From Bernice to Juni… with love

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by DanWolgemuth on May 25, 2018

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 and hat that was a few sizes too large… we all realized that a chasm of time had been crossed in an instant.

Bernice Cargo, six decades earlier had brilliantly stewarded her needles and yarn. A classic design with nearly flawless execution. A row at a time, indeed, a stitch at a time. Utility and beauty. Function and form. It was Mary’s sister, Liz, who first wore the gift of love. But, last night, it was Juni.

Juni, a great-great granddaughter unknown to Bernice. Her effort of faithfulness and excellence impacted a generation removed from her. A generation unknown, but blessed. Through the work of her hands. Through the gift of her diligence. Through her commitment to excellence.

Each stitch a gift. Each knot a lasting blessing.

Legacy. The work of our hands bringing delight and warmth and beauty to generations that follow. Generations that know nothing about the knitter, but who experience the effect of the sweater.

Legacy. The work of our hands bringing delight and warmth and beauty to generations that follow. Generations that know nothing of me… but who will experience my commitment to excellence and honor firsthand. This is my challenge. A noble calling.

Juni will never have a picture of Bernice on her wall, but she will have a sweater in her closet… a sweater that will not only warm her… but her daughter and granddaughter as well.


A reputation that generations will wear.

From Bernice to Juni… with love.


In the Classroom at Smitty’s

by DanWolgemuth on 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 or remedy. So I did what we all do. I Googled.

Much to my surprise and delight, I located Smitty’s Sprinklers, just two miles from my office. I devised a plan to stop on my way into the office, armed with nothing but a description of the problem.

When I walked into Smitty’s there was a long counter to my right. Behind the counter were two women. Both were very pleasant and engaging. “How can I help you?”

I’m not sure what I expected, but in that moment I was flustered and indescisive. In that moment, I made an assumption.

“Is there someone here who can help me with a question about my Rainbird sprinkler system?”

The words stumbled from my mouth, even as they blatantly exposed my bias. Unspoken, yes, but clear as day. My assumption was that neither of the professionally dressed and thoughtfully engaging women at the front counter were equipped to help me. And so I subtly cloaked my question. Poorly.

“I can help you” replied Sarah.

And help she did. Sarah reached behind her and pulled a sample valve off the wall and began explaining the possible problems that caused the symptoms I was experiencing. She suggested the appropriate next steps to try to further diagnose the problem and offered to help again if I was unable to remedy my situation.

She didn’t sell me anything… in fact, she didn’t even try to sell me anything. And she didn’t dismiss me or my imprecise questions.

But what Sarah revealed was a built in presumption, a baked in stereotype that was exposed amazingly close to the surface. In a split second, I judged a situation, and I did so without information or clarity. And I was absolutely wrong.

Two days later I was back at Smitty’s with more questions, and this time Sarah wasn’t there, just Chris, the other woman at the counter. Once again, my mind raced to an assumption, even if my question was more thoughtful. And once again, Chris delivered with kindness and expertise that crushed my pathetic expectation.

Sarah and Chris know their sprinkling systems. And I don’t have reliable instincts when it comes to judging the competence of the employees at Smitty’s Sprinklers.

Is this isolated? Am I more open minded in other situations? Less judgmental?

Are there other, more insidious ways that I dismiss or diminish the gifting or skill or expertise or wisdom or value of another human being? Am I lazy or arrogant or both when it comes to extending dignity and respect simply because I’ve made a flash decision?

Is gender or appearance or ethnicity or accent tripping a switch in my mind that gives me permission to assume that I know what I so clearly do not?

Two trips to Smitty’s has held up a mirror that I’m not sure I want to stand in front of. I carry a set of biases that are woven into the fabric of who I am… and I’m not proud of it. In fact, it embarrasses me. It should.

Fortunately, Sarah and Chris extended grace, even as they dispensed advice.

I walked into a classroom at Smitty’s. And clearly, I have a lot to learn.


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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Then. And Now.

April 6, 2018

It was a bright Spring day in Franklin, Michigan. April 8, 1978. At 7PM, with the wedding attendants at the front of the church, Mary and her dad moved in front of the double doors at the back of the church. I could see her. The dress she wore was ivory, satin and beautiful. A […]

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The Joy of Juni

March 16, 2018
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It was two and a half years ago that Eunice Cargo moved into Peakview Assisted Living. She’s been a beautiful part of this community. She knows the names of the residents and she smiles and greets them, often without reciprocation. Enter, Juni. Juni is our 15-month-old granddaughter, and Eunice’s great-granddaughter. On Monday morning, Juni and […]

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The Commemorative Issue

March 9, 2018

America’s Preacher (Time Magazine – Billy Graham Commemorative Issue) Remembering America’s Man of God (Newsweek – Billy Graham Commemorative Issue) The accolades flowed like Colorado streams after a spring thaw. From print to video. From spoken word to lyrics sung. Pastor to the Presidents. Evangelist to the world. But the word that surfaced over and […]

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From a Tent in Charlotte… Celebrating Billy

March 2, 2018

“There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are they for so many?” (John 6:9, ESV) A boy. With a meal. It’s hard to imagine what thoughts raced through the head and heart of the boy who offered his barley bread and fish to Andrew. His meal, relinquished. […]

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