Juni

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by DanWolgemuth on April 21, 2017

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, hadn’t we all. In those two months she had lost the layer of black hair that had covered her head… now it was fuzz.

Now this beautiful little baby was placed in my arms once again. Her skin was the soft canvas that I had held in late February. A sweet wave of joy washed over me.

Two months before, with similar positioning, I had held Juni as she was tightly wrapped in a warm blanket. She was like a burrito with a pulse. When she opened her eyes they darted without focus and her expressions were unprovoked and random.

But now, at just under four months, we made eye contact for the first time. She saw me. Her focus invited response, and so I obliged. With bobbing head I rocked and talked without regard to public opinion or professional decorum. I cooed and babbled and beamed in pure delight. Then, in contagious response, Juni mirrored my joy. A smile broke across her face. Not the random uninspiring smile of a newborn, but the smile of a responsive heart. A response in response to a smile. A noise in response to a noise.

Juni smiled because unconstrained smiles had been lavished on her. Juni echoed joy because joy surrounded her.

Alli, Chris, Desmond and Abe had smiled on her before she could meaningfully smile back. Day after day after day. Smiles without reply.

But then, somewhere between February and April, a smile. And again.

She smiled because her family first smiled on her.

And now, the enthralled and whiskered face of a 61-year-old grandpa produced a response. A smile.

While Alli and Chris were doing their best to learn Spanish, Juni was learning to smile. Juni was learning love.

We love because he first loved us. (1 John 4:19, ESV)

We smile because He first smiled on us.

Our capacity to love, our ability to respond with joy, is something we have learned from the God who made us.

While I was just a burrito with a pulse, my Father spoke to me. He loved me. He poured smiles over me.

This is why, when I live a life of love, I bring joy to my Father. I delight His heart.

In His arms I rest. His smile becomes mine. His love invades my soul.

Juni smiled.

Because she had been smiled upon.

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Every scar a story… every stitch a tale

by DanWolgemuth on 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 that a remarkably skilled surgeon made three small incisions in Mary’s left hip. Through them he placed three significant screws in Mary’s badly broken pelvis. His wounds healed. Her scars talk.

But he was pierced for our transgressions;
                        he was crushed for our iniquities;
            upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
                        and with his wounds we are healed. (Isaiah 53:5, ESV)

Wounds that healed. Scars that provided the roadmap to restoration.

Not some random accident, but wounds by choice. A sacrifice to restore.

It was a skeptic by the name of Thomas who wanted proof. The scars provided credibility; reliability; closure.

“Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.” (John 20:25, ESV)

For Thomas, and for all of us, the scars matter for all eternity.

The scars on His body told only a fraction of the story… injustice, denial, betrayal, ridicule, conspiracy, mockery and defamation. Deep and profound wounds.

Scars with and without skin involved. Body, mind and soul. Jesus didn’t spend His time on earth avoiding pain, or difficulties, or tribulation… no, He confronted it.

He bled, He wept, He suffered. For us.

The symbol of pain, becomes the gateway to healing.

His scars; our stepping stones through the chaos of life.

Our scars remind us, connect us, embolden us.

In Jesus, every wound has a companion, every tear has a friend. In Jesus, a ruthless symbol of suffering is transformed into a pathway to peace.

For every fractured soul. For every shattered dream. For every broken promise.

Faithful are the wounds of a friend; (Proverbs 27:6a, ESV)

His scars tell the story. His wounds, our cure.

What matchless sacrifice. What amazing grace.

Every scar I carry becomes a road sign, a place holder, a book mark, a navigational system to the greatest scar of all.

Healed. Rescued. Restored.

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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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Cinque

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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Again and Immediately

March 3, 2017

Again he went away and prayed, saying the same words.  And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were very heavy, and they did not know what to answer him.  And he came the third time and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest?  It is enough, the […]

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Candidly Unprofessional

February 24, 2017

It was almost exactly nine years ago that I met Rick Voit. Like me, he was attending the 60th birthday party of my brother Robert in Orlando, Florida. Rick’s connection with Robert began while Rick was a student at New Trier High School in the north suburbs of Chicago. Robert led a Youth For Christ […]

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Amplified by Grief

February 10, 2017

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”—yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. (James […]

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