Gratitude Day 146 – What I Learned in October

Wed., Oct. 31, 2018

Ecclesiastes 3:1 – Everything on earth has its own time and its own season.

It is so easy to blow through life, not reflecting below a surface level of what is really happening in life. At the end of September, I shared a few lessons I learned (or re-learned) during September, which you can read here.

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As October winds down, I pause and reflect upon another season changing: a season outside my window as well as within my life. Here’s what I’ve discovered this past month.

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  • Get to know your extended family. I have never lived very close to my cousins, aunts or uncles. I didn’t grow up with those huge extended family gatherings for every holiday. For a few years, one family lived about two hours from our farm. This was the closest we ever had extended family live near my immediate family, other than when my Grandmothers lived in the same town as my parents at the end of their lives. Shortly after college, I lived near an aunt and uncle for several months, which was also a great blessing. The moral of the story? I have only known my cousins at arms-length my entire life. In October, Hubby Rick and I hosted several cousins and some of our family to a weekend at our house. IT. WAS. GREAT. So often, we speak of doing something like this … but it often doesn’t happen. We had very little planned for the weekend, but everyone had a great time. I wished we would have done something like this years ago. Yet, I am optimistic it won’t be another 15 years before we try to hang out together again. It’s true: we don’t get to choose our family. What we do choose is how we interact with our family. Thanks, Sowers cousins, for making our get-together my highlight of October.

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  • There is nothing like a deadline to get things done. In preparation for our cousin’s weekend, Rick and I were dedicated to getting some projects at our house closer to completion. There is nothing like a deadline to spur some action! We are in the process of creating a master suite in the upstairs of our house. Rick built a walk-in closet and we reconfigured the master suite to now include a hallway. Once the wood floors are refinished (sometime in November) and we configure storage in the walk-in closet, these rooms will be completed! Winter projects will be completing ghe master bathroom and a washer and dryer closet upstairs. With family help, a new washer and dryer are now upstairs, closer to the closet. The downstairs bedroom has been “sorting central” for months, as I have worked my way through about 30 boxes and totes of things from my Mom and family. I had boxes and totes waiting for family members to go through during our cousin’s weekend … and lots left our house!

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Sometimes, I am my mother’s daughter. Before a confirmation or graduation celebration, my Mom would often embark on a “big” house project. I tend to follow this pattern. With Rick’s help, we got the projects as far along as we could before family arrived. Even though the projects are mid-stream, it feels good to have chunks completed. P.S. – I promise to show pictures once the floors are completed. If you are sick of hearing about our remodeling projects, sorry … it’s the “season” we are in.

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  • A $2.21 purchase. In the last months, I have rid our house of so much: donated loads to charity, filled the garbage can regularly and sent and given boxes of trinkets, treasures and photos to family. As I currently sort through my own “treasures,” I carefully choose what to keep and what to get rid of. I have sworn off bringing more into the house. Yet, I yearn for something fun to add to my fall wardrobe. With cooler weather, my standard “uniform” is a long-sleeved shirt underneath some type of sweater anchored by jeans and comfortable shoes. My closet is shrouded with tons of grey, black and neutral colors. Years ago, I wore a brighter colored outfit to church one Sunday. A lovely lady named Mary said to me, “It’s about time you wear something other than neutral colors.”

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Neutrals are my go-to colors. Is it any surprise my house is filled with various shades of gray, black and white?

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Rick insists nothing can come into this house unless something leaves, which I am trying faithfully to follow, including my wardrobe. I’ve resigned to recycle what I have for another “season.” Except my this $2.21 find.

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One day, I found this $5 necklace. I decided it was a steal. What I didn’t notice is that it was 60% off, which became $2.21, tax included. While a few new actual clothing pieces would be fun, this necklace is my new fall transition piece. The lesson? Sometimes little things do make a difference; especially when they cost $2.21.

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As you dump candy into a bowl or wait for the doorbell to announce a trick-or-treater tonight, pause and think of a lesson you’ve discovered this October. For everything, there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. What have you discovered or re-learned in this last season?

For the opportunity to learn daily, I am thankful.

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Holy God – thanks for never looking at us and thinking, “This person is too old to learn.” Guided by your Spirit, may we find opportunities to discover new seasons in our lives regularly. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Gratitude Day 126 – Stringers of Annoyance

Fri., Sept. 28, 2018

Psalm 32:5 – So I admitted my sin to you; I didn’t conceal my guilt. “I’ll confess my sins to the Lord,” is what I said. Then you removed the guilt of my sin.

It was a 30-second project that went array.

Ever have those?

Fall has arrived in Wisconsin. For the last week, we’ve had an extra blanket floating on top of the bed. I know, some blankets look really cute on top of the bed. However, this blanket is old enough to vote. Hubby Rick and I received it as a wedding present … 18 years ago. It’s not really a member of the “cute” category anymore.

But it works as a blanket.

I love a cotton blanket. 100% cotton. It’s just what I prefer. And this one is all cotton.

Even if it isn’t really cute anymore, it still works in the “warm” and “effective” categories.

My intention was to take off the top quilt and actually put the blanket on the bed with the sheets and other blankets. A 30-second job, right?

Wrong.

20180927_092007The weave on this blanket looks kind of like a basket. What happens is these random strings become stragglers and get bunched across the blanket. Are they a big deal? No. But my Type A personality just can’t quite let them hang around on the blanket.

So, I start pulling them off the blanket. I know … someday, this means the blanket will begin to disappear. But when a blanket is old enough to vote, I think it’s earned it’s keep.

It’s not a big project or a demanding one. It’s really more of an annoying little project that takes time.

But as I pulled each strangling string off the blanket, it becomes this little self-revelation time for me.

I think about the person who I said something to that might have annoyed them.

I recall the situation in which I was more hurtful than helpful.

I realize that I promised to contact someone and haven’t followed through with it.

Big things? On a scale of 1 to 10, no. But little annoying things? You bet.

No different than the little annoying strings on the blanket.

Little things that I could have so easily changed, realigned or approached differently.

As I finished pulling the strings, I saw the rolled-up ball of strings in my fist. Once again, I am faced the reality that when I do one or two small but annoying or distracting things, it may not seem like a lot. Until they get bunched together. Roll them together and wow. It can become a whole bunch of yuck.

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On most days, I focus on the positive things that I do. How I am trying to add value to life than be a detractor. This is good and important. But some days, it’s OK to realize we need to acknowledge our less-than-stellar moments. It’s impossible to grow and move into living more as God would love for us to life if we only continually cheer ourselves up with all the positives and continue to gloss over and hide our “opportunities for improvement.”

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The whole process wasn’t terribly time consuming. Yet, it gave me moments to reflect upon where I can step up my game. Where I might need to be more humble. Reflect upon really trying to treat others more like how I want to be treated.

The blanket is now covered up by the beautiful quilt my sister made for me. The remaining stringers are covered up and out of sight. But … they are still there. Just like the shortcomings in my life. Why is it easier to hide them than expose them?

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Wanting just a little pretty in my life and bedroom, I walked out to the garden and cut some of the beautiful zinnias still blooming. We might have frost Friday night. Why not bring some of their beauty into the house for a few more days?

Even when we let others down, even when we let ourselves down and even when we let God down, there is still beauty in our lives. Let’s not forget the annoying stringers in our lives … as well as the beautiful zinnias.

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For small opportunities to change and see beauty, I am thankful.

Lord God – thanks for being patient with me when I have moments which are less than stellar. Thanks for not giving up on me and overlooking the balls on poor behavior that accumulate in our lives. Thanks for always seeing the beauty in me, even when it may take a little unearthing to discover. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Gratitude Day 126 – Fall

Mon., Sept. 24, 2018

Jeremiah 5:24 – They don’t say in their hearts, Let’s fear the Lord our God, who provides rain in autumn and spring and who assures us of a harvest in its season.

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We have officially entered the fall season!

The days are cooler, the colors slowly changing and Friday night football is a constant. Just a few thoughts about fall:

  • I brought out the tube of fall decorations and have been changing up the décor of our house and porch. Nothing fancy, nothing special. Just a few things that remind us of fall. Maybe one day, I’ll snap a few pictures.
  • Appreciate the people who grow food for everyone else. They are working hard these days. And the prices they are receiving this year are challenging. How might you support an area producer this year?

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  • Fall is also a time of the year when big pieces of equipment are moving down the road in our area. If you see them, be patient. They take up more than their share of the road. While it may seem like they should pull into the shoulder (and some do), sometimes it doesn’t make sense. Traction is more challenging. Farmers want to avoid damaging equipment on uneven surfaces. Just because you can see them does not ensure they can fully see you. Slow down, make yourself known if possible and know they are doing their best. Most importantly, stay out of their way so no one gets hurt.

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  • I like pumpkin spice in the right things; not everything. It’s not my favorite coffee or cappichino. But I love pumpkin bars and cake. It seems pumpkin spice everything is available this year!
  • Go to a pumpkin patch, a corn maze, an apple orchard. Get fun and family friendly.
  • Get outside and enjoy the days! Yes, the sun is setting sooner. You might need a jacket. Soak in all the sun you can these days. You’ll appreciate it more this winter.

It’s a great time of the year. Take it all in!

For the fall season opportunities, I am thankful.

Lord God – I pray we can appreciate this fall season. We pray for production agriculture producers and their safety these days. May we drink in all the sights, sounds and smells of the season. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Gratitude Day 122 – Fall

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Tues., Sept. 17, 2018

Leviticus 26:5 – Your threshing season will last until the grape harvest, and the grape harvest will last until planting time. You will eat your fill of food and live securely in your land.

Leaves are turning colors.

Just a bit.

Soon it will be fall.

 

The fields are turning golden.

More each day.

It’s time to harvest crops and all.

 

Crisp air in the morning.

Shorter days of sunlight.

Sweatshirt weather.

 

Pumpkins, apples and squash abound.

Orange and green and white all around.

Drink in the smells, the sights, the sounds.

Soon it will be fall.

 

For the changing of the seasons, I am thankful.

Hello Fall

O Great Artist, thank you for painting the days of fall. May your broad and wide strokes affirm for us that You are the Great Creator. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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