Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Christmas Letter 2012

I think I have nothing profound to say this year.  I’ve been reading some thought provoking blogs and books.  Among the books:  Atul Gawande, The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right; Christian Smith with Patricia Snell, Souls in Transition: The Religious & Spiritual Lives of Emerging Adults; Chris Cooper, Run Swim, Throw, Cheat: the science behind drugs in sport; Christian Smith, The Bible Made Impossible: Why Biblicism Is Not a Truly Evangelical Reading of Scripture; Timothy Beal, The Rise and Fall of the Bible: The Unexpected History of an Accidental Book; Rachel Held Evans, A Year of Biblical Womanhood: how a liberated woman found herself sitting on her roof, covering her head, and calling her husband “master”. From Gawande, I learned the importance of procedure and checklists to keep organized and avoid costly mistakes.  From Smith and Snell I got a much better understanding of the outlooks of 18-23 year old emerging adults.  From Cooper I gained some depth about performance enhancing drugs.  From Smith my confidence was deepened and stretched about the humanly constructed bible we have.  From Beal likewise I better understood the history and development of the construction of the bible.  From Evans I saw how open the bible is to reading it in very different and still faithful ways.  From several: to think of the bible as a guidebook or manual for life, or as having a single view (The Biblical View, as many books proclaim) about anything important, is to do it, and God, a disservice.
                Beth has had a challenging year. She has been spending a day almost every week driving 70 miles to her mother’s to assist with her life.  At the end of November her mother had a mild stroke.  Beth’s increased involvement over the year has prepared her better to deal with the post-stroke issues.  She’ll finish another year with over 2000 miles of bicycling, much of it exploring back roads of Clinton County.  After a few years of serious talks from her physician about her cholesterol levels (and her family history of strokes), in mid-fall she decided to do something about it by better eating habits.  In just eight weeks her cholesterol went from very high to the moderate range.  She was thrilled about that.  Now she wants a new, faster bicycle and a mountain bike.
                Kevin announced his engagement to Marissa Perez, setting a wedding date for May 25, 2013 in Monticello, MN.  He bought a 1920s house in Minneapolis between Uptown and Lake Nokomis, near the light rail, occupying it in January.  It needed much work, and he got a good deal on it.  To move in, he needed a new furnace, hot water heater, range, fridge, and toilet.  Since moving in he (alone or with the help of parents and grandparents) tore out carpet, refinished hardwood floors, installed a tub-surround, painted walls, replaced all the windows, new overhead garage door and put a service door in the side of the garage, and ran electrical to the garage.  By adding 40% in materials to the purchase price of the house, it is now worth 200% of what he paid for it.
                Jayne is living with us, working part-time at the airport checking passengers in, loading and unloading baggage, cleaning the airplanes, and so on.  She is seeking full-time work in these still hard-times in Michigan.  She continues to organize disc golf leagues, participate in tournaments.  She likes taking her kayak out on the local river.  Early in the fall she went fishing with a friend and caught a couple of 16”-18” smallmouth bass.  Late in the fall she went deer hunting, got her first deer with one shot after being in the stand for thirty minutes, and three days later helped her friend butcher and package the meat.
                My job is more stressful than I’d prefer.  I am resilient.  I sometimes lose sleep thinking of what I should have done or should have said.  I try to let it go; sometimes it is hard to do so.  By the end of December I will have ridden my bicycles over 8000 miles this year, a feat I’ve never before accomplished.  Mid-summer I did my first ever bicycle camping tour: a nine-day/eight-night self-supported tour of north central and northeastern Wisconsin with five friends, riding 70-110 miles a day, each day temperatures getting into the 90s, only two nights cooling below 70.  Each day we’d have a general direction, but no particular itinerary. It was surprisingly easy to ride over 700 miles in nine days, even with the loaded bike weighing about 70 lbs. Over the summer and early fall, I got out several times in my canoe or Jayne’s kayak fishing for panfish on Muskrat Lake, with enough success.  Early November I had a high school reunion, the 36th.  It was only the first or second time I’ve seen any of my classmates since graduation.  It was rewarding and encouraging to see them.
                My warmest Christmas wishes to you,

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