The other day I sliced my thumb on a tin can. It wasn’t super deep but it was at the sort of angle that makes for a flap of skin and lots of blood. I’m sorry, are you reading this over your lunch break? My bad. Anyhoo, I patched it up and continued on my merry way. Yesterday I was getting ready for a church gig and pulled out my mandolin. I held the pick between my thumb and index. I strummed down. I strummed up. I caught that flap of skin on the high E strings. AAAAAAHHHHH!!!!
I sopped up the blood and put a Sponge Bob band aid on it. After a cup of coffee I tried playing the mandolin again and realized that Sponge Bob was not going to have the staying power I needed to get the job done. So I took a tip from Ani and busted out the electrical tape. Now my thumb looked like this:
It worked. I had a little trouble holding the pick at times and my thumb pick for banjo was a little tight, but it stayed on and I was able to play at Easter Lutheran with Jonathan Rundman and Joel Setterholm and all was well.
That’s the story, here’s the insight. I was at my church beforehand and one of the kids looked at my thumb and said, €œWhy are you wearing a Sponge Bob band aid?€ The question wasn’t about my injury, it was about my choice in character endorsed band aids. A lesser mannered child may have phrased it, €œDude, you’re too old to wear a band aid with a cartoon character on it. Gimme a break.€ The answer being, it’s the only band aid I could find. But that’s not the point. Look at that picture. The only part of S. Bob showing are his whacked out eyes. Almost the whole band aid is covered with electrical tape. Yet she knows Sponge Bob and that is what she sees. Had her dad, a handyman, seen my thumb he would’ve been much more apt to comment on the use of electrical tape and probably offered a few other adhesive selections that would work equally well. We see what we know.
There’s the insight, how about some implication/application? It’s why everyone needs a voice. Because so much of my life and work is in church and para church settings I automatically go to this context. If you look around your church and see that everyone looks like you, has the same political bumper stickers on their cars, graduated from high school the same year, shares the same mother tongue… you get the idea. If this is your congregation than I guarantee that you are not hearing the gospel in it’s entirety. If we want to begin to see the whole picture of God’s love than we need everyone’s insight. Because when you’re six you see Sponge Bob and when you’re forty you see electrical tape. And when you’re my thumb you need them both.
I think the metaphor went too far when my thumb became the church. Although my thumb is kind of messed up…
Posted: November 2nd, 2009
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I’ve been upping my running regime for the past few months with the thought of running the Fargo Half Marathon in May. Last weekend Jodi and I watched Run Fat Boy Run which was right up there with Saint Ralph as far as running movies go. This was also the closing week of a get skinny contest Jodi and I were a part of. So on Tuesday I went for a 6 mile run on the treadmill at our neighborhood rec center. By the time I jogged my cool down I was up to 6.7 miles so I thought I’d just keep going for awhile. I am proud to say I ran 10 miles. I’m embarassed to say I was rewarded with a blister on each foot and two very chafed nipples. You read that right. All you lactating women out there – I am with you. Hmmm… that actually sounds kind of creepy. Never mind.
That’s why God invented mole skin and band-aids right?
So on Wednesday running was out of the question but swimming was doable so I took Lydia to the pool. When I took my socks off Lydia asked what the mole skin was. I explained about my blisters. Then I took off my shirt to get in the pool. “Is that why you have those too?” She pointed at the two band aids I had totally forgotten about. That was a wee bit embarassing.
The thing is, I don’t care because Thursday morning we weighed out and I won the get skinny contest. And just now I tapped into the spoils to pay my entry fee for the Fargo Half Marathon. If anybody wants to join me, let me know. I’m sure there’s plenty of room on my brother in law’s floor.
Bring your own band-aids.
Posted: February 27th, 2009
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There’s a lot to be said for regression. Moving back. Getting slower. Turning stuff off.
The Houge house has been busy. Jodi’s a full time student for another 5 weeks. On top of her course work she started a church. Starting a church takes a bit of work. Some would call it a full time job. Jodi’s busy.
Lydia…. Well Lydia’s Lydia and that has and I imagine always will be an all consuming job. This morning she tried to boot me off the computer because she insisted part of her homework was writing a script for the school play. Kindergarden’s not what it used to be.
Elsa is 18 months old and acts every bit like an 18 month old child should be acting. Uber-exploratory. Fiesty. Opinionated. Testing boundaries.
And I’m just trying to keep my head screwed on straight and remember what day it is, what deadline is approaching, what instrument to grab, and who to send manuscripts off too. My to do list for the past week included: Finishing fixing my neighbor’s bike, meeting two different writing deadlines for this Monday, handing over my kid’s CD for layout and duplication at Noiseland, doing a near final mix of the band Floating Bridge’s upcoming E.P., being less and less of a stay at home dad, moving the porter from primary to secondary fermentation, teaching two different preschool music classes, getting an antique hutch delivered to my parent’s town home, and going on a date with my wife. I saved the best for last.
So what does this have to do with being regressive? Well, I’ve learned a few things this week. One, I don’t handle stress well. Instead of dealing with stress I tend to get rid of it. If a messy house stresses me I handle it by getting rid of things. If jobs drive me nuts I quit. If seminary is sucking up my wifes time, I complain about the system.
What it comes down to is that while the rest of the world is multitasking and wading through the work flow, I’m moving toward monotasking as hard as I can. I don’t want to be a stay at home parent and a freelance artist. As a freelance artist I don’t want to think about writing and music on the same day. As a musician I don’t want to think about CD design and a preschool set list on the same afternoon. I want to move slower. I want to do less. I want to be more deliberate about these choices.
I’ve also learned (once again) that I hate writing and editing on the computer. For some of the writing I’m doing right now I’ve been trying very hard not to print things off, but rather to become more agile with my thumb and jump between documents all the time when referencing and double checking information. What a headache. So today I printed off about 50 pages of material. Instantly I was working faster, more efficiently, and with greater satisfaction. I’m moving back to paper and pencil. I regress.
I want less stuff, fewer obligations, and minimal technology.
Posted: November 15th, 2008
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All I want for Halloween is a quiet morning. No complaining, no crying, no waking up before 8 a.m.
Is that what I got? Nope. I’ll spare you the story and give you the ending. Elsa is grounded.
Is it so much to ask that my family would conform to my will?
Posted: October 31st, 2008
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First of all, last Friday at the Bean Factory was a blast. The crowd was sparse (where two or three are gathered there Nate Houge will play) but it was all quality. Really great energy. It’s weird to talk about the energy that people put off, so I won’t. Ah heck, why not? I generally think that sort of talk is hogwash, but if you’ve ever been the focal point of a room full of people you know that they are putting off energy. Sometimes it’s a neutral, sometimes it’s negative, and sometimes it’s positive, all synched up, harnessed, focused, wanting the best and having a good time. Aspiring rockstars take note: you want to harness positive energy. And get free drinks.
Then yesterday was a great morning for toddler rock. This fall has been a great time with the pint sized crowd I sing with on Tuesday mornings. We’ve been doing a few railroad songs which is always a hit. Fun.
And finally, in 45 minutes I get to hit the road with Jonathan Rundman, Justin Rimbo, and Graham Peterson. We’ve got a 5 day Nodak tour (with two stops in MN).
I packed last night and I hit an all time maturity high in the toiletries department. There was a time I traveled with only a toothbrush and maybe a razor. Over the years I’ve been adding some things. Toothpaste. Patchouli. Shaving brush.
But last night I went all out. Deoderant. Aspirin. Ear plugs. Dental Floss. I’ve got a total dad toiletry bag. It’s all there. Oh yeah, and I put odor eaters in my Doc Martins. How rock and roll am I?
I wonder what Keith Richard’s toiletry bag looks like…
Posted: October 22nd, 2008
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or - I’m Sorry I Flipped You Off, But You Almost Took My Life
Dear Driver of a Red Saturn Vue who illegally passed me on Edgecumbe last night,
Last night when I had the right of way going down Edgecumbe past all the parked cars with my safety light flashing, you thought it was a good idea to pass me. There was not room for you. If I can reach out and slap your car you know you’re too close for comfort. Especially my comfort. And than you swerved in front of me and made a right hand turn causing me to brake and swerve. You are a horrible driver. That’s why I rang my little bell and flipped you off. Sorry about that. Not really.
Dear Driver of a Red mid 90′s Jeep Cherokee exiting off south bound 35-E onto eastbound W. 7th this morning,
This morning I was running down the sidewalk along W. Seventh with a very visible white T-Shirt. As I entered the intersection where you were making a right hand turn we made eye contact. I was the guy with green light and the walk signal. Remember that? And then, 1/3 of the way through the intersection you gave me a little nod and made a right on red. Remember that? Remember how you and your impatient mass of metal took off right in front of the pedestrian in the cross walk? Remember how I took off sprinting after you trying to catch your sorry ass at the next light? Did you see me? Oh yes you did. I’m sure of it because when I got within 20 feet of your SUV at the next intersection you went ahead and ran the red light to get away from me. Wuss. What did you think I was going to do? Jump on your hood? Well, in your defense, that’s exactly what I was planning. Anyways, that’s why I flipped you off. Sorry about that. Not in the least. But if it makes you feel like any less of an incompetent sack of poo, I did run a negative split thanks to the adrenaline rush of almost being hit by almost hitting the car back.
Posted: September 15th, 2008
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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.
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
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Nate gets a physical. Before and After.
Tomorrow (Monday) morning I’ll be going in to my new doctor and getting a physical. I’m not sure what his name is because he’s new and we’re not yet on a name basis. What happened to my old doctor? I’ll field that question. I didn’t have one. In fact I’ve never had €œA€ doctor. I’ve never called ‘my’ doctor. In 11th grade I broke my leg in three places and was seen by a doctor (who subsequently discovered I had double pneumonia and thought it best I stick around for a few days). My leg’s and lungs have healed since. In 1997 I had a physical in Nebraska and got a bunch of shots to fly to West Africa. And then in the last 3 years I’ve gone in to random, but very helpful, doctors on two separate occasions for throat problems. The first doctor gave me nasenex (which my wife called natonex) and when that night I saw a commercial for the stuff and after the weird voice at the end went through all the side effects I threw it in the trash. The second doctor tried to give me a strep test and I kept gagging and accidentally slapped her hand away from my mouth on her third attempt. I apologized.
That’s my medical history.
Why the physical now? Oh I don’t know, my wifes been asking me to do it for 8 years, I’m out of shape, I turned 30, my wife made the appointment for me… all good reasons I guess.
Last Wednesday when Jodi told me about the appointment my first reaction was, €œI gotta get fit quick!€ My second reaction, €œBut wait! That’s impossible!€ My third reaction was to sit down and eat some cookies while I came up with a better plan. And a better plan I did come up with: Get in worse shape. It sounds stupid but think about it. If you’re going into a physical and you know you’re out of shape than you can safely assume there’ll be another physical to see what kind of improvements you’ve made. Starting to see the genius? The worse I look at this physical the more room for improvements there are for the next physical. Brilliant. Have I stuck to my plan? Heck yeah. On Wednesday I had bacon and eggs and bacon and bacon for lunch. Wednesday night Micah and I played a fun show with Rachel Kurtz and ended up at Wendy’s where we were pleased to discover the Baconator. The name says it all. On Thursday I put some left over bacon on my sandwich. On Friday something healthy may have slipped in, but that night Jason and I went to Taco Bell on the way to a retreat we were leading music at and on the way home we discovered McDonald’s was selling Eggnog shakes so we bought some. They asked if we wanted fries with them and it seemed like a wonderful idea. It was. More crap food on Saturday, another Eggnog shake, today there was frozen pizza and hot dogs… And at 8:59pm I ate one last piece of leftover pizza. And now I’m not supposed to eat anything till 9:30am tomorrow. Which is probably good ’cause I feel pretty sick. In this case it’s safe to refer to it as the sweet sick of success.
Totally uneventful. I’m not obese. I don’t have high blood pressure. They did blood tests so maybe when the results I’ll at least have high cholesterol. All that bacon for nothing? I don’t think so.
Posted: December 4th, 2007
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