In Lay Terms

Random Ramblings From a Church Nerd

Monday, January 30, 2006

Sad, but Dumb

I don't watch a lot of television, but last night we had a friend over who loves watching "Grey's Anatomy". She came over, and we all watched it. It's a good show, but I think I'm sort of post-television. Does that sound snobby?

I'm sooooo over TV. That's so 80's.

I didn't intent it to be snobby. Actually, I think that I'm not going to get hooked onto any more TV shows. I want to be able to go out without fear of missing a favorite show. I'd rather live life than watch someone else pretend to live it.

But, I digress...

As I said, the show was pretty good. I could see myself liking it. However, what was bugging me were the ads for the local news. The local news was doing these dumb shock-factor commercials that lasted about five seconds. They were really bothering me.

But, when the show was over, the TV stayed on long enough for us to see the header stories. All the opening stories were tragedies, but they all came out of stupidity. I wasn't sure if I should have been outraged, or saddened, or laugh at the stupidity.

The top story was about a University of Minnesota student who climbed to the top of a grain elevator in Minneapolis (I can assume that she was drinking). She then fell over 100 feet to her death. The news station reminded us that they brought us the big exposé on the vandalism in the same grain elevator some time ago.

The next story was about people's cars falling through the ice on Lake Minnetonka. Now, this one may take some explaining for those of you not from the frozen north. The ice up here does freeze enough for people to walk, and even for cars to drive. HOWEVER, it has been around 50 all last week. There are signs up all over that tell you that the ice is unsafe. Yet these people keep driving their cars out there on the ice! Then, it's a tragedy when their cars fall through the ice. No was was killed in these stories, so it wasn't as bad.

The third story (before I shut the TV off) was about a snowmobiler who went out onto thin ice and fell through. See argument above!

Sometimes I think that people have no common sense.

Back to my television issues...I've become much more of a radio person. I've added a link for The Current, the contemporary music station from MN Public Radio. I'm also going to add a link for my favorite NPR show, "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me". Basically, it's like the Daily Show/Weekend Update and Hollywood Squares all mixed into one. I think I would enjoy The Daily Show, but I don't even get that cable channel. So I go without.

I also notice that radio (especially public radio) doesn't try to sensationalize everything the way that the TV news was trying to last night. They are more thoughtful and insightful. I like their style of journalism. They do in-depth without beating a dead horse.

I heard the same stories from the TV on the radio this morning, but it was put into proper context and given ample time. They just know how to deal with things.

Of course, they can't stop people from doing stupid things...

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Phoenix in Days!

There was a day, some years ago, when both my other half and I traveled for work. In fact, he traveled quite a bit of the time. At it's peak, he would be gone for five days, and then be home for two and have to leave again. That sort of work environment becomes stressful after a while. He wasn't enjoying it, and was thinking of quitting...when he was layed off.

I used for work for a place that did about 10-15 conferences per year. I would travel along as the conference salesperson. We sold all sorts of books, and I would set up the display and be the cashier. Sometimes, I could offer workshops at these events, which was good for my presenting skills. Then, due to a major change, I was no longer employed there, but they did retain me as the sales person...for a few months. There are many details to this story, and I won't go into it here. However, during those few months, I would be paid by the conference. Well, this meant that I wanted to work as many conferences as I could. The only roadblock in my schedule was the fact that I was a student at Luther Seminary at the time. I tried to schedule around this new source of income, but it was a little difficult. Thankfully, understanding professors abound at Luther, so I was able to make it through with relatively few difficulties.

Even after a few months, I started to understand the difficulty of traveling all the time. My back was sore from the plane ride. I wasn't eating all that healthy. I was often tired when I would go to class. It was wearing on me.

That arrangment ended 2.5 years ago. Since then, I've done relatively little travelling for work. We do go to Seattle twice a year to visit my other half's family. I attneded an academic conference on student services in November of 2004. We've also been able to take some travel classes.

As I write this, I realize that for some people, that's a lot of travel! But I've noticed that both of us are home quite a bit more than we were 3-5 years ago. In a way, I miss traveling for work. There was something sort of exciting about going to cities and getting to color in the states on a map by my desk.

Well, one annual event that I've been able to attend for the last two years is the ELCA Youth Minsistry Extravaganza. The Extravaganza is an opportunity for networking and continuing education for those who work in youth ministry in the ELCA. Convientaly enough, it's always in a nice, sunny vacation destination in the dead of winter. Huh...

Two years ago, it was in New Orleans. That was a city I had never visited before, and I fell in love with it. Last year, it was in Los Angeles. I've gone for the past two years representing both the college where I work, and The Naming Project. Often times, the progran is forgetable (at least for me), but the networking makes it all worth while. I've been able to schmooze quite a bit at these events. We have presented workshops on working with GLBTQA youth every year that I've attended. We garnered support for TNP in a great way.

This years Extravaganza is going to be in Phoenix. It begins on Friday. I'm leaving Minneapolis on Thursday with J. We are going to have a table, and do a lot of schmoozing (I really like that word!). It's my opportunity to travel for work. I'm still a traveling employee! Yea!

I'm not leaving for a few days, so I'm sure I'll have a post between now and then.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

In Between Gigs

I apologize for the profanity of my past post...but sometimes there's only one way to go.

In between gigs...that's what I feel like right now. The high of the conference has pretty much warn off. This Thursday, I head to Phoenix for the ELCA Youth Ministry Extravaganza. It's always a good time. I'm going to be presenting a couple of workshops, and doing a lot of schmoozing with folks from around the country. I always have a good time at the Extravaganza, and it's not usually related to the program. I just make it a good time.

So, what do I do when I'm between gigs? Apparently, I just sit around on my butt all weekend. I could be preparing workshops or doing something, but my motivation level is pretty low right now. I feel like I should be doing something, but I'm not.

One of the things I feel like I should be doing is reading. I've not been reading much lately. I want to read, but when I actually sit down to do it, the motivation is gone. Bummer.

Why on earth should I feel so bored, when there are a million things to do?

Maybe because doing nothing (or nothing worthwhile) is a necessity. Probably the main reason I'm trying to do nothing is that I'm still getting healthy from a set of annoying sicknesses. Doing nothing is part of my grand plan. I don't want to be sick while I'm in Phoenix...that would be horrid. So, I'm doing what I need to do...or rather not doing what I shouldn't do, in order to let my body reset itself.

The catch is that I'm such a do-er that this is difficult for me. I like to be busy with lots to do. I'm working against my natural instinct.

Only one more day of this, and it's back to work and business. I need to savor the nothingness while it lasts.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Quote of the Day

This was passed along to me by a friend today, and I think it pretty much sums it up.

Jesus was nice and all, but he was a straight-up ass kicker. Believe it."
-Gordon Atkinson, Baptist preacher

I know that there are those who like to picture our Jesus as an ass-kicker...the great warrior...doing battle against evil.

But you have to ask yourself, "Whose ass is he kicking?"

Somedays, he's kicking my ass.

Is your ass getting kicked by Jesus?

Should it be?

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Galatians 2

I heard a great homily today.

My college has a daily chapel service. Attendance is not required, but is encouraged. Often, the chapel is hardly full with the faithful few. Today was an exception. There was a lot going on. A favorite history professor was preaching. Our choir sang a song. We also had a presidential candidate in the audience (for president of the college...I wouldn't want to inflate our college's importance in your eyes). Today was a day of good attendance.

Anyway, the reader got up and read from Exodus, Joshua, and Galatians. The theme was spying. Every passage was about spies. The history professor described the mission and the effectiveness of the spying mission. However, he noted that in Galatians, the people were spying on themselves. He compared this to our own situation today in the US. Then, he brought us to the crux of the message, in Galatians 2:5

We did not submit to them even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might always remain with you.

This professor pointed out that even if Jesus isn't your thing, this message is still important. Just substitute the word "democracy" for "gospel". You can keep doing this around Galatians 2. He then decided that we can send a message to those who are spying on us by reminding them of the message of Galatians 2. He told us that we should close every email and phone conversation with "Galatians 2" (much like that guy who always has the John 3:16 sign). Then those who are reading our email and listening into our phone conversations will understand that we will not be moved, but be faithful people. We even practiced typing them in our invisible lap tops and talking on our pretend cell phones.

While wildly entertaining (which this professor always is), it gave a great spin on a contemporary situation we find ourselves in. I'm clarifying what the "good news" might be. As I think about it, I think it drives us to another letter of Paul's. We may be the victims of spying, of discrimination, of mistrust, and of the hands of our government, society, families, and institutions.


I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate up from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Thanks be to God.

Monday, January 23, 2006

The Journey Ahead

I haven't yet mentioned this, but for Christmas, my parents gave my partner and I a trip to Italy...with my parents. I have a hunch it was as much of a gift for my parents as it was for me. They have been excited to go for some time now, ever since their pastor returned from Italy last summer.

I also think they were tired about "talking" about us all traveling together, and never doing it. So, they decided to go for it. My sister was even left out of the deal, because she had no good time to be able to travel. We all told her she can travel with us in a year or two, when she finishes her Master's Degree. We are all hoping that these new family vacations become a regular occurrence.

Part of the catch (and it's not that big of a catch) is that my other half and I have to plan all the details of the trip. As I'm doing all this, I realize that I have never traveled when I have to plan my own travel. I have always been a part of a class, or tour, or group of some sort. I've not had the responsibility of decided airfare and hotels.

And you know what? I really enjoy it. This planning has been fairly easy, and we are still within budget (I think). I'm even trying to learn Italian.

I'm writing this a little bit now. I'm sure that over the coming months, I'll drone on about trip planning, and little details. If you have any tips or suggestions, I'd welcome them heartily!

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Reporting Back

My conference was a success!

I feel very pleased with how the conference went. I'm finding that others agree with me (including my co-planners). Today, I was able to have lunch with a few of the attendees, and we re-hashed details of the conference. The biggest complaint was our lack of publicity.

They really liked our workshops and the keynote presenters.


I think I really live for this stuff. I was stressed all weekend, but I feel incredibly elated about the experience. It's like an athlete, I work through the stress to get to the joy at a good project.

We closed with worship at a nearby church. In addition to our conference being present, it was RIC Sunday (better explained here). A mixed voice GLBT choir sang. It was a beautiful service. We sang "All Are Welcome" by Marty Haugen, and I started to get an emotional feeling in my heart. This same song, just two years ago closed out another major conference I worked on. The feelings rushed right back. It's a beautiful song, and a beautiful way to cap off a great weekend.

I'm not going to write much else now, but I wanted to share how excited I am about the weekend!

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Worth the Effort?

Today must have been "one of those days". Everyone I saw today was feeling a little sick, a little tired, a little overwhelmed, a little stressed. No one was cheering about what a great day it least not within earshot of me.

I've written before about feeling down in the fall. I think that winter, post-Christmas is also a dreary time. We've had some sun, but not nearly enough.

Tonight, I was with a group of 40 youth and a few adults. We are preparing to attend the ELCA National Youth Gathering this summer. I love the Gathering. I think it's a really well done event that touches a lot of kid's lives.

Well, there is a collaboration of congregations that are planning to travel together. We are urban congregations, so we have an affinity for one another. (In the ELCA, white suburbia is getting to be the norm, at least around the Twin Cities). None of the adults had the energy to lead this meeting of games, devotions, and planning. We weren't very together. The kids weren't paying attention that well. They weren't very excited about playing the games. In all, it could have been a disaster.

The redeeming moment was when we were in a small group. At least one or two of the kids asked some good questions. They asked why kids go to the youth gathering. What if the ELCA is spending money for a big party that won't bring the kids any deeper in their faith? Maybe no one else cared about the question, but I loved it.

I chatted with him about why people go, and if the effort is worth it. I believe the Youth Gathering is a worthwhile endeavor. While some kids may participate for the wrong reasons, God can still work through this event to touch them.

That conversation made the evening OK.

But I'm still tired and battling a sore throat. And of course, my BIG OLD conference starts tomorrow. But tonight (like the Youth Gathering) was worth it.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Why Do I Worry?

Some of you may remember my post, "Registration Blues". Well, again I was proven to be worrying too much. We have gotten a bunch of registrations in the last couple of days. We have surpassed the 50 registration mark (under 50, I thought we were going to look stupid).

As I write this paragraph above, my mind is pulled in two different directions.

First, as I stress myself out over registration numbers, I hear Jesus saying, "Therefore, I tell you, do not worry about your life..." Of course, registration numbers are not the same thing as life, but it does remind me that I cannot change anything by worrying. What will happen will happen.

On the other hand, I can hear some of my more evangelical relatives talking about how great it is the God provides. While I don't disagree with that statement, I always think that God has bigger things to deal with than me and my puny conference. Of course, maybe I should be believing that God truly cares about me and all the endeavors I undertake. So, thanks be to God!

I'm sorry that none of you can be there. However, I'm excited for the people who are coming. This conference is a grand experiment. I've already had challenges that we are too Christian (from someone in Northern Minnesota). I've heard that there are conservative faculty who are not excited that we are doing this conference.

I've also had some internal struggle. This conference is about spirituality and sexuality. "Spirituality" is so loosely defined, I feel like I can't be very Jesus-y. I told J to plan a devotion, but don't mention Jesus. Then I paused and said, "I just helped nail Jesus to the cross, didn't I?" I don't like being a general spiritualist. I'm more comfortable sharing my own particular brand of faith.

Anyway, struggles aside, I look forward to this weekend. I hope something good comes out of the work. If you have time, with all the important things going on in the world, and in our lives, please pray for this event and the participants.

Thanks, blogland!

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Stretching the Body and the Soul, Part II

Today, I started what I hope will be a new habit. The college where I work has offered free yoga and tai chi classes for a few years. It's for one hour each week. I decided that this would be a good addition to my exercise routine. I'm still pretty good about doing fifteen minutes of stretching every evening, so this will be something a little more strenuous.

I went to the first session today. I quickly changed in my office to sweats and an old t-shirt. Then I ran over to the room where the class was held. Obviously, I will need to work at this. I'm not a very flexible person. My muscles are very tight. I've never been able to touch my toes without bending my knees quite a bit. Today, I got through it without a lot of pain, but I noticed how much I was shaking. Just trying to hold the poses made my arms and legs tremble something fierce. I'm trying to not be to self-conscious about it. Our teacher is pretty good at reminding us to work at our own pace. However, it's still intimidating when I see the guy in the "judo" t-shirt doing these graceful moves.

I've talked about doing something like yoga for a while now. I knew that stretching would be good for me. I know that it's roots lie in eastern religions, but I'm not afraid of the practice. I mainly want the medical benefit. I also think that it reminds me of some more serious forms of liturgical dance. These movements could easily be shaped into a prayer.

After a year of experimenting with a chiropractor and physical therapy, I'm recognizing many of the moves used in yoga. I see how they all benefit my sore body. Now I need to turn off my brain and be still as I go through these movements.

Yoga will be good for me!

Remembering Brother Martin

I had said that I was going to catch you all up on my weekend. I've decided to change course. The wine and cheesecake social was delicious! The Youth Group got money. That's all you really need to know.

As you know, yesterday was celebrated as Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day. At my college, MLK day is the last day of Christmas break. There are no classes, but we hold a convocation. I've always been pretty impressed with the convocations. They are entertaining. They are inspiring. They are challenging. I think that a good convocation, especially one honoring a civil rights leader needs to be all of these things.

Even though protestants don't really venerate the saints, I think that MLK is the closest contemporary saint we have. In worship on Saturday, the lectionary was altered so that the preacher could preach on some MLK themes. On Sunday, I went to a church I'd never been to before for worship. Several of my friends work at this church (in St. Paul - you know, the other side). The sermon was preached by a friend of mine who is a seminary student. Incidentally, his first-born daughter was also baptized at worship, which is why I went to worship there.

So what is it about the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr? I think simply, he was led by the Holy Spirit into a calling to make the world a better place.

What more can I say?

Monday, January 16, 2006

Business Breeds More Business

Well, my deeper processing hasn't happened yet. I had intended to do all that yesterday, but the evening slipped by me rather quickly.

Here are some thoughts on Friday. The MN School Outreach Coalition (an coalition of organizations trying to make schools safer for GLBTQA Students), decided that the youth needed to get to know each other on a better level. They planned the "Q-Quest Youth Fest". It was open to students from across the state. In the end, they had to turn registrants away, because they couldn't get enough space and food. They had a total of 135 kids...way more than we ever thought possible.

I was not a part of the planning of the event, but I was very pleased. I asked if my youth group could have a table there. We spent all day at the booth. We talked to some kids. We connected with some adults. I think it was a fruitful day. We are getting to be known as a trustworthy organization. It's been fun to have the recognition.

I was impressed with how well the event went. It opened with a performance piece written and performed by kids. Of course, there were rough spots, but on the whole the piece was very well written and performed. It was also very well received by the crowd. It mainly outlined stories of these particular kids' lives. I think it's empowering to hear where different people come from. There is a way you can connect with someone else's story. By putting this broad range of kids up there, they were able to connect with some aspect of the whole story.

Here's my funny story of the day. My youth group is a faith-based youth group, so I decided that I could decorate the table with a candle. J was less certain that this was a good idea. I had the candle going for five minutes, when I was informed that candles are explicitly forbidden in the rules for the kids. However, the leader told me, I could probably get away with it. I didn't want to be doing something forbidden for the kids, so I blew out the candle and put it away. Just then, a group of girls walked by, and they started sniffing the air. "Do you smell a candle burning?" they kept asking one another. Then they would point to the floor in front of my table and say, "It smells like a candle RIGHT HERE." I just stayed quiet and shrunk back behind my table. They even called an adult leader over to investigate. I guess I was never implicated because I'm an adult, and an adult would never break the rules, right?

I was really proud of the organizers of the Q-Quest Youth Fest. I think it went very well. I hope it can be a regular event.

Next up: The wine and cheesecake social...

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Processing the Weekend

It has been a full, busy couple of days. I don't have time to go into all the details right now (today looks to be a very busy day as well), but the highlights include:

* Shopping with J for a nice conference display unit

* A Q Youth Festival with 135 kids where J and I tried to recruit kids to our Youth Group. I haven't gone into a lot of detail about my youth group. There is a link to the side, if you are interested.

* A wine and cheesecake social function held right in the sanctuary of an Episcopal Church. At least no one used the baptismal font for a trash receptacle.

* Picking up my parents from the airport during a layover and having lunch.

* A hot birthday date for my other half that included the film Brokeback Mountain. He cried. I'm unemotional.

And now I'm here on a Sunday morning, just trying to get my thoughts together. If today goes as smoothly as I hope, I will be attending the baptism of a friend's child, attending the ordination of another friend, installing an antenna on our roof, and facilitating our youth group. I like busy days, but I haven't had much opportunity to reflect. I'll come back and fill in the gaps later...maybe tonight.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006


Have you had tasks that you just don't want to do. You look at it. You pick it up, or you open the file. Then you stare at it and put it back down. I'm sort of feeling this way. I really have the urge to slack off.

I'm not even a procrastinator. I'm not sure what the issue is. I guess I'd rather just go to bed than finish my work.

It happens to be best of us.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Waiting for the Light

I was out of town when the winter solstice passed, so I didn't comment on it. However, I also have an appreciation for the solstice. I love summer, and I love light. I tend to get a little down in the fall, when the days get shorter. The summer solstice is wonderful because it can stay light out so late in the day (the latest I've seen the sun was at 11:00 at night - it was great!). I also like the winter solstice because I know that the ever darkening days are past.

Of course, winter solstice also falls within the Advent Season. It's been great to read many of your advent reflections. There are some great thoughts out there on waiting...expectation...waiting for the light to come.

It's funny, because now Advent is over. Christmas is over. The light has entered the world. We have the promise of light. And yet...I'm still waiting for it to lighten up. The lengthening days are barely perceivable. It's there, but I can't see it.

I guess that's what epiphany is. We get to read stories of Jesus growing into his ministry. If people were following the story for the first time, they would not realize all that Christ is. We still have to wade through the Lenten wilderness before we get the full glory of the resurrection. The promise is there, but it is not yet fully realized.

In the same way, we get to witness the slow process of warming the world. The evenings are still dark, but I can feel in my gut that things are going to get lighter. Summer is coming. Christ is coming. Light is coming. Love is coming.

Wow. It doesn't seem like Advent is over, does it?

Monday, January 09, 2006

Registration Blues

A few posts ago, I talked about the college spirituality and sexuality conference I was working on. Well, we are now less than two weeks away from that particular conference. Registrations are quite low. I'm trying to do as much as I can, but this may be the sort of event that is destined to be small.

I love doing my conference work, and Redefine the Rainbow is going to be a stellar program. However, I want to make sure that there are enough people around to make the time, effort, and money spent on the conference worth while.

I've spent a good part of the morning re-contacting folks about registration. Maybe all the local folks are going to register at the last minute (they have that option). Maybe it will turn out OK. Right now, I'm trying to stay out of stationary panic, and be productive. I'm trying to MAKE people register.

There is no pressure for any of you, my dear readers (whoever you are) to register for this conference. I'm just hoping that this will come together, and we can still be a good conference.

If you want to see what the conference will look like, you can go here.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Keeping in Touch

First off, I should apologize for that last post. I wrote the post in haste, with too many connections swirling around in my head. It could have been better thought out.

Anyway, we'll see how today's post goes.

Last night, I went to a birthday party for a friend from college. We went out to a bar called The Cabooze (great name, huh?). One of her favorite bands was playing there. I didn't stay long enough to actually see the featured band, but they are called Enchanted Ape, if any of you follow the Minneapolis music scene.

There were people there from different aspects of her life, so I didn't know everyone. But eventually, there were about seven of us from college. Most of us hadn't seen each other in quite a while. One of the people there was someone I was very close to in college. I haven't seen her for about two years.

I was thinking about my ability to keep in touch with people. It seems like I'm not very good at keeping in contact. My best friends are the people who I'm around. When we fall out of touch, then I don't make a lot of effort to make sure I see them. It saddened me last night to know that we have drifted apart.

Of course, I have some friends...many friends, in fact, with whom I can still have a great relationship without keeping in constant contact. There are people that I don't see for years, but when we do get together, we have a great time.

Maybe my mourning of this friend is too premature. After all, our conversation was made difficult by the live band on stage. It was only when the college group assembled that we did a formal, "What have you been up to" with each person reporting. That probably could have opened the conversation up a lot more.

I guess keeping in touch with people is another discipline. Right now, I'm trying to keep up several disciplines. I'm trying to stretch and exercise more (see my other post on that). I'm trying to write a little in my blog every day. I'm trying to keep some sort of regular devotional life. I'm trying to manage a non-profit. I'm trying to keep better track of my money. Keeping in touch with friends is something else that takes practice and determination.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

White People Suck

I'm resonating today with Jason's post about sometimes feeling bad for being white. Last night, I watched a movie entitled The Mission. The film follows the work of missionaries in South America, and their run-ins with the European powers wanting to expand their empires.

The Europeans would like to take over the people's lands and make the Natives their slaves. Their plan only has one little snag, the small Missions that have converted whole tribes and communities. In one scene, you see the European army force a Native-born priest strip, so he can be sold into slavery.

Two priests (Robert de Niro and Jeremy Irons) argue whether fighting resistance or a passive presence would be more effective. In the end, neither approach works. Everything is for naught.

I was very moved by the movie. It makes me ashamed to know that my ancestors have been a part of this activity since they got here (the same thing has happened across time and geography). I am saddened that I can still see the same thing happening today around the world. You would think that we would have learned by now that killing and oppressing people does no good for the world at large. In the end, it makes all of our lives more difficult.

This is all swirling together with the upcoming Martin Luther King weekend. I also was invited to return to El Salvador to study liberation theology. I declined (no money, plus a very last minute invitation...we would depart tomorrow). These things are all converging in my head.

Just another depressing thought, inspired by a tragic movie, on a very grey day.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Stretching the Body and the Soul

For me, 2005 is probably going to be marked as the year of bad health. I got strep throat and tonsillitis. But the big health concern for me in 2005 was continual lower back and leg pain.

It started with a tight feeling last Christmas. Then, one day in January, I flipped over in bed and felt like my back exploded. I've never fully recovered. During bad periods, the pain travels down my leg. I have been to my doctor, a chiropractor, a back specialist, a physical therapist, and one trip to the Emergency Room. Each person contributed a little bit, but no one could completely heal it. I have had x-rays, and MRI, a Chiropractor's back scan (don't really know what that is). I've learned what the problem is, but I haven't been able to get rid of it.

Part of this is history. I was diagnosed with scholiosis when I was in elementary school. It got bad enough that I had seven of my vertebrae fused together and steel rods inserted in my spine when I was fourteen. After healing from the surgery, I haven't had any issues or problems with it.

Fast forward to today: I have one of the most common back problems. I have lifted poorly for too long. I'm not flexible, so I have tight calves and hamstrings. I don't have good posture when I sit. This is pretty usual. The twist is this spine fusion. It means a chiropractor doesn't help. It also presents a challenge in the healing process.

I'm not writing this to complain. Actually, I was thinking that I've been feeling pretty good lately. I've changed a lot of my habits and lifestyle issues that contribute to back pain. I'm really making an effort to do my stretches and exercises I learned from the physical therapist. I'm slowly stretching my calves and hamstrings.

I don't usually make New Year's resolutions, but I'm getting pretty close this year. I want to make 2006 the year of health. I'm going to do my exercises. I'm going to eat right. I'm going to combine spiritual practice with exercise...for example, lately, I've been "timing" my stretches by reciting the Creed and the Lord's Prayer - and not in a rushed way either!

I have not appreciated the chronic pain of others until I experienced it myself. For that reason, I would like to pray for your continued health, as well as mine.

Dear God,
Our bodies are a living sacrifice for You.
Help us to put our bodies to the best use possible. Sustain us for your continued purpose and use. Help us to cherish our bones, muscles, and organs as beautiful creations. I pray this for all who feel acute pain, as well as those who are not worried about their bodies.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Nine Ladies Dancing

It's only the Ninth day of Christmas, and we just took down our Christmas decorations. I was actually considering doing it tomorrow. I usually like to leave them up until Epiphany Day, but practical considerations got in the way for me. I had the energy now, and if I didn't get to them, then I'd be leaving them up until Flag Day.

In actuality, it went quickly. We didn't put up as many decorations as we usually do this year, since we would be gone for such a long time. My other half and I both did it together. We gave ourselves more of a deadline, since a friend was coming over for dinner. We wanted to have everything cleaned up by the time she got here. The pressure worked!

It was also my first day back at work since December 14th. We don't start classes until January 17th, so there is this quiet time when we can work at our own pace. I really like this time. I can work at a leisurely pace. I can take breaks or lunches away from campus without all the rush I usually have.

Don't get me wrong. I have plenty to do...I just have a better pace now than I usually do. This year, I have even more. We decided to hold a conference for college students on spirituality and sexuality. I sort of volunteered to be the coordinator of the conference. I'm excited about the conference, but it adds a layer of stress on all the other stuff I have to do. The conference is actually going to be a good one. We even have registrations coming in from around the country...I only expected people to drive here.

If you want to check out my project, I'll give you a Registration is still lower than I would like, but I'm really intrigued at the people who are attending. I also have to keep reminding myself that college student do everything at the very last second. In fact, I'm banking on that being true, so that there is a good attendance at this thing.

Maybe J will also put a link on his blog. He's also working with me on the conference. (Am I hinting too much?)

I'm going to relish this time in early January. It's a calm oasis before the business starts up again.

It also feels good to be back in this blogging community. I've been reading a lot of folks, but I haven't contributed very much. I feel like I'm returning from an absence. It's good to come home.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

I Need a Vacation from My Vacation

I have been on the go since December 14th. Last night, we drove home from a New Year's Party at 2:00 AM just to be able to sleep in our own bed. Yup, I'm ready for routine to start all over again.

OK - Let's give some more detail. On the 14th of December, my other half and I flew to Tacoma, Washington, to spend Christmas with his sister. His mother was also coming to visit, but also to scope out some jobs to be able to move back to the area. It was not our intention to go that early. With my other half's job, he accumulated a lot of frequent flier miles. Lately, Northwest Airlines has made redeeming these miles more and more difficult. We've been operating under a "use them or lose them" mentality. We've been trying to use the miles before Northwest drops the program altogether. One of the big restrictions is around Christmas. So, the only available dates were to depart Minneapolis on December 14th and returning on Christmas Day.

We had a lot of fun. We went into Seattle twice. Once, we brought the kids to see The Sound of Music at the 5th Street Theatre. Wonderful! It was the kid's first musical theatre experience, so I felt like I was introducing them to something. The second time, we drove my other half's mother to various job interviews. My other half also lived in Seattle, so we visited his old stomping grounds - Capitol Hill - AKA "The Gay Area".

We were really curious who would be able to/want to pick us up from the airport at midnight of Christmas Day. We had a friend who volunteered. As it turned out, she was going to be getting up early, so in her place, she sent her mother. To make it worse, our plane was an hour late. So, we were picked up by a friend's mother at 1:00 AM on December 26th. How strange is that?

We spent a quick day shopping for my half of the family. The reasoning was that we could take advantage of some post-Christmas deals. We ended up buying most of the gifts at Costco, which doesn't have post-Christmas sales. Then, we drove five hours north to spend a few days with my family.

We didn't do much at my parent's (always my plan). We played cards, we re-created Christmas morning, my other half fixed computers. We napped and watched movies.

Then we drove down to attend a New Year's party at J's house. It might have been more enjoyable if we had not just spent five hours in the car. We were dead tired by midnight. We stayed later just to let me finish processing the alcohol. Then we drove home.

So, for New Year's day? We layed around. We also discovered those post-Christmas clearance sales. Just exchanging clothes that were the wrong size seemed to work to our advantage.

Now it's 9:00, and I'm finally recapping the last three weeks of my life. There were so many times I was tempted to blog. I wanted to comment on Winter Solstice, Christmas, and New Years. just get the cliff notes.