Thursday, November 26, 2015


as we come to this day of giving thanks, and as i taste the salty juxtaposition of festive family feasts with such fear and famine around the world, there seems to be a great deal that is unsettled inside me. there is less and less that i know for certain, and more and more that leaves me searching, hoping, praying.  but one thing i know without a hint of doubt is that i am thankful for my family.  they are the song i keep singing, the beat that pounds in my chest, and the reason i can smile and laugh in such a time as this and in such a world as this.  i am beyond blessed. and i am thankful.  i can only pray the same for you.

Friday, November 20, 2015

how to properly squat, and other important lessons from unicorns

listen, i share this with you as a public service, in part because no one's life is complete without an ice cream-pooping unicorn and a prince telling your how to squat to do your business.  but more importantly, i share this with you because you probably didn't know you've been doing wrong all these years.  all you needed to do was purchase a piece of plastic (made in china) to put your feet on, for the optimal openage of the orafice.

i don't know about you, but i'm grabbing a stool the next time i need to go and, well, provide a stool sample, so to speak.  in the meantime, enjoy this wonderful testament to the accomplishments of western culture.

ummm....yay capitalism and, um....murica!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

steelers steamroll browns, climb to 5-4

on sunday the steelers hosted the cleveland clowns browns, and while they began the game with their starting quarterback on the bench in a backup role, the browns, ever inventing ways to self-destruct, knocked out the 2nd string guy in the first quarter, so they could see ben roethlisberger, who went on to have an amazing first half (one of the best of his career), and ended up being the offensive player of the week.  no big deal.  

oh, and there's this guy: antonio brown.  he is just an amazing athlete, who is pretty much unstoppable.  it is such a joy to watch him play football, and when he and ben are out there together, it is something pretty special.  wow.  just wow.  

so the steelers move to 5-4, and stay in the thick of things for the wild card hunt in the afc.  it hasn't been an easy season, with all the injuries (espn ranked the steelers as the most injured team this year), but i give the team a great deal of credit for the way they have stayed the course, dealing with the loss of so many key players, and dealing with all the complexities of the moving parts that result from those injuries.  it's a fun team to watch, and it's hard to ask for anything more than that.  go steelers!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

welcome, john coffey

let me introduce you to the newest member of our family.  it is my tremendous pleasure to introduce you to john coffey, the one and a half year old boston terrier mix whom we brought into our household on saturday.  

we've been thinking about adopting for a little while now, since it has been almost exactly three years since max died.   then, when caedmon said he was going to ask for a dog for christmas, we knew it was time to get serious.  so shannon has been combing the shelters and rescue organizations for awhile now, looking for a dog that would be a good fit for our family.  we finally found john coffey on Operation Paws for Homes, and began the process of being approved to adopt.  once we were approved, we were put in contact with john coffey's foster family, so we could both ask them all sorts of questions (does he like the steelers?  will he be okay with me sneaking him a bit of dinner under the table from time to time?  etc.), and arrange a time to go and meet him.

so, on saturday we drove to new freedom, pennsylania, met him and fell in love with him.  we brought him home, and took him on his first walk in sunbury.  he has been awesome already, fitting right in to the family.  while he clearly loves to play and has a bunch of energy, it seems that, at least so far, his energy doesn't quite overshadow that of his three older brothers, who are giving him a good run for his money.  this is evidenced by the fact that he is snoring right next to me as i write this.  life is good.

speaking of his older brothers, they are smitten.  they can't stop talking to him and about him.  every sentence begins with "john coffey this" and john coffey that."  we've already thrown hundreds upon hundreds of tennis balls in just over 24 hours.  i caught caedmon reading him a book this morning, and then choosing to cuddle on the floor with him tonight instead of watching tv.  every few minutes they say, "i can't believe we get to keep john coffey!"  

one more thing.  let's talk about his name.  john coffey is a reference to the steven king novel, later turned into a major film, the green mile.  in that movie, john coffey is a character who is slated for the electric chair, only to find a kind of miraculous redemption.  well, our john coffey is aptly named, because he was also slated for the death penalty, after being abandoned in south carolina.  we are so thankful to o.p.h., and to the foster family who gave him a home for nearly a month, until we could find him.  he has been rescued and redeemed!  and now he is in a home where he will be surrounded by love for a very long time.  

Thursday, November 12, 2015

steelers squeak one out, get to 5-4

seems like nothing can be easy for the steelers.  not only did they have to squeak out a close one on sunday against the raiders, but they may have lost ben roethlisberger (again) to injury for an undetermined amount of time.

still, it is hard to leave this game with too bad a taste in your mouth, since this offense was really fun to watch on sunday.  the defense?  not so much.  but d'angelo williams and antonio brown were just unstoppable, and it was great to see.

williams stepped in for leveon bell, who is out for the rest of the season with his knee injury, and the steelers hardly missed a beat.  he looked great, hitting the holes, getting through traffic, getting open in the flat, catching touchdown passes, and pounding for short yardage when necessary.  brilliant.

but not nearly as brilliant as number 84.

antonio was ridiculous.  he had more receiving yards on sunday than some teams had total offense!  he set pittsburgh steelers records for catches and yards, and it just seemed like the only thing stopping him was passes that weren't catchable.  the defense certainly wasn't stopping him.

the defense has some work to do, and with the whole team pretty banged up, the steelers get just what the doctor ordered: a date with the cleveland browns on sunday.  hopefully that, combined with the bye week the following week, will be just what the steelers need to author a strong second half of the season.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

broken aquarium

on sunday we had our annual church conference.  we were able to do it combined with two other clusters in our district, and we had about 200 people there for worship before we split into our smaller groups for the business of church conference.

one of the themes of the worship service was the idea that we all bring our own brokenness to God, and we all live and minister in communities that are obviously broken.  so when people entered the sanctuary on sunday, they were given a broken piece of colored glass and invited to begin to think about the brokenness of their community.  as i pondered the brokenness in sunbury, i couldn't help but think of Jesus in matthew's gospel, in chapter 9 as he saw the people who needed good news.  "when he looked out over the crowds, his heart broke....'what a huge harvest!' he said to his disciples. 'how few the workers! on your knees and pray for harvest hands!'" (matthew 9:35-38, the message).

and so i wondered, do our hearts break when we see the people around us?  do we feel their brokenness as sharply as the broken bits of glass in our hands; as compassionately as a break in our own hearts?

during the message, our district superintendent talked about the need for us as Jesus-followers to start being fishers of people and to stop being keepers of the aquarium.  as i considered Jesus' words in matthew to pray for more harvest hands, i couldn't help but feel a bit of a sting.  are we praying for harvest hands?  are we willing to stand in the gap and be the hands for the harvest?  or are we too busy keeping the aquarium, making sure the glass is clean and shiny, and the little colored pebbles are all in the right place?  ouch.

during the worship service, we celebrated the sacrament of holy communion.  when people came to receive the bread and juice, they were invited to bring their broken bit of glass and put it in a basket, as a symbol of handing over our own brokenness to God, as well as the brokenness of our community.  then, those baskets of broken glass were brought to me, in a sunday school room in the back, where i began frantically gluing them to a broken window i had rescued from the side of a road.  as i was gluing, the rest of the congregation was in the other room, praying specifically for the needs of their communities, offering up the brokenness of their neighborhoods.  as i listened and adhered glass to glass, my mind went back to that image of the aquarium, and i couldn't help but think that this glass not only represented that God takes our brokenness and turns it into something new, but also that sometimes we need to break the walls that are keeping us comfortable, so that we can get out and get into the harvest.

when the prayer was over, i brought the window into the sanctuary where everyone could see what had happened with their broken fragments.  hopefully it was a meaningful reminder to all of us that our brokenness, and the brokenness of our communities, can be a part of something we can scarcely imagine, when we put it into the hands of our Redeemer, who brings beauty even out of ashes.  and i hope, too, it was a powerful symbol of our need to break out of our comfortable aquariums, to feel with Jesus the brokenhearted pain of our neighbors, and to get into the fields where the harvest is ripe for good news and for love.  because of this, i have called the piece, "broken aquarium" as a reminder for us to stop shining our glass walls, and get into the broken places.

 "broken aquarium"
(assemblage of broken glass on old, broken window, glue)
november 8, 2015
gregory a. milinovich

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

trick or treat!

it's the farmer, johnny appleseed, and the "bad chef" who serves eggs with spiders in them.