Oh boy…

…this time tomorrow (Sunday, 8am) I will be being my 26.2 mile quest.  It’s hard to believe it is almost here, but first things first…tonight I get to go to the Olive Garden.  Whoo hoo!

I’ll see you next week.


The marathon

It’s here my friends…

…13 months of training is about done and now marathon Sunday is upon me. The Medtronic Twin Cities marathon starts this Sunday, Oct. 5 at 8am. If you are at all interested in how I am doing during the race you can go to: http://www.mtcmarathon.org to track my progress. On race day there will be a link that will allow you to track runners. When you get there, simply type my name “Eric Hullstrom” or my bib number – 4387 and it will show you where I am at on the course with some times. My goal is to be done by 1pm. At the very least I would appreciate your prayers.

So…as I prepare to run my very first marathon, I thought I would share with you some interesting tid bits about the history of the marathon that I came across:
The modern Athens Marathon commemorates the run of the soldier Pheidippides from a battlefield at the site of the town of Marathon, Greece, to Athens in 490 B.C., bringing news of a Greek victory over the Persians. Legend has it that Pheidippides delivered the momentous message “Niki!” (“victory”), then collapsed and died, thereby setting a precedent for dramatic conclusions to the marathon…

[I am hoping my fate is a little better than that of Pheidippides]

…At the 1908 Olympic Games in London, the marathon distance was changed to 26.2 miles to cover the ground from Windsor Castle to White City stadium, with the 2.2 miles added on so the race could finish in front of royal family’s viewing box. This added two miles to the course, and is the origin of the Marathon tradition of shouting “God save the Queen!” (or other words relating to the Queen) as mile post 24 is passed. After 16 years of extremely heated discussion, this 26.2 mile distance was established at the 1924 Olympics in Paris as the official marathon distance.
(Source: http://www.athensmarathon.com/marathon/history.html)

My wife and I are heading to the cities on Saturday morning and will return sometime on Sunday night. I will (of course) have a post next week sharing with you my experience.

I am excited and a little nervous, but either way I am looking forward to shouting “Niki!” (or something like it) when I cross that finish line on Sunday.  Thanks for you support and prayer.

God bless!


Sunday morning prayer – one more week

One more week…

…it’s hard to believe I am actually typing those words.  One more week until the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon.  Thirteen months of training will be tested to see if I have done enough.  Even though I have been training and talking about this for quiet sometime, part of me thought this date would never get here (if that makes any sense whatsoever).  One more week to go…

Starting this Thursday I will be taking some vacation time through Monday, Oct. 6 (I am thinking that on Monday I will be getting a nice massage).  On Friday or Saturday, Connie and I will be heading to my sister’s place in Apple Valley where my parents will also be going to join “Team Eric”.  I am so very thankful that I will have a cheering section there for me.  This will indeed be a source of strength for me.  Later this week I will publish a post that will have some more information on marathons, the Twin Cities marathon and how you can track my progress on line (if you are interested).  But basically I ask for your prayers as I finish the preparation stage and run this grueling test of human endurance.  Thank you for the encourage and support people have given me these past 13 months.

Let us pray…merciful Lord and gracious God, we pray that in our hearing we may hear the Word of truth and life. We ask that this word of truth and life you may strengthen us to serve as faithful disciples in your creation; that as we are encouraged and comforted by your tenderness and compassion we may show the same to others; having the same attitude of that of your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord in whose name we pray, Amen.

Take care and God bless!


Monday morning check-in — Ramp project among other things

We are off to a great start on a beautiful and cool Monday morning.  Now I am praying for some rain because my lawn continues to turn the dreaded brownish color (and our crops could definitely use a drink as well).  But according to the “weather experts” (I always use that title loosely) we should get some rain this week.  Maybe I should be a weather dude; then I could say “there is a 50% chance for rain this week” and have a 50% chance of being right.  Not bad odds.

Ramp project
I know it has been a while since I have given an update on our ramp project.  So here’s an update…it’s done:

We still have some landscaping to do on the north and south sides.  On Sunday, September 14 we will be having a short dedication service right before worship.  The idea right now is to ask people to gather outside before worship.  I will then have a short litany and then “J” will cut the ribbon (her and her husband, “G” gave the money for this project but “G” died shortly after they gave us the money, but did express his wish for a new ramp .  “G” would be so happy to see this done…I wish he could be here).  I am not sure how the litany will go right now.  Does any have any suggestions of what you have used or seen used for something like this?

What’s next?
Next year Salem Lutheran Church will be celebrating it’s 125th anniversary of ministry.  So with that in mind we will be continuing to fix up some things around the church.  Our next big projects will be to repaint the sancuary and the Fellowship Hall.  We have a professional coming in to paint the sanctuary because of the high ceiling but we as a church will handle the Fellowship Hall painting.  After those projects we have some other minor ones to do to get ready for next year. 

But right now my frustration is that we are having a hard time getting people to volunteer to serve on a planning committee for this anniversary celebration.  I know people are busy, but this is a big deal for the church.  I wrote a newsletter article for September so that combined with my persistent president asking people hopefully will produce a committee.

[If you’re a Salem member reading this, please, please volunteer and share your gifts].

Training update
6 weeks and counting until the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon.  Training is going well, but my wife is still a little nervous.  There are days when I wonder what the heck I am doing and then there are days when I feel super confident.  But either way, I know this is going to be a difficult race, but I am still looking forward to tackling this goal and accomplishing it.  God has been with me through all the ups and downs and I am confident God will give me the strength to finish the race.

Coming up…
(1) I am working on part 3 of my Ministry model vs. Business model series; a series talking about a new structure for my church council.

(2) Last week I failed to post a Coffee Shop Ponderings post, but I will be back with one this Thursday.

(3) This weekend I am heading to the LifeLight Christian Music Festival in Sioux Falls, SD with a bunch of friends.  It is a free festival with many big name Christian artists like: Micheal W. Smith, Casting Crowns, Jeremy Camp and many more.  I will post more about this weekend and might even have some pictures.

With that I pray you have a very happy and blessed day.  Take joy in the Lord for He is good. 

Take care!

Wild Goose Chase


Today (Saturday, Aug. 2) I ran a race called “The Wild Goose Chase”.  This is a 18.6 mile (30K) race that goes around Lac Qui Parle Lake near my hometown of Dawson.  Before this race my longest run was 12 miles so I knew this was going to be a huge test for me.  Up until the 15 mile mark I was doing fine, but at the 15 mile mark I hit what is called “the wall”.  Basically there was a lot of walking during the final 3.6 miles,  but I did finish hard.  But more importantly…I FINISHED.  My goal was to finish in under 3 hours.  My time was 3:00:21.  Missed by that much…21 seconds.  Oh well…I FINISHED.

The Twin Cities Marathon is two months away and I still have a lot of work to do, but I do feel encouraged.  I have an idea of what I am going to face in Oct.  Overcoming “the wall” is very much psychological so now I have some experience to draw from.  What got me through “the wall” today?  The mere fact that I would always regret not finishing.  I am hoping that motivation will get me through the Twin Cities Marathon in October.  And…there has to be a sermon illustration in here some place.

So now I sit here feeling very good about myself; nursing some sore muscles.  But when asked by my wife if I am glad I ran this race…my answer is “Yes”.  Sore muscles will heal and I will be back running on Monday morning looking forward to my next race (10K — 6.2 mile) in September.

With that I continue with my vacation so I will be back with you next week.  Take care and God bless.


Mid-vacation update

Greetings and salutations…

I am sitting here in the Holiday Inn in Willmar as my wife visits the fitness center here.  Since I am by myself for a little while, I thought I would take this opportunity to check in.

It has been a fun an exciting few days.  On Sunday I flew to Chicago for a meeting at ELCA headquarters.  It was called the Synod Mission Table Pilot Project.  Thirteen of the 65 synods from around the ELCA were invited to gather and talk about mission strategy.  I was invited to attend this meeting with three others from the synod office including our bishop, a synod minister and the synod council V.P.  We heard some amazing presenters and spent some quality time together discussing some mission strategy for the synod.  I was honored to be included in this meeting and discussion.  We have a tough road ahead of us as SW MN is a synod that is declining in population and worship attendance.  We definitely need to rethink how we do mission and have to do something to encourage our people to be who they were created to be:  evangelists.  I think we have a pretty good plan in place and I look forward to writing more about our efforts as things unfold.

On Tuesday I flew back home and headed up north to the St. Cloud area to join Connie and her family for some time at a resort.  We had some great weather and some fun times together.  Last night we packed up and head our separate directions.  On the way home to Dawson, Connie and I decided to stop in Willmar at a hotel and have some time together and do some shopping before we head to Dawson on Friday.  On Saturday I am running a 18.6 mile road race called the Wild Goose chase.  This will be a great tune up for the Twin Cities Marathon in October. 

Anyway…I probably should sign off and pack a little bit.  We have a fun day ahead of us.  I will be back next week for my regular posts.  In the mean time, God bless you and I look forward to our continued conversations.

Take care!


Sunday morning prayer – 6/29/08

I learned a very, very, important lesson yesterday…

…don’t run a 5K on 4 hours of sleep (or as my friend, David, over at “Here I Stand”, would say…don’t run a race unless someone is chasing you).

Friday night until 6am Saturday morning was our annual Relay for Life in Jackson.  This is a fund raising event for the fight against cancer.  I was asked to be on our church’s team to walk the paths lined with luminaries given in memory and honor of people who have died/survived cancer.  There were lots of festivities all night along (my wife and I only stayed until 12:30am but returned at 5:15am).  This is a great event that raised approximately $30,000 for cancer research.  In a small town of 3500, that’s not too bad.

But as for the 5K run…that WAS bad.  The race started at 8am on Saturday morning (did I mention I had about 4 hours of sleep).  My hip was feeling O.K. (still a little stiff, but not painful).  And I had a funny feeling that I was not going to run too well.  I started out fine; running a 7:30 for my first mile, but I had nothing left in the tank.  When I hit the 2 1/2 mark (0.6 miles to go) I decided to make my move on the guy just ahead of me…but I couldn’t.  I tried to shift gears but I had no energy.  Basically I just coasted to the finish line; finishing one minute slower than I did in the 5K I ran in January.  Next time I will get a better nights sleep.  And that next time will be July 26 when I run a 5 mile road race in Heron Lake, MN.

With my little lament now completed, let’s turn our attention to God and join together for a word of prayer.  Let us pray…Loving and merciful God, you have set us free from slavery to sin through your Son, Jesus Christ.  You have set us on the road to righteousness.  You have blazed the trail.  But in the end, Jesus is the one who carries us along this road and ultimately over the Great Divide; the bridge which is the cross of Jesus Christ our Lord.  Thank you for abolishing slavery to sin and clearing the path to righteousness.  May the Law for us now be a way to serve you through serving our neighbor.  Though Jesus Christ our Lord we pray, Amen.

Also…please remember my friend, David, over at “Here I Stand”.  There is a congregation voting on whether to extend a call to him to be their pastor.  I remember this time to be an exciting AND nerve racking time.  Please remember his David and his family along with the congregation as they discern what God is up to.

Take care and God bless!


Monday morning check-in

Sermon prep-less week

I know "prep-less" is not a word but like I am fond of telling my wife, "If it comes out of my mouth, then it is a word".  That may or may not be a good idea, but I am going to apply that logic here. 

Today begins a sermon prep-less week.  For those of you who are not solo pastors this may not seem like a big deal.  But if you are used to preparing a sermon (nearly) every single week of the year…a week off seems kind of strange.  This weekend is the SW MN Synod Assembly.  It's been called the synod's "business" meeting (I don't like that title).  Others have called this weekend a "forced day off" for pastors (that may be closer to the truth…the "forced" part not the "day off" part).  Whatever the weekend is "officially" called, it is a time for me to re-fuel a little bit.  I enjoy preparing and preaching sermons, but I still need a week off now and then to help me appreciate this craft more.  But even though I am not engaging in my "official" sermon prep routine, I still think I am still going to go to my favorite coffee house on Thursday for lunch (with my laptop) to do some writing.  I guess some habits are just too hard to break.

Prince Caspian

Yesterday the churches in Jackson hosted a day at the movies for people to come and watch The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian.  A number of businesses donated door prizes which we gave away before and after the movie.  After the movie we also had a time for questions and answers. 

Without giving too much of the movie away I thought there was a lot of violence in the movie (epsecially for younger kids).  There was one family that walked out during the movie for that very reason.  Granted…the violence was not as bad as most movies; there was no blood and gore, but a lot of people/characters died.   The first Narina movie did not have this much violence and the books don't have the violence either.  Hollywood definitely took a lot of creative liberties with the movie.  Even though it is rumored that the C.S Lewis family approved how these stories were protrayed, I find it hard to believe C.S. Lewis himself would have approved.  These stories were written as children's stories.  And the last time I checked, "children's stories" generally don't contain that much violence.  But that aside…I still really enjoyed the movie and recommend it.  I just don't recommend it for young children.  Please preview the movie before letting children see it.  And that is all I will say about it.  I don't want to ruin it for anyone.


117 days, 19 hours and 14 minutes (give or take a few minutes, hours or days…depending on when you read this) until the Medtronic Twin Cities marathon.  This past week or so my running has been a little slow.  My right hip has really been hurting me lately, but is feeling better today.  I can still run, but it takes a few miles for my hip to loosen up enough for me to get up to pace.  Maybe this is a sign that I am indeed getting old (but let's not tell my body or my wife…I still plan to run this marathon).

With that I take my leave of you.  Since this is a sermon prep-less week, I am going to take advantage of it and get some things done that I haven't done for a while.  I am also going to try to get outside this afternoon and enjoy this blue sky that I haven't seen for awhile.

So take care and have a very blessed day!