The Empty Container

Gratitude Day 362

Thurs., Nov. 14, 2019

Philippians 2:7-8: (Jesus) emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death—even death on a cross.

It happens, oh, about once a week.

I open the refrigerator and find a perfectly empty, but dirty, container inside.

And it always makes me smile.

I’m not quite sure WHY Hubby Rick does this. Maybe to put a smile on my face? But it happens repeatedly.

And not just in the refrigerator. One day this week, I opened the chest freezer in the basemen. You know, the one that holds all the good stuff? What did I find right on top?

An empty, but dirty container.

Rick uses these containers to put food in for his work lunch. They are always dirty. When they appear, I’m never quite sure what day they are from. Yesterday? Two days ago? Last week?

Just once I want to ask Rick, “Why don’t you walk the five steps and put the container in the sink?”

Just once.

Sometimes, I THINK he wants to reuse the container. I know. Eww. Other times, maybe he’s lazy. And then, there are the times when possibly he does it just to make me smile.

Or irritate me.

This is the deal about marriage. I could get upset about the dirty containers in the refrigerator. Or I can smile and let them go.

Maybe it’s not dirty containers at your house.

Maybe it’s dirty underwear on the bathroom floor.

Or shoes right inside the door.

Possibly its toothpaste left in the sink.

You pick whatever it is that sometimes is just a wee bit annoying. And let it go … because there may be a day when you wished the underwear were on the floor. Or you were tripping over the shoes as you push open the door.

And yes, maybe you might long to have an empty, but dirty, container in the fridge.

As I opened the container this week and examined the evidence of what used to be inside the container (pasta with veggies), I had this little moment. A moment when I remembered someone who emptied themselves for MY benefit.

His name was Jesus.

He emptied himself for my benefit. For your benefit. He took upon himself my dirty and ugly sins and did not get disgusted by them. He took them anyways. When he looked inside of me, Jesus doesn’t say, “Eww.”

No, he says, “This is a child that I love.”

And he says this to you as well.

I didn’t put the dirty container back in the fridge. I walked the five steps over to the kitchen sink and put it there because the dish washer needed to be emptied.

As I dropped the container into the sink, I was thankful that I have a husband who does these things just for me. Just so I could remember who emptied himself for me. And it put a smile on my face and in my heart.

For Jesus’ choice to empty himself just for me, I am grateful. 

Holy God – Thank goodness You don’t look inside of me and say, “Eww.” You overlook every awful and disgusting thing that I have done … and love me anyway. Please help me aspire to be as forgiving as you are. Amen.  

Blessings –

Dianne

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When You Say “I Will”

Gratitude Day 328

Sat., Sept. 21, 2019

Mark 10:9: “Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

A little note for my niece Carissa and her finance, Jesse, who will be married today.

Dear Carissa & Jesse –

Today, you are making the second most important decision of your life when you choose who your spouse will be. It’s the second most important decision because the first most important decision is choosing to have God in your lives. As you are having this marriage confirmed within the spirit and eyes of God, you combine both of these big choices into one single event.

When you say “I will” today, you are saying “I will” to many things:

  • I will love my spouse unconditionally; even when they irritate me, leave their underwear on the bathroom floor and are late for dinner … again.
  • I will honor this person the way I desire for them to honor me.
  • I will pray for and with this person knowing that when two people carry the yoke of any problem, it is lighter. Most importantly, I will turn over this person to God and ask for God’s guidance in their life, my life and our marriage.
  • I will overlook the meniscal flaws and instead make sure to point out the positive ways they affect my life.
  • I will stand with my spouse on the crappy days as well as the good days.
  • I will encourage my spouse to grow into the person God calls them to be, knowing this may look different from what I prefer.
  • I will listen to my spouse more than I will speak.
  • I will be my spouse’s biggest cheerleader.
  • I will extend the respect I desire for myself to my spouse.
  • I will frequently revisit the reasons why I chose this person as my spouse. I will extend the list of reasons why I want to spend the rest of my life with this person.
  • I will hold this person’s hand when they are challenged. I will hug them every time we have been blessed beyond our expectation.
  • I will expect our best years as something in the future.
  • I will keep my relationship with God as the foremost relationship in my life, followed quickly by my relationship with my spouse.
  • I will anticipate and know that God journeys with us. It is just our responsibility to make sure and include Go in our marriage every day.

Please enjoy and celebrate today. And tomorrow and every day forward, continue the important choose of recommitting to your spouse once again. Do this every morning. I pray your love and commitment to one another will only deepen and expand.

Blessings –

Uncle Rick & Auntie Dianne

For the joy of celebrating Carissa and Jesse’s marriage, I am grateful. 

Holy God – bless today the joining together of Jesse and Carissa. I pray you become the strong third string that holds their marriage and relationship together.  Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Happy Anniversary, Hubby Rick.

Gratitude Day 318

Mon., Aug. 26, 2019

John 15:9 – (Jesus said,) “As the Father has loved me, I have also loved you. Remain in my love.  

Dear Hubby Rick –

On this day, nineteen years ago, we said, “I do.”

What a glorious day this was. A day that forever changed my life and one that I never want to take for granted. It is the day by which so many other events in my life are measured by.

Often, I think of something as “post-marriage” or “pre-marriage.” I celebrate the precious moments that we have had together and often wished you had been a part of my life much earlier; even though I’m not sure you would have fully “liked” that Dianne.

I have discovered so much more about myself, other people and relationships because of your spot in my life. My faith has matured, my compassion deepened, and my experience grown. I’ve explored feelings, situations and realities that I would have never encountered without you in my life. Walking with you has made me a better person.

Thank you for being patient with me when I needed to process something or come to a clearer understanding of something going on in our lives. Please forgive me for all the times I have poked fun at you; especially your age. You’ve continued to love and care for me, even in moments when I disappointed you and let you down.

While we had weathered a few challenging storms before our wedding day, we were not always prepared for various situations in our marriage. Together, we have remained committed to each other above everything else; something that makes me love you even more.

One day, you told me that while there would be times when it appeared that I would not be the most important priority in your life. But at the end of the day, I always would be the most important thing in your life, after your relationship with God. Thank you for this gift. Unfortunately, I needed to hear this, know this and believe this. I admire you for taking this commitment seriously and living it. When I have failed to live with this same commitment towards you, thank you for accepting me with my flaws and shortcomings.

I pray that I view every day with you truly as a gift. I celebrate every opportunity we have to spend time just with each other. While we have collected chestfulls of memories in these nineteen years, I pray that we are blessed with many more years and opportunities to build our memory banks.

Thanks for adding laughter and humor to my life. Thanks for supporting so many of my crazy ideas and thoughts. Thanks for listening and encouraging me. Thanks for praying with me, sharing a faith journey together and keeping our relationship always rooted in God’s love for us and each other.

Most of all, thanks for saying, “I do.”

All My Love –

PD

For the blessing of Hubby Rick being my husband and such an important part of my life, I am grateful.

Lord God – thank you for bringing a spirit-filled man named Hubby Rick into my life. Thank you for drawing us together and helping us fall in love. May we always see our relationship as rooted in Your love and celebrate the ways you made us so unique and different from each other. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Be Six Again

Gratitude Day 302

Mon., July 15, 2019

Ecclesiastes 7:3 – Choose sorrow over laughter because a sad face may hide a happy heart.

Hubby Rick has a daily goal which is really very simple but rather profound: make someone laugh each day.

Or at least smile.

On most days, he bats 100%.

Often, I’m the one whom he works his magic on.

And I am so thankful for this.

I’m too serious. I make lists. I like to check things off of lists. I like to plan. I like to know what I’m going to be doing today before, well, noon.

Rick is anything but these things.

He loves to make light of things. He flies by the seat of his pants. What he gets done today is a joy. And why plan tonight when we need to see what the weather will be like tomorrow.

Truth be known? He is a lot more fun to be around.

And I am so thankful for this.

I’m the grandparent who disciplines. I’m the grandparent who sets boundaries. I’m the grandparent who makes sure we are fed, hydrated and on time.

Hubby Rick? Well, he’s the fun grandparent. The one whose very name or presence brings a smile and joy to their hearts. He’s the one who the neighbors stop by to see what he’s up to because, well, with Rick, you just never know. There’s always a surprise lurking just around the corner, waiting to be exposed and laughed over. 

And I am so thankful for this.

Somehow, the man never really stopped being six.

Don’t get me wrong. He works hard, plays hard and has an endless amount of ideas and ways to do things. But he also makes sure that whatever job is at hand is done with just a bit of lightness. Fun. Laughter.

And I am so thankful for this.

Today, discover every possibility you can to bring joy and laughter to someone’s day. Not unnecessary or fake laughter. But true, honest-to-goodness reasons to laugh and smile and extend joy.

That’s all. Nothing more. Just some good old laughter.

And then, at the end of the day … see how it feels. Recall how it felt.

Be six again.  

Be thankful for this.

For the gift of laughter and those who love to make it part of their ordinary, everyday living, I am grateful.

Dear God – thank you for the gift of humor and laughter. May we intentionally discover and live joy and laughter every day. Yes, there are days when maybe it’s hard to find joy and happiness. But may knowing You bring a smile to our faces and joy to the day. Help us be six again. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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How My Day was Brightened

Gratitude Day 264

Fri., May 3, 2019

Proverbs 3:15 – She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her.

I can always tell when Hubby Rick decides to clean out his desk.

Totally random things appear.

Things intended just to bring a smile to my face.

It happened again this week.

Just a little card. Left on the kitchen island. Right where Rick knew I would see it.

You see, sometimes, Rick and I can go a day or two, maybe even three or four, without having a real conversation when both of us are totally awake. Rick works nights. I try to keep a more “normal” schedule. A few words about last night’s Brewers game as Rick crawls into bed at 5 AM doesn’t really constitute a conversation. Does it?

Or a random statement as I close the bedroom door, ready to leave for work.

Unfortunately, these are sometimes normal at the Vielhuber household.

This is why our kitchen island often becomes a bridge in our relationship.

It’s where we leave little notes to each other. Yesterday’s mail. Maybe a question on an old envelope, like, “Are you getting milk?” I know, the kitchen island isn’t all sexy, but it works.

It’s also where we often leave little “surprises” or “thinking of you” diddies for each other.

Like the one I received this week.

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When I saw the card addressed “P.D.,” my first thought was, “Oh, Rick left me an Easter card. Whoops, I didn’t get him an Easter card.”

Not to worry, not to worry. Let’s see what I did find inside …

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Look closely. You see the word, “Anniversary?” Our anniversary is the end of August, not the end of April.

This is when I realized Rick had cleaned his desk this week.

When I asked later, yes, it was an anniversary card that he bought and lost … and rediscovered months or years later. Knowing an anniversary card will bring a smile to my face now, he went ahead and gave it to me now. You know, it just has a little more umph when you give an anniversary card four months in advance. (Or eight months later. You pick.)

What to see what the inside says? Here we go:

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But the best part? The way Rick signed it:

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And yes, this card brightened my day.

Who doesn’t like a little something to brighten their day? Who doesn’t like a completely unexpected reminder how special you are? Who doesn’t relish these moments when they happen?

Sometimes, life becomes a series of doing one thing after another. Work. Making a meal. A load of laundry. Paying bills. Getting the lawn mowed. Dropping off the kids at their next activity. Squeezing in a few minutes of quality time with those you love the most.

And in the process of doing all these “important” things, we forget to laugh. Smile. Find joy in some small way today.

Thank the Lord I have a spouse who makes sure I do this when I forget to. Thank the Lord he can truly take the smallest of things and make me feel oh, so special. Thank the Lord, as one checkout woman at a store once told me, “Honey, I’m guessing your house is never boring.”

How right she is.

And I wouldn’t like it any other way.

My word of encouragement today? Find one little, seemingly silly way, to express gratitude to someone else. In the process, make them laugh, smile and feel special on the inside.

Go ahead. Make their day. You … and they … will be glad you did.

For someone taking time to paint a smile on my face, I am grateful.

Holy God – it’s just a smile but oh, so important. Restore in me the confidence that I can do one small thing today that will brighten someone else’s day. And make a difference in how they feel about themselves today. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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“Be Faithful in Marriage”

Gratitude Day 238

Mon., Mar. 25, 2019

Matthew 5:27 – You know the commandment which says, “Be faithful in marriage.”

Bardens

Let me introduce you to our dear friends, Howard and Rhoda. On Sunday, they celebrated their 63rd wedding anniversary. They have truly lived the commandment, “Be faithful in marriage.” And in doing so, they have set a wonderful example for their family, friends, Hubby Rick and I, and a whole bunch of other people.

I have known Howard and Rhoda for about 30 of those 63 years. Months after I graduated from college, I moved to Baraboo, WI. Eventually, I began attending Emmanuel UMC, where I became acquainted with a whole bunch of wonderful people. One of those couples? Howard and Rhoda.

Sometimes, we meet people with whom having a relationship feels very easy. For me, Howard and Rhoda are one of those couples. Maybe it’s because Howard looks a little like my Dad. It’s not just his looks, but also his personality, which reminds me of my Dad and drew me towards Howard. Maybe it’s because Rhoda loves to play piano. Rhoda and I have played together on many occasions. After I became a pastor, she often filled in when the regular pianist was not available at one of the churches where I served.

Maybe it was because they modeled the type of relationship that I hope I would have if ever I was to marry. I am fortunate to have several couples in my life who understood what being faithful in marriage looked like. After I met the man who eventually became Hubby Rick, I slowly introduced him to some of the people who had become my friends. Howard and Rhoda were one of those couples.

Rick and I had been dating just a few months when his eldest son, Nate, was killed in a snowmobiling accident. I was the pastor for the church where Rick and Nate were members. Quickly, I found myself in a precarious position of not only watching my new boyfriend deal with loosing one of his children. I was also the pastor who would preside at the funeral.

It was January. I was in seminary and attending a short two-week class over winter break. Rhoda called and asked what they could do to help out. I felt I should attend class the day of the visitation. This would require driving two-plus hours to attend class for several hours and then driving back for the visitation. I had slept very little in the last 48-hours. If I could get to their house, Howard and Rhoda would drive me back and forth to school. It was the least they could do.

We left their house at 6 AM so I could get to class by 8:30 AM. As they were dropping me off, Rhoda asked if there was anything they could do while I was at class. I casually mentioned that Rick didn’t have a tie for the funeral. They found their way to the mall, bought a tie and had it sitting in the back seat of the car when they picked me up. Rick still has this tie. Every time he wears it, we recall how Howard and Rhoda bought it for him.

After we arrived back at Howard and Rhoda’s house, I changed clothes and prepared to attend Nate’s visitation. I was in my early 30’s, attending and soon presiding over the funeral for the eldest son of the man I had been dating just a couple months. I wasn’t sure that I was emotionally prepared to do this. I had never envisioned having to do these things. Rhoda simply told me to set aside whatever I was feeling for the next 24 hours and just do what I needed to do. Was it the best advice? It was the necessary advice I needed to hear so I could pull myself together and preside over the second funeral I would ever officiate.

Driving me back and forth the 120 miles each way that day was profound. Howard and Rhoda simply showed up on a day that was so very difficult. There were many things they could not do. But they could get me safely to and from school. They could give me a few hours where I could nap in the car if I wanted. Or talk if I wanted. Or just be with my thoughts. Maybe it didn’t feel like a big deal for them at the time. For me, it was a powerful witness of how they dropped whatever they could have been doing, loved me, and in turn loved Rick, through an awful day in our lives.

This is just how their marriage has been. Howard worked swing shift for years. Rhoda worked days. They raised two daughters and showed up in the lives of their grandchildren day after day. They’ve helped family members and traveled and served through their church. They have lived a wonderful life.

And then, about 15 years ago, Howard was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Over time, his body has changed. He can no longer do the things he loved to do. The Friday golf outings ceased. No longer able to drive, his truck was sold. He went to morning coffee with his group of cronies for as long as possible.

Today, Howard and Rhoda’s life revolve around caring for Howard. A host of caregivers come into their home, morning and night, to care for Howard and assist Rhoda. This has kept Howard in their home, the highest priority. This little army love Rhoda and Howard in the simplest of ways. It’s very easy for them to love Howard and Rhoda, as they first model love to everyone they meet and know.

Yesterday, when asked how many years ago he married Rhoda, Howard knew it was 63. He spoke about what the day was like and recalled details that surprised Rhoda and me, all while sitting next to the love of his life, eating dinner. He smiled as he shared. This was the greatest gift he could have shared with the woman he has faithfully loved all these years.

When this couple said their marriage vows all those decades ago, I doubt they understood what “for better or worse” exactly meant. However, they have truly lived it. “In sickness and in health” aren’t just words for Howard and Rhoda. They live their commitment to each other, day in and day out. In doing so, they model beautifully an example for their family, their friends, their caregivers and yes, for Hubby Rick and I, of what being faithful in marriage looks like.

Rick and I know that celebrating a 50th wedding anniversary is not very realistic, as we started this marriage deal a little later in life. Sixty-three-years of marriage? Impossible. Yet, we feel very fortunate to have several wonderful examples of couples who took the command, “Be faithful in marriage” to heart and chose to live this command faithfully throughout their marriage. One such couple? Howard and Rhoda.

Thank you, Howard and Rhoda, for unconditionally modeling love towards each other, as well as towards Rick and me. We celebrate your marriage and commitment of being faithful in marriage. Hug each other today and think of us.

For the witness of being faithful in marriage, I am grateful.

Holy God – thank you for bringing such special people into my life. I thank you for powerful witness Howard and Rhoda exhibit of being faithful in marriage. Be with those couples who live daily with non-curable illness. May your grace be a part of today. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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My Dearly Loved Spouse

Gratitude Day 229

Tues., Mar. 12, 2019

Ecclesiastes 9:9 – Enjoy life with your dearly loved spouse all the days of your pointless life that God gives you under the sun—all the days of your pointless life! —because that’s your part to play in this life and in your hard work under the sun.

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This. This is what I found when I arrived home.

I had been at my sister’s house for a couple days. We are putting in a master bathroom in our upstairs. A few days earlier, the plumber had roughed in the plumbing. Hubby Rick had installed some of the electrical work. Rick contacted the inspector to have things looked over before he moved onto the next steps.

The inspector came while I was gone. Hubby Rick sent me a text message sharing the good news that he could proceed.

Of course, Rick also knew that as soon as I arrive home, my first stop would be to see the progress of the bathroom. This is not the first time this has happened. While working on previous house projects, he has left me special little messages, ones that make my heart melt every time.

In a previous house, Rick was working on a bathroom while I was gone for several days. The message he left me? Rick drew a huge heart on the drywall above the tub and included our initials. It was SUPER THOUGHTFUL and touched my heart deeply. Only problem? It took multiple coats of primer before the sharpie pen used to draw his artwork stopped bleeding through.

Last winter, Rick remodeled our downstairs bathroom. I had returned from spending several days with my Mom, who was nearing the last days of her life. When I walked into the house, I immediately went to see the progress in the bathroom.

downstairs bathroom

And found this piece of artwork. This time, he drew it with pencil. He’d learned his lesson!

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Last week when I arrived home, I should have anticipated a special “message.” As

I approached the door to the new bathroom, I noticed that the 2×4” had been strategically positioned. Once again, Rick left his own special message just for me.  The effect? Just as special and deeply meaningful as the other times he’s added a huge smile and joy to my day.

Why do I share these stories? Not because we have a perfect marriage. Not because we never have any bumps in our marriage road. Not because Rick is the best husband out there. Well, he IS my best husband.

I share these little stories and examples about marriage to encourage those of you who are in a long-term relationship. Marriage and staying in a relationship take dedicated time, daily hard work and endless amounts of patience and compromise. Long-term relationships also need laughter, joy and thinking of your partner more than you think of yourself.

I am fortunate to have a spouse who knows the value and significance of little things meaning a lot in a relationship. Rick knows what I value, what is important to me and fills those desires and needs in my life. He often does it in a light-hearted, goofy and very personal way.

Guess what? It’s highly effective. He makes me feel like a special person who is deeply loved and appreciated. He anticipates that I WILL go seek out the latest remodeling project and check out the progress as soon as I get home.

Are there things that sometimes drive me crazy about Rick? Absolutely. Sometimes, I have to refrain from making a remark that I know I will regret later. Other times, I wish I was more patient. And yes, it would be easier if he just always agreed with me.

Quite honestly, there are probably more things that I do that drives Rick crazy. And he loves me all the same.

I pray that as I share some of these little ways Rick confirms his commitment to me, his ideas will encourage you to confirm your love to someone who is terribly important to you. Great marriages and relationships happen when two people decide to make them great. They demonstrate their respect and appreciation to each other regularly. They add laughter and fun to their relationship. They allow for spontaneity and new things, so their relationship does not become predictable.

And yes, I want to encourage couples to stay the course, not give up and decide to develop a healthy relationship that is mutually edifying and rewarding.

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When I walked into the bathroom, I found this sticker on the window. It’s the “approved” sticker from the inspector. For those of you in a long-term relationship, please put your “approval” sticker by expressing love, care and respect to your partner. When you affirm this person time and again, it has a lasting impression on them.

For a spouse who affirms me regularly, I am grateful.

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Holy God – thank you for bringing into my life a spouse who goes out of his way to remind me how special I am. I pray we choose to do likewise to those people who mean so much to us. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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