Today was the first day since Nov. 13 that I have not worn a FitBit – and I feel fine

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That little Fitbit.

I got it the day before we did an all-night lock-out at my church. Do you know what that is? It’s where adult youth leaders meet up with other adult youth leaders at 9PM (I said PM) with busses full of 7-9th graders and drive to 4 venues all night long across Minneapolis and return back to church at 7AM. I figured it would be a good way to jump on the Fitbit board with a total over my daily goal of 10K steps.

For the most part, I met my daily goal – usually averaging around 12K steps a day. The last few months people at work and church have been involved in The Workweek Hustle and I was proudly the “biggest loser” each week the last few weeks. I would tell people I joined the next weekly challenge and did them all a favor: I’m just here so you have someone easy to beat. That was quite a change from just a few months ago when I’d wake up early just to get 3K steps before leaving the house so I could be ahead of the crew.

I have probably gained 10+ lbs since wearing a Fitbit. So, it’s not working. (That is a joke and it’s not a joke – with one of the meds I am on, weight gain has been a serious frustration for me). So i’m probably quitting it. The final day of Vacation Bible School, when I’ve easily already reached 10K steps by 2PM and it’s the weekend before I leave for an 8 day mission trip with 34 teens and adults from my church, where I bet I’ll avg 15K a day.

Do my steps “count” if they’re not counted?

I’ve wondered this almost everyday that I wore my little fitbit. I never once forgot to wear it. I always worried about forgetting it, because I figured one day would wreck my averages and it would make me not want to try to walk extra, because what’s the point?

Deciding not to bring it on the mission trip was more out of practicality. It’s one less thing to worry about losing or keeping charged. But it’s also a good anchor point for me, getting out of town, hoping to find some vision on the road – hoping to find some direction – hoping to have my steps count for eternity rather than just the digital sphere.

We sang the song “I Have Decided to Follow Jesus” a lot this week at VBS – and fitbit or not, there’s no turning back. It counts.

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Is it just me or is Drumpf slurring his words and sounding drunk with fan-love?

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I watch a lot of Trump. Can’t help it.

Let’s be honest. If Jeb! or Kasich got the nomination, this would be the country’s most boring boring boring pres election – ever. I

But we have Donald – and he’s a complete disaster …

At the Las Vegas rally yesterday and over the weekend, I started noticing more than before, that he’s slurring his words. Now, one of the few things I do believe about what he says is that he does not drink alcohol or do drugs. But I think this man is high on himself and high on the fan-love. He literally sounds intoxicated. Because he is.

And it really is about the ratings for this poor soul. I’ve taken to calling him a “media whore.” That may not sound Christian or charitable but let’s just call a thing what it is… He’s a media whore. He’s completely drunk on his own performance. With Wayne Newton in the audience, he even said it:

It’s sort of like a weird experience because all my life I’ve been watching Wayne Newton and now I am performing for him; what the hell is going on over here?

We are about to put to a vote a man who is doing this for show. For entertainment. He rails about his numbers and how much ratings he’s getting for the networks. God help us.

Remarks from Orlando Vigil

Healing words.

Javen Swanson

The evening after the mass shooting that left dozens killed or wounded at a gay nightclub in Orlando, members of the LGBTQ community came together to support one another and stand in solidarity with our Muslim neighbors. Below are my remarks from the vigil.


My name is Javen Swanson, and I’m one of the pastors at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Saint Paul. I feel fortunate to be here with you today. You are my people. Tonight there is no place I’d rather be than here with all of you.

So often we hear about acts of violence and they seem like they’re happening in another world, to people who are nothing like us living in a place that is nothing like our own. I bet many of you were struck with the same feeling that struck me this morning, that the people who were murdered and wounded last night in…

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I read stories with “all the voices” to the elderly even if they are sleeping

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Somehow I received a cool gift of being a part-time senior caregiver. In addition to full-time youth ministry, this little gig gives me so much to wonder about.

I have a regular weekly schedule I keep where I see the same people by appointment and then I also get to sub for others and do random shifts meeting all sorts of people in different stages of the “third chapter” of life.

One lady I visit with for two hours each week has no speech left. She really doesn’t move around much at all, and many weeks that I’m there, she barely wakes up. She may look at me and go back to sleep in her wheelchair. So I take her for walks – outside if it’s nice – around the building. I still comment about all the flowers we can find. I sometimes put a nature DVD or movie in at one of the tv lounges in her senior home. I know some other folks in her building and sometimes they go walking with us. If the room where the piano is open, I bring a hymnal and wheel her up to the piano with me and I sing hymns to/with her (tho she doesn’t really stir, I believe she might be singing in her mind? -Except for one time when I was singing Amazing Grace she did look up and bellowed something incoherent for just a measure or two and then went back to sleep!) If I’m reading a picture book to her, I still show her the pictures even if she won’t look at them. We still sit by the aviary and hear the birds, even if she won’t glance at them very long.

Usually the last 30-40 minutes of my time with her, I get her back up to her room and I settle down for story time. We finished “Little House in the Big Woods,” and I selected the next book to last us probably through the end of the year. It’s called “Cold Sassy Tree,” a book I read when I was in middle school. It’s set in turn of the century Georgia and is told from the perspective of a pre-teen boy. I do all the voices for the characters with my [Minnesotan] Southern Drawl. And I don’t care if the nurses hear me. And sometimes a  man from her floor wheels his chair up in the hallway outside the room where he doesn’t know I can him, so he can listen.

Seriously, they should make a podcast out of this.

In the brightest part of our lives it’s easy to see ourselves as a marigold, as pictured. I have these marigold, viola and ageratum pots on my patio that have been transplanted two times already this year (long story, not worth it) and I haven’t had the heart to toss them out. Those fried ones are not coming back. The bright ones aren’t going to last long either. We all get our turn being the marigold but even in our best days, we know there’s an end. Right before the end, I have the privilege to read stories to the flowers – hoping that I can give a few minutes of honor and dignity to someone I never knew.

I think the lady I visit with and walk with and read to is in there and she can hear me and she may not remember the story from week to week but she’s in the story and in her soul she’s being fed and is happy and can’t wait to be a transplanted vibrant flower with Jesus someday real soon.

 

I love you Bernie – let’s ca$h in!!

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I’m a Bernie campaign volunteer. I phone-banked, I gave lots of contributions, I helped him win the state of Minnesota. I was all-in. I still am.

My stomach turns at the thought of having to vote for Hillary to stop Trump (and that is all my vote will be, since I despise incrementalism and don’t hear a vision for America’s future from her- and don’t really trust her ambitions), but it’s time for Bernie to cash in his yuuuge amt of leverage and secure a place in her administration so the revolution can continue. I even made up a cabinet position for you – how about “equality czar?”

It’s way too long in terms of the news cycle to think the campaign can last until the convention. We all worked too hard to lose our voice fighting a losing battle in the next months until Philadelphia.

The Super delegates aren’t going to join the revolution in mass droves. And you know what? That’s okay. Bernie should cash in and at the same time start building a strong 3rd progressive party to win in 2020. I also think true conservatives need to do the same thing on the other side. They should abandon Trump in mass droves and start building a true conservative party to fight in 2020.

The only other hard thing to discuss and think about is all those votes Trump really did receive in the primaries. There really are that many people in our country who are racist and bigoted. We are losing what should be an easy convincing argument for progressivism, human and civil rights, income equality, and democracy by vote rather than by dollar. I cheer you Bernie – I love you and I support you. I’m proud of you. I’m proud to have served America with you. I’m still going to keep wearing my Bernie buttons and I’m going to leave my “Feel the Bern” magnet on the back of my VW Beetle. Let’s move forward now. We’re only just getting started. #stillsanders #feelthebern #heswithus #bernie2016