Tuesday, October 04, 2016

constant movement

seasons change.  by definition, that's what they do.  they are reminders that life, ever beyond our control, is in a constant state of movement, from what is known to what is unknown.  the weather itself is a sometimes wondrous, and sometimes terrifying reminder that we are not as strong as we think we are (those words written with an affectionate nod at the late, great rich mullins).  but it is in the midst of those in-between times, as one season spins its slow descent into a new one, that i recognize the constant movement of life.

of course, as aliens in a new land (for that is what we are, even with the incredible hospitality of the good folks of state college, pa), the concept of constant change is nothing to our family.  we are living exhibits of the seasonal nature of life.  just as the colors on tussey mountain, which sits regally, enthroned in a wide sky, and gloriously visible from our back door, are starting to rust to more earthy hues, and as the morning air greets me each morning with a whisper of a new story, life itself is new all the time - every morning!

but in the midst of new grocery stores, new restaurants, new neighbors, and new places in the fridge for shannon to hide the mint jelly; and in the midst of new seasons, new schools and new spaces to park in; i discover that we are still us, with the same fingerprints, the same names, and the same warm love.  each season brings its new gifts, along with many new challenges, but it is the same us who journeys through, and the same God who journeys with, whose mercies are new every morning.

may you be reminded, as the morning dew starts crystallizing into fractal webs on the pumpkins on the porch, and as you dig out the coats from the back of the closet, that even if you are a stranger in a strange land; or a pilgrim just passing through; there is a Sojourner who never leaves.  God is constantly doing a new thing; constantly surprising us with unthinkable love; and constantly rewriting our messes into glorious endings; but never turns from a relentless, steady and stalwart love for us.

seasons change.  the rain may come. the winds may blow, and the air may bite with cold.  the sky may darken and put on its gray winter coat.  we may not be nearly as strong as we think we are.  but God is.  and that never changes.

Friday, September 09, 2016

we are!...

on saturday we went to our first ever penn state football game.

we are!....

....new at this!

but we had a blast.  we left at 10:30am for the 3:30 game at beaver stadium, just a few miles from our house.  we got there without any traffic, got into our parking space and set up "camp," which meant that we had table and chairs and food and snacks and drinks and games and toys.  we played board games, threw the football, had a dangerous throwing competition, and took a walk around the perimeter of beaver stadium to fully emerge in this "cross cultural experience" as i kept calling it.  the weather was spectacular, and helped us to fully appreciate the pregame, as well as the game itself.

once we got into the stadium, we were blessed with padded seats (with backs!) and truly enjoyed all the pomp and circumstance of the blue band, the student section, the nittany lion, and more.  so much fun!

the game was sort of meh, at least in the first half, as penn state seemed to struggle to get some rhythm.  the second half picked up a little bit, and it was fun when the crowd really got into the game, making plenty of noise and causing some pre-snap penalties.

we filtered out as the band played the penn state alma mater with the team gathered in the corner of the end zone.  we stayed for another hour or so, eating some more and talking about the game (especially the best play of the game: the kicker joe julius making a bone-cracking "tackle" on a kick returner).  when we finally left, we had no traffic, and we got home in a jiffy, capping off a perfect day for our first penn state football experience.

special note of thanks to the good folks who gave us their tickets and parking spaces (such great spaces!), which enabled us to have this great experience...your generosity is so appreciated!

we are!...

...penn state!

Monday, September 05, 2016

end of the summer, 2016

today is labor day, the official end of summer, and so i find myself reflecting today on the summer of 2016.  as different as this summer was, we still did our annual tradition of making a summer bucket list, which i wrote about here, back in july.  shannon designed the bucket list with a patriotic theme, knowing that we would be vacationing in washington dc this summer:

and as awesome as that week in dc was, it certainly wasn't the major event of our summer.  no, without question, the mark of summer 2016 for the milinovich's was moving.  everything was either leading up to the move (putting all of our possessions in cardboard boxes) or resulting from the move (unpacking all of aforementioned boxes).

but we woke up the first day after moving out of our home for the last 6 years, a place that had become home to us, with great friends at a great church, and this is how that first morning greeted us:

and somehow, we knew everything was going to be just fine.

God is good.

and our summer was good, too.  beyond all that went with this momentous move, we did all kinds of other stuff, too:
-we saw a movie in the theater (zootopia)
-we made a summer mix cd

-we went mini-golfing.

-we visited the penn state university arboretum.
-we saw the constitution in washington dc.
-we spent the day at del grosso's amusement park.
-we celebrated our 17th wedding anniversary.

-we did special music at church.
-we watched fireworks.
-we joined a new library.
-we participated in music camp at our new church.
-we ate ice cream for dinner at meyer dairy (friendly edit from a very observant neighbor: we've accomplished this one at least three times this summer, if not more....).   

-we vacationed in lancaster.

-we saw a state college spikes game. (i got to throw out a first pitch!)

-we bought produce from the boalsburg farmers market.
-we celebrated Quin's and Shannon's birthdays.

-we entertained new friends.
-we attended kindergarten camp and soccer camp.
-we went to steelers training camp.

-we had a full, busy, and abundantly blessed summer.  we are excited about the fall, and how we will continue to live into this new chapter for our family.  it is a great adventure, and we love it!  have a great labor day, everyone.  peace.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

first day of school, 2016

yesterday was the first day of school for all three of our boys - 6th(!), 4th, and kindergarten.  

the biggest impression of the day, for me, was all the newness.  new shoes.  new backpacks.  new unopened packs of 18 un-sharpened pencils.  new bus stop, new bus driver, new bus route!  new kids, new teachers, new new schools, new everything.  it's a season that is ripe with unthinkable possibilities, and overwhelmingly disorienting at the same time.

and so, my prayer for my three boys, in the midst of all the brand new everything, is that they will find ways to make the "new" become familiar - that school will be like a family to them: fun, supportive, encouraging, and challenging in the best way.  

i pray that they will find the joy in this adventure, and that in the midst of discovering new names and ideas, they will come to see more of the One who made it all, who makes all things new, and who calls us all family (familiar).

Godspeed, my boys, into new discoveries, new adventures, new chapters, and new ways of living this amazing life.

Monday, August 08, 2016

Steelers Training Camp 2016

on friday i had the opportunity to lead a group of 10 of us to latrobe for the annual friday night lights steelers practice at latrobe memorial high school stadium, along with 12,000 of our closest friends. we drove out there, did the steelers experience with the kids (including bounce house races, rock wall, face painting, spinning the prize wheel, football toss, and a photo op with the steelers' 6 lombardi trophies, among other things). then we waited in line to get in, so that we could get our position around the autograph fence, and then there was a significant amount of waiting.  but at least the weather was beautiful!  we enjoyed good conversation and laughter along with homemade steelers cookies.  finally the team and coaches arrived on school busses and the autograph session began.  you never know who might come your direction, so we were pretty surprised when ben roethlisberger came near us and started signing.  sure enough, he came our way, and i got his autograph on his rookie card!  I also got markus wheaton's on a card. after that we got a little steelers swag at the merch tent, then walked over to the espn tent where scott van pelt, herm edwards, and merrill hoge were filming a live sportscenter.  we got to see james harrison (what a specimen of a human being), and mike tomlin being interviewed. then we sat down and watched practice, including a spirited backs-on-backers drill which occurred right in front of us. there were some great moments in practice, including a long td pass to antonio brown who then played the crowd into a frenzy. finally practice concluded and they ended the evening with a great fireworks show. we had a fantastic day, and here is photographic evidence of me with big ben directly from the espn broadcast!

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

i want to jump more

this morning for my quiet time i was reading acts chapter 3, about peter healing the crippled beggar at the temple gate (acts 3:1-10).  i was struck by a particular word which is repeated in this short story.  after peter heals the man, we are told that he jumped to his feet...then went into the temple courts, walking and jumping. 

i guess i never thought much about this before, but today i began to wonder why he was jumping.  there was no practical need to jump.  this was not a utilitarian action.  he wasn't jumping over anything.  he was just walking and jumping, one presumes, with great joy for the way his life has been changed.  jumping for joy. 

you know what isn't very dignified?  jumping for no apparent reason.  let's be honest, you look sort of silly.  if someone was walking into church on sunday and starting just started randomly jumping up in the air, we would think something was wrong with them, and would probably assume that they need some kind of medication.  we don't do a great deal of jumping in our lives, unless we are forced to.  and I'm thinking that that's a real shame.

i jump.  occasionally.  when the steelers intercept joe flacco, i jump up off my couch and leap around like a lunatic.  i can remember back a few months when the first few chords of "born to run" came through the speakers, and bruce springsteen started growling, "baby, we were born to run," i jumped and jumped and jumped.  i didn't care what i looked like; i was simply swept up in the joy of the moment, wanting to leave the ground, even if just for a second (i don't get much hangtime these days...). 

so, i do jump.  and i think those are pretty good reasons to jump.  but maybe i'm missing some even better reasons for jumping.  haven't i, like the beggar at the gate called beautiful, been given a reason to jump for joy?  hasn't my broken down life been given new hope?  don't i have the chance to enter into the presence of Almighty God who loves even me?  what does it mean, then, to enter God's gates with thanksgiving, and go into God's courts with praise?  doesn't it mean that i am so filled with joy about the way my life has been changed?  doesn't it mean that i am so swept up in the overwhelmingly good news, that i just want to leave the ground, even if just for a second? 

i want to jump more.  not for any practical reason. but just because i am so filled with joy that walking seems far too mundane.  i don't want to care what it looks like, limbs flailing and joints cracking.  i just want to jump.  what about you?

Tuesday, July 26, 2016


last week we had the opportunity to visit the turkey hill experience near Lancaster, pa, and part of the fun of that experience is designing your own imaginary ice cream flavor, packaging, and commercial.  they boys and I worked together to come up with a  brand new flavor called "MILINO-NUT," and it is a coconut ice cream with coconut chips, pretzel bits, and fudge swirl.  I know, right?  you want some in your belly right now.  well, perhaps you could call or write to turkey hill and demand that they start production of MILINO-NUT right away.  look for it on the shelves of your local grocery store soon. 

here is the commercial we made...we were trying to hypnotize you into buying our ice cream.  let us know if it worked....