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Showing posts from July, 2010

random stuff and saturday song: steeler nation rise

some thoughts on this sleepy saturday morning:

--vbs is over, and was a wonderful (if exhausting) experience, not only as a pastor, but also as a father, whose children absolutely loved it and couldn't wait to go each night.

--my kids are currently watching mr. roger's neighborhood on pbs.  i didn't realize it was on anymore (it wasn't on in new jersey) and mr. rogers, after feeding his fish, just showed us how fortune cookies are made in picture picture.  such a great show. 

--yesterday was seriously like new year's day for me, as a steeler fan.  it's so exciting.  after vbs i came home last night and watched every video i could from the steelers website and the local news outlets, and read every blog and every report.  it is steelers time, baby!

--how am i supposed to read books about dinosaurs to my kids when these paleontologists have named dinosaurs things like "tuojiangosaurus" and "eustreptospondylus?"  that's just ridiculous. 



i've been feeling it come on the last couple of days, getting stronger every day.  at first it was just a tingle, and i wasn't sure if it was just something i ate or lack of sleep, but by the third day, i was convinced that i was infected.  yep...i got it.  i tend to get it around this time each year.  it starts off gradually but eventually builds to a  full-scale sickness.  it causes irrational obsessions and out-of-control fascination with all things black and gold.  that's right...i got it....steelers fever. 

it's been getting worse and worse, but i waited until today to tell you because, well, today is the day when the players report to camp, lugging all their stuff with them to saint vincent collage for a few weeks of hot competition and practice, setting the table for what will surely be an interesting season of adversity for these pittsburgh steelers. 

if you were to spend some time with me today, you would surely hear me humming to myself, "it's the mo…

happy birthday, gerard manley hopkins

july 28th is the birthday of the victorian poet, gerard manley hopkins.  now i'll bet you didn't know that!  but you learn something new everyday.  and here is a poem by hopkins about the glory of God in nature and our ineffectiveness sometimes at beholding or appreciating it. 
God's Grandeur
The world is charged with the grandeur of God.  It will flame out, like shining from shook foil; It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man's smudge & shares man's smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs --
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast & with ah! bright win…


arrrrrrgh!  ahoy mateys!  i be writing to ye from the high seas and....(clearing throat and speaking now in my regular tones), sorry about that.  we started our vbs program last night, and are excited about all the children who are journeying with us through the book of acts.  last night we talked about how God's Word is true, and guides us along the journey like a compass.  tonight we'll have new adventures in store, as we continue to explore the mighty love of God. 
i find vbs to be at once exhausting and exhilarating.  the sheer volume of kids - the number of screaming, snack-filled, sugar-charged high-pitched voices screaming about scripture or some other doctrine of the faith - can be a bit overwhelming for me.  but at the same time, sharing 5 nights with all those young people, so full of hope and so willing to hear some good news, is incredible.  it is an awesome responsibility to make sure that the Truth of the Gospel isn't lost among the costumes and curricul…

just a simple reminder of my vocation

as i sit in my office in preparation for my 4th sunday at the Catawissa Avenue United Methodist Church in Sunbury, PA, i am reminded of the amazing blessing and responsibility it is to be serving a church.  it is, to be honest, a wonderful vocation, full of the joys of people's lives - joys like weddings and births and new jobs and anniversaries and answered prayers.  it is full of spiritual sojourning, walking together, eating together, welcoming new travelers along the way.  it is, at times, dripping with hope, like great drops of life-blood that can't be contained by the skins of these church buildings. 
but it is also an awesomely humbling vocation, full of pain and grief, and every kind of brokenness.  it is always marked with the scars of life, and sometimes requires dealing with very open wounds.  when it is at its best and most honest, it is completely full of our brokenness and both our worst and best potentialities. 
and in all that, to be called to be one who serves…


AAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!!!  i'm so excited! it's a surprise, because it wasn't supposed to happen for another month, but i'm an uncle again this morning, as my brand new neice was born at 6:01 this morning and Amelia Catherine is doing great.  can't wait to meet her!  i barely slept last night in anticipation, but it was so worth it.  isn't she beautiful?

what bella taught me

being sans-children this week has afforded us the opportunity not only to get lots of things done, but also to relax differently than normal.  for example, we went to a movie yesterday, a very rare experience for us.  we went and saw the twilight saga: eclipse, and, even though i know that i may be losing significant credibility among many of you, i have to admit that i loved it.
there, i said it.  i'm a twilight fan.  when it comes right down to it, i'm a fan of stories, particularly when they involve love and tension and conflict and hope, and especially redemption.  and the twilight stories, whether they are a modern form of pulp fiction or not, have all that, and i love them.  i have read them all, and haven't really enjoyed the film versions all that much until yesterday. 
eclipse was great.  it was so much better than the previous two: better directing, better effects, better costuming, better hair and make-up, better adaptation, better acting, better everything.  so…

more important than par

the night before we moved out of new jersey, we were all done packing and there was really nothing we could do in the house, so we took the boys and my mom (who was there helping us with the move) out to play mini golf.  we thought this would be a nice relaxing recreational way to spend our last night in new jersey. 


jackson, our oldest, needed constant help with how to hold the putter, and got extremely frustrated when he wasn't as successful as any of the adults.  i was proud of him, though, because he was fairly patient and actually kept trying to get it right and hit the ball properly. 

but caedmon, the younger one, was a whole 'nother story; an exercise in futility.  he was interested in mini golf for as long as it took to select the colored ball at the beginning.  from then on, it was more about the flags:

and the water:

oh, wow, did he love that water.  he was constantly stepping in it, splashing it, trying to swim in it, throwing his ball into it, etc.  while th…

mary and martha

"mary and martha" Henry Moore lithograph 1983 image borrowed from here
tommorow i'll be preaching on the well-known story of mary and martha, with the title, "don't get distracted."  we'll be looking at the classic tension between 'doing' and 'being,' and where Christ invites us to be on that spectrum.  if you're in the susquehanna valley, i invite you to come to the catawissa avenue united methodist church in sunbury, pa at 10am to join us for worship, as we explore God's word together, and seek to not only hear God's good news, but put it into action in our lives.  hope to see you there!

greg vs. the bunk beds

when we moved into our new parsonage, we decided that it was time for our two sons to share a room, which meant that we needed to look into getting some bunk beds.  after doing some comparison shopping, we finally landed on a web company, so we ordered the beds online and waited for them to arrive.  finally, on wednesday, the beds arrived around 3pm.  by 4pm i had begun to approach the two giant boxes with a box cutter, and some expectations about proving my dominance over any and all building materials that could be lurking within those elephantine boxes.  with agility and all the confidence that opposing thumbs can generate, i opened the boxes and reverentially pulled out the contents, setting up what would, unbeknownst to me, become an epic battle.  it sort of went like this...

imagine if you will, the voice in my head, a deep and dramatic baritone, in pompous tones: laaaaaaaaaaaadies and gentlemen, welcome to the big fight tonight.  in this corner we have greg, champion wordsmith …

my second most embarassing story

someone over at facebook asked to hear this story, and while i'm sure that many of you have heard it before, it's still worth sharing, as i could always use a good dose of humility.  enjoy....
about 5 years ago, b.k. (before kids), shannon and i would often head to borders or barnes and noble for a friday evening after dinner.  we had a little routine.  as soon as we walked in we would immediately split up and start looking individually.  in the classic tradition of hunter/gatherers, we would sort through aisles and tables of books, collecting the ones that seemed most interesting or relevant.  this would go on for about 45-60 minutes until we would head back towards the cafe carrying our stack of books.  we would sit down, get some coffee, and look through our books together.  if you bought a book at the barnes and noble in brick, nj, and it had coffee stains on it, that's probably my bad. 

on one particular night, as shannon and i were in the hunting/gathering stage of …

who's line is it anyway?

yesterday i preached my second sermon at Catawissa Avenue UMC (cat ave umc), and i used the image of a plumbline from amos 7 as a metaphor for our own spiritual health.  a plumbline, of course, is a tool that is used to make sure things like walls are standing straight up and down, and it is a way to measure if something is "in line." 

we do this all the time.  we measure ourselves to see if we are in line.  we measure ourselves against others regularly, and whether we say it out loud or somewhere subliminally, we are often guilty of a kind of "better than them" mentality.  "at least i'm not like so-and-so," we think to ourselves.  "i would never treat my kids like that," or, "i would never act that way," becomes a common refrain in our heads.  we use this kind of thinking to justify ourselves or blind ourselves to our own behavior.  we are measuring ourselves with a plumbline of our own choosing, and it looks to us like we are &q…

living room before/after

as you ask, you shall receive.  you asked for before/after pics of the living room, so here you go:
the above picture is the living room before we moved in.  of particular notice here is the flooring and the curtains, which have both changed. 

here is the room the day we moved in: empty.  you can see that the lime green carpet has been pulled up to reveal nice hardwood floors.  unfortunately, there was some damage to one section of the floor, so it needed to be cut out and replaced, before the rest of the floor could be sanded and finished.  so, needless to say, it's been a process while all of our living room stuff has been in the dining room and garage.  this week we were finally able to move stuff into the finished room, and while we have not gotten to the point of decorating or hanging anything on the walls, we've at least got our furniture in the room, the tv working, new curtains up, a new area rug in place, and a start to our new living room. 

last night we put the seco…


i've never really responded much
to all the talk about you
being unchanging,
but in the midst of
new banks and bathrooms,
new accents and aromas,
in a land of new roads,
and new people,
and just so much new,
i'm glad for the constant that is
You, though,
are steadfast, not static,
steady, not statuesque,
a sojourner. 
in a new land,
you have not changed;
your love remains.

-gregory a. milinovich

life in the desert

well, i had thought that we moved to the middle of pennsylvania, but it turns out we made a slight miscalculation, or perhaps the gps was on the fritz, because we apparently ended up in the middle of the sahara desert.  yesterday it was approximately 137 degrees fahrenheit.  at least at night it cooled to a comfortable 96 degrees. 
it's hot.
we continue to settle in to our new home, but we have to watch out for tumbleweed and cactuses.  (cactuses?  cacti?  what the heck?).  last night we got our living room furniture all in (we were delayed because of some repairs to the floor) and we will soon have a dining room, too!  we still have some painting to do, and boxes to unpack, and i may need to set some scorpion traps, but day by day, we are settling in.  thanks to all of you have checked in and asked how we are doing.  we've been plenty busy, so i've failed a bit on the whole blog/facebook/twitter thing.  the good news is that my new laptop is up and running, so i should be …

moving on

well, here is a picture of me and the boys from nearly a week ago now.  this was on monday, when two huge trucks rolled up to our house.  the men inside were ready to carry all of our possessions and (somehow) stuff them all into those two trucks.  it was an amazing feat, and a somewhat emotional one, as well. 

after the last box was loaded and the trucks drove off with our stuff for the night, we finished cleaning the house that has been our home for the last four years and said goodbye to the empty, echoing rooms.  it was truly with a sense of sadness that we turned out the lights, locked the doors, and drove west. 

but the emotion didn't end there!  we arrived in our new home in sunbury on monday evening, and greeted similarly empty rooms, like the one below.  these rooms elicited another emotion in us, though: excitement.  tuesday morning all our belongings arrived, and we spent an equal number of hours unloading all the boxes we had just loaded the day before (a somewhat surr…

hang in there

for those of you awaiting word about our move and subsequent settling into sunbury, hang in there. we still don't have a computer connected to the worldwide web. for now i am confined to using my phone, which is tedious at best. so be patient, and you'll get more agentorangerecords posts soon. peace.