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Remember to wear your boots

Remember to wear your boots

by Kimberly Knowle-Zeller


Two months after I graduated from college I flew to The Gambia, West Africa as a Peace Corps Volunteer. At that time communication with friends and family back home was very spotty. So I mostly relied on letters home to keep in touch with friends and family. And the arranged calls to my parents when I could get cell phone reception.


In every phone call and in every letter my dad sent me, he always ended with the same refrain:


“Remember to wear your boots.”


He was concerned for my health – for snakes, for cuts, and infections, and for hippos.  


“Remember to wear your boots.”


It was his way of making sure I was being safe and looking after myself.


I’ve thought about his words often. He died a number of years ago yet they continue to be a refrain that I can hear him speaking to me. They continue to be words in which I heed his advice.


My dad believed in me and in my work and time in the Peace Corps.

He believed in cross-cultural learning and sharing,

My dad believed in the God who binds us all together, from across oceans to across our neighborhood streets.


But my dad also knew the realities of this world – the pain and brokenness.

The violence, the war. The failed relationships. The incurable sickness.

The stress and weight of trying to make a living.


But he knew that we are called to enter into this world – to fully be present to its people and pain. To open ourselves to the sin and brokenness.


To wear our boots because it’s hard work; work which can be painful and challenging.


My dad knew that each of us is called to proclaim the Gospel and sometimes it takes the reminder to wear our boots when we engage in this holy, life-giving work.


Jesus called the disciples knowing full well the depth of pain this world throws at us – but knowing equally the depth of joy and hope and life and love we experience.


Through Jesus’ actions we have a model, a savior, who calls us and equips us – Jesus who walked before us showing us the way to this Gospel life.


Propelling us to be in relationship with our neighbors.


“Remember to wear your boots.” I hear those words and still heed that advice today.


Jesus calls us and claims us as his own.

Jesus sends us into the world, a world in which he, too, walked upon.

A world in need of love and healing and compassion.


So, Go!
Remember your boots.

Love and serve.

Proclaim the Good News that Jesus is our Savior, and that life will always triumph over death.



Kimberly Knowle-Zeller is an ordained ELCA pastor, mother of a toddler, and spouse of an ELCA pastor. She lives with her family in Cole Camp, MO. Her website is


Image: Pixabay


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