Obsessively Grateful

Gratitude Day 286

Mon., June 17, 2019

Jonah 2:9 – But I, with shouts of grateful praise, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. I will say, ‘Salvation comes from the Lord.’”

I am convinced gratitude can change a person’s life.

Yep, research has proven this. But I’m convinced of this for a more significant reason. When I look for gratitude in my daily life – no matter how small or how big – I feel much better about myself. I am reminded again of how many wonderful things I have in my life.

Sunday night, I was walking through out 110+-year-old home. I felt so much gratitude to have a beautiful home. I ran to the grocery store to buy groceries for an event we’re hosting this week. Gratitude surfaced as I put things into the cart, appreciative that I don’t have to wonder if we have enough money to pay for the items I wanted to buy.

I’m grateful to have a washer and dryer to help with laundry. Grateful that I have a very loving Hubby Rick who has been extremely tolerant of my crazy schedule these past few weeks … and picked up some of the slack at home. Daily, I appreciate the flexibility of choosing what to do somedays because currently, I do not have a full-time job. I am so appreciative of the simple things: running water, a safe vehicle to drive, people who I love and love me in return.

On days when it seems a bit more difficult to stay positive, I pray that expressing gratitude reminds me that life is really pretty good. Rather than becoming overwhelmed by what isn’t done or how I feel that I could have accomplished more, I remember that I am fortunate to have good health so I can do many things.

Obsessive gratitude seems like a wonderful place for me to be. Will you join me in desiring to be a place where we focus more on gratitude and less on the challenges of our daily lives? I know … gratitude won’t remove those things that district us and cause us anxiety. Gratitude doesn’t pay bills nor get my work done. But gratitude does provide a lense through which I pray we will stop and take a look once awhile. Gratitude helps us celebrate the smallest of wins and encourages us to keep on keeping on.

Gratitude can and does make life richer, fuller with more proper perspective. This is why being obsessively grateful makes sense to me.

For God’s decision to always extend me gratitude, I am grateful.

Lord God – May the phrase “abundantly grateful” be permanently written on heart. I pray an attitude of gratitude only spurs me to a deeper sense of gratitude in my daily living. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Finding Direction

Gratitude Day 223

Mar., Mar. 1, 2019

Psalm 32:8 – I will instruct you and teach you about the direction you should go. I’ll advise you and keep my eye on you.

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While traveling in February, we ran across one of these signs with cities and mileages listed. Located in Cozumel, Mexico, it was fun to see the distance to Japan, Brazil, London and so many other locations.

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One of those other locations? The theoretical M*A*S*H 4077 location. The M*A*S*H signpost became an iconic piece of television history as it represented home to the members of the 4077. During the final episode, the signpost was taken apart and the main characters took a piece of the sign home with them.

Finding direction. Anyone else struggle with this? While some days I feel like I have an idea of what I want to do when I grow up, other days this seems so elusive. Maybe even more disconcerting about this? I’m at the stage of my life when I probably should have this figured out!

Over the years, I have had a variety of careers. I’ve worked in advertising, marketing, on dairy farms, as an English and piano teacher and as a pastor. My skill set is wide and shallow. Through my background and volunteer work, I can do a lot of things somewhat … but am not a master at any. I believe that my varied background has been purposeful. I keep thinking that someday, all these random skills will get pulled together and used for the good of some single purpose.

I begin each day with praying before I even get out of bed. I ask God to guide and direct my steps and activities, the things that I say as well as the things that don’t get spoke aloud. I pray for God to use me and my life, that I may be God’s hands and feet in the lives of another person that very day.

On some good days, God uses us in either profound or seemingly simple ways. The other good news? Some days, God uses us, and we have absolutely no clue. Both can be just as impactful on someone else’s life. When we are used and we have no clue, it’s a refreshing reminder that our lives are bigger than ourselves. Thank goodness our lives are not just about fulfilling our limited and potentially shallow dreams. God can dream opportunities beyond our ability and use us in ways that we would never think are possible.

I keep forgetting that if God can dream up possibilities beyond my reach, then I need to trust God with the direction of my life as well. Yes, we take a very active role in our life’s directions. We make choices each and every day. Whether we make the best choice or not, God will use the choices we make. We can still make it to the same place; some routes maybe just a bit longer than others. The good news is as promised, God keeps God’s eye on us. God will advise you. God will provide instruction and teach us. We just need to be open to the process, the possibilities and the potential God sees in us that we may not see in ourselves.

So, no matter where you are in your life, keep on keeping on. Pray daily for God to use you as well as guide you. Celebrate the small things more than the seemingly big things. The small things probably really are the big things. And just in case you aren’t sure exactly the direction your life is headed, enjoy the journey and the ride. Focusing only on the destination means you’ll miss some exciting moment along the way!

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For God’s guidance in my life direction, I am grateful.

Lord God – thanks for showing up in my life daily, whether I fully see all those moments or not. Thanks for dreaming larger than we dream ourselves. Thanks for keeping the possibilities before us and keeping an eye on us. Help us to trust You and make wise choices along the way. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Refresh Wednesday – A Glimpse of Spring

Gratitude Day 221

Wed., Feb. 27, 2019

1 Corinthians 3:8 – The one who plants and the one who waters work together, but each one will receive their own reward for their own labor.

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All we talk about these days is winter. And how sick of it we are.

If you live in the upper Midwest, you know what I’m talking about.

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If you don’t, let me share.

Since Christmas, we’ve had SO. MUCH. SNOW. AND COLD. Like nearly every day. There was the week that it barely got above 0 all week. And windchills down to the -50 and -60 range. And then, the snow. Some weeks 10-12 inches. And some days that much. Or like last Saturday when we have a couple inches of ice.

What has this led to? Lots of missed school days. One family of grandkids might be going to school until June 12th. Seriously.

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Lots of accidents. Over the weekend, there was a terrible accident east of us. Something like 130+ vehicles in the pile-up. One man killed and another 70 (yes, this is correct) taken to the hospital.

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Lots of damage. Roofs on barns and businesses caving in. Cattle having to be moved quickly in awful weather. Damage that will take months to fix. It’s been a little crazy.

So, who is happy this winter? Those who love cold and snow. And possibly the skiers and snowmobilers.

For the rest of us? We’re ready for spring! Or two sunny days in a row. Or a hint of warm weather when we don’t have to wear layers and layers.

Since I’m not sure when this is going to happen, I took matters into my own hands. Even if there’s lots of snow and cold outside, I’m ready to bring spring INTO the house.

I love having plants inside. It really does brighten my spirits when I see real life color that needs water. While we were on vacation, I loved seeing flowers and green grass and smelling all those wonderful flower and plants smells. Once home, I looked around the house and decided it needed a serious dose of color.

And so, I bought color.

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This is an antique feeding trough that I’ve converted into a plant stand. The beautiful peace lily was given to me at the time of my birthday. But I never filled in the other half. I wanted to put another peace lily in it but couldn’t find one.

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Instead, I bought these plants.

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And proceeded to add some of them to the planter.

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I’m not a florist. I leave this to my sister Debbie. But I can put flowers in a planter and try to make them look nice. The great thing about plants? If you don’t like how you have them the first time, just take them out and rearrange them.

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I’m not sure that I have the plants exactly how they are supposed to be arranged. But my goal here was to add color to the house. Quickly. Easily. With little cost. This, I feel, I accomplished.

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I also bought a bouquet of roses. I’m sure they were leftovers from Valentine’s Day, so not confident how long they will last. But if only for a week, I’ll enjoy every single one of them. I love having a bouquet of fresh flowers on our island. They just bring a smile to my face every time I walk into the house.

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With this bouquet, it’s another mission accomplished.

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Finally, I had a group of ladies over last week and wanted an arrangement for the table. Literally, I bought two packages of fresh flowers for $2.99 each. I cut and arranged pieces of them into some glasses I had and put them on the table. (The leftover flowers were added to the roses on the island.)

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And so, it’s just spots of color here and there. But even these little bits make my heart feel like it’s closer to spring than outside the window says it is.

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If your heart is longing for spring, what can you do to bring a little spring inside your house? Refresh something that speaks to your heart. I spent less than $30 on these plants and flowers and believe me, my heart is happy for it.

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For color and glimpses of spring someday, I am grateful.

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Oh Lord – I’m sorry that I’m not fully appreciating the cold and the snow and the winter. Thanks for the gentle reminder that a simple refresh with just a bit of color is what my world needed these days. May these flowers, plants and a bit of water brighten even the dreariest of days. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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A Saying that Strikes Home

Gratitude Day 220

Tues., Feb. 26, 2019

Psalm 26:2 – Examine me, Lord; put me to the test! Purify my mind and my heart.

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Will I ever discover the ability to talk less and listen more?

Some days I do OK. Other days? Not so much.

It’s really quite silly. I can take FOREVER to tell a story. People patiently await the end. They hang in through the exhausting number of details I sometimes share. Hubby Rick often tells me that he could tell the same story in 10% of the words that I use.

But when someone else shares something with me? I interrupt. I finish their sentence. I think that I know the end of the story before it’s been shared.

Maybe my inability to use my two ears more than my one mouth is the reason why the quote at the beginning of the post resonates with me SO MUCH.

Rather than spilling out the miniscule challenge in my life, can I learn to listen to the debilitating experiences someone else is going through?

Rather than making my story or experience the center of the discussion, can I be gracious enough to let someone else’s story claim the main attention?

Rather than assuming I know what is best for someone else, can I simply listen and be their friend?

And the list could go on … and on … and on.

But then, I’d be doing exactly what I wish I would do less.

Fill life with words that may or may not add value.

Let’s leave it with the quote: Our days are happier when we give people a bit of our heart rather than a piece of our mind.

For one-liners that get our attention, I am grateful.

Holy God – Forgive me for the times that I’ve tried to make the focus about myself. Allow me to let others share their story and for me to simply listen. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Gratitude Day 213 – THE Best Love Deposits

Fri., Feb. 8, 2019

Mark 12:33 – And to love God with all of the heart, a full understanding, and all of one’s strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself is much more important than all kinds of entirely burned offerings and sacrifices.”

Once again, Hubby Rick has earned his stripes. He’s made some pretty big deposits in this girl’s heart, whether he knows it or not. No, beautiful flowers, fancy dinner or even the best tasting chocolates were involved. He simply fixed some things for me. Nothing more. These random acts of kindness? More than enough to remind me why I have a keeper of a husband.

In less than 24-hours, three things that I take for granted stopped working. None were a catastrophy; none were a crisis. They were simply mere inconveniences.

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First, the dishwasher stopped working. In the days leading up to its shutdown, it seemed to get nosier each time we ran it. One day, it started but after 30 seconds, it just stopped. It was done. No more clean dishes.

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This same day, the overhead kitchen light stopped working. We live in a 100+-year-old house. This is not the first time we’ve had minor electric challenges. While Hubby Rick has rewired a significant part of the house, the kitchen/butler’s pantry has puzzled him. He’s tried different things to get everything working like we’d like … but sometimes it puzzles him.

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The following day, a windshield wiper on my car stopped working. Both wipers worked on the way to work. It snowed and sleeted most of the day. When I left work, the windshield and wipers were covered with ice. The wiper on the driver’s side worked but the passenger side didn’t. I tried a few things. No such luck. I thought maybe once the car was in a warmer spot, things would thaw out and the wiper would work. But it didn’t.

Hubby Rick to the rescue! With the aid of a few Youtube videos (he has determined you can learn ANYTHING on Youtube), he fixed the windshield wiper. I hopped in the car one day not expecting both wipers to work … and they did. Yeah!

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The dishwasher took a little more time. He tried a few things before turning to Youtube. Soon, it was running like a champ.

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The wiring? Well, it works if both switches are engaged. He’s fixed the most immediate wire for now. This project will take more persistence and time.

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The underlying message in all of this? Rick knows how to make his wife happy. He took the time to figure out how to fix things that make my life a bit easier. And I’m here to tell you all, I APPRECIATE IT!!

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Often, people think they have to do something big to make a dramatic display of love and respect for their partner. I’m here to tell you all: this ISN’T the most important way to love and respect your partner. Do the little things, which left undone, become the big things. When done, they ARE the big things.

It is amazing how special a person feels when their partner does something just for them, not expecting anything in return. I can recall time and time when Rick did something just for me … and it brightened my day. It’s not the extravagant display that makes me melt into a puddle of deep love and respect for my hubby. It’s the seemingly little things:

It’s making sure my car is washed and vacuumed before I go to a ministry event.

It’s leaving a note on the island when we haven’t seen each other all day.

It’s offering to drive home when I’m dog tired.

It’s running a bubble bath when I’ve had a draining day.

It’s heating up my cup of coffee that I left cold on the counter and bringing upstairs to my desk.

It’s running his fingers through my hair as we watch the UW-Madison Badger men’s basketball game.

Want more respect and care from your partner? Show them, through every-day, ordinary ways how much you care for them. Expect nothing in return. Do it because you love them, you care for them and because you want to.

Showing a deep love for your partner/neighbor is more valuable than any modern-day offering or sacrifice. These deposits mean more than a beautiful piece of jewelry, a fancy new purse, a longed-for tool or tickets to a favorite sports team.

Here’s a common challenge. When we don’t feel like we are getting a deposit into our love bank, we withhold deposits into their love bank. When this happens, it’s important to make deposits; not for the good of your partner, but for the good of your soul.

God makes deposits into your love bank whether you deserve them or not. We can’t fully appreciate all the deposits God has made. We can express our appreciation by making deposits into another’s love bank, whether they deserve it or not.

Love deposits work for partners and spouses, children and grandchildren, siblings and grandparents. Honestly … who doesn’t love a good love deposit into their love bank?

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For Hubby Rick’s deposits into my love bank, I am so, so very grateful.

Almighty God – thank you for bringing into my life a person who deeply loves and respects me. Encourage me to be a generous love-bank depositor.  Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Gratitude Day 213 – 20-Minute Thursday

Thus., Feb. 7, 2019

Philippians 4:23 – The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.

At the beginning of 2019, I was determined to break down little sections of my day into 20-minute intervals. These little time windows provide me opportunities to knock something off my to-do list in a relatively short period of time. Rather than being overwhelmed with the time needed to do something, I simply dedicated 20-minutes towards it.

For the first time in a really loooooong time, I’m feeling like there are moments (not days, not hours, not weeks), when I have just a bit of control over my life schedule.

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Mind you … there remains lots of opportunities for improvement. But when I think of a task in terms of 20-minutes, my attitude changes. I can do something for 20-minutes.

Interested in a couple 20-minute examples? Good. Here they are.

Exercise. Earlier, I shared how a 20-minute exercise interval has help me be more consistent with exercise. There have been a couple days when I haven’t exercise. But generally, I’ve been very committed to this. It is amazing. I CAN talk myself into walking for 20-minutes. Or lifting weights. Or doing a workout video. Some days, I have set-aside two 20-minute exercise times. Or maybe a 20-minute and a 10-minute. These bite-sized windows of exercise feel manageable for me.

Cleaning. Our hard wood floors really needed a good cleaning, especially the butler’s pantry and the kitchen. Like, down on your hands-and-knees cleaning. In one 20-minute timeframe, I not only cleaned these two rooms … but all the wood floors in the house! Something I had been dreading for a few days … done in 20-minutes!

Correspondence. Who doesn’t love receiving a real letter or card in the mail? A true handwritten one? I know that hand-written letters and cards may soon be extinct. Because I appreciate them, I keep sending them.

Each year, I begin January with great expectations of doing this. By week two, the enthusiasm has waned. I’ve already missed a birthday or two. I give up.

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This year, I am using a weekly 20-minute window for correspondence. Yes, I have been late with some cards … but progress has been made.

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I began by getting the cards I have organized. I keep them in a couple different containers near my desk. For this box, I made dividers for different kinds of cards. As I put cards in their appropriate category, I made sure the card had an envelope that would fit.

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Now, once a week, I spend 20-minutes getting the next batch of cards ready to send. I put them in a pre-designated spot until they are ready to be mailed; a spot I see every day. If I need a reminder of what day to send a card, I just put a little sticky note on the envelope.

 

Preparing a card gives me a minute or two to think about this person, why I keep in touch with them as well as an opportunity to pray for them. I thank God for their place in my and other’s lives. As I seal the envelope and attach the return label and stamp, I ask God to bless them and their family.

We will be on vacation next week. This week, I put together Valentine’s to send to our grandkids. I want these five precious people to know their Grandparents love and pray for them. (I think they like getting mail. Maybe it’s just the Subway gift cards.)

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The Apostle Paul wrote many letters. And, we are able to read some of them! These letters, found in the New Testament, were written to specific people. Sometimes, Paul was responding to questions he or someone else had been asked. Other times, he shared something important on his heart. I doubt Paul ever envisioned billions of people still reading his correspondence from about 2,000 years ago. And yet, we do.

 

Take 10-minutes and read the last few sentences of some of Paul’s letters. Look at the New Testament books of Romans, 1 & 2 Corinthians, Philippians, Ephesians and Colossians. Or the personalized letters he wrote to specific people: 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon. See how often Paul ends his letters, praying for the people.

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Maybe we think the correspondence to someone else or a prayer for the intended recipient of the card will make a difference in their lives. Interestingly, I think it also makes a difference in our lives, 20-minutes at a time.

How a 20-minute interval of sharing correspondence adds value to my daily life, I am grateful.

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Lord God – in this hurry, scurry world that we live in, we often fail to slow down enough to send messages of appreciation to those we care for. Place it upon our hearts someone we can reach out to this very day.  Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Gratitude Day 212 – Refresh Wednesday

Wed., Feb. 6, 2019

Proverbs 7:6 – When from the window of my house, from behind the screen, I gazed down

Today’s Refresh Wednesday isn’t a recent project. It’s one I’ve had for quite a while. But it’s a fun one … one I hope you’ll enjoy.

Interested in knowing more?

Great. I’d love to share.

When Hubby Rick was about 5, he and his family moved into an old house. Originally, the house was built in 1850 by a General Starks who was part of the Union Army during the Civil War. He moved to Wisconsin from out east. When he came upon the small village of Ableman, WI (now known as Rock Springs, WI), he bought land because the countryside reminded him of the area where he lived out east. The year after the house was built, a barn was built.

While the house was an elaborate house in its original day, by the time Rick’s family moved to this house, it had fallen into disrepair. In fact, Rick’s maternal grandfather felt his daughter and son-in-law had made a poor decision in purchasing this house and farm. Over the next few decades, Rick’s family upgraded the house and made significant improvements.

At some point, new windows were installed. For years, the old windows were kept. A number of years ago, Rick brought home a couple of these old windows. I’ve used a few of them for decorating purposes in our houses. I’ve enjoyed using something historical from the house where Rick grew-up. And it doesn’t hurt that I LOVE me some good, old antique items.

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When I started this project, this particular window no longer had glass in the panes, which was what I wanted. To prepare the window, I twisted a few eye hooks into the sides of the panes. Then, I used some thin but sturdy wire and hung it between the eye hooks. The wires became “clothes lines” of sorts, on which I can hang various items. Some window panes have two clothes lines; some have one.

This design allows me to change the decorations seasonally. For fall, I used items I had at home: cut-outs of leaves and such. For Christmas, I use repurposed Christmas cards. I keep an envelope with the fronts of some of my favorite cards and hang them during the holiday season. I’m behind on getting some hearts and Valentine’s hung up for February. (I kept thinking I’d get home hung and picture snapped. It didn’t happen.)

At Easter, I’ve hung cut-out Easter eggs. In the summer, I’ve hung pictures of flowers from our gardens that I’ve taken and printed. To hang items, I use small clothes pins from a craft store. I keep a supply of them on hand.

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Windows have an interesting role in the Bible. Noah made sure there where windows in the Ark. Windows were used to lower people out of a location. Sometimes, particular items were hung from a window to identify the house. Once, a man was listening to Paul speak, who, apparently was long winded. After the man fell asleep, he fell out of a window!

I like to think of windows in another way. Windows allow us to look INTO a building or house. They also provide an opportunity for us to look OUT. Both ways, the window provides the vantage point of what we are able to see. A big window? Why, we can see a lot! Just a little window, it’s harder to see in and out.

Each of us chooses how much we allow others to glimpses into the “window” of our lives. We choose how much, or how little, another person can see. When someone takes a glimpse into your life, what do they see? Are they able to quickly determine what your priorities are? Through your actions and choices, is it clear what truly is most important to you? Or does the glimpse into your world portray a life lived differently from what your main priorities are?

While initially this window came about as a fun way to decorate for various seasons of the year, its true message is far more important and reaching. I pray this window is a reminder to let others look into my life and see God as an important part of my daily life. When I look out of the window of my daily activities, I pray they reflect what is most important to me and are easy for others to determine. When people gaze down into the window of my life, I pray Jesus is clearly there, for all to see.

For windows into our lives, I am grateful.

Holy God – may we see the windows of our lives as an opportunity to share glimpse of what is important to us. I pray we align our life priorities with what others see when they gaze into our lives and world.  Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Gratitude Day 211 – A Souper Supper

Tues., Feb. 5, 2019

Acts 20:7 – On the first day of the week, as we gathered together for a meal, Paul was holding a discussion with them. Since he was leaving the next day, he continued talking until midnight.

In the winter, one of my favorite foods to make is soup. Hubby Rick works nights and I try to have something for his dinner. Soup is easy for him to heat up, warm up and fuel up.

One reason I love to make soup? It usually tastes better the next day after the flavors have melded together.

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Two weeks ago, I made a big pot of chili. Here’s the last of the chili, in a container with oyster crackers (Rick’s favorite) ready to go into his lunch cooler.

When the artic vortex arrived a day or two later, I wanted some good soup to send with Rick. This time, I made Chicken Dumpling Soup.

How do I decide what kind of soup to make? I open the fridge and see what is hanging out inside. I seldom follow recipe. I may look at a recipe for inspiration, but really, I just wing it. Most often, I use what I have on hand, what’s in the fridge that needs to be used quickly or what sounds good.

This particular day, there was uncooked chicken breast in the fridge. I contemplated making Chicken Noodle, but I wanted something a little more stout.

I didn’t think about sharing this soup-making experience until after the soup was made. Since it turned out SO GOOD, I thought you might enjoy making a pot similar to what I made. It was quite easy and so yummy. In about 45 minutes, I had a nice big pot of Chicken Dumpling Soup:

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  1. Place thawed boneless chicken breasts in a large pot. I used three, which makes a nice amount of soup. Cover the meat with broth, water or a combination. I used what broth I had in the fridge and added water until there 1” of liquid above the meat.
  2. Bring liquid to boil, then simmer. Cut-up the veggies you plan to use. I sliced about 3 cups of carrots, 2 cups of celery and diced a full onion. Add the veggies into the pot as they are cut up. Add a small bag of frozen peas. (Of course, you can use whatever veggies you desire.) There was cilantro in the fridge, so I added ¼ cup finely cut up cilantro. Use parsley if you have it. Add 1-2 tsp salt, 1-2 tsp pepper, some general pasta seasoning and added 1-2 tsp thyme. Let this simmer about 15 minutes.
  3. When the chicken is cooked, removed and cut into small cubes. Return to the pot. Add a container of creamed corn if you want a creamier texture. Mix ¼ c flour with 1 c milk well. Add to the pot. Bring to a boil, lower temperature and let simmer about 10 minutes.
  4. Make the dumplings. Mix together 1 c flour, 1 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp dill and/or parsley. Add 1/3 c milk and 2 TBSP oil. Mix until ingredients are incorporated. Drop tablespoons of dough into the soup. Cover and let simmer on low for 10 minutes. Do not remove the cover until the dumplings are cook.
  5. Enjoy!!

Rick and I both enjoyed this soup. We had a bowl together before he left for work. And it also went into his lunch cooler. Rick said I can make it again. This is his code language for telling me he like something that I made.

Lots of good things happen when people eat a meal together. They nourish themselves physically and emotionally. They catch-up and make future plans. They spend time together. In the winter, we often do this over a bowl of soup. It’s a wonderful way to nourish our bodies and souls.

For nourishment that fills our bodies, I am grateful.

Lord God – While we often think of mealtime as the moments when we physically feed our bodies, it is also a great time to emotionally, mentally and spiritually feed our bodies as well.  Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Gratitude Day 210 – A Fishing Lesson

Mon., Feb. 4, 2019

Matthew 4:18-19 – As Jesus walked alongside the Galilee Sea, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew, throwing fishing nets into the sea, because they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” he said, “and I’ll show you how to fish for people.”

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“This is what the Saturday before the Super Bowl looks like in Wisconsin when the Packer’s didn’t make the Super Bowl,” was Hubby Rick’s favorite saying of the weekend.

 

He is right. The Packers didn’t make the Super Bowl. And this picture was taken the Saturday before the big game.

Would you like the rest of the story? Good. I’d like to share.

About a week ago, our eldest grandson Braeden asked if Rick would go to an ice fishing tournament with him this past Saturday. We made it a little extended trip. We had dinner with his daughter’s family the night before the tournament. Our eldest two grandsons enjoyed the pool at the hotel where we stayed.

The fishing tournament started at noon on Saturday. We dropped off the non-ice fishing grandson and headed to the tournament. It was held in the village of Independence, WI, population about 1,300 people. After multiple days of not getting above zero this past week, Saturday’s 30 degrees weather brought out everybody and their sister and brother.

Coming into town, trucks and cars were parked everywhere. Literally, everywhere. We drove near the lake so Rick and Braeden could unload. In the few minutes it took to get their gear together, multiple vehicles drove by, looking for a parking spot close to the water. There were none left.

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Maybe it was the warm weather. Maybe it was the $20,000 prize if the tagged fish was caught. Maybe it was comradery of being out fishing with a whole bunch of your new best friends. The 37-acre lake was packed with ice fishing shanties, nearly on top of each other. It looked like various-sized pup tents stacked next to each other across the lake.

I found other things to do while the guys fished. Rick has a new electric ice auger. Braeden was more than excited to try it out. Other fisher people let Braeden drill them a fishing hole. Everyone seemed impressed with Rick’s new toy.

The middle of the day is probably not the most ideal time to catch fish. Rick and Braeden saw a few caught fish go by. All caught fish were taken to the headquarters tent. Before we left, Rick and Braeden saw the ones caught. Unfortunately, they did not add any to the display.

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It was neat to see families take in this outing. Kids and adults pulled sleds filled with poles, equipment and augers. People openly shared with each other. After awhile of no fish biting, the guys recruited fishing neighbors for a snowball fight. They took note of all the different kinds of hats people wore.

When Jesus began his public ministry, he enlisted guys to be part of his inner circle. These guys were his best friends, his traveling companions and eventually, the ones who carried out the work Jesus began. When Jesus choose guys for this group, he didn’t go down to the local church (synagogue) and recruit the most educated. He didn’t ask local teachers for names of the star Hebrew students. Jesus didn’t hunt down guys with the best test scores or highest IQ’s. No, Jesus went to the Sea of Galilee and simply asked a few fishermen to join him. No big fanfare. No bells and whistles. Just guys who knew how to use a net.

Jesus assured the guys that they would use their fishing skills. Now, they would fish for people. While their “catch” would be different, skills needed to do their work were very much the same.

We may not fully understand the significance of Jesus’ choice. Think of a CEO of a very large company asking a few entry-level workers to become vice presidents. CEO Jesus wasn’t most interested in their education. CEO Jesus just wanted folks who knew and understood their trade.

I value education and people dedicated to helping others learn their trade. There is value in research and development. Yet, I also greatly appreciate those willing to do the tough and dirty jobs; just like the disciples.

In this fishing lesson, Jesus reminds us that God doesn’t call the qualified. God qualifies the called. It’s a lesson that Jesus taught over and over; and began when he called his first disciples.

When I picked Rick and Braeden up mid-afternoon, they didn’t seem disappointed that they catch no fish. As Rick and I discussed the day, we affirmed that pulling a fish through the hole wasn’t the most important goal of the day. Spending time with his eldest grandson and modeling life lessons was far more important. This was the real fishing lesson. And with this metric, Rick scored a touchdown.

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For fishing lessons that don’t involve real fish, I am grateful.

Lord God – it is often difficult to understand just how counter-intuitive the lessons that Jesus taught where. May we see how his priorities and choices were so different and yet representative of God’s kingdom. I pray we are encouraged to dig a little deeper into these lessons and see what kind of fish we should be trying to pull through the ice (or water.) Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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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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