  I pray that we can take unexpected opportunities in our lives as truly times to grow and deepen our faith. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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A Season of Change

changeThurs., Feb. 8, 2018

Hebrews 13:8 – Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.  

There are times when we have more change in our lives than others. For the past 60 days, I have been in an accelerated phases of change.

After 18 years of pastoral ministry, I stepped away from the two churches I had been serving on Nov. 30, 2017. Initiated by myself, my heart felt it was time to explore another calling in my life: writing. For years, I have privately wanted to focus more on writing. Serving two churches, having another part-time job, helping with family, remodeling a 100+-year-old house, community volunteer work — it all took priority. There have been times I’ve blogged and written regularly. Other times, not so much.

Armed with several ideas of what I could write about, I determined writing was not going to happen unless I reorganized my life. I needed to step back and be more mindful of choices I make.

So, I began a new chapter of my life on Dec. 1, 2017. It has been over 60 days and I’m still figuring out this new phase. The first week, I worked additional time at my part-time job. Then, I embraced a slower pace of preparing for Christmas. I enjoyed baking, preparing our special Deaton Christmas presents (more here: https://simplewordsoffaith.com/2017/12/24/the-winnebago-camper/) and organizing family gatherings.

While my family knew my Mom’s health would change overnight, we were still a bit taken off-guard how quickly it happened. Apparent daily changes began a couple days before Christmas. A couple days later, she was enrolled on Hospice.

Because I had stepped away from pastoral ministry, I had the flexibility to spend more time with Mom the last weeks of her life. For this, I am very grateful as it gave me time to reflect and think. (More here: https://simplewordsoffaith.com/2018/01/15/lessons-on-living-and-dying/)

Yet, real life continued. Less than 48 hours before Mom’s service, I came down with an infection which involved an early morning trip to urgent care. The night after we celebrated Mom’s life, Rick and I got home late. It had been a cold, windy and snowy day. Once inside, our house was cold. The thermostat confirmed this as it read 47 degrees. In the morning, Rick initiated a service call. It took a little convincing to ensure a repair person would visit our house that day and not two days later.

This was over two weeks ago. I still feel like I’m trying to get my feet underneath me. When someone asks how my “retirement” is going, it’s hard to put into words. I don’t think of myself as retired; just not earning a regular paycheck. I anticipated prioritizing writing several hours a day a priority, creating this discipline has been more challenging. It’s easy to fill up time with volunteer opportunities. Rick warned that it would be very easy for me to take on commitments that would distract me from writing. His advice is proving every accurate.

Rick’s work shift has also changed. For the first time in our 17+ years of marriage, we see each other EVERY DAY OF THE WEEK. Previously, this only happened during the six-month period when I took care of Rick’s Mom at the end of her life. Rick works 12-hour night shifts. Therefore, mornings must be quiet. If I am home, we lunch together. I miss going to what was his parent’s farm and having lunch together on the days I work my part-time job. We’d sit at the table where we often sat with Rick’s parents.

What else has changed? Sunday mornings are different. A couple weeks into December, Rick admitted I have screwed up his Sunday routine. I no longer leave for the early church service at 7 AM. Rick enjoyed a couple hours on his own before walking to the 10 AM service. We are still sorting through Sunday worship.

The biggest change for me: figuring out a schedule that keeps me accountable, focused on what is important and flexible. There are so many things I want to do. Prioritizing them has been evasive. I am trying to build more quiet and reflective time into my life and not running a million miles an hour. I keep making lists. Sometimes, it takes a day or two to get things crossed off.

What hasn’t changed? Christ’s presence in my life. How I reflect and practice faith has changed. Jesus isn’t changing. I’m changing. I am trying to simply be along on this journey with Jesus. This is outside my normal wheelhouse. Yet, I believe I can learn more about Jesus, God and myself if I let my life evolve. I pray I listen to God closely enough to hear hints that get dropped along the way, pick up the most important ones and allow this period of change to become my more authentic self in God.

Lord God – thanks for being so consistent in my life. As I evolve, may I be guided by you to become more the person you desire for me to be. Thank you for always being patient with me. Mold me and make me this day.  Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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A Little Inspiration for Today …

Thurs., Apr. 27, 2017

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Almighty God – give us guidance to see the things you’d love for us to see this day. And wisdom in knowing where you are changing us.  Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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