Life Savers

Gratitude Day 217

Thurs., Feb. 21, 2019

Luke 5:19 – but they couldn’t reach him because of the crowd. So they took him up on the roof and lowered him—cot and all—through the roof tiles into the crowded room in front of Jesus.

As I sat down at the table in a restaurant, I looked down and was immediately transported back to a time and place earlier in my life.

Why? How?

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By a roll of life savers.

You know, those candies that have been around almost as long as the dinosaurs. The candy that comes in a roll of 14 candies with flavors of cherry, raspberry, watermelon, orange and pineapple.

As a child, I remember walking into our local Dime Store. It smelled of rubber and cleaning supplies. Here, you could by chain link by the inch (or foot), toothpaste, pots and pans and household paint all in one stop. A person could easily get lost wandering the endless aisles. If you didn’t want to spend half-of-a-day looking for contact paper, it was best to ask whoever was standing behind the counter for help.

At this same counter is where the Life Savers were stored. They were right below the counter, as part of the rows and rows of candy and gum that cost no more than a quarter. Right there in plain sight, easy to throw onto your pile of goodies.

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When the roll of Life Savers was placed in the center of the spot where I would be seated at the restaurant, my brain automatically went back to the door dinging when it was opened at the Dime Store back in little Augusta, WI. Yes, this story was unique to Augusta. But in an earlier time, didn’t every little town have their own version of Dime Store? Rows and rows filled with everything a man or woman or child could possibly need.

It’s been at least 35 years since I’ve had a Life Saver. And yet, I knew immediately what the candy inside of the roll with foil on the end would taste like, if I happened to pop one into my mouth.

Life Savers are intentionally shaped like a round life vest. A small, flavorful candy whose flavor explodes when placed in the mouth, Life Savers are just a little bit of sandy beach when winter has been dragging on too long.

At the restaurant, I meet my friends, Pam and Janice, for brunch. The Life Saver’s were Pam’s little treat for Janice and me; a little something special to bring a smile on our faces. I’ve known these ladies for more than half of my life. We’ve kept up on each other’s lives for decades. We know each other’s gifts and graces, as well as our growth areas. Our history is long and detailed.

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The Life Savers? Symbolic of our relationship with each other. We’ve tried to be there when the going was tough. After Janice was involved in a horrible car accident, I washed her hair while she was lying flat in bed and unable to get out because she just wanted clean hair. I’ve sorted through piles of things at Pam’s house, trying to find exactly the items she had requested via e-mail that I send to her overseas.

Likewise, they have been life savers for me. Helping me out when I needed something or someone to come in at the last minute and pitch hit for me.

These ladies, as well as so many others that I know, can be called upon in a moment’s notice. They are my life savers. They are my stretcher barriers. You know, the story of the man who was terribly sick and on a cot. Jesus was healing and teaching people on day. The ill man’s friends decided to take him to Jesus so he could be healed. When they arrived where Jesus was teaching, the house was so full no one could get into the building.

 

These life savers didn’t give up simply because it was crowded. No, they hauled their ill friend up to the roof, figured out where Jesus was stationed below in the house, removed the roof just enough to let the cot and the man down through the hole into Jesus’ lap.

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They were the ill man’s stretcher barriers, folks who knew what the right thing was to do. Life savers – people who know your needs almost more than you know them yourselves.

We can go through life alone and maybe even do OK. But isn’t life a lot more fun and interesting when you have a couple stretcher barriers hanging in the wings with a roll of Life Savers in their hand?

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Thank you, Pam, Janice and all those other ladies who have been such important stretcher barriers for me. You mean the world to me.

For stretcher barriers who are also life savers, I am grateful.

Holy God – thank you for bringing people who represent your hands and feet to me into my life. Thank you for all those stretcher barriers and life savers who enrich my life daily. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Gratitude Day 177 – Be Still

Fri., Dec. 14, 2018

Psalm 46:10 – He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

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It often feels like I go up and down these stairs no less than a hundred times a day.

In our 110-year-old Victorian Farmhouse, our bedroom and my office are on the second floor. The kitchen, TV room and other main living area are on the first floor. Laundry is in the basement. This means I haul clean and dirty laundry two flights of stairs. (We’re working on an alternative which will make laundry easier.)

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Coffee is downstairs. My computer is upstairs.

Food is downstairs. The printer is upstairs. (I don’t have wireless.)

Mail comes in downstairs. Financial records are upstairs.

Multiple times a week, my phone is on one floor and when it starts ringing and I’m on the opposite floor.

I’m heading out the door. Something I want to take with me is upstairs. I’m putting on my coat downstairs.

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Up and down. Down and up. You’d think all this going up and down the stairs would keep my legs in better shape, right? Wrong.

Hubby Rick and I have often said our house is not set-up for “old” people. We’re trying to kid ourselves into thinking we’re still not old, in spite of Grandson Dylan thinking Rick was alive when the dinosaurs were.

 

20181209_151828Recently, a group of friends invited me to participate in a sign-painting class with them. A few weeks earlier, I had my first experience with creating a painted sign. It was a great experience and I love how the sign fits into our remodeled downstairs bathroom.

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This sign-painting experience was different. We went to an actual business that helps people create beautiful signs. The business guarantees customers will love their completed sign THEY will remake the sign for you.

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While making our signs, my group of friends created our signs while stationed at the same large table. Basically, everyone else knew where they were going to hang their sign and how it should fit in with their decor. Me? Not so much. I was happy that I’d found time to go on the shop’s website (which has a whole bunch of sign options), pick out the sign I would make and get this information submitted before the deadline.

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I chose to include words from Psalm 46:10 on the sign: “Be still and know.” I had not particular reason for choosing these words. It was this sign that resonated with me the most at the time I was picking the sign.

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While making the sign, I still decisions to make: what color to stain the board? Did I want another material painted over the stain, which would allow for more potential effects with the board? What colors did I want to use? Etc., etc.

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Eventually, I chose a dark stain for the background board. Wanting it to look more rustic, I painted a lighter grey paint over the stain. The main letters became an eggplant color while “Psalm 46:10” was painted in black. I left the border boards dark to create contrast with the main body of the sign.

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When I left the shop, I still didn’t have a clue where the sign would go. Once home, I leaned it against a blank wall by the front door where it would be out of the way. For the next several ways, as I saw it every time I walked up and down the stairs. Then, I realized: why not hang the sign on the wall where I would intentionally see the sign every time I go up and down the stairs?

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So, this is where I hung the sign. Every time I come running down the stairs, I will not miss seeing these works:

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“Be still and know.”

Be still and know that whatever is going on in your life today, God is there.

Be still and know that when you walk out the door of your house, God is with you.

Be still and know that every conversation you have today, God will be present.

Be still and know there is nothing impossible with God.

Be still and know that God has your back.

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Just be still and know.

 

Now, this sign has become something I look at all the time. It’s a simple reminder every time I run up and down those stairs, I can be refocused on the One who is always with me.

Be still. Know.

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Not bad words to include in our daily lives.

For words to shape my day, I am grateful.

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Holy God – may your words be ever present and a part of our daily lives. May they shape our words, actions and deeds. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Gratitude Day 166 – Rustic Wonderland

Thurs., Nov. 29, 2018

Matthew 1:20 – But as Joseph was thinking about this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. The angel said, “Joseph, son of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary home as your wife. The baby inside her is from the Holy Spirit.

What makes a house and a home?

Little touches that say to family and friends, “You are loved and welcome here.”

I love to decorate for Christmas. Why do I do this? Because I pray our house will not just be another house on the block. I hope our house will be viewed as a home where people are loved and welcomed. This is why I created a Rustic Wonderland on our front porch. When people drive or walk by or bound up the steps to our lovely porch, I pray they feel like this would be a good place to stay for a while.

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My goal this year was to decorate using only things I already had. Buy nothing new. Find new ways to use what I have. Enjoy the results thoroughly.

Why? I am so ready to not purchase things. I am so ready to simply repurpose what we have. I am so ready to shop what’s in the house and carriage house and spend more time enjoying the finished results than create something that takes lots of time, energy and resources to pull together. Yes, I love having a pretty porch during the holidays. Yet, I feel too often we focus on the “what” of Christmas rather than remembering the “why” we celebrate the season.

So, welcome to our Rustic Wonderland. Ready for a little tour?

Good. I’m excited to give you one.

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Sister Debbie helped me pull this together. Fortunately, she is an excellent florist. She can whip together beautiful arrangements before I can get her the things, she needs to make them. She created all of the gorgeous evergreen arrangements, inside and outside of the house. (In a couple days, I’ll show how we decorated the inside of our house.)

Here’s how we went about putting together a Rustic Wonderland.

We began with a clean slate. I removed the summer furniture and fall decorations. Debbie contributed the greens and wreath. Other than one strand of lights we had to buy, everything else come from our house or the carriage house.

You’ll find a lot of old things on our porch that help us remember important phases, people and times of our lives:

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  • The well-used washtubs were my mother-in-law’s. With quite rusty bottoms, Debbie put ice cream buckets filled with oasis into the tubs. Into the oasis, she inserted various kinds of pine, evergreens, logs and twigs to create the designs. Hubby Rick cut the birch logs years ago. I keep recycling them. After placing the tubs into position, we put a brick in the bottom to keep the tubs stable.

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  • In the summer, the grey shotgun containers are filled with flowers. Why not use them now for evergreens? Because they are quite deep, we put a brick in the bottom, then the ice cream bucket with oasis, which makes for easier decorating.

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  • When I was a young girl, this sled was a Christmas present. The baler twine pull has been on this sled for YEARS. Hubby Rick found the skates at his former house years ago. I love to combine these two items together as they represent both of our former lives.

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  • Rick made this bench. It is usually in the entry way of our house. Since the Christmas tree is now there, we moved it to the porch and used it as a centerpiece for the Rustic Wonderland.

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  • The green box? Just like a tool box that used to be on a John Deere tractor on our farm when I was growing up.

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  • This enamel wash bin looks super cute with the antique lantern, greens and pine cones. The lantern came from Rick’s parent’s house.

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  • To make the wreath fit in with everything old, we simply added a different bow. For a fun twist on displaying the wreath, hang it with burlap or ribbon.
  • A quick design tip? Fill any container with pine cones from the yard. Add a little ribbon or evergreens if you wish.

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I hope these Christmas decorations beg friends and guests into our home. A porch or entry way is the first statement people observe about the folks who live inside the house. The message I would love for people to take away from our porch? “This isn’t just a house. It’s a home.”

After Gabriel visited Joseph, he didn’t take her to his house. He took her into his home. He wanted this young teenaged-girl to feel like his home would be a safe place for her. Joseph wanted this girl, specially chosen by God to carry God’s son, to know she was loved and welcomed into his humble abode.

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What does the entrance to your home say about you and your family? Is it inviting? Does it welcome your family and visitors into a place where memories will be made? Where they will be loved and welcomed?

Want to see what our Rustic Wonderland looks like at night?

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For houses that become homes, I am grateful.

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Holy God – It’s a subtle detail, but an important one. Joseph took Mary to his home, not his house. May we follow his example and create safe places for our families, friends and guests where they will always feel loved and welcomed. Amen.

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Blessings –

Dianne

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Gratitude Day 8 – Friends

1st focus group

Mon., Apr. 9, 2018

1 Samuel 18:1 – When David had finished talking with Saul, Jonathan and David became bound together in close friendship. Jonathan loved David as much as he did his own life.

I am in the process of writing a book! This is a project I have been dreaming about for a while. While the book writing is a little slower than I would like, each week, I make a bit more progress.

A couple weeks ago, I determined a little research for the book would be helpful. Who would help me? How about some friends?

Sunday night, a few friends came to my house. I explained in advance the reason for the gathering. I called it a “focus group” and said I anticipated it would last about 90 minutes.

Three hours later, we were still saying our good-byes!

I do not get to see these women very often. There was some major catching up to do. We were able to zero in on some areas I felt some practical insights would be helpful for me. A couple times, we wandered a little off subject, but we were always able to make our way back to the book’s topic.

What did I learn last night? I share a few things:

  • Some of us were raised by women who continue to influence our lives today. Seriously influence our lives. I put myself in this camp. Eleanor spoke of folding napkins like her Mom prefers. And we caught her perfectly folding her napkin before she left the table!
  • These parents are all interested in raising their children to be well-grounded adults who have a wide variety of opportunities. This includes teaching children how to contribute to the family, help themselves and make good choices.
  • The word of the night: fulfillment, followed by contentment.
  • There was a little hinting that possibly the guys (spouses/partners) were feeling a little left out? Unfortunately, Rick was working so the invite did not include the guys.

I plan on doing a few more of these focus groups. If you live in Wisconsin and would like to be a part of one, please let me know! Hanging out with friends, as well as getting a few insights for my book excite me.

Unfortunately, Sarah Luedtke left before we snapped the picture. Sorry Sarah! Next time. Thanks, ladies for participating in this focus group. For this, I am grateful.

Almighty God – you are an advocate for connection and friendship, as there is connection and friendship within your own Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We see this in many relationships within scripture, just like the friendship between Jonathon and David. Thanks for bringing into my life people who can support and encourage me. I pray we can do this for each other through your Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Love Is for More than Valentine’s Day

 

Sun., Feb. 19, 2017

1 John 4:7-8 – My dear friends, we must love each other. Love comes from God, and when we love each other, it shows that we have been given new life. We are now God’s children, and we know him. God is love, and anyone who doesn’t love others has never known him.

My husband Rick and I have not always been very good about giving presents to each other. If either of us need something, we usually purchase it. Very blessed, we know others have more needs than we do. This is why we often buy gifts for others and call these our “presents” to each other.

Rick considers Valentine’s a “Hallmark holiday:” days for the benefit of card and candy companies. And it works! Rick couldn’t wait to tell me about his Monday afternoon. He stopped at Walgreens to purchase me a Valentine’s card. (Believe me … this is unusual!) The card aisle was shoulder-to-shoulder, filled with men! Three clerks were busily checking out the block-long line of men purchasing cards, including my hubby!

Actually, Rick had planned ahead. His present for me was completed a few days in advance. Because he would not be home on Valentine’s Day, he proudly had the bird house he made me hanging in the basement. He pinned a card to the outside, indicating I had to wait until Valentine’s Day to open. On Saturday night when I used the treadmill, I notice it. Yes, I waited until the 14th to open it.

I planned to work my part-time agriculture job on Tuesday. This office is just a mile from the farm that was Rick’s mom and dad’s place and is where he stays in-between work shifts. I opened the card before leaving for work. It immediately brought a smile to my face.

It was a birthday card. A couple years ago, I received a Christmas card on my birthday, which is a couple weeks after Christmas. The same year, on Valentine’s Day, I received my birthday card. Despite having a landmark birthday this year, I received a birthday card on Feb. 14.

Since I was working near the farm, Rick took me to lunch at a local bar/restaurant. He also produced his second surprise of the day: more wood slabs. A couple weeks earlier, I asked Rick to saw some wood slabs that I could use for decorating. These slabs are rather popular right now. Rather than buying one at a store, I knew Rick could make me some. The previous weekend, he had brought me a few Ash slabs. On Valentine’s Day, he had some Cherry versions, which would match some wood in our kitchen. A score for Rick!

Because of our schedules, quite often Rick and I don’t see each other on Valentine’s Day. I was so impressed when he shared at lunchtime that we could spend a few hours together in the evening. Our dear friend Don had passed away and his visitation was the evening of the 14th. Rick had arranged for a few hours off of work so we could go to the visitation. Some other friends had asked if we could have dinner together after the visitation. With Rick’s shorter shift, everything was a go.

We knew the visitation would be very busy. We were not disappointed. Our friends waited in line for an hour before we arrived. An hour plus later, we shared our condolences with Don’s family. Don’s love for the community, his church, people he met through his work (paid and volunteer) were so evident with the incredible line of people whose lives, like ours, had been touched by Don.

Valentine’s Day was capped off with a nice dinner and great conversation with our dear friends. Yes, the opportunity was created by Don’s sudden death. Yet, it seemed fitting. Taking time to be with folks we enjoy seemed terribly fitting.

I am a very fortunate woman. I have wonderful people in my life who love and care for me: my husband, who never ceases to amaze me with his silly and corny expressions of his love for me; dear friends whose connection is quick, even when it’s been awhile since we’ve seen each other. We must love each other, just as God loves us. This message simply never grows old, outdated or old-fashioned. One that too often gets overlook and shoved aside. One, I hope you are reminded of again this day.

Lord God – Thank you for loving us every single day, not just on Hallmark holidays. Thank you for sending us a reminder of your love for us in your Son, Jesus. May your example of love challenge us to love those around us.  Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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