As we try this new mid-week blog, it’s always the cool thing to make a little alliteration work with whatever day it’s meant to be published. Our Northeastern Ohio Synod Bishop Laura Barbins has her “Thursday Thoughts.” Our previous Bishop Abraham Allende had his “Monday Musings.” For our setup, we’re tentatively planning to simply upload this to our website in time for a “Wednesday Wandering.” At first, I was hesitant to go with that title, because some definitions have some not overly positive connotations with wandering. Nevertheless, I like one of Merriam Webster’s online options: “to follow a winding course.” I feel like that’s rather perfect for our journey with Christ, among other things. It isn’t so straightforward, to say the least. It is an ever-“winding course,” to be sure. So, here we go:

Shortly after our twins were born, I started referring to Owen and Eleanor (Ellie) as our “diaper dandies” to others. It is a phrase that has been made popular in my lifetime by Dick Vitale (or, better known as Dickie V to many), perhaps the most famous college basketball analyst of all. After starting off in the game as a player and coach, he joined ESPN for its first ever collegiate hoops broadcast in 1979. Since then, he has entertained audiences with a passion and energy that has helped grow the sport’s popularity, including with such dynamic expressions as “diaper dandies.” The term is meant for those Dickie V. claims to be the freshmen superstars that the fans should keep their eyes on for the season ahead…or for dads who need to have a little extra fun keeping their eyes on their own “diaper dandies.” But the reasons don’t stop there.

As a son of a farmer, my father does not reveal many emotions. It’s not the macho masculine cool thing to do in general, let alone for the rugged tough farmers. And yet, I can still remember the NCAA Tournament Final Four run for Ohio State in 1999 (one that was eventually discarded from the record books due to recruiting violations, but minor detail). I might have been staying up a little too late past my bedtime for one of those March Madness nights, but I couldn’t help but be enthralled with one of those last-second thrill games for the Buckeyes (one of many for that particular postseason “winding course”). All of a sudden, I heard this seemingly pounding noise coming from the downstairs living room after a miraculous shot was made by the scarlet and gray. I rushed down the stairs to see my often-stoic father stomping his feet in relentless joy. We exchanged the most enthusiastic high-fives and watched the rest of that game together. The sport will always hold a special place in my heart for that holy moment in his own “winding course.”

Speaking of “winding courses,” back to Dickie V. Just last month, he was diagnosed with cancer for the third time. Oddly (sadly) enough, it is with his vocal cords, after already enduring against lymphoma and melanoma. Also, oddly (sadly) enough, he is one of the leading cancer research fundraisers, as he serves on the board for the Jimmy V Foundation, named after one of the sport’s most famous coaches (a cherished friend of Dickie V.), who died far too young from the disease. So, it’s safe to say his passionate energy does not stop when he leaves the sidelines. It relentlessly ensues in all aspects of his own “winding course.”

And I can only hope that for our own “diaper dandies,” that as their enthusiasm seems to loudly emerge over the littlest of things sometimes: stickers, trash cans, stuffed animals, to name a few; that they don’t lose too much of that over a lifetime. After all, not everyone appreciates a Dickie V. level of passionate energy. It can be too much for some, at times. Perhaps that can carry over to the church in a variety of ways, too. Some wouldn’t mind things to be toned down a bit in how we do ministry to those inside and outside church building walls. And yet, we cling to the God with a passionate fervor for the world, for all of us. We cling to the God who brought a most overflowing energy of love and grace and hope for us all to enjoy in Jesus Christ. We cling to the God who will enthusiastically insist on joining us through all our wanderings in this life and through all eternity. We may not reach God’s holy level of exuberance or even Dickie V.’s, but with whatever we’re passionate about on this “winding course” that in any way benefits other children of God, whether it be sports fans or wandering parents or anyone else, may we never forget that this God does not tell us to ever tamper down that love, but only to raise it up. Amen (so let it be)!

In Christ,
Pastor Brad

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