Gratitude Day 208 –  Count Your Blessings

Fri., Feb. 1, 2019

Mark 13:18 – Pray that it doesn’t happen in winter.

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Students from the Benton School District may not be the only ones who might need to be re-introduced to their school today. Most schools in the State of Wisconsin cancelled school Monday – Thursday this week. Some school superintendents and principals came up with entertaining and fun ways to annouce school closings. But after days of being cooped up, kids and parents are ready for a more normal schedule today.

We’ve lived through the artic vortex this week. A few personal highlights:

  • When Hubby Rick was coming home from work early Thursday morning, the temp gauge in the car said -35 degrees. This was BEFORE windchill. And was the coldest temperature Rick can ever remember. Ever. (After a very long work week, I’m not sure Rick stuck his nose outside on Thursday once he was home. And he deserved to sit inside all day.)
  • No mail on Wed. and Thurs. this week. First time I ever remember this. Ever.
  • While driving home on Thursday evening, the temp on my car said -7. And this was the current heat wave of the week!
  • Ninety percent of the conversations this week were about the weather. We didn’t know what else to talk about.

Like many people, I’m counting my blessings this week. We have a warm home with a working furnace. We have warm clothes and hot food. We have vehicles that ran in the cold weather. While we were outside at times, our exposure was not constant. When the sun came out, it actually was very pretty.

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Even when the temps and wind chill are ridiculously brutal, we still have opportunities to count our blessings. I pray we all are just a bit more appreciative of what we have these days, rather than what we don’t.

For blessings too numerous to count, I am grateful.

Almighty God – we choose every day if our glass if half full or half empty. I pray that on this very day, we choose to count our blessings and feel very blessed, no matter what is happening in our lives. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Gratitude Day 204 – Old Man Winter

Mon., Jan. 28, 2019

Jeremiah 18:14 – Does the snow of Lebanon ever leave the highland crags? Or does cold water flowing from a distance ever fail?

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Old Man Winter has blown into Wisconsin … and has no intentions of leaving anytime soon.

Last week, we had snow and cold. On Saturday morning, Hubby Rick announced is was -22 outside shortly before I left for a meeting. This is -22 temperature; not wind chill.

We’re in for another round of snow on Monday and then days of bitterly cold weather. Like, not above zero as a high bitterly cold.

Looks like most every school in Wisconsin is canceled on Monday because of the impending snow storm. How many schools will be then closed because of the extended cold remains to be seen.

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For everyone, the cold weather is difficult and challenging. It’s even more so if you fall into one of these categories:

  • You work outside. People who move snow, work for a public works division, or others who are required to work even in awful weather.
  • Farmers and ranchers.
  • Police officers, EMT’s, fire fighters and other safety servants.
  • Plumbers, electricians and heating folks who help those with problems from the weather.
  • Truck drivers.
  • Meteroligists who people love to dislike when forecasts are awful or challenging to predict.
  • The homeless.
  • People living in marginal living conditions.
  • Elderly and those with significant health conditions.
  • And a whole bunch of other groups I’m failing to mention.

If you live somewhere where the weather is going to be challenging this week, be mindful of those who are dealing with the weather. Give them extra grace. Provide some way to help them. Count your blessings and realize how fortunate you are if you aren’t on this list.winter+weather

For those who live and work in situations challenged by snow and cow, I am grateful.

Holy God – please be with those who live in a place where the snow and cold can affect them this week. When a difficult situation arises, please bring others to assist and uphold those challenged by our weather. May we all be a pit more patient this week. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Gratitude Day 202 – Working Together

Thurs., Jan. 24, 2019

2 Corinthians 6:1 – Since we work together with him, we are also begging you not to receive the grace of God in vain.

And then, there was winter.

After scooting by the beginning of winter with very little snow and very mild temps, well, winter has arrived.

In the last 24+ hours, we’ve had 8-10 inches of snow. And we had several inches last weekend. I know, it’s not like living in Buffalo, NY … but it’s snow.

snow plows

We live north of Madison, WI. Today, I saw this cool picture. Count all of those snow plows, working together. They are on a main commuting route in Madison called The Beltline. How cool is this?

I know. Some people were complaining that not enough snow was moved before the morning commute. Or there wasn’t enough snow or salt. Or the side streets weren’t cleared. Let me just say … it’s impossible to get all the snow moved at the same time so that everyone can get just where they want as quickly as they would like. The roads department can’t do it all right now.

What this picture shows me is something super cool: teamwork. A bunch of folks working together, for the benefit of others. A little reminder that sometimes, we need to remember the bigger picture. We aren’t the center of God’s universe. When we figure this out, well, it really is a happier place for us.

Can we just stop wanting more for ourselves and decide that the best way to feel good about ourselves is to help someone else?

Can we set aside our personal preference for the benefit of a larger group?

Can we encourage others to do their best and in turn, then be encouraged to do our best?

When we see ourselves as Christians, then we are part of a larger community. Christians aren’t a community of one. They are a part of a huge family that includes people that are very different from you. In fact, there maybe some you don’t even really like. They are going to look different than you do, care for things that aren’t as important to you and irritate you some day. And just as you are a beloved child of God, SO ARE THEY.

I think we Christians can do some really amazing things here for God’s kingdom on earth. If we’d only work together and decide what we hold in common is really more important than where we differ.

So, let’s give each other an extra dose of grace today. Let’s find some folks who are excited to work together. Go make a difference in someone’s life, a community or the world. We can plow through a lot of barriers when we work together.

For a wonderful example of working together, I am grateful.

Lord God – thank you for giving us wonderful examples of working together, with the best example of all found in the Trinity of God. Help us to focus on the things we agree on more than the areas where we disagree. May we unite and work together for the glory and honor of your kingdom. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Gratitude Day 163 – Living


Mon., Nov. 26, 2018

Luke 20:38 – He isn’t the God of the dead but of the living. To him they are all alive.”

Recently, Hubby Rick and I began the transition from fall to winter. This meant putting away the wicker porch furniture for the winter. It felt like a sad day. With the porch furniture in the carriage house, winter is coming soon. But so is Christmas!!

However, I found an unexpected surprise on the front porch.

This ivy plant.

Seriously. It is STILL ALIVE.

Have I mentioned that we’vhad multiple nights of below freezing? And snow?  

About a week earlier, I stopped and looked at the ivy one day. It was a cold day. I touched the leaves and they were stiff. Frozen. Not flexible. I thought to myself, “That’s what happens when you don’t take a plant inside before it freezes!” And went on with my day.

This is why I was SO SURPRISED to find the leaves unfrozen, flexible and really doing very well!

What happened in-between?

I can’t explain. But this ivy plant was not ready to call it quits yet. It’s now in the house as I try and figure out what to do next with this plant. In the meantime, it lives.

Death is a scary topic formany people. Highly avoided and taboo. Interestingly, for God death is anything but a difficult topic. In fact, we read repeatedly over and over in the Biblethat God is not nearly as interested in death … but in living. In fact, the scripture verse above reminds us that God wants all to see themselves as living… even after death.

How can this happen? Deadpeople come back to life? It happens because a man named Jesus came to earth as God’s son, died but didn’t really die. As God, Jesus was resurrected and granted life once again.

We, too, can experience this same living. It’s really quite easy: believe in God. Believe Jesus did thisjust for you. Out of pure love for you.

How does this happen?

Sorry, I can’t fully explain. Just like my ivy plant that didn’t die but lives inside my house.

Whether I can fully explain this or not, I’m just going to enjoy this. Just like I’m going to enjoy the ivy plant.  

For an ivy plant that still lives, I am grateful.

Lord God – there are miracles around us every day. Some days we see them; some days we don’t. May we seek life over death and value you, O God, who prefers living over death. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Gratitude Day 156 –  Something Warm for the Cold

snow

Fri., Nov. 16, 2018

Psalm 147:17 – God sends down hailstones like chips of rocks. Who can stand the cold?

Winter-like weather has arrived in Wisconsin. It’s mid-February … and already I have heard multiple times from Hubby Rick, “When can we move to Belize??” We visited Belize a couple years ago. Rick feels this would be the ideal climate for us to retire. But that is a post for another day.

Today’s words: how to keep warm inside when it’s cold outside.

I love coffee. I drink coffee every day. For years, I have been a traditionalist when it comes to coffee: black only. The last few years, sometimes I find myself putting cream or flavored creamer in my coffee. Why? My Dad drank lots of coffee with lots of milk and sugar. It wasn’t really coffee. It was more what I would call “candy coffee.” I have refrained from adding sugar to coffee. But sometimes I enjoy a little milk. Just makes me feel like I’m having coffee with my Dad.

 

In the 20181030_164533winter, I sometimes want something more like hot chocolate but with some coffee flavor as well. So, I came up with what I call mocha coffee that I make at home. I’m sure I could google this and come up with a fancy recipe. My recipe is super easy, super simple and ready in three minutes. It has coffee, chocolate and is made in one cup.

I begin by filling a cup about halfway with coffee. Cold is just fine. Then, I fill it near the top with some milk. When I make hot chocolate with a mix, I make it with milk. If you have never had it with milk, make it this way. You may not go back to making it with water.

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Once I have the cup mostly filled with coffee and milk, I microwave it for about 2 minutes. Don’t let it boil. Take it out of the microwave and add a packet of hot chocolate mix. Stir in as much as you can. Microwave for another minute. Mix well … and you have my easy, cheap and fairly decent version of mocha coffee. If you want to get all fancy, put some whipped topping on top and drizzle with chocolate syrup. Close your eyes while you drink it and maybe, you’ll think you got it from a fancy coffee shop. I know it’s not the same … but it also didn’t cost $5. Often, I buy the low sugar hot chocolate mix, as I really have cut back the amount of sugar I eat. When you use milk to make this, the missing sugar really isn’t much of a factor.

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That’s it. A simple mocha coffee that is a great afternoon pick-me-up on a cold winter day. Or a treat after being outside for a while. It’s a nice variation from regular coffee/hot chocolate mix.

Nearly every time Rick mentions about moving to Belize, I remind him that we simply have to find fun ways to enjoy winter in Wisconsin. He’s not convinced the cold weather is necessary after Christmas. For me, this little mocha coffee is a fun drink for the winter months.

What is your favorite winter drink?

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For special treats on cold winter days, I am grateful.

Lord God – some of us enjoy the change of seasons more than others. No matter what, I pray we appreciate the way you have designed this world. Thanks for special ways to enjoy the cold! Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Gratitude Day 152 –  Snow is Here

Sat., Nov. 10, 2018

Psalm 147:16 – He covers the ground with snow like a blanket of wool, and he scatters frost like ashes on the ground.

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This is what we woke up to Friday morning. Snow in Wisconsin.

Yep, old man winter has arrived.

A couple weeks ago when it started freezing every night, Hubby Rick asked me, “When can we move to Belize?”

Belize beach

This is the view he would prefer.

But alas, we are in Wisconsin. Where we get to experience ALL four seasons.

With the snow comes cold and wind. Heavy coats, mittens and boots. Shorter days of sunlight (when it shines.)

With snow, also comes mugs of hot chocolate, snuggles on the couch and the glisten of another great creation by God.

We can love it. Despise it. Wish is away.

Or we can appreciate the changing of the seasons.

For another change of the season, I am grateful.

Lord God – how can we not appreciate the wonderful way you have designed our world and all of creation? I pray we can fully embrace this today. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Gratitude Day 14 – Baby Lambs

baby lamb

Sun., Apr. 15, 2018

Isaiah 40:11 – He protects his flock like a shepherd; he gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them in the fold of his garment. He gently leads those that are nursing.

For years, my sisters and I raised sheep. Our ewes would have baby lambs during the winter. Come spring, we would pick which lambs to show during the summer 4-H fairs.

My nephew Kevin has continued the Deaton family tradition of showing sheep. Each spring, Kevin and I sort the sheep. We pick out which ones he will show, what ones he might sell, who are the best options for his summer 4-H projects.

Saturday morning was “sorting lambs” day. While it was April 14, it looked more like Jan. 15.  A blanket of fresh heavy snow covered everything. Wind kept things fresh. Inside the shed converted to housing the sheep, we were protected and ready to sort.

Before we ventured into the sheep pen, we first visited the pigs. Also a 4-H project, these four cute little guys are already full of personality. The lone female nuzzled Kevin’s hand looking for her favorite treat: animal crackers. The littlest pig arrived just Friday. While quite a bit smaller than the other three pigs, all have become fast friends. When we had finished sorting the lambs, a quick stop back by the pig pen found all four snuggled together, sleeping and keeping warm.

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Today, we had extra help in sorting the sheep. Rick manned the gates and kept the right lambs in the pen where we did the sorting. Sister Denise was the record keeper. We sorted, the ewes (girls) and the rams (boys). We looked at their wool quality, size and confirmation. The lambs cooperated and we were able to make quick decisions.

This has become a fun annual outing for Kevin and I. Living in town, I don’t have the option of having sheep. Working with the lambs and checking them out brings back many memories and experiences from when I was involved with a flock

Caring for lambs is a daily job. Each lamb is special and has its own personality. Kevin knows who’s each lamb’s mother is and who her grandmother was. Recently, the bottle lambs were weaned. This was after several weeks of multiple trips a day out to feed the lambs.

As the Good Shepherd, Jesus cares for every one of his sheep; you and I. When one of God’s sheep is struggling, Jesus is nearby, offering comfort. When we need extra attention, it’s there if we just notice it. God promises to care for all the sheep in God’s flock. And God doesn’t let us down.

For this, I am grateful.

Thank you for calling each one of us as a lamb in your flock. Thank you for caring for us in dark valleys as well as on mountaintop experiences. Thank you for offering us comfort, grace and mercy. May we be grateful for Jesus being our Good Shepherd. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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