Running and Dancing!

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And feeling finally free….

Ok, before I butcher the quote from Rapunzel – a movie I wish I had seen fewer times – and get involved with some type of problem with Disney, I want to say, J – my little girl – loves running… and dancing…

And dressing up!

Maybe an hour into our stay with our in-laws in Clovis, J found this old costume of her mom’s. While everyone else was unpacking, she got dressed and wanted to go running on the nice smooth sidewalks out in the fairly new subdivision.

It was very cute. She just looked at me and said, “Let’s go running, Daddy!”

Well, I’m a sucker for those little blue eyes – and I had no idea how far she could run! So off we went!

We went around the block and back, and then she wanted to keep going so we went further around the block, and further, and further. Then back to the house again. Over and over again.

She would show me how tough she was by walking across pebbles… But sometimes she’d get me to carry her over the little ones that hurt.

She would show me how well she could jump whenever someone had a decorative stone near the sidewalk… Sometimes she’d take a little step up to the rock.

We would walk to the far away lamp posts, and then back to the house.

It was a wild adventure for a three-year-old.

On our last trip out for the day, we got about half way back and she wanted to ride the rest of the way back on my shoulders hugging daddy’s forehead.

It amazes me how much fun it can be just walking around a neighborhood. I’ve always enjoyed it, but with a barefoot and dance costume wearing three-year-old everything from pebbles to decorative rocks become a little magical.

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Prayers for Rain

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Praying for rain is a past time during the long period of years between droughts.

And as the maxim goes – be careful what you wish for. Or alternatively, there’s definitely such a thing as too much of a good thing.

This was the view out my dashboard while waiting for an FJ cruiser to cross the mighty torrent. This rain storm closed down multiple intersections and turned roads in to flowing rivers. I-40 was shut down in places because water was standing above the height of a small car. Or a large one, or maybe a small truck.

It was inconvenient for a day.

When we hear about what’s happening in the rest of Texas it hits both close to home. Perhaps the all the worse because while we were inconvenienced by the heavy rains, homes haven’t been wiped away, people weren’t killed by the rain up here.

Our heats ache for the rest of Texas, those in New Braunfels and Houston.

Now our prayers for rain, are prayers for relief and respite – a chance for the people to rebuild, the ground to absorb the water, and perhaps most importantly – a chance for the flood waters to recede.

Lord have mercy.

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Adrift… Continued Reflections on Shingles

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The last thing I expected nearly two months ago when diagnosed with shingles was to still have it two months later. But here we are…

Sure, I read the reports that the pain and the fatigue can last for up to a year (please no!), but frankly I didn’t really believe them. As I’ve become stronger and my endurance to live ordinary life has improved I’ve grown increasingly excited.

But then I’ll go on a run or a swim – ok I did both, but I didn’t go far – just a mile each! – followed fairly immediately by some for of physiological crash. Intentionally going light didn’t even help.

The fatigue has been the worse part of the shingles, but today, even some of the nerve pain in my side came back.

All that said, I am definitely getting stronger! The fatigue didn’t hit until the day second day after the swim and run, it could have been something else. Either way, I feel I’m just starting to be able to get back into a routine that I like. Still a long way to go.

Until then I just feel a little adrift working towards several goals simultaneously.

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Clovis Aquatic Center

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A few years ago, I was helping coach an Age Group swim team in Abilene, Tx, and we headed off to a competition in Lubbock. One of the best teams there was a team from Clovis, NM.

Now, I’m not from this area of Tx and Nm – so, I had no idea where Clovis was.

It would stay that way until I started driving to my in-laws from Amarillo through Clovis, and recently they relocated to the area. I took the earliest opportunity to try out the local facilities for swimmers. There swimmers are still top notch from what I have seen.

Their coach and the facility director seems like incredibly dedicated people, and the team definitely benefits from their passion and recruiting. They even managed to sell me another swimming book… Ok, I’m not that hard of a sell, but this book, which I will review in a few days, had images of stroke position that far exceed anything I have in my slowly expanding swimming section in my library.

How many books do you need to call it a library?

I digress… The pool was great if a little warm. It’s a meter pool which I found out under normal circumstances for me. First, this was my first time back in the water after months, and I was aching do some serious distance. The fatigue from the shingles was still way to much for me.

I still managed to do about a mile, and part of that was a sequence of 100s on 1:30. Now normally, I hold between 1:06 and 1:12 on these in a yard pool depending on where I’m at in a cycle… Ok, so I haven’t actually managed to hold to a micro cycle since I’ve been in the panhandle because I keep getting sick. But I know what a 1:06 feels like, and I pushed to this point and came up a 1:14.

Disappointing.

So, I asked a guard if the pool was a yards pool or a meters pool (25s of either in this case). She quipped “yards”. I was more than a little deflated.

After a little while a really good swimmer got in the water next to me – turns out he trained in Clovis in high school and confirmed that it was a meters pool. The guard thought I was asking about a meet that the team had coming up and hadn’t had a chance to correct her statement earlier.

So, that was a bit of relief.

The 25 m pool is pretty nice, the shallow end is about a meter deep which is just too short for good push offs but not bad for practice. All in all, they’ve kept this pool in great condition for it’s age, and the team looks like it’s a group of strong competitors and hard workers. I’m looking forward to swimming here in the future.
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Santa Fe Follow Up

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To finish up my thoughts on Santa Fe, I have to say in general I really liked the place. It is refreshing to know that there is a city in the US that doesn’t have over a million people but still manages to be pedestrian oriented. Sure you don’t really need to drive if you live in Chicago or New York City, but Santa Fe is a small city.

Now, I did not get to really interact with many locals or really get much more than a cursory feel for the culture. There seems to be quite a retirement community in the older part of the city, but the city as a whole seems geared towards families. Again, that’s just a cross section. The down town areas definitely weren’t set up for kids or families.

The athletic facilities for swimming were disappointing. It’s a serious bummer to see a full olympic sized pool that isn’t kept at the right temperature. This could be one of the best triathlon or swimming training locals in the country and probably still is a great place for cycling or running. It just misses the mark on the swimming to cater to misinformed retirees. This is a huge let down for me as a swimmer.

On the up side, there are still dozens of trails I can’t wait to try out. With all the variation and places to go, I don’t think Santa Fe can be beat as a runners haven. Even if you don’t want to get out into the countryside, the town itself has plenty of good trails. If you are willing to risk it – an excursion into the mountains and hills will combine hard work with excellent vistas.

I look forward to getting a chance to go back and run – and try some of the more omnivorous restaurants. Even though I’m disappointed with the pool temperature, I wouldn’t mind training there just for the altitude. That being said, there’s a pool in Los Alamos (not to far away) that is the highest olympic pool in country/world – It’s the highest altitude pool that I know of, and I will hopefully be able to swim in it here in a few months.

Here’s to fun times in Santa Fe!

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Pentecost

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The latest Pew Poll centering on American religious preferences or identification revealed… not much. We all knew the mainline denominations aren’t really the sources of identity they once were, and more people aren’t really going to church/temple/anything.

The numbers:

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The Christian response has been mixed. Most of us are not surprised by these numbers. Some see this as a positive, a return to genuine Christianity for those who stay in the church. Others are aghast at the loss of ground to the gospel. For my part, I’m surprised Christians are still in a profound majority within our Country and that non-Christians are only 6% of the population.

What’s funny is, I cannot point to any reason why I should be surprised, but there you are, that’s how impressions and feeling work without stats to back them up. Of course, stats also lie.

There are of course far more responses than these three, but I’m not convinced that these are truly representative of the real situation in the pews. The numbers tend to be skewed based on population centers, and where I live, these are not even close to accurate. Most of the Bible belt is definitely Christian.

But there in lies the rub – what do we mean by Christian? Polls seem to indicate that people attending once a month may claim to have a profound connection and identity rooted in the church – in other words they have ownership in the church. They only come once a month, maybe 12 times in a year or less. Yet they belong.

So, what combination of belief and practice equates with Christianity?

I’m not going to speculate about this at the moment. It suffices to say, that a claim of being Christian is sufficient for the pew poll. Either way, we have a phenomenal group of people that have a sense of the gospel and are either rebelling from it or are not involved. Either that, or they have no knowledge of the gospel.

This cannot help to ring in the classic vision of pentecost – empowered prophets teaching about Jesus in different language.

Peter and the disciples sitting around the table after the ascension waiting.

The wind blows, tongues of fire come out, and now the rag tag group is out spreading the gospel and teaching about Christ.

Honestly, this vision probably seems like what we need right now to a great many Christians. Wait, get empowered, and speak the gospel. Even Paul took time to educate himself to the intricacies of the gospel before he went and started teaching. It’s this solo time that interests me, this time apart that fascinates me.

That’s why I’m not using Acts to talk about Pentecost – although truth be told it’s the only way we get the term pentecost, a term that refers to the season of time between Easter and the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Instead, I’m going to use a passage that puts the foundation for our hearts, our minds, and our spirits in Christ the cornerstone. In other words, a place to build up from in order to go forth to proclaim or perhaps to proclaim through building up. This passage invokes a profound intimacy with God and with our brothers and sisters in Christ.

“When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’ When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.’” – John 20:19-23

Instead of tongues of fire, John tells us of a Jesus who gives us the garlic and olive oil breath. Ok, so maybe there is a whiff of fire/garlic in the moment. The power of the gospel comes in this closeness with Christ and with each other.

It is at once a mystical encounter with a resurrected lord, the image of God, the spirit of God, the word of God. It’s easy to forget that in the midst of Christ’s humanity that Christ is fully divine as well. Jesus acts in the way the creator did in Genesis one – reshaping humanity and then breathing life into them. Except here, Jesus has reshaped the ‘clay’ of the disciples and breathes new life into them.

The gospel that Peter preaches in Acts is preached not for ambition, pride, selfish gain, or even a profound belief in his own ‘being correct’, and let’s be honest, most of us have fallen into one of these categories at some point in preaching or evangelizing. What drives Peter’s words in Acts is the profound and soul altering interaction with the divine in Christ.

That’s some powerful garlic breath he got hit with.

So, when I see the pew poll and hear people talking about the new domestic mission field of all the unaffiliated and non-christians, I wonder what motivates our words. Do we truly want people to get hit by the breath of God and a peace that surpasses all understanding? When people start talking about the people in the pews being the faithful remnant, I wonder how many of them are still waiting to get hit by the breath of God.

For me the gospel is about encountering the power of God. Paul said when he came to Corinth he did not rely upon clever words but on the power of God. The encounter, the presence of God, the relationship with God is the point. This requires preachers – how else would we know to look, to seek after Christ? But it requires preachers that are anchored in an experience of God.

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Ice Skating Date

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We love ice skating – and we’re really bad at it.

So we took a little time at the Genoveva center on our last day and went on a date. It’s pretty cheap, but a lot of fun. And in the middle of the day on a Thursday? The rink was completely empty.

It was a bit chilly, and I wasn’t quite over my stomach bug.

It was fun! At the end some really good figure skaters came in and were incredible to watch doing their tricks and effortlessly gliding across the ice.

I imagine if we had been better it would be a phenomenal work out – so I’m putting this under fitness, but really It was just a date.

A very nice one! Courtney smiles a lot when she’s ice skating or dancing!

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