Home For The Holidays

Home For The Holidays

 I grew up in a predominantly Jewish area of New York City where Chanukah menorahs outnumbered Christmas trees in the apartment building where I lived. Chanukah is a Jewish holiday commemorating the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt against the Seleucid Empire. It is also known as the Festival of Lights and the Feast of Dedication. It is an eight day celebration of the miracle of one day’s supply of the Temple’s menorah oil lasting eight days.  It has its own charm and traditions such as the spinning of the dreidel, giving of gelt (money) and eating special holiday food such as latkes (potato pancakes).

For a comedic view of Chanukah, check out Adam Sandler’s parody: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uC1cv6D4Wb0)

In 1970 when I came to believe in the Messiah, I was amazed to discover the Jewish aspects of Christmas.  It takes place in a Jewish city, Bethlehem, as foretold by the Jewish prophet Micah (Micah 5:2).  It has a Jewish cast, as Mary and Joseph were devout Jews, and the story is about the Incarnation of the Divine Son as foretold by the Jewish prophet Isaiah. (Isaiah 9:6).

However, it wasn’t until 1973 after I married my wife Cheryl that I came to appreciate and experience the family aspects of the holiday season.  There was something magical about that Christmas Eve meal with all the children (and me) gathered in anticipation of opening their gifts. Year after year we gathered at Cheryl’s parents Clem and Kay’s house in Minnetonka with her brother Steve (and later, his wife Lisa and their three children Jenny, Tyler and Spencer), her sister Linda, our daughters Anna and Becky, and her grandfather George while he was living.

We missed the Christmas gathering in 1978 when we were living in New York on the campus of the non-profit organization where I was working.  However, we invited others who were away from their families to our home for Christmas that year.  It was not unlike Mary and Joseph who were also out of town pilgrims away from their family during that first Christmas, and in its own way it was a very special occasion for us that year.

In 1979 I started working for the Grumman Corporation.  Grumman closed its facilities from Christmas to New Years, so I was off work for the next ten days.  We had no particular plans for Christmas that year.  This was so unlike me, because I plan ahead for EVERYTHING.  I plan vacations a year or more in advance, but I had no plans for Christmas in 1979.

We came home from church on Sunday, December 23 and I asked Cheryl, “What are we going to do for Christmas?” Half jesting, she said, “Let’s drive to Minnesota.  If we leave now, we can be at my parent’s house for dinner on Christmas Eve.”  This insane idea really clicked with me, so 30 minutes later our car was packed with our two young daughters and their wrapped Christmas presents bound for the 24 hour trek to Minnesota.  We had an unexpected meeting with a deer in Western Pennsylvania that took out the right high beam headlight of our Toyota Corona, but the only other casualties of our trip were our daughter’s Baby Feel So Real dolls that froze solid in the trunk.

Our journey was filled with anticipation and excitement about surprising Cheryl’s family and being with them at Christmas after a year’s absence. Cheryl’s mother called us shortly before we left for Minnesota, but we didn’t divulge our plans to her.  Cheryl finally called her mother in Indiana and told her that we were on our way to their house. At first she didn’t believe Cheryl, but after it sunk in, she quickly bought more groceries and gifts for our daughters to open up on Christmas Eve.  This was a special Christmas and our most memorable as a family.

The next year I was still working for Grumman, and we planned our trip to Minnesota.  The trip was good, but it was not the same as the previous year.  However, all memories of Christmas time with my in-laws are precious, none to be taken for granted. These 20 years of family gatherings came to an abrupt end when my mother-in-law passed away in 1993, and my father-in-law passed away two years later.   We eventually established new family traditions, but we all remember that special unplanned Christmas gathering in 1979 when everybody was with us.

Here is a totally unrelated postscript to my 1979 Christmas story, but one that might encourage us whenever possible to move quickly to reconcile any broken family relationships – especially during this season when family gatherings are special.

My great grandmother lived to be 103.  She immigrated to the United States from Poland shortly after World War I.  She had a half sister who was ten years younger who she had a falling out with while they both lived in Europe.  They had nothing to do with each other for over 70 years.  However in the last year of my great grandmother’s life, she had to be moved to a nursing home; the same home where her half sister lived.  To make a long story short, they were reconciled there.  Life is too short to hold grudges; let there be peace on the earth and good will toward man.

holidays

Half Marathon Man

Half Marathon Man

Adlai Stevenson was a distinguished statesman and two-time Democratic presidential nominee. He lost the 1952 and 1956 presidential elections to the popular war hero Dwight D. Eisenhower.  He mounted a third attempt to secure the Democratic nomination for president in 1960, but he faced an even tougher challenge in the young and charismatic John F. Kennedy, who easily won the Democratic nomination and went on to win the presidential election that year.  Someone once asked Stevenson how it felt to lose, and he said “I was reminded of a story that a fellow townsman of ours used to tell – Abraham Lincoln. They asked him how he felt once after an unsuccessful election. He said he felt like a little boy who had stubbed his toe in the dark. He said that he was too old to cry, but it hurt too much to laugh.”

It must have been a tough ten-year period for Adlai Stevenson filed with periods of hope and anticipation which ultimately ended in defeat. I know the feeling. For me, it was a ten-year attempt to break the four-hour barrier in the marathon.  There were 15 attempts between 1989 and 1999.  There were five attempts at the Twin Cities Marathon. There were plane trips to Chicago, Philadelphia, Seattle, Jacksonville, Sacramento, and New York, and return trips with mixed feelings of accomplishment and disappointment.

Only one half of one percent of the U.S. population has completed a marathon, and I have completed 15.  Those who followed my journey would often say to me, “At least you finished.”  However, this was no consolation to me.  Those who are frequent marathoners know what I am talking about.

I was a good half-marathoner though, and I usually broke two hours in my early years of running.  I ran my best half in Mora, MN in 1990 on a hilly course in 1:45.  Based on those results, I should have broken four hours in the marathon that year.  My problem year after year though was GI discomfort as I reached the 20-mile mark that forced me to walk the next six miles.

That period was the cardio and carb era when we were taught to maximize our mileage and our intake of carbohydrates.  I believe that this strategy contributed to my GI distress.  If I knew and practiced then what I know and practice now about strength training and balanced diet, I for sure would not have experienced GI distress, and I would have broken four hours in several of my marathon attempts, but the opportunity passed me by.

Back in fifth grade, my good friend Mark Schlosberg said to me, “Michael, you are not the strongest or the fastest (among our group of friends), but you have the most endurance.”  These words have had prophetic significance to me over the years, and they still ring true to me today evidenced by the fact that I am still working out regularly and teaching others how to enjoy the benefits of staying active.

Adlai Stevenson never attained the presidency, but he served in many governmental roles including Governor of Illinois and U.S. Secretary to the United Nations, which is not too shabby of a political legacy.  Half marathons may not be as glamorous as full marathons, and I have completed 64 of them, so I guess being a half marathon man is pretty good too.

Valley2006-1

The Summers of ’69 and ‘19

The Summers of ’69 and ‘19

Those were the best days of my life – Bryan Adams

These are the best days of my life – Me

I attended the original Woodstock in 1969, and I attended the 50-year reunion in 2019.  Then I had more hair; now I have more wisdom.  Then I was looking for the purpose of life; now I have the prize of life.  Then I had my whole life ahead of me; now I have my granddaughter’s life ahead of me.

I still have my health, and I have more wealth.  My family has expanded, but not my waistline. The music has changed, and so have I. I will my take life now at 67 over the life I had then at 17.

 

How to Make Friends and Influence People in Cyberspace

How to Make Friends and Influence People in Cyberspace

The book “How to Make Friends and Influence People” was published in 1936, 12 years before Al Gore was a glimmer in his parent’s eye and 30 years before the Internet was a glimmer in anyone’s eye.  I am not sure how the great motivator Dale Carnegie would address this subject today as it relates to 21st Century social media.  Cyberspace can be a far more complex environment to navigate than the tangible world.

The opening paragraph is all that remains from my original post on this topic.  I am also keeping the following statement: Mr. Carnegie, you sure had a much simpler world to speak into than we have today.  Other than that, everything else in this post is brand new, because I continue to learn how to communicate better and understand and manage the complexities of human interactions in cyberspace.

I did manage to increase my Facebook friends from 400 to over 600, but I have pretty much held steady at 630 this year.  I gain new friends every now and then to replace the ones that either drop me intentionally or drop social media entirely or pass away.  Some of my friends have effortlessly amassed one, two or three thousand Facebook friends.  I have no idea how they did that.  It took every ounce of effort I could muster to add an additional 200 friends during the previous two years.

My batting average has improved since I curtailed sending out friend requests.  Previously, I was no better than 50% at best in predicting who would accept my friend request. I have been surprised by people who have rejected my friend requests and I have been equally surprised by some people who have sent me friend requests.   I have been rejected by some longtime friends, co-workers, people who I work out with regularly, neighbors and even some relatives. Men and woman alike.  It hurts sometimes, and I have to get over the weirdness of seeing people who choose not to accept my cyberspace friend request the next time I see them in person.

I understand though, and I respect people’s boundaries.  I, however, accept all friend requests from people that I know.  Maybe I will get to 700 friends someday. I am a blogger and I am very at ease opening up my life to others, but not everyone feels the same way as me. I am always looking for ways to expand my reading audience, so I love to make friends and influence people in cyberspace.

I have developed a well-groomed algorithm for when and for whom I will either like or comment about a post. This is based on factors such as age difference, gender, length of friendship and whether our friendship is fresh and developing or distant and fading.  Sometimes, I just respond spontaneously, but I carefully avoid political discussions and controversy.  However, I always send birthday and anniversary greetings to my friends, and my sympathy when a loved one passes.

I put a lot of thought and effort into my writings, so I am always waiting on pins and needles to see who and how many people will either like or comment about my posts. I know that I don’t always hit the mark with everyone, but I know very clearly that people enjoy the pictures of my granddaughter better than my writings.  I can’t say that I blame them.

 

Quiet Time

Quiet Time

This Saturday began like all others.  Today though was my annual 10-mile trek around the three Minneapolis Lakes (Harriet, Bde Maka Ska, and Isles).  I was already prepared to navigate the course at a slower pace than normal because I needed a time of recovery from leaving it all on the course last week at Lola’s 10-mile race. So, I plugged in my earbuds and cranked up my tunes and began my walk.  About five minutes into it, I was acutely aware that the music was not working for me today.  Normally, I can preserve the quietness of my spirit on one track while listening to the pulsating beats on my soul track.  Today was different though, so I put my iPhone and earbuds away and converged both my soul and spirit into one quiet place.

This was a particularly beautiful day in the Twin Cities.  The weather was perfect, the flora and fauna were splendid, my body was doing what I love to do, and my spirit and soul were in a quiet place. Without the music, I was tuned in to the snippets of conversations of people who I passed along the way dealing with life, death, health, work and the hopes that they expressed to their friends this Saturday morning.  There were a few recognizable faces along the way.  None more so than former Minnesota Viking and Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Alan Page.  He was nursing an injury today, so I offered up a prayer on his behalf.  This is the least I could do for a great man who has served our State with distinction.  Had I been more attentive to my music than the quietness of my soul, I might have missed this opportunity to bless him.

There were also some personal matters that I needed to work though this morning, and this 2.5 hour of quiet time facilitated the best in my thinking process.  For one, I came to the conclusion that I indeed have one more fun 13.1 race in me, so Mankato here I come this October!

Today I also decided to lock into a program that will culminate in completing the requirements necessary to become a board-certified Life Coach.  This program builds on my already attained social science related master’s degree and experience dealing with people’s spiritual, psychological, physical, relational and purpose goals.  This additional credential will enable me to offer my clients a broader range of options.  Ultimately what I have to offer my clients is myself, and developing my competencies and understanding will enable me to serve them better.

Sometimes quietness speaks a loud and distinct message to our soul.

The Fun Factor

The Fun Factor

Recently, former Los Angeles Laker’s basketball great Magic Johnson resigned from his position as President of Basketball Operations for the team.  Whatever factors might have contributed to his decision, his tearful statement stands out, “I want to go back to having fun.”  Apparently, whatever degree of satisfaction his position afforded him, there was a deficit in what I would call the fun factor.

If I had to plot my own fun factor on the continuum of responsibility on one end of the spectrum, and fun on the other, I would plot myself clearly on the side of responsibility.  That is, throughout my life whenever I have had a choice to make between doing something that was responsible versus doing something that was fun, I have consistently made the responsible choice. Where some people need to learn how to be more responsible, I have needed to learn how to lighten up a bit and have more fun.

This commitment to living responsibly has served me well over the years and will continue to do so.  It has kept me unwaveringly committed to the fidelity of my marriage vows.  It has kept me on the course of working hard, saving, and managing my finances well.  And it continues to guide my decisions to consistently choose to live a healthy lifestyle.

My faith has played a major role in my desire to live a responsible life. However, faith and fun are not mutually exclusive terms. Pastor John Piper in his 1986 book “Desiring God” used the term” Christian hedonism” to describe the concept that “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.” By Christian hedonism, we do not mean that our happiness is the highest good. We mean that pursuing the highest good will always result in our greatest happiness in the end.

So how does this apply to having fun?  Answer: there is a good fun and a not so good fun. Let’s use the three examples in my life that I listed above: fidelity, finances and fitness.

Marriage is meant to be fun, and so is sex.  Some people explore sex outside of their marriage relationship because it apparently appears to be fun.  I wouldn’t know, because I never want to go there.  I couldn’t live with the guilt and hurt and mistrust that this would cause me and the people that I know and love, so I will forgo this type of not so good fun and confine this type of fun to my wife.

I have worked and saved diligently over the years.  This enabled me to pay off my mortgage early, purchase all my cars with cash and save for the type of retirement that I currently enjoy.  I have also had a lot of fun with my finances along the way, and enjoyed vacations and luxury items.  I just limit my spending to what I can afford.  Buying things on credit is just not good fun for me. I have more fun living within my means and limiting my spending to what my budget allows.

Working out and eating healthy are also a lot of fun.  I enjoy a good pizza and other less optimally healthy foods from time to time, but 90% of the time I choose foods that are nutritious and taste good as well.  To me it is more fun to have a body in optimal health than jeopardize my health by making unhealthy choices.  I don’t live in legalism about this, because that is not fun either.  I just enjoy a healthy life style more than an unhealthy one.

So, how can I make my life even more fun?  Recently, I made a few decisions to optimize my fun factor. For example, I suspended my master’s program in kinesiology because it wasn’t fun anymore.  I have been a responsible student, but this is a season to lay off the academics for a while because rest and feeling refreshed is a lot more fun than being under the added stress and time crunch of completing assignments.  I still enjoy learning in other ways because this too is fun.

Another thing I dropped was my goal to complete 70 half marathons by my 70th birthday.  I have lived with race goals for over 20 years, and for the most part, it was a lot of fun. However, this time around, I decided to stop at 64, because I love to go 10 miles, but 13.1 was not fun anymore. Maybe I will go for my 65th half-marathon for my grand finale race in two years.  We will see where this registers on my fun-o-meter.

It is not that everything in life has to be fun.  Some things are downright hard. The point is why do something that you don’t have to do that is no longer fun to do anymore. Magic Johnson served in his role with the Lakers for two years and played for them 13 years previously.  That was enough for him.  I am sure that the position of President of Basketball Operations for the Los Angeles Lakers would be a fun position for someone else now.  Let Magic do what works for him now.  And I will get home from my 10-mile Saturday walk, spend time with my wife and granddaughter, and enjoy the healthy quinoa that I bought in bulk to save money.

121 Words

121 Words

This year I started to submit my writings to several online publishing sites.  One of my favorites is 121 Words.  Their tagline is “All you need for a great story.”  The challenge is expressing your ideas concisely into exactly 121 words; no more and no less.  So far, I have had ten stories published including the following three that deal with Faith, Fitness, and Family (though not specifically mentioned).  I have also included a link below in case you are interested in reading all ten of my stories.  Each story is a unique expression of a message that is on my heart.

To give you an idea of what you can say in 121 words, this introduction is exactly 121 words.

  • Am I Running with You Jesus?

In 1969 I read the book Are You Running with Me Jesus? I don’t remember much about it, but today I ask myself, “Am I running with you Jesus?”

In the final scene of the movie Saving Private Ryan, Ryan, as an older man, sees the grave of Captain Miller and says “I have tried to live my life the best that I could.  I hope that was enough.  I hope that at least in your eyes I have earned what all of you have done for me.” Then he says to his wife, “Tell me I have led a good life. Tell me I’m a good man.”

Her response was, “You are.”

May Jesus’ evaluation of me be the same.

  • Carl Lewis, Baby!

Carl Lewis is considered by many to be the greatest track and field athlete of all time, accumulating nine Olympic gold medals, ten Olympic medals, and eight gold medals at the World Championships in his illustrious career.

This is how he described his race strategy, “My thoughts before a big race are usually pretty simple. I tell myself: Get out of the blocks, run your race, stay relaxed.  If you run your race, you’ll win. Channel your energy.  Focus.”

Similarly, as I take my place in the second row for another 60 minutes of kick-a$$ high intensity group fitness work, I look in the mirror, take a deep breath and think to myself, “Yeah, I can do this. Carl Lewis, baby!”

  • Life is a Fartlek

 The saying “Life is a marathon not a sprint” is only partially true.  Life generally plays out in long slow strides.  However, there are also sprints in life that require sudden burst of energy. That’s why a better metaphor for life is a “fartlek”.  Unless you are a competitive runner, you might not be familiar with this awful sounding word.

Fartlek, or “speed play” in Swedish, is a training method that blends continuous training with interval training.  Fartlek training is simply defined as periods of fast running intermixed with periods of slower running.

 Therefore, we need to learn when to speed up and when to slow down our lives; this is the true meaning of fartlek or speed play living.

https://www.urnovl.co/user/BJLD-FxZW/profile?novl=aX9sTcnC5&fbclid=IwAR1EzsFeY8iMoG0BsXEZz-6yDbwpOR_AGRmQuxHNQOLxo1izuzvj0QlECeY

 

Finding ITT

Finding ITT

In the movie “City Slickers” Billy Crystal’s character, Mitch, is alone with Curly, played by Jack Palance. Curly gives Mitch some life advice.

Curly: Do you know what the secret of life is?
[holds up one finger] This.
Mitch: Your finger?
Curly: One thing. Just one thing.
Mitch: But what is the “one thing?”
Curly: That’s what you have to find out.

To paraphrase Curly, Mitch needed to find his IT.

Two years ago, I made a decision to retire from the corporate world and pursue a career in health and fitness.  As I have stated previously, I looked at this as a re-tirement or a re-equipping rather than a retirement or cession from work.

However, it was on a Saturday morning walk in May 2017 that my vague plan started to become clearer.  During my usual walk to Hopkins on the LRT, the Scripture 1 Kings 19:15-16 came to my mind.  It tells the story of God giving Elijah three specific tasks to perform before his life’s mission was over.  I didn’t know then how this applied to me, but one year later, I knew what my three tasks were in priority order.

I found my ITT.

  • INVEST in Violet, my granddaughter. My time, money and attention are devoted to her. This represents my commitment to family first.
  • TRAIN my clients. Develop and apply my skills as a health and fitness professional. This represents my commitment to my vocation which is helping people.
  • TEACH anyone who is interested. Share the truths and insights that I have learned during my life.  This is expressed in my writing and broader calling.

Now two years later, that is exactly what I am doing.  I have re-prioritized my activities and eliminated others so that I can focus my attention on fulfilling my ITT.  I don’t know when my life’s mission will be over or whether there will be other adjustments along the way, but I am confident that I am doing now what God has laid out before me.

Sometimes adjustments come in the form of pruning.  In the horticultural world, we know that pruning a tree is necessary to sustain growth.  That is, sometimes the skillful pruner will cut back a fruitful branch which diminishes the outward appearance of health in the short term but contributes to the long-term health of the tree.

This recently happened to me. I had been in a mode of adding activities to my schedule. First, it was school, then it was an additional two day a week commitment as a personal trainer at the Ridgedale YMCA. Eventually, my internal homeostatic stress sensor began to register amber. At first, I ignored it, but then after an abbreviated night of sleep, I made the decision to drop my second Spring class in the ATSU kinesiology program.
This decision was made from my ITT perspective. My school work was taking time away from what could have been spent with my granddaughter. The information that I was learning was useful, but not critical to what I need to serve my clients better at this time. In terms of my third priority, being stressed is not a good example of teaching others about healthy living.
I am thinking about returning to the kinesiology program this Fall. So far, I earned an “A” in my initial course on Evidence-Based Practice and Research, and an additional “A” for staying on my life’s course.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6r9iX39wUAg

Music for the Body and Soul

Music for the Body and Soul

Music has always been a big part of my life.  I was raised in my Bronx apartment in the 50’s and 60’s with a backdrop of my mother listening to Perry Como, Andy Williams and Andre Kostelanetz on AM radio.  My first taste of rock n’ roll were the words “You ain’t nothin’ but a hound dog” sung by the King himself in 1956.  And then came the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show in February 1964 that changed everything for me.  I was glued to the radio from that moment on, and all of my paper route money went for vinyl.  The never-ending succession of fresh music by the British bands, the sounds of Motown and others stoked the flame that consumed me during my teenage years. I went from concert to concert in the Village, and I was there at Woodstock in the 5th row throughout the iconic concert by legendary guitarist Jimi Hendrix.

My life changed dramatically in 1970 when I came to faith, and so did my musical tastes.   Contemporary Christian artists such as Phil Keaggy, Keith Green and Lamb captivated me for two decades.  I still turn to gospel music today when my soul needs uplifting and my spirit aspires to worship God.  However, missing much of the secular sounds of the 70’s and 80’s, I was reintroduced to the great dance sounds of pop and rock music that I was exposed to in the group fitness classes that I have been doing since 1989.

The music that eventually captivated my soul for the next 25 years was the great sounds of contemporary jazz.  I loved the upbeat instrumentals that characterize this genre, because it gave me great freedom to create my own lyrics for these songs in the tune of my life.

More recently, I have been listening to the electronic dance sounds that now accompany me on my long walks and workouts.  This music brings both my body and soul into a positive place. Although I am not a musician, I score surprisingly high in musical intelligence on multiple intelligence assessments because these often measure the broader capacity to intuit, be instinctual, and read patterns which describe me pretty well.  Music moves my body and energizes my soul.

During high school my career ambition was to be a disk jockey.  That vocation never materialized, but I get to live my dream today by mixing my own Spotify playlists for the group fitness classes that I teach.  I particularly like to put together choreographed routines that I use for warm-ups for my strength-based classes, and content for my cardio classes.

So now, I have the privilege of sharing with you my latest choreographed routine using the newly released single “Just Like You” by my favorite dance/electronic group The Satin Jackets.

 

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The Value of Work

The Value of Work

“How dull it is to pause, to make an end,
To rest unburnished, not to shine in use!
As though to breathe were life!”

During my five years working at UnitedHealthcare, I would periodically attend meetings at the headquarters building in Minnetonka.  I was often greeted there by Lee Werness, a receptionist, who always had a smile on her face and an encouraging word on her lips.  Although I only saw her once every month or so, she knew my name and always shared something encouraging with me. One day she wasn’t there, and I learned that she had recently passed away as a result of a sudden stroke.  I later learned through her obituary that she was 82 years old.

In his classic poem “Ulysses”, Tennyson describes an old age of idleness as a burden rather than a gift, and he yearns to “shine in use.”  Lee was definitely a shining light at the UnitedHealthcare headquarters building, doing what she was meant to do down to her last days.

In the book “The Mirage and Dignity on the Highways of Human ‘Progress’” author Lukman Harees promotes the value of work. “Our life is an odd mixture of different moments of action and inaction, work and rest. Work provides us with an inner creative joy. It saves us from the dullness and boredom of life. It puts our energies to proper use. Unused energies create disorders in us. They make us physically unhealthy and mentally unhappy. Time hangs heavy on our shoulders when there is no work. It provides us with money for our livelihood. It makes our life meaningful and peaceful. Idleness is more tiresome and painful than work. Even the most unpaid, unimportant and unpleasant work is better than no work.”

In the book “Every Good Endeavor – Connecting Your Work to God’s Work” author Timothy Keller describes the pattern of work as rearranging the raw material of God’s creation in such a way that it helps the world in general and people in particular thrive and flourish.  If we are to be God’s image bearers with regard to creation, then we will carry on his pattern of work.   In chapter three, he cites a number of examples:

The pattern is found in all kinds of work.  Farming takes the physical material of soil and seed and produces food.  Music takes the physics of sound and rearranges it into something beautiful and thrilling that brings meaning to life.  When we take fabric and make a piece of clothing, when we push a broom and clean up a room, when we use technology too harness the forces of electricity, when we take an uninformed, naïve human mind and teach it a subject, when we teach a couple how to resolve their relational disputes, when we take simple materials and turn them into a poignant work of art – we are continuing God’s work of forming, filling and subduing.  Whenever we bring order out of chaos, whenever we elaborate and “unfold” creation beyond where it was when we found it, we are following God’s pattern of creative cultural development. In fact, our word “culture” comes from the idea of cultivation.  Just as he subdued the earth with his work of creation, so he calls us now to labor as his representatives in a continuation and extension of that work of subduing.

This is what I have been trying to do in my 50 years in the workforce.  As a programmer, I transformed electronic bits and bytes into useful business applications. As a project manager, I used people and planning to improve business processes.  Now as a personal trainer, I use kineseology and personal care to help improve the health and fitness of my clients.

Lee transformed an ordinary reception desk into a fountain of encouragement, so why stop working at a particular age?  After all, Minnesota sports journalist Sid Hartman still writes his column at 99 years old!