Sorry Spokane

by DanWolgemuth on June 19, 2017

Father’s Day was founded in Spokane, Washington at the YMCA in 1910 by Sonora Smart Dodd, who was born in Arkansas. The first celebration was in the Spokane YMCA on June 19, 1910. Her father, the Civil War veteran William Jackson Smart, was a single parent who raised his six children there.

There you have it. According to Wikipedia, it was in Spokane, Washington, and not in the corporate hallways of Hallmark where Father’s Day was established.

Father’s Day. An invitation to position ourselves somewhere on a continuum from:
Pain Filled…….to…….Celebration Worthy

In a recent blog posted in , author James K.A. Smith writes:

Father’s Day is easy for me: I have none.  They all left.

So I don’t have to find an awkward card amidst the vast selection on sale.  I don’t have to make the clichéd choice between necktie or power tool.  I don’t have to endure the awkwardness of a largely wordless afternoon in the presence of my progenitor, or remember to call and then try to wrangle a conversation out of the receiver.  (“I don’t have to,” of course, is its own sort of spin, papering over the “I don’t get to” buried beneath it.)

So Father’s Day is easy for me.

It’s the rest of the fatherless days that are difficult.

I had a dad. A good one. Not a perfect one… but a really good one. I miss him. I loved him.

But twelve years in Youth For Christ has impolitely exposed me to many in our communities for whom James Smith’s words are not novel, they’re painfully descriptive.

Now what?

Perhaps Spokane wasn’t the location of the first Father’s Day and maybe it wasn’t 1910 when it was founded. Roughly 1900 years before Sonora Smart Dodd celebrated her single parent dad… on a mountainside in Galilee, Jesus introduced us to Father’s Day. The words have been printed millions of times since. In the Bible, not greeting cards.

There was no awkward photo, no cartoon etched, no gift receipt enclosed… just the invitation for a conversation with a Perfect Father. Our Perfect Father.

It went something like this…

Hey Dad. First, thanks for being our dad. Not just mine, but ours. You are awesome and amazing and more incredible than any father that has ever been or will ever be.

The impact of your fathering has profoundly impacted me here, even as I know it will for all of eternity.

I’m acutely aware that everything I have, even the scone and the fruit I had for breakfast are a gift that you have provided for me. Frankly, I need your help for lunch and dinner… and yes, for tomorrow as well.

The closer I get to you, the more I realize what a mess I am. Selfish, proud, impatient… you know it well. I’m really in debt to you. And that puts into perspective the small debt that others might have with me. I better erase that debt so that I underscore my gratitude that you obliterated my debt.

Please, please steer me away from the places where my soul is vulnerable. Where foolishness looks acceptable, where righteousness feels outdated.

And let me add… all of this is because you are an amazing King with unbounded power which illuminates your indescribable glory.

Thank you Dad.
Happy Father’s Day.

To the fatherless, a dad. To fathers, a guide. To the world, an icon of power and hope and healing and redemption and rescue and perfect love.

Sorry Spokane… it was in Galilee that Father’s Day was established. It was there that our identity was shaped forever.

For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:26)

Our Father… forever.


He is Always in the Chair

by DanWolgemuth on June 13, 2017

Last Thursday night Mary and I were the primary caregivers to six young kids. Three had a genetic connection to us, the other three were a part of our daughter-in-law’s family. The assignment was designed to facilitate an adult evening around a Rehearsal Dinner.

The park, pizza and lots of outdoor play was our strategy. Run, jump, chase and climb were key ingredients to wearing these five little boys and one girl out.

With prayers said and hugs given, Mary escorted the three non-grandchildren to their room. The plan was for these three little boys to stay in the same room. The youngest, Abe (2), was confined to a small portable crib.

Before the soundwaves could settle from my congratulating Mary for getting the job done so effectively, the younger two boys emerged. It seems that Abe could escape from his confines, and he had.

A quick glance at Mary and I said something that amounted to a commitment to engage, and off to the bedroom I went with Abe and Silas.

The room was dark. And soon I had placed both boys back in their appropriate beds. Situated by the bedroom door was an overstuffed chair, and without speaking I sat down.

The boys flipped and shifted, but without a word. Within five minutes the stirring stopped. The clear evidence of sleep hung in the room. Victory. I waited a few more minutes to “make sure the paint was dry” and then I quietly escaped.

I walked back into the living room where Mary was seated. I was adorned with an overly smug look. I confess and now repent.

And yes, there were no escapes after that. At least not on our watch!

So why did it work? Why was my presence enough?

Perhaps these three young lads, sleeping away from home, confined to a single room needed my presence to reassure. Perhaps I represented safety and comfort to them.


Perhaps as an untested commodity to these boys I represented an imposing and fear-inducing presence that forced them to bite their tongues and paralyze their limbs in intimidating compliance.


Maybe, just maybe, a little of both was at work. Comfort and awe. Warmth and fear.

Most importantly, what followed was sleep. Rest. Restoration. Preparation for wedding day.

Rest. Restoration. Sleep.

In the chair beside us, our Father. Our souls are a mix of tenderness and reverence. We are both comforted and frightened. We sleep, because He is in the room. He is here. He is present. He extinguishes our foolishness even as He vanquishes our enemies. We know Him. But we don’t understand Him.

Unlike me, our Fatherly King needs no rest. He is always with us. He never sneaks out of the room so that He can seek His own rest. No, He is always beside us. Always worthy of our praise and always lavishing us with love.

Why would I worry or fret or toss or turn? He is here. He is in the chair. 24/7.

In every unfamiliar setting. In every painful environment. In every familiar location. God. The King. Our Father. Lord. Master. Friend.

Sabbath exposes my confidence. True rest is only possible when I trust.

Sleep. Sweet, wonderful sleep. Because He is always in the chair.

Foolishness vanquished. Comfort guaranteed.


More… So Much More

June 2, 2017

I’m sixty-two years old, and over the course of my life I’ve done two stupid and regrettable things. Not heinous, but wrong. What’s amazing about reflecting on this subject is that I did some stupid and regrettable things yesterday. Unfortunately, I keep getting in the way of my heartfelt desire to live in the full […]

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Strangers With Scissors – Part 2

May 30, 2017

A week ago I shared a story about our 2-year-old grandson, Abe, and his adventures in a barber chair. I called the reflection, “Strangers with Scissors.” Since the moment my fingers stopped typing the story, I’ve continued to face into the powerful realities of this metaphor. In some profound way, the story continues to […]

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Strangers With Scissors

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 […]

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Soft Clay

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 […]

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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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