News for July 2007

church in all its fullness, high ceilings, and unreasonableness

today elsa, lydia, and myself sat through an entire church service without leaving the sanctuary once.  Jodi did it too, but in a big seat up front.  That seems to easy, but we’ll give her credit all the same.

 yesterday i helped a friend drywall the cieling of his garage.  it’s a 12 foot ceiling and he bought 12 foot lengths of drywall.  today my neck is sore. and so is my left calf.  (not to be confused with the calf i have left) (because i don’t have any calves left)  (at least not of the bovine variety) (i do still have my right calf of the ligament variety)

and last night i watched the nader movie ‘an unreasonable man’  i love that guy.  it gave a nice background of him and all his watchdogedness and spent a lot of time on the 2000 election and a little on the 2004 election.  i think everyone should see this movie.  if you’re a fan of nader you’ll love it.  if you’re a democrat that thinks ralph’s a spoiler you should watch it to motivate you to get your lame duck party in motion, and if you’re a republican you should watch it because even though you’re a republican i like to think there’s hope for you yet. 

i still think nader’s the most christ like candidate we’ve had for president in the last two elections. 

i’ve been pretty deliberate about not looking into the 08 election candidates (not unlike my choosing to not sing christmas songs during advent) but if he hasn’t announced his bid yet, i hope to see nader run again.  and if he’d hook up with the greens, all the better.

peace out my grassroot hippy redneck friends! hope i (didn’t) tick you off!

Posted: July 29th, 2007
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my week in review

as we enter this weekend, let us pause and reflect on all that has happened since last friday.

so you saw some of the pics – some were a little grainy once they got uploaded – wierd.  now let me fill in some of the 1000 words each.

last weekend was my daughter elsa’s baptism.  as this is a big deal to God we figured it should be a big deal to us as well so we had ourselves a party.  preparation including brewing baptismal beer (dunk day dunkelwiezen and a nut brown ale for what cures ya’), ordering tattoos, and inviting the greatest people in the world (who unlike jesus’ parable showed up, which was really nice or else we would’ve had to invite the poor people and you know those poor people! ew.) folks started showing up on friday, by saturday everyone was here.  we filled up the battle lake motel, a congregation members house, a few places in fergus, and had people sleeping in our yard, in a camper and in every room of the house exept for the bathroom and kitchen.  well done!!!

saturday night we played a bunch of music at the graystone.  first the honest folk played which was a blast, than justin rimbo did a solo set, followed by the lost martyrs of martin marty which is a cover band that i get to play a bit in – we did a bunch of the band, stones, neil young etc… than micah taylor did a stellar set and finally welaware cleared the patio with their punky no-fi stylings.

sunday morning all the above musician and erin deboer-moran led the music for elsa’s baptism service.  my dad was in town and did the actual baptism which was stellar, jodi preached, and the hymnastic jug band that we were tore up some new elw favorites.  my favorite part was lydia singing ‘i was baptized’ for the offering.  not a dry eye in the house (of God) following the service we had a nice little grill out at amor park.  delicious.

my brother in law rod is a heckuva swimmer and my dad just got his scuba certification.  i myself barely float, but am planning a sprint triathlon which includes swimming from our house to amor park (1/2 mile) (its water the whole way).  so as our friends the abenths took off from our house the three of us hopped in their camper and got a ride down to the park where we jumped into ottertail and swam back to the house.  lucky for me it was only chest deep.  or else it would’ve been ‘hello davey jones’  our swell friends the kretzmanns stuck around for an extra day and we had a blast hanging out with them – the whole weekend was such a reminder of how much we love our friends and how excited i am to be able to see them back in the cities.

rambling aside – it’s really hard to let yourself be part of a new community for a year and then go back to where you were from.  as we near the end of the internship i’m just starting to acclimate to our surroundings.  and now we’re leaving.  i’m confident know one at luther seminary gives a rat’s tooshy about what i have to say (no really, i’m confident) but the internship program is the most unfamily-friendly thing in the world.  put us somewhere and let us stay there.  zion of amor is an amazing congregation and it totally bites not to be in a postition where you can really let yourself be a part of it.  i’m doubting this makes sense (hence the rambling aside preface) but i’ll sum it up.  i love our internship site i hate the internship program.

about now you’re thinking, wow nate, super fun weeekend.

but wait, there’s more!

thursday the ms ride came through our area and stopped for lunch at beautiful amor park.  the youth group was serving up brats and burgers and so me and the girls went to check things out. wow! 1200 bikers came through – some as young as 5 years old riding tandem.  very fun and inspiring.  and as if that weren’t enough, rachel kurtz came and did a concert at church that night.  I opened for her and played along with her husband michael may for her set.  i think its just about my dream gig.  if i could put my family on a tour bus and do opening gigs for rachel kurtz and than play in her band i’d be a pretty happy guy.  more happy than pretty, but you get the idea.

and that’s about it.  oh, and i bought a new road bike from my friend and newbie dad, john okan.  i took it out for a 20 mile ride this morning and have that heart-all-a-twitter i’m in love thing going on.  my roots are all mountain biking and so i’m not sure if i’m selling out or expanding my pallete.  but it doesn’t really matter, either way i’m happy. 

and pretty.

i’d like to say the same for you.  and someday i might.

Posted: July 27th, 2007
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photo op

just got photos from my pholks so here’s the last month in review:

my grandpa (art)

grandpa horse

grandpa golf

prebaptismal concert:


rimbo rock

honest folk


glass mix up



overflow housing (front yard)

overflow housing



gathering flowers for the master’s boquet at the post baptismal bash

lydia's flowers





Posted: July 25th, 2007
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justin rimbo

Not a day goes by someone doesn’t say to me, “The Heimlich!  The Heimlich!  Tell me it was the Heimlich!”  To which I casually reply, my tut-tut held under my breath, “No, no my friend, it was not the heimlich manuever.  Justin Rimbo saved my life.”

Posted: July 15th, 2007
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micah taylor

Here’s one we’ve all heard a million times. “So full of life you are Nate!  You evoke an extreme absence of death.  My motorcycles sightings have done it I am sure!”  To which I calmly point out what to me is painfully obvious, “No, no my friend, it was not your perception of motorcycles.  Micah Taylor saved my life.”

Posted: July 15th, 2007
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jason deboer-moran

Do you ever get comments like this?  “Nate! You still have a pulse! You’re not dead!  Please tell me it was the loud pipes!”  When I hear this I have only one response.  “No, no my friend, it was not the loud pipes.  Jason DeBoer-Moran saved my life.”

Posted: July 15th, 2007
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kjellgren alkire

Sometimes people come up to me and say, “Nate! You’re alive!  Was it the body piercing?”  And I reply, “No, no my friend it was not the body piercing.  Kjellgren Alkire saved my life.”

Posted: July 15th, 2007
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nearer my church to thee

this sunday started off the same – 15 minutes late, had to go feed Elsa 5 minutes after sitting down etc… But this time something strange and magical happened.  She fell asleep.  We came back in 1/2 way through the sermon and remained in our pew for the duration of church. Good job Houges, way to get your religion on!  And I think this helped – during communion Pastor Jim blessed her with, “The Lord bless you and keep you” and I quickly added, “asleep” and it totally worked.  I got it in there so fast that God was tricked by mere mortals, confusing our voices as one and because we said it so close to the altar, He heard it extra quick and granted my wish come true.  Now that I’ve got the formula figured out life is going to get soooo kick ass.  T.G.F.M. Thank God for Manipulation!

preach on you skunks of salvation. preach on.

Posted: July 15th, 2007
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i went near church

Before I bust into my near church experience I should tell you about our teenage daughter.  A few weeks ago she was sitting in the front pew during day camp at church and my wife went up to sit next to her and was met with the words, €œMom, get out of here, this is only for kids.€  Distancing herself from her family.  So teenager.  Further proof lies in her newfound ability to go to sleep after her parents and to wake up around 10/10:30 the next morning.  That€™s our teenage daughter.  On Thursday she€™ll be four.

Yesterday (Sunday) Jodi left for church at around 7 am as is her practice.  Elsa (2 months) was awake and happy and so we were hanging out in our PJ€™s (more normal for her than me) and playing on the floor (equally normal for both of us) until about 9 a.m. when we went to wake up Lydia, who surprisingly woke up in a good mood.  She didn€™t get out of bed, but she woke up happy and that€™s good, and rare.  So I told her to come down for breakfast and to get ready for church and Elsa and I went back downstairs.  And Elsa got hungry.  So I started warming up a bottle of momma€™s finest and then proceeded with the always thrilling task of giving Elsa a bottle.  With few exceptions Elsa gets 1 or 2 bottles a day, with even fewer exceptions it takes about 10 minutes of screaming (her not me) before she€™ll take a bottle.  This is why Jodi stops by during the day and we visit mom at work.  Oh that I could lactate€¦ 
So with all my focus on getting Elsa bottled up it didn€™t occur to me that Lydia had gone back to sleep.  Until 9:45.  Church is at 10. 
Lydia hopped to, ate her Kashi, put on her dress, grabbed her offering money, and we bolted for church.  We made it in time for the second reading, heard the special music, and midway threw the gospel Elsa was wet.  So I went truckin€™ out of church with my bags of baby paraphernalia, Lydia following behind, and we changed Elsa at which point she made signs of being hungry.  So I went back into church, grabbed the one bag I had left behind that held her chilled bottle and went out again.  Why we had sat down in the third row is beyond me. 
To the church kitchen, warmed up the bottle, started the scream fest in the narthex, by now the sermon€™s over, Elsa takes a bit of the bottle and falls asleep, and it€™s time for the offering.  So of course we do want any normal family would do.  We go out to the car to find Lydia€™s offering money that she had lost in the 5+ minute drive to Church.  We found it hidden in the cup holder and heading back into church noticed two cyclists on the lawn in front of the church and waved hello and I asked where they were headed.  Maine.  As in the state.  I said they better get going they still had a lot of ground to cover and they said not to worry, they weren€™t planning on getting there any time soon.  They were both coming from Washington.  The state.  How cool is that?  So I invited them in for water and air conditioning and they thanked me and we talked a bit as they ate peanut butter with their fingers out of a jar and then the girls and I went back into the church.  We were just in time for the last two stanzas of the closing hymn. 
This my friends is why I take my kids to church.


Posted: July 9th, 2007
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Happy Birthday Grandpa

World’s longest blog.

So I haven€™t blogged lately for a couple of reasons, the most interesting (and coincidentally the only one worth mentioning) is that Lydia and I were out in CA for my Grandpa€™s 100th birthday.  His actual birthday is September 9th but there are too many teachers in the family to have a reunion then, so we had it now. 

Part I €“ Travel or Thank you TSA, I appreciate the lines and it€™s a comfort knowing no full size tubes of toothpaste will breach the cockpit.
  Last Thursday Lydia and I drove down to the cities along with my brother Ben, Mom & Dad, and our friend Catherine.  We crashed into the hospitality of some of Ben€™s friends and found out that they had a mutual friend of my folks back at Nairobi.  Small world.  Lydia got to be around 11pm.  We shared a bed and I was reminded of how much she wiggles in her sleep.  The bed was plenty comfortable but the feet in my ribs woke me up every 45 minutes.  We got up at 6am to catch our flight.  My folks had a different flight and were out by 4 a.m., so I felt like we were sleeping in a bit.  Lydia didn€™t though.  There was a lot of screaming.  That€™s a fun way to start 10 hours of travel.
 We got to the airport and were greeted by long, but swift moving lines.  It€™s exciting to see what kind of new dumb-ass rules and regulations the TSA has concocted, and I was especially happy to see that you couldn€™t take more than 3 oz. of anything through the checkpoint.  My small carry on contained 2 water bottles and an empty coffee mug.  The bottles both had ounces marked on the outside so I drank them down to 3.  I kind of wanted to leave them full, but I realize that the folks working there didn€™t make the rules and they would probably confiscate the bottles which were made by Nalgene and I had no desire to replace them.  My inner cheapskate trumped my inner rebel.  Lydia and I cleared security and stumbled with my brother to Starbucks where I had my water bottles topped off and my mug filled.  Here€™s a free fact.  Starbucks has super water filtration to brew their superior cup of coffee so I guarantee you their tap water is cleaner than the bottled water they sell.  And (bonus) my inner cheapskate leaps for joy.
 Four hours later we were on the ground at LAX, with my parents hunting down an elusive rental vehicle.  So elusive it took three different rentals and 2 different locations to get it.  Boring story short €“ they reserved a mini van but the place didn€™t have that or a suitable substitute.
 Once found, we all converged on Thrifty€™s rental lot and took off in dodge caravan, made a serendipitous wrong turn and found a great Mexican restaurant.  So great we ate there.  Dad got the bill.  Rejoice oh cheapskate, rejoice! And back on the road.
 It€™s been about 10 years since I€™ve been to Southern California, about 15 since I€™ve been to Riverside where I lived till the age of 7.  Suffice to say the population has grown.  Within 5 minutes on the freeway I had vowed 10 times that I would never live here.  The traffic and population density is unreal.  On the 4 hour drive to Porterville where my Grandpa lives we saw all kinds of towns that as kids had been near deserted water stops and now had grown to the point of merging into one another complete with, McDonalds, McMalls and McStarbucks.  McCrazy. 
Sometime around 5 we got to our hotel, dumped off our stuff and made our way to the bowling alley where Grandpa was getting the party started.
Part II €“  Reunion or My Grandpa€™s 100 and he can still kick my butt in everything but dice games.
 You would think being 100 years old would have you in a nursing home wondering what kind of prune based dishes the hairnets would be sneaking on to your lunch tray.  But not my Grandpa.  Art€™s only complaint at this age is that the rest of his bowling league is 30 years younger and they keep dying off.  No one said it would be easy.
 The rest of the family met up as well €“ folks from MT, MD, WA, PA, MN, Shanghai, and Nairobi.  We reserved 4 lanes and had a blast bowling.  I easily nailed a solid 62.  Grandpa bowled 182.  I tried to drown my sorrows by ordering a PBR and got laughed at.  Apparently the West Coast is still catching up with the more refined pallets of the Midwest.  We reconvened at the hotel pool.  Went to bed.  Got up.  Took Grandpa horseback riding.
 Art was a jockey (and a good one) in his teens and has always loved horses.  In fact his dad, Anfin had his picture taken on a horse at 97.  Art forgot to have his own horse picture taken 3 years ago, so we surprised him and took him out to a nearby ranch where he got to ride a horse and we have roughly 8 billion pictures to prove it.  Backat his house there’s a great picture of him riding when he was forty something with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth.  He has since stopped smoking, but my Aunt Alice rolled up a piece of paper and made a fake cigarette so he could recreate the old picture. 
 Later that evening we had a fun friends and family gathering at his church, complete with a reporter from the local paper, and then again wrapped things up at the pool.  We shot for an earlier bedtime since in the morning we were taking Grandpa golfing.
 I€™m not sure what€™s more amazing, my Grandpa golfing, or my Grandpa having 9 extra sets of clubs to outfit the rest of us.  He’s an avid garage saler.  I come by my inner cheapskate honestly.  We golfed nine holes, Grandpa got 47, I had that on about the 4th hole and quit counting.  My own highlights included a legitimate need to yell €˜fore€™ not once but twice.  And one illegitimate need.  The house wasn’t about to move. Here€™s a plus of being 100 €“ free golf.  The lady refused to charge Grandpa for his game.  What a gal.  We made it back to church, a big family lunch, saw off a bunch of the relatives headed down to Disneyland, and met up at Grandpa€™s house for a game of Farkel.  I won.  Call me a whipper-snapper but I totally dominated the cup of dice. 
 Sunday night we said our good byes and Monday morning we headed down to Riverside to visit some old family friends.  It was a long drive.  Lydia does not sleep when traveling.  Traffic was horrendous.  We were glad to get out of the car.
Part III Homecoming or See Part I but in reverse.
 Tuesday we headed home.  2 hours to the airport.  2 hours of waiting at the airport.  Minor victory in me vs. TSA.  I totally left 4 ounces of water in my water bottle and it totally cleared security.  Stick it to the man!  Long flight during which I read aloud 140 pages of Beverly Cleary€™s Ramona and her Father to Lydia and everyone else within a 6 foot radius of seats 14 a & b.  Landed in St. Paul at 10:30 pm, in our car at 11:20 eating at McDonalds in Maple Grove at 11:55.  Lydia asleep at 12:15am.  Me carrying Lydia to her bed at 3 a.m.  It€™s good to be home.

Posted: July 5th, 2007
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