She Leads…By Starting Her Day With Jesus

By Major Dina Graciani
Director of Special Services, Adult Rehabilitation Centers Command

I wake up every morning and roll out of bed to see a sign up on my wall that says, “Start each day with a grateful heart.” I head to the kitchen with my phone in hand, laying it down on the end table, now for my coffee and time with Jesus. Another sign by my coffee maker says: “In the morning when I rise give Jesus and Coffee.” I then sit down in my favorite spot in the house next to yet another sign on a small easel that says, “Pray together often.” Everywhere you look in my home and office, you will see inspirational signs that I have chosen to inspire me and others. Some are scripture verses; others are positive things we should do every day, like “You have filled my heart with GREATER JOY.” I now enjoy my morning with my favorite cup of coffee and time with Jesus. I have found devotionals by Greg Laurie have become by most common go-to in this season. I enjoy reading and listening to them. I typically then proceed with “Minute with John Maxwell.”  It continually amazes how he takes just a minute to talk about a word and its meaning, yet what is shared is so profound. 

Every day I wake up looking forward to this time. In fact, it’s what gets me up in the morning.  It centers me. I LOVE MY COFFEE AND JESUS TIME. I genuinely believe this helps me lead with purpose, intentionality and helps provide a Christ-like lens from which to see the world.  Without Him, I am not as effective, enjoyable, loving, focused, and complete. My time with the Father is what keeps me grounded, love His people, listen to His people, and disciple His people.

I recently was shopping at one of my favorite stores, “Bed, Bath and Beyond,” and they had some really great greeting cards by the register. One said, “Find out who you are and do it ON purpose.” Said by the infamous Miss Dolly Parton. In my current appointment, my title is Director of Special Services.  Years ago, my husband and I were stationed in Missoula, Montana, along with our three children. After serving as Corps Officers for 14 years, we began to feel the nudge from the Holy Spirit that perhaps it was time for something new, a different challenge. We had some wonderful friends and mentors encouraging us for quite some time to join the ARC ministry.

Both Henry and I were curious and began to ask questions. I asked a good friend of mine what her role looked like serving as an Officer in the ARC?  She shared she was to provide and create extraordinary experiences for the ARC’s men and women, to make them feel cared for and loved. Birthday celebrations, special family activities, holiday events, spiritual counseling, Bible study, and planning and leading worship services. Hundreds of men and women would walk through our doors each year, and my job would be to welcome them home.  I love having and fulfilling that purpose and title.  It has been one of the greatest joys of my life. I am so pleased to now, years later, continue to carry that title.  My time serving in as the Director of Special Services consistently brings this quote to mind, “If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.” These words couldn’t be truer for me.   

I love to make others feel loved, appreciated, and taken care of.  I thrive under the word “SPECIAL!”  Recently we had what we call Round Table in the ARC instead of Officer councils.  One of our Lieutenants that I have been mentoring had to set up this special meeting at her center.  I was unable to attend due to being out of town. She set up, decorated with a theme, planned great refreshments, placed everything where needed, and ensured everyone who attended had whatever they needed.  She called me after the event and said someone came up to her and said “Lieutenant this is event would have been Major Dina approved”. She would have been so pleased with how you took care of every detail of today’s meeting.  Thank you! She said, that means a lot to me.  We just never know how we will impact another person to lead their own ministry.  People are constantly watching, evaluating, judging your every move as a leader.  You never know what kind of impact you will make in their life. Why do I start my day with Jesus? Because He leads me, guides me, and my hope is that people will always know that I loved and cared for them like Jesus would.