Workout Wednesday

Let’s talk about timing.

Right now, this is my day’s bodyweight workout:

Jumping Jacks404160
Hop Heel Clicks20480
Plank Jump-Ins20480
Grand Total600

This works well right now. I’m trying to build endurance, and rest less frequently between (or, in the case of sit-ups generally and the third set particularly, within) sets, because I’ll lose myself in thought and also, not exercising is always better than exercising. I’m trying to get down to the workout above in 20 minutes.

And right now, I’m hitting about 21’10”, on average. I wonder if that’s all right–it’s the difference of 70 seconds–but I have gotten faster since I’ve started timing things.

The faster pace is for two reasons, I’d bet. One: I’m doing eighty sit-ups in a workout right now, which I’m pretty dang proud of. But I’d like to have better flow, and better control–I bet there’s something different about doing 20 sit-ups in a row versus 5 and 5 and 6 and 4 with little bursts of rest between. And two: I really want to hit a thousand, but keep my morning schedule in tact.

Hitting 1,000 looks like this, by the way:

Jumping Jacks505250
Hop Heel Clicks305150
Plank Jump-Ins305150

If I can get all that done in 30 minutes, I’ll be happy. So here’s the steps I am going to take by the end of the year to accomplish this:

  1. Get down to 20 minutes on four sets.
  2. Increase the number of reps to 25.
  3. Get down to 22 minutes on four sets.
  4. Increase the number of sets to 5.
  5. Increases the reps of jumping jacks to 50.
  6. Get up to five sets, 50×5 and 30x5x5.

I believe I can do this, except as I finish the second set! But it’s an achievable goal, I believe.

Now if I could only find a replacement for plank jump-ins, because I hate them. Any suggestions, fitness folks who may have stumbled upon this blog?

Monday Mull (Ephesians 2:11-22)

So, I was born and raised in Saint Louis, Missouri. It’s home to the most divisive team in the National League, the Saint Louis Cardinals. (The most hated team in the NL is still the Cubs; the most divisive team in baseball is the Yankees, obviously.) It is the birthplace of toasted ravioli, the St. Paul sandwich (look it up if you dare), and provel cheese, which if you’ve never had it, you should avoid at all costs. (What if we made cheese… from rubber…)

And, most important to this post’s purposes, Saint Louis is home to the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial Gateway Arch National Park.

Honorably borrowed, and cited, from The Riverfront Times, another Saint Louis institution.

Growing up in Saint Louis, you know things about the Arch without remembering how or when they entered one’s memory. The middle section of the Arch is a keystone, and because the Arch is a catenary curve, like this–

Thank you, Wikipedia

–the Arch can stand of its own accord. It’s a long-time architectural feat; it is neither magical nor mundane. But it is the center piece of the Arch, the keystone, that holds it all together.

In Ephesians 2:11-22, Christ is described as the cornerstone of the Church. And I get that–cornerstones are laid first; cornerstones are the marker by which every other stone, brick, and object is placed in the construction of a building. But in the text, there’s this drawing together of us and them, of those far away and those who are near. Of those we already love, and those we may struggle to as we become more like Christ. And while sure, we can build up and out, I prefer to think we are linked–unable to stand on our own, without Christ as keystone-as-cornerstone, as best as a keystone can be a corner, since catenary curves don’t have… corners…

Here’s to mixing metaphors mathematically!

An Unintentional Week Away

One of the things we’ve discerned, and we prioritize, as a family is growing our family. We are a foster home, and we have had some kids staying with us this week. It’s been great. My schedule has shifted as we figure out timing and rhythm, and blog posts have fallen to the wayside.

AND, if I’m being honest–I’ve put up some posts lately that were just checking a box for me. Literally, I have a row on my daily tracker “arthurthelesser,” and if I post a blog (or schedule a draft, you don’t know) I check it off. But there have been some posts where I think, “If I had time, or energy, or the desire, I’d do more with this.” There are some posts I don’t write because they would take more energy! So is this a microblog with nothing really expounded upon, or do I need to post less but more thoroughly?

Working One Hour a Week (Part Three)

Previously, I wrote about serving as theologian in residence, and in providing and equipping for pastoral care. Today, I’d like to briefly write about Sabbath.

My intentional days off are Friday and Saturday. Because people do not work on Saturdays, they are sometimes the best time to meet or gather. Because the Holy Spirit will not be contained to particular hours for inspiration and transformation, sermons are sometimes written or edited or tossed out and restarted on Saturdays. Saturdays are a bonus, is what I think I’m trying to say. So my day of rest, my Sabbath, is Friday.

And I am strict with it. I answer my phone only for emergencies, I do not check or respond to e-mail. I do not work if I can help it–even if the sermon’s not done or a class is not prepped or if there’s a thousand things to do, and it’s for one simple reason:

There will always be more to do in ministry.

I know one person–one–who has suggested he’s ever just been done with his task list for the day. And he was an Associate Minister who later had his job expanded. Every other pastor I know can work eighty hours a week, every week, if they choose to. And plenty of them do. And I used to, and then I realized my boundaries were breachable, my rest was raucous, and I was not setting a good example.

God rests on the seventh day. Not for a few hours each day. Not half a day here and there. Not a month after nearly having a nervous breakdown. One day of rest, each week. The pyramids will still get built, the weeds will still be there to be pulled, the world will still run and devour everything we throw at it. We each can take a day.

(I recognize some folks cannot; they must work too much to scratch by. I want to be a better advocate for them, and lead people in serving their needs. Thus, Sabbath.)

Does taking a strong day off influence the congregation? Perhaps. Leading by example and not decree takes time; developing a rhythm, and then examining it in community, is a process.

Chess by Voice Text

Before the pandemic, a couple of kids in my congregation would come to the church early with their dad, who had praise band practice. If I was free–and because I am organized and prepared usually always, I was–we’d play chess. That is, I’d play both of them at once–though the younger brother played more in order to lose and raid the consolation candy drawer.

His older brother is very smart and very spatial and has a knack for the game. (The younger brother is also very smart, chess just isn’t his thing. Yet?) So we’ve started playing by voice text, using algebraic notation.

I never thought it would be as fun as it is. I am flattered and honored that he initiated the game today–usually I’m harassing him (with his parents’ knowledge) to play a quick game. I won by the skin of my teeth, and told him so today. We’ll play again Monday, and I just can’t wait.

Workout Wednesday (7/22/20)

Enter: the Bicycle!

We found a bicycle refurbisher just south of us, and I picked up a blue 7-speed. B’s been teaching me how to best shift gears–yes, I rode a 21 speed bike and had no idea–and we’ve done a few rides.

I haven’t driven to work this week. Rode my bike Sunday, rode over on Monday, rode over yesterday. I’m enjoying it! I’ve made myself a deal: if I do six miles or more on my bike, I’m not as worried about hitting ten thousand steps. But some days, I hope to do all of it. All of it! Bodyweight exercises (recently hit 600 but struggling on timing on weekdays) and walking and steps and bicycling… just being active.

It’s kind of amazing, too–I can’t just eat what I want, even if I’m super active, and reasonably expect my weight to go down. But that’s for next week, surely.

Monday Mull: Ephesians 2:1-10

What does it mean to be a child of wrath, anyhow?

There’s a lot going on in this Ephesians passage–there’s a lot going on in Ephesians, as I do this long, deep study on the fly through September–and per the norm on these posts, I pick the first thing that stands out to mull on as the first step in the sermon:

“we were by nature children of wrath, like everyone else,” (2:3, NRSV)

I don’t know if I would have seen that a few months ago. (I don’t know if I’d be preaching Ephesians, were things as they were a few months ago anyhow!) But we’ve become so reactionary now, so content in being discontented and so willing to fake or take offense as needed to signal our disagreements, that sometimes, the world seems impossibly screwed.

Full disclosure: I’m reading The Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler right now. It’s very, very good, and so deep I sometimes have to shake back to this slightly better reality.

What if part of our faith is not only curtailing our own wrath, but abandoning it to starve? What if we do not let people who operate in such rage and anger have a seat at the table until they cool down and walk it off, a bit? What happens if we insist they have not earned their seat, they have no right to it (nor do we) but once they accept what God has done and engage it as we have been called to as a community, we might move forward?


For a few years, B and I have wavered in practicing a vegan diet. We’re not going to be all-out, but we do not avoid it. Veganesque is a good term for it. Or, con-vegan-ient.

I really like Thug Kitchen, the vulgar vegan cookbook that has really simple, tasty food in it. I’ve enjoyed The Veganomicon, and also discovering nutritional yeast (NOOCH). I’ve noticed in pre-made vegan items, there’s a reliance on palm oil, which gives me pause; palm oil is unethical. I mean, there’s no ethical consumption under capitalism; nothing is without cost, nothing is without process.

And, too, I thrive on convenience. Throwing chicken breasts on the smoker (which is amazing) and having a quick lunch or dinner option in the fridge? Priceless. But I’m participating in systems I don’t like. I should just move to a farm somewhere. Get off the grid, electrify a fence or two.

Of course that’s a pipe dream. And of course, we can do the next right thing, which is to examine the cost of life and labor in what we eat, weighed against convenience, cost and culture.

I don’t even know what this means yet. But it is on my mind. Perhaps it’s a couple meals a week to start. And I’ll post about it here.

Funerals in the Time of Corona

I received word on Monday that a nonagenarian in the congregation I serve had died. She was feisty, incredibly kind, and sharp as a tack, for almost a century. Moving forward, the family opted to have a memorial service at a funeral home, and then a graveside service today. It was the first funeral I’ve done since before the lockdowns and times of masking. Here’s some observations from today.

  1. It was strange, but it was not bad. Different. We still proclaimed the good news, we remembered and celebrated a life well-lived. We were all wearing masks, we were spread out in the chapel.
  2. It was okay to stream on Facebook Live. Ten people joined us on the livestream because they would not come to the service–and we were able to connect them anyhow.
  3. As there was no singing nor communion planned in the service, those hurdles did not have to be jumped.
  4. I shook hands because of reflex, and I sanitized my hands frequently. Kept my mask on if I was within ten feet of anyone. I did not feel exposed nor at risk. I hope I’m not wrong!

The Church can adapt, the Church can change, the Church can grow in these moments. We are called to faithful witness, not comfortable process.

“… give thanks for life…”