Strangers With Scissors

by DanWolgemuth on May 19, 2017

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Haircuts can be traumatic, but especially when it’s your first in a barber shop. That’s precisely what our two-year-old grandson, Abe, was facing. His flowing blond locks may have been adorable, but they were increasingly impractical.

Alli, our daughter, met Mary at the selected shop and the process began.

When it was Abe’s turn on the chair, it became immediately obvious that he wasn’t going to allow a complete stranger with a comb and a scissor to come anywhere close to him. Case closed.

Alternative plans began to formulate, and a solution was drafted. Mary, Emmie in this case, would occupy the barber chair first. The familiarity of her waiting lap would provide a significantly more inviting platform for the task at hand.


The plan worked. Mary, as a booster seat with arms and a familiar tenderness provided the reassurance that Abe needed. The situation was unfamiliar and unsettling… but Emmie was there. He trusted her. He should and he could.

Her arms provided security even while a complete stranger rotated around his head. Fear submitted to love. Defiance surrendered to tender proximity.

An objective needed a companion, an advocate, a lap, arms and a familiar voice.

Life is frightening. There are many unfamiliar barber shops… filled with strangers with scissors. This is why God instructed us to provide the arms of confidence. This is why Jesus talked about caring for each other. It’s precisely why Jesus didn’t simply instruct little children… no, He swept them into the safety of His arms and then He valued and treasured and taught them. In the classroom of tender proximity.

“Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them. (Mark 10:14-16, ESV)

Fear doesn’t disappear, it just needs a trusted companion. Emmie. Jesus.

I need arms… every day. I need a gentle whisper, a familiar voice. Proximity.

But this too is our calling. To wear the black cape for others. To sit down first. To reassure. To enter in. To “take them in our arms.”

This inspires me, even as it breaks my heart. So many scissors. So few Emmie’s. Do you feel the call? Can you be? Will you be?

Strangers with scissors.

In the arms of Emmie.

Mission accomplished.


Soft Clay

by DanWolgemuth on May 5, 2017

Words are the soft clay that get formed into either useful or destructive purposes.

I know this. I hear this. I am this.

Ten years ago, while visiting our Youth For Christ chapter in Fort Wayne, Indiana, a young woman walked up to a cold metal microphone and announced to the world that as a sixteen-year-old she had never heard the words, “I love you,” from a family member. Never.

I can still see her face. No visible bruises, but black and blue to the core.

Words are free, but expensive.

In the many years that have followed my Fort Wayne experience, I have heard teenagers over and over again relate the damage done with words. Sometimes baseless, but often graceless… words land in the souls of vulnerable kids and anchor themselves in the bedrock of identity.

Letters assembled in a toxic brew. Words forming sentences that construct paragraphs that shape destinies.

Words shaped from the overflow of our soul. Words formed from the vocabulary that has been instilled in us.

“In the beginning was the Word…”

From the foundation of the world, words have mattered. While it was a piece of forbidden fruit that caught Eve’s eye in the Garden, it was words that confused her identity and opened her soul to defy God.

But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:4-5, ESV)

Lies with glossy promise.

But God.

Rich in mercy. Abounding in love. Just and compassionate.

But God… dispatched His only begotten son to become the Word in the flesh.

The Word with a pulse. The Word with legs. The Word who could raise a fist to the lies and speak honest words of redemption, hope and transformation into every soul that would listen.

That beautiful young teenager who stood at the microphone in Fort Wayne had been rescued. Not through the education system. Not through the courts. Not through economic opportunity. She had been rescued with words. With the Word. In the flesh. Christ is us. Our hope. Our identity.

Today, you will form somewhere between 10,000 and 20,000 words. Some with your lips, some with your fingers… all from your soul. Shape them wisely. Use hands of truth and grace to form them.

Once spoken/written they become like pottery fired in the oven. They are impossible to reshape.

“…and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17, ESV)

Even God. Especially God used words.


His son. Our brother. Beloved.

Words. A sacred trust.

Form them wisely, then use them boldly. To defy the lies.

So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son. (John 1:14, NLT)

The Word. Unfailing love.


Finding Our Way to YES

April 28, 2017

Have you noticed that parents with young children don’t spend a great deal of time teaching their toddlers to say NO? No comes naturally, and not just for two-year-olds. While parents are shaping the words Momma and Daddy, children are fluently expressing the thoughts on their minds. NO! Our earliest vocabulary is formed from a […]

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April 21, 2017
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It had been nearly two months since I had held our granddaughter. Alli and Chris had flown to the Dominican Republic when she was two months old, and now, nearly the same length of time later, she was back in my hands. In those two months she had added a few more rolls, but then, […]

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Every scar a story… every stitch a tale

April 17, 2017

From an uninvited and imprecise scar above my lip, the result of an early childhood encounter with a wing nut, to a meticulously positioned and expertly executed incision to reattach my left hamstring within the last year… every scar pulls back the curtain on a drama. Wounds. Healing. Scars. It was in July of 2012 […]

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Making Cents of Sparrows

April 7, 2017

Ah, the beautiful Flicker. A bird of size, color, elegance and stature. A bird that frequents the feeders on the deck outside our kitchen window. Like an extra guest at the breakfast table. Like an artist displaying some of their finest work. Yet the Flicker isn’t our only feeder patron. In fact, many birds come […]

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From Boggle to Beauty

March 31, 2017

The letters dance, the timer gets flipped, and the competitors unleash their minds to construct words out of the clutter. Boggle. Sixteen cubic dice settle into individual boxes inviting a thoughtful evaluation and assembly into words of varying lengths. Chaotic possibilities finding order. Meaninglessness finding definition. A game with a prophetic voice. A metaphor waiting […]

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March 24, 2017
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I spotted a 3 by 5 card on the desk in our hotel room. The importance of the evening was not lost on me. Our first getaway dinner in Athens. We had spent the day doing what tourists do in Athens… history class in hiking shoes. And now the search was on. With wifi in […]

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The Day I Met Heaven

March 17, 2017

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:3) Two weeks ago I met Heaven. Seriously. I met her. In fact, not only did I meet her, I also held her; I sang Happy Birthday to her… and I had the privilege of praying for her. Heaven. A beautiful […]

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Light of the World

March 10, 2017

You are the light of the world.  A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.  Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may […]

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