Thursday, August 31, 2006

What's Next?

I skated this morning for the second time since the St. Paul Marathon. What can I say? I love inline skating. I am so happy when I skate. I am not finished skating and so I look forward to what's next in my inline endeavors?

Wouldn't it be great to skate in all ten of the top inline marathons in the country? Ideally it is a long range dream I would like to achieve.

The North Shore Marathon is next month but it falls on the same weekend as a very important marriage retreat my wife (who else?) and I attend. This is a huge race and fast. I will do it someday I'm sure. After this race the season is pretty much over.

Next year I see myself in the Big Granite Marathon in June (Ashland, WI) and then the St. Paul Marathon again in August. Maybe I will also be in the smaller but incredibly beautiful race in Hayward, WI. The Hayward marathon is one week before St. Paul so it could be a good last "training" run for St. Paul.

In the meantime, during the winter, hopefully I can get some skating in over at the RollerDome. I also will continue with weight training (another thing I love to do) and mixing up cardio exercies whenever I can through the winter. My wife Carla and I workout together and it is our time to be together.

I really do need new skates too if I am going to move forward with these plans - especially skating at the fitness and advanced levels. But I have dental work to pay for, cars to fix, home repairs, kids clothes, debts to pay off, etc. before I get the new skates. Nevertheless I will move forward with my plans and God will provide for everything, or make my ready to accept all of his will as it unfolds over the next year.

I skate to be healthy and to bring peace to my family.

P.S. Play "Where's Carla" with the last picture. Carla is in there somewhere taking a picture of my back as I cross the finish line at St. Paul. The photo may be too small but it makes it more of a challenge for you then. Tell me where she is?

What A Real Mature Man Is

This article (Marks of A Man) by Dr. Albert Mohler is simply one of the best summations and practical outlines of what a biblically mature man looks like that I've ever read before. Please read it.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

I Am Glad Summer Is Over

Here in lovely Hudson, Wisconsin public school starts in six calendar days. I told my boy that last night before bed and he was shocked. Summer vacation is over. It went fast for him he said. Time to get back into the routine of school schedules, etc.

I am personally happy that summer is over. I do enjoy the summertime for several reasons but not more than the inherent structure the other seasons bring to daily life. I find myself struggling with a sense of boredom this time of year. I want to get back to the school and church activities I enjoy - I miss the people mostly. I also feel more inclined to intensify my efforts at personal disciplines. Strangely, I feel more engaged in life when its not summertime. Looking back, for the past three summers now I get the sense that I didn't really grow spiritually but rather just maintained status quo.

Summer was good but I am glad it is over.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Married Life Blog Series Concluded

Married Life concludes its series "Finding God in my difficult marriage" with this article:

Armed with Faith in my marriage.

This series has affected me more than you. Guaranteed. I didn't post it to expose "the other half" of my marriage. More than anything I like to post things on this blog that are relevant to my own internal struggles, pursuits, desires, and strivings. My first response to this type of material is to get angry. Note, I didn't say my first correct God honoring response.

I usually have to let this type of material marinate until it sucks out all the deadness in my heart. I usually don't say much during this process but if you are around me, you might sense there is an internal battle going on. This marriage series brings to light the sin in my heart and how fond and blind I am towards it. Please understand, I know I am a sinner. It is just that the more I grow the more I hate of my sin and the more I find out how much I don't know, when it comes to dealing with it. Translation - I make bad, foolish choices daily in marriage.

But because of Christ's death, resurrection and current reign in all areas of life, thankfully the difficulties in my marriage (and yours) are being redeemed and used to bring glory to the Father.

Now I will go back and reread these articles with a soft heart. Christ is ALL.

Previous Articles:
Why have you chosen this path for me?
How do I sustain faith in the midst of such a marriage?
How do I continue to love the one who doesn't seem to love me?
How do I maintain perspective when I am so often sinned against?
Will I ever know joy in this marriage?

Married Life Blog- Article 5

Why have you chosen this path for me?

Previous Articles:
How do I sustain faith in the midst of such a marriage?
How do I continue to love the one who doesn't seem to love me?
How do I maintain perspective when I am so oftern sinned against?
Will I ever know joy in this marriage?

Monday, August 28, 2006

It Could Be Worse

My wife gets very frustrated when I say or think "It could be worse". I understand. In the context of marriage or really crummy personal times, comforting someone with "It could be worse" is not proper and in most cases the pithy blowoff is down right insensitive.

But in the context of inline racing, especially as it relates to crashing, specifically my crash, "It could be worse" always applies. The following picture helps frame the context of "It could be worse" when I consider how irritating the healing of my road rash has been this past week:

Incidentally, click here for some more really great shots of the St. Paul Inline Marathon event.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Pat The Flat Head

Upon approaching my driveway after work two nights ago I see my oldest son standing and waiting for me. I was about two blocks away. I parked in the driveway and opened my truck door to step out. I had to ask my oldest boy to step aside otherwise he'd get pinned up against the minivan if I opened my door further. I caught the hint, he obviously had something to tell me. What was he going to say? The typical most often said words I hear when I get home "Uh, Dad, it's been a rough day around her today. Sarah is in her room. Mom is having a..."

Instead my boy asks if he can ask me a question. "Sure son, what is it?"

"Am I going to look like you when I grow up?" He says as his voice tails off toward the end of words.

I figured I'd engage him and try to draw him out (selling 101) so I answered with a question, "Well, do you want to look like me when you grow up?"

He thinks for two seconds and answers me back with more questions, "Aren't most people's heads suppose to be round? Yours is flat. Mine is round right now but will it go flat over time?"

I'm guessing but I think one of his friends told him they thought my head was flat. There is that one new neighbor boy who I thought out of respect always looks me in the eye. Could it be he's been studying my seemingly flat head?

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Post Race Analysis

My jelly leg has scabbed over and my brain is able to move on. But, I still have one more post (at least) on inline skating to complete. So here it is.

Yes the race itself was fun. But I liked training for it better. I also really love to analyze how things went. Here is what I've found:
  1. I finished in the top 1/3 out of 881 finishers.
  2. If I would have raced in the most advanced class before pro, I would have finished in the middle of the pack. This makes sense because for the first five miles or so, all I did was pass people. Next year I can move up at least to the fitness class if I want to. This will help with having more opportunities to draft sooner.
  3. My fastest average speed overall was on the section that I crashed - 15.7 mph. I figure I was doing at least 20 mph when I fell.
  4. I had a 14.86 average speed the last 6 miles of the race, this is more than my overall average of 14.7.
  5. Did I do my absolute best? Between mile 5 and 13, yes. But overall, no. I could have gone faster between 13 and 20 miles. I only averaged 13.8 mph.
  6. Believe it or not, the highlight of the race was that stretch where I crashed. I was skating full tilt, balancing on that fine line between "the zone" and total insanity.

Married Life Blog - Article 4

How do I sustain faith in the midst of such a marriage?

Previous Articles:
How do I continue to love the one who doesn't seem to love me?
How do I maintain perspective when I am so oftern sinned against?
Will I ever know joy in this marriage?

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Married Life Blog - Article 3

"How do I continue loving the one who doesn't seem to love me?"

Previous Articles:

"How do I maintain perspective when I am so often sinned against?"

"Will I ever know joy in this marriage?"

Legs Like Jelly

I mentioned in my last post that I fell momentarily in the race on Sunday. I refer to it as more of a skip or a bounce. But bearing through the "discomfort" of road rash yesterday and today (and last night) who cares what its called? Finding ways to minimize the pain from the burn is the purpose of my life right now, unfortunately.

My daughter checks up on me every now and then but her queasy nerves give way and she has to look away in disgust. My little Nathers keeps pointing and saying "That's gotta hurt." Yep. Especially when I stand up and the blood surges to the area.

Now my son Josh is more creative in his approach to life and so he went the word picture route when trying to comfort me this morning, "Dad, your leg looks like the jelly toast Mom makes for us?"

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Personal Results: 2006 St. Paul Inline Marathon

1 hr 46 minutes

Besides my finish time, what a great day for the race! Unbelievable! And talk about fast. I averaged 14.7 miles an hour. The absolute greatest aspects about this year were the drafting and pacelines I participated in. No doubt drafting helped me with the good time, and I was happy to help other skaters with me as well. I am still processing the whole event and right now I am thinking of how much fun those pacelines were. A paceline works something like this, ten (or so) people in a single file line skating together taking turns at the front of the pack, pointing out tar snakes and holes in the cement, pushing each other up and down hills (sometimes literally), and everyone encouraging each other. Awesome! Like I said, the best part.

By the way, I fell around mile 10. Actually, better said, I skipped off the pavement on my left calve. Technically it was a fall but I was up faster than the fall itself occurred. I was switching from front to back of a line and another line was approaching I could see. Combined with shadows from the bridges, this all made for a slightly confusing moment. I didn't miss a beat with the group. I looked around at a few skaters and asked "Did I just fall?", they all confirmed with "But what a nice recovery." Thank God it was.

I am still waiting for the official written in stone results, which will be posted on the event's website sometime later today. Get this, the Pro Elite winner finished in 1 hr 8 minutes! I'd like to know what time and average speed I had for the first 13.1 and then the last 13.1.

Thank you to my wife and children for being at the finish line today and the support for the (x-stream) training I put myself through. I like to at least pretend I am an pro. Hey, Kristi was there today too, thanks for the cowbells!

Finally, I finished 39 minutes ahead of my time last year. Next year's goal, finish under 1 hr 40 minutes.

UPDATE: Official results are in. You'll need to do a search on my last name or bib number 1761.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Is Sin Against Me More Horrifying Than My Sin Against God?

What a question huh? Married Life has posted another article in their series on struggling well in a difficult marriage.

Here are some words from "“How do I maintain perspective when I am so often sinned against?"” that rattles my heart and fuels my desire for daily repentance in my marriage:
"Secondly, your spouse's sin must never be more grieving to you than your own sin against God. Consider for a moment, are you more aware this morning of your spouse's sin than your own? If so, your Savior declares you blinded by sin (Luke 6:36-42). Someone who is spiritually blind to his own sin cannot effectively his spouse."
Incidently, I think there has been a word left out of thesentencentance of that quote. I'm guessing that love is suppose to be right after effectively.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

What A Crummy Headline "Suspect claims he had sex with JonBenet"

KSTP Eyewitness TV News reports that "Suspect claims he had sex with JonBenet".

Get it right! NO ADULT EVER HAS SEX WITH A CHILD. It is called rape! The headline should be rewritten "Suspect claims he raped and sexually assaulted JonBenet, a 6 year old child"

Where in the report by KSTP does it provide a quote that Karr said himself that he had sex with JonBenet? The report does says Karr told investigators he drugged and sexually assaulted the girl, but those words came from a Thai police official, supposedly.

Adults don't have sex with children. Call it what it is. Rape.

(HT: my wife)

Married Life Blog

Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, Maryland hosts a blog called Married Life. I've been following this blog for a while through my bloglines account. Recently though I've been clicking through to the blog directly because it has started an engaging series focusing on encouragement and the love of God in a struggling marriage. Two articles have already been posted:
Future articles look equally informative, helpful, and full of grace:
  • How do I continue loving the one who doesn'’t seem to love me?
  • How do I sustain my faith in the midst of such a marriage?
  • Why has God chosen such a path for me?
The senior pastor at Covenant Life is Joshua Harris, protege of Covenant's former senior pastor C.J. Mahaney. Mahaney now overseas Sovereign Grace Ministries on a full-time basis.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Post Marathon Thinking

Ok. So if you are one of those readers who have skipped over all my other posts related the inline skating. You really won't want to skip this one.

One of the most fundamental rules you must never break in the wide world of sports is to be thinking beyond an upcoming event. In sports you are only as good as your next performance and to be focused on the future, especially past the event you are training toward, is considered a death wish.

But, I am not a professional and I can do what ever I want.

I am definitely keyed in on doing my absolute best this Sunday. I will skate as hard as I can for as long as I can in order to meet my (personal) goal. But even my wife asked me the other day. "After the race what are you going to work for? What is going to keep you training and excited." In order to answer honestly I needed to dig deep and connect with my inner....inner...inner skater (?) Whatever. Who cares. What I am trying to say is I want to do whatever I like to do.

Speed is good. Perhaps I don't go to the next level but I make a horizontal move and go for speed instead of distance? Like the guys in this video. Pay attention and watch the whole thing.

Can you still call what those guys did a sport? The fastest I ever got going downhill (I guesstimate) is 30 mph. Yes it is competition but is it really inline skating? What name would you give it?

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Mega Church Christian Sub-Culture

Thanks to my good buddy Ron for redirecting me to this post over at Frankly, even though Challies' feed is in my bloglines, I skipped over the post because of its length (this is why I think bloglines is dangerous.) Be sure not to miss the YouTube video link in comment #7 of the post. I'd link to it here but I want to make sure you read the whole post before watching the video. I have never watched King of The Hill, there is something about real-life portrayed through animation that freaks me out. I can't explain it but I realized it when I forced myself to get into the Simpsons, and failed. Perhaps now I will stop a watch King of the Hill if I ever find myself clicking around, vegging out.

(HT: Ron)

Sunday, August 13, 2006

One Week Away

I am sure by now some readers are bored to death of me using this blog as a quasi-training log for the upcoming St Paul Inline Marathon. In fact, I know one reader (through his own admission) who totally skips over anything on this blog that has to do with inline skating. Be patient, this too shall pass.

Seven days from now at this same time, 7:28 pm, I plan to be reflecting on a positive marathon experience. I am ready. Perhaps though I am a bit burned out but I am ready to skate hard. Carla saw me coming down the block on yesterday's training run and she said she was surprised at how good I looked. I asked her what good meant in this context and she said fast, decked out, smooth and pumping, much better than last year. Thanks Babe! You've been a great supporter and I am looking forward to finishing strong for you next week. See you at the finish line.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The Broken Road

Right now I am listening to Selah's version of Bless The Broken Road. Good song. I like Rascal Flatts version better, more twang is sometimes better.

Another good heart cleansing, deep soul searching, repenting, lamenting type song is No One Else Knows by Building 429. The words are simple but revealing.

No One Else Knows
My world is closing in
On the inside
But I’m not showing it
When all I am is crying out
I hold it in and fake a smile
Still I’m broken
I’m broken
Only one can understand
And only one can hold the hand
Of the broken
Of the broken

When no one else knows how I feel
Your love for me is proven real
When no one else cares where I’ve been
You run to me with outstretched hands
And You hold me in your arms

I need no explanation of why me
I just need confirmation
Only You could understand the emptiness inside my head
I am falling
I am falling
I’m falling down upon my knees
To find the one who gives me peace
I am flying
Lord I am flying

When no one else knows how I feel
Your love for me is proven real
When no one else cares where I’ve been
You run to me with outstretched hands
And You hold me in Your arms

I have come to you in search of faith
Cause I can’t see beyond this place
Oh You are God and I am man
So I’ll leave it in Your hands

Monday, August 07, 2006

What The Church Needs Most

Men! Real Men! After reading this over and over for the last ten minutes, I feel deeply troubled because I see what am I so far from being. No man will ever become the real man described in this quote unless he is compelled by the Spirit to pursue Christ as ruler over all! I am not that old and wise yet but with every passing day I realize (I mean in real, cold hard experience, not just in reading about it) how difficult and impossible living a holy life is. The harder I try the more profound are my failures. To think that any amount of human effort should get the credit for a God honoring life is in itself dishonoring to God. Through all the trials, difficulties, disappointments, failures, and certainly all of the successes...CHRIST ALONE is worthy of all the praise. God help us!

Friday, August 04, 2006

Mental Prep - Two Weeks Out Baby

Two weeks
Fourteen days from this Sunday I'll be lacing up and heading out.
Mission: 26.2 miles in 2 hours or less.
I am ready. I have only skated once this week so far but I'll get out on Sunday for a while. Next week I need to skate four times and then take two days off before the race. Stretching, resting and eating will be key.
Mental Preparation
I enjoy the mental preparation, as long as the body is ready, mental prep is fun! I love to visualize skating along, pumping the legs, sweating hard, smiling and skating, and crossing the finish line, waiting for my results, seeing my time posted under the 2 hour mark. Also, photo's like the following get my blood pumping:

Thursday, August 03, 2006

To Skate With A Knife

Yes I've said it before "No running with scissors" or "No playing with knives". I am a father of four children. Last night little Nathers grabbed a steak knife from the kitchen table so fast I saw stars as my heart stopped immediately. Amazingly Mommy Carla grabbed it away from him even faster. I'm digressing already.

What I want to post about is the fact that I am fighting an internal battle. Hopefully writing about it will help me process through the complexity. Dog lovers are going to hate me after this post.

These days I train longer distances. I cover more ground. I pass more houses. Therefore, I encounter more dogs on the loose. Most of the time I fly by too fast that the dogs don't see me coming or going. There is this one yard though where a smart dog lives. Lately he's been waiting for me. This morning he approached me barking and ready to attack but he stopped right at "his" property line. Too close for me though. I happen to like the training route this dog lives on and I refuse to allow him to determine my skating destiny.

Big deal you say. It is just a dog, right? Perhaps it makes a difference for you to know I was attacked as a boy by two dogs that came out of the woods as I walked home from the bus stop. One of the dogs got me, right in the butt, the left cheek. He bit through my jeans and broke my skin. Since then, lets just say I am sensitive, or keenly aware (rather), of nearby unleashed dogs.

Basically, I need a training tool (aka weapon.) I'm ok with any dog shorter than knee-high because I'll just run over it and keep moving. The higher than knee-high dogs are the ones that pose the challenge. I was thinking this morning I'd really like to carry my handy dandy pocket knife. I like it for its fast action lever which allows me to engage the blade almost as fast as a switch blade. If the dog ever gets to close, I enable the fast action lever, jab, and move on. Jab, and move on. Jab...and move on. As long as I am protecting myself, do you think I'd get in trouble? The way people care more about animals than people these days, I'd probably end up in the prison system.

There is the alternative to let the dog attack me and then sue the owner. My chances of winning are greater if I don't have a weapon. But, man, I just don't want to get bit again. It hurts!

I've thought about carrying a sawed off baseball bat. I could easily handle it. The chance of tripping and stabbing myself is slim to none with a thumper tool. Skating along, see dog coming, thump and move on. Thump, and move on. Also, my conscience feels somewhat better giving a concussion than stitches.

I've decided not to skate with knives.

Ms. Magazine

Challies Dot Com linked to this abortion absurdity this morning. I lament along with a good friend who said "I'm not sure if I am more disgusted, mad or sad." I don't know what to say. I want to speak out fiery anger right now about how literally crazy the thinking is that is going into this project. This pursuit by Ms. magazine is a bunch of crap!

(HT: Ron)

Building Self Esteem My Way

Sitting around last night, doing some family time stuff, my daughter Sarah took center stage showing us why she thought she'd be a contortionist someday. I am watching her twist and turn into some freaky positions and at the same time took notice of my oldest boy Josh grumbling beneath his breath. Nope! Ain't going to do that in my house. It exhibits self-pity and if he has something to say, our relationship needs to be strong enough to handle tough communication. So I called him on his outward display of an internal struggle.
"Josh, what's up? Is something wrong? Why are you grumbling?" I said, knowing he was uncomfortable with Sarah getting all the attention at the moment.

Josh responds, "I wanna be able to do that (twisting around) but I can't. What can I do so you'll pay attention to me?"
Besides the on-going teaching I work at on jealousy, envy, self-centered thinking and being happy for others, I am also challenged as a Dad to get my oldest boy to "go for it" when there is something he wants to do. I decided to go down the "you can do anything" route for the time being in order to keep it light.

"Josh son, please remember those times where you've done something that you never thought you'd be able to do. Think about what you were telling yourself before you tried to accomplish is the same thing you are telling yourself now."

Fearing that I was moving into lecture territory I exhorted him with
"Remember what I've said, finish this sentence, you can do anything you want to if you....?"

Josh thinks for two seconds and says
"If your stupid enough to try it."

Now I really wanted to lecture but instead I encouraged him further with a big smile and said
"YES! Exactly, what I've been teaching! Right on! Way to go, you nailed that one."
Josh new he set me up but he was shocked at my answer. The look on his face was priceless! He grinned big time and I could tell he knew I got him in his own game. The more I parent the more I learn that you always need to keep'em on their toes and be ready for anything, they enjoy it. My response had nothing to do with self-esteem but it just made my boy laugh...things went further than a lecture ever would.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

The Office Season 2 DVD release Date Is Sept 12th

I just learned this morning while blogging around that season 2 of The Office will be released on DVD September 12. I know at least two other people who read this blog that will be interested in this news.

For the rest of you "not on board yet" future fans of The Office, here are some webisodes to help you out.

Most People Quit Their Bosses, Not Their Jobs

Top Ten Reasons Why People Quit Their Jobs
  1. Management demands that one person do the jobs of two or more people, resulting in longer days and weekend work.
  2. Management cuts back on administrative help, forcing professional workers to use their time copying, stapling, collating, filing and other clerical duties.
  3. Management puts a freeze on raises and promotions, when an employee can easily find a job earning 20-30 percent more somewhere else.
  4. Management doesn’t allow the rank and file to make decisions or allow them pride of ownership. A visitor to my website E-mailed me a message that said, “Forget about the “professional” decisions—how about when you can’t even select the company’s holiday card without the President rejecting it for one of his own taste?”
  5. Management constantly reorganizes, shuffles people around, and changes direction constantly.
  6. Management doesn’t have or take the time to clarify goals and decisions. Therefore, it rejects work after it was completed, damaging the morale and esteem of those who prepared it.
  7. Management shows favoritism and gives some workers better offices, trips to conferences, etc.
  8. Management relocates the offices to another location, forcing employees to quit or double their commute.
  9. Management promotes someone who lacks training and/or necessary experience to supervisor, alienating staff and driving away good employees.
  10. Management creates a rigid structure and then allows departments to compete against each other while at the same time preaching teamwork and cooperation.
(Source: Logoworks)

What would make you leave your job? Why have you left jobs in the past?