Monday, July 18, 2005


While shopping at Nordstrom Rack last weekend my two sisters began a campaign to find a motto. Not for a business. Just for them. Since it wasn’t for any real enterprise they figured it could be co-opted from a legitimate source and employed for reckless and meaningless self-promotion. The first potential slogan catching their eye was for Nike socks, “appealing exterior-inner strength”.

What kind of family produces sisters who seek mottos?

It became clear to me when we were all together the same weekend to celebrate the wedding of Deborah’s daughter, Emilie Shepherd, to Dale Rohrbach. The minister, Mark Frost said, "Someday Emilie will be raising little Rohrbachs. And someday Dale will be raising little eccentrics."

I think eccentric families seek mottos.

While having breakfast yesterday at Panera Bread Company, Kim discovered the coffee flavors there provided two phrases, either of which might be a fitting motto. She saw potential in “bright and balanced” as well as “dark and vibrant.”

It’s agreed that that “fair and balanced” cannot be a motto. It has already been co-opted.

What kind of sisters do I have that would continue the motto search?

Kim’s a sister that yesterday
stopped all of her activities to call and tell me she saw a bumper sticker that read SOMEONE ELSE FOR PRESIDENT. Then, she laughed really hard when I repeated jokes I heard on a Prairie Home Companion rerun. Jokes like, “Hey, John Kerry—what’s with the long face?” Next, she told me all about her Sunday school class in which a graduate theology student from Emory student explained why the ten commandments should not be co-opted by politicians and made out to be a mere public historical document, because the commandments are by their very nature sacred.

Kim’s a person who works hard all of the time to care for her family, to do a good job in her career as a librarian, and to serve the poor. For a couple of years now she has coordinated the COW, Clothes on Wheels, Northlake Church of Christ's clothing ministry serving poor Atlantans.

Deb’s a sister who would find a piece of Victorian crazy quilt embroidered and assembled by our full-blood Chippewa grandmother, have it framed, and then wrap it up and give it to me for Christmas.

Deb’s a person who works hard all of the time to care for her family, to do a good job in her career as a librarian, and to serve the poor. For a dozen years now she has coordinated S.O.S., South Oakland Shelter, Troy Church of Christ's annual one week immersion in homeless ministry serving Oakland County, Michigan. This year's SOS week at Troy Church of Christ began on the Sunday following Emilie's wedding. Never a dull moment for Deb.

Along with hundreds of other books, Kim and Deb read Tolkein, Lewis, and Rowling and tons of the King Arthur stories from the Mists of Avalon to the Crystal Cave.

They embrace the power of story and joyfully believe, as Lewis did, that there is one great Story that is the True Story.They attempt to live out the Story from day to day with grace, guts and passion.

In my life they shine like the son, radiating hope, and inspiring faith.

I don’t think there’s motto adequate to capture their essence, but just for today, it’s a toss up between "dark and vibrant" and "bright and balanced."


Anonymous said...

The first time I considered stealing a corporate motto as my own was actually as I was pouring my soy milk: SHAKE WELL, BUY OFTEN it says. Now there is something to live by, I thought. I suppose I should stick with BRIGHT AND BALANCED, but not on a Monday.
Thanks, sister,
you are the best!

Keith Brenton said...

There was a time in my life when I'd have chosen as my motto "KEEP AWAY FROM SMALL CHILDREN," but as father to two now, it's hard to imagine why I ever considered it.

People change. Mottos change. They can backfire on you.

My alma mater's motto used to be "EDUCATING FOR ETERNITY." My college roommate pointed out that it's really just four or five years; it just seems like eternity.


Jami said...

Nice post,Bev. It is interesting to think about claiming a motto for yourself. I'm sure I will never look at a company motto the same way. What a great sisterhood you have! Yet another way God has blessed you.


JAW said...

I'm pretty uncreative, but I do know this: if you're looking to steal slogans from the coffee industry, "Good Til The Last Drop" might be an appropriate but somewhat morbid choice. :)

Anonymous said...


You could also steal some of the incomprehensible, koan-like sayings from church marquees in Abilene...such as, "compassion in defense of sin is no virtue," "if you knew what was around the corner, you wouldn't turn," or "call 673-05something for a Bible correspondence course." I like these because the longer I think about them, the more I get the sense that things like up, down, and sunlight are all illusions I can transcend.

I have finally posted another comment. Call soon.


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Matt Elliott said...

Would love to hear an update from the great Mid-South, Bev!! Let us know how you're doing in your new digs when you come up for air.

love from ATL ~