Monday morning check in

Greetings and salutations…and welcome to another addition of “Monday morning check in” (I have no clue what that was…I guess I am just in a goofy mood this morning).


…if anyone is curious, the Twin Cities marathon web site has some pictures posted of me crossing the finish line.  In a couple of them you can definitely see my pain 🙂  To view these snap shots simply go to the website at:  Once there click on “finisher photos” under the marathon section then enter my bib number: 4387.  There are a couple picture there that are not me.  I am the one wearing the dark long sleeve t-shirt with the red hat (or the one in more pain than the others).  Enjoy 🙂

Paying taxes (Matthew 22:15-22)
How appropriate that we get a text that talks about paying taxes.  In a time of economic hardship the last thing people want to hear about is paying taxes.  Here in Jackson, taxes are a huge issue.  There is a battle currently waging about the proposed construction or renovation of the county Resource Center.  Some want to see a brand new building and others want the current one (the old high school) renovated.  Either way, taxes would go up quite a bit in Jackson.  And this is after the new school referendum passed last year that some people believe the district is misusing.  What a time we live in.

Here in Matthew 22:15-22 the Pharisees are looking for some dirt to nail Jesus with so they try to trap him with the issue of taxes.  If he says that people should pay them then his followers would get upset.  If Jesus says they shouldn’t pay taxes, then the Pharisees could bring that info to Caesar and accuse him of treason.  But Jesus is smarter than this as he responds, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and give to God what is God’s“.  So the question is what is Caesar’s and what is God’s?  Discuss…

…to be continued…


A goal accomplished…the Twin Cities marathon

Thirteen months ago I set the lofty goal of running and finishing the Medtronic Twin Cities marathon.  Friends and family thought I was crazy but were still supportive.  I began training and losing weight to prepare myself for this grueling test of human endurance.  Yesterday was the culmination of that goal when I crossed the finish line in 5 hours 2 minutes and 28 seconds.  It was a wonderful experience and one that is hard to put into words…but of course you know that I am going to try…

At race time (8am) the temperature was 48 degrees with over cast skies that threatened to rain on us.  As I Stood on the street next to the HHH Metrodome, waiting to begin, I found the 5 hour pace team leader, Lori.  Lori’s Job was to help us cross the finish line in under 5 hours.  Most of the people in this group were first time marathoners with the exception of a couple who were running their 2nd.  The strategy laid out for us was that we were going to run for 5 minutes and then walk for 1 minute through the whole race.  At first I was a little annoyed with the walking part and considered leaving this group, but I didn’t…and I am glad I stuck with Lori and the team.  Those 1 minutes walks were a great way to conserve energy.

The gun sounded, 11,000 people cheered and we were off.  For the first couple miles I never gave a second thought to the fact that I would be running for 5 hours.  I just took in the whole experience:  The mass of people running, the crowds cheering along the way, and the beautiful scenery.  At about mile 2 (the Walker Art Center) the over cast skies followed through with their threat and it started to drizzle, but that wasn’t so bad…I’ve run in drizzle before.  At around mile 3 to 4 the drizzle became a steady rain and got heavier.  We rain in a semi-hard rain until around mile 8 to 9 then it started to let up.  By the half way point the drizzle was gone but it was still chilly as the wind blow off the lakes.

At the half way point I was doing great and our pace team was 1 1/2 minutes ahead schedule.  At this point I became a little anxious though…because mile 15 was approaching.  Back in August I ran a 18.6 mile race where I hit the proverbial wall at 15 miles.  I was wondering what would happen to me this time, but when I passed the mile 15 marker I was still feeling great with plenty of energy.  This was a huge emotional and psychological boost for me.  The next milestone was mile 19 which would mark the longest I have ever run.  It is also around the time when most runners hit the proverbial wall.  Mile 19 passed and I was still doing great…but that was about to change…

Back at mile 17 Lori warned us to make sure we carb up for the mile 20 hills.  So when we approached the aid station at mile 17 we took our gel/energy packs.  I ate a protein bar and took in some fluids.  I was ready for the hills.  But at 20 1/2 miles the very thing I feared the most happened…muscles in both legs started to cramp up.  I remember pleading with God, “Please God, not now…I am less than 6 miles away”.  So I pushed through the pain.  But just before mile 22 the pain became more than I could handle so I had to let my pace team go and say good bye to my 5 hour goal.  Psychologically I was devastated and felt like giving up.  But then a voice in my head (God of course) kept saying “13 months…13 months”…that is how long I had been training for this marathon.  I decided then and there I was not going to let some annoying leg cramps stop me.

After a little walking the cramps went away so I started running again, but after a minute or so the cramps came back so I was forced to walk.  And this was the routine for the rest of the marathon…4 miles worth.  At mile 24 I got an emotional boost when I heard someone call my name out…it was Connie’s sister and brother with our 2 1/2 year old nephew.  Their presence and support meant so much to me.

At mile 25 I knew I was almost there and I knew that I was actually going to do this.  When I crossed the mile 26 marker (with 0.2 miles to go) I could see the finish line…and it was all down hill (thank God).  The street was lined with cheering people and I started running.  My cramps weren’t gone yet but I decided that I was not going to walk across the finish line.  I started running and I was going to finish running.  So through the intense pain I keep my eyes fixed on the finish line banner listening to the announcers call out every name that crossed the finished line.  At this moment I became overwhelmed with emotions and tears started streaming down my face.  And…as I crossed that finish line…and heard my name…I completely lost it.  I actually finished .  For a few moments the pain in my legs did not matter…I made it…26.2 miles…5 hours and 2 minutes (and 28 seconds)…through the rain and wind and lots of pain…I made it.  I clung to my finishers medal as if someone was trying to steal it.  I made it…and no one can take that away from me.  I feel such a sense of accomplishment and it is that I can not adequately put into words.

But before I finish this post (and please excuse me for going on so long) I need to give a HUGE thank you to my family…Connie, my mom and my sister…who ran around town, dodging closed roads to cheer for me at 4 points along the route.  They stood in the rain and showed their love and support…THANK YOU.  And thank you to everyone out there that gave me well wishes and were praying for me.  Knowing that there were so many people praying was also a huge boost for me.  Thank you to friends (like Brad) who gave me words of encouragement and advice through this blog and Facebook.  Thank you to anyone else I am missing.  And of course…I need to thank God, for God alone gave me the energy and strength to complete this marathon.  THANK YOU GOD…TO YOU BE THE GLORY!

Now…what’s next?  Will I run another marathon?  Well…right now my legs are very stiff and sore so I am not thinking about that right now.  I know that my running is not done, but I am just not sure what future races I will enter.  Part of me wants to tackle those mile 20 hills again and try to finish in under 5 hours next year, but first things first…I need to heal and recover then I will set some more goals.

Thank you for putting up with all my marathon talk these past 13 months but I got a feeling it is not going to end.  Being a pastor…I encountered so my sermon illustrations yesterday that they are bound to show up here sometime in the future.

With that…I am going to get up and loosen my legs up a bit and find a couple ice packs.  Take care and God bless.


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: 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.

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!