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Posts tagged ‘mother’

and it was evening, and it was morning. . .

I closed my eyes as I listed to the creation story this morning. The reader had a Texas drawl and I could just imagine her as a grandmother, eager children at her feet, begging her to tell the story again. “Let there be light,” and they ooh and ahh. “God saw that it was good,” and they smile contentedly. “And it was evening, and it was morning,” and they relax into each other, knowing that the story is long.

I am grateful for the storytellers in my life. On this Father’s Day, I celebrate a man who has never met a stranger, someone who strikes up a conversation wherever he happens to find himself, one who can tell you the same story again and again and tell it with even more passion the 23rd time. My dad has taught me the Southern art of storytelling, the way men and women have been passing down tales from generation to generation. It’s a way of connecting – with the people around you, with the events of the past, with our collective hopes and dreams for the future. It’s made me a better preacher and a better pastor, and for that, I’m grateful.


I’m also thinking of another storyteller today: my mom. Today is her birthday; she would have been 64. She told me stories, too, but not always with her words. Her life spoke to me of challenges and accomplishments, of struggles and victories, of fear and faith. When she graduated from college, she and my dad moved hundreds of miles away from family in Indiana to start a new life in South Carolina. When life took several unexpected turns, she told me everyone who knew her expected her to go running home. But she didn’t. She stayed. And struggled. And built a life, one with meaning and purpose and filled with sisu (that’s Finnish for bravery and courage in the face of adversity.) Today I celebrate her life, her teaching, her determination to the very end.


“And it was evening, and it was morning. . .” The creation story reminds me that life goes on, creating continues, one day at a time. Even if you’re not in a 12-step program, it’s still a pretty good motto. Each day is another day to celebrate the relationships in our lives, the love we share, and the support that is always available. Each morning we can give thanks for God’s presence within and around us, for the calling we receive in baptism, and for our role as co-creators with God. Each evening we can rest in the assurance that the Holy Spirit will take our efforts and multiply them like loaves and fishes to satisfy the needs of the world.

Today I begin my call as Campus Pastor to Texas Lutheran University. I am still in shock that God has called me to this new place, for this exciting new ministry. I am thrilled to be able to devote my time to young people as they respond to God’s call in their lives, both for the future and here and now. I am blessed to be joining a team of faculty and staff who view college as a time of formation, not just education. I come to the task bringing all that I am, all that I have experienced, all I have learned from the people God has placed in my life. It’s time for a new adventure with the Spirit, a new chapter in my ministry, a new challenge of co-creating with God. It will be evening, and it will be morning, and the journey will continue. I give thanks that God sees that it is good.




I’ve been following the news of Diana Nyad, the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage. At age 64, she finally completed a task she had first attempted 35 years ago. When she came out of the water, she bravely advised, “You’re never too old to chase your dreams.” Apparently, there are some in the marathon swimming community who doubt that she completed the distance without “cheating,” ie, getting into a boat to rest at some point, drafting on the current created by the boat in front of her. No matter what the investigations reveal, I’m still amazed.

Swimming is an incredibly difficult activity. It works all of the muscles in your body. When you get tired, the hardest thing to do is what you need to do the most: breathe. You’re surrounded by a substance that can overtake you and end your life in a matter of minutes. And yet you depend on that substance to hold you up and perhaps, even propel you forward.


I became a swimmer at an early age, growing up in a condominium community with a pool. I loved spending every day in the summer playing in the water with friends, seeing how many crazy dives we could invent, screaming “Marco!” and “Polo!” at the top of our lungs. The water made us silly and carefree and empowered us to do things we couldn’t do on land (2-minute-long handstand, anyone?)

But more than that, I saw that the water could transform you. My mom had MS and as a child, I saw her struggle each day to put one foot in front of the other. Eventually, she began using a motorized wheelchair to travel long distances, and that included getting her down to the pool. My mom loved to swim like I did. And as MS began ravaging her body, taking away her mobility, she fought back in the water. Her upper body was still strong, and when she slid into the water, she was powerful, a machine. She would crank out laps like it was her job. Pulling her useless legs through the water, I saw my mom become a force to be reckoned with. The water gave her life.

Life is full of barriers. Diana Nyad apparently never let those roadblocks distract her from her goal. She learned from her experience and kept moving forward. The endurance swimmer in my life never let roadblocks hold her back, either. My mom kept moving, using the water as her ally, never giving up. So on the days when the world is throwing up roadblock after roadblock, I remember my mom, slicing through the water, smooth and powerful. And I know that nothing can keep me down for long. The water (of baptism) gives me life.

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