No Bow On This One

by DanWolgemuth on January 27, 2023

Most often in my writing I work to wrap up a piece with a perfectly tied bow. You know, a wonderful and tidy conclusion to a compelling story or a Biblical insight. But not today. Not that the reflections that follow are untidy, or angry, or bitter… they’re just unfinished. And for whatever reason, 50 years after they happened, they surfaced during a time of quiet reflection.

Fifty years ago I was a senior at Wheaton Central High School. My high school tenure had been uneventful, and without ceremony. My singular leadership accomplishment came in an overheated wrestling room. This was noteworthy enough to earn me a co-captainship my senior year with my friend, Steve Lux. In 1973, we were unlikely District champs…

As a freshman at Taylor University, a broken leg in the Fall of 1973 nudged me into wrestling retirement, until, as a senior, I decided I wanted one more go… something I will always be grateful for.

While I was navigating the nuances of high school and college life, my dad was working through an incredibly intense time of work. Specifically, ministry. During my high school years he was both the national and international President of Youth For Christ. He traveled extensively, and shouldered both leadership and fund raising responsibilities. He was busy and focused.

My most memorable and distinct memory of my dad engaging with me and my wrestling career happened at Wheaton Sports Store. My dad offered to buy me a nice pair of wrestling shoes. The old canvas pair that I wore screamed of incompetence and Sam knew it. So in an act of extraordinary generosity, he bought me a very nice pair that lasted the remainder of my Wheaton Central High School seasons. I was both surprised and deeply grateful…

Yet, in a four-year high school career, and my single collegiate season, I can only remember my dad at one match. And that was because he was upset with Ed Ewoldt, my coach, for letting me cut weight down to 119 pounds as a senior. My dad wanted to give Ed his insights on dieting!

One match. That was it. And yet, I don’t ever remember feeling bitter, or angry, or frustrated.

I certainly never had to wonder about performance-based love. I didn’t consider my dad attempting to live vicariously through me. There was certainly no accomplishment-based support, or overamplified advice or involvement.

Wrestling was my thing. The team was my community. I poured myself in, and returned home to the love and safety of 103 East Park.

Yet, of late, I’ve ached a bit for my dad. Perhaps because I remember the joy of watching high school basketball and volleyball as our kids participated. It was an important calibration in my General Electric corporate life. A delight. A relief. An outlet.

So the bow on this Fragment is still untied… because I know it’s much too easy for a parent to be too involved in the athletic, musical, theatrical or academic accomplishments of their kids, but I also know that there can be a void or an absence as well. Both postures can extinguish joy. And neither, is inherently wrong.

An unfinished thought. An invitation to ponder and process. A balance between not enough, and too much. A journey to navigate on so many fronts.

So I linger in the tension of this untied bow. Now with grandchildren… and a memory that tugs me back 50 years.

Untied. Yet, grateful. Untied. And asking for wisdom…

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Cat and the Box Spring

by DanWolgemuth on January 20, 2023

It was time for the crib to come down. Mack, the youngest of our 11 grandchildren, is four… and well beyond the necessity or the desire to sleep within the confines of a crib. Nostalgia had pushed us to procrastinate, but alas…

That meant a reconfiguration of our “crib room”, which included the dismantling of a full-size bed that sat adjacent to the crib. A queen bed was far more suitable for guests.

Now, what to do with the mattress and box spring of an underutilized, but old combination. Fortunately, with the help of Care Portal, a recipient was found for the mattress… but not the box spring.

For several weeks it sat on edge in our garage. More than a few times I looked at the hammer in my toolbox and contemplated demolishing it and squeezing the pieces into my trash container… but, I refrained.

A week ago I did something I resist doing. I posted this box spring on Facebook Marketplace. I posted an unappealing photo and marked it as free.

Much to my amazement, within a few hours, I had nine inquiries from interested Facebookers. Nine.

I did my best to respond to each… “Yes, it’s still available. Are you still interested?” Only a few responded back. And one of them was a woman named Cat.

I let Cat know that it was still available and asked if she was still interested. With that she quickly responded with “Yes I am…”. Then, she sent me a picture of her minivan with the following note, “I’m a single mom I have a long rope do u think I could rope it on top of my van?”

“It’s yours!” I replied. A smiling emoji followed and then this additional note… “My daughter broke hers jumping on it so this is a blessing.”

Yes, our old box spring, a blessing.

Right on time Cat rolled into my driveway with her van, an infant in a car seat, and a teenaged son at her side to help. She also had a massive rope that I’m quite certain would have held an entire bedroom set in place… but alas, the rope was unnecessary. The box spring angled into the back of her van like is was made for it. No perilous romp across town required. No Boy Scout knots necessary.

She was effusive. Brimming with joy. Over a box spring. An old one.

A week before, I was convinced that demolition was inevitable, and now, my old box spring had turned into a blessing.

What became clear in the brief interaction I had with Cat was that she and her family had just moved back to town. A single mom. A new baby. A teenaged son… and a box spring breaking daughter.

Roughly an hour after the pickup, I felt compelled to write to Cat again… “Cat – I hope you got everything home safe and sound. Especially your baby! Blessings on this single parent journey for you. I will say a prayer for you…Dan”

Soon after I hit send, another note arrived from Cat, “Thank u Dan we made it home safe baby including please continue to keep me in your prayer”

With that, I felt compelled to extend an invitation to Colorado Community Church for a Saturday night service in the near future. And Cat wrote immediately… “Thank you I just moved back looking for a church home. My son is ready to walk back to the faith too.”

All because of a box spring. All because God wanted to remind me that sometimes, the very thing I’m ready to put a hammer to is what He uses to open a door. A new door. A hope-filled door.

God is amazing.

And yes, say a prayer for Cat.

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Half a Billion and Counting

January 13, 2023

His name is Cristiano Ronaldo… officially, he is a Portuguese footballer (soccer player). And, mind you, one of the finest footballers in the world, with more international goals than any other player, ever. But what you may not know is that in November of last year, Cristiano Ronaldo passed the mark of 500 million followers […]

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2023 in a Word

January 6, 2023

Do you do it? Do you select a “word for the year”? I went through a season a few years ago, where I would select a word that I anticipated would be an area of focus during the coming year. Perhaps you’ve done the same. The origin of the official practice of naming a word […]

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The Whys of Christmas – Part 5

December 30, 2022

We started with, Why Then?, and we progressed to Why There? Then we moved to Why Her?, only to be followed by, Why Them?. Four poignant questions that bring us to the threshold of a soul-searching, and heart-moving question… Why me? Frankly, I can’t type those two words without feeling the delight and the weight […]

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The Whys of Christmas – Part 4

December 27, 2022

To continue… Why them? It was 1992, Barcelona, Spain, and the introduction of the “Dream Team” as the Olympic Committee allowed professional athletes to compete. It was a roster of Hall of Fame NBA athletes. Jordan, Pippen, Stockton, Malone, Magic, Bird, Ewing, Mullin, Robinson, Drexler, Laettner and Barkley. What a list. Superstars on a combined […]

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The Ways of Christmas – Part 3

December 16, 2022

 To continue… Why her? Why Mary? A small-town girl. Engaged to be married. A teenager. What I’m confident of is that God knew exactly what He was doing when He plucked this young woman out of obscurity and into cosmic significance. He wasn’t checking Mary’s resume, or pedigree, or balance sheet. And while we celebrate […]

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The Whys of Christmas – Part 2

December 9, 2022

Mystery. Christmas is a collection of unimaginable events, with unlikely heroes, and improbable circumstances. Yet, singularly, it is Christ’s birth in Bethlehem that provides the fulcrum on which all of history is leveraged. And in this mystery, questions emerge. Not irreverent questions, but authentic and ponderous questions. Indeed, questions that only God can answer, but […]

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The Whys of Christmas – Part 1

December 2, 2022

Mystery. Christmas is a collection of unimaginable events, with unlikely heroes, and improbable circumstances. Yet, singularly, it is Christ’s birth in Bethlehem that provides the fulcrum on which all of history is leveraged. And in this mystery, questions emerge. Not irreverent questions, but authentic and ponderous questions. Indeed, questions that only God can answer, but […]

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My Tribute. My Inspiration.

November 18, 2022

It seemed to be a fitting finale to a wonderful six-month adventure. I had been on assignment with General Electric in Folkestone, Kent in the U.K., and now, this global IT project had provided the perfect launching pad for a July trip to Western Scotland. It was 1996, Mary and our three kids had adjusted […]

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