Saying Goodbye – or at least See You Later

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A family we have become friends with leaves today.

It’s odd that I think of time when it comes to saying goodbyes. Time our families have spent together hiking, swimming, just playing board games. Time our daughters have spent playing ring around the rosy or just tackling each other while giggling.

All of that lies behind us now. We spent the time we had together well, and I hope that we get to see them in the future. I hope the girls remember them just a little even though they are young.

Our prayers are with them, and little pieces of who we leave with them on their journey. I wish our paths were together just for a bit longer, and I am glad they were together at all.

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Huh? Why Haven’t I?

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Editing… Not something I am truly the best at with my own work.

But I hear that’s a common problem. Having a conversation today, I realize that I really spend almost no time at all editing anything. Mostly, I just write what’s in my head, and occasionally, I’ll go back and slag a paragraph or move it around a little.

Some people consider editing a check for correct word usage. and. precise. punctuation. When they get a rough draft in hand, they want to look for the spelling errors and the places where they’re finding their ‘there’ where they wanted ‘they’re’. It’s not bad as a consideration, and it’s definitely necessary work. Proofing is it’s own reward, but it’s not all there is to the world of editing.

Editing is actually an art in as much as writing is an art.

It’s the process of thinking through what we want to say and how we want to say. It moves, it develops over time, and it changes as we work with a topic or idea. There’s invention and innovation that occur while taking the red pen to something.

It’s what the poet refers to when they repeat the anecdote ‘ I spent all morning taking a comma out, and all afternoon putting it back in.” Every work needs rhythm and punch: Sometimes to entertain, sometimes to persuade, sometimes in pursuit of some intangible good – like beauty or flow.

In my writing, I have unfortunately nearly forgotten about the world of editing despite it being one of my primary goals over the last two years with my writing. Unfortunately, I’ve never developed enough of a head start on my work to go back through and really rework things.

This is one of the things that is going into re-evaluating what I’m doing with my writing here on my blog. I’m still thinking through what I want to do. Actually, to be honest, I want to quit the post-a-day thing and focus on some better written works.

Uncharacteristically, I am afraid to do this.

I worry it might just mean me stopping dead in my tracts. It’s all great to say that I want to take more time to write more thoughtful and better edited posts, but when it comes down to it, I worry that I wont make the effort to actually put together the posts that I want. Or the posts will be too long to read.

A post a day for over a year and a half, and I still haven’t written the two articles I intended to write in the first month. But that’s life I suppose. Meanwhile I’ve had some pretty fantastic adventures.

I’m not sure why I haven’t gotten around to these posts, but perhaps, I’ll start writing them someday soon. Maybe I’ll just start taking the time for a few posts a week. I also really want to get involved with some conversations with other bloggers to generate ideas and responses.

But that’s me just taking look at what I am doing and attempting a drastic edit.

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Trying Out New Tires

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The last month and a half I have been riding. In fact, I’ve cycled more over the last month and a half than I have ever in my life.

The first week, I had back pain.

That stopped after another few short rides.

But then I had a series of flat tires. Now, I am still new to road biking, and I have a lot to learn. The first attempt to put a new inter tube on the bike only lasted a day. The tire levers they sell were very useful in getting the tube off, but you really aren’t supposed to use them to put the tire back on.

It’ll do exactly what happened on my first and second attempt – pinch the tire open.

When I finally figured out how to put on the tube and tire it lasted a bit longer. I even checked the tire for punctures with a slick bit of cloth and didn’t find anything. The idea of using the lever to get the tire off, and then check the tire with a cloth. After that you use your hands to put the inter tube in and get the tire back on

But I ended up with another flat yesterday. So, I took the wheel in to the shop. The wire of the tires were poking into the tube. It was time for a new tire.

They recommended kevlar. Normally, I research a bit more, but today I just took their advice and I’m giving the new tires ago. Hopefully, I can offer something constructive about them in a few weeks.

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Rotation – Is this how Triathletes do this?

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How do triathletes train?

This flummoxes me when I think about it. Cross training and adding a little bit here and there is all I’ve done. Someday, I may consider getting an official coaching plan for a triathlon and seeing how that goes. That just hasn’t been in the cards for me because I am and always will be a Swimmer….

With a capital ‘S’.

However, with my recover taking so long from any one thing, I have to switch up what I am doing in the water and out of the water more than I ever have before. The biggest temptation, and one I’ll admit to yielding to more than a little, is to slam back to back work outs in the same day – cycling and swimming, running and swimming and so on.

It has to stop for now.

Which means, I may not swim 5 days a week like I usually try to do (try… and fail).

It means I may not get the yardage or the distance I want in any one thing, but perhaps it will allow my body time to recover in the individual disciplines. Right now, I’m at a loss to figure out how to manage the time off necessary to keep getting stronger/back in shape.

In truth, I will probably do two types of work outs in the same day a couple of times a week, but hopefully that doesn’t blow up on me.

In the water, rotating between endurance sets and high intensity sprint sets something like USRPT seems to be working. Outside of the water, I am picking up on my cycling but I’ve taken it really easy on my running. So far, rock climbing and conditioning haven’t happened in a few weeks.

At the moment, I’ll keep my goals amorphous. Something along the lines of: try rock climbing this week, Sean, or hey, how about gunning up for 100 fly to see if you can beat that 1:03 you posted last week. Fun, silly, and mostly short term goals are where I am at for right now.

I don’t want to add pressure from high expectations to the frustrations I already have. Taking things slowly, and doing the limited work I can do is all I get right now. Perhaps, it will yield some new strategies going forward and be more effective in the long run than just continuously thrashing myself.

Who knows, this really might be a better strategy for me overall.

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Birkman Profile

imgresSitting around with a bunch of clergy without an agenda is one of the most fun things you can have. Add just the slightest bit of philosophy, sociology, or anthropology, you’ll have a memorable free for all with references to every major theologian for the last… 2000 years.

However, mostly at meetings we have to discuss paper work.

Today was no exception, but we did have an afternoon dedicated to personality assessment. This particular one was called the Birkman, and it seems pretty good. Whatever algorithms and twisted machinations of german science it used, it described me to a tea.

Including explaining that I get bored without plenty of new stimuli and that paper work (clerical work) is pretty much the last thing I ever want to do. It might be why I dread meetings.

In general the Birkman appears to ask you multiple questions with layers of meaning being read from how you rank statements, jobs, and in general classify yourself and others. I’m sure other profiling methods work in a very similar manner because I have taken both the DISC and the Meyers-Briggs in the past. This is a little different in it’s focus on vocational (or work related) questions.

Now before you get to far in dogging this or any other assessment, big companies can pay up to $1000 a person to do a profile.

Knowing how you react to stress and how you operate normally (are you a dreamer, a talker, a doer, or a planner?) can aide in assigning tasks to any group. Heck, knowing these things can help you have compassion in your marriage, with your kids, or parents, or friends. It’s a pretty broad spectrum when you realize just how different modes of operation can cause tension and stress.

Now, I’ll be honest. I only learned a little from the Birkman. My nature is to be overly analytical and overly reflective. There are areas where I think it was inaccurate. For instance, I prefer to think in general rather than specific, but I am immensely detail oriented when I plan. There is no indication of this anywhere within my Birkman. It was absolutely right to say I prefer thinking and planning to just about anything else, but I do enjoy working to complete tasks, planning, and communicating.

It’s one of those things where no one quite fits in the pigeon hole, and in selecting between series of two options, I cannot help but choose the things that I desire the most. But the truth of the matter is that some of those ‘a’ or ‘b’ choices were very very close to one another.

All in all, I’m glad I took it. It was fascinating to see how some of the other clergy scored on sections. It is a profound tool to help people begin self reflection or to sharpen it.

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Training For?

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Goals…. Hmmm…

I have not really set any goals for anything since I’ve got the shingles.

This is a bit weird for me. It’s far from my normal.

While some competitions dance in front of my eyes – the Tri To Make A Difference, a half marathon in Lubbock in October – none are really feeling like options. Slogging through and spending a week sick or in disrepair doesn’t sound like great fun.

So for now, I sit and work out very slowly with nothing in mind.

No races. Let’s be fair, there really weren’t any swimming meet options out here anyways. I’ve thought off and on about racing the youth in the USA Swimming Meets.

No real fitness goals.

Frankly, I feel like setting goals right now is a waste of time. I can’t seem to stay well long enough even with holding back. Fun occasional sprints are the most fun I can have, but I’m more of a distance athlete. I want to push myself, I want to go the distance at high pace.

I keep working, maybe these little work outs will bear fruit. Maybe I’ll stop getting sick.

Perhaps there is motivation that comes from not having goals in the midst of not being able to push myself. It’s just about having fun working.

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Adoption and Identity: A Different Type of Purity

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See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is. And all who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure. – 1st John 3:1-3

I’m at a loss for adoption language through out the old Testament. I mean I’d love a narrative to grab on and to see this passage through, but the closest I can think of is Elijah and Elisha. Not terribly helpful if I’m honest. Probably a few good images to pull from there, and frankly, it has the “against the world” undercurrent (or just overt current) throughout the narrative.

It’s not necessary to tie everything to narrative, but it helps develop ideas in my book.

But here it is, an adoption by God. A decree that we should be called children of the most high God.

It rewrites our identity in a single thrust. We were children of the world, now we are what Christ calls ‘born from heaven’. It’s a decree that changes who we are entirely into something that we cannot fully understand.

In away, wrapping our head around earthly reality is not utterly beyond belief, but it’s still close. This new identity, this true identity is now before us with no boundaries or scale. It’s beyond the map, and I’m sure emblazoned on the edge of that reality there is a tag hanging just above the horizon that says, “This way to the dragons”, or more likely “this way to the resurrection”.

Then we are told to purify ourselves – as part of following the hope we have in him.

Hmmm…

For those that think that think belief defined as some weird sort of intellectual affirmation is all we need, this flies up as a bit of a problem. Yet, it’s part of the mechanism of grace, a healing of our wills that occurs when we start setting our minds on the things of God.

That could probably require some elaborating.

But not now. I have another bone to pick.

Purity in our culture is usually racked up to some sort of sex-ed talk. Purity = no sex before marriage. But if that’s the case, then this is the most out of context verse in the Bible joined by almost every other passage about purity. Even the virginity of Mary is not her purity. The elevation of sexual abstinence to this place does not help us grasp what purity is really about.

It isn’t that sexual abstinence isn’t important, there is plenty of research out there and plenty of scripture to talk about the fulfillment and happiness that comes from sex within a committed relationship. but abstinence isn’t purity as a whole.

Within the the Old Testament context we see purity as a preparation for entering worship.

That is the primary context of purity within scripture – getting ready for a party held by God.

That is the context that fits this verse, and it fits pretty well.

It says that this purity is about paring down our identity from all the things of the world into a singular focus. Purity is about us embracing the identity God has given us as his children.

So, what about it? Are you ready to drop all those little distractions God has revealed to you? All those pretenders to the throne? You might not be able to even see all of them right now, but as you let go of the little pretenders – love of fiddling away time, love of picking on your sister – deeper and more entrenched pretenders might be revealed. A commitment to purify yourself, is not about just abstaining from sex – it’s about aligning yourself with the identity God has given you. That is our worship.

 

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