Monday, December 15, 2014

steelers go down to georgia, move to 9-5

it was a bit of a nail-biter, but the steelers went down to georgia and got out with not only with a win, but with a winning record.  most importantly, they got themselves one step closer to a playoff berth, which they could lock up with a win against the chiefs next week.  if that happens, it would set up a week-17 matchup against the bengals that would decide the winner of the afc north.

but i'm getting ahead of myself.

first, let us say thank you to big play willie gay, who returned an interception for his third pick-six of the season.  that's the same willie gay that used to be everyone's whipping boy in the steelers secondary.  he's now your number one corner, whether ike is playing or not.  and that particular pick six yesterday was critical.  the steelers were showing both an ability to move the ball against the falcons defense, and to then trip over their own feet in the red zone.  the first quarter was all steelers, but they only had two field goals to show for it.

then big play willie gay sniffs out the matt ryan pass and takes it to the house, changing the course of that game.

of course the killer b's showed up, too.  ben set records.  bell set records.  brown set records.  we were hoping that heath has a middle name that starts with a b, but unfortunately he doesn't (heath IS his middle name - his first name is earl).  still, a great game by heath when the steelers just couldn't get the running game going.  and when the steelers needed to finish the game by owning the clock, they did what they had to do, and gave themselves their first winning record in three years.

now onto the chiefs.  here we go, steelers!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

snow day!

that's the view from our front door this morning at 8:30.  why am i out on the porch in my bare feet at 8:30 in the morning in the middle of a snowstorm, you ask?  well, to get away from my children, of course.  it is a snow day, and they are already on their third epic lightsaber battle of the morning.  it has only devolved into horrific screaming twice so far, so that's a win.  but this third battle isn't over yet, so i'm pretty sure the screaming is forthcoming.  i will let you know if i hear it from the front porch.  where i'll be hiding, and suffering from frostbite.

hope your day is as loud and fun as mine!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

our "polar express" day

"all aboard!, please!"

on sunday we felt like we had boarded our own kind of magical train ride.  our day began with a fun and meaningful worship service in which we used the 2004 film "the polar express" as a lens through which to look at our faith.  we talked about Jesus and his disciples in matthew 18, when the disciples are arguing about who is the best follower, and who's got it all figured out, and Jesus silences all of them by bringing a child into the middle of their silly bickering and tells them that if they really want to live the full, joyful, peaceful, and abundant life, they need to start viewing life through the eyes of a child.

christmas is a great time to take stock of how you are doing at looking at life through the eyes of a child, and "the polar express" is a great reminder of it.  when the boy opens that last little package at the end of the movie, and when he holds that bell up to his ear, we all lean forward in our chairs just a bit to see if it will ring for him or not.  will he hear it?

of course he hears it.  the bell rings for those who believe.  the same is true in our faith.  when we believe -- against all our deepest fears and all the darkest news the world has to offer -- we open ourselves up to hearing the bell of our faith, which rings with tones so deep and vibrant we can scarcely imagine them until we hear them.  the bell rings for those who are willing to believe.  the bell rings deeply and wildly and joyously for those who believe the crazy claims of this season, that God would enter into this broken world of deep fears and dark news in order to save it.  it's far-fetched, i know, but if you will believe, you will hear the sound of joy.

so we had a great worship service, and then later that afternoon we got to board a vintage restored train here in sunbury for a 60 minute ride complete with a reading of "the polar express," the book upon which the film was based.

our good friends Bill and Meg (pictured above with quinton), invited us to be their guests once again on the train, and we got to sit in the dining car, listen to the story, eat snacks, sing Christmas songs, and even visit with rudolph, frosty, buddy the elf, the grinch, and Santa himself!  we had a blast, and it was the perfect ending to a day full of the wonder of the season, and the joy of being with friends and family.

Monday, December 08, 2014

steelers roll in cincy, move to 8-5

in the very first game of the season, the steelers demonstrated to the entire league that they would be a team capable of potent offense and powerful, if not dominant, defense, while also being capable of being nearly completely impotent and pedestrian.  i wrote about that very first game that they were like dr. jekyll and mr. hyde, and that was not only a fitting description of the first game (a tale of two halves), but also of this entire season.  they've lost to the jets, who only have one other win.  they've lost to the buccaneers, who only have one other win.  but they've steamrolled some of the better teams, like yesterday's solid win in cincinnati against the division-leading bengals.

once again, the defense wasn't all that great (a.j. green, yikes), and the offense had some moments where it looked like it just couldn't click, but then, when the fourth quarter came around, it looked like they could do no wrong.  much credit, of course, has to go super-human le'veon bell, who is really, really good.

i'm not going to look up all the numbers, but cbs showed a stat that he and walter payton are the only two players to rack up at least 200 yards from scrimmage in three consecutive games.  that's a pretty remarkable stat which speaks very clearly about his workload, his versatility, and the way he has delivered with strong performances when called upon.  and the steelers are calling on him.  early and often.  there were stretches in that game when it felt like if the play wasn't a handoff to bell, then it was a checkdown pass to bell.  everybody else could just go sit down and get some gatorade.  but of course, they didn't.  and all those runs and underneath passes opens up some other options....

like that 94-yard go route to martavis bryant, who flashed some impressive speed in getting past the cornerback and not relenting any ground all the way to the end zone.  that was a beautiful sight to behold, and i was happy to see ben lay it in perfectly in bryant's long stride.

but a go route like that only really works because the cornerback is cheating up just a bit, with his eye on le'veon bell.  bell's endurance, his ability to run routes and catch passes, and his ability to make anything happen any time he touches the ball is opening up other areas of the field for bryant and brown to get big chunks of yards.  if the o-line can continue to play like they did against the bengals, this offense can really shine.  or, they might go all mr. hyde on us and look like a team that wouldn't be able to beat a good high school team.  who will show up these last three games of the season?  who knows?  all we know is that they can't finish any worse than 8-8, and they have themselves poised to at least have a winning season this year, and maybe even get into the playoffs, which woudl be a miracle, given everything that has transpired this season.

here we go, steelers!

Wednesday, December 03, 2014


hello from the milinovich household!  believe it or not, we're still here!  we had a wonderful thanksgiving, full of wishbones and football and the deep satisfaction of being surrounded by those who know you best and still love you anyway.

thankful, indeed.

now we have jumped headlong into advent, fully expecting Jesus to show up in all the traditions and mundane moments of these weeks.  we acknowledge a certain inherent craziness in the upcoming days, but we have also challenged ourselves to give the gift of our presence this year, to God and to others.

on monday we went and got our Christmas tree, an annual tradition filled with such fun as finding the perfect tree, then walking 2.9 more miles away from it in search of a better one; putting the tree in the stand in such a way as to make it absolutely impossible to stand up straight; and getting out the lights that mysteriously stopped working since last year,   fun.  actually, that's what usually happens, but this year we had none of that.  it was almost too easy.  we found the tree pretty quickly (that's shannon and the boys saying "TA-DAAAA" up above).  it stood up straight.  all the lights worked.  we didn't have any trips to the e.r.  it's been a pretty holly-jolly season so far.  and the tree looks amazing, along with the rest of the house, all decorated and lit up, just the way we want it.  you would think we are expecting someone.  oh, wait....we are....

Tuesday, November 25, 2014


in moments like this, we are reminded that the kingdom in which we are citizens is not protected by police, ruined by riots, or selling headlines for the media.  

we are part of the kingdom of God. 

it is a kingdom that is already/not yet;
a kingdom that is marked by love, not fear;
a kingdom that is coming to earth as it is in heaven.  

it won't be legislated, enforced, or sold in stores.  
but it is happening right now.  

every time we choose to love our neighbor;
every time we put the "other" before ourselves;
every time we embrace someone with all their differences from us.  
every time we demonstrate that every life matters, because we are all children of God.

let us live today - and everyday - in love and kindness, compassion and peace.  

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

steelers run by titans, move to 7-4

on monday night, the steelers squeaked by the tennessee titans, overcoming an 11-point deficit late in the second half, thanks mostly to le'veon bell.

i wasn't a fan of his off-the-field antics this summer, but i sure do love the way this kid runs the ball.  like everyone in the world has already written about him before, it is so strange to watch him.  he seems to linger and hesitate behind the line of scrimmage, the way many other ball carriers for the steelers have in the past.  the difference is that when they hesitated, they almost always got hit for a 2-yard loss.  with bell, it is like he hesitates just long enough to see the hole and then explode through it.  there was a series in the game on monday night where he rushed for 10.  then 10 again.  then 8.  even though the titans knew the handoff was coming, he just found a way.  yes, tons of credit goes to the offensive line for recognizing defenses and getting the blocking right, but you can block right all day and still not gain any yards.  you need a runner with strength, vision, speed, patience, and the ability to hold onto the ball.  bell has all of it.  and it is beautiful to watch.

there were a few other highlights, including a nice game by antonio brown, a good catch by markus wheaton when one was needed, some nice catches across the middle by heath, and a pick-6 by william gay.  there were lots of lowlights, too, but i don't have to focus on those because we won, and now we have the bye week to try and get extra healthy before we welcome the saints to pittsburgh.  here we go steelers!