Jesus in the kitchen

by DanWolgemuth on June 22, 2018

Grace Wolgemuth loved to bake bread.

I remember vividly walking through the back door of our home on Park Street in Wheaton, Illinois into the smell of freshly baked bread. It was a culinary hug. A whole wheat welcome mat. My Mom had the recipe, technique, baking and timing down to a science.

But before the taste, the smell.

Yes, before the crust is cut, before the butter hits the hot slice… the smell. But it takes other smells to beget the perfect smell. Less pleasant smells. Even unpleasant smells.

The robust smell of a freshly plowed field. The disks of the plow breaking through the winter crust. Dirt, the home of a tiny seed… the smell of preparation.

At times, the stench of manure saturates the late spring/early summer air. The heavy humid summertime air carries the aroma of growth.

Before the beautiful and appetizing smell of perfection… the smell of preparation, of fertilization, of protection, of growth. A seed becomes a kernel. A kernel becomes flour. Flour finds its way to a local shelf in a Jewel Grocery store. That flour slides through the skilled fingers of a baker, of my mother… and all the smells that preceded that moment find their destiny fulfilled in a perfectly formed loaf.

Grace Wolgemuth stewarded the difficult smells that arced over the history of the ingredients. Unpleasant aromas that were a prerequisite to the ultimate aroma.

I smell the dirt… the distinct scent of brokenness. Of the soil being readied. Plow blades across the bad habits, the prejudicial perspectives, the winter formed opinions that require action before seeds can find a home.

I smell the stench of evil and pain and disappointment and injustice; gut wrenching, but not wasted. Food for the good seeds. Fuel to accelerate what the rain and sunshine will nourish.

No smell dismissed, some smells fiercely unpleasant… but stewarded by the Baker, in His skilled hands.

Smells that define our calling, now coalescing in the kitchen.

Before the beautiful smell of Easter, the stench of death. Before the fragrance of grace, the stink of sin.

At 103 East Park, Wheaton, Illinois… the smell of bread made by Grace.

What fills your nostrils today? Is it the robust smell of brokenness; soil being made ready? Is it the stench of evil and sin; manure, but fuel for a healthy soul?

Someday, in the kitchen of grace, the smells will be redeemed; transformed. An open invitation to celebrate, to feast, to delight.

I am the bread of life… This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread the fathers ate, and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” (John 6:51, 58 ESV)

Jesus in the kitchen. He is to be trusted with every smell.


My True-Blue Line

by DanWolgemuth on June 15, 2018

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Acadia National Park is a national treasure. A tribute to the creativity and power of God.

Mary and I just concluded a week in Bar Harbor, Maine that included an exploration of several of the robust Acadia hiking trails. While notably different than the trails we’re used to in Colorado, they were equally as awe inspiring and grand.

Unlike the hikes in Colorado, there is a common thread that accompanied every hiking trail in the National Park. A small light blue stripe, approximately one inch by four, provided the much-needed assurance to both safe passage and mission accomplishment.

The blue marks were placed frequently, but never too frequently! Most of the time they appeared on rocks, but sometimes on trees. This was a good thing, as the trails were often hard to follow and sometimes even counterintuitive.

The blue line showed the way. Precisely. Dependably. Faithfully.

Even the angle of the line mattered. Every detail. Every position an indicator and guide.

At times the trail was also identified by cairns, a classic Colorado trail marker that is essentially a pile of rocks, placed by individuals to show the way. They’re not anchored or authored, but generally trustworthy.

There are also the telltale worn pathways that can aid in navigation. These paths have been established over time by the feet of other hikers. Hikers I don’t know, who may or may not want to arrive at the same destination that I do.

Three modes of trail navigation. Three distinct guides through the varied terrain of Acadia.

As for me, there was no question in my mind which I wanted to follow. Give me the blue dash every time. It had been placed with care by the National Park Service. Their credibility was on the line. They were the men and women in the distinct uniforms with name tags. I could find them, ask them questions, check their credentials.

The other two methods of navigation represented the best efforts of others. Well meaning, and most often on track, but not authoritative.

The cairns, often a welcome and confirming sight, were temporary. Moveable. Vulnerable to the whims of a scoundrel or an inquisitive child. And at various times the well-worn path worked its way to a dead-end cliff. An awe-inspiring viewing point, but not the way to the top. In fact, potentially deadly.

But not the blue lines. They were true and sure and right.

Mary and I safely journeyed to the top of three summits in Acadia National Park because we followed the blue lines. Unflinchingly. Sometimes against my instincts. Sometimes in defiance to a well-worn path. But always confidently. Always with hope.

Your word is a lamp to my feet
and a light to my path. (Psalm 119:105, ESV)

Flawless. Timeless. Righteous. True.

My pure blue line. God’s Word.

Make no mistake, Godly men and women make beautiful markers along the way… theological cairns that bring comfort and confirmation, but they are no replacement for the blue line. There are also times when the saints before me have worn a path that is helpful and reassuring, but only when it aligns with the blue line.

Acadia. Awe inspiring. And a profound and life-altering picture of the beauty and comfort of God’s unfailing Word.


“Unless you turn and become like children…”

June 8, 2018

There weren’t many on the route from Colorado to Nebraska. The migration pattern typically leads in the other direction. But we had Lake McConaughy on our mind. And so, we rendezvoused at a camp site… three camp sites to be precise. It was our first family camping weekend, with eight adults, ten children (our grands), […]

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Scotland 1996

June 1, 2018

I had just finished an intense six month project in Folkestone, England with General Electric. As a family, we chose to end our assignment with a trip north into the beautiful west coast of Scotland. Rustic, rough, underdeveloped and breathtaking. On a blustery July day we stumbled upon a “Sheepdog Contest”. Authentic and poignant, we […]

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From Bernice to Juni… with love

May 25, 2018
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Knitting needles in the hands of Bernice Cargo. Mary’s Grandmother was a master. And last night, in our kitchen, Bernice’s legacy was on display. Juni, our 18-month-old granddaughter was a willing dress-up doll for Mary as she pulled an aged wardrobe back into public view.  When Juni was clad in a meticulously constructed blue sweater […]

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In the Classroom at Smitty’s

May 11, 2018

I was completely perplexed, inexperienced, and exceptionally cheap. A sprinkler system malfunction was not going to stump me. I’ve drained and restarted the same system for 12 years, and year 13 was not going to be any different… but it was, and is. Multiple zones operating simultaneously and inconsistently was beyond my capacity to diagnose […]

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In Tuskegee. At Booker T. Washington

May 4, 2018
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There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. (John 15:13, NLT) A hero. Someone who trades their own life for the life of others. Warriors. Soldiers. First Responders. Courageous bystanders. A high school Principal. Brelinda Sullen. Tuskegee, Alabama. Booker T Washington High School (BTW). Against the odds. In the […]

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The Smell of Heaven

April 27, 2018

The twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. (Rev. 5:8) I was just a few hours from walking back into my house after being on the road for several days.  When that happens, when I walk from the […]

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Jesus on the Banjo

April 23, 2018

Bela Fleck. It seems that I was almost the only one in my family who didn’t know his music or his prowess. Bela is considered by many to be the finest banjo player in the world. Nearly 60 years old, he was named after renowned classical composer Bela Bartok. Over the course of Fleck’s career, […]

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Spend Freely…

April 13, 2018

We make lists… we write notes… we use an app called Wunderlist… we send text messages, all for the purpose of remembering to buy something that we’re out of. You’ve got a list. We all do. Exhaustible resources. Our refrigerators are empty, our gas tanks need to be filled, our cupboards look bare. Much of […]

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