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.

20190207_105844

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.

20190207_154420

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.

20190207_150529

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!

20190207_150539

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

20190207_105854

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.

20190207_105916

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!!

20190207_154352

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?

DSC07258

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

If you have enjoyed this blog, please pass it along to someone else who will also enjoy it.

Gratitude Day 183 – Light of the World

Wed., Dec. 26, 2018

John 1:9 – The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.

From Christmas Eve night to Christmas Day, doesn’t it seem like the world stops? Seemingly, all divisions seem to stop for maybe, 36 hours. Less chaos. Less drama. Less confusion.

I know all Christmas celebrations aren’t grand and perfect. Things happen. There is disappointment and let downs.

But for a short period of time, doesn’t it seem more peace? More getting along? More love?

Why can’t we seemingly stretch this quiet and peace from 36 hours to a bit longer period of time?

Why can’t we hang onto the feeling at the end of Christmas Eve worship and stretch it out a bit?

family Christmas Eve
Part of my peeps …

It seems to happen at every Christmas Eve worship service I’ve been a part of. We sing Silent Night. Everyone has lighted candles. Maybe a bit of wax drips on our clothing. Or a candle gets a little too close to the woman’s hair in the pew in front of the young child.

But when the song ends and maybe a few words are shared, no one wants to leave. We all stay glued to our pews or chairs. We want this moment to just hold on …

trio on Christmas Eve

It happened on Christmas Eve again this year. Jared and I played our guitars during Silent Night, just like the song was sung for the first time, 200 years ago. His daughter, Ella, helped lead the singing. We finished. A few words encouraged people to take the light into the world. Go in peace.

No one moved.

It was beautiful. It was precious. It was special.

candle at Silent Night

Look at this candle from Christmas Eve one more time.

It’s a symbol that God came into the world … as a baby. As a human being. Because God loves us.

Now, we are to take God’s light, which represents God’s love for us, back into the world.

Before you rush back into the normal, regular, every-day-life events, please hold onto the candle. Hold onto the light. Sit with it for just a bit longer. Remember why we sing Silent Night. Why we light candles. Why we celebrate Christmas Eve.

Christmas is just but one day. However, we can live as children of the light every day. Let’s do so. Together. Let’s be the light together.

For God’s light in this world, I am grateful.

Holy God – thank you for coming into this world. I pray we find love and peace in your light. May we stretch ourselves and be the light of You in this world today. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

If you have enjoyed this blog, please pass it along to someone else who will also enjoy it.

Gratitude Day 149 – Friendship

book study group

Tues., Nov. 6, 2018

Proverbs 27:9 – The sweet smell of incense can make you feel good, but true friendship is better still.

I am fortunate to have many meaningful friendships in my life. Some of my very first friends were ones started at the church were my family attended.  As little girls, we attended Sunday School and Vacation Bible School together. Some of these friendships continue yet today.

From my elementary and high school days, I also have friends with whom I keep in touch. Growing up in a small community, those same church friends were also my school friends. I also developed friendships within the youth organizations that I participated in, like 4-H, Junior Holsteins and FFA. These groups allowed me to meet people outside of the small community and school where I attended. Through these groups, I traveled to places I would not have otherwise experienced as a teenager.

I attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The first lecture I attended had as many students in it as my entire high school. While the whole experience could have been very overwhelming, it wasn’t. Why? I found a great group of friends very early in my college career. We remained dear friends throughout and after college. We lived together, played together, studied together and dated together. We learned how to become adults together. I could call any of these ladies and they would be available to me in an instant, as I hope I would be in reverse.

Through various work positions, I have made friends. Dear ones, in fact. When I attended seminary and began working in ministry, another layer of friendships were created. There were certain fellow students which I simply felt more at ease with. One of these friends performed my marriage.

1st focus group

At each church where I have served as a pastor, friendships have developed. Things became complicated when Hubby Rick and I began to date. He was a member of one of the church’s I was serving; in fact, he was the council chair. We were instructed to only date if we anticipated getting married. After 18+ years of marriage, I think the friendship worked out.

When a United Methodist pastor leaves a congregation, we are to drop all association with those affiliated with the congregation. This is hard. For example, dropping my relationship within a congregation would have meant me not having a relationship with my in-laws. This was not realistic. Being friends with someone does not mean I am also their pastor.

volleyball.jpg

Last December, I voluntarily stepped away from full-time ministry to explore other opportunities. On Sunday mornings, Hubby Rick and I have been bouncing from church to church. We miss the feeling of being with the same church family every week. We miss out on happenings in these family’s lives.

When I was in seminary, a professor asked each student to share a word they felt best describes our relationship with God. A variety of words were offered: parental, love, grace, etc.

If I were to answer this today, what word would I use?

college friends

Friendship. I see friendship written all over the relationships between the three persons within the Trinity. Friendship exists between humans and God. We see friendship between the participants within the faith community. Jesus, himself, gave a wonderful example of how we are to treat other others as friends, when he said, “Love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has this no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”

Wow. What a definition of friendship.

Here’s the deal. Contrary to popular belief, friendship is not something we build. It’s something we seek, built and pray for. When we make ourselves available as a friend to someone, we pray they are willing to reciprocate friendship as well.

When we see each other as friends, we should determine to be a little easier on each other. Choose to be a little more understanding and not expect something in return. A true friend is able to see the good in someone even when they have made a complete mess of things. This friend simply shows up at the right moment with no expectations. These friends start right back where the last conversation ended with little or no effort, where it’s been one, two, five or a lot more years since they last saw each other.

Our world, collectively and individually, needs a lot more friendship these days.  People who simply show up and make their hands and feet available to someone who needs help with no anticipation of a reciprocation of help. We all need a place where we feel loved, cared up and safe: a small group that welcomes us with open arms.

For deep friendships in our lives, I am thankful.

Lord God – You give us such a wonderful example of friendship right within the Trinity. May we seek, desire and create meaningful relationships in our lives.  Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

If you have enjoyed this blog, please pass it along to someone else who will also enjoy it.

Gratitude Day 135 – Truly Seeing

Sat., Oct. 13, 2018

Ephesians 3:17-19 – I ask that Christ will live in your hearts through faith. As a result of having strong roots in love, I ask that you’ll have the power to grasp love’s width and length, height and depth, together with all believers. I ask that you’ll know the love of Christ that is beyond knowledge so that you will be filled entirely with the fullness of God.

We have these $1 glasses all over our house. Literally. Everywhere.

They are Hubby Rick’s reading glasses. He buys them in large quantities, like 10 at a time, from the Dollar Tree. Of late, he’s purchased the exact same pair over and over. And they are everywhere.

Let me show you.

20181012_122946

In the TV room, which is also where he keeps the laptop that he uses to check his dispatch before he goes to work. He also uses these glasses to check his paycheck, look up things on e-bay and play cards on the computer.

20181012_122959

The bathroom, where he shaves, to double-check his work.

20181012_123017

The kitchen island, where he reads the mail.

20181012_123135

Where he keeps his keys, so he can remember to take a pair with him when he leaves the house.

20181012_123055

On his desk in the basement.

20181012_123042

Right across the room from his desk is his work bench. This is exactly how I found it. With three pairs of glasses.

I didn’t go into each of our vehicles, which also have a pair of glasses. Or his fishing tackle box. Or in the carriage house. If there are three pairs on the workbench, I can’t imagine how many are in the carriage house: probably, one next to each saw and then some.

And yet, on most days, I still hear, “Where are my glasses?”

So often, I just want to say, “Which pair?” (Next time, I’m going to send him to the workbench.)

Recently, I read these few lines of scripture from Ephesians at the beginning of this post … and I felt like I was seeing these words for the first time. I mean, really seeing them. While I have read them possibly a hundred times previously, it was like I was wearing a new pair of glasses. Maybe, my prescription was just a bit different and I was seeing them in a new light.

I believe in God’s grace. I’ve felt and witnessed it hundreds of times. But sometimes, I begin to think I have to “do” something for God’s kingdom to receive God’s forgiveness and grace.

We can easily turn God’s grace into something we have to “earn” and fail to remember that God has already taken care of everything. We just have to accept this grace over and over. Day after day. Week after week. Appreciate, value and know God’s grace makes a difference in our lives.

As I read these words from Ephesians, I zeroed in on the fact that God’s love is wider and deeper than I can ever love God back. The height and depth of my love is so very shallow and narrow compared to the love God gives to me and you. My love can’t be the same measure as God’s. Nor does it need to be. Because God is God and I am me.

20181012_122746

 

A few years ago, it became clear that I had aged into the life stage of bifocals. I tried to use those cheap glasses like Rick does. I also needed depth correction. I decided it was just best to have one pair of glasses that would correct both.

 

Every time I get a new pair of bifocal glasses, it takes a little awhile for my eyes to adjust to the new lenses. My eyes have to figure out where they need to look, based on the different size and shape of lense. Once I get used to the new lenses, I no longer have to think about it. My eyes know exactly what to do.

There are times my understanding of grace gets blurry and I think I have to “do” something for God to fully love and appreciate me. The reality? There is nothing I can do to earn it. Grace is too expensive and too costly.

After reading these words from Ephesians again and seeing more clearly how God views me, I am going to see Rick’s glasses scattered all over my house a bit differently. They will help me remember that God’s grace is sufficient for me. I just have to let God be God and I be me. It is easy to rib Rick about all these glasses. Maybe they have just been waiting to help me to see grace more clearly.

I need grace daily and multiple times throughout the day. In the TV room. In the bathroom. In the kitchen. Before I leave the house and as I go into the world. I pray I take God’s grace with me wherever I journey.

For eyes that see more clearly today, I am thankful.

O gracious and loving God: thank you for loving me so much larger, deeper and more fully than I can ever love you. Thanks for the reminder of your grace this day. Help me see more clearly every day Your spot in my life.Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

If you have enjoyed this blog, please pass it along to someone else who will also enjoy it.

Gratitude Day 106 – My Spouse

Mon., Aug. 27, 2018

Ecclesiastes 9:9 – Enjoy life with your dearly loved spouse all the days of your pointless life that God gives you under the sun—all the days of your pointless life—because that’s your part to play in this life and in your hard work under the sun.

Rick - car

Yesterday, Aug. 26, Hubby Rick and I celebrated our 18th anniversary. It was a rather low-key day, as Rick worked in the afternoon/evening. There have been years when we didn’t see each other on our anniversary. So, even having part of the day together is a win in my book.

Lately, I’ve been contemplating what a big decision it is when you choose your spouse. Seriously, I am convinced this one decision leaves a large stamp on a person’s life. During weddings that I perform as a pastor, I often say choosing your spouse is the second most important decision in your life. The first is choosing whether to include God in your live. I feel marriages combine these two decisions. As we add more anniversary years to our marriage, I am convinced this is truer than I can ever really emphasize.

Choosing your spouse influences so many other choices and decisions in your life. Who your spouse is will influence how you live, where you live, what priorities you focus on, what is considered “important” and what is considered “less important.” My spouse has affected how I view myself, our families, our friends and our marriage. I turn to my spouse for input, encouragement and a soft spot to land when things are difficult, hard and don’t go as planned.

I was in my 30’s and Hubby Rick was in his 40’s when we were married. Because this was Rick’s second marriage, I think he was more aware of what a big decision it was for us to get married. We didn’t have to get married. We chose to get married. We made this choice because we felt we would add more to our lives as a couple than we would individually. I believe we have exceeded this expectation.

Even though I was a little older and a pastor, I did not fully understand how the choice of a spouse would make such an impact on my life. Rick and I endured some challenges before we were married. His eldest son was killed in an accident seven months before we were married. Emotions tied to this were still very raw at the time of our wedding. Within the months before and after our actual wedding day, we both changed jobs, both moved a couple times and I was attending seminary. These significant events could have negatively affected our relationship long-term. Somehow, they didn’t.

Why? Because of the person whom I chose to be my spouse. When Rick and I said, “I do,” we were committed to this for the long-haul. We both knew this. Yes, there have been times when we each have had to address a difficult issue with the other. Rick and I believe God brought us together in our relationship. And we want to uphold our end of the deal.

Lately, I’ve asked a few friends whether they understood the importance of who they chose for a spouse before they were married.  Nearly everyone says they were not aware. For couples who married when they were young, it was nearly impossible to understand the magnitude of this decision. They look back and feel they were lucky or fortunate to be matched with the spouse they were.

At the time we were married, had someone asked me why I was marrying Rick, I probably would have said because I loved him. This is still true today. However, my emotions towards Rick have shifted. I still believe in love. Yet, I feel some other attributes and emotions I see and feel towards Rick are more important: respect, integrity, honesty, kindness, helpfulness and being supportive. When my heart swells in admiration towards Rick, it’s not only based on love. It’s based on these other attributes as well. He makes me proud every day. I feel supported, encouraged, appreciated and valued. Rick has allowed me to explore my life call and encouraged me to focus my days on the things that are most meaningful to me.

This is what a great spouse does. This is the kind of spouse I have. This is why I am grateful for my spouse.

Certainly, there are days he drives me a little crazy, as I am sure I do the same to him. Yet, I am fortunate. I’ve found a life partner who has exceeded my expectations and adds more value to my life than I can account for. I feel extremely grateful that God brought this man into my life. I may not have known what a big decision it was on our wedding day to marry this man. With each passing year, I am more aware and more appreciative for the man I call my husband.

For this man and the decision that we should be married, I am grateful.

Lord God – somehow you brought Rick and I together. Somehow, we have established a life together that has so much more value than if we were separate. Thank you for bringing Rick into my life. I pray our marriage honors you and points people back to you. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

If you have enjoyed this blog, please pass it along to someone else who will also enjoy it.

Gratitude Day 93 – Rules

rules-list-500pxThurs., Aug. 2, 2018

Luke 10:27 – “It says,” he replied, “that you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind. And you must love your neighbor just as much as you love yourself.”

“I really don’t like rules. And I don’t like to follow them.”

Recently, our 6-year-old grandson Dylan and I were walking. His elder brother and sister were running ahead of us. Dylan turned to me and shared his wise words of wisdom for the day.

Whew. There was a whole lot of something in those two sentences.

Maybe someone has shared he must follow certain rules. He isn’t really interested in this. Enough to share this with me.

He already knows at his ripe age of 6 that rules may not be his friend.

Some people love rules. Others feel rules are torture.

In the Old Testament, we find hundreds of rules for the Chosen People to follow. Literally hundreds. Some are very specific: don’t eat pork. Others seem to protect someone or something. It is hard for us to look back at all these “rules” and see how following them is important today. Seriously. Does God really care if we have mixed fabric fibers in our clothing?

There is so much discussion about whether Christians must follow all these seemingly outdated rules or not. Honestly, don’t most of us pick and choose which of the Old Testament rules we follow?

What about the interpretation that Jesus gave? Forget all those other rules. Remember the big two: love God and love your neighbor. Honor these two and the rest will take care of the itself.

 

Dylan is right. Remembering a whole bunch of rules is hard. Confusing. Difficult. We end up trying to find ways to get the commandments to say what we want them say. What we are comfortable with.

Grace for us. Close rule-following for everyone else.

Dylan, sometimes I struggle with rules as well. There are times I want to shove them out the window. Other times, rules have been my friend and helped diffuse a situation.

I pray we can agree that Jesus’ set of rules are important. Let’s go live them today.

Lord God – sometimes, we think rules are only there for separation. I pray that we see rules as an opportunity to display our love for God and neighbor. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

If you have enjoyed this blog, please pass it along to someone else who will also enjoy it.

Gratitude Day 82 – Perspective

Sat., July 14, 2018

2 Corinthians 12:7 – I was given a thorn in my body because of the outstanding revelations I’ve received so that I wouldn’t be conceited. 

“Cancer has been a blessing in my life,” she said.

That’s right. A blessing.

Liz Curtis Higgs

Liz Curtis Higgs is an author and a speaker. While sharing her story, Liz explained how God has used cancer to teach her about life. Doused with honest humor, Liz had her audience in stiches about cancer. She spoke openly about the wig she was wearing and how this too has been a blessing. Somehow, she turned her hairpiece into a story that none of the attendees will forget.

For 30 minutes, Liz captivated a room filled with people who want to be successful writers, much like she is. She taught us how to do this with her own story. She explained how her journey with cancer this last year has taught her new things; things she wanted the rest of us to learn from her. I’ll share just a couple of her great one-liners:

  • Liz has discovered that everything she’s been teaching through her writing and speaking is true.
  • When someone is hurting, they just want to hear that you love them and that you are praying for them.
  • When we deal with the thorns in our lives, God will lavish God’s love on you.
  • Learn to love a good insult. Through it, may we learn to delight in it.

Liz packed a lot of punch into her words. She did it very humbly and openly. She has made me look at the thorns in my life from a new perspective.

For this, I am grateful.

Holy God – thank you for the gift of perspective. The honesty that cancer can be a blessing. Someone may read these words and think cancer has not been a blessing to them or their family. I pray this thorn in their life will be turned into a blessing. This can only happen through the power of your Holy Spirit. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

If you have enjoyed this blog, please pass it along to someone else who will also enjoy it.