Today Is …

Gratitude Day 297

Mon., July 8, 2019

Hebrews 13:8 – Jesus Christ never changes! He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Please read the quote in the photo one more time.

Do you get it? Today is a special day. It’s today. And that is ENOUGH.

Too often, I try to jam-pack my days. I want to accomplish more and do more and fill the entire day of things that I want to cross off my to-do list. When this happens, I forget that I didn’t create today. God did.

Yep. Today isn’t my gift to anyone. It’s God’s gift to all of us.

Today is also called the present … because it’s truly a gift. Maybe it doesn’t arrive with a bow on top or in gorgeous wrapping paper. But the present is such a special gift I pray we celebrate it for what it is.

How do we often treat today?

Like it’s not enough.

Or I didn’t accomplish enough.

Maybe something unexpected creep into today and seemed to ruin the rest of the day.

Or take away from what initially was planned.

But today is still a gift. A present.

How will you treat today?

For the gift of today, I am grateful.

Jesus – thank you for today. The most special of days. Help me treasure every minute. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Gratitude Day 188 – Today

Thurs., Jan. 3, 2019

Deuteronomy 4:39 –  Know then today and keep in mind that the Lord is the only God in heaven above or on earth below. There is no other.

today is the day

Today.

24 hours.

We will only have them once.

When these 24 hours are over, they are gone. Forever.

Savor them. Relish them. Make the most of them.

Know a God in heaven is with you today.

All 24 hours.

You will only have these hours with God once.

Savor them. Relish them. Make the most of them … together with God.

For today, I am grateful.

Almighty God – May I savor today like my favorite food. May I treasure each minute and make it meaningful to you and me. May I know you are here every second of today. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Gratitude Day 177 – Be Still

Fri., Dec. 14, 2018

Psalm 46:10 – He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

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It often feels like I go up and down these stairs no less than a hundred times a day.

In our 110-year-old Victorian Farmhouse, our bedroom and my office are on the second floor. The kitchen, TV room and other main living area are on the first floor. Laundry is in the basement. This means I haul clean and dirty laundry two flights of stairs. (We’re working on an alternative which will make laundry easier.)

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Coffee is downstairs. My computer is upstairs.

Food is downstairs. The printer is upstairs. (I don’t have wireless.)

Mail comes in downstairs. Financial records are upstairs.

Multiple times a week, my phone is on one floor and when it starts ringing and I’m on the opposite floor.

I’m heading out the door. Something I want to take with me is upstairs. I’m putting on my coat downstairs.

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Up and down. Down and up. You’d think all this going up and down the stairs would keep my legs in better shape, right? Wrong.

Hubby Rick and I have often said our house is not set-up for “old” people. We’re trying to kid ourselves into thinking we’re still not old, in spite of Grandson Dylan thinking Rick was alive when the dinosaurs were.

 

20181209_151828Recently, a group of friends invited me to participate in a sign-painting class with them. A few weeks earlier, I had my first experience with creating a painted sign. It was a great experience and I love how the sign fits into our remodeled downstairs bathroom.

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This sign-painting experience was different. We went to an actual business that helps people create beautiful signs. The business guarantees customers will love their completed sign THEY will remake the sign for you.

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While making our signs, my group of friends created our signs while stationed at the same large table. Basically, everyone else knew where they were going to hang their sign and how it should fit in with their decor. Me? Not so much. I was happy that I’d found time to go on the shop’s website (which has a whole bunch of sign options), pick out the sign I would make and get this information submitted before the deadline.

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I chose to include words from Psalm 46:10 on the sign: “Be still and know.” I had not particular reason for choosing these words. It was this sign that resonated with me the most at the time I was picking the sign.

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While making the sign, I still decisions to make: what color to stain the board? Did I want another material painted over the stain, which would allow for more potential effects with the board? What colors did I want to use? Etc., etc.

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Eventually, I chose a dark stain for the background board. Wanting it to look more rustic, I painted a lighter grey paint over the stain. The main letters became an eggplant color while “Psalm 46:10” was painted in black. I left the border boards dark to create contrast with the main body of the sign.

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When I left the shop, I still didn’t have a clue where the sign would go. Once home, I leaned it against a blank wall by the front door where it would be out of the way. For the next several ways, as I saw it every time I walked up and down the stairs. Then, I realized: why not hang the sign on the wall where I would intentionally see the sign every time I go up and down the stairs?

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So, this is where I hung the sign. Every time I come running down the stairs, I will not miss seeing these works:

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“Be still and know.”

Be still and know that whatever is going on in your life today, God is there.

Be still and know that when you walk out the door of your house, God is with you.

Be still and know that every conversation you have today, God will be present.

Be still and know there is nothing impossible with God.

Be still and know that God has your back.

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Just be still and know.

 

Now, this sign has become something I look at all the time. It’s a simple reminder every time I run up and down those stairs, I can be refocused on the One who is always with me.

Be still. Know.

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Not bad words to include in our daily lives.

For words to shape my day, I am grateful.

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Holy God – may your words be ever present and a part of our daily lives. May they shape our words, actions and deeds. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Gratitude Day 174 – Worship

Sun., Dec. 9, 2018

Psalm 122:1- I rejoiced with those who said to me, “Let’s go to the Lord’s house!”

The Rookie

In the movie The Rookie, Dennis Quaid plays Jim Morris. Based on a true story, Jim coached high school baseball. When his team makes the state high school playoffs, he fulfills a promise to the team and tries out for a major league baseball team. Never mind that Jim is in his 30’s and has a family. When he consistently throws the ball 98 mph at a try-out, he is signed to a minor league team.

It’s a tough summer for Morris. He’s traveling in a bus with a bunch of college kids, while his wife and family are home, barely paying their bills. He’s questioning why he’s pursuing this dream. After an opportunity to remember why, he walks into the locker room before a game and approaches another player, Brooks. Morris says to Brooks, “Today is going to be a good day. Today, we get to play baseball.”

Today is Sunday. Today is going to be a good day. Today, we get to worship God.

A little over a year ago, I stepped down from serving two churches as the pastor. After planning weekly worship for 18 years, Sunday mornings have been very different the last year. Yes, I have had the opportunity to fill the pulpit many times. Some Sundays, like today, I will provide music for a worship service. Whether I’m the pastor leading worship or the pianist sitting behind the piano, I look forward to Sunday because this is the day we get to worship God.

kids time at Midland

I’ve been asked whether Hubby Rick and I have found a church home. Quite honestly, we worship in a variety of churches. Most months, we worship at a different church every week of the month. This has been a big change for both of us. Our Sunday morning routine is very different than it was for the previous 17 years of our marriage. I don’t leave home before Rick. We go to worship together. Sometimes, we even get to sit next to each other for some or all of the worship service. Every Sunday, we get to worship God.

Believe it or not, worship is the single most popular act in the United States on a weekly basis. Even in a time of declining church attendance, more people will attend worship service today than will attend a professional football game. More people will take time to gather with other people of their particular religion than will go to a theater production.

 

I know, you may find this hard to believe. But it’s true.

In the many years I actively served faith communities and congregations, more than one person approached me and shared their reason why they did not attend worship on a regular basis. It was the only day of the week they could sleep in. They needed a break. They had gotten out of the habit of going to worship. They can’t find a worship service that “speaks” to them. They don’t want to be hypocritical and go to church when they aren’t sure what they believe. And the list goes on … and on … and on.

Here’s the deal. Worship is not something we do because we feel like it. There are many things we do, even if we don’t always feel like it. Do you only go to work when we feel like it? If most of us only exercised when we felt like it, there’s a whole bunch of people who would never exercise again.

Here’s the truth: feelings can be great liars. Feelings allow us to justify anything, if we allow it. If we only do things when we really feel like it, there’s a whole bunch of stuff that would never get done, including worship.

Too often, we talk ourselves in or out of something because we don’t feel it. We justify our actions by declaring that it would be inauthentic to do this task if our heart isn’t in it. Here’s where worship is different: worship is an act that develops a feeling for God, not a feeling for God that is an act of worship. Through worship, we begin to feel things of and for God that we would not experience unless we worship God.

quartet at midland

What about those people who say they can’t find a worship service that speaks to them? There will be days when worship is going to resonate with you more than other worship services. Unfortunately, we’re not all on the same page at the same time. You WILL attend a worship service that is a dud. I’ve been to these worship services. I’m confident I’ve led some of these duds. Worship is not just about style or a particular kind of music or liturgy. Worship is not about us. It’s about God. It’s looking beyond whatever happens in worship and finding the One True God who created you, who loves you and who deeply wants to be in relationship with you. This is worship. Period.

Instead of the line he said in the movie, think of Dennis Quaid saying these words to Brooks, “Let’s go to the house of the Lord!” Let’s discover who God is for us today, whether we feel like it or not. Let’s look beyond the worship elements and simply meet the Lord. Worship is a matter of the heart; our heart being open to discovering God anew today. And when we open ourselves to God, I believe amazing things can happen.

Psalm 122

For the opportunity to worship today, I am grateful.

Holy God – Advent is such a special time of the year. A time for us to prepare for the coming of the Christ child. I pray we make regular worship a part of this preparation. Help us be on a journey to Bethlehem with Mary, Joseph and the angel. May we be amazed what happens to our hearts when we worship you. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Gratitude Day 159 – Give Thanks

Tues., Nov. 20, 2018

1 Thessalonians 5:18- Give thanks no matter what happens. God wants you to thank him because you believe in Christ Jesus.

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Sometimes, it’s hard to live out this Bible verse.

No matter what happens … give thanks?

Seriously?

Really?

Really.

When the fall is wet, and crops can’t be harvested, give thanks.

When your heart is broken, give thanks.

When a loved one deals with the evils of addiction, give thanks.

When the weather is crappy, give thanks.

When you are bone tired and there are things yet to do today, give thanks.

When there doesn’t seem to be enough funds to cover the bills, give thanks.

When loved ones are having a hard time getting along, give thanks.

When you can’t find the right job, give thanks.

When life is depressing, give thanks.

When everything seems familiar and yet challenging at the same time, give thanks.

And a whole bunch of other scenarios, give thanks.

I know. It’s not easy to always give thanks. Often, it really is easier to belly-ache, complain, be afraid, not ask for help and/or wallow in self-pity than to give thanks.

Just for one day, try to give thanks for everything. Yup, everything. See what happens.

And let me know.

For God’s wisdom that I am to always give thanks, I am grateful.

Holy God – it really is so much easier to be unhappy than to constantly give thanks. Help shift my perspective today, if only ever so slightly. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Gratitude Day 120 – My Day

Sat., Sept. 15, 2018

Psalm 118:24 – This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Today, my life is different than it was 10 months ago. On Dec. 1, 2017, I voluntarily stepped back from serving two churches as the pastor to focus on other things I felt God calling me towards. It has taken me awhile me to focus on this next phase of my life. Thank you for being a part of this journey. You, the readers of this blog, have become my congregation.

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What “things” represent a typical day in Dianne’s life today? Honestly, these things have not changed a lot. Here are the Top 10 things I use in my daily life, why are they important and how are they represent my daily spiritual journey.

bag

  1. A bag – A bag is as much a staple to my wardrobe as shoes. I have a couple different bags; either grey or black. I take a bag with me everywhere. I have never been a backpack girl; I’ve always been a bag lady. In high school, in college, or when traveling, I stuff a big bag full of things I “might” need. Most often with the items listed below. Daily, I try and “stuff” my day full of the things God desires for me to focus on, anticipating where God “might” call me to serve this day.

calendar

  1. A calendar – I have not made the jump to a digital calendar. Call me old school, but I LIKE to look at two pages with an entire month on them. A calendar is indispensable for me. Years ago, I inadvertently left my calendar at my parent’s house. My Mom overnighted it to me the next day. Seriously. A quick look at my calendar helps me see where I am serving God’s kingdom. How do I leverage my time for the glory of God?

notebook

  1. A nice notebook where I keep running to-do lists. The key word? Nice. I could use a phone app for this. But it gives this girl pleasure to cross something off a to-do list. Anyone else here written something down just to cross it off? Call me guilty, at least a couple times a week. I keep lists for many things. It’s my way of keeping random thoughts captured; thoughts I pray are inspired by God.

phone

  1. My phone. As much as I would like not to include this on my list, reality says something different. I use it for contact information, checking e-mail and social media, Google and playing Scrabble (the only game I allow on my phone.) My contact list is much smaller than God’s. Yet, I feel any person on my contact list is one placed there by God.

  1. My bible. See the broken spine and duct tape? It’s really, really worn. It’s been like this for months and I can’t drag myself to give it up. I bought a new bible earlier this year. It came in a nice box and sits on my desk. I’ve used it a few times. How can I squeeze all those slips of paper, cards, and little notes with the bible into the holder? Besides, it is much easier to find a bible verse I am looking for in the old bible because it’s already underlined. I pray these words guide me daily.

laptop

  1. My laptop. Yes, I often spend too much of my day sitting in front of this little piece of equipment. Yet, it is amazing how I can connect and communicate and share with people via my laptop. I think of the power the letters that the apostle Paul wrote. How we refer to them over and over via the New Testament. My words will not have the same impact as Paul’s words. I pray my words will make a difference to one person today.

shoes

  1. Running shoes. It’s summer, so I should have included my favorite sandals that I wear every day. The running shoes represent what I want to be doing every day; taking a walk or a run. I do this a few days a week; just not as much as I would like. These shoes are my FAVORITE running/walking shoes. A number of years ago when I was running five days a week, I bought a really nice pair of running shoes: Asics Gel Kayano’s. I think the first pair I bought was version #7. This latest pair is version #24. I have not bought every version in between but I have multiple pairs of Asics Gel Kayano’s. Worn beyond sensible running tread, they are my go-to-the-farm shoes, gardening shoes, mission trip shoes, easy walking shoes, etc. I have a pair for each purpose and maybe a couple extra. Running shoes remind me that the spiritual life is a daily journey; one I choose whether to include God or not.

library card

  1. Library card. I have a lot of books and am trying to lower my inventory. Before I buy a book, I see if it is available through the library. If it is, I check it out and decide if I want to buy it. (Yes, there are times I buy it right away.) The local library ladies know me on a first name basis. I always have a stack of “to read” books. I often “read” books by listening to them in the car. Reading is a way that I keep growing, learning and expanding my understanding. God challenges us to grow in wisdom. Reading is a way I do this.

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  1. Necklace. This is special to me. After my Dad died, we had pendants of his thumb print made. About the same time, I found pendants with a “D” and “V” on them. The D is for Deaton, my maiden name. After my Mom died, we had pendants of her thumb print made. I group the four pendants together on this necklace. It’s a reminder of where I came from, who I am and my foundation.

grey sweater

10. Grey sweater. I have a collection of grey sweaters. Long ones, shorter ones, lighter-weight ones, heavier ones. Lighter-colored grey and darker-colored grey. I wear them ALL. YEAR. LONG. When clothes shopping, where do I most often end up? Looking at grey sweaters. I love a good sweater. When I put one on, it feels like God’s hands hugging and protecting me.

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After taking the photo, I realized I missed a couple items. My journal, which I use most days, writing prayers to God. And a cup of coffee, which begins every day, most often with a devotion book, bible and journal.

What are the most important “things” you use throughout your day? How do they help you connect with God? How are they part of your spiritual journey?

For things throughout the day that remind me of my relationship with God, I am thankful.

Lord God – as we think about those things that are such an important part of our day, I pray we see them as part of how you speak to us and through us. As we recall the items we use daily, challenge us to connect these things to You and Your call of us in Your kingdom. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Gratitude Day 115 – Slow Me Down

Mon., Sept. 10, 2018

slow me down

Slow me down, Lord.

Ease the pounding of my heart.

Help me relish the quiet of my mind.

Challenge me to slow my hurried pace

And learn a different understanding of time.

When the day is confusing,

May I find calm in You.

As my nerves and muscles tense,

Bring soothing noises into my life.

May I find minute vacations throughout the day:

Challenge me to linger on a phone call,

Appreciate a spot of nature and

Breathe in some meaningful words from a book.

When I feel that I need to be the hare

When what I need are some tortoise moments,

Remind me that life is not a race.

Increasing speed will not gain me any more minutes.

Help me see the strong branches of a solid tree

And remind myself that this tree grew slowly and well

Dear Lord – slow me down.

Inspire me to send deep roots into the most important

Things in my day.

Only then, then I discover my life’s most important values

Thank you for the journey of this day.

Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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