- Pamela Jolicoeur
- Paul J. Dovre
- Anna Rhode â€™09
- Arland Jacobson
- Larry Papenfuss
- Polly Kloster
- Roger Degerman
- Stephanie Ahlfeldt
- Susan Oâ€™Shaughnessy
- Kristi Rendahl
- Dr. Heidi Manning
- Roy Hammerling
- Pamela Jolicoeur
- Jan Pranger
- Nikoli Falenschek '11
- Bruce Vieweg
- Dr. Paul Dovre
- Whitney Myhra '11
- Bruce Houglum
- Dr. Lisa Sethre-Hofstad
- Dr. Paul Dovre, Interim President
- Nick Ellig
- Virginia Connell
- Per Anderson
- Vincent Reusch
- Larry Papenfuss
- Carl-Martin Nelson
- President William Craft
- Dr. Olin Storvick
- George Connell
- Robert Chabora
Roger Degerman, Communications and MarketingPRESTON/ME
I came home last Monday night to find my 10-year-old son, Preston, in tears!
He had just watched the Twins lose the division title to the White Sox. The Twins surprisingly successful season was over—and he was crushed.
I tried to console my son with all the clichés a former sportscaster could muster: “It was a great run.” “We’ll get em next year.” Of course, I protected him from the truth. This won’t be the last time he cries himself to sleep. We all know his destiny as a Minnesota sports fan: Moments of euphoria followed by decades of deep sorrow marked by heart-breaking, gut-wrenching defeats.
PURPLE PRIDE GIRLS
But we keep on hoping! In 1998, it appeared the Minnesota Vikings would finally take us to the promised land. A dominating 15-1 regular season produced great confidence that the Vikes would finally ease the bitter sting of four Super Bowl losses and at last take home the crown. Our family was filled with Purple Pride!
Then came the NFC championship against the Falcons. You remember. Gary Anderson was lining up for the game-clinching field goal, when my wife—the only member of our family without Purple Pride—said to me, “Hey isn’t this the guy that hasn’t missed all year? Watch him miss now! You know the rest, he did miss—wide left—and the Falcons went on to beat the Vikings in overtime. To this day, I blame my wife for how that game turned out.
BABY PRESTON-THE AGONY OF DEFEAT
Even at just 5 months old, the agony of that defeat was more than Preston could bear. I was, of course, devastated, too as was my then 9-year old daughter Brooke. We were stunned; we could not be consoled.
Through all of this, my then six-year-old daughter, Kelsey, observed my despair with a mixture of confusion and concern. Recognizing my fragile psyche, she cautiously kept her distance for a good while. Finally, she nervously cuddled up next to me and with the most tender of hearts offered her comfort as she said, “It’s O.K. daddy, you still have Jesus and your family.”
Precious words indeed, though I admit it took me awhile to appreciate the poignancy of her perspective. Ten years later, those encouraging words from Kelsey continue to be a source of renewing comfort and strength for the most important issues in life. When times get tough, I can still hear Kelsey saying, “It’s o.k., daddy, you still have Jesus and your family.”
“JESUS AND YOUR FAMILY/with family photo
This is the family I am exceptionally thankful for. Of course, it’s not the only family I treasure, as I am especially reminded during Homecoming. This week we celebrate and renew the deep bonds we share as a Cobber family--across campus and around the world. I have been extremely blessed by my Cobber family, which has time and time again supported me in ways that are a remarkable reflection of God’s love. Today, I’d like to share a few reflections about my family, my Concordia family and, most importantly, my family in Christ.
DAD AND MOM’S WEDDING PHOTO
My wonderful parents who are both deceased, Carl and Evelyn Degerman, raised five children. I was the youngest. I don’t want to say I was an afterthought but the names of my siblings prompted me to ponder such a possibility. There is Diane, David, Dwight, Doug—and Roger. Maybe it was just a clever cover story, but I was proud to learn that I was actually named after Roger Maris. (I’m just glad BOOF BONSER wasn’t playing in those days.)
I came to Concordia as a student in the fall of 1980, with both excitement and a heavy heart. My father was back home in Bemidji, fighting a grueling, painful battle with pancreatic cancer. Just two weeks before Christmas during my sophomore year, my dad died. He was 52. I was 19. I felt the world had ended. How could life ever bring me joy again?
I returned to Concordia after Christmas to resume my studies, deeply shaken shattered, and scared. But it was almost as if I could already hear Kelsey saying, “it’s o.k. daddy, you still have Jesus and your family.” My family at Concordia responded with tremendous love and support. Campus Pastor Ernie Mancini helped guide and comfort me through my darkest days. My professors were amazingly caring and supportive. My friends were always there for me. They picked me up and carried me when I didn’t think I could continue. During the worst time of my life, Concordia was the best place I could be. And it still is.
Today I am in my 11th year as an administrator at Concordia—and my daughter, Brooke, is a sophomore here. I could not be more proud of her. And fortunately I am able to watch her thrive here, something my dad did not have the opportunity to fully experience. But in a sadly ironic twist, painful memories of my father’s suffering and death in 1981 have resurfaced.
Just a month ago, my 56-year-old brother David was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Like my dad, he faces a most difficult journey ahead. And my constant prayers are with him and his family.
Once again you can softly hear Kelsey saying, “It’s o.k. David, you still have Jesus and your family.” And, in fact, no one appreciates that fact more than David.
About six years ago, he wrote a letter to an old church friend from his younger days back in Bemidji. In it, he openly shares his challenging faith journey—from quiet rebellion to finding peace anew in Jesus. I’d like to share a few excerpts that ultimately underscore the comfort we can all take living in Jesus’ family.
As David writes: “On Good Friday in 1982 (Note just a few months after my father’s death) and through the ensuing years I carried with me a sense of unworthiness regarding God’s promise of providing a place for me in heaven. I decided to myself: When I die and God allows me into heaven, I will volunteer to work in the stables. If there are horses in heaven, and if God has stables for the horses, then I will stay in the stables and sweep out the stalls. Just to be in God’s kingdom, that will be good enough for me. Maybe sometimes, I will go join with the congregation in singing praises to God. When I do, I’ll stand in the back.”
Still uncertain of his eternal future, David says he proceeded to conduct an audit of his salvation. He reviewed key scriptures in an effort to assure himself that he had achieved a place in God’s family. Still he was haunted.
As David continues, “After reading the scripture passages, I sat down on my bed perplexed. After a few moments I prayed, ‘Dear God, if you have forgotten my sins and remember them no more, why is it that I still remember them?
And then God spoke to me through the Holy Spirit. ‘David, you have made me unhappy. You profess to be humble, but you cling to pride. Your pious attitude about sweeping out the stables in heaven angers me. You are belittling what I accomplished on the cross! And you are denying to yourself the power of my salvation.’
Then I answered God in my thoughts with this two-word prayer: I’m sorry.
David then speaks of the powerful dream he had not long after that prayer exchange.
“I was part of a large congregation. Everyone in the congregation was standing. We were singing hymns of praise to God. The last hymn was: I Serve a Risen Savior. Each stanza got louder with crescendo after crescendo of joy. By the time we got to the closing words of the hymn, You ask me how I know he lives? He lives within my heart. The singing was a load roar. The only other thing I remember about the dream is that I was standing in the front row.
David says that ever since he uttered that two word prayer, “I’m sorry,” he has never again felt the slightest trace of shame.
“I am at peace, David adds. I am a new creation. I have joy. I have learned that there is humility in being a Christian, but there is no humiliation. Jesus took all of my humiliation upon himself on the cross. Every day now I echo these words of the Apostle Paul in my morning prayer from Galatians 2:20:
HE LIVES…IN ME!
I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
What a gift! What a privilege to be in the family of Christ. What a privilege to have Christ living in us. What joy he brings us through the experiences and relationships we treasure with our families, including our Cobber family. Let us never take that for granted—and when we need it the most, let us remember the precious words of a six-year-old girl comforting her father…It’s o.k., you still have Jesus and your family.”
TOGETHER FOREVER IN GOD’S GLORY!
What a wonderful reunion we will have with our Cobber family this week. And we know that an even more glorious reunion awaits us when we join all of God’s family in heaven.
Until then, we move forward in faith—taking refuge in the powerful promises of our heavenly father, as read today in Romans 8, verses 38 and 39:
38For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[b] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.