Gratitude Day 167 – What I Learned in November

Fri., Nov. 30, 2018

Ecclesiastes 11:8 – No matter how many years anyone might live, let them enjoy all of them.

The days maybe long but long but the years are short.

I’m not sure who came up with this quote. But I feel like this is my life.

Actually, I feel like the days AND the years are short.

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This is why at the end of the last few months, I’ve sat down with my calendar and looked it over. What have I learned the last 30 or so days? What is something that I want to remember and keep close to my heart? Then, I’ve taken those little thoughts and turned them into something to share. Why? I hope it encourages us all to stop with a cup of coffee, tea or favorite beverage and reflect.

So, what have I learned during November? Here we go!

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  • The motto for my life maybe truly be: jack-of-all-trades and master-of-none. Every day seems so different. One day, I’m officiating a wedding. The next day, I’m playing taxi for a friend. A couple days later, I’m helping plan a community harvest dinner because I’ve double-booked myself and will be in Louisville, KY helping show and transport sheep instead of cooking in Wisconsin during the dinner. Over the years, I’ve accumulated a little bit of information about a whole lot of different things. Maybe you’ve noticed this on my blog! Does it seem like I have ADHD when it comes to blogging??!! My point is this: I’m confident God takes us on this wonderful journey of life. Sometimes, we may go through or experience something that doesn’t make complete sense at the time. Somehow, everything will get pulled back together and make sense … in God’s time. For now, I strap on a seat belt and enjoy the ride!

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  • I tried something new this month: A Paint Nite! Lacking the crafty gene, I still signed-up for an opportunity to paint a sign. I’ve hung the sign in our beautifully remodeled bathroom. Here it is. Doesn’t the sign’s black background looks stunning in our grey, white and black bathroom? On the day I participated in this Paint Nite, I signed up for another one! Yikes! Another group of friends invited me. I just couldn’t say no.

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  • When we moved into our current 110-year-old house, the relator told us we were moving onto one of the best neighborhoods of our little town. She’s right. Several times in the last months, Hubby Rick and I have hosted neighborhood get-togethers. Mid-November, we hosted another one. Our great neighborhood is changing! Several couples and people have lived here for years. Literally, years. These couples have known each A LONG time. Then, there is Rick and I. We’ve lived here 3+ years. We’re younger than the old-timers but much older than the three mid-to-late 20ish couples who have purchased homes on our street. While we cover different generations and have unique perspectives, when we get together, we truly have a great evening. We eat, chat, discover new things about each other and all leave with smiles on our faces. Sometimes, we need to get up from behind our computer, tablets, phones and TV’s and have real conversations with neighbors. Try it. Maybe you’ll discover some new things and people! Our neighborhood is planning another gathering for January!

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  • Right after Thanksgiving, Rick and I enjoyed a couple quiet days at home. We didn’t do a lot. One morning, we actually sat in bed with our laptops. A couple years ago, I would have never imagined my non-tech-savy hubby would be doing this. While I was catching up on e-mail, Hubby Rick was watching YouTube videos about installing bathroom tile. We are in the middle of building a new master bathroom. And trying to make it quite nice. While Rick has installed tile before, he is feeling out of his comfort zone with the tile I’ve picked out. Anyways … those couple quiet days WERE WONDERFUL. Simply blissful. After leaving the house sparingly, I convinced Rick to go somewhere Saturday night. We went to Pizza Hut for the salad bar. We are officially boring. There were a lot of things I could have tackled. And I did some things. I also decided if I’m going to put some Mary into my life, Ms. Martha needs to chill once in a while. Amazingly, she did. And she liked it. There will be enough opportunity for things to fill our days, nights and weekends in the next few weeks. For those couple of days, I tried not to feel guilty about a slower pace.

Before you become occupied with your Christmas to-do list, take a minute. The years are short. Sometimes, the days feel even shorter. What was something meaningful you discovered in November? Reflect. Enjoy. Savor.

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For opportunities to reflect, explore something new, gather with neighbors and just be, I am grateful.

Almighty God – we’re on this journey of life with you. I pray that we do not overlook or miss the great life-lessons you place before us. May our days not become so packed we miss spending moments with you. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Gratitude Day 148 – Treating One Another in an Election Season

Mon., Nov. 5, 2018

Matthew 7:12 – Treat others as you want them to treat you. This is what the Law and the Prophets are all about.

“Our country is so divided right now. It’s the most divided it has ever been.”

I hear this type of comment regularly by other fellow American’s these days. We are very much aware how politics have become very polarized within our country.

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Why is this so important right now? In the United States, this is election week. On Tuesday, we will be electing a significant number of officials at all levels of government. While we are not voting for a president, this is an important mid-term election. The entire U.S. House of Representatives is up for election, as well as one-third of the Senate. Where I live in Wisconsin, there is also a governor’s election and many other state, county and local elections. Locally, there is a local school referendum.

 

My heart is saddened by all of the election rhetoric in our society. There are days I avoid going on social media because I don’t want to see what is being posted. Our American election process is big business. The negative ads, misinformation and crazy antics sometimes used drive people away from participating in the whole process. I select the sources I listen to very carefully. I have little time for so-called “news” stories that contain untrue and unhelpful information. It takes time to dig deep and get to honest information.

I’m not quite sure how we got here or how we can move towards a more civil, caring and compassionate way of treating each other. Personally, I feel the craziness employed by people on both ends of the political spectrum are an awful model and witness to the rest of the world of how to treat other people.

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Often, we emphasize the “Golden Rule” to youth. Yet, we have often forgotten how to embody this in our adult lives. If we truly lived the Golden Rule, we would discover other ways to disagree with each other, while still respecting someone who has an opinion different from our own.

Yes, we live in challenging times. However, this is not the first time the United States has experienced such division. It may not even be the most divisive time in American history. We feel it is the most difficult time because this is the time period in which we are living. Yet, I think there have been other equally, if not even more challenging times in American history. One such time? Right before the Civil War. Abraham Lincoln had been elected president. A split of the states was bound to happen. Lincoln was very aware of this. Minutes after he was inaugurated, President Lincoln offered the following words to a country that may not have been ready to hear them:

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We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot gave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.

  • Abraham Lincoln, First Inaugural Address, 1861

We must not be enemies. What profound words. We choose who and what our enemies are. Will our enemies be those who disagree with us? Will we have the fortitude to respectfully disagree and not let the bonds of our affection towards other human beings be broken?

We must not be enemies. Can we create space within the country so many of us love, where we can we remember to treat each other the way we want to be treated?

We must not be enemies. Will we choose to work with neighbors and partners domestically and internationally in such a way that we can honor all humanity?

We must not be enemies. Personally, I am more in the friendship-building business than in the enemy-building business. I feel significant more reward and joy when I work towards a common goal together, rather than finding points of disagreement as the default mechanism.

We must not be enemies. I have hope that our country can model civility, respect and love for people and partners around the world. Maybe I am a bit idealistic when it comes to this, but shouldn’t this be an American core value?

When we go to the polls on Tuesday this week, I pray that we ponder who is someone who will treat others the way they want to be treated. I know policies are important. Yet, I feel, as a country, we are long overdue for a basic lesson on how to treat others with respect, love and compassion. I wish I had heard more about these values in the days coming up to the election and a whole lot less about the negative information often spewed.

The better angels of our nature will expect us to do better than we have been. Will call our elected leaders to model this day in and day out. And will accept the opportunity to model appropriate behavior to younger generations. Seriously, how can we expect our kids and youth to treat each other well when we cannot do this ourselves?

Jesus gave us the words of the Golden Rule while giving an extended sermon in Matthew’s gospel. I believe President Lincoln was encouraging his fellow Americans to embody the same concept. I think it is time we determine to use these same words as the basis for how we treat each other in our day and time.

For Jesus’ clear mandate to treat others the way I want to be treated, I am thankful.

Lord God – thank you for Jesus’ words on how to treat one other. Please forgive us for meandering so far away from the Golden Rule. May we choose not to focus on being enemies as much as we focus on being friends. May the better angels of our nature overrule the often-powerful desire to allow evil into this world instead of peace and happiness. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Gratitude Day 147 – A Month of Gratitude

Thurs., Nov. 1, 2018

Romans 1:11 – I want to see you and share with you the same blessings that God’s Spirit has given me. Then you will grow stronger in your faith.

Nov. 2018 Month of Gratitude

Do you like a challenge? Or a game? Or a new opportunity.

Good. So do I.

Please look carefully at the photo with this post. I’m calling this A Month of Gratitude – November 2018 challenge. Or game. Or new opportunity. You choose what you want to call it. Just please join me on this fun adventure for the next month.

I have been blogging about gratitude for months now. Anyone sick of hearing about how I find gratitude in the normal, everyday little things of life? I pray not. Why do I do this? I feel gratitude must be an important part of our everyday, ordinary lives. When we fail to have gratitude in our lives, we fail to see our blessings. We focus too much on what we think we are missing or want instead of appreciating all the wants and needs already provided for us. Simply, I do NOT want to blow through this life trying to aspire for something that I think is missing when what I needed was already right there. In my life. And I just failed to see it.

This is why I focus on gratitude. Honestly, I feel I have most everything I need and want. I just want to make sure I appreciate and acknowledge this. And if writing about the silly little ways I see gratitude in my boring life, then thanks for reading along with me.

OK, enough of this. Back to the game, the challenge, the new opportunity. Wouldn’t it be SO COOL if we all took a few minutes of every day and looked for gratitude? And even became gratitude ambassadors? People who want to shower their little pieces of the world with all the gratitude that they possibly can in just even a few minutes a day? People who declare that in spite of what maybe going on in their lives, their community, their country and their world, there IS much to be grateful for?

When it seems difficult to find places where we can join together at times, I pray gratitude is a place where we can join hands, feet, fingers, time and energy and do even just the littlest of things to brighten someone’s day.

And so, I created A Month of Gratitude – November 2018.

Each day, you will find a small suggestion of a way that you can be a gratitude ambassador for the day. Most of these suggestions will take 15-30 minutes. A few may take a bit longer. I realize some may involve some money. But I tried not to include anything that would be a financial hardship for someone. If you can’t afford to do something on the list, be creative and find away to adapt the suggestion. Can’t afford a bouquet of flowers? Find a plant or artificial flowers and use instead. I know you can all be resourceful if you just allow yourselves to be.

What would make this experience even more cool? Enlist your family to become gratitude ambassadors with you! Or pick days when you specifically choose someone to partner with you. The gratitude will only multiply when we encourage someone to join in the challenge with us.

Maybe you can’t do something on the day it is suggested. The solution is simple: switch days! I highly encourage you not do a week’s worth of gratitude ideas in one day. Part of the experience is discovering gratitude EVERY. SINGLE DAY.

Please share this calendar with everyone and anyone who would have the knack to be a gratitude ambassador as well. I’m going to pin the calendar to Pinterest as well as another way for people to find it.

Most importantly? I hope you have FUN while doing A Month of Gratitude – November 2018. Please share your experiences! I LOVE reading comments whether on the blog website or on Facebook. So please share away!

For the opportunity to have others join me for A Month of Gratitude – November 2018, I am thankful.

Lord God – sometimes, it is so easy to take our blessings for granted. We focus too much on what we don’t have than appreciating all that we have. We keep searching for something out “there” when everything we need is already right “here.” I pray we discover a little more about ourselves in this Month of Gratitude experience. Teach us something new each day. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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