Thursday, March 31, 2011

On the Season of Lent

Some of my readers are also from pastors' families.  I know these people will understand this post.  There are other readers who may not understand.  I'm OK with that, too.  This is mostly just my own little confession.

Since I've been a pastor's wife, I HATE LENT.

I never used to hate Lent.  I used to really, really like Lent.  I love the hymns.  They are so dark and sad sounding.  The mere sound of the music helps me to ponder Jesus' suffering.
O dearest Jesus, what law hast Thou broken 
That such sharp sentence should on Thee be spoken? 
Of what great crime hast Thou to make confession— 
What dark transgression?  

They crown Thy head with thorns, they smite, they scourge Thee; 
With cruel mockings to the cross they urge Thee; 
They give Thee gall to drink, they still decry Thee; 
They crucify Thee. 

Whence come these sorrows, whence this mortal anguish? 
It is my sins for which Thou, Lord, must languish; 
Yea, all the wrath, the woe, Thou dost inherit, 
This I do merit. 

What punishment so strange is suffered yonder! 
The Shepherd dies for sheep that loved to wander; 
The Master pays the debt His servants owe Him, 
Who would not know Him. 

The sinless Son of God must die in sadness; 
The sinful child of man may live in gladness; 
Man forfeited his life and is acquitted— 
God is committed.
The lyrics of the Lenten hymns are especially rich.  The meditative value is immense.  I am able to focus more vividly on my sin and Jesus Passion.
Stricken, smitten, and afflicted,
See Him dying on the tree!
’Tis the Christ by man rejected;
Yes, my soul, ’tis He, ’tis He!
’Tis the long expected prophet,
David’s Son, yet David’s Lord;
Proofs I see sufficient of it:
’Tis a true and faithful Word.

Tell me, ye who hear Him groaning,
Was there ever grief like His?
Friends through fear His cause disowning,
Foes insulting his distress:
Many hands were raised to wound Him,
None would interpose to save;
But the deepest stroke that pierced Him
Was the stroke that Justice gave.

Ye who think of sin but lightly,
Nor suppose the evil great,
Here may view its nature rightly,
Here its guilt may estimate.
Mark the Sacrifice appointed!
See Who bears the awful load!
’Tis the Word, the Lord’s Anointed,
Son of Man, and Son of God.

Here we have a firm foundation,
Here the refuge of the lost.
Christ the Rock of our salvation,
Christ the Name of which we boast.
Lamb of God for sinners wounded!
Sacrifice to cancel guilt!
None shall ever be confounded
Who on Him their hope have built.
I love the passion readings.  I love to be reminded each year of what my Savior suffered for ME. I am heartened when hearing that even the disciples fell, and yet our Savior loved them.
And Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple. That disciple was known to the high priest, and went with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest. But Peter stood at the door outside. Then that other disciple who was known to the high priest, went out and spoke to her who kept the door, and brought Peter in.

And the servants and officers who had made a fire of coals stood there, for it was cold, and they warmed themselves. And Peter stood with them and warmed himself, so that he could see the end. Then the servant girl who kept the door, seeing Peter in the light as he warmed himself, looked intently at him and said: And you were also with Jesus of Galilee! You are not also one of this Man's disciples, are you? He denied before all and said: Woman, I am not; I do not know Him; I do not know what you are saying.
And I love the extra opportunity each week to get together with friends and loved ones for whom this season is also special.

Once I had kids, Lent became more difficult, just as church attendance in general was more difficult.  But we forged on and hopefully were able to give our older children a few years of Lenten seasons rich in meaning and relatively angst free.

But now I am a pastor's wife.  I pretty much lose my spouse during Lent and the kids lose their dad.  I have been know to say that were it within my tradition to give something up for Lent, I would not have to choose anything.  I already do.

I also have youth group aged kids now.  So that means that every other week, I cook extra on Wednesday to provide for the soup and sandwich suppers our youth group does as a fund raiser.  This extra work allows my kids to attend the many opportunities for fun and fellowship with like-minded young people throughout the year. But it's extra work during an already busy time.

And I have an extra church service to sit through each week with little ones, with no second set of arms to help out.

Even in our present situation with all the frustrations of the season and the difficulties in attending church, there are so many special things in Lent to enjoy.  I hope my bad attitude does not ruin those things for my kids.

Besides the above mentioned special things about Lent, I really like the way my husband does Lenten services.  We use the order of Compline from the Evangelical Lutheran Hymnary.  That service contains one of my favorite church service prayers, which is especially fitting during Lent.
Preserve us, O Lord, while waking, and guard us while sleeping, that awake we may watch with Christ, and asleep we may rest in peace.
Each week (except for on Ash Wednesday and Maunday Thursday when we have Holy Communion) we have Individual Absolution.  For those readers not familiar with this practice from the Norwegian Lutheran tradition, after a general recitation of confession, the pastor reads an explanatory paragraph that includes an exhortation to make use of confession and absolution and the Scriptures that give the pastor the power to forgive sins; then the congregation files forward, as if for communion but with even the youngest coming forward; the pastor lays his hands upon the head of each person and forgives the sins of each in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Another special thing at our churches during Lent is that Joe does a Bible study afterwards.  Because he serves four churches, this is impossible to do on Sunday mornings.  Because of everyone's busy schedules, the various times that he's tried for midweek studies have not worked out well.  But during Lent, when he has one service a night for three nights of the week, he can offer Bible study right after church.  The service of Compline is shorter than than a Sunday Service, so a good number of people stay for the Bible study.  This allows extra time together in God's Word, and as a bonus we come to know each other more deeply than the regular Sunday pleasantries allow.

But again, Bible study is pretty difficult with a passel little ones who are getting tired and ready for bed, and are ornery and strung out from all the excitement.

I must confess I've gotten lax throughout the years.  I used to make my kids sit with me at every service.  Then I let them sit with others during Lent, because I was just too tired for the battle twice a week.  Then I gradually let them wear pants for midweek services.  Mostly because I can't keep up at home with the extra church clothes lying about and never getting picked up and searching for shoes, etc.  And (big chagrined cringe here) this year for the midweek services, I've even let my oldest kids wear their jeans from school to church.  I can't believe how far I've fallen.

But those things are really not the problem.  God does not care how we dress or where we sit.  He's glad to serve us with His Word and Sacraments regardless of our attire or seating position.  That Word and Sacrament is what church is all about.  It's the Holy Service, God serving us with His Life-giving means of grace.

The real problem for me during this season is bitterness.  I struggle with it daily.  I yell at my kids too much.  I flounder in my household responsibilities.  I feel angry.  I feel run down.  I feel lonely.

This year I made a commitment, verbally, to my kids to try to be less angry.  I hope I am doing better than other years in at least this regard.  I know I'm not doing well with the rest of my struggles.

But in this too, I can turn to the cross of Christ, that beautiful, horrible cross.
O sacred Head, now wounded, with grief and shame weighed down,
Now scornfully surrounded with thorns, Thine only crown;
O sacred Head, what glory, what bliss till now was Thine!
Yet, though despised and gory, I joy to call Thee mine.

What Thou, my Lord, hast suffered, was all for sinners’ gain;
Mine, mine was the transgression, but Thine the deadly pain.
Lo, here I fall, my Savior! ’Tis I deserve Thy place;
Look on me with Thy favor, vouchsafe to me Thy grace.

My burden in Thy Passion, Lord, Thou hast borne for me,
For it was my transgression which brought this woe on Thee.
I cast me down before Thee, wrath were my rightful lot;
Have mercy, I implore Thee; Redeemer, spurn me not!

What language shall I borrow to thank Thee, dearest friend,
For this Thy dying sorrow, Thy pity without end?
O make me Thine forever, and should I fainting be,
Lord, let me never, never outlive my love to Thee.
I look to the cross and lay at the feet of my Lord all my bitterness and anger and frustration.  I cling to His promises of forgiveness and healing.
By grace I'm saved, grace free and boundless;
My soul, believe and doubt it not.
Why stagger at this word of promise?
Hath Scripture ever falsehood taught?
Nay; then this word must true remain;
By grace thou, too, shalt heav'n obtain.

By grace! On this I'll rest when dying;
In Jesus' promise I rejoice;
For though I know my heart's condition,
I also know my Savior's voice.
My heart is glad, all grief has flown
Since I am saved by grace alone.

By grace! Sin, death, and Satan hearken!
I bear my flag of faith in hand
And pass--for doubts my joy can't darken--
The Red Sea to the Promised Land.
I cling to what my Savior taught
And trust it, whether felt or not.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Week 4 Day 2, Couch to 5K

This has been kind of a crummy day altogether, so I don't know why I should have expected that my exercise would be better...But I was hoping.

I only did the Couch to 5K stuff today, since I wasted too much time this morning and have several things I need to finish up around the house before the Wednesday evening during Lent rush.  I felt good at first and even jacked up my speeds a tiny bit.  But at the end I hit a brick wall and had to slow way down.  Really way down.  I could have walked.  But I made myself keep up that jogging motion even though I was barely lifting my feet the last two minutes of the last jog interval.  Then I slowed down the cool down walk, too.

5 minutes walk       3 mph
3 minutes jog          4.1 mph
1.5 minute walk      3 mph
5 minute jog            4 mph
3 minute walk         3 mph
3 minute jog            4.1 mph
1.5 minute walk      3 mph
5  minute jog           3.9, then 3.4 mph
5 minute cool down  2.6 mph

The tread mill said I burned 233 cals, 72 fat cals, traveled 1.81 miles, took 31.30 minutes.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Eminent Domain at White Bluffs

When I was little, my paternal grandmother periodically mentioned White Bluffs.  Grandma was always a bit sad about it.  I didn't understand at the time the significance that place held for her.  Nor had I any idea of the role that little town and the area surrounding it played in the history of the modern world.

I eventually came to understand that my grandparents had farmed near White Bluffs.  And that they had to leave.  And that leaving was not something they chose to do.

But the name White Bluffs was still a mystery to me.  I only knew it made Grandma sad.

When I got a little older, I tried to find White Bluffs on a map of Washington.  It did not exist.

More mystery.

At some point, probably well into adulthood, I put it all together.  I had asked enough questions and done enough reading on my own to figure out the mystery.  This brief history is probably still not fully accurate, but this is what I've pieced together thus far.

The town of White Bluffs had its start as a ferry site across the Columbia River.  Native peoples used the site for crossing the Columbia.  Later, The Hudson's Bay Company ran a trading post there. Miners on the way to the British Columbia gold rush could cross the river and stock up on supplies.  By 1850, steamboats came up the Columbia from Portland bringing people and supplies to join the packtrains heading north.

By the early 1940s, the region was a rich agricultural area and the small towns were growing.  The Milwaukee Road ran through White Bluffs providing residents the goods they needed and taking away the literal fruits of their labors.

According to the U.S. Government's Hanford history page
Hanford and White Bluffs epitomized the early American West.  Farming and agriculture were the dominant industries in these little towns, even though the area receives just seven inches of rain a year.  An early irrigation system provided water from the Columbia River to orchards and field crops, and fruit ripened more quickly here than in any other part of the Pacific Northwest.  Small, family-run stores and other businesses began to open after the turn of the century, and some of the earliest automobiles could be seen on the dirt streets of the communities.  A ferry docked near White Bluffs and shuttled passengers across the Columbia River.  A railroad called “Sagebrush Annie” carried riders between Hanford and White Bluffs.  Children attended schools in both communities and White Bluffs even had a weekly newspaper.
The worst years of the depression were finally over and things were looking up.

My grandparents had a farm outside of White Bluffs.  They had planted a vineyard and lovingly tended their vines.  They looked forward to harvesting their first full crop of grapes.

Then came the announcement.  I suppose it was a letter, but that is not clear from the history I can find.  Perhaps it was just a public announcement through posters and newspapers.

The government needed the land for the war effort.  Most residents had only 30 days to get off their land.  Some residents were given only a couple of days to two weeks to leave. 

As part of the Manhatten Project, the government needed a site well away from major cities and transportation centers, and yet near a plenteous supply of clean water.  It was here in the area around the towns of Hanford and White Bluffs, that the Federal Government chose to process the plutonium needed for the nuclear program.  The government used their power of eminent domain to take the land from the local people.

The area became the Hanford Engineer Works where the plutonium was processed for the first nuclear test bomb that was detonated at the Trinity site in New Mexico, and also for Fat Man, the bomb dropped over Nagasaki, Japan.

The Hanford site continued into the cold war as the primary plutonium processing facility in the United States.  Currently there is one power plant still in operation there.

Because nuclear science was in its infancy during the early years at Hanford, the area has very high levels of radioactive waste.  Clean-up is ongoing.

I have an uncle on my mom's side of the family who ranched and raised his family within a few miles of the borders of Hanford.  Uncle Max passed away last year on my birthday.  He had lived into his 90s.

Several years ago, I asked Uncle Max how he felt about the reports of the high levels of radioactive waste that were alleged to be slowly leaking into the area.  Max replied that he never worried about it too much.  This was his home and he farmed it the best he could and that was all he could do.

But he also said that the plutonium made in that facility probably saved his life.  You see, Uncle Max was fighting in World War II with the US Navy in the South Pacific.  Uncle Max had always figured, based on the rumors that were going around at the time regarding the plans for the ship he was on, that he and many others would not have come home alive were it not for the nuclear bombs.

All that remains of White Bluffs today is the bank.  It looks kind of lonely, doesn't it?

Monday, March 28, 2011

Sharing Pop Culture with my Teenaged Daughter

Louisa gets irritated because I am so negative/cynical of the state of chastity and commitment among the rich and famous.  She exhorts me to "put the best construction on everything."  She is right.  I ought not to assume someone is fornicating simply because he or she is a pop star.

Louisa has exhorted me to look at Taylor Swift and the Jonas Brothers as examples of stars who choose to wear purity as part of their persona.  So today, while I was having my coffee break, I started reading about Taylor Swift.  She is a lovely girl and seems to have her feet on solid ground.  But I didn't find anything that would indicate a particularly chaste lifestyle choice. Nor did I find anything particularly indicative of and unchaste lifestyle.  She did attend a Christian school for part of her high school and was homeschooled some of the time.   She doesn't like to talk about the degree of intimacy in her relationships.  That, at least, is laudable.  That's as much as I can say about her morals from what I could find readily on the internet. Perhaps Louisa is familiar with more sources than those I am finding.

I like several of Ms Swift's songs that Louisa has shared with me.  But I thought Thug Story was especially cute.  Together with reading at least eight on-line biographies, this video helped me to appreciate the variety and personality behind Taylor Swift's stardom.

Finally on to Week 4 Day One

I started out my day today with just over 10 minutes on the Gazelle.

I didn't write down any stats this morning, but the general gist of my couch to 5K was
  • 5 minute warm up walk
  • 3 minute run
  • 90 second walk
  • 5 minute run
  • 3 minute walk
  • 3 minute run
  • 90 second walk
  • 5 minute run
  • 5 minute cool down walk
I made it.  Even with this trumpeting head cold full of congestion I have picked up somewhere. 

I walked at 2.9-3.1 mph.  I jogged at 3.9-4.0 mph.  It took me just a few second shy of 30 minutes.

I was very tired at the end of my jogging, so I had to slow down a bit more for the last minute. but I kept going.  There are times a stubborn temper is useful.  I suppose I could call that tenacity, but mostly it's just good old fashioned stubbornness.  It's something I've worked hard to curb;I must confess, however, that it still often sneaks out.  Just ask my kids (or my dear husband?). 

But when necessary, I can summon my vast reserve of bullheaded-ness up to get me over the hard spots of life, whether a difficult path the Lord has asked me to walk; or a difficult path of my own devising, such as this whole running thing.

Although I was a bit fearful going into the week, I'm optimistic today.  I think I can do it.  And if I have to do this same level for two weeks, what's it matter in the big scheme of things.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

A Spring Junket

Our neighbor kids spent the afternoon here today.  Since it was a balmy 40F out, they decided to take a walk around the neighboring fields to pay a first spring visit to all their favorite haunts.  Since the pasture surface is a mix of snow, ice, water, mud and tufts of grass, deciding how to dress for the occasion was a bit of a challenge.

Finally most of the kids decided upon winter wear, complete with snowpants and boots, gloves, hats and coats.  But in case they got dry, they also took several water bottles.

Elsie and Holly chose the eastern route, toward the north end of Kimball's woods and what has sometimes been called The Beach.  (More on that later.)  On the way there, the girls had to traverse an area of mostly frozen slough.  When we had our warm days a few weeks ago, a large amount of snow melted and left a very large area of standing water which since has frozen solid.  Because of the warm temperature again today, the edges were starting to melt and break apart.  But for the hardy souls who brave the initial dash, the ensuing ice field is a wealth of fun.  Perfect for sliding and falling and occasionally breaking through.

Clara, Stella, John, and our neighbor Matt went south to the fort they call Mosquito Coverage.  The name is from long ago, I think Jeremy came up with it.  He had names for all his favorite places, but most have fallen out of use.  This one, however, has remained Mosquito Coverage.  It's straight south of our house, past the edge of the hayfield and into the corner of CRP (Conservation Reserve Program) land in this section.  Mosquito Coverage is a little hillock, formerly, I think, a pile of rocks that has filled in with dirt and grass and the oddments of farm cast-offs such as rolls of barbed wire, old fence posts and the remains of tree branches and roots.  In this land that is largely without visual landmarks, this little hillock makes a destination of mystery and adventure.  This time of year, although the top of the bushes is showing above the melted snow, there is still quite a large drift along the north side.

Mosquito Coverage is about 1/4 mile south of the house. It is the first "fort" to which our youngest children are allowed to adventure, since we can see it clearly out our front window.

I was supposed to have the neighbor kids home at 4:00, so as the hour neared I was keeping an eye out for the various explorers, watching for their return home.  Elsie and Holly returned home in good time and even had 1/2 hour to spare.  But I could see neither hide nor hair of the younger set.  I had seen them near the fort just a little while earlier.  Holly and Elsie had seen the others while they were walking home.  But now that they needed to be heading in, the younger group had disappeared.   Joe got out his field glasses and surveyed the area.  No children.

Joe then got out his Mossberg 500 12 guage, and fired two shots safely at the ground. We've trained the older kids to listen for shots when they are out and about.  It is supposed to mean, "It's time to come in."  I started out several years ago with a referee whistle, but the sound doesn't carry far enough.  Each year as the snow melts and the kids are once again able to gad about the neighborhood, we review all the roaming rules so that each group of kids learns the rules for the newer freedoms they enjoy as they grow older.  But I didn't mention any rules to the kids today.   Bad Mom!

As 4:00 approached and we still didn't see the younger kids anywhere, Joe went out driving around the SW corner of the section.  Because of the flat land and the open spaces, we can usually see most everything, so it was just a bit unnerving when he returned and hadn't seen them at all.  By the time he came back, I was dressed for walking.  It was a nice day, and I knew they had to be somewhere.  As we were debating which direction I should start out, we spied them in the periphery of the woods southeast of us.  Louisa wanted a little walk too, so she came along to direct me around the worst of the slough.

By the time Louisa and I got out to the pasture, the kids were heading out of the woods toward The Beach.  This is a little manmade rise next to a cow pond.  In this part of Minnesota, since our water table is pretty high, a cattle rancher will dig a pit in the pasture and put the dirt off to the side, making a slight rise.  The pit fills in and, voila, a watering pond.  This particular pond is, thankfully, not deep.  The cattle are confined elsewhere during the winter months.  So in the spring, when the world is fresh and new, my girls have been known to sunbathe on the south facing slope of the rise.  And yes, they have even on occasion sneaked swimming suits under their clothes, and frisked around a bit in the pond.   Hence the name, "The Beach."

When Louisa and I got near the other kids, we soon realized that we were separated from them by the partially frozen slough.  Louisa, being only a bit more than half my weight, was able to get across the ice without getting her feet too wet.  I stayed safely on the dry tussocks of grass, well away from the deeper portions of the wetland.  (Chicken!)  Louisa called the other kids over and continued on across to help Stella, who was too afraid of falling through to make any significant progress.  The other, older kids were fearless.  They ran and slid and crashed their way over to me.  Mostly it was frozen and they slid along making good time.  But Clara had one good break through which caught her off balance and sent her front side first into the icy brew.  She got up laughing and hooting about how fun it was.

As we gradually made our way home, I was struck by the realization that spring had come.  It may have been a mere 40 degrees out.  The snowcover was still at about 30%.  The ice was thick enough that the kids mostly walked across just fine.  But even so, spring is here.  The kids were having a blast.  They were outside without huddling into their scarves at each breath.  Some were even carrying their hats and gloves.  I had on only a hooded sweatshirt and boots.  Most of the kids were wearing snowpants that dripped with icy water.  And yet they were warm.  We were all warm.

Spring has come to northern Minnesota once again.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Final Day of Final Repitition of Week Three

Hopefully the final day of week three.  I stopped using the podcasts because I was bored.  Is this a theme in my life?  Ought I to be worried?

Joe has put much of his vast mp3 collection from his computer onto my mp3 player, so I was treated to everything from OMD to Prince, to Huey Lewis, to Rick James.  Mostly good exercise music.  I did find Joan Jett's I Love Rock and Roll, however, a bit slow.  Still good listening, but its beat is so pronounced that it was hard to keep the speed I needed to be going against the beat of the song.

Another quirky thing is that Duran Duran's Rio is a really long song.  5 1/2 minutes.  It came on during the last few minutes of my final walk interval and I told myself I'd just walk to to the end of the song.  I figured it would leave me fewer minutes to make up on the Gazelle and Nordic Rider.  All told, I think I did about 48 minutes today, thanks in part to the length of Rio.

For the tread mill work I did 28 minutes, 1.61 ml, 64 fat calories, 207 calories.  I did the walking intervals at 2.9 mph and the jogging at 4 or 4.1 mph.

Next week I have to alternate 90 second intervals with 5 minute intervals.  I hope I'm ready.  Probably my biggest enemy is the boredom.  Wish me luck.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Sausage and Clam Chowder

Sausage and Clam Chowder
  • 2 lb sausage of choice (I used a pound each of Italian and breakfast sausages)
Brown in bottom of stock pot, stirring occasionally to break up into small pieces.

Remove from pot with slotted spoon, leaving juices in bottom of pot.
  • 8 medium potatoes, cut into 1" chunks
  • 2 large carrots, cut into 1/2" chunks
  • 2 stalks celery, finely diced 
  • 1/2 large onion, finely diced
Stir into juices in stock pot.  Cover and cook on medium heat until veggies start to soften.

Add liquid to just cover veggies and simmer until they reach desired softness.  If you want chunkier chowder, don't cook as long.  Water is fine for liquid, but if you have any homemade vegetable or meat stock, that's even better. I used some beef bone broth concentrate, an 8 oz jar of clam juice, and water.

When veggies are soft, break up with potato masher or immersion blender.  I like my soup less chunky, so my veggies are nearly pureed by the time I'm done with this step.
  • 1 can corn, drained
  • 2  6.5 oz cans clam pieces, with liquid
  • 1 qt heavy whipping cream
  •  enough milk to thin to desired consistency ( I think I used about 3 cups).
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.  (I used about 1 1/2 tbs salt and 3/4 tsp pepper, but this will very depending upon the liquid in which you simmer your veggies.)
Add to pot and heat to just below simmering.

Makes about 2 gallons.
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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Hills and Valleys

I've mentioned before on this blog that the region in which I live now is quite flat compared to where I grew up.  Sometimes I miss the more varied topography.
View of Cascades from Wenatchee Valley
I was talking about this subject over the weekend with a friend.  Then the next day, my cousin Cheryl who lives only a few blocks from my folks, posted a picture of the view from her home.  At least I am assuming it's from her home.  The view is very similar to the view from Mom and Dad's house.  This view is from East Wenatchee, looking west across the Columbia River Valley with the Cascade Mountains towering above.  I always have to take a few deep breaths and ponder the majesty of God when I'm home.

I didn't grow up in Wenatchee, where my parents currently live.  I grew up on the west side of the Cascades, in the Tacoma and Puyallup area. The view in this picture is very similar to the view I saw most days on the way home from school.
Mr Rainier from Puget Sound Area
Another interesting thing is the hills in the big port cities on Puget Sound, Tacoma and Seattle.  Seattle was famous for it's seven hills, some of which have been flattened.  It is still very hilly.  Local residents might refer to Denny Hill, or Magnolia Heights or Queen Anne Hill when giving directions or to refer to certain neighborhoods.  I couldn't find a good picture of the Seattle Hills, so I took the liberty of including a picture of the Seattle Skyline, just because it's so pretty.
Seattle Skyline at Night
We used to love when we occasionally had to go downtown in Tacoma.  The hills there are steep enough that a building's front door may be on the first floor, a side door on the second or third and a door at the other end of the city block might be on the third or even fourth floor.  The hills seem to go up at almost 45 degrees (would that be a 100% grade? not possible maybe, but it sure seems that way in my imagination), then the hills level off for the next intersection and then head upward once again.  Someone standing at the bottom would see a series of hills, alternating with level spots for the cross streets, and then more hill.  Up and up.  It was a special treat to have errands to run on one of those side streets.  "Whoop-de-whoop-de-whoop!"

Luzon Building, Tacoma, Washington
I couldn't find a good image of the hills, but this picture of an old building gives an idea of the variety of levels a building might have.  Someone living in Tacoma definitely wants a fully functioning emergency break in his or her vehicle.

Puyallup Valley Daffodils
For a closing thought and a couple more pictures, Puyallup claims to be the daffodil capital of the world.  I don't know how true that is, but they have a big daffodil festival each spring, complete with Daffodil Princess and court, a big parade and I don't know what all.  At least one grower used to export tulip and daffodil bulbs to Holland.  I know this because one summer I worked for the Van Lierop Bulb Farm.

Puyallup Valley Tulips
And yes, lest anyone comment, the Puyallup valley is very flat.  But as you can see from the pictures, there is an end to the flat.  It is surrounded by hills and mountains.

Unlike northwestern Minnesota.

Week 3, AGAIN, Day 2

I can't exactly say I was spot on today, but I got through and didn't peter out.  I think my speeds were up a little tiny bit too, so I guess that's some measure of improvement.  My feet and lower legs got tired.  I got bored.  But I kept plugging along.

5 minutes warm up      3 mph
90 seconds jog            4 mph
90 seconds walk         3 mph
3 minutes jog               4 mph
3 minutes walk            3 mph
90 seconds jog            4 mph
90 seconds walk          3 mph
3 minutes jog               4.1 mph
5 minutes cool down   2.9 mph, then slowing a bit throughout

The computer told me I burned 187 calories with 585 of the fat calories.  I covered 1.45 miles and it took 25 minutes.

I also did 10 minutes on the Gazelle and did my full Nordic Rider sets.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Week 3 AGAIN

Yes, I'm kind of stuck on week three.  But mostly because of non-exercise related things going on.  Last week I has house guests and my exercise partner had grandkids.

But now we're back on, except that after a week off,  I didn't want to jump right in full force.  I did 25 minutes of tread mill work during which I did two 3 minute jogs.

I also did about 10 minutes of the gazelle and only one set on the Nordic Rider.

I think it was not quite 40 minutes, but I usually round down when recording my minutes, so today I rounded up to get my 40 minutes.  Although it was not the Couch to 5K, I was definitely working hard.  I was dripping sweat when I finished.  The jogging went easier today and I could tell my body was becoming accustomed to it.

AND it's getting nicer outside.  Soon, soon, we'll be able to exercise outside.

Although there is another several inches of snow predicted for the next few days.

... Winter Storm Watch remains in effect from Tuesday morningthrough Wednesday evening... 
A Winter Storm Watch remains in effect from Tuesday morningthrough Wednesday evening. 
* A large winter storm will impact the area starting Tuesday morning through Wednesday afternoon. 
* Look for mixed rain... snow... sleet or freezing rain to develop early Tuesday morning and then turn to all snow Tuesday evening and continue into Wednesday. 
* Significant snowfall of over eight inches is possible across the area... along with freezing rain and sleet. However... the locations and specific amounts of snow... ice and rain are not certain as low level temperatures will be critical. 
* The snow will be a wet snow and the storm will produce east winds at 15 to 30 mph. 
* Stay tuned to later forecasts for updates.
Precautionary/preparedness actions... 
A Winter Storm Watch means there is a potential for significantsnow... sleet... or ice accumulations that may impact travel.Continue to monitor the latest forecasts.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Cleansing the Gunk of Winter

This poem was inspired by the rain on the window panes, the dirty snowbanks outside the windows, and Val F's comment on Faceboook that "the rain washes the gunk away."

Spring Cleaning
gray sky
gray snow
gray mood

dripping wetness
washing winter gunk from my windows
washing winter tired from my soul
peaceful sound

I wake to spring
I wake to joy

clean windows
on my house
and in my heart

Monday, March 14, 2011

Couch to 5K, Week 3 Re-revisited

Weird schedule this week and missed a day last week, so I'm doing week three yet again.  I think I'll stick with it all week, if I am able to get both the other workouts in.

Today went very well, though.  I was a bit sluggish starting out, so I turned down my speed a bit and waited for that "kick" to kick in.  By the time the first 3 minutes jog came around I was in my zone.  I like when it's going well enough that I don't keep checking the little clock on the tread mill wondering why it's not moving faster.

5 minutes warm up      2.7 mph
90 seconds jog            3.5 mph
90 seconds walk         2.7 mph
3 minutes jog               4 mph
3 minutes walk            3 mph
90 seconds jog            4 mph
90 seconds walk          3 mph
3 minutes jog               4.1 mph
5 minutes cool down   3 mph, then slowing a bit throughout

The computer told me I burned 178 calories with 55 of the fat calories.  I covered 1.38 miles and it took 25 minutes.

I also did 10 minutes on the Gazelle and did my full Nordic Rider sets.

A good workout today.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Fun Songs

Generally, I don't like that I spend so much time on the road running for kids stuff.  But today, during three trips out and back, I heard some fun songs

I remember listening to "Afternoon Delight" by Starland Vocal Band, when my sister, Kathy had her first radio.  I think she may also have featured it on some needle work for Girl Pioneers.  I seem to remember being somewhat jealous when comparing my bland pattern to her colorful rocket surrounded by floating lyrics.

I heard George Strait's "The Breath You Take" twice today. I checked on the lyrics after I got home to make sure I heard them all. I like them even better than I thought.

It seems like there was another one, too, but I can't remember right now. But these two are good enough to warrant a blog post.

Funny Lunchtime Stories

I hope I can re-tell the following so it is as enjoyable for others at is was for me. These things don't always translate well into the written word.

Today at lunch, everything made me laugh.   Perhaps is was my brush with danger while digging John's room out from under his piles of stuff.  Or maybe it was the adrenaline rush from accomplishing such a major feat.  Whatever the cause, I laughed throughout the entire meal.

In order to appreciate the following, you probably should be familiar with Lyrical Life Science CDs.  The producers of this set have made up rhymes for various sciency things and put those rhymes to well-known folk tunes.

For instance (for brevity's sake I'm just including the chorus here, but imagine several verses explaining the scientific method):
The Scientific Method
to the tune of "Dixie"

A way to solve a problem, a way, a way
The scientific method is a way to solve a problem
A way, a way, a way to solve a problem
A way, a way, a way to solve a problem
So getting back to my original story, in the middle of lunch today, quite out of the blue, Joe says, "What's the tune to mitosis?

I look at him like he's a little touched.  After thinking a minute I render a guess, "You songs?"


Cosmo Brown and Don Lockwood

From the sideline, I hear Elsie start in with the Gene Kelly and Donald O'Connor song from Singin' in the Rain,  "Moses supposes mitoses are roses..."

I was so impressed with her quick wit.  It tickled my funny bone thinking of how mitosis could fit with that song.  The two fellows in sweaters and spats singing about mitosis and tapping around the room.

I couldn't find a video I was able to embed, but you can find that scene here if you need a little smile.

Later the kids were all telling jokes, and as usually happens with this many at the same table, everyone started talking over the top of each other, each wanting to tell the next doozy.  Many of the jokes, as you might imagine, were the kind of silly things small children come up with, which are incredibly funny to them, but maybe not so much so to the parents or older kids.  In at least one instance today, I think the joke ended up being much funnier than the teller intended.

At one point, Stella, who was sitting next to me said, "Mom, I've got a joke for you."

"OK, go ahead,"  I replied.

Stella looked at me and says, "You have to guess."

I had no clue what she was talking about, so I just laughed.  She hadn't told me anything and yet I had to guess.  She was so serious.  Pretty soon, again with everyone talking at once, they pointed out that she was acting something out and she wanted me to guess.

Uncle Rico
She had her hand in a fist, up under her chin, so I first guessed Uncle Rico, from Napoleon Dynamite.  "Well I felt really relaxed. Thanks Deb."

She gave me an exasperated sigh.  "Watch my eyes," she exhorted.

So I watched her roll her eyes around in her head for several minutes, with increasingly exaggerated facial antics as I quite obviously couldn't come up with a single guess as to what she was acting out.

Finally I gave up, which did not please her in the least, and she said in a, "duhhhh" tone of voice, "A bunny, Mom."

Well, I had absolutely no response to that.

After several minutes of giggling, I regained enough control to ask her to explain what resting her chin on her fist and rolling her eyes around in her head had to do with a bunny.

"My hand wasn't part of it.  But it's a snow bunny."

Huh?  "I'm sorry, honey, I don't get it."

"You know, when they die, they do that with their eyes."

More giggles.

"Oh, you mean when Daddy hunts jackrabbits in the snow, like the picture we have of Louisa and Matt holding up their rabbits?"

I'm quite sure I perceived another, "Duhhh,"  when the old light bulb finally came on for me.

But I was thoroughly amused by the entire episode.  At each step of the interchange, I was giggling and chuckling and laughing out loud. I couldn't help it.  I'm still laughing as I type this up.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Calories, Fat Calories, Heart Rates, and Exercise Programs

My sister, Aimee, is schooled as an athletic trainer.  Besides working for the Oklahoma State University's athletic department during grad school, she's also worked for a physical therapist.  Currently she is contracted through both SCIFIT, as an account manager; and Wellness Supply Group, performing a wide assortment of tasks.

On Facebook Aimee gave some very informative responses to my previous post.   I'm posting them here, both for the benefit of non-Facebook blog readers; but also for myself, so I have the information in a more permanent format. 

Re fat burning calories Aimee explains
As for the "fat-burning" question - exercise at a certain % of max heart rate is considered "fat-burning". It is at the low end of the exercise spectrum....basically because you are exercising at a low rate, your body can use fat cells to provide the energy since energy requirements are lower and there is time to use the fat. If you are exercising at a higher rate, your body must use quicker energy sources - glucose and glycogen stores. That is how they differentiate "fat-burning" calories from total calories. 
But Aimee goes on to explain that this only reflects the time spent exercising.  It does not take into account the increase in fat burning while at rest that one gains simply by becoming more fit.
However, the higher exercise the rate, the more calories you will use in the long run due to the added muscle mass - muscles use more energy even at rest. 
As to how best to use the caloric information on the tread mill, she summarizes, "Your main concern should not be "fat calories vs total calories" but "calories in vs calories out."

Well, now, that's just the rub, isn't it?  How to increase calories out and reduce calories in.

On to heart rate Aimee explains, 
Max heart rate is typically based on the (flawed but easy) formula of 220-age. Your target heart rate for exercise is then 65-85%, depending on your goals. "Fat-burning" is the lower end, competitive training is at the high end. 
So here's my numbers using the above method.  I'm 43. 220-43=177. So my max heart rate, although flawed, is 177. I ought to try to get my heart rate up to between 115 and 150. If I'm closer to 115, I'm more likely to be burning fat; if I'm closer to 150, I'm more likely to attain a competitive fitness level.

I asked Aimee more about the flaw to which she alluded.
The formula is flawed because it doesn't take into account the fact that your max heart rate can be affected by your fitness and training levels, and most importantly it doesn't factor in genetics. However, it is a simple way for most people to estimate their exercise goals.

A fitter person does have to work harder in order to reach the higher levels of their target heart rate....they tend to have a lower resting heart rate and their cardiovascular system and muscles are more efficient, meaning that the heart does not have to work as hard as a less-fit-person's heart would have to work at the same exercise level. 
Here's another method of determining you work-out heart rate based upon resting heart rate combined with maximum heart rate.  I think this is what I remember learning when I was younger.  But first you have to know how to get a resting heart rate.

From the For Dummies website
Your resting heart rate is best measured when you first wake up in the morning, before your feet leave the sheets.

Grab a stopwatch, or a clock or watch with a second hand, then find your pulse. You can locate your pulse either in your radial artery on your wrist or at your carotid artery in your neck. Choose the spot that works best for you.

The only trick to measuring your heart rate is that you must use the correct fingers to do the measuring. Your thumb has a light pulse and can create some confusion when you are counting your beats. It's best to use your index finger and middle finger together.

After you find the beat, you need to count how many beats occur within 60 seconds. The shortcut to this method is to count the number of beats in 10 seconds, and then to multiply that number by 6. This method gives you a 60-second count.
I've also read in several places that one ought to take one's resting heart rate for several days and then average the rates.

Once you have your resting heart rate this information on the Karvonen method of calculating target work-out heart rate is from Wikipedia.
The Karvonen method factors in resting heart rate (HRrest) to calculate target heart rate (THR), using a range of 50–85%:

THR = ((HRmax − HRrest) × %Intensity) + HRrest
To translate that for anyone else who has trouble with acronyms
  • training heart rate = max heart rate-resting heart rate
  • then multiply by the percentage of max toward which you want to strive, 
  • then add back in the resting heart rate.
For example, using the max heart rate from earlier in this post of 177, and let's just say I have a resting heart rate of 70 bpm, if I wanted to work out at a fat-burning 65%, I can fit the numbers in as follows
then I multiply by 65% and get 69.55,
to which I add 70 and get 139.55

For a more competitive 85%,

So if my resting heart rate is 70 bpm, my target heart rate is roughly 140-160, a slightly smaller range than the 115-150 using Aimee's original formula.  Interesting also, is that both ends of the range are higher with the resting heart rate figured in.

Just out of curiosity, I ran the numbers using a resting heart rate of 50 bpm to get a range of 133-158, which is also higher compared to Aimee's formula of 115-150.  But less high than with the higher resting heart rate.  Interesting.

And on the topic of using an exercise program, (particularly Aimee is addressing my use of the Couch to 5K program, and my ideas for adapting it for my own use),
They had to design it to fit as broad of a group as possible, meaning that it isn't perfect for everyone. Therefore, you should use it as a guide, but not necessarily as "the holy grail" of exercise.

Listen to your body. If you need to slow your paces down for a couple of days, you will still be getting results and allowing your body to adapt. If you feel great one day, pick it up a little, but be prepared to slow down the next time as recovery. Don't hesitate to repeat a week. The program is a guide. I never follow a training program as outlined. Take an extra day off if your legs feel like rubber. Just make sure you don't take too many extra days off in a row.
And one more exercise tidbit with which Aimee has exhorted me recently as well as in the past,
Rest days and stretching become more and more important as a person ages.
Well, this has all been very interesting.  I'm not sure it really tells anyone anything important, but it is interesting.  At least when I put my finger on that little spot on Connie's tread mill, and a number pops up, I'll have some ideas about it.  I'm not sure what those ideas are yet, but I'm sure I'll have some.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Couch to 5K, Week 3 Revisted, Day 2

I really got bored again today.  It's a good thing I have an excellent imagination.  I was able to stick myself on some of the forest trails I've run in the past: last summer I did a teeny bit in Lake Bronson State Park, and Greenwood Park in Thief River Falls; years ago I ran more often in the UW arboretum and on the trail along the west edge of Lake Wingra in Madison, WI; and back in my "school formerly known as DMLC" days, I did cross country practices in Flandrau State Park in New Ulm.

It gave me a little boost today when I needed it, to put myself out in the woods, listening to all the forest sounds: the birds singing, the chipmunks scolding, the the scritch-scritch-creak of trees rubbing together, last fall's leaves crunching beneath my feet.  I almost slipped once in some mud in a wet spot, and startled a deer, which startled me.

If I was imagining to be running around here (which I would not, since it's very flat and open and a boring place to run) I would have imagined a grouse flushing causing me to jump a mile, thinking it was some bear or wolf or cougar jumping out to eat me up.  I hate when that happens.

But alas! all this adventure was only in my mind.  I was really just plugging along on the tread mill.  I am, however, very thankful for the use of Connie's tread mill.  I know I would not have exercised as faithfully this winter if I was only doing the Gazelle and my pilates DVDs.

On to this week's routine
  • 5 minutes warm up
  • 90 seconds jog
  • 90 seconds walk
  • 3 minutes jog
  • 3 minutes walk
  • 90 seconds jog
  • 90 seconds walk
  • 3 minutes jog
  • 5 minutes cool down
I stayed to about 2.9 mph walking and 4 mph jogging.

The computer told me I burned 177 calories with 55 of the fat calories.  I covered 1.37 miles and it took 25 minutes.

I did my full workout with all the extras today, so that would include
  • two sets on the Nordic rider; for each set I did 50 in the pulling position, and 25 in the pushing position; and
  • 8 minutes on the Gazelle, four sets of 20 in each of 4 alternate positions, plus some regular strides before and after and in between.
I still have a bit of lower back stiffness, so I did a good stretch before and after.  I'm also still a bit plagued with this foot pain.  Maybe my sis can suggest some stretches.


It's my left foot, between the middle toe and then to mostly the fourth tow, but some toward the second toe.  And it's back a bit from the toes.  Joe found a very tight knot in my arch.  He thinks it's from a tight muscle in the center of my hamstring and then up, yes, you guessed it, through the piriformis and into the lower back.  So I've been trying to do stretches for those areas.  But if this does not make any sense to you, please let me know what I should be doing instead.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Check out my new ticker!

My daughter said I needed to get rid of my old ticker.

I said, "No way, man, that's my reward for working hard.  I get to brag about finishing a ticker."

So you'll have to look at both of them for awhile.

I set a fairly optimistic goal for my new one, based on three days per week for 40 minutes.  I only counted thirteen weeks, and since I finished my previous ticker early, I get to use those twelve days as a little cushion.

I will still need all the cheering on I can get.  With our short summers here, every minute of nice weather is spent taking care of all the outside chores and fun other people have several months to accomplish.  So it sometimes is a bit of a challenge to allow myself the minutes needed to exercise.  But I am really going to try.

I really like this new ticker.  We will be buying our summer chicks soon  and when they are big enough they will trot around our yard.  But also, this big chick needs to keep trotting along in an attempt to reduce the residual effects of ten pregnancies.

Go Mary!

Ticker Complete!

Hurray, Hurray!  I did a little pilates today to stretch my back and strengthen my core abdominal muscles.  And in so doing I finished my ticker.

Now, I checked the official calendar and Spring this year actually starts on the 20th.  If you're being exact, according to Time and Date, "The March equinox will occur at 23:21 (or 11:21pm) at Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) on this date." You'll have to figure out for yourself what that means with respect to your particular time zone.

With that in mind, I am 12 days early finishing up my "minutes of exercise before spring" goal. Just like when Mike Mulligan and Mary Ann dug out the basement for the new town hall in Popperville in just one day, nothing like this has ever happened before.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Couch to 5K, Week 3 Revisted, Day 1 Again

I decided to repeat week three.  My sister Aimee (whose wisdom and knowledge of things physiological regarding exercise will be featured in an upcoming blog post) encouraged me to use the Couch to 5K program as a launching off point.  It is a tool to be adapted to suit one's needs. 

I didn't really feel ready for week three last week and was trying to push myself to be there, when I did not feel quite up to it.  I also had some schedule conflicts and a minor physical set-back.  But this week I'm ready to roll and I feel up for it.  It's going to be a good week.

So the routine for week three is
5 minutes warm up
90 seconds jog
90 seconds walk
3 minutes jog
3 minutes walk
90 seconds jog
90 seconds walk
3 minutes jog
5 minutes cool down

I stayed to about 3 mph walking and 4 mph jogging.

The computer told me I burned 185 calories with 57 of the fat calories.  I covered 1.44 miles and it took 25 minutes.

I still went easy on the Nordic Rider, but I did do it.  I did 10 minutes on the Gazelle.

Later, in the early evening, I was very stiff with some remaining back stiffness and a bit of piriformis nerve pain.  I've had that off and on ever since one of my pregnancies.  But, again, thanks to the wonderful stretches Aimee recommended, I can generally nip it in the bud before it gets severe. 

So tonight, when I noticed the pain and stiffness while making supper, I got right down on my kitchen floor in between things and had a most excellent stretch. 

Sweet relief.   Thanks, Aimee.

And as a bonus, I'm down to 20 minutes on my ticker, with two weeks remaining in which to finish it.  Generally, even when I have met my ticker goal, there has been a bit of a push to get the minutes in at the end.  But this time, I'm ahead of the game.

Justification, Sanctification, and Country Music

As I've noted perhaps in a few other posts lately (or perhaps it's something to which I've only alluded?), I've been listening to a wider variety of music recently than in years past.

For years, I listened to news and talk radio.  Sometimes conservative talk radio; sometimes public radio or other talk shows.  I've never had time to listen much.   Mostly when I'm driving.  But that is my listening time, and I always choose the station when I'm driving.

But I'm sick of politics.  Sick of current events.  Sick of news.  Burned out.  Not very responsible of me, maybe, but there it is.  What can I say?  When there is so little good news, it's hard to want to listen.

So now when I turn on the radio, I continually flip from station to station trying to find something of interest.  This morning I hit mostly country, with a little bit of hip-hop and a little bit of classical piano and orchestra thrown in for variety.

One country song in particular got my brain juices going.  Writing (and reading) this is probably going to be a lengthier process than the few moments it took for my brain to get through it, but that's the way brains are.  They leap to big realizations in a mere moment's time.

The song I heard was Awful Beautiful Life by Darryl Worley.  The song paints the picture of a regular guy, making regular mistakes and finding joy in regular things. 

Let me be more specific about what I mean by "regular."  The song starts out with the guy getting up Sunday morning with a hang-over headache.  His wife makes him get up for church, and he manages to stay awake through the service.  The family comes over later; they drink beers, grill steaks and watch a ball game.  The brother and brother's wife fight, and the mom sits in between them.  They talk about and pray for a cousin stationed in a war zone.

And the chorus, repeated a few times during the song,
I love this crazy, tragic,
Sometimes almost magic,
Awful, beautiful life.
My first thought while listening to the lyrics was, "How pathetic.  What a life!"

But the more I thought about it, I figured that the experiences described in this song are probably quite normal.  Whether a person has blue or white collared livelihood; whether he or she is rich or poor or in between;  whatever the demographic, many of us experience many of the same things. 

My husband is a pastor.  So a large part of my existence revolves around churchy stuff.   Many of my friends are pastor's wives.  Because of the various religious school opportunities I had, many of my closest friends are from homes that are more religious than average.  I was raised in a home with very high moral standards.  I try to give the same to my kids.

My family for many years has also been part of the homeschool community.  Many members of this community make specifically different cultural decisions for their families, in order to set a higher moral standard than the culture at large presents.  I have friends whose girls must wear skirts.  I have friends who are not allowed to drink alcohol.  I have friends who, in the name of religious piety, eat and drink only certain foods at certain times of year.

These experiences may lead me to sometimes hold an unrealistic expectation toward society at large.  Most of my closest contacts in recent years hold similarly high expectations for their kids' behavior.  The parents hold themselves to a high standard.  There may be variations on how that high standard is defined. 

But I also have many good friends whose life might be closer to that described in Darryl Worley's song.  And God uses these people to change lives.  He draws people to Himself through them.  He supports and enriches His kingdom through the variety within His Church.

And here's the clincher.  The BIG DEAL I realized.  I'm a moral elitist.  I must confess.  I might love people who choose to live differently than I.  I may really, really enjoy their company.  But at the same time, I want them to be more like me.  Because I'm better.

But you know what?  I'm not.

Maybe I don't go out Saturday nights and tip back a few too many.  Maybe I don't swear.  Maybe I don't habitually bicker with my spouse.  Maybe I even make specific decisions with regard to clothing or food or education that are based on my ideas of morality and piety.

But I dare not think of myself as better than others.  I dare not make into law, my personal choices regarding lifestyle choices.  I dare not add to God's Word.

And I dare not think myself righteous on account of my lifestyle choices.
All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.  Romans 3:23
No one is righteous, no, not one.  Romans 3:10
All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.  Isaiah 64:6
The carnal mind is enmity against God.  Romans 8:7
Maybe a I have an outwardly high moral character.  But the sins are still there.  That sinful nature still plagues me every day.

Maybe somebody else is from a tradition of a more basic literal ten commandment type morality.  This person holds to the most basic moral precepts, but his or her life is maybe a little bit wilder.  Maybe a little bit less rigid. Maybe commits a few more blatant sins.

Maybe someone is a mix of both.  Such a person may strive and fail and give up with outwardly high standards, only to strive and fail again. 

Or maybe another is like the thief on the cross who realized his guilt only at the end of life.

But if any of us trust in Jesus for salvation, in the righteousness won by Him, God looks at us differently.  He stops seeing our guilt. We are adopted sons and daughters of the Most High.  Our heavenly Father sees only the righteous life of Jesus which has been attributed to us.
As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. Psalm 103:12
But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.  Ephesians 4:4-7
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1

St. Paul also warns us against intentional sin, as if that would allow God's grace to abound.  (Romans 6).  But he also reminds us that it is through our weaknesses that God's power is made perfect  (II Corinthians 12).

That's how God uses us.  Just as our own children are all different, with different gifts, talents, struggles, and challenges, yet we as parents encourage them to curb the negative and make faithful use of the positive within their personalities, so with us.  God uses us in a variety of ways depending upon our gifts and talents.  And even our weaknesses.  He touches hearts through a never ending variety of personalities and life styles.

We are each given the life we have.  God directs the ways of this earth and knows each of us.  He knows the family and lifestyle into which He has put us.  He knows our strengths and weaknesses.  He has plans for us.

But we are all siblings through our baptismal grace. And just as siblings need to be reminded to love one another better, so, sometimes do we spiritual brothers and sisters.

Today I have been reprimanded (by a country music song stream of consciousness) of my self righteous attitude.

God forgive this, and help me to love better.  Help me to appreciate the variety of servants You have chosen.  And remind me to rejoice in that variety through which You work Your will.  Amen.

Friday, March 4, 2011

A Treat for Lovers of Bach

As I was driving home today from Grand Forks I was flipping through stations, trying to find something that made me happy.

What a delight to find the classical MPR station was in the middle of an hour and a half of Bach. The host had taken requests from around the state and assembled a somewhat eclectic presentation, which combined into a veritable auditory and emotional feast.

When I first tuned in it was during an Aria from St. Matthew's Passion, that was followed by an orchestral arrangement of Bist du Bei Mir, Cantata 143, and a 1950s recording of Wanda Landowska on the harpsichord.

Then I was home and had to eventually get out of the vehicle, get sleeping kids unbuckled and hauled in, all the wares into the house and supper on.  But Joe had a nice hot chicken soup simmering on the stove, so we just needed to put on bowls.  The soup didn't, however, make leaving Bach any easier.

Back in our college days in Madison, there was always a Bagels and Bach event on Sunday mornings in the atrium of the museum formerly known as the Elvehjem Museum of Art.  I never went, since I worshiped at church instead of at the altar of Bach, but it always sounded fun.  I often wished they had scheduled it at a different time.

I'm disappointed that the Classical Music public radio apparently does not have the little "listen later" option that the non-music public radio does.  But if anyone wants to purchase any of the tracks, you may do that on their site.

Here is the playlist.  It is in backwards chronological order, since that is how they display it on the website.
6:30 JS Bach - Orchestral Suite No. 1
La Stravaganza
Denon 78965

6:26 Johann Sebastian Bach - Brandenburg Concerto No. 2
Wendy Carlos, moog synthesizer
Sony 42308

6:17 Johann Sebastian Bach - Sleepers Awake
Nikolaus Harnoncourt, conductor
Concentus Musicus Vienna
Teldec 92626
6:11 JS Bach - Aria from Goldburg Variations
Yo-Yo Ma
Sony 60681
6:02 JS Bach - Prelude and Fugue No. 9
Wanda Landowska
RCA 7825

5 - 6 PM

5:47 Johann Sebastian Bach - Cantata No. 143: Lobe den Herrn, meine Seele: Du Friedefurst, Herr Jesu Christ
Gustav Leonhardt, conductor
Leonhardt Consort
Roger Cericius, boy soprano
Teldec 42630

5:42 Johann Sebastian Bach - Bist du bei mir
Eugene Ormandy, conductor
Philadelphia Orchestra
Sony 38915
5:36 Johann Sebastian Bach - St Matthew Passion: Blute nur, du liebes Herz
Herbert von Karajan, conductor
Berlin Philharmonic
Gundula Janowitz, soprano
DG 419789