Category Archives: Totally Secular and Random

What Am I Doing?

I don’t say much about my personal life here. This blog is mostly for sermons and quotes. Now and then I’ll write something personal. Now and then is right now.

Since November, 2014 I’ve lost 42 pounds. I’ve lost at least two, going on three, pant sizes. I’m down a couple inches in neck size. Shirts I haven’t worn in ten years now fit. I had to give away about three diaper boxes full of golf shirts that look like a tent when I wear them.

The big question is, “What are you doing?” So I’ll tell you what I am doing.

  1. I work out three times a week at Elite PT One-On-One Personal Training in Bourbonnais, IL. My PT once worked for Impact Fitness in Bradley, IL. That business closed in late March. Ron (my PT) went out on his own and opened a new facility in about a week’s time. It’s an amazing story and I couldn’t be more proud of him for doing it. Monday is chest and shoulders day. Wednesday is leg day. Thursday is back and biceps day, aka, “Deadlift Day”. I set a new personal best yesterday, deadlifting 405 pounds. I know, it’s heavy, but it’s doable if you know what you’re doing. I try to do some cardio time every workout day, but some days are better than other days.
  2. I see a health coach every fortnight at Green and Healthy in Bradley, IL. Tammy (my health coach) practices Integrative Nutrition, weaving body, mind, and spirit together in a cohesive whole. She has helped me form a better relationship with food. She continues to help me break down walls in my life that have been erected over time. I am in a much better place mentally than I have been in many years. There’s still work to do here, but I’m happy where I’m at now.
  3. I make better choices about what to put inside my body. We drink raw milk. We like to know where all our food comes from. I rarely drink pop. I drink more water. I eat less. I enjoy every bite of what I eat. Yes, there are those times when fast food is the only choice, but I make as good of a choice as I can when those times come. For the first time in my life, I am eating to live rather than living to eat. I can’t thank my wife and our children for being my best cheerleaders in the food department!

I am a person who needs accountability. Some people are able to make lifestyle changes on their own. God bless them. I can’t do it. I need accountability. I have a great accountability crew that help keep me focused. I’d like to lose about another 25 pounds. That will put me where I would like to be for now. I’m happy with my body. There’s always more work to be done. I’m up for the task.

If you need to make a lifestyle change, don’t wait. Do it now. You can do it. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and/or for accountability if and when you need it. Finally, don’t be bashful to do something for yourself. You deserve it.


Some Stories on My Father’s 83rd Birthday

My father, Marvin L. Juhl, turns 83 years old today. He has never been a big birthday guy. It reminds him that he’s another year closer to the grave. At any rate, when you hit 83, you celebrate whether you want to or not. They are having Dairy Queen Ice Cream Cake back home tonight. Good choice.

My dad is bull-headed, but that what makes him a wonderful man. I often joke with family and friends about the “Marv Juhl Lecture Series”, wherein my father will give you a long-winded monologue on his thoughts about anything and everything, especially when you ask his advice concerning a big decision that needs to be made. I received a number of front row seats to my father’s lecture series when I was growing up. When I had a fender bender in the high school parking lot, I heard a 30 minute lecture on being more careful. When I made a mistake in life, there was dad with another installment of the lecture series. He’s always right, you know. Just ask him! 😉

Then there are those times when he made a sacrifice for something he thought right. In the summer of 1988 the high school golf team was defunded by the school board. Money was tight and it was a cost-cutting move. There would have been one senior and six juniors, not to mention a handful of freshmen and sophomores, ready to play golf. We would have been a strong second in the conference behind perennial powerhouse Nashville. My golf coach went to a school board meeting to plead for the team. My dad wanted to be there too, and he told me I was coming with him. This was unprecedented.

We go to the meeting. Coach valiantly tries to get the team reinstated to no avail. Then my dad stood up and said a sentence that brought audible gasps from the gathering, including from the school board and my golf coach.

“Would you accept a personal check?”

Right there my father wrote a check for ~$1,600, knowing full well it never would be cashed. He worked for two summers to put together a benefit golf scramble to fund the high school golf program. After my class graduated, coach decided he didn’t want to coach anymore. Six seniors graduated. I remember my dad ripping up his personal check as a marker in case the money wouldn’t be there. He did it with a smile on his face.

My best high school memories were those men I was privileged to play with on the golf course. Friendships were formed. We were more than friends. We were brothers. Long bus trips bonded lifetime memories. Scores? Wins and losses? They are gone in the mist of time. Relationships? Still there, though not as close as the years go by. But now and again, every few years, and this weekend is one of those times, we get together, play some golf, and make some more memories.

My dad had much to do with it. I’ll never be able to thank him enough for it. After all, he taught me the game.

One more thing. My mom and dad drove with me to Fort Wayne, IN on September 9, 1998 when I moved into Dorm Q and began seminary formation for the Ministry. They stayed the night to make sure I got moved in and settled. When they left the next day, it was not my mother who cried when they left.

It was dad. He bawled like a baby. I had only seen that once before in my life: when he escorted my sister down the aisle at her wedding. Later he told me it was at that moment that he finally knew why I had come along when I did. I was meant to be given back to the Lord, as the Lord had given me to them as a gift in their late 30’s after my siblings were almost all grown and gone. Like Samuel, I was lent to the Lord as I was lent to my parents. I have always found that comforting, especially as my parents grow in years and as I grow in years and have children of my own.

Happy Birthday, Dad. I love you.



Fare Thee Well Weekend

About an hour north of where I’m sitting right now, three concerts will take place that are supposed to close the curtain on 50 years of great music.

I’ve been on the bus since 2005. This summer marks ten years of obsession with The Grateful Dead. Let me tell you about when I got on the bus.

I was driving to the 2005 HT Conference in St. Louis, MO, where I was asked to present a sectional. On the way there and back again, I pulled “What A Long, Strange Trip It’s Been” from the tape case and popped it into my wife’s Saturn’s tape deck. Something happened during that long four-hour, two-way trip. I heard the music like I had never heard it before. Oh, sure, like many people I had bought a couple Dead CDs in college. I even bought “Europe ’72” on vinyl.

This time, though, the music never stopped. I began to buy their albums (new and used) and build a collection. Once I moved to Momence and had access to broadband internet, I started downloading full concerts. I have a ton of CDs full of concerts I’ve burned over the years, most of them from the “Primal Dead” time between 1968-1972.

Favorite album? “Anthem of the Sun”. Without a doubt.
Favorite show? 2/14/68. Amazing show. Much of “Anthem” came from that show. A close second would be 6/7/70. There are many others I could mention.

My Latest Musical Discovery

And now for something totally secular and random, here’s Wishbone Ash with “Blind Eye”. Wishbone Ash was perhaps the first group to use twin lead guitars. If not the first, then certainly one of the first, perhaps with The Allman Brothers Band.

Clergy Appreciation Month Suggestions from A Friend

My friend Tabitha Moldenhauer recently shared a list of what she considers to be appropriate and inappropriate gifts for Clergy Appreciation Month. She has graciously allowed me to share this list with you, the at-home reader. It may seem presumptuous that a pastor is sharing this list, but it is written by a layman, so keep that in mind.

Bad gifts
1. Potluck at church. You appreciate the pastor so much that you’re making him stay for yet another potluck…in the church building…where he works. Does that sound like fun to you? Would you like it if your employer made you stay at your workplace in your uniform for an extra couple hours instead of being able to go home and watch football on a Sunday afternoon?
2. Christian kitsch. If you wouldn’t want a clock that plays North American birdsong set to crappy hymnody every hour or a velvet blanket with a giant Jesus face on it, guess what? Neither does your pastor.
3. Singling out his kids for “special” “thanks”. PKs would rather the earth open and swallow them alive than have even more attention focused on them as being different from the rest of the kids in the congregation.
4. Anything used. If you have something you no longer have a use for, and the choice is either to give it to the pastor or throw it out, throw it out. It is garbage.
5. “Christian” book store books, CDs, movies, ties, etc. They’re almost certainly heretical. Just don’t.
6. Clothing for the pastor, his wife, or his kids. You don’t know their sizes or their tastes. Offense, awkwardness, and hurt feelings are guaranteed.

Good gifts
1. Pray for your pastor.
2. Make sure the pastor has at least one day off each week, takes his vacation time, and is paid adequately because if that’s not happening, well,…how long would you put up with these people before chucking it and going to work at the local Taco Bell?
3. Respect boundaries. Make an appointment if you want to see the pastor. He’s not just sitting in his office hoping that someone will wander in to shoot the breeze for 3 hours. He has work to do.
4. Knock off the petty complaining and gossiping for the month of October. Or the whole year. Your choice.
5. Cash.
6. High end booze (Editorial Note: Be sure to find out if your pastor imbibes alcohol before buying him booze. Some pastors choose not to drink.)

Wetting the Block

I bought a 2013 “Forgotten English” calendar on a whim just before the new year began. I’m glad I bought the calendar. Every day I learn a new obscure English word, plus I learn about a person or a custom that is long passed away.

Today’s phrase is “by the forelock”, meaning about the same thing as carpe diem: seize the moment, seize the day.

The ancient custom of the day is “wetting the block”. The explanation comes from T.F. Thiselton-Dyer’s British Popular Customs, Present and Past, 1876.

The first Monday in March, being the time when shoemakers in the country cease from working by candlelight, it used to be customary for them to meet together in the evening for the purpose of wetting the block. On these occasions, the master either provided a supper for his men or made them a present of money or drink. The rest of the expense was defrayed by subscriptions among themselves, and sometimes donations from customers. After the supper was ended, the block candlestick was placed in the midst, the shop candle was lighted, and all the glasses being filled, the oldest had in the shop poured the contents of his glass over the candle to extinguish it. The rest then drank the contents of theirs standing and gave three cheers.

This custom is from Berkshire and Hampshire. Cool, nicht’s war?