May 3, 2012
ELCA publications win ACP awards
Publications of the ELCA took home 14 awards from the Associated Church Press annual convention, held in Chicago April 30-May 2. The ACP "Best of the Christian Press" awards were presented for work produced in 2011.
Café — Stirring the Spirit Within received:
• Award of merit, best in class: independent website or e-zine for its website. Elizabeth McBride and Kate Elliott, editors.
Gather (formerly Lutheran Woman Today) received:
• Award of merit, personally useful article for "Burning bush chaser." Martha Sterne, author; Elliott and Terri Lackey, editors.
• Award of merit, Bible resource, for "Renew, respond, rejoice." Catherine Malotky and David Engelstad, authors; Elliott and Lackey, editors.
• Honorable mention, personal experience/first-person account (long format) for "Healing friendships." Terry L. Bowes, author; Elliott and Lackey, editors.
• Honorable mention, department for "Family matters." Sue Gamelin and Elyse Nelson Winger, authors; Elliott and Lackey, editors.
• Honorable mention, devotional/inspirational (long format) for "A place apart." Christa von Zychlin, author; Elliott and Lackey, editors.
The Lutheran received:
• Award of excellence, humor, written for "Great expectations." Elizabeth A. Eaton, author; Julie B. Sevig, editor.
• Award of excellence, convention or meeting coverage for "ELCA assembly: Full speed ahead" by the staff of The Lutheran.
• Award of merit, news story for "10 trends to watch." Kathryn Sime, author; Elizabeth Hunter, editor.
• Award of merit, personal experience/first-person account (short format) for "Between us: Half a lung, half a lung, half a lung onward." Walter Wangerin Jr., author; Daniel J. Lehmann, editor.
• Honorable mention, editorial courage for "R. Guy & Keith Fry ...." Sandra Guy, author; Sevig, editor.
• Honorable mention, theological reflection (short format) for "Deeper understandings: The creeds." Robin Steinke and Gary Simpson, authors; Lehmann, editor.
The Little Christian received:
• Award of merit, magazine design: entire issue for "Go with God." Amber Leberman, art director.
• Award of merit, photography: with article or cutline for "Jhariff lives in Peru." Elie Gardner, photographer; Leberman, art director.
April 30, 2011
ELCA publications win awards
Publications of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (including The Lutheran) took home nine awards from the Associated Church Press annual convention, which was held jointly with the Canadian Church Press annual convention in Chicago April 27-29.
At an April 29 awards ceremony, the ACP announced its "Best of the Christian Press" awards for work produced in 2010.
Café — Stirring the Spirit Within received:
• Honorable mention for www.boldcafe.org in the "Best in class: Independent website or e-zine" category. Elizabeth McBride and Kate Elliott, editors.
The ELCA News Service received:
• Award of excellence for "'He spent his last breath singing': Wife, cousin remember ELCA's Ben Larson" by John R. Brooks in the "News story: News service/newsletter/website/blog" category.
• Award of merit for "Lutheran's mobile phone technology project earns 'Time 100' honor" by John R. Brooks in the "Feature article: News service/newsletter/website/blog" category.
Lutheran Woman Today received:
• Honorable mention for "Creature kindness" by Kim Winchell in the "Reporting and writing: Personally useful article" category.
• Honorable mention for "Let us pray" by Julie Aageson in the "Column" category. Kate Elliott, editor; Terri Lackey, managing editor.
• Honorable mention for "What I like about Paul" by Robert O. Wyatt in the "Theological reflection: Long format" category.
The Lutheran received:
September 3, 2010
Learning from moose
Last month, my fiancé James and I went on vacation in Isle Royale National Park. The park is an island in Lake Superior, and many visitors to the park hope to see one of its 500 moose.
We saw three moose — a cow and twin calves wading in Washington Harbor.
However, our closest encounter with a moose involved sound — not sight. One night we camped at South Lake Desor, an interior lake near the center of the island. I awoke at midnight to the sound of branches breaking. I woke James and said: "I think there's something outside our tent." I often wake James when I hear noises, which usually turn out to be birds or squirrels. "You're imagining things again," he said and went back to sleep. The snapping of branches continued, and was followed by scraping noises and huffing. When I woke James a second time, we both heard the moose sneeze.
By now, James' curiosity was piqued. He unzipped the tent's vestibule and looked out, but because there was a new moon he couldn't see the animal. He was about to turn on his headlamp, but I stopped him. The moose seemed very close to our tent — so close I could smell it, a musky scent reminiscent of wet dog. I didn't want the moose to become spooked by the light. I worried that if the moose was frightened an errant hoof might trample our ultralight tent. So we lay still and silently for the next fifteen minutes, listening to the moose chew foliage as it meandered through our campsite.
When we woke the next morning, we examined the leaves and branches the moose had browsed. It had lingered only five feet from our tent.
I didn't expect to learn anything about my own health — or others' — from a moose.
A highlight of the trip was the opportunity to hear a talk by Candy and Rolf Peterson. During the summer the Petersons live in a cabin across the bay from the popular Daisy Farm campground. Twice a week they paddle over to give talks to the hikers and boaters staying at Daisy Farm.
Candy is an educator with the Isle Royale Wolf-Moose study, and Rolf has been its director for the past 40 years. It is the longest-running study of any predator-prey system in the world.
Candy talked about the island's moose and wolves, their inter-relatedness and the challenges facing each population. While we were on the island, one of the findings from the wolf-moose study made national health news via an article in The New York Times ("Moose offer trail of clues on arthritis," August 17).
According to the study, many of the moose on Isle Royale have arthritis stemming from nutritional deficits early in life. Scientists think human osteoarthritis might also be linked to nutritional deficits early in life.
I'm grateful to the many moose (and to Rolf and Candy for their research over the years) for teaching us something about how our early nutrition might affect diseases that manifest later in our lives.
Recommended reading: Candy Peterson's memoir A View from the Wolf's Eye introduces readers to the island, the study and a faith that is marked by seasons and lived out by exploring the natural world, serving others and sharing knowledge.
September 1, 2010
Task force requests scenarios for ELCA's future
The LIFT website reads:
"The members of the LIFT Task Force are seeking insight and help from the members and friends of the ELCA. The LIFT Task Force is the group called together to help renew the ecology of the ELCA by offering ideas about ministry in the next 5 to 10 years. The task force has written a document that asks for scenarios of what could be or should be, based on experience and history, hopes and dreams."
The task force is requesting responses be completed by Sept. 10.
June 19, 2010
Backsliding in Scranton
I had a blast at the synod assembly. I met some amazing Lutherans, heard about some incredible ministries (look for future articles in The Lutheran) and had the opportunity to lead some focus groups with Susan Williams (principal of Susan Williams & Associates) who is doing some research into how to better position The Lutheran to serve its readers.
As usual, I'm returning home from this assembly more fired up than ever about the mission and readership of the magazine.
I was very grateful for the "lunch/dinner on your own" options during the synod assembly, which allowed me to make healthful meal choices. The one meal provided by the synod was an outdoor barbeque with choices such as baked barbeque chicken, a spicy corn dish (almost like grits but better), salad and fuit
Two hours ago, I got to the airport on time for my 5:30 flight — only to find out it had been delayed until 7:15. That's when it happened.
I figured I better eat before getting on the plane. The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton airport is small (but it has wi-fi!), and food choices are limited. The only thing that appealed to me was the mozzarella sticks and fries. It has been three months since I've eaten an entire meal of fried food and cheese. (I used to love french fries — just ask my cousins, who insist it was the only food group I would eat as a child.) Today, I ordered and immediately regretted my choice. The fries tasted so greasy — not at all yummy like I'd remembered.
In the end, I ate the mozzarella sticks and skipped the fries.
But I learned a valuable lesson: Time away from unhealthy food decreases its appeal. I'm unlikely to order either again, now that my body is used to vegetables and foods that aren't fried. This one moment of backsliding will probably keep me from noshing on fried foods in the future, so for that I'm grateful.
I'm off for now — it looks like the plane that I'll be taking back to Chicago has arrived.
June 7, 2010
I did it!
I wrote last week about the "moment of truth" — going in to get my blood drawn for my three-month follow-up cholesterol and glucose screening.
Today, at my follow-up appointment, in the presence of my doctor, I discovered my results.
I was nervous on my way to the appointment. I'm always nervous when I go to the doctor ... maybe you are, too. I value my health and well-being as a gift from God. When we started this blog, one reader suggested that we were promoting body-worship. I was gratified that other readers chimed in that we are to honor our bodies as temples of God's Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19-20) and that being good stewards of God's gifts means being mindful of what we consume.
After three months of being more intentional about my choices, I was ready to discover whether they'd made a difference in my test results. I was nervous — maybe I hadn't made enough of the right choices. Or maybe my genetics would prevent me from being able to attain good results, even with the right choices.
My doctor and I compared the numbers. In the past three months, I've lost 21 pounds. My total cholesterol has gone from 29 points outside of the normal range to just one point outside of the normal range. My HDL cholesterol (what's often referred to as "good" cholesterol) has increased. My LDL cholesterol (often called "bad" cholesterol) decreased. My fasting glucose levels have dropped six points and are again within the normal range.
I was delighted. So was my doctor. She and I talked about willpower, the necessity of a support system and remembering that making healthy choices is a lifestyle change, not a quick-fix. She reminded me that as a result of managing my health better, I'll save hundreds of dollars that I otherwise would have used for medicines to control my cholesterol and glucose levels.
As staff of The Lutheran, we are enrolled in the ELCA's health plan for employees (administered by the ELCA Board of Pensions). Staying healthy keeps us off medications, reduces the need for doctor's visits and, as a result, drives down the cost of providing health care to all ELCA pastors, lay rostered leaders and congregation staff who participate in the plan.
Thank you, blog readers, for being part of my support system. This is an ongoing process, so if you have wisdom for me (or others), please feel free to comment below.
May 27, 2010
The moment of truth
Three months ago my doctor ordered me to make lifestyle changes to reduce my overall weight, cholesterol and blood-glucose levels.
For the past three months, I've been avoiding fried foods, cheese-based dishes (a difficult task for someone originally from Wisconsin), starchy foods and refined sugars.
This morning, I had my blood drawn for the follow-up lab tests.
Over the past three months, I've lost 20 pounds from eating healthy, modest-portion meals and exercising. I'm hoping that the labwork numbers have also improved.
I should know within a week.
Update: I made dessert once over the past three months, the chocolate-orange ricotta cheesecake from Clean Eating magazine's May/June issue. The verdict: Some of the ingredients (agar agar and dutch-processed cocoa) were hard to find, but the recipe was easy to follow. I thought the crust was especially simple and delicious (rolled oats, honey and cocoa combined in a food processor). I thought the final result was quite good, but my boyfriend (who is a far more experienced baker than I) could tell at once it was a no-bake cheesecake and had some issues with the texture. I'll make it again — but I'll keep it for myself.
May 3, 2010
I've been trying to eat more healthily for the past two months.
For the most part, I've done pretty well. I've increased the amount of fiber I eat, I try to get enough protein throughout the day and I am limiting my intake of carbohydrates and sugars.
I've lost 13 pounds. Don't misunderstand me, the numbers on a scale aren't terribly important to me. I think physical fitness is more important than a person's weight.
However, as someone with specific health concerns, those 13 pounds represent steps toward lower cholesterol and blood glucose readings. I won't know for sure until my follow-up bloodwork in a month, but my guess is that my positive life changes will be reflected in those numbers, too.
Although I've done fairly well overall, this past weekend was difficult for me. On Friday night, I had a hard time pacing myself on tortilla chips at a favorite Mexican restaurant. For Sunday lunch, I grudgingly (and crabbily) opted for whole-grain bread when I really wanted white bread on my submarine sandwich, and Sunday night I had a strong craving for sweets (especially chocolate). I gave in and had one Thin Mint, followed by a large slice of honeydew melon.
Weekends are hard, because they're a time of leisure. Our society associates leisure time with food: popcorn at a movie; snacks in front of the television; peanuts and beer at the baseball game; dinner dates with our loved ones; leisurely Sunday meals with our families; coffee-hour treats after worship.
As I've tried to eat more healthily, I've had to work hard at de-emotionalizing food. It's been a struggle, but having made (mostly) good choices despite temptation this past weekend, I know I can keep it up.
Oh, and my first issue of Clean Eating magazine arrived on Friday. So the next time I'm having a difficult weekend of cravings, I can whip up a no-bake chocolate-orange cheesecake that weighs in at 166 calories (and 13 grams of sugar — from raw honey) a slice. (I'll let you know how it tastes in a future post.)
April 13, 2010
Busy hands and a prayerful mind
During my sabbatical last year, I realized that I needed to do more to nurture my creativity.
I'm lucky to have a creative job. Many of my daily tasks involve visual thinking. Because most of my creative work happens on a computer screen, I decided to take a course in three-dimensional art.
I found a lost-wax casting class at Lillstreet Art Center in Chicago. I'd always been interested in lost-wax casting, the process of carving or molding a sculpture or piece of jewelry in wax, making a plaster mold of the object, then using a centrifuge to fill the mold with molten silver or bronze.
Some waxes are soft enough to mold with your fingers. Others are hardened with plastic so they must be shaped with a knife, dental tool or file.
After taking classes for four months, I've discovered I really enjoy working with hard wax, the kind that needs to be filed. There's something very meditative about filing. Without even realizing it, I filed my first piece of wax down to nothing.
Something about the repetitive movement of the hands that makes the mind still. Even though I've never done woodworking or knitting, I suspect those pursuits have a similar effect.
Making time for my mind to be quiet is something I don't do well. When I was younger I'd sit in quiet prayer for long periods at a time, but as my mind has become more and more cluttered, I've lost my discipline for just sitting and listening for God. It's something I've rediscovered through my class.
As I file, my hands are busy and my mind becomes more detached and open to the Spirit's counsel. This is not what I expected from my class, but it is a welcome benefit.
April 7, 2010
I like food.
My two dearest friends live in Austin and New York. When we vacation together (or visit each other) our itineraries revolve around what and where we'll eat. We joke: "That's why we're friends."
I also like cooking. Unlike my boyfriend, I can't dream up delicious recipes on a moment's notice. But I can follow a recipe (or adapt it to my taste).
I've always struggled to find the time to cook from scratch. Before I started watching my cholesterol and sugar intake, I'd get carry-out or pop a prepared meal in the oven when I didn't have time to cook.
Now that I've made eating more healthily a priority, I'm cooking from scratch almost exclusively. Last night, I made a delicious (and healthy) chicken marsala with grilled carrots. (Recipe courtesy of Clean Eating magazine, to which I just subscribed at Mary Frances' suggestion.) But it involved going to two grocery stores (the dried porcini mushrooms still eluded me) and more than an hour devoted to preparation and cooking.
My other priorities are suffering. Last night, by the time I had finished shopping, cooking and eating, I had very little of my evening left to work on my homework for the children's book-illustration class I'm taking.
This is not a challenge unique to me. I'm a single woman who lives alone, and most of my time is my own. I can't imagine how difficult it is for families (especially single-parent households) to devote the time necessary to obtaining nutritious food and preparing it in a healthy way.
What are your tips for eating well with limited time? I'd love to hear your suggestions for weeknight meals that are quick, yummy and healthy.
March 28, 2010
Since my doctor encouraged me to adopt a more heart-healthy diet, I've made some drastic changes.
I'm no longer eating fried foods of any kind. I've switched from cow's milk to soy milk, and I'm eating as few processed foods as possible. When I eat breads and cereals, I opt for whole grains. I'm eating way more vegetables than ever before.
There are a few things, however, I'm counting as "indulgences" — little treats that make healthy eating a bit more enjoyable:
• Black coffee: I'd given up coffee last November, but when I started to eat more healthily I found I wanted a little something to perk me up in the mornings. Because I don't use cream or sugar, it's a low-calorie choice. It's also is a bit of a hunger suppressant, so it's made cutting back on calories a little easier. And at one to two cups a day, I'm definitely enjoying my joe in moderation. (For more information about the health effects — good and bad — of coffee, check out "Coffee and health: What does the research say?" at the Mayo Clinic web site.)
• Bison: A restaurant I frequent has locally-sourced bison on its menu. Low in cholesterol and saturated fat, some sources (such as the National Bison Association) claim that bison is healthier than boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Given these benefits and bison's tasty, juicy flavor (no ketchup or steak sauce required), my once-a-week red meat is sure to be bison. Even better, it can be found fresh or frozen at most of the groceries and meat markets I already frequent.
• Red wine: As I prepare more evening meals at home, I'm finding that a glass of red wine is a nice accompaniment. According to this article at the Mayo Clinic, red wine might be a heart-healthy choice.
• Sweet potato fries: My boyfriend and I enjoy cooking together on the weekends. Tonight, we're making oven-baked sweet potato fries as one of our side dishes. The Mayo Clinic considers sweet potatoes one of "10 great health foods for eating well." Who are we to argue?
What are your healthy (or at least not too unhealthy) indulgences?
March 24, 2010
The launch of this "Spring into life" blog series is timely for me.
I had my yearly check-up in early March. (Preventive services such as yearly physicals are covered by the ELCA Board of Pensions, through which I have health insurance.)
My doctor ordered routine bloodwork. When the results came back, my doctor advised me that I need to get my cholesterol (high) and glucose levels (borderline) under control.
She gave me three months to make positive lifestyle changes.
As a journalist, I love deadlines. They're something to work toward, even if they're difficult sometimes. So I've made healthy living a priority. And with a firm deadline of June 7, I'm motivated to meet my goals.
I don't want to have to manage my health with medicine if I can achieve good results by being mindful of what I eat and how much I exercise.
I'm looking forward to this blog as one more way to support my goal of living healthier.
Over the next three months, I'll be blogging about my journey to better health.
As we go along, I (and the other bloggers here) are looking forward reading your comments about positive changes you've made in your life. Let's encourage each other!
March 18, 2010
ELCA releases draft statement on genetics
The ELCA through its Church and Society program unit has released its "Draft Social Statement on Genetics." The draft statement was developed by the Task Force on Genetics.
Members and congregations of the ELCA are invited to study, discuss and comment on the draft. A response form is provided with the draft statement, and various synods will hold hearings about the draft statement.
The proposed social statement is currently scheduled to be considered by the 2011 Churchwide Assembly.
Visit the ELCA Web site for more information or download the files below:
• Executive Summary (.pdf)
• Draft Social Statement on Genetics (.pdf)
• Frequently Asked Questions (.pdf)
August 19, 2009
Close as it gets, times two
"Talk about close calls. First a tornado struck the far end of the building hosting the Churchwide Assembly of the ELCA on Wednesday, followed by voting members approving a social statement on human sexuality by one vote."
August 7, 2009
Getting ready for assembly
The Lutheran's office has been busy lately as we plan for the 2009 ELCA Churchwide Assembly in Minneapolis.
The Lutheran's editor Daniel J. Lehmann will be blogging here during the assembly. He'll be sharing daily news tidbits and more personal reflections on the assembly events, deliberations and decisions.
If you'll be in Minneapolis for the assembly, be sure to look for these staffers from The Lutheran:
|Daniel J. Lehmann||Editor|
|Sonia C. Solomonson|| Managing Editor|
|Kathleen Kastilahn|| Associate Editor|
|Elizabeth Hunter|| Associate Editor|
Julie B. Sevig
| Associate Editor|
| Curtis Peterson||Circulation and Marketing Manager|
| Joel Stombres||Advertising Director|
July 22, 2009
Youth Gathering makes front page in New Orleans
The ELCA Youth Gathering, meeting today through Sunday in New Orleans, made the front page of the Times-Picayune newspaper this morning.
After Katrina, "there was no way we could not come to New Orleans, " said Donna Wiegel, a Lutheran planner and an early, passionate advocate for the city in the critical days of 2006 when church leaders had to finalize their 2009 meeting plans.
The article confirms that the ELCA Youth Gathering is the largest convention in New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina.
July 10, 2009
Sometimes, everything happens at once.
I was on vacation for the past two weeks, during which I started Arthur Phillips' new novel, The Song Is You. To say Phillips' novel illustrates the power of music is to put it mildly. As I was reading The Song Is You, an album from my favorite band was released. So I felt rather meta, reading a book about people captivated by music while I was simultaneously soaking in the uncharted-yet-familiar sounds of a new album from a much-loved group.
The protagonists in The Song Is You communicate via all the methods we as readers do: email, texting, mobile video, web messaging. Even though such technology is essential to the plot, it always seems jarring to me to see these new technologies in a book (a hardcover one, at that). Books are so enduring, so tangible, that to include fleeting things such as text and web seems somehow literarily risky.
I returned to work, where I've caught up with Twitter, Facebook and email. In all three places, there are conversations going on about technology and the church. I'm used to that happening in one place at a time, but for it to happen in all three places got my attention.
On Wednesday, Twitter user @newlutheran started a firestorm of good conversation (with @joe_makes_art and others) about congregations and technology with a single post: "Quick comment to Lutheran (and other) churches from a 20-something. If your web site is lame, we'll think your church is, too. Just sayin'."
And today @bethalewis (yup, that's Beth A. Lewis, the CEO of Augsburg Fortress) shared an article ("Few senior surfers sighted") about the adoption of technology by various generations. It's an interesting read that makes one wonder whether technology is irrelevant to a church body of older members, or whether it will be the method by which younger members discover the church.
Are we in the Lutheran church (and related denominations) finally reaching an epiphany about the usefulness of technology? Or not? Because for each person utterly convinced that the church needs to embrace social networking, there's another who thinks that the church is so enduring, so tangible that to use such fleeting things as text and web seems somehow risky.
June 16, 2009
Let's get those cameras rolling
Okay, so maybe it's not "rolling" in the age of digital video.
The ELCA video contest began yesterday and runs through July 15. That means you (or your congregation) has exactly one month to record a video showing ways to live out the ELCA's tagline: "God's work. Our hands."
You can find all the details (and a very informative instructional video hosted by none other than yours truly) at the ELCA Web site.
And yes, there are prizes.
May 26, 2009
A dose of reality
I'm one of the few people who wasn't on tenterhooks last week about American Idol ... in fact, I couldn't even name a contestant. But I must admit, I spent a good portion of my Memorial Day weekend watching old episodes of MythBusters, a show on the Discovery Channel where two special-effects guys tackle scientific myths such as, "Can high explosives tenderize steak?" and "Is it possible to escape Alcatraz in a raft built of raincoats?"
I don't have cable television, so I download most of the shows I watch through iTunes. As I was scrolling, it struck me as odd that there are categories for "nonfiction" and "reality." While the two words have similar meanings, we all know that in the television world, "reality" and "nonfiction" have little to do with each other.
I've been interested to read the discussion on the "Reality TV: Is it a virtual sin to watch contestants struggle?" article from last month. From the discussion there, it seems as though a lot of people have problems watching "reality" TV. Yet, it heartens me that shows such as MythBusters have a devoted following, as well.
What are your favorite "nonfiction" shows?
May 7, 2009
Giving thanks for grandmas (and grandpas)
I'll be celebrating Mothers' Day this weekend. Not only do I get to celebrate with my mom, I'll be giving thanks for my maternal grandmother, Ruth, who is 88 and going strong — despite a recent shoulder replacement.
For those on the other side of the relationship, it seems congregations, synods and seminaries are reaching out to support grandparenting as a vocation.
At the seminar, Janet L. Ramsey of Luther Seminary, said:
"We need to pray regularly for both parents and grandparents in each congregation and as a national church, that their important work be strengthened and supported by the Holy Spirit and by the love and care of other Christians.” (Read more at the Daily Herald.)
(For more about the vocation of grandparenting, see The Lutheran's February 2004 issue about grandparents raising their grandchildren.)
If you're like me, and lucky enough to have living grandparents, please join me in giving thanks for them. If you're a grandparent with the vocation of having grandchildren, I'd love to hear what that means to you. Please leave a comment below.