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 110 – Prayer

Mon., Sept. 3, 2018

Luke 11:1 – When Jesus had finished praying, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his followers to pray.”

For Americans, today (Monday) is Labor Day. Most businesses are closed. It’s the last hurrah of summer for some; a symbolic end of summer and the beginning of fall. It’s a national holiday that appreciates work and the need for a break.

I have been thinking about what to do today for several days:

I could paint the upstairs bathroom.

Write.

Can the cucumbers I’ve been delaying canning for about a week.

Move some plants in the flower beds that I would like to move before fall.

Continue in the upstairs storeroom, which I have been trying to clean-out for months.

Go for a walk and have lunch with Hubby Rick.

Do laundry.

Read.

These are all very good ideas. But I kept feeling like there was something else I should be focusing on.

Sunday afternoon, I figured it out.

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I would focus the day on prayer.

In its most basic sense, prayer is communion with God. It’s being aware of God in our lives. Having a simple conversation with God, as if you were having a cup of coffee or a soda with God. It’s speaking … and listening.

Too often, we think of prayer as our opportunity to present before God our laundry list of wishes and desires. What we often fail to remember is that the main purpose of prayer is NOT to have God simply answer our big and little requests. Prayer is not about changing God. In its most defining act, prayer is about changing who we are. Maybe look at prayer the way Luther did, “Even if we don’t catch anything, we come back different than when we left.”

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Many, many people say to me, “But I don’t know how to pray.” Here’s the great news: there is no wrong way to pray. Honestly, it’s hard to get prayer wrong. Raw prayer is not something we accomplish. It’s something we enter.

I think it is easy for people to assume a narrower bandwidth of prayer than God envisions. We think prayer “must” be done a certain way. God really doesn’t care if you are showering, walking, lying down or sitting straight up in a chair. God is more than happy with a pre-written prescribed prayer, as God is with a spontaneous, off-the-cuff prayer. The words or location or body position are not nearly as important to God as they maybe to us. God is happy when we allow ourselves to show up on God’s radar screen and have even the smallest of interactions.

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Here’s what I think we can confirm about prayer: it matters, and we don’t have to get it right. Jesus and the Holy Spirit intervene for us when we don’t get it right. Can I get a “Praise the Lord?”

Prayer can and should be wherever it feels right for you. One suggestion is to do what you love to do, where you feel relaxed and joyful. As you do these things, listen for God while you are at it. Maybe, just maybe, you’ll hear something exciting.

God has spoken to me in the most mundane ways: while raking leaves, driving in the car, waiting in line at the store and a thousand other ways. We expect God to show up in a particular way when we pray. For assistance with this, think of how C.S. Lewis writes, “The world is crowded with God. God walks everywhere incognito. And the incognito is not always hard to penetrate. The real labor is to remember, to attend. In fact, to come awake. Still more, to remain awake.”

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So today, Monday, Labor Day: I plan to remain awake to God’s presence in this world and in my life. As I go about doing some of those things on my potential to-do list, where will I find God? Where will God find me? What is God trying to say to me these days and I haven’t quieted myself long enough to hear? I anxiously await God’s voice in my life.

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As I typed these words, it’s Sunday afternoon. The noise of unceasing raindrops that we have heard way too much this week surround me as I sit on our porch with my laptop. Slowly, the sun is trying to peak out behind the dense clouds that just have hung for days over Wisconsin. It maybe just for a minute, but it is a minute of hope.

There is so much I can and need to share with God. And I’m confident God would like a bit more of my attention. I’ll try to make this available to God. Prayer. This is my main goal for the day. If anything else gets accomplished, it’s icing on the cake.

Lord knows, this world needs a few more prayer warriors these days. Will you join me in a day dedicated to prayer? Of taking God with us and seeing God’s loving presence with us throughout the day?

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For the reminder to dedicate a day to prayer, I am grateful.

In this day, Lord God, I pray that I can allow my life to quiet a bit more, so I can hear your voice. Bring down the din of the world and allow me to hear your voice in my life. Forgive me for the times I rush through a day, a week, a month and I don’t embrace the opportunity to listen and simply be with you in prayer. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Gratitude Day 99 –Blessing of Prayer

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Sat., Aug. 11, 2018

1 Peter 1:21 – Because of this, your trust can be in God who raised Christ from the dead and gave him great glory. Now your faith and hope can rest in him alone.

This week has been one of those especially full weeks. A week when there do not see to be enough hours in the day. When I just try to figure out what really is the most important thing to do in each moment.

When I feel like there is a lot going on, I also desire for moment of escape. Diversion. Not having to think. A few moments when I can put my life on hold. The problem is this: when I want those moments of escape, I don’t always make the best choices. I choose the something that will not really restore my soul. I choose something that lets me escape reality for just a few minutes.

As I was driving home tonight, the radio was on in the car. I turned it off. This is not uncommon for me. Sometimes, I just want the quiet of nothing but my own thought running through my head. And so, I just drive.

We all have seasons that are more demanding than others. Whether they last for a day or two, a week or two or for a couple of months, it helps me when I know this is not forever. Sometimes I know the timeframe. Other times, I don’t. What I do know is that I can trust God to be with me. I’m not alone. I can journey through whatever lies in my day because my faith and hope can rest in Christ alone.

For this, I am grateful.

Dear God – thanks for being with me whether I am fully aware of the need for you or not. When we feel overwhelmed, I pray your presence will increase and encourage us to simply look to you.

Blessings –

Dianne

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