Gratitude Day 139 – Renewed

Fri., Oct. 19, 2018

Lamentations 3:23 – They are renewed every morning. Great is your faithfulness.

Ever feel a little tired and run down? Like you need to be renewed? Maybe your soul is being steered in the wrong direction?

We have been remodeling a chunk of the upstairs of our 110-year-old Victorian farmhouse.  There is nothing like a deadline to push you towards getting things accomplished! We have company arriving today. While the entire remodeling isn’t completed, Hubby Rick and I have made significant progress the last few weeks.

We are taking the middle section of our upstairs and remaking it into a master bedroom with a walk-in closet and master bathroom. We also made room for a second closet to house a washer and dryer. To make this all work, we’ve created a hallway which allows for the various components to branch off of.

On the east side of all this area is a storage area which someday, we will also remodel. This spot is really like a bonus room. Rick dreams of a game room. And maybe this is what it will be.

Back to the current remodeling job: there were two doors that went into the storage area/bonus room/game room. Rick closed off these doors with drywall. One door would have been where the shower will go. The other door would have been in the middle of the walk-in closet. To replace these two doors, he put one door at the end of the hallway, which makes more sense.

After some discussion, we decided to rework one of the existing doors and make it work for this new spot. It didn’t make sense to buy a new door when we already have two doors. We would just change the door to reflect the new style of this area.

Before

This is how the door started. Basically, a 1950’s style blonde door. We actually like that it has windows because this will provide some needed light into the hallway. The blonde style just doesn’t work anymore. I convinced Rick to paint it.

One afternoon, Rick sanded down the door to remove the shiny finish. Then, he primed it. I had picked out a couple possible paint colors. After painting some of the other walls and doors in this space, I decided to paint this door the color of the bi-fold doors, trim and walk-in closet. This would keep the entire area bright.

paint window

When Rick applied the primer, he did not tape the windows. He thought it would be easier to use a razor blade and remove the paint afterwards. After I painted the door, touched it up with a second coat and let it dry, it was time to remove the excess paint on the windows. Rick has a cute little razor blade holder. I started to remove the paint and decided a new blade was in order. After replacing the blade, the paint zipped off rather quickly.

paint on window

It was really quite easy and rewarding. Not a lot of time or energy and quick progress. I turned the door around and did the reverse side. Soon, the windows looked great and the renewed door was taking shape.

crapper

It took a little time, effort and planning to renew the door. Would it have been easier to buy a new door? Probably. But we are trying to be faithful stewards and reuse items as we can. I think it is cool to keep as much of the previous items from the house in tack.

 

As I was scrapping away the paint, I began to see a metaphor to my life. I can identify various points in my life when I needed a renewal. I needed to sand away parts of my life that were not as productive or necessary. I needed a coat of the Holy Spirit to smooth out my imperfections and provide a good base daily living. While the top coat of paint can cover up things I don’t want anyone else to see, God knows the flaws lie beneath and overlooks them anyway. Sometimes, I need to scrap away the things that keep me from fully loving God and my neighbors; things that draw me more into myself and away from God’s guiding hand in my life. And throw these things into the trash.

paint scrappings

If I were completely honest, I would acknowledge that daily, I need this renewal. Yep. Every. Single. Day.

Thank goodness God doesn’t get tired of remodeling us. God doesn’t get frustrated when we’re been renewed and we quickly revert back to our previous unhealthy ways. God isn’t afraid of a little sanding, painting and scraping to bring us back into God’s loving arms. It doesn’t matter how much gets scraped away and thrown into the trash. God still sees us as beloved children of God’s kingdom.

It’s not God that’s afraid of renewal. Most often, it’s we who don’t want to make ourselves vulnerable enough. But when we do, the finished product is often oh, so beautiful.

After

Hubby Rick is hanging the door. I know it’s going to look great!

 

For a God who never tires of renewal, I am grateful.

Holy God – thank you for knowing when I need renewal before I do. Thank you for also knowing which parts of me need to be sanded, primed and repainted. May I willingly accept renewal in my life. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Gratitude Day 116 – 17 Years

statue of liberty

Tues., Sept. 11, 2018

Romans 8:26 – In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.

9.11.2001

Seventeen years ago today.

For those who were living and old enough to remember, today is a day we will never forget. (Difficult to imagine that any student who is in high school today or younger would not have been born or old enough to remember the actual events of 9.11.)

A day that defines life in terms of “before” and “after.”

both towers burning

One of those days when we say, “I know exactly where I was …”

Where were you?

I was attending seminary. It was the beginning of the semester. Three days a week, seminary students were encouraged to attend chapel. I was on my way to chapel, walking into the hall where it was held. Something was off, different, unsettled. At the beginning of chapel, a rundown of what was unfolding before America’s eyes was shared. Like much of the rest of America, we spent time gathered around a television, watching the horrific events play out unscripted.

911-dust

The raw emotion.

The people who tried to help and ended up being in the wrong place.

The lack of proper words to describe what we were witnessing.

The disbelief of how this could ever happen.

Lesson plans were abandoned.

Calls to loved ones were made.

It was impossible not to embody some self-reflection about one’s life, priorities and feelings.

The next day during chapel, the previously scheduled speaker was abandoned. The Dean of the entire university spoke. Before assuming this role, he had been Dean of the seminary and is an ordained Presbyterian elder. He felt the need to address the standing room only crowd, filled with undergraduates, faculty and staff joining the seminary students and faculty.

I was familiar with Romans chapter 8, often listed as one of “the best” chapters in the bible. The chapter where Apostle Paul assures us that there is absolutely NOTHING we can do to separate ourselves from God’s love.

tower burning

But these were not the words the Dean reflected upon. No, he shared words from a little earlier in the chapter. Here, Apostle Paul tells us when we lack words to pray, not to be discouraged. When we are weak and no longer have the words to say to God, it’s OK. It’s alright. In these moments, the Holy Spirit steps in and uses words on our behalf.

 

Somehow, I had previously missed these words. Words which assure me that no matter what is going on in my life and when I’m not sure how to pray, it’s OK. The Holy Spirit knows the words and prays on my behalf.

This, my friends, is unconditional love. This is stepping in and taking over the load. This is a picture of a loving God. These words, I have held onto so many times since then; times when I truly no longer had any words.

ashes on vehicles

I don’t know what is going on in your life today. Or a family member’s life. Or a loved one’s life. Or someone you barely know. When you run out of words and feel like you no longer have anything left to say to God, just sit before God. Just wait. For the Holy Spirit will step in with just the right words to share with God, all on our behalf.

What a beautiful picture of the God I know and believe in.

How many times have you felt like God didn’t answer your prayer? Heard your prayer? Didn’t come rushing to your need immediately like you felt God should?

Actually, God did. You see, when you no longer knew what to say to God, the Holy Spirit quietly took over and did the praying for you.

firefighters

I know there will be times in the future when I will run out of words to use in prayer. Thankfully, there already is a backup plan in place.

The Holy Spirit.

Thanks be to God.

For God’s backup plan when my prayers fail, I am grateful.

Almighty God – I pray we find moments today to reflect upon what happened 17 years ago. I pray we recall the times when the Holy Spirit stepped in a prayed for us. I pray we are thankful for you in our lives. Help us be just a bit more reflective, thankful and grateful today. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Gratitude Day 86 – Presence

blurry cross

Fri., July 20, 2018

2 Corinthians 3:4 – We are sure about all this. Christ makes us sure in the very presence of God.

It’s been a struggle lately.

I don’t sleep well.

I am not focusing.

I feel unsure of what is next in my life.

The days begin with somewhat of a plan. At the end of the day, I am not sure anything I did today was important. Significant. Made a difference.

There is busyness but not fulfillment.

It’s like a picture that has been taken. Everything is noticeable. Everything is recognizable. But everything is just a hare bit out of focus.

I am blessed. My life is filled with many good things. I have little to be discouraged about. Many would trade spots with me in a heartbeat.

 

I get this. I know this. I deeply appreciate this.

Yet, this does not mean I always feel “put together;” whatever “put together” means.

I give myself permission to be. To struggle. To know today is another day. I begin anew, knowing I do not go alone.

God’s presence is with me. Christ promises me the Holy Spirit, the one who holds my hand when I don’t feel “put together.” We will mull through it together, the Holy Spirit and me.

Soon, a day will come when the corner will bend. Things will look a bit smarter. I will have more clear direction. Focus will be sharper. Direction will be more evident. Energy will be easier. The words and laughs will come easier.

For now, the Holy Spirit sits with me. Is present with me. Knows my heart, my struggle, my lack of focus.

And is OK with it.

I pray that I can be as well.

For God’s presence, I am grateful.

Lord God – thank you for not expecting us to be at the top of our game every day, even if we expect this of ourselves. Thank you for being present with us, even when our lives are a bit or a lot out of focus and we aren’t sure why. Help bring things back into clarify when it feels just a little empty. Bring words and laughter into our lives today. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Praying Through Breathing

breathe

Passport

Passport to Prayer – Lent 2016

Friday – Feb. 19, 2016 –  

Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

One way to become more aware of the Holy Spirit’s presence with you is through breath prayers. The Holy Spirit is as close to you as the air we breathe. Pick two simple sentences. One you will pray as you inhale a breath; the other you will pray as you exhale. Examples:

Inhale – “Jesus, Son of God”, Exhale – “Be merciful to me, a sinner.”

Inhale – “Holy Spirit, let me feel your joy”, Exhale – “O Lord show me your way.”

Inhale – “Holy One, open my eyes”, Exhale – “Holy One, heal me.”

Yep, we think we have enough to do already. Or maybe we’re uncomfortable reaching out to someone who might need help, afraid we will offend. Lord, thank you for giving me the names of these people. Give me the courage to reach out and help them this Lent. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

I have put together a Passport of Prayer for Lent 2016. Would you like the complete Passport to Prayer guide? Please e-mail me at dideaton@hotmail.com  

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The Voice on the Other End

flip phone

Jan. 20, 2016

John 14:26

The Companion, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I told you.

I received an interesting phone call today. While working at church, my cell phone rang. Caller ID said it was my father-in-law’s cell phone. When no one spoke back to me, I hung up and quickly called back the number. What if something was wrong with my nearly 91-year-old father-in-law?

Instead, my technologically challenged husband Rick answered the phone. He didn’t realize they had called me. His Dad must have accidentally pushed the “send” button on the cell phone while Rick was trying to explain to his Dad how to use his cell phone. The church assistant was laughing nearly as loudly as I was. My husband, who insists on only having a flip phone because anything else would be to “complicated”, was teaching his even more technologically nonagenarian dad the wonders of a flip phone. Again.

As a child, I remember a pastor explaining the Holy Spirit like that of a telephone line. The Spirit is the “phone line” between God and us. It’s the way God communicates with us; if we only hear answer the phone.

I know there is a Holy Spirit because I’ve felt the Holy Spirit in my life. It’s the nudging’s I receive to call or stop and see someone. It’s the guiding force when making a challenging decision. It’s the calmness I receive when a day has been crazy and I need to quiet myself at bedtime. I serve as a pastor because of a message I received from the Holy Spirit when I was called into pastoral ministry.

While I’ve heard the Holy Spirit many times in my life, I sometimes question how many times the Holy Spirit spoke to me … and I missed it. Times when I wasn’t able to distinguish the Spirit’s voice from the others. Specific messages the Spirit wanted me to acknowledge and I chose not to. It’s like the phone call that came today and no one was on the other end. When the Spirit sends the message, I may not realize it’s coming or I simply ignore it.

Sometimes we need to be taught how to acknowledge the Spirit’s voice, just as Rick was giving his father a refresher course today. Too often, I’m like my father-in-law. I’ve been told this information before. I forget it, don’t really listen and absorb it or think it isn’t necessary. I’d like to use the excuse that it’s too difficult, like trying to use the flip phone. But I know this isn’t the truth.

It would be easier if the Holy Spirit put messages on a lighted board and impossible to miss. Maybe we just need to be more attune. We don’t like to miss calls from our loved ones. Let’s keep the communication lines with the Holy Spirit just as open.

Lord God, thank you for the many times you’ve desperately tried to communicate with us. Forgive us for the times when the Spirit has spoken and we ignored it. Or didn’t listen. Or chose not to hear. May we be encouraged to listen for the Spirit’s guiding voice in our lives this day. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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