Thursday, May 30, 2013

It could have been worse

I had so many people ask me about my Facebook post last week of going to Urgent Care during our vacation that I decided to share the story here.
Amy, Hannah and I got up at 5:00 a.m. last Wednesday, May 22 to catch our Sun Country flight to Seattle.  We hit traffic going south on 35W that caused us anxiety about catching our flight.  Thankfully we didn’t encounter a line at security (how often does that happen?) and made the flight.
When we got to Seattle we rented a car and made the almost four hour trip to Salem, Oregon where we were visiting Greg Hansen, a long-time friend of mine.  Greg wanted to go to a high school baseball game, so we trekked over to the big town of Monmouth, Oregon, on the campus of Western Oregon University.
I watched the game for a bit, talked to some of Greg’s friends, and saw Greg’s boys play catch.  I walked over and started playing catch with his oldest son.  I was approximately 70 yards on a diagonal from home plate turned away from the game.
Someone yelled, “ball.”  I turned my head and had the right side of my face smashed by a foul ball.  I had no chance.  I didn’t see the ball, didn’t know the ball was coming, and would have done better if I hadn’t turned.  My glasses went flying, and I bent over to nurse my cheek.  Fortunately I only received a large gash on my cheek bone.
My friends thought I should go to Urgent Care.  After some conversations about where to go we trekked off to Dallas, Oregon.
As soon as I got to Urgent Care the nurses gave me an ice pack—see above picture.  I was there for about ninety minutes.  The doctors confirmed that I didn’t have a concussion, and they only needed to put banana strips on the wound to keep it together.  What concerned them most was my resting pulse of 37; however after telling them I was a runner they calmed down.
I’m fortunate and take solace in the classic Minnesota phrase, “It could have been a lot worse.” 

Monday, May 20, 2013

Blaine Triathlon--Two out of three ain't bad!

This past Saturday was the big day—the Blaine Triathlon.  I had trained hard for the last four months, spent Friday night carbing up at Noodles, and got plenty of sleep.  The weather forecast I heard on Friday night for Saturday was the rain was supposed to hold off until Saturday afternoon.   
I awoke on Saturday morning after a good night sleep and heard-------rain!  “That can’t be right,” I thought.  “It will stop in a bit.  It’s not supposed to rain” 
No, it didn’t stop.  I arrived at Lakeside Commons Park around 7:00 a.m. looking for shelter.  Fortunately Dave Nyberg from Chain of Lakes had set up a small Chain of Lakes tent.  About 15 others from our new congregation arrived and we huddled under the tent.  The weather was perfect for ducks, but not for people who wanted to swim, bike, and run.
The organizers of the Triathlon put off the start for a hour, but it became obvious that the rain would not quit.  The elite group ran into the water for the swim at 9:00.
My group was one of the last to go.  The water was very cold—not surprising.  The water was so cold that it took my breath away—a little surprising.  When I got about 200 yards into the swim my wet suit felt like it was choking me—a terrible surprise and a very uncomfortable feeling as I was in 12 feet of water.  I couldn’t catch my breath and needed a break.
I swam over to one of the boats.  “I need to take my wet suit off,” I told the two guys in the boat.  They looked surprised.  I pulled myself into the boat, took off my wet suit and was ready to jump back in.  “Are you sure you want to swim the rest of this without a wet suit,” they asked.  “Uh—no.”  Just as I wasn’t sure I really wanted to swim in a pouring rain in a lake whose temperature was in the low 50’s. 
I told the guys to take me in—but under one condition.  I wouldn’t quit unless I could finish the bike ride and run.  The guys took me in—and I put on my bike helmet.
The rain hadn’t stopped, but it was a lot easier to navigate a bike in the rain compared to swimming with a wet suit in a lake.  I finished the 18 miles on the bike.  I got off and could not feel my legs.  “This could be challenging,” I thought as I started the run.  I have never run before when I couldn’t feel my toes.  Fortunately the feeling in my legs came back after a half mile of running.
I’ve run two marathons and have plenty of experience of running while feeling lousy.  I plodded along in the rain feeling like a duck for 3.5 miles.  I was determined not to stop.  When the finish line came I was warmly welcomed by folks from Chain of Lakes and my two favorite red heads.  Those two gave me a kiss and a hug, and I was done. 
How did I feel—lousy.
Will I do it again—of course.  I’m determined to finish the swim next year.  I’ve already mapped out a training plan.
On Saturday afternoon I shared on my Facebook page that as Meatloaf sang “two out of three ain’t bad.” 
I got up early this morning to go for a bike ride, but was thwarted by------you guessed it—rain. 
The experience of the Triathlon was terrible, but I had a blast doing it.  I know that makes no sense, but doing a Triathlon makes no sense.   I probably won’t figure that out, but I really don’t need to as I have another Triathlon to train for!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Blaine Triathlon--God's wicked sense of humor

Earlier today I went out for my last training exercise for the Blaine Triathlon.  Tomorrow I’m joining 299 others to swim 600 yards in a lake, ride a bike 18 miles and then run for 3.5 miles.  
Chain of Lakes Church is a sponsor for the Triathlon.  I tried to recruit a team from our congregation to do the event with me.  Some folks were ready to do it with me, but schedules didn’t relent.  So—I’ve taken and will take the plunge all by myself tomorrow.

When I trained for marathons a couple decades ago my Dad told me that I couldn’t do it at the last minute—as I had a propensity to do when I studied for tests.  And he was right—and he would be happy that I’ve driven my body hard for the last two months.  I’ve swam in a pool for the first time since I swam for the prestigious Worthington YMCA swim team when I was in Junior High.  I’ve biked 13 miles on a number of occasions.  And I’ve ran.  I’m not worried about the running, though I’m not sure how it will go after the swim and the bike ride.  I’ve even rented a wet suit to keep warm.  (See above picture)
Am I ready—who knows?  But I am interested in prayers.  So please pray.  At about 8:00 a.m. tomorrow say prayers as I take a plunge into a lake with a wet suit.  No I wasn’t told in seminary that I would do triathlons, but I do think God has a wicked sense of humor.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

May Presbytery meeting

Chain of Lakes disciple Val Owens and I attended the May Presbytery meeting yesterday at Knox Presbyterian Church in Minneapolis.  We arrived almost a hour early as we wanted to set up our table and show a recent video that we’ve made about the Chain of Lakes Outreach ministry.  We’ve discovered that we have quite a lot of talent in our new church at making videos—we’re made three new ones this month—and we wanted to share this with the Presbytery.
My favorite time of Presbytery meetings is talking to people.  Val and I had a blast talking with people about what is happening at Chain of Lakes while the video ran at our table.
We came into the meeting as David Grachek, new pastor at Knox Presbyterian Church, spoke about their ministry.  Their church is also doing “Sundaes on Wednesday” during the summer.  Their congregation seems excited about the new ministries in their midst.
One theme of the meeting was thanking the outgoing Moderator, Barbara Lutter.  She did a terrific job this past year of leading our meetings with a listening and compassionate presence while being fair to all.
I enjoyed listening to the report from Mission Worker Kurt Lee.  He shared that as part of his work in Korea he now has to raise money to support his ministry.  The amounts seemed daunting.  However his energy was refreshing. 
The Presbytery plowed through some important work regarding dismissal of congregations and teaching elders to other denominations.  The Presbytery approved a set of recommendations presented by Margaret Thomas which shared seven recommendations, one which permitted teaching elders and entire congregations to move to the Presbyterian Church in America, the Evangelical Presbyterian Church and ECO: A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians.  Such movement, of course, can only happen after Administrative Commissions appointed by the Presbytery have done their work.  Two Administrative Commissions are already at work—for the Presbyterian churches in Eden Prairie and Richfield.  Last night the Presbytery appointed another Administrative Commission for Christ Presbyterian in Edina. 
I was very pleased that the Church Development Team was able to share a breakout session called New Churches, New Ministries.  I joined Walter Chuquimia, Daniel Vigilante and Bev Modlin in sharing a presentation.  Walter and I talked about our new churches while Daniel and Bev talked about a new ministry in their congregations.
As part of my presentation I encouraged churches to support Chain of Lakes in our Sundaes on Wednesday ministry this summer.  Chain of Lakes is worshipping on Wednesdays at Northpoint Elementary School.  We’re asking different Presbyterian churches to be sponsors.  The church would pay $250 to be a sponsor and then could share their ministry with the people of our new church during worship.  This is an outstanding way to build connections between churches in the Presbytery and Chain of Lakes.  We have four churches who have already pledged to be a sponsor.  We anticipate that six more will help.  People interested in having their congregations sponsor Sundaes on Wednesday can E-mail me at:
After dinner I kibitzed with my good friends at Community in Plainview.  After the Presbytery elected officers and people to committees, Val and I left.  I was sorry to miss worship and the installation of officers.  My day had started at 6:20 a.m. on my bike as part of my Triathlon training.  I needed to get home to see my favorite red heads.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The Round House

Our on-line book club recently read “Round House” by Louis Erdrich.  I selected the book for our group to read as I’ve read some of her books before and heard a portion of this book read on Minnesota Public Radio.

The novel shares the story what happens to Antone, Geraldine and their 13-year old son, Joe Coutts after Geraldine is brutally raped.  The family is Ojibwa and lives on a reservation in North Dakota.   Joe tries to heal his mother, but she will not leave her room and falls into an abyss of silence.  Joe’s father is a tribal judge, but he can’t find justice.  The police are not helpful.  So this teenager takes matters into his own hands. 

Joe is a delightful kid who was living his life with his buddies, Cappy, Zack, and Angus.  When justice is slow he takes matters into his own hands.  He eventually discovers the identity of Lark, the rapist.  The justice system can’t Lark because a non-native cannot be charged for rape on reservations.  Erdrich shared that she was motivated to write the novel because of this flaw in the law.  Joe eventually shot and killed Lark and got away with the crime.

Erdrich skillfully wrapped her political motivation within the character of Joe.  I didn’t feel lectured by the story; instead I became interested in what would happen.  I found the novel to be a coming-of-age story about Joe.  Our book club had just read Catcher in the Rye and it was easy to notice the difference between Joe and Holden Caufield as they “came-of-age.”  Holden was a rich, easterner, who got thrown out of school, but knew he would get bailed out because of his class.  Joe was a poor, Ojibwe who faced a world of laws that were against his people.  It wasn’t hard to pick a favorite.

The book recently won the National Book Award and the Minnesota Book Award.  Erdrich's story is worth reading.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Worshipping at Northstar Community Church

I took a vacation day yesterday and decided to worship at Northstar Community Church.  A special thanks to Rochelle Le Tourneau for leading worship at Chain of Lakes.  She is the chair of the Church Development Team in our Presbytery.  The sermon that she shared can be found here:
Northstar Community Church is a new church that is affiliated with the Assemblis of God.  They have worshipped in an AMC theatre in Coon Rapids, though starting next Sunday they will worship at Coon Rapids High School.  I found out about the church through a mailer that a friend of mine received.  When talking with Kristel Peters, the Music Director, at Chain of Lakes about where I should worship, she encouraged me to go to Northstar.  The web site for the church is here:
It was not hard to find the church.  They had a number of signs posted off the Foley exit from Highway 10.  I was greeted warmly at the door and saw they had a welcome area set up.  They had a table with coffee and donuts in the area before I walked into the theatre.
When I walked into the theatre a “count-down” clock was on the screen.  There were about fifty people in the theatre when I came, but a lot of people kept coming.  I would guess at least 150 people were in the theatre at worship.  The congregation was a mix of ages. 
The service began with four songs led by their Praise Band.  The band was very ably led by Jon Carlos Velez on the guitar; other instruments were a bass guitar, keyboard, drums, and vocalist.  We stood and sang for close to 25 minutes.  Many people in the congregation were comfortable in raising their hands in worship.  During the singing time Jon Carlos prayed for us.
After the singing, a man who is in training to be a church planter shared announcements.  John Velsor, the lead pastor, shared some of the outreach efforts the church is doing as they transition to Coon Rapids High School.  The group has passed out a few thousand door hangers on Saturday about their move.
John preached for about thirty minutes.  He was finishing a series called Angry Birds.  He talked about Job and explored why Job didn’t get angry with God when Job suffered.  He challenged the congregation to ask if their faith is based on only being blessed by God.  He said that all of us have to see our life in a larger context than just this life.  He used a very long rope; he had painted a tiny part of the rope red and said that our life on earth is just that section.  With an eternal perspective the time we spend on earth is very small. 
The church obviously has experienced excellent growth in numbers of people.  I could see their passion for outreach.  John shared that they had 477 people crammed into the theatre on Easter.
Blessings to Northstar as they continue their journey to Coon Rapids High School.