A Season of Change

changeThurs., Feb. 8, 2018

Hebrews 13:8 – Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.  

There are times when we have more change in our lives than others. For the past 60 days, I have been in an accelerated phases of change.

After 18 years of pastoral ministry, I stepped away from the two churches I had been serving on Nov. 30, 2017. Initiated by myself, my heart felt it was time to explore another calling in my life: writing. For years, I have privately wanted to focus more on writing. Serving two churches, having another part-time job, helping with family, remodeling a 100+-year-old house, community volunteer work — it all took priority. There have been times I’ve blogged and written regularly. Other times, not so much.

Armed with several ideas of what I could write about, I determined writing was not going to happen unless I reorganized my life. I needed to step back and be more mindful of choices I make.

So, I began a new chapter of my life on Dec. 1, 2017. It has been over 60 days and I’m still figuring out this new phase. The first week, I worked additional time at my part-time job. Then, I embraced a slower pace of preparing for Christmas. I enjoyed baking, preparing our special Deaton Christmas presents (more here: https://simplewordsoffaith.com/2017/12/24/the-winnebago-camper/) and organizing family gatherings.

While my family knew my Mom’s health would change overnight, we were still a bit taken off-guard how quickly it happened. Apparent daily changes began a couple days before Christmas. A couple days later, she was enrolled on Hospice.

Because I had stepped away from pastoral ministry, I had the flexibility to spend more time with Mom the last weeks of her life. For this, I am very grateful as it gave me time to reflect and think. (More here: https://simplewordsoffaith.com/2018/01/15/lessons-on-living-and-dying/)

Yet, real life continued. Less than 48 hours before Mom’s service, I came down with an infection which involved an early morning trip to urgent care. The night after we celebrated Mom’s life, Rick and I got home late. It had been a cold, windy and snowy day. Once inside, our house was cold. The thermostat confirmed this as it read 47 degrees. In the morning, Rick initiated a service call. It took a little convincing to ensure a repair person would visit our house that day and not two days later.

This was over two weeks ago. I still feel like I’m trying to get my feet underneath me. When someone asks how my “retirement” is going, it’s hard to put into words. I don’t think of myself as retired; just not earning a regular paycheck. I anticipated prioritizing writing several hours a day a priority, creating this discipline has been more challenging. It’s easy to fill up time with volunteer opportunities. Rick warned that it would be very easy for me to take on commitments that would distract me from writing. His advice is proving every accurate.

Rick’s work shift has also changed. For the first time in our 17+ years of marriage, we see each other EVERY DAY OF THE WEEK. Previously, this only happened during the six-month period when I took care of Rick’s Mom at the end of her life. Rick works 12-hour night shifts. Therefore, mornings must be quiet. If I am home, we lunch together. I miss going to what was his parent’s farm and having lunch together on the days I work my part-time job. We’d sit at the table where we often sat with Rick’s parents.

What else has changed? Sunday mornings are different. A couple weeks into December, Rick admitted I have screwed up his Sunday routine. I no longer leave for the early church service at 7 AM. Rick enjoyed a couple hours on his own before walking to the 10 AM service. We are still sorting through Sunday worship.

The biggest change for me: figuring out a schedule that keeps me accountable, focused on what is important and flexible. There are so many things I want to do. Prioritizing them has been evasive. I am trying to build more quiet and reflective time into my life and not running a million miles an hour. I keep making lists. Sometimes, it takes a day or two to get things crossed off.

What hasn’t changed? Christ’s presence in my life. How I reflect and practice faith has changed. Jesus isn’t changing. I’m changing. I am trying to simply be along on this journey with Jesus. This is outside my normal wheelhouse. Yet, I believe I can learn more about Jesus, God and myself if I let my life evolve. I pray I listen to God closely enough to hear hints that get dropped along the way, pick up the most important ones and allow this period of change to become my more authentic self in God.

Lord God – thanks for being so consistent in my life. As I evolve, may I be guided by you to become more the person you desire for me to be. Thank you for always being patient with me. Mold me and make me this day.  Amen.

Blessings –


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Lessons on Living and Dying

DSC06181Mon., Jan. 15, 2018

Romans 6:5 – For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his.

Early in our marriage, Rick and I often commented on how fortunate we were that all of our parents were alive. We knew this was not something to take for granted. We tried to make special times and memories with our parents as a married couple and appreciate who each person was.

Just a little over five years ago, my Dad was the first parent to pass. (https://simplewordsoffaith.com/2013/01/04/dads-departure-has-come/) Ten months later, my mother-in-law, Ersel, passed away. (https://simplewordsoffaith.com/2013/11/24/everybody-loves-ersel/). Then, June 2016, my father-in-law, Tony, left this world. (https://simplewordsoffaith.com/2016/06/19/good-bye-tony/)

Our last parent, my Mom, left this earthly world on Sat., Jan. 13. While her health had been steadily declining, the last three weeks, she changed nearly daily. Having stepped back from serving churches six weeks ago and with an understanding boss from my part-time job, I had the flexibility to spent significant time with my Mom the last three weeks of her life. While with her, I often privately reflected upon the lessons my Mom taught and was teaching me about living and dying. I share a few here.

My parents taught their children how to work hard. I remember being encouraged if I worked hard enough, anything could happen. No doubt about it, my Mom was a hard working individual. In ministry, I have often reflected upon the story of Martha and Mary in Luke’s gospel. Martha is a busy-body who wants to be a great hostess when Jesus and his friends show up at her house. Sister Mary is not distracted by all the preparations and simply sits at Jesus’ feet. When Martha is fed up with Mary’s lack of assistance, she asks Jesus to get Mary to help her. Surprisingly, Jesus sides with Mary’s decision to just be in his presence.

My Mom spent nearly all of her life being a Martha. She raised four Martha children. Possibly, she overworked her body into some of the health challenges she struggled with. Even in the last months while living at a nursing home, Mom would often talk about “all the things” she wanted to get done. It’s hard to flip the switch and move into a more Mary-like lifestyle, something my Mom never really became comfortable with. I watched this happen these past few weeks. It has encouraged me to continue reflecting upon how Martha’s can build more Mary into their lives.

Fiercely independent, it was NEVER easy for my Mom to ask for assistance or help. As my siblings and I became more involved in her care needs, it was very difficult for her to accept this. The nursing home staff loved her independence, even if it drove them (and her children) a little crazy. I greatly treasure her acceptance of help in her last days. Helping her eat, rubbing lotion on her skin, reading to her, listening to music and praying together became the single most important parts of each day.

We are not in control. There were many times we saw Mom’s independence continue in her last days. She taught us patience, interestingly not one of her dominant traits. We discovered the gift of peace and just being. Her living and dying journey brought my sisters and I together for several days, something that has seldom happened in our adult years. We discovered that we were along on Mom’s journey and needed to just accept how it transpired, which we came to peace with. I’m confident my sisters and I will treasure those last days together and pray we honored our Mom in the process.

Our greatest peace comes from knowing that in death, Mom would not really die. She simply would be united with Christ in a resurrection just like his. We knew and felt Mom’s whole journey was surrounded in God’s love and grace. We learned to accept each day with Mom as a gift and one to relish and enjoy.

In the days and weeks ahead, I’m confident I will remember and relive many more lessons I have learned through Mom’s living and dying. I close with the last sentence from Mom’s obituary and encourage you to honor my Mom’s living and dying by participating:

As an memorial, the family encourages you to reach out in kindness to someone or play a game of UNO in memory in her.

No Deaton gathering is complete unless there is a game of UNO. 

Almighty God – I thank you for the woman who was my Mom. Thank you for loving her and through her, teaching me so many important lessons on living and dying. I celebrate her life and death. I pray You will continue to teach me things through her journey of living and dying. Amen.

Blessings –


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The Winnebago Camper

DSC06196Sun., Dec. 24, 2017

Luke 2:7 – And she wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

 It’s just a toy Winnebago camper, circa early 1970’s. But nephew Ben thought he’d won the jackpot.

When I was 5- or 6-years-old, all I wanted for Christmas was a Barbie camper. Apparently, they were terribly expensive. Instead, my Mom bought me this Winnebago camper for $10-11. I remember opening it on Christmas morning, still in my pajama’s. It wasn’t exactly what I wanted, and it was the only gift I received that year, but it was a camper.

This camper has brought years and years of joy and happiness to our Deaton family. I grew up in an old farmhouse with hardwood floors. I can still hear the sound of the camper’s wheels being pushed across the floor. Full-size Barbie’s didn’t fit inside the camper. But we could sit on top of the camper and ride it. Not only did my sister’s and I play hard with the Winnebago, later, it was the favorite toy for my niece and nephews to play with. After my parents moved to town, they rode it down main street. Inside the house, they would make a circle through the dining room, living room and kitchen, going from carpet, hardwood floors and linoleum with each pass.

It’s been played hard. The rear window is missing. The bumpers have hit way too many walls. But it’s mere presence drums up a whole bunch of fun memories.

For the last several years, presents with my Deaton family have taken on a whole new twist. (I explain this more in https://simplewordsoffaith.com/2016/12/13/were-they-practical-gifts/) I wrap up items from my parents, grandparents and long-standing family traditions. With each gift, I include an accompanying story, sharing a little history of this item. Each year, there are highly sought after presents: my Dad’s dog tags from when he was in the service, a photo book from when he was stationed in Germany. Since we began this tradition, my niece and nephews have been asking when the Winnebago camper would be included. Everyone knew this would be a highly sought-after item.

This was the year.

Last week, I went through boxes of items from my Mom’s and pulled out 22 items, wrapped them and the accompanying stories. Then, I went and found my beloved Winnebago camper and wrapped her up. When I shared with Rick that the camper was part of the Deaton gift exchange, he asked me if I really wanted to let it go. I felt it was time to let another family continue the joy of this very special item.

It was clear my niece and nephews were anticipating the Winnebago. There had been advance plotting and planning for who would end up with the camper. Naturally, being the biggest box, it was the first gift opened by great-nephew Dane. He was cautioned that while it was his for the moment, it wouldn’t be his for long as stealing gifts are part of the exchange.

Quite honestly, there were lots of super cool items in this year’s Deaton gift exchange. My grandfather’s high school diploma from 1925. The honorary FFA Chapter Farmer plaque my Dad received. A copy of the sale catalog from when my parents disperse our registered Holstein herd in 1987. My Dad’s 4-H record books. The well-worn Uno cards were busted out for another game. Not so popular? The Easter basket from the 1960’s. The head silhouette of my sister Debbie. Even her husband, Keith, didn’t select this. Niece Jenny was stuck with Debbie’s framed head from third grade.

The last person who selected a gift was my nephew Ben’s wife, Jackie. Yep, she picked the Winnebago for her husband Ben, which let to flurry of last minute gift steals and exchanges. No doubt, Ben was one happy camper last night as he loaded the beloved Winnebago into their vehicle to take home. For him, this was the best Christmas gift he could have received.

Ben - winnebago
The new proud owner of the Winnebago – my nephew Ben

As much joy and laughter we experienced at our Deaton family Christmas yesterday and as many cool memories the Winnebago camper eludes, let’s not forget THE single greatest gift of Christmas ever: the birth of Jesus. As we gather with family and friends today and tomorrow; as we sit in worship tonight with lit candles and sing “Silent Night,” I pray we can be very thankful we have a God who loves us so much that he sent his only son into this world for all our benefit. This is the reason why we celebrate. This is the reason we exchange gifts. This is the reason we even have a Christmas. It’s a gift even more special than the Winnebago camper.

From all the Deaton clan, I wish you and your family a Merry Christmas.

DSC06175Lord God – Words can’t express the deep gratitude for the gift of your Son, Jesus, into this world. I pray we see your love as the reason for the season.  Amen.

Blessings –


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What Can You Do with $2.63?

Tues., Dec. 12, 2017

Psalm 138:2– I face your Temple as I worship, giving thanks to you for all your loving-kindness and your faithfulness, for your promises are backed by all the honor of your name.

The elementary-school-aged boy proudly dropped some money into the bucket. He looked up and said, “The $10, that’s from my Mom. I’m putting in $2.63!”

$2.63. Right down to the penny.

I am part of a program called Blessings in a Backpack. Each week, our volunteer group puts together bags of food for kids within the school district who might not have enough food to eat over the weekend. Each week, our group packs 52-54 bags of food and takes them to the school. School staff discreetly put the food bags into kid’s backpacks and/or lockers. Parents have granted permission for their child to receive the food bags. It is our hope these little bags of food provide security and confidence the recipients will have some food to eat over the weekend.

The average cost of a food bag per student each week: $2.63.

The program is sustained by donations, grants and generous people. Our Blessings group is a non-profit organization that appreciates every penny we receive; including the $2.63 this boy dropped into the money bucket one night.

The school parent organization had organized a student craft night. Students could sell crafts or baked goods they made. Our Blessings program was invited to participate. Would I be willing to share with the students and parents about the program? Could I encourage the kids to give back some of the money they earned from their sales to the Blessings program? Why, of course, I would.

Before the shopping began, I asked the students what they could buy with $2.63. After a few answers, I showed a typical food bag that students receive, pulling out two breakfasts, two meals and four snacks. If they wanted to help fellow students, maybe they could donate to the Blessings program from the proceeds of their sales.


I was so impressed with the unique ideas the students had. A cupcake decorating station. Lots of candy, cookies and baked items, including gluten-free options! Bookmarks, crafts made from Mason jars and burlap bags: it was all there. The price lists and business cards brought smiles to shoppers faces.

It was a super-fun night. I enjoyed a little shopping myself and seeing the creative options. As people were packing up left-over items, most of the kids stopped by the Blessings table and dropped some money into our bucket. One mom shared that her daughter donated 50% of her profits, a pre-arranged requirement. And there was the boy who donated exactly enough money for one Blessings bag that would be packed the following morning for one of his fellow schoolmates. Right down to the penny.

Once home, I counted the money. Total donations from the craft night: $254.83. It costs about $100/child for a school year. Blessings received donations to pay for 2.5 school kids for the current school year.

So many lessons abounded in this single event. Kids discovered how to make something. They were given the opportunity to sell their product and maybe even learned a lesson or two about marketing. They learned about stewardship: the value of giving back and paying their proceeds forward.

I give thanks for every student who dropped any amount into the Blessings bucket that night, as well as their parents and grandparents. I give thanks for their loving-kindness and their faithfulness. I give thanks for the $2.63 that will provide a student with a bag of food this weekend.

What can you do with $2.63 today?

Lord God – Thank you for helping us see that giving comes in all shapes and sizes. May we be reminded that the size of the gift is not nearly as important as the giving heart behind the gift. We thank you for your never-failing loving-kindness and faithfulness to us. Amen.

Blessings –


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“Are you the lady from church?”


Steffenhagen family
That’s Mason and his sisters from Trunk-or-Treat last Sunday. Isn’t he the cutest little action hero with his big smile?

Wed., Nov. 1, 2017

Galatians 3:26– You are all God’s children through faith in Christ Jesus.

“Are you the lady from church?” the 4-year-old Superman action hero asked me.

He was standing outside the front door of my house with his sisters. He had just rung the doorbell and exclaimed “Trick or treat!” as I opened the door.

Yep, Mason. I am the lady from church.

Mason is part of the Wednesday Night Church School (WNCS) program at one of the churches I serve as pastor. I have the great pleasure of seeing Mason and about 65 other kids each Wednesday night. In an action-packed hour, we cover all things related to God’s kingdom.

Does Mason know I am a pastor? I am not really sure. What I do know is the only place Mason has ever seen me is at church. Maybe he thinks it is my home. Where I sleep. Where I eat. Where I stay. Why wouldn’t he? He has never seen me anyplace else.

Until tonight. On my front porch. I was in the wrong place. I was out of character. Just like Matt Lauer being Dolly Pardon yesterday morning on the Today show: something was amiss.

This is not the first time I have received a very unexpected reaction from a church kid. Once while at the grocery store, I ran into a church family. A squirrely little boy in this family couldn’t believe THE PASTOR needed to buy groceries. “You eat?” he asked me. Yes, I eat.

Years ago, I wore jeans to church. The kids were aghast. Pastors wear jeans? Now, I purposely wear jeans on a regular basis. I want kids to know that pastors are just like any other person. We wear jeans. We eat food. We have homes.

We make mistakes. We tell lies. We hurt people’s feelings.

We exaggerate. We cut corners. We fail to help people we easy could have.

Mason – I have no more special powers than you did in your Superman outfit last night. Sadly, it’s very true.

We pull our pants on every morning just like you do. Sometimes, we eat too much sugar like you and other trick-or-treaters did last night. Sometimes, we don’t even pray as much as we should. Or we scan Facebook rather than reading our Bible.

I know. It’s hard to fathom how the lady from church might do laundry, cook dinner and cry while watching “This Is Us.” Take a shower? Completely out of the question.

This is the truth, Mason. I’m a normal person just like you. Just like your Mom. Just like your Dad. I just have a job in which I have the great privilege to tell little people like you and your WNCS friends about Jesus and God. I get to sprinkle water on baby’s heads and hand out shot glasses of grape juice and tiny cubes of bread. I get to hold sick people’s hands and lay my hands on them as I pray for them. I get to pound nails with teens on mission trip and buy them ice cream after a long day of roofing. And Mason, I even get to pretend I am playing an air guitar with you and the rest of the WNCS kids as we sing a super cool song about God.

Mason – thanks for stopping with your family at my house while you were out trick-or-treating. It made my night. Yep, I’m just another lady at church. Thanks be to God.

Lord God – thank goodness, we are all the same in your sight. You love us all, no matter what. You love us the same, in spite of our inability to do the same. Thank you for creating us as your beloved children. Amen and Amen.

Blessings –


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Merry Halloween??!!

Tues., Oct. 31, 2017

Job 14:2– Like a flower, we bloom, then wither, flee like a shadow and don’t last.  

My Christmas cactus forgot to look at the calendar. Today is Halloween … and it’s blooming, almost two months early. Seriously?

Actually, this Christmas cactus is my Mom’s plant. This spring, we cleaned out my Mom’s apartment when she moved permanently into a nursing home. My sister, Debbie, and I were cleaning out the last things. There was Mom’s Christmas cactus. For years, and I mean years, my Mom has had a Christmas cactus. We felt like someone should keep it. Debbie voted for me.

I brought it home and put it outside in our screened in porch. Honestly, I haven’t taken very good care of it. I watered it once a week. That was it. Until today. We had a hard frost on Saturday night. All the annuals froze except the geraniums. This afternoon, I remembered the Christmas cactus. Did it make it? As I walked towards the porch, I justified that it was in a more protected area. Maybe, just maybe, it would be fine.

What I wasn’t prepared for were the many pretty fuchsia pink blossoms spilling over the edge of the pot. Not wanting to take any chances on something happening to the plant, I quickly brought it inside.

I have another Christmas cactus. This one was given to me last year at Christmas by a lovely couple from church. It isn’t blooming. With a closer inspection, I unearthed several dead branches and fallen leaves. I walked away with a handful of dead parts. Apparently, the outside plant enjoyed its environment much more than the inside version.

Plants can be beautiful, refreshing and brighten up a space quickly. When the plant isn’t doing well, it can be a bummer. When it is not doing well, it quickly fades. Most plants do not consistently bloom. Overnight, they can go from gorgeous blooms to droopy flowers.

Our spiritual lives are much the same. One day, we can feel so very close to God: inspired by God and alive with God. If we miss some alone time with God, fail to see blessings in our lives or get caught up in the busy-ness of live, God suddenly feels like a long-lost relative rather than a close friend with whom we text or chat with daily.

Like all relationships, our relationship with God is never stagnant. Either we are moving closer to God or stepping back. There are simply going to be times when we don’t feel as close to God. This is a fact. Yet, are we doing the things we can to nurture our relationship with God? Or are we more like the abandoned cactus that barely received a drink of water once a week?

Like my Mom’s Christmas cactus, we can bloom with less attention. For most people, additional nurturing is needed. What is one thing you can do this week to water your spiritual soul? To draw yourself back towards the One who created you?

My thoughts have turned towards keeping Mom’s cactus alive and blooming. Until Christmas? Probably not so much. Rather, I will let it wish you all a Merry Halloween!

Lord God – thanks for putting inside each one of us the opportunity to be a beautiful person. Sometimes we bloom and make life around us brighter and more beautiful. Other times, we are more like a fading flower. Thank you for being patient with us. May our connection with you keep us glorious for your kingdom. Amen.

Blessings –


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Small Things = Great Love

4039-Mother-Teresa-Quote-Not-all-of-us-can-do-great-things-But-we-canTues., Oct. 24, 2017

Matthew 25:21 – Jesus said, “The master answered, ‘You did right. You are a good servant who can be trusted. You did well with that small amount of money. So I will let you care for much greater things. Come and share my happiness with me.’”

I love this Mother Theresa quote: “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”

I often witness human beings who take this quote seriously. Let me share a recent example.

In 1997-98, I served overseas for a school year as a missionary. For my “real” job, I taught English at a state university in the former Soviet Union country of Kazakstan. One of the students I taught was a young lady named Assel.

While in Kazakstan, I invited Assel to worship with me at a Christian church. It was the first time she had ever been to a Christian worship service. Initially, she went because it gave her additional opportunities to speak English. She chose to go back and eventually, discovered who God is in her life. Before I left Kazakstan, Assel felt a strange warming in her heart … and knew it was God.

Assel’s family consider themselves Muslim, although they do not actively practice. Sharing her Christian faith was a huge risk. Initially, she was trying to figure out who God was to her.

Based on her English skills, Assel landed a job with a western company. She traveled and expand her job and English skills. Her spiritual journey went on a roller coaster ride the next few years. Eventually, she met a Christian man who was raised in South Africa and they married.

Today, Assel’s Christian faith is a defining part of her life. She and her husband live in Kazakstan and are involved in a local Christian church. Recently, Assel came to the United States for a conference. After the conference, she spent a few days with Rick and me. It was great to reconnect. Assel shared the struggles of their local Christian church. Wages for local Kazak workers continue to be very low. The government is more skeptical of Christian churches than when I was there. Assel and her husband support their local church as much as possible.

Before taking Assel to the airport, we stopped at one of the churches I serve. On Fridays during the school year, Blessings in a Backpack bags are assembled here. These are food bags given to students on Fridays, so they have food for the weekend. As we walked by where the food is stored, I shared with her information about the program.

A few steps later, Assel opened her purse and pulled out $100 from her wallet. She wanted to donate to our little Blessings program. I am thinking of the ways these funds could be used in her church. As I shared this, Assel knew this was true. Yet, she insisted on supporting our local food program. She wanted to feed one student during this school year, which equals $100. I was blown away by her insistence to help our Blessings program.

Last Sunday, we had “Pay It Forward Sunday.” We hand out envelopes with money inside during worship. People are instructed to take the money, a loan from God, and invest it. The idea is to use these funds and bless someone else. If people want to add more funds to the seed money, they can. They can’t give the money back to the church. They are encouraged to fill out the post card in the envelope and share how they invested these funds.

The envelopes do not include huge sums of money. Yet, the small amount of money loaned from God usually increases by at least five times. It is amazing how these small gifts suddenly become larger gifts that express God’s love for those in need in simply amazing ways.

Assel accomplished her Pay It Forward ministry without any initial seed money. She took it upon herself to share a small gift with a needy program.

How about you? What is a small thing you can do with great love this week?

Almighty God – sometimes we expect someone else to step in and make a difference. Why? Because we think we don’t have enough resources. Or our gifts aren’t important enough. What is amazing is that when we can release our gifts into your kingdom, you take them and far exceed our expectations. When you bring an opportunity to do a small thing this week to express great love, please help us accept this opportunity. Amen.

Blessings –


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If you have enjoyed this blog, please pass it along to someone else who also enjoy it.

Trusting = Faith

Tues., Sept. 26, 2017

Hebrews 11:1 – Faith is the reality of what we hope for, the proof of what we don’t see.

My husband never ceases to amaze me. We’ve been living in our fixer-upper home for a little over two years. In that time, we’ve made significant changes to the house. On the docket for this summer: painting the outside trim. The trim was a royal blue color. While it’s a nice color, it wasn’t my preference. It didn’t quite match the singles nor the indoor/outdoor floor covering on the porches. The first fall we lived in the house, we painted the foundation more of a grey/blue which we highly preferred. It was now time to paint the rest of the trim a granite steel color.

This summer, Rick has been consistently painting the trim. He started painting the 53 windows of the house. Yep. 53. At the end of last week, he had about a dozen windows or so yet to do. Also yet to do: the four third-story peaks. We talked of renting a lift with a bucket to reach these precarious areas. Rick thought the lift would leave ruts in the yard. It’s taken two years to get the yard looking the way he wants it to look. He wasn’t ready to start over.

Instead, Rick came up with his own solution. He painted several windows from inside the house. Maybe more appropriately – hanging out from the inside of the house. Painting the peaks? This required more creativity.

Last Saturday morning was the day he was going to paint the peaks. Never mind this was also the warmest weekend of the summer/fall. He bounded out of bed bright and early and went to pick up an extension ladder he borrowed from friends. Pretty soon, there was a series of ropes and come-and-go belts snaked through my office and out the window. Anchored to a staircase banister, they were attached to the extension ladder perched on the flat roof outside of the window and hooked to a rope Rick tied around his waist. These non-OSHA approved safety devices were, at best, red-neck. My first thought: “You can take the boy off the farm but you can’t take the farm out of the boy.”

Rick assured me he didn’t really need these safety measures. He wouldn’t fall off the ladder nor would the ladder slip. They were simply “just in case” measures. He had faith he could paint the peaks with no hiccups.

Faith. What do we have faith in? Where is faith found? Who is the source of our faith? I’ve known for a long time Rick has a deep-seeded faith. His faith isn’t in the ropes and such. Rick’s true faith is knowing someone bigger is watching over him.

Several years ago, we sang a song at VBS called “Faith.” It has become one of those songs I often sing in my head:

It seems like there so much to hope for, so many dreams I wish they all could come true.

When I think about Your ways, Lord, it gives me so much faith in all that you do.

Faith to see beyond what I can’t see.

Faith to know that You will do great things.

I will trust You Lord, I’ll always believe.

As I hold on to my faith, Jesus you are holding on to me.

Rick literally believed Jesus would hold onto him as he painted those precarious peaks of the house.

What do you hang onto when the going gets tough? Do you depend upon a series of earthly things that can fail you? Or, do you hang onto the One, True God?

Faith is often difficult because we can’t see it. We can’t touch it. We can’t physically describe it.

Yet, I cannot deny faith. Faith is the unseen things I feel in my heart. It’s the unseen comfort I have felt when God is with me. It’s the unseen presence of God that brings me peace.

Rick completed the painting without a hitch. Fortunately, he didn’t need the safety devices. They were “just in case.” The newly-painted trim looks GREAT! We’re both thankful this project is officially completed. I’m thankful for a husband who hatches with creative ideas. I’m also thankful for a husband whose faith is such that he knows daily who watches over him.

Lord God – Faith is hard to describe because it’s not something we see. It’s something we feel, we trust, we experience. Thanks for hanging unto us when we slip. Thanks for being our safety net and rope. May our faith in you be what keeps us safe in you. Amen.

Blessings –


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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 –


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