Wednesday, December 29, 2010

So, yesterday I was supposed to have a dentist appointment at 10, but Pam Carlson called the day before and proposed a day trip to Ely. You may remember Pam as the other half of my fundamentalist pastor/wife halloween costume:

So, to Ely we went! Ely is here:

As you can see, it's pretty far north and on the west side of the Boundary Waters Camping Area (BWCA). Our first stop was Steiger Mukluks. Mukluks are winter boots made usually with leather that originated with Native North Americans. Here's the store:

Pam picked out these mukluks and then proceeded to talk about how excited she was with her purchase for the rest of the trip.

After that we headed to the local brewery and ate some lunch while enjoying a wild rice beer and an IPA. Very tasty! The rest of the afternoon was spent browsing the stores of Ely. I bought a few flannel shirts and resisted buying a lot more at all of the outfitters. We headed home, and I spent the night with Luke, Chelsey, Jared, and Eric watching the Vikings actually win and bowling. You may remember that I went to Ecuador with Jared and Eric. Here's a picture to jog your memory.

And Luke and Chelsey (whose wedding I officiated this summer):

Today I'm celebrating family Christmas! I'm very excited about that. But before that, I'm heading to an eye appointment. Happy New Year's! I may even get a some contacts.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Well, Christmas in Duluth as been great with more still to come. Jessica and Isaac (sister and brother-in-law) don't get in until Wednesday night, so Christmas isn't officially being celebrated in the Bjorlin family until Thursday. Christmas Eve was spent eating dinner at my grandma's. I ended up going to both a Vineyard service and ELCA service for the Christmas Eve services. With no offense intended, contemporary services, especially on the major Church holidays, need to get back to the basics. I think that there is no reason to do anything but carols or classic Christmas hymns during a Christmas Eve service.

Christmas day was spent at my sister and brother-in-law's, Anna and Peter, out in the boondocks. We ate brunch, opened a couple presents (saving the rest for when Jess and Isaac get here), and played some games (I also took a nice nap). I got subscriptions to The Economist and The New Yorker, two pairs of smart wool socks, and a CD from Concordia-Moorhead's Christmas concert. I'm excited about all of them. Oh, we also watched The Newsies (I know, not exactly a holiday classic, but I wasn't complaining).

The rest of my time here has been spent reading and doing some writing for church. I have read:
1. The Short Reign of Pippin IV - Steinbeck
2. Once There Was a War - Steinbeck (I'm working through Steinbeck)
3. The Courage to Teach - Parker Palmer. Even though this was required for a J-term class, it was really a great read (no surprise with Palmer).

I've also been trying to put together a sermon for this next Sunday. The text is John 1 ("In the beginning was the Word"...and so on), and I thought it would come together easily. I think it's harder working on a sermon that deals with such a familiar text. Today it finally came together, and I'm going to be writing on John as an example of the Christian's need for paradox and mystery in their faith going off of the idea that the Matthew/Luke version of the Christmas story are prose while John is poetry, Matthew/Luke emphasizes Jesus' humanity and John his divinity, etc.

Also, since I have Minnesotacare (public aid health care), I only get coverage in Minnesota. So, this vacation I have had or will have a doctor's appointment, a CPAP appointment (sleep apnea stuff), dentist's appointment, and an eye appointment to buy some contacts and possibly some new glasses. I feel like I just got to Oz and they're shining my metal facade, combing out my mane, or re-stuffing my straw. Okay, going to hang out with some high school/CBC friends. Later.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Home for the Holidays

Hello everyone. In lieu of sending out a head shot of me sitting at a piano for a Christmas card, I decided to make my long-overdue return to blogging.

I'm currently sitting in Hermantown on Christmas Eve at Luke and Chelsey Harju's house enjoying some rest and relaxation. My first night in Duluth seemed fitting as we got about ten inches of snow and school was cancelled. Ahh...just how I remember it! It's hard to think what to write when my last post was in the summer.

This semester went well. I finished the first chapter of my thesis on the relationship between worship and ethics, finished my internship credits, finished up my second Advent at church, only have two more classes (beside the thesis) next semester, and will be going through the call process with the Evangelical Covenant Church starting in January. What now? I know!

Top ten favorite Christmas songs:
1. O Holy Night- Most versions, although Josh Groban's is getting a little old. Mariah's, on the other hand, ages like a fine wine.
2. Cradle in Bethlehem- This song, both by Sarah Groves and Neal & Leandra has been one of my favorite new finds.
3. Trumpet Child - How had I not heard this Over the Rhine gem before?
4. In the Bleak Midwinter- "Our God, heaven cannot hold him, nor the earth sustain; heaven and earth shall pass away when he comes to reign." Doesn't get much better than that. I like JT's version almost the best.
5. Salvation Is Created- Aaron turned me on to this Chesnakov (sp?) song. Ironically it was his last religious song he was able to write before the Soviet Union took over and forbid it. Commies ruin everything!
6. Star Carol - Simon and Garfunkel put out a great version of this that always gets me.
7. The Birthday of a King - Always loved it, especially Judy Garland's version.
8. O Come All Ye Faithful - obvs.
9. Once in Royal David's City - especially when sopranos from the North Park choir sing the descant on the last verse; I'm a sucker for descants.
10. All I Want for Christmas Is You - classic.
11. (tie) Happy Xmas (War is Over) and Wonderful Christmas Time - John and Paul getting their Christmas on.

Some songs that have rubbed me the wrong way this Christmas season:
1. Dominick the Donkey - I don't even understand this song.
2. I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus - This will screw a kid up. This is even worse when the Jackson 5 sings it and Michael talks about telling his dad. I always think, "Don' tell Joe! What if Santa wasn't him? He'll go crazy! I've seen Jackson 5: An American Dream - he doesn't handle anger well.
3. Baby It's Cold Outside - No means no, dude. Don't accept any drinks (not even half a drink) from that guy. This song reminds me of Kathy Bates in Misery.
4. Away in a Manger - I dislike the tune but love the alternate tune...not to mention the gnostic tendencies of "no crying he makes."
5. Grandma Got Ran Over by a Reindeer- Now that's the Christmas spirit! Grandma getting run over!

Okay, I'm going to eat lunch with my brother. Merry Christmas!