When We Said, “I Do”

weddingSat., Aug. 26, 2017

John 15:12 – This is my commandment: love each other just as I have loved you.

Seventeen years ago, we said “I do.”

It began as a stormy, wet morning and turned into a muggy, humid day. It was also the day Rick decided to wash his car rather than make sure a couple more fans made it to the reception area to keep our guests cool. This would not be the last time we would disagree on a choice.

But when you say, “I do,” those words are more important than who is right.

Who wants to be right.

Who was right last time.

When you say, “I do,” two people make a choice in which individual feelings are not always more important than a joint resolution.

It’s a choice to stay together … no matter what.

It’s a life choice that is about the long game and not just the short game.

For us, saying “I do” means we don’t give up or give in.

We figure it out with no other alternative ever voiced, explored or contemplated.

Because, there is only “I do.”

Yes, we have disappointed each other. We’ve let each other down. And wished we could take back some sentences that should have been kept private and not spoken aloud.

Our marriage hasn’t always been a pretty field of flowers. Rick was still wounded from the unexpected death of his oldest 21-year-old son who died just months before we said, “I do.” We had both recently changed jobs and careers. We moved twice within a few months of becoming Mr. and Mrs. I commuted to school, as we tried to figure out how to be a married couple who saw each other only on weekends.

While the years have been peppered with wonderful and joyful times, the challenging days and weeks are not forgotten. A grandson who slipped away after being present for 16 short days. Three of our parent’s health changing significantly in 10 days. We have packed, moved and unpacked our belongings several times. We’ve helped clean out homes no longer occupied by our parents. We have physically been apart more of the last 6,205 days than we have been together. We’ve witnessed divorce, death and disappointment.

Yet, we’ve always come back to “I do” because it gives us hope.

For us, continuing to say, “I do” is an everyday choice. It’s our choice. One we gladly make. One we don’t take for granted. One, I pray, we get to make for many more days into the future. It’s a choice always grounded in knowing that God loves us more than we love each other. A choice which reflects our belief God brought us together to be one. A choice to keep God as the third and most important leg of our marriage.

We’re not perfect. But we laugh together. And we cry when one or both are hurting. We’ve experienced family, grandchildren and friends together, as well as we have seen some amazing places together. We’ve collected treasure chests full of special memories. We say, “Please,” “Thank you,” “I’m sorry” and “Please forgive me” regularly. We count our blessings daily and know where they come from. We try to respect, honor and uplift each other daily, even when apart. We pray together. Worship together. Hold each other’s hand together.

This is our “I do.” Thanks be to God.

Lord God – thank you for the gift of our marriage and your presence in our relationship. May we always keep You as the safety net which surrounds, protects and guides us. Help us continue to say, “I do” for every day we are together on this earth. Amen.

Blessings –

Rick & Dianne Vielhuber

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Generations Behind Freezing Corn

freezing cornFri., Aug. 25, 2017

Psalm 22:30 – Future descendants will serve him; generations to come will be told about my Lord.

Last night was the annual corn-freezing night at the Vielhubers. This one single photo captures so many great aspects of what happens as a part of freezing corn at our house. You see, there’s a whole bunch of generations included in this single photo.

First, the recipe comes from Rick’s Aunt, Betty Cady. I’m not sure where she acquired the recipe. It’s not your regular run-of-the-mill frozen corn recipe. No, this one has cream and butter and corn. It’s like eating a little bit of creamed corn and regular corn all thrown together. This is THE staple corn recipe for any Vielhuber holiday gathering. And has been for years.

Behind the cake pan with the corn is a brown electric knife. This was my Grandma Deaton’s electric knife. I’m confident it is older than I am and has cut more ears of corn than I can imagine. As a child, I remember being in my Grandma Deaton’s basement. They lived in central Iowa. Nearly every summer when my sisters and I would visit, we would freeze and can corn, beans and tomatoes. I learned how to cut corn off the ear quickly and efficiently with this electric knife. It comes out of my cupboard once a year now: for freezing corn. I can hear my Grandma encouraging us in her basement while I press the button to move the blades and skim the kernels off the ear in my kitchen.

Then, there is the corn. I received a text message a few days earlier from LaVonne Reinecke. The Reinecke’s have been neighbors to Rick’s family for years. In fact, three generations of Vielhubers hauled generations of Reinecke milk. My darling husband rounded up the corn from LaVonne for me a couple days earlier, while I was working my agriculture job. The back end of my SUV was full of sweet corn. It waited in the carriage house until Rick was home and could husk the corn while I kept things moving in the kitchen. He came in just in time to help fill the freezer containers with corn. When we ran out of lids (why do you always run out of lids?), Rick finished the job with freezer bags. Unfortunately, the corn made it into the freezer before I captured the finished product. Let me suffice to say: we’ll enjoy it this winter.

Throughout scripture, God reminds the people that the only way future generations will know the importance of knowing, following and serving God is if the current generation shares their faith. Just as we are one generation away from people not knowing how to freeze corn in their homes, we’re just one short generation from people knowing, believing and serving the One True God who loves us, created us and cares for us. And, by the way, created corn.

I pray someday, I can pass along the tradition of freezing corn to some of our next generation. But even more importantly, I pray my actions, what I say and how I conduct myself also makes them aware of God’s place in my life. Let me not be the generation who prevents future generations know the traditions of our faith.

Lord God – Thank you for the generations who have gone before us and shared so many things with us: their faith, their confidence in You, even the traditions we love to maintain like freezing corn. May we value our faith so much that we are not afraid and welcome the opportunity to share our faith with future generations. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Hello, Mr. Sunflower

Mon., Aug. 21, 2017

Isaiah 40:8 – The grass dries up. The flowers fall to the ground. But what our God says will stand forever.

Yesterday, I visited one of the happiest places currently on earth. I went to the Pope Farm Conservancy, just outside of Madison, WI, to see 9 acres of blooming sunflowers.

Actually, it wasn’t quite 9 acres. The sunflowers have been blooming for two weeks. Sunday was the last day the plot was open to the public. Truthfully, some of the sunflowers are starting to droop and have lost their brilliant yellow color. Nonetheless, almost 9 acres of sunflowers is still a stunning sight to be held.

As visitors turned into the bumpy gravel driveway, neon-yellow vest clad volunteers directed vehicles to the appropriate grassy parking spots. Just a few short steps away, raised garden beds were growing a variety of Wisconsin products; from hops to goosefoot. After walking up a small incline, the rows upon rows of gorgeous sunflowers could be seen. Yes, many of their heads were a little droopy. But plenty of show-stopping color was to be found.

People from every age group were there. Newborn babies and parents posed as professional photographers tried to get the perfect shot. Grandma’s being pushed in wheelchairs enjoyed a pleasant Sunday afternoon. Families carried picnic baskets and blankets, with plans for an evening meal surrounded by nature and all those sunflowers. It truly was a beautiful sight to be held.

It’s been a difficult week for the United States. Race riots have turned deadly. Memorials and statues honoring Confederate soldiers are being removed quicker than water turns into ice. This has happened in Madison, WI, about an hour from Ripon, WI, the birthplace of the Republican party. These memorials and statues have been part of local history … until now.

Yet on this Sunday afternoon, it was the sunflowers who prevailed. Their cheerfulness was sought by people from a variety of nationalities. Young and old gazed at the 500,000 plants which seemingly lured people from all walks of life to pause if at least momentarily from the craziness of life and enjoy a little bit of heaven on earth. No one rushed. Everyone was polite. We were all captured by the pure joy of these sunflowers taking their last bow at the tail-end of peak season.

As spectacular as these sunflowers were, their beauty is still short-term. Even yesterday, some flowers were beyond their prime. The gorgeous flowers will soon be all about producing seeds. Their importance as a plant is no less. Just their purpose shifts.

There is one constant that remains steadfast and true; no matter the season: our God. When life seems rather chaotic and out of sorts, there is One who does not change. I pray we lean on this never-changing presence to guide us through seemingly challenging times.

Lord God – your creation is so amazing. Only You could design a field of sunflowers to take our breath away. Yet, we know that even their beauty is short-term. I pray Your constant presence encourages us to lean on You every day, especially when the world may not always make sense. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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It’s Your Name

my name isMon., Aug. 7, 2017

Exodus 33:17 – The Lord said to Moses, “I will do exactly what you have asked. I am pleased with you. And I know your name. I know all about you.”

Within three weeks, my personal identity was compromised twice.

The first time, a person who represented themselves as me contacted a church treasurer and requested almost $20,000 to be wire transferred to an out-of-state account. Unfortunately, both the church and I were compromised. Please be aware that internet scams can happen to anyone.

Then, Rick and I took some kids on a youth mission trip. One day, our work site was a transitional living situation. We had both of our vehicles at the job site. We believe sometime during the day a bag of mine was stolen from inside of my car. We had been in and out of our vehicles all day, getting tools, water and other things. We let our guard down and did not keep our vehicles locked. This bag contained nearly every piece of my personal identification, except my passport. All gone.

I have heard people shared stories of when they or someone they know had their identity stolen. It can be very unsettling to have strangers infringe on your private life. For about a week, I carried an old wallet with basically nothing inside. It still remains a stripped-down version of the fat one that disappeared while on mission trip.

There are very few things we can truly call our own. Our name is one of them.  Several years ago, a man who was a coach at the time for the University of Wisconsin-Madison spoke at the church I was serving. He talked about how there are very few things in life unique to us. One of these things is our name. He challenged us to respect our name, the tradition by which we were named and honor those who named us.

Since my identity has been compromised, I have been thinking about the value of my name. How easily can someone can foil themselves as me. Does this compromise what I stand for and how I conduct myself? What does my name stand for when others hear my name? What is God saying to me through this?

When the Northern Kingdom of Israel was captured by the Babylonians, King Nebuchadnezzar had the best looking, most educated and informed, quick and qualified people brought back to Babylon. He wanted the Israelites to become integrated into Babylonian culture. For this to happen, he chose Israelite leaders to become influencers with the other Israelite people. Among those chosen were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. All four received new names; names which reflected a Babylonian heritage. Yet, the Babylonians had a hard time calling Daniel by his new name, Belteshazzar. It was difficult for them to separate the man from his original Jewish name, Daniel.

It is easy for us to become clear about who we are: what defines us and the call of God in our lives. It is easy for us to lose our identity, either willingly or unwillingly, with culture. We value other’s opinions of what we stand for and how we conduct ourselves. At the end of the day, we consistently fail each other because, well, we cannot be perfect.

Yet, God always knows who and whose we are. God knows everything about us: what we are proud of, what makes us happy and sad, what disappointments we struggle with. God knows our name and what we stand for, even if we struggle with this at times. When we are displeased with ourselves, God finds many things of which to be pleased in us.

Over time, I am recreating the pieces of my identity. At the same time, I am cautiously listening for God’s voice in my life. I know my identity is safe and sound in God’s kingdom.

Lord God – thank you for calling us as your own. Thank you for knowing more about us than we know about ourselves. May we be assured our identity in you is never questioned, but always safe and sound. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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