News for March 2008


4 deck chairs

mouse trap

5 gallon bucket

two grills

one soggy newspaper

empty flower pot

Posted: March 22nd, 2008
Categories: fact
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Meat Nate, Spiritual Guru

On Tuesday I was reading a book about creation theology and thinking about our human interconnectedness with the rest of creation and began toying with the idea of going back to being a vegetarian, as Jodi and I were before we had kids. Actually it ended about a year before having kids. Jodi decided that if she could run a marathon she was ready for the rigors of motherhood. (In hindsight she should have done an Ironman. Barefoot. In something that chafes.) So she started training for Grandma’s marathon. And she started feeling protein deficient. Around this time Micah and I took off for a two week tour and when I walked in the kitchen upon return I said, €œDo I smell a pot roast?€

€œYep.€ Jodi replied.

€œSo we’re not vegetarians anymore?€


And we’ve been eating meat ever since. Even after she finished Grandma’s. In record time.

So it’s Tuesday and I’m reading this earthy book and thinking about my friend Justin who gave up meat for lent and my friends Mari and Jon who went vegan for lent, and Micah’s pastor who got a call (from God) to not eat meat and I’m saying to myself, €œNate it’s time to quit the meat.€

And then Wednesday morning I woke up on the brink of spring, looked out the window and what do you know, it was freaking snowing.

That’s when I received the call. From God. She said: €œGo to Von Hanson’s and buy two seasoned grill steaks and a half a dozen brats. It is for the sake of your mental health and for those around you that I command you to grill out this very night as a sign of your faith in a God of warmer climates.€

Oh our God, they were good. Amazing grace good. First kiss good. Get me out of this bridesmaid dress good. Yogurt commercial good. And those were just the grill steaks.

Tonight (Good Friday just got better) I made the brats. I kid you not, I took the first three bites with one hand lifted in the air towards heaven thanking God for the sweet gift of swine. And sauerkraut. And whole grain mustard.

  • a moment of silence for the sacredness of good food –

I used to give up things for lent and for the most part I was pretty good about it. I really admire most people that give up something for lent. (The people I don’t admire are the people that give up candy or chocolate. That’s just dumb.) But I realized after a few years that the practice didn’t do much for my spiritual life €“ in fact more and more it became about me and less and less about Christ. So I quit giving up stuff for lent and watched my spiritual life take flight. Like a penguin.

I’m hesitant to talk much about any spiritual disciplines I might approach but I’ll put one out there and then I’ll tell you why I’m putting it out there and then I’ll tell you even more.

For the last four years I’ve done a detox/fast of some sort, ideally starting with the Monday after Easter. I’m telling you this because the one year I didn’t do it my friend Jonathan blogged about his juice fasting and it got me back on track with my own plan. So I’m telling you all this so that just maybe you’d be inspired to give it a shot yourself.

Now I’ll tell you even more. Here’s the nuts and bolts of it, based loosely on a plan I got from a yoga book. Give yourself six or seven days at least. The first two days and the last two days cut out all processed food and stick to fruits and vegetables and whole grains. Eat as much as you want but not more than you need (this is easier as you go along.) For the middle two or three days cut down to just fresh fruit, juice and water. That’s it.

I read in Runner’s World that detoxing doesn’t do anything for you but my experience is that it has powerful physical, spiritual, and emotional implications.

Physically €“ After the first two days you’ll start sleeping great, (Especially if you cut caffeine too; which I don’t) you’ll have surprisingly more energy, and your skin will look better. You will feel better about your physical person.

Emotionally €“ You’ll feel more stable and in control of yourself. Maybe it comes from the self discipline. I’m not sure. But you’ll be an emotionally more satisfied person. Although if you’re giving up caffeine it may take a couple days to work out the crankies. No worries, coffee is a fruit juice.

Spiritually €“ This is why I like to tie it onto the resurrection. Instead of the penitent heart that makes me spiral into self pity, this becomes something I’m doing in response to what God has done. The act itself could easily become just as focused on self but framed in the light of the resurrection I’m able to focus the good I’m doing for myself towards what God has done for me. It seems like it shouldn’t make much of a difference but for whatever reason it makes all the difference and it keeps me focused on Christ’s work, not mine. 

So for all you who faithfully gave up such and such for lent, good job. And for those who want to try something new, let’s do it. And to all my dear friends and readers who don’t give a crap about any of this, consider making it to the end of this blog a spiritual discipline in and of itself. A bad blogging beats a good flogging any day.


Posted: March 22nd, 2008
Categories: health
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fifth of grade

Semester one, Riverside CA. Cool fashion trends included, but sadly were not limited to, spiked hair, suspenders worn in a low-functioning manner, and Reebok hi-tops left untied. Enter out of cultural touch missionary kid.

I’m a form follows function kind of person so a lot of fashion is lost on me. It’s why I have to go out and buy a shirt and tie anytime there’s a wedding. Ties don’t make sense to me. (Which is why I always get to weddings early so that I can find someone who knows how to tie it for me.) As soon as the wedding’s over it’s off to Goodwill. Luckily I haven’t had to be visible in a wedding for quite some time €“ and last one I was in didn’t require ties. I was in the wedding party with jeans and teva’s. Thank you Erin and Jason.

Anyways €“ I was this way in fifth grade as well. I had been in the states for a month or so and had discovered macgyver and cherry coke and was a pretty happy kid. But at the same time I wanted desperately to fit in. So I got a haircut. But I thought the spike thing was kind of froofy looking and so when we got to fantastic sam’s or whatever it was I chickened out. I wasn’t convinced that a strange lady with sharp objects giving me a goofy froofy haircut was a good idea. The next day I went to a barber shop and got a flat top. It’s like a spike but tough. And the guy who gave it to me was a barber not a stylist. It’s how I roll.

Then I bought pants with suspenders. I like them. They were the button on kind not the clip on kind. They made me feel like a mountain man. All I needed was a red union suit and I would’ve been right out of a Louis L’amour book. (Which was a bit of a goal for me at the time, I was way into the Sacket series. And again I remind you, Missionary Kid.) The only thing I couldn’t understand about suspenders as cool as these was why anyone would let them hang down. So I wore them up on my shoulders and allowed them to fulfill their suspending destiny.

I didn’t dig Reeboks. They were heavy and created a false expectation that I would be good at sports. Not a road I was ready to go down. (Then or now.) The skater’s wore vans and those were cool. But kind of flashy. Some kids were wearing chuck taylors €“ generally in bright colors like turquoise with yellow on the inside. Then they’d lace them halfway up and let the tongue hang out so you could see they were yellow on the inside. I went with black. Dress ’em down on the playground, dress ’em up for church. A wonderfully utilitarian shoe. In fact 20 some years later and I wore a pair to church last Sunday. A timeless classic.

So I was ready for my first day of school back in the US of A. Somewhere there’s a picture of me standing outside our apartment. Black converse high tops, laced all the way up. Gray pants with suspenders. The pants aren’t tight rolled, the suspenders are over my shoulders. And where any other cool kid at the time would’ve been sporting hair spiked with LA Style Mousse; there I was with a flat top held high with butch wax. And I won’t even try to explain the construction worker-esque black lunch box I was carrying when every other boy my age was carrying around a GI Joe lunch box.

Goodbye Don Johnson. Hello Beave. Welcome to America.


4 Months later I was back in Monrovia Liberia teaching the other missionary kids how to tight roll their guess jeans, encouraging them to wear pink shirts, and giving tips on proper mousse application. What are we the Borg? Assimilate!


Posted: March 17th, 2008
Categories: edumacation
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Fourth Write

In fourth grade I continued home schooling in Medina, Liberia. I was born in Medina, OH so there’s kind of a cool full circle thing going on there. Although since then my circle has spiraled out of control so it’s not as pacifying now as it was then. But at the time being able to tell people that I was born in Medina and currently lived in Medina brought a bit of normalcy to my life. I miss it.

Back in the day there weren’t a lot of home schooling options for missionary kids as far as curriculum was concerned. We went with Abeka out of Pensacola FL. I think its target market was (is?) children of parents who fear things like evolution and sex education, and firmly believe girls should wear dresses and boys should tuck in their shirts. Not really our style, but they were willing to work with missionaries back in an age that didn’t have e-mail or fax machines and depended on an international postal system that could easily take a month to deliver your test scores. And there were huge dinosaurs! We called them Kaypros. It was a magical time to be sure.

Sometimes we learned odd things. Like how to keep bowling scores. Apparently in 1986 there were a lot of bowling allies filled with girls in homemade dresses and boys with handsomely tucked in shirts. We also learned poems. I appreciate that now, and desperately wish €œIf€ by Rudyard Kipling would’ve stuck with me. €œIf you can keep your head while those about you are losing their’s and blaming it on others…€ Who can I blame for not being able to remember these things?

Fourth grade was also the year of American History which seemed oddly foreign to me then and remains a bit of a mystery even now. To her credit my Mom, in an attempt to keep it local, went out and bought Liberian history books as well which I applaud her for now. If I was home schooling my girls, blessed blessings that they are, I’m quite sure the last thing I’d add to my plate would be another subject. No thanks. I’d keep it to the basics and let them google their way through the rest of life’s questions while I hung out in the teacher’s lounge, which would really be our living room. And I’d also start wearing a hair net when I served them lunch. There are many reasons for me not to explore the home schooling option. And for this we can all be thankful.

Posted: March 17th, 2008
Categories: edumacation
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Third time's a charm

 I began third grade at ELWA. ELWA was a sort of large mission compound which I believe was run by SIM (Sudan Interior Missions) It was on the coast in Monrovia, Liberia. We were between villages at the time and living in a third floor apartment near The Institute for Liberian Languages where my parents worked, also in Monrovia. Maybe compound isn’t the right word. That sounds a little too David Koresh. How about campus? We’ll go with that. On the ELWA campus there was a hospital, radio station, church, publisher and K-8 school as well as 50-100 houses where all the doctors and missionary families lived. Most of the kids were ex-pats. The majority of them being missionary kids and a few embassy kids, and a number of Lebanese kids whose fathers were well to do business men.

It was a warm climate school so instead of hallways you had awnings and sort of sidewalks. Think 90210 or Malcolm in the Middle. You were always in close proximity to the great outdoors. In fact some days if the wind was right you could here a bit of the ocean and nearly every day you could smell it. Not many kids can claim this as part of their educational history. Having this sensory memory is very comforting when you live in MN. In fact just last night my wife and I were watching Blue Crush (which we end up renting every winter and finally bought €“ bringing our total movie collection up to 6) and as the opening credits rolled and the surf pounded I could taste the salty air in the back of my mouth and feel it caught up in my nostrils. Thanks ELWA.

Anyways, you might think the most memorable moment of my one semester at ELWA would’ve been having a line in the all school production of Psalty’s Christmas Calamity. But you’d be wrong. You might think the move halfway through the year to Medina and going back to home schooling would’ve somehow been the ultimate third grade memory. Wrong again. No, what I remember best was sitting at my desk working on multiplication problems; between problems staring out the window across the grass at the fifth and sixth grade class rooms. The layout of the school was sort of U shaped around this grassy area. And because we didn’t have air conditioning our rooms were lined with levered windows. So essentially if you stood in the middle of the grassy area and spun around you could see the entire school. And they could see you. And they could see me, as I jumped up from my multiplication work, sprinted out the door and puked halfway across the grass.

Posted: March 17th, 2008
Categories: edumacation
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Second Place

Grade 2, Highlights 2

#1  I was really good at Math.  By the second month of school I had moved on to the 3rd grade math books.

#2 Mid year we moved to Liberia W. Africa. 

An oddly dull entry.  Maybe if you comment on your second grade experience we can save this blog.  Good luck!

Posted: March 5th, 2008
Categories: edumacation
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