When “For Better or Worse” Means “For Better or Worse”

Today I saw “for better or worse” in action. She’s in the hospital with an infection. She has Alzheimer’s Disease. She doesn’t really recognize me. But she knows him. And he knows what it means to say “for better or worse.”


Long ago they both said:

For better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death parts us, and I pledge you my faithfulness.

We’ve all heard that spoken at weddings, but it’s hard to really know what it might mean until something actually happens in a marriage:

  • A bankruptcy
  • A child with birth defects
  • A knock down, drag out argument
  • A diagnosis
  • An embarrassing blessing of riches
  • A child gone astray
  • A job that takes one away for long periods of time
  • A memory that begins to fail

A promise is made, before God and everyone gathered, that these vows will be kept “until death parts us.” Just a quick glimpse at our world and our society shows that this is all easier said than done. But kudos to those who do it. It takes hard work. It takes commitment.

More than most everything else, it takes forgiveness:

  • “I’m sorry for what I said”
  • “I’m sorry for what I did”
  • “I’m sorry for what I spent”
  • “I’m sorry that I didn’t treat you the way I should have”
  • “I’m sorry that I’m selfish”
  • “I’m sorry that I wasn’t there for the kids”
  • “I’m sorry that I didn’t love you in the way that you deserve”

But it doesn’t end there. The work isn’t finished or complete until at the very least this is said:

  • “I forgive you for what you said”
  • “I forgive you for what you did”
  • “I forgive you for what you spent”
  • “I forgive you for not treating me the way you should have”
  • “I forgive you for being selfish”
  • “I forgive you for your absence from the kids”
  • “I forgive you for failing to love me the way you should have”

Then act like you really mean it.

There’s a book I like to recommend to couples about to get married. It’s just as good for couples who are already married. It’s The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God, by Timothy Keller. It will be a boon for your relationship and a reminder of the things that are most important.

As I left the hospital this morning there were tears in his eyes. He meant what he said when he said, “…for better or worse.” He’s fulfilling his vows in a way that is to be respected and admired. It can’t be easy.

But he’s showing that it can most certainly be done. 

With the help of God.

When have you seen “for better or worse” in action?

Why a Simple Spoon Reminds Me of My Mom

Today’s post is a guest post from my friend Jim Riedel. Jim doesn’t have his own blog but, trust me, he’s filled with opinions. Maybe those opinions will one day find their way into a blog of his own. Jim is most literally a Jack-of-all-trades. He’s helped me in more ways than I count. He is a friend of the highest order. He’s also a skilled and qualified real estate agent, amongst other things. If you’re in the Milwaukee, Wisconsin, area and are in need of a home, look up Jim.


I have a spoon in the kitchen drawer that does not match the set. I will come back to this…

Mother’s day is almost here. A day set aside to appreciate the woman who brought you into this world. Nine months she carried you in her body….and then carried you on her body for even more months (too many factors involved to guess how long that was)… I was a shy little boy so she carried me for many…maybe years (not really). Anyway, nine months is about 270 days. If you gave her appreciation one day a year, she would have to live 270 years to be thanked for each day she “developed” you. But she didn’t stop there in development, did she? It is not the days in her tummy that we remember but the many years after that give us our memories of our Mom.


The spoon might be silver or silver plated, I am not really sure. It is tarnished a little…

I was the last child born of my siblings – 6 of 6. Mom was 35 when I was born. Not young but not old in the range of moms’ ages. Over a period of ten years she carried and gave birth to her children. It left its mark – for one, a scar clear across her entire belly. Back then, a C-section was a major incision, from one side to the other. Since my brother before me was born that way, I had to be too. They didn’t think mothers could carry out a natural birth after having a C-section. Thank God the medical field keeps improving so that doesn’t still happen.

The spoon has a really cool design on it. It is one of the reasons I like it….

I don’t know how women do it. It must be pain beyond what I can understand. I assume the memory of the pain must fade or no woman would have a second child. Not all women experience motherhood…that is, not all women give birth to a child. But even some women without children of their own experience “momhood” – those who care for and raise a child. An adoption makes someone a mom or an unfortunate accident causes an aunt to raise a niece. Sometimes that person may not even be a woman – a widowed father has to play the role of a mom on occasion.

Because of its design, it stands out in the drawer, it is really easy to find it among the other spoons……

My wife, Patty, and I don’t have kids. Circumstances were such that it didn’t happen for us. Sometimes I think that is too bad. Had we had kids, I know they would have had the best Mom I know of. I have seen her with her nieces and nephews as they grew up, or our neighbors’ kids, and sometimes even someone we just met, to see how caring and loving and fun she is with children of all ages. Patty certainly is a mother type; in fact she has hundreds of kids. You see, she has been a teacher since she graduated from college. She also trains kids in leadership skills at camps every summer.

I use the spoon almost every day – it is my tea spoon. Each morning, I have a large glass of green tea and stir the honey into the tea with it. Some days I take it with me to eat a yogurt on the go.

Moms sacrifice a lot for their child. That sacrifice mostly seems to be of her time. The sacrifice takes place when she nurses a newborn or rocks a fussy toddler, reads to a kindergartner, watches a soccer match, helps explain geometry, or looks over college applications. But she also takes the unexpected calls, puts life on hold to help a frustrated college kid, comfort a broken heart, or give advice to a son about a birthday gift for his spouse.

The spoon was probably bought at a flea market or rummage sale…..  

So Thank you Mom. Thanks to all of you moms. Thank you for taking the pain, for your lack of sleep at three in the morning to welcome a scared little kid into your room, for the countless meals you made when you didn’t even know what to cook, for staying up to wrap all the Christmas gifts from Santa, etc., etc, etc.

I have almost lost that spoon on at least one occasion and searched everywhere to find it in my car or truck.

My Mom liked nice things – like jewelry, china dishware, silverware. She bought full sets and individual pieces. She passed away almost 19 years ago. The spoon was a single piece she probably got second hand. Now I have it. And I also have tea with her most every day.

Every mom is a lot like that spoon. She doesn’t match any other yet is like them all, probably has a little wear due to the worry she experiences for her children, she is the coolest design ever, and stands out to her own kids in any crowd…and you never want to lose her.

So maybe you are a mother or maybe a mother type. To all of you out there, know that you make a difference in this world when you love your children and show them love. They will remember you for the little things you did and the big things you did. They will remember when you were really mad at them….”those teenagers”….and when you made them laugh for something you always do that they think is goofy. They will remember you for the love you gave them. There is no more important role in this world than that of “Mom”.

One more thought to emphasize that last point. I actually have many “moms.” My Mom called me her baby. Yes, no matter how old I was she would introduce me that way, and for a while it annoyed this boy to no end. I would say, “I am not a baby!” But I think as a young child, I realized the importance of moms. I realized the importance so much so that throughout my life, I have collected surrogate moms: friends’ moms became mine because I would call them Mom too…and will continue to do so. I guess a shy little boy can never have too many “moms”.

The Joy of Living Life to the Fullest

Sometimes I feel like I could have written the book, The Top Five Regrets of the Dying. As a pastor I often have the honor and privilege to be with people at the very end of their lives. Sometimes it’s hopeful and peaceful; other times it’s fraught with questions and trouble. Life is a complex web of experiences and emotions. As it nears it’s end, all of that can bubble right up to the surface.

Spider Web

Recently I visited a man in a nursing home who feels hopeless, lost, and filled with questions about life’s choices. Needless to say, it’s an opportunity to bring hope and comfort that only comes in the love, mercy, and forgiveness of Jesus. The Bible teaches that life was never meant to end. It was to go on forever. Jesus has provided a way for that to happen for all who believe in Him. I hope and pray that my friend will trust in that in his final days.

We live in a world where many enter their last days or hours with regrets. These are the top five listed in the book, The Top Five Regrets of the Dying:

  1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
  2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
  3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
  4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
  5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

Looking at those, and learning from the ones who have gone through it, we have the opportunity to find joy in living life to the fullest. Here are the five ways we can defy regret and live with joy, passion, and fulfillment:

  1. While you still have your health, work hard to fulfill the dreams of your youth (or even your maturity). Don’t let a day go by without taking at least one small step toward a dream you’ve always had. Have the courage to step out in faith and fulfill the desires of your heart.
  2. Take regular time off of work each day and each week. Be present as you sit across the dinner table from your family. Go out on a date with your spouse. Play baseball with your son. Walk to school with your daughter. Work will always be there and the necessary things will be accomplished.
  3. Be courageous enough to express your feelings when something important is on the line. Holding on to bitterness and resentment can bring on not only emotional difficulties but even physical difficulties. Be true to yourself and get things out in the open. It doesn’t mean that you have to live a life of confrontation. But it does mean that you ought to express your true emotion by using “I” statements like: “I feel hurt that you would….”
  4. Reconnect with friends from the old neighborhood, high school, college, or a previous work place. Recently I had the opportunity to reconnect with an “old” college friend that I hadn’t seen since, well, college. What a wonderful time it was to see where our lives had led, what we are doing today, and how we can move forward supporting and helping one another.
  5. Choose to be happy. That’s right. It’s a choice. Don’t be afraid to joke around at work, to laugh with your friends, to smile when your spouse walks in the door. Making this choice will make a difference that will have immediate results.

Taking a look at life from the perspective of its end will bring about joy and fulfillment for today. When those last hours come you won’t have the regrets that many others have had. You will look back with a smile and know the satisfaction of a life joyfully and well-lived.

It is well within your power to make that happen.

What suggestion do you have to live a life without regrets?

3 Things to Remember as You Open Your Christmas Gifts

When do you open your Christmas gifts? For our family, the tradition has been to open our Christmas gifts on Christmas morning. Since we are a pastor’s family, we’ve always had to work our gift opening around Christmas morning worship. That meant that when our kids were little they would come bounding into our room at the crack of dawn so that we could open our gifts and have some traditional Christmas breakfast before we would head to church.

Christmas Gift Giving

In the mad dash to get the Christmas gifts open on Christmas morning (…or Christmas Eve), sometimes it’s difficult to remember the purpose of gifts. If we really admit it, we can tend to be selfish about our gifts, whether it’s what we wanted, whether it fits, whether it’s money or just a “trinket” that we’ll just end up throwing away. But there is a deeper purpose behind gifts. And there are numerous reasons for us to be appreciative of the time, thought, and effort people put into giving us gifts.

When you open your Christmas gifts this year, try to remember these 3 things:

  1. Someone loves you. I am a notoriously difficult person to shop for — at least that’s what my family tells me. I guess it’s because I’m picky about things, and I tend to get myself most of the things I need. I don’t deserve the time and effort they put into the gifts they give me. But I know that very fact that they have put time and effort into getting me — a very difficult gift-receiver — shows that I am loved. It feels good to be loved.
  2. You’re not worthy. The very nature of a gift is that it is something “undeserved.” Chances are that over the course of the past year you did something to hurt, offend, or betray the very person who is now giving you a gift. I know that I certainly don’t deserve any gifts from my wife. I have far too often been frustrated or lost my temper when she didn’t deserve any such treatment at all. Face it, even if it was a minor infraction, you don’t deserve any gifts. But a gift carries along with it offenses smoothed over and sins forgiven. For me, that’s a comforting thing to know.
  3. Christmas Gifts are a reflection of the Greatest Gift. There is some dispute as to the origin of gift giving at Christmas. Some say it reflects the giving of the gifts of the Wise Men. Others say the origin comes from St. Nicholas who lived in the third century and was known for helping the poor. But the origin of gift-giving doesn’t come from human beings at all. It comes from God Himself. In the very beginning God gave the gift of life itself to Adam and Eve, and subsequently to each of us. But they, and we, turned against Him through our sins of thought, word, and deed. As you open your gifts, remember that God loves you though you are not worthy. In fact, He loves you so much that He gave the gift of His one and only Son, Jesus Christ, who would sacrifice Himself on a cross for every last one of your sins. The small gifts you receive this Christmas are but an infinitesimal reflection of the world’s Greatest Gift, and the Gift you have been given in the forgiveness of your sins and the assurance of eternal life.

As you open your Christmas gifts, remember that you are loved, you are unworthy, and those gifts are but a small reflection of the world’s Greatest Gift.

What does the act of gift giving bring to mind for you?

Managing Expectations at Christmas

It’s difficult to manage expectations at most any time, but it can be even more difficult at Christmas. Kids expect certain gifts under the tree: exactly what they wrote down on their Christmas list. Parents expect the perfect family gathering when everyone comes home for the holidays: no arguing, no fights, no misbehavior. Families expect the coming Christmas to replicate the treasured and cherished ones of the past: when the perfect moments came together, everyone got along, and the gifts were those once-in- a-lifetime, well-thought-out possessions.

Broken Ornament

In my experience, every church has at least one family that has exceptionally high expectations. They expect their pastor to be a mind-reader, to show up at the exact moment they want him, they want a phone call immediately after church wondering where they were if they have missed just once, and they are furious if their unrealistically high expectations aren’t met. It’s a tough standard to live up to.

The experiences I’ve had have taught me a bit about how to manage expectations, and how to manage those who have high expectations. My more than fifty years of Christmases have, as well. This holiday season, consider these five suggestions as you navigate potential land mines and find your way to a truly merry Christmas:

  1. Lower your expectations. The lower your expectations, the easier it will be to have them exceeded. It’s very difficult to replicate the past, so don’t expect things to be the way they were before. Recognize and understand that with time, things change. Accept that change with lower expectations of the way things will be and you will have a much happier holiday.
  2. Go with the flow. If things go in a direction that make you uncomfortable or uneasy with family members, do your best to go with it and salvage the situation. Instead of digging in your heals, go along for the ride. Be the bigger person. When our kids were little they didn’t want to ride roller coasters. When we finally got them on the rides their fears turned into laughter and exuberant screams. Roller coasters are scary, but in the end they’re actually fun (for most people). There will be ups and downs this holiday season. Turn your terror into laughter. Go with the flow. Have fun.
  3. Retain your sense of humor. When you go with the flow you can find humor in things that otherwise might make you mad. Put a smile on your face to help diffuse the situations that annoy you. Your heart and mind will follow the smile on your face, and the whole situation will be better for it. Some well-placed humor will diffuse most any tense situation.
  4. Create new memories. Since we can’t replicate the good times of the past, go into the holiday expecting to make new memories. Come up with some new games to play, places to go, or traditions to create. Introduce them to your family and friends with a positive attitude and set the tone for the time together.
  5. Get some “me” time. If things get out of hand (from your perspective), use your common sense to remove yourself from the situation. Instead of allowing things to escalate, your “me time” will put out a lit fuse. Take some time, some deep breaths, read a book, or listen to some music. Then reintroduce yourself with a better attitude. You will feel better, and your family and friends will be thankful that the gathering has a preponderance of Christmas peace.

Make this year’s holiday a season to remember…for all the right reasons.

How do you manage expectations during the holiday season?

My Little Girl is Getting Married

My little girl is getting married. This Friday a lifetime of love and nurture will come to fruition in an institution as old as the world itself. A day that I never imagined would come is just about here.

Wedding Father Daughter

The house is quiet except for the drone of a Monday Night Football blowout. The bride-to-be has gone to bed, as has her mother. They are both over-tired from the hustle, bustle, and stress of wedding preparations. It’s the calm before the storm. Tomorrow relatives and friends begin to arrive for an event that will take place, God-willing, only once in our daughter’s lifetime.

The Florida summer has eased a bit into what we might call “fall” in these parts. Prayers are ascending that the rain will hold off to give way to a beautiful outdoor wedding reception. The caterer has been booked, and is set to go. The wedding dress has been bought, fitted, and altered. A limousine has been reserved. The photographer and videographer have their marching orders and will provide the evidence that a great time was had by all.

The mother-of-the-bride has bought her dress. In fact, she bought two “just in case.”

The groom has been working two jobs to save up for the honeymoon, as well as the coming first months of marriage. He’s the kind of person any father would want his daughter to marry. He treats her well, understands her, gives her what she needs, and knows how to deal with her occasional “issues.” He’s a great guy. Now he’s off of work until after the honeymoon. He deserves it.

The bride’s brother will be providing part of the entertainment for the reception. That’s what you do if you have a band of Nashville musicians and you love your sister like he does. His perfectionism will no doubt add some stress to the week, but we all love him for it, because we know that the end product will be something people will remember for years to come.

His girlfriend has been showered with so much talent by her Maker, that she is doing more than anyone might ever expect. She designed the “save the dates” and invitations. She conceived of the decorations and put them together. She will be doing the flowers. She might even be heard singing in the wedding service.

Invitations went out long ago. The results are in, and we now have a pretty good idea of those who will be joining us for the wedding and reception. We’ll really miss the people who are unable to attend. We’ll think of them as we raise our glasses. At the same time, we will so much appreciate those who are there to support, encourage, and celebrate.

I bought a new suit, shirt, and tie. I am in the midst of writing a homily that I will share with my friend, and fellow pastor, who has known our daughter since she was two years old. We will stand before the couple and remind them of the most important thing in any marriage: the love and forgiveness of Jesus, given and shared. And I will try not to cry.

It seems like just yesterday that she was two. I remember the stages of crawling, walking, defiantly refusing to take her medicine, learning to read, giggling with friends, auditioning for plays and getting the parts, braces, high school football games and friends…

And the day we dropped her off at college nine hours away from home. It just so happened to be the place she would mature in her faith, live on her own, learn how to be an adult, and find her future husband.

Now she’s getting married this Friday.

Today we ran some errands together. We stopped for lunch. At the table next to us there was another father there with his daughter who must have been about five years old. I almost encouraged him to enjoy the time with his little girl, but he seemed to be doing so just fine. I’m certain, before he knows it, that little girl will be getting married.

We enjoyed our time together, as well, she and I. It was probably that last time we had alone before she is a married woman. We shared our love of food. Then we got a new windshield wiper for her car. Seemingly mundane stuff, but eternally special in the grand scheme of things.

Because she will always be my little girl.

What memories do you have of a special time or event in your life?

How’s a Dad to Feel When His Daughter Goes Wedding Dress Shopping?

When our daughter got engaged in December, I had no idea what I was going to face in the coming days and weeks. Who knew that one of the first things to be done following an engagement is to go shopping for a wedding dress? Apparently it takes months for the wedding dress to be delivered once it is ordered. Then it needs to be altered, which takes even longer.

Ashlyn & Me

So less than a month after the engagement, off went my wife with our daughter and her future mother-in-law and sister-in-law. I may be an unusual dad, but I was feeling just a little left out. I wanted to go along. I wanted to feel a part of it all. I have never minded shopping, and this seemed to be one of the most important shopping days of my daughter’s entire life.

But “left out” wasn’t the only emotion I was feeling. My emotions were all over the map. So I decided to have a little fun with it and ask my Facebook friends just how I was supposed to feel while my (only) daughter was shopping for a wedding dress. Answers were predictable, poignant, even funny. People posted things like:

  • Lucky if he doesn’t have to go along.
  • Happy, and proud, and excited. Also a little left out of the fun, she’s all grown up, is this really happening? Shall I go on?
  • Happy, excited on the surface, a little wistful below, and profoundly glad that God has brought two beautiful people together.
  • If it’s anything like how the old babysitter feels, then I wish I was there to hug you.
  • I’m going to go with sadly elated.
  • Broke.
  • Old.
  • Very poooooor!
  • Happy but sad at the same time.

Yep. I pretty much felt all of those things. For some reason I kept having flashbacks of the moment she was born. I was wondering how this all happened so fast. I was incredibly happy for her. I was melancholy for me.

Time has a way of passing and stealing away moments that you wish would last forever. But time doesn’t stop. It keeps going and keeps on giving gifts that come into the present.

That’s why my wife, Tammy, and I always made a point of enjoying each and every stage through which our kids went. And that includes this present stage. It means that we will have a wonderful new member of the family and a whole new phase of life that will produce all new moments and memories.

In the mean time, we went to the bridal store last Saturday. I got to see Ashlyn try on her dress. I pulled out the credit card and paid for it. And I recognized that the little baby who made me shed tears of joy when she was born, is at the phase and stage of life that will probably make me shed more tears over time gone by, over moments that have passed, over memories about to be made, over my little girl becoming a married woman…always mine, but also now belonging to another whom we love like a son.

So, how’s a dad to feel when his daughter goes wedding dress shopping? The whole gamut of emotions.

But mostly blessed.

How would, or will, or did you feel?

How to Raise a Son

This past weekend we watched our only son, Ben, graduate from college. College graduation is a milestone not only for a student, but also for the parents of that student. It marks years of care, nurture, counsel, advice, time, and effort. When our daughter graduated from college I wrote a post entitled, “How to Raise a Daughter.” Here’s the corresponding post.

Father and Son

I’m not presumptuous enough to say that I have all the answers, or that I could prescribe the perfect way to raise a son. But these are some of the things that worked well for my wife, Tammy, and me, and could work well for you, too.

  1. Express your love as frequently and in as many ways as you can. It’s OK for a dad to say, “I love you” to his son. Hugs and literal “pats on the back” from both mom and dad express love and care in tangible ways. In a world that tends to beat people down, boys need to know that they are loved. Unconditionally. In as many ways as possible. And demonstrate what love really looks like by loving your spouse.
  2. Encourage creativity. When Ben was young we provided him with as many creative materials as we could put in his hands. Sometimes, as a young child, he would spend hours simply using boxes and paper bags to create things that still boggle my mind. Creativity is useful all the way throughout life, from school through a career. Encourage it.
  3. Teach, support, and reward good study habits. That means helping in any way possible, and if you don’t know it or understand it, find someone who does. Lots of people are willing to help kids discover, study, and learn.
  4. Provide opportunities in sports, the arts, and music. Over the years, Ben played organized baseball, performed in plays and musicals (including Shakespeare), took piano and guitar lessons, sang in choirs, and organized bands of his own. Let a boy choose which direction he’d like to go…and if he wants to do it all, let him (within reason).
  5. Be involved. While Ben was playing baseball, I coached. In fact, I was a coach for his baseball teams every year but one. He knew that I cared enough about him to be there as often as I could. And we made it a point to attend just about all of his performances and concerts.
  6. Teach him respect for girls. It starts at home when dad shows respect for mom. But it also comes through conversations encouraging a boy to be a “gentleman”…to hold the door open, to compliment others, and to draw proper boundaries.
  7. Help him to appreciate the value of hard work and money. This can be done through the responsible use of “allowance,” taking on part time jobs, even the value of studying hard to work toward a desired outcome. When boys learn at an early age to value these things, later on in life they don’t expect things to be handed to them on a “silver platter.”
  8. Balance firm discipline with age-appropriate latitude. Boys need boundaries. They will test those boundaries. Those boundaries should remain firm. When those boundaries are crossed there must be consequences. On the other hand, with age comes more freedom and responsibility. As he grows older, let out an appropriate amount of slack.
  9. Communicate with him. Communication was important from the time Ben was little. But it became even more important as he moved into high school and college. Tammy and I made it a point to always be ready to listen, to discuss, to give appropriate advice, and then let Ben make decisions based on what he had heard and learned. I think if you’d ask Ben, he’d probably tell you that he especially appreciated close communication as he moved nine hours away from home and went to college. He knew he always had someone to talk to…and to listen.
  10. Take him to church, bring him up in the church, make church a regular part of every week. When he is a child take him to church and Sunday School every Sunday. When he is in high school make church attendance an expectation, not an option. When he is in college, personally help him find a church home that is suitable to him. This includes praying for him all along the way. Bar none, this is the most important of these ten items.

This is not an exclusive list, so what would you add to it?

A Life in 12 Slides

Today I was incredibly moved by a video on the blog of one of my heroes, Michael Hyatt (see it here). Like Michael, I was inspired by the words spoken on the video:

You think this is just another day in your life. It’s not just another day. It’s the one day that is given to you today…. It’s the only gift that you have right now. And the only appropriate response is gratefulness.

Gratefulness comes a day at a time. And the video (…you really need to see it…watch it here…) uses incredible images as a background to a (for lack of a better term) essay on observing the world around you and being grateful.

It got me to thinking about being grateful for specific days throughout my life. What if I had to condense my life into twelve slides depicting twelve days for which I am grateful?

Here are twelve slides that I might put into such a presentation:

  1. Two Months Old: Lying in a crib surrounded by two loving parents in a Wauwatosa, Wisconsin bungalow.
  2. Seven Years Old: Playing football with my friend, Louie, in our Tacoma Street front yard. I’m wearing a Bart Starr jersey.
  3. Eleven Years Old: Piling into our new Toyota station wagon with my mom, dad, and two sisters, headed to Florida for a trip to Disney.
  4. Sixteen Years Old: Diving into the high school pool as the starting gun goes off for a race in the 100 yard butterfly event.
  5. Nineteen Years Old: Sitting in the bus as the lead singer of a band called Joy, Inc., driving through the Rocky Mountains, staring at the one who would one day be my wife.
  6. Twenty-One Years Old: Standing on stage at Concordia University, playing “Jesus” in Godspell.
  7. Twenty-Two Years Old: Standing at the altar of Trinity Lutheran Church in Peoria, Illinois, marrying the love of my life.
  8. Mid-Twenties: A side-by-side slide of two little babies, both of our children, born in St. Louis.
  9. Twenty-Eight Years Old: Walking across the outdoor stage, graduating from Concordia Seminary, St. Louis.
  10. Early Thirties: Walking with my family on a brisk winter day at the foot of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., on one of our many visits while we lived there.
  11. Forty-Five Years Old: Sitting in a theatre in Lincoln, Nebraska watching our daughter, Ashlyn, play “Catherine” in Pippin.
  12. Forty-Eight Years Old: Sitting in the Curb Event Center at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, watching our son, Ben, play with his band “My Red and Blue” in the Belmont Rock Showcase.

And there are more slides I could have included, like:

  • Living in North Carolina
  • Worship at Mt. Calvary
  • Dinner at a wonderful Milwaukee restaurant with my parents
  • Christmas Eve dinner in our home
  • Moving to Florida
  • Watching our house being built

Yes, there is much for which to be grateful. What a slide show it would make.

What slides would you include?

How to Build a Legacy into a Home

You may have noticed I haven’t written for a while. We’ve been busy moving into our new house, painting, unpacking, putting furniture together, and generally getting organized. It has been a daunting task.

As I painted the house from top to bottom I kept thinking about the legacy that is a home. We recently left behind a home where we had lived for fifteen years. Our children grew up there. They will always remember significant moments of their lives there. The house was built in 1938 and still stands as a testimony to the families that lived there and the hopes, dreams, and wishes that were realized.

I wonder if the first owners of our previous (1938) house wondered, like I am about this new house, how long it will last.  More than 70 years later that house in an established Milwaukee neighborhood is still standing. A neighborhood around it thrives. It is now a new home for a new family. That house won’t be going anywhere soon.

While I painted every inch I couldn’t help but think about how long this house will stand. What will its walls see and what will its windows view? How many families will live here over the course of its own life? What joys, sorrows, dreams, and discussions will be held around the tables, in the living room, and up in the loft? How many years later will people still be living and loving in this house?

When you build a house you build a legacy. A house is something that often outlives the builder. But the legacy, the hopes, the dreams, the wishes fulfilled never die and never go away.

It’s a reminder of the home we have that will never perish, spoil, fade, or be torn down. The truest and most lasting legacy is the household of faith Jesus left behind when He established the church. There, true hopeful expectation is never disappointed. Dreams of lifeafter life after death come true. Wishes for forgiveness and salvation don’t just blow away with the wind but stand firm on the foundation of faith.

There will be a day when even our new home no longer exists. But there will never be a day when the household of faith, the eternal home built by the blood of Jesus, will ever cease to exist.

That’s a lasting legacy.

When was your house built? What stories would it tell?