Thursday, September 30, 2004

FAMILIES POINT BEYOND THEMSELVES. Families are not ends in themselves. Not Christian families, at least. They point--or should point--beyond themselves and function in service to something beyond insularity or self-validation. I have two images in mind. Christian family is part kingdom camp and part mission base. Are you interested in exploring these twin modes or trajectories of household life and mission? Do these trigger other ideas?
THE FIGHT WE FIGHT. Jeff VanVonderen writes: “Our children’s biggest struggle is exactly the same as ours: We are all fighting to draw our sense of significance, have our real needs met, and to view ourselves as loved and accepted on the basis of Christ’s performance and not our own. Unfortunately--as it is with many Christian adults--that fight has been lost for our children in the preoccupation with performance that is so prevalent in Christian families and churches” (from Families Where Grace Is In Place). From where are you drawing your sense of significance, love, and acceptance?

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

FAMILIES WHERE GRACE IS IN PLACE. I've been working with a book study and discussion group on Wednesday evenings over the past three weeks. The book is titled Families Where Grace Is In Place by Jeff VanVonderen. It's a book worth evaluating your primary relationships with. It helps me as a spouse and a parent. I recommend it.

INTO THE WOODS. This is the best time to get into the woods in Central Indiana. Yesterday, I rode for a while along the Canal Tow Path north of 30th Street and took the trails around Hidden Lake near Butler University. This is one of the great bikehiking resources in the area. Get out there; ride!
BEN DAVIS ADVANCES IN COUNTY. Ben Davis boys varsity soccer team defeated Park Tudor Preparatory Academy (the rich boys) Tuesday evening at Roncalli High School, 3-0. Perry Meridian defeated Roncalli in the second game of the evening, 3-0. That sets up what promises to be a great second-round match-up between Ben Davis and Perry Meridian @ BD on Thursday evening.

JARED -- "THE MARKER." Jared is "the marker" for Ben Davis. That is, he is assigned to go one-on-one with the opposing team's highest scorer, which is usually the center forward. He has all but shut down these scoring specialists throughout the season. Last evening he defended against a player who has scored 23 goals for Park Tudor this season. Jared frustrated the kid all night and kept him from scoring. Well done! He'll have another tough assignment against a senior on Perry Meridian on Thursday. Good luck!

RENEWING SIDELINE ACQUAINTANCES. One of the fun aspects of these competitions is renewing acquaintances with parents and players that have been on Jared's teams in club league play across the years. Last evening no fewer than 10 players on Ben Davis, Perry Meridian, and Roncalli had once played on the same 12-year old Indy Inferno team under the coaching of George McMannus. It was fun talking with parents as our boys fought it out on the pitch.

LIFE TOGETHER ON WEST MORRIS STREET. I just posted my weekly church e-journal effort called "Life Together on West Morris Street." Click here to read it. Life Together gives some insight into the concerns, prayers, teaching themes, mission, and hospitality of West Morris Street Free Methodist Church, the near-downtown community of faith I serve as Senior Pastor.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

MARION COUNTY TOURNEY BEGINS. The Marion County high school boys soccer tournament begins this evening. Ben Davis will meet Park Tudor at Roncalli for the opening game of the first round. Maybe the BD boys will use their 2-2 tie with Zionsville on Saturday night as a springboard for a successful run thru the county contests. Last year BD surprised all by placing second to Lawrence Central in the tourney. The county tournament includes most Marion County schools that are not in Center Township; schools within Center Township play for the City title. Good luck Jared!
REGISTER TO VOTE -- ASAP. If you plan to vote in the November national election and you are not registered, or if your voting status is in question because you have not voted in a long time (not to mention any names), you need to register to vote ASAP. If you are an Indiana resident, click on this link to download an Indiana voter registration form. If you are a resident of Indiana and need to cast an absentee ballot, click on this link to download an application for an absentee ballot. It must be mailed to your respective county election office (addresses are included in the download) at least 8 days before election day.

DON'T TAKE IT LIGHTLY. Though you may or may not like the choices, and though you may be suspicious of some or all politicians, voting in free, democratically-conducted elections is a privilege many people have suffered or given their lives for. Please don't take it lightly. Of course you also have the right to choose not to vote.

Monday, September 27, 2004

I MET HOWARD SNYDER TODAY. The man who just walked in the Bob Evans restaurant where the weekly 6:30 am Monday morning group I meet with gathers is Howard Snyder, one at our table says. Howard A. Snyder: author of The Radical Wesley, The Problem of Wine Skins, and numerous articles that have influenced me as a Wesleyan urban minister. Howard A. Snyder: the Free Methodist scholar who is completing a new authoritative work on the life and impact of B. T. Roberts (founder of Free Methodism). Here is this larger than life scholar at my local Bob Evans, looking rather unassuming and eating pancakes. As I am introduced to him, Snyder's first words to me are, "I've been praying for you."
GRACE NOTES POSTED. I just posted this week's edition of Grace Notes at This week's contents include: a reflection on fall called "It's Official: Autumn's Here; a reflection on parenting as hospitality called "Welcoming Strangers Called Children"; and a portion of an extended poem called "Window Poems" by Wendell Berry.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

BECKY WITH ABBY @ TWO. This is one of my favorite photos from way back when there were only three of us in the household and that house was located in Owasso, where Abby came into the world on a beautiful fall Oklahoma day.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, ABBY. Abby, our oldest child, is 19 today. We are so proud of you! Great to have you home for a few hours and worth every minute of it to us. And thanks for insisting on the homemade raspberry cake (with raspberry's from Becky's garden!); we'll enjoy it in your honor all week long.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

FROM ILLINOIS TO FLORIDA. I'm writing from Bourbonnais, Illinois this morning, where we are visiting Abby on "Parents Weekend" at ONU. She plays a soccer game here today, too. Checking in with hurricane Jeanne, the National Hurricane Center has shifted its prediction of landfall toward the south of Melbourne and moved up landfall to approximately 2 am on Sunday. Still, the range of computer trajectories favor a more northerly path for Jeanne; if they are correct, landfall could be later and hit closer to Daytona Beach. Whatever...having picked up energy from the warm waters between the Bahamas and the Florida coast, it will be a major, category 3 hurricane whenever, where ever it hits. Brace yourselves, friends.

Friday, September 24, 2004

NIETZSCHE & MORRISON. I read that Jim Morrison was into Friederich Nietzsche. Nietzsche is a late 19th-century philosopher many young people seem to be drawn toward (or intentionally and disproportionately exposed to?). A troubled youn man by the name of Adolf Hitler certainly was, too. How many people have been sucked into Nietsche's seductive nihilism and inadvertently let the door slam shut on any away out?

MOUNTAIN BIKING TODAY. I snapped this shot of my Raleigh parked against a "No Swimming" sign at Washington Township Park in Hendricks County, Indiana. The trails are heavily wooded and hilly; easy to advanced. They aren't long, but always manage to kick me around and wear me out.
SUNDAY IN THE SUNSHINE STATE. Speaking of unreality that is certainly reality: Hurricane Jeanne spins ominously toward the birthplace of Jim Morrison--Melbourne, Florida. Certainly the residents of Florida must be thinking how unreal it is that they are about to be slammed by a fourth major hurricane within six weeks. Jeanne, having claimed the lives of up to 2,000 souls in Haiti, will make a northward scrape along the east central coast of the Sunshine State early Sunday morning. It will be a category 3 storm with winds predicted at 120 mph. Mom, dad? Are you listening? Are you watching? Why not head north for a few days?
SINGER OR SHAMAN? It's hard to get an objective biographical sketch of The Doors singer-songwriter Jim Morrison. Most who write of him were believers in him, not merely listeners or concert-goers. Morrison believed himself to be a sort of shaman (he used psychotropic drugs, marijuana, and alcohol to help him feel he was reaching beyond consciousness in order to experientially lead others there). Many who attended The Doors concerts witnessed less "entertainment" and something more akin to a spiritual encounter. Morrison apparently took his perceived gift and role as a shaman quite seriously and tried hard to help those gathered at the concert (er, spiritual festival) to "wake up," experience something transcendent, and open up to a greater consciousness. Morrison resisted the "entertainer" label and fought the industry.

CONSCIOUSNESS & REALITY. Morrison's life ended tragically in 1971. A drug trip into "greater consciousness" left Morrison permanently nonconscious in Paris at age 27. He was a forerunner of numerous rock-era poets, songwriters, musicians, and band leaders whose lives spun out of control under the influence of warped philosophies and addiction to deadly substances. Their lives, so full of ability and seeking, had become unreality long before their deaths. My comment here is not so much a condemning judgment as it is a recognition of the drive and desire for transcendence, and the failed and failing paths to it. More on The Doors and Jim Morrison.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

RECORD IN A CEREAL BOX. I remember getting a tiny record in a cereal box when I was a ten year old. The record was flexible (ah, a floppy disc!) but it played well. And I really liked the song. It was clearly a rock song. I'm surprised my parents let me keep it; but how bad could a song from a cereal box be? The singer had a sometimes haunting, sometimes driving, but always intense voice. I loved the song, "Light My Fire." The group was called "The Doors." It would be years before I learned the voice and personality behind The Doors was that of Jim Morrison. I now know he was perhaps one of the most compelling talents and tragic lives of the rock era.
JEANNE HEADS FOR THE COAST. Get ready, Florida: Jeanne is on her way. Current National Hurricane Center prediction for landfall is approximately 8 pm Sunday evening, at or near Daytona Beach (just ten miles north of New Smyrna Beach, where my parents live). Granted, it's currently "only" a category 2 hurricane, with sustained winds at 105 mph. But some strengthening is predicted before landfall; it will likely hit the beach as a category 3 storm, with winds in excess of 11o mph.
CHANGE OF MIND CAN BE GOOD LEADERSHIP. It is no indication of weakness in leadership to change one's mind on crucial matters. Keeping to a single course or staying with a decision if that decision was bad, or misinformed, or better informed by subequent better information, is no sign of fortitude and strength. Instead, it is a sign of ignorant stubbornness. Staying the course for the sake of saving face at the expense of lives, economic stablity, and integrity is foolish. I respect a leader who changes his/her mind in the face of failing or hurtful directions or policies.
COMMUNITY SEEKER. A while back, the Bruderhof brethren sent along the following excerpt from Jean Vanier’s book Community and Growth. I have been fascinated by community formation, community development, and community encouragement since reading Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s descriptions of it in college and participating in a workshop on community formation by M. Scott Peck. I’ve discovered how much I need traveling companions for life’s journey. The Church, I believe, is intended to be and become a company of people committed to exploring and living the full range of faith over a lifetime. Vanier speaks to this.

THE PROBLEM WITH FOUNDING A COMMUNITY. “It is quite easy to found a community. There are always plenty of courageous people who want to be heroes, are ready to sleep on the floor, to work hard hours each day, to live in dilapidated houses. It’s not hard to camp—anyone can rough it for a time. The problem comes in living with brothers and sisters whom we have not chosen but who have been given to us, and in working ever more truthfully towards the goal.”

ACCEPTING WHO WE ARE. “A community is only being created when its members accept that they are not going to achieve great things, that they are not going to be heroes, but simply live each day with new hope, like children, in wonderment as the sun rises and in thankfulness as it sets. Community is only being created when they have recognized that the greatness of humanity lies in the acceptance of our insignificance, our human condition, and to thank God for having put in a finite body the seeds of eternity which are visible in small and daily gestures of love and forgiveness.”
I try to imagine the joy I felt on my wedding day, and when each of our four children were born, when I greet my wife and children each morning. These are no less gift and precious and mystery today than at the beginning of the journey. God, help me see my loved ones today again through eyes of grace. Amen.
IVAN & JEANNE LINGER. Just when coastal folk were starting to breath easier...Hurricane Ivan's remnants have reformed in the northern Gulf of Mexico and are once again on the move. Out in the Atlantic, Jeanne, after it left 800 people dead in impoverished Haiti and after heading north into open seas, has made a sudden westward turn. The National Hurricane Center now predicts it will make American landfall somewhere between northern Florida and the Carolinas. Once again, weather talk is not just about the anticipation of the colors and blessings of Autumn. This enhanced satellite photo shows the range of cyclonic activity in the Gulf and Atlantic.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

FIRST DAY OF AUTUMN. It's official. Today begins the greatest season, don't you think? And there's no better place to live autumn than Indiana. Turn off the TV. Shut down your computer. Get outdoors! Savor the season. Don't let this one pass you by.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

SAM TRACKING A PASS. That's my son Sam, #71, tracking a pass. He plays cornerback for the Bears on defense; he's a linesman on offense. Sam, age 11, had five solo tackles, forced one fumble, and recovered another in Saturday's game in the Ben Davis Cadet Football League. Most importantly, he played with great heart. The Bears lost in overtime to the Bucs, 6-12.

HOSPITALITY AND CHILDREN. I'm reading Families at the Crossroads by Rodney Clapp (IVP, 1993) and was impressed by his perspective on parenting. In a society in which birthing and rearing children does not seem to make much economic or consumer sense, Clapp asks Christians "Why do we have children?" His assertion: "Christians have children so we can become the kind of people who welcome strangers."

OUR CHILDREN, OUR TEACHERS. After tracing the bold threads of the history of Israel, the story of Jesus, and the life of the early church that put hospitality to strangers as central to spiritual formation and Godly practice, Clapp observes: "Christian parenthood, then, is practice in hospitality, in the welcoming and support of strangers. Welcoming the strangers who are our children, we learn a little about being out of control, about the possibility of surprise (and so of hope), about how strange we ourselves are. Moment by mundane moment--dealing with rebellion, hosting birthday parties, struggling to understand...--we pick up skills in patience, empathy, generosity, forgiveness..."

OPEN TO THE STRANGEST STRANGER OF ALL. He continues: "And all these are transferrable skills, skills we can and must use to welcome other strangers besides our children. We become better equipped to open ourselves to strangers, especially to those strangers who are not our children but our brothers and sisters in Christ. Yet, finally, and most importantly, gaining courage to meet and love our children as strangers give us courage to welcome the strangest stranger of them all--the God who meets us in Israel and Jesus Christ."

WHY CIVILIAN CONTRACTORS IN IRAQ? It baffles me that American civilian contractors are willing to work in Iraq. Yesterday's beheading of an American hostage, and imminent threat to the life of yet another, comes after insurgent groups have given clear and sustained warning signals that such atrocities would continue for any Americans working in Iraq. Why civilian contractors are still there is hard to fathom, but why they went--or how they were persuaded to go--in the first place is most curious to me. Did someone say "we have a great opportunity for you?" Was it to make enough money in a year to be able live off of the rest of your life? Could they not find any other work? Were they on some spiritual mission? Why did they go; and why are they still there?

Monday, September 20, 2004

GRACE NOTES POSTED FOR SEPT 19. This week's edition of Grace Notes is now posted at In this edition: Draw God Into the World; Called (an original poem); Weather Talking; Annie Dillard on God & Weather. I recently updated the Grace Notes home page template to reflect the bikehiker blog format. Still tweaking.

WEEKEND FAMILY SPORTS UPDATE. Here's what happened over the weekend for the Hay gang:

  • ABBY traveled to Iowa for two games; Olivet Nazarene beat Grand View College on Friday (3-2) and lost to Willam Penn University (0-1). It was the Tiger's second loss of the season.
  • JARED, a defender, scored a goal in Ben Davis' win against Terre Haute North on Saturday. The Giants defeated TH North 3-0 and TH South 3-0 on Saturday. BD lost 1-2 to Indiana state powerhouse Brownsburg on Thursday; everyone said it was a great game. Jared was made co-captain by Coach Jim Copsey early last week. Congrats, Jared. Lead well!
  • MOLLY'S Arsenal '91 team tied one Carmel United team and lost to another (0-1) over the weekend. Molly's toughness on defense brought complaints from Carmel parents on Sunday. Imagine that: The Carmel elite whining.
  • SAM'S 5-6th grade Bears lost in overtime to the Bucs in Ben Davis Cadet Football. Sam had five solo tackles, forced a fumble, and recovered another fumble. They played hard. Still, his coach berated the boys after the game. I've noticed way too much rage and screaming at children by both coaches and parents in the Ben Davis Cadet Football program. Folks seem to take it as the norm; I take it as very unnecessary and unhealthy.

WEATHER & RELIGION. Is it not true that ancient people formed their religions with weather as an integral part of their concern? Here was an unpredictable, uncontrollable force that could bless or punish. Were there actions one could take, rituals one could perform, sacrifices one could offer to make the skies behave for one's benefit? Could the weather be appeased? Was one being punished when lightning struck or floods flowed? I shudder just thinking of the human atrocities that have occurred in the name of "sacred" weather.
FORGIVENESS FIRST. "The sequence of forgiveness and then repentance, rather than repentance and then forgiveness, is crucial for understanding the gospel of grace." -- from The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning.

GRACE AWAITS. Forgiveness precedes repentance. When you repent (ah, another word worth redeeming from the cliche pile!) you find yourself already forgiven. What are the implications of this for interpersonal relationships? Have I already forgiven those who have sinned against me? What are the implications of this for international relations? How can grace be woven into international policy? Or can grace not be policy-ized?

Sunday, September 19, 2004

SPEAKING OF WEATHER. I found the following quotes regarding talking about the weather:

"Change of weather is the discourse of fools," said Thomas Fuller. Seems like a rather caustic and dismissive perspective. What do you think?

"Everybody talks about the weather but nobody does anything about it." So said Charles Dudley Warner. Hmmm...

"Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces up, snow is exhilarating; there is no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather." This is attributed to John Ruskin. I identify with the spirit of Ruskin, but I wonder if John ever lived through a hurricane?

The best observer of weather I have read is Annie Dillard, particularly in For the Time Being. Weather is one of the threads she weaves in this most breathtaking book. I will have to select a good paragraph from it to post.
WHY TALK ABOUT WEATHER? Looking back over my blogging the last few weeks, I see that I have been unusually interested in the weather, particularly these hurricanes. This is not typically the case, and certainly there is more to talk about than the weather. But why do we talk about the weather?

Saturday, September 18, 2004

HOPPER'S BACK FOR ARSENAL TODAY. Molly "Hopper" is back on the field for Indianapolis Arsenal '91 in a game with Carmel United today. Molly's knee is better and she says she's ready to play in this match-up of rival clubs. Good luck!

Friday, September 17, 2004

IVAN'S SIGNATURE. Hurrican Ivan left marks like this from Pensacola, Florida to Gulf Shores, Alabama. How long have we been naming these weather events? Naming helps us personify them--even pour our emotions into them.
HURRICANE REMNANTS. Bands of clouds and turbulence from Ivan's spin-out over Tennessee are passing over Central Indiana this morning. These mere remnants blow counterclockwise and bring small gusts that rustle the trees in fits and starts. Where has this breeze been in the past frew days? A look at the slideshow of Ivan's devastation in Pensacola, Florida tells the story of devastation.

THE UNFORGETTABLE SEASON. And, surely you've heard that Jeanne is on a westward path to make American landfall early next week. And behind her, Karl (though Karl is predicted to expend his fury out at sea). Welcome to the unforgettable hurricane season. Is this the one we will tell our grandchildren about? About Charley, Frances, Ivan, Jeanne, and...?

NAMING THE FURY. How long have we been naming these storms--these weather events, even sagas? Somehow, naming a thing helps us personify it, even pour emotions into it. Does Greek mythology capture the imagination today because people personified their universe so fully and shaped it into enduring, transcendent stories?

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

IVAN AND JEANNE = DEVASTATION. It's high drama in the Gulf of Mexico and Carribean right now. There's no TV drama or reality show that can compare. Hundreds of thousands of people have evacuated, seeking shelter and higher ground. But this drama is not for entertainment. We're talking sheer devastation and catastrophe. Technology has provided every opportunity to track Ivan and pin-point its landfall. Sufficient warnings have gone out. Pray that all have heard and heeded the call, and that all in the path of the hurricane will be saved.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

ND, INDIANA, & PURDUE. Did you see/hear that Indiana's three major college football teams all won on the first weekend of the '04 season? Notre Dame upset No. 8 Michigan. Purdue rolled over Syracuse. And Indiana University defeated Oregon. Indiana? Over Oregon?? Could this be a rare season of possibility and hope for the state's football programs? It's a story worth watching for a few weeks.
HOSEA & GOMER. Have you heard of this dysfunctional marriage? The prophet and the prostitute? I am reading Hosea (in the Old Testament) and thinking about the kind of radical love it demonstrates. It is God's love for the Israel of faith, for us all. And it is the kind of love we are dared to offer our loved ones and neighbors. Read it and be scandalized, maybe even radicalized.
JEANNE BUILDING STEAM. What a difference a span of 12 hours makes when it comes to a tropical storm. While almost all eyes have been on Ivan, a tropical wave built into tropical depression 11 and then became tropical storm Jeanne. Jeanne, currently swirling just southeast of the Virgin Islands and headed toward Puerto Rico, went from 30 mph to 60 mph today. Its power is building by the hour. Its track? Its northwest direction takes it into the Bahamas, which lie just off the southeast coast of Florida. Hang on to your hats.
SAY "HELLO" TO TROPICAL DEPRESSION 11. Good morning! Rise and shine! And say "hello" to the next hurricane. Tropical depression 11 is builiding steam just southeast of Puerto Rico in the Caribbean. It's circulating winds are at 37 mph for now. If--or when--they reach 45 mph the tropical depression will be considered a tropical storm; that's when it receives a name. If its sustained winds reach 75 mph it will be considered a hurricane. Its potential name? Jeanne.

Monday, September 13, 2004

WEEKEND SOCCER WRAP-UP. Jared and the Ben Davis boys varsity beat Brebuf Jesuit on Saturday, 2-1. Jared covered an all-state striker and held him scoreless. Molly's Arsenal U-13 girls squad had mixed results in their Midwest National League play in Louisville, finishing the weekend 1-1-1. Molly strained her MCL and will take a few days off to heal. Becky and Sam watched Abby and the Olivet Nazarene women's team defeat Indiana Tech in Fort Wayne, 4-1. Sam plays "Monday Night Football" (cadet football, that is) under the lights at 21st & Girls School Road tonight. Go Bears!
GRACE NOTES POSTED. I just posted this week's edition of Grace Notes: Weekly Fragments from the Margins of a Graced Life at This week's quotes & reflections include: Love is a Fire; Another Week, Another Hurricane; Bikehiker Blog; and Jesus & Families. Grace Notes is my weekly exercise in re-membering and re-collection in contemplation of grace in life. I've been posting Grace Notes weekly for five years now.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

TYLER HAMILTON DEDICATES STAGE WIN TO SEPT 11 VICTIMS Still smarting from a crash on Wednesday, American Tyler Hamilton (Team Phonak) nonetheless won the individual time trial on Saturday at the Vuelta a Espana (Tour of Spain). He dedicated the win to victims of 9/11. His time pulled him up to 3rd place overall, just 32 seconds behind race leader American Floyd Landis of US Postal Serv ice team. See for full results and photos (where this photo came from).
INTEREST IN IVAN Hurricane Ivan has intensified to Category 5 status after passing just south of Jamaica. With sustained winds of more than 165 mph (and higher gusts), the creature crawls at 9 mph toward the west end of Cuba. Havana, brace yourself.
LOUISVILLE RIVER WALK The City of Louisville has made the best of its Ohio River front with the river walk development. Today I rode west from soccer fields on River Road (Molly's Arsenal team lost a morning game to Javanon, 1-2, and won an afternoon game over Team CSC, 1-0 in this Midwest National League weekend). I picked up the paved river walkway on River Road, took it through the downtown area and kept on it as long as I had time for. How far it goes, I do not know. But it was a refreshing ride, both urban and wooded, with the Ohio River almost always in view. Quick: who is the most famous person from Louisville?

Friday, September 10, 2004

THAT'S MY OLDER SON The one with the head band. The high school junior. The fierce defender. The developing leader. The one I think colleges should seriously consider. Good luck throughout the season, Jared.

THE PELOTON Who's leading the Vuelta a Espana? No one in particular at the moment this photo was taken. The Tour of Spain is now rolling in Stage 7 of 21. Get updates at

Thursday, September 9, 2004

VUELTA A ESPANA UPDATE The third of the great annual road cycling races has completed 6 of 21 stages. Vuelta a Espana, or the Tour of Spain, is currently being dominated by the US Postal Service team sans Lance Armstrong. USPS team members Manuel Beltran (Spain) and Floyd Landis (USA) share the overall lead at this point. American Tyler Hamilton, following his Olympic road racing time trial gold medal, is lurking in 10th place, 50 seconds off the lead. Hamilton crashed on Wednesday, but his injuries do not threaten his racing capabilities. Follow the Vuelta live and get daily stage results at Quick: name the other two races that are considered, along with Vuelta a Espana, to be bicycle road racing's triple crown.

THREE SOCCER FRIENDS These gals have played soccer together for years in leagues, clubs, and high school. The two on the left are playing in college now, though in different places--Sara (on the left) goalies for Indiana Weslean; Abby (the one in the middle, my daughter) midfields for Olivet Nazarene. Sara C. is still a high school senior. Olivet and Indiana Wesleyan met on Labor Day; Olivet surprised, winning 2-0.

LOOKING A MONSTER IN THE EYE You're looking down on Hurricane Ivan (satellite photo taken on Thursday morning, Sept. 9). Don't get too close; his 155+ mph winds will chew you up and spit you out. Next stop: Jamaica.
IVAN UPGRADED TO CAT 5. Ivan is now officially a Category 5 hurricane with sustained winds at over 155 mph. He's picking up strength over warmer water and steaming toward Jamaica, then Cuba. NOAA computer forecast models vary beyond three days, but most send Ivan the Terrible into the southwest coast of Florida. Will he still be packing Cat 5 fury when he makes USA landfall sometime on Monday?

TRACK IVAN. You can track Ivan at Most other web weather sites get their info from the National Hurricane Center, though others are more creative with their web presentations. Most comprehensive and colorful hurricane tracking site: Tropical Weather Information by Crown Weather Service of Limestone, Maine:

NEITHER RAIN NOR HURRICANE... This is the cycling spirit: riding a bike along Highway 1 during Hurricane Frances! Isn't that a 20" Schwinn Stingray the bearded dude is pedaling in the gale? I found this photo on Planet Ark; it is by Rick Wilking
FIRST FAMILY No, not the Texans occupying the White House. "First family" refers, instead, to folks in the community of faith--the church. I'm trying to digest the implications of Rodney Clapp's (Families at the Crossroads, InterVarsity Press) assertion:

SECOND FAMILY “For the Christian, church is First Family. The biological family, though still valuable and esteemed, is Second Family. Husbands, wives, sons and daughters are brothers and sisters in the church first and most importantly – secondly they are spouses, parents, or siblings to one another.”

IDOLATRY OF FAMILY Christian community as First Family interprets Jesus' statements about family (see September 8 post: "JESUS: FAMILY MAN?") and applies the Apostle Paul's "household of faith" and "adoption" language. It's also a head-on challenge to what is usually assumed about "traditional family values." The locus of meaning shifts: meaning for individuals and families is the Kingdom of God begun in Jesus Christ, not the traditional family (which tends toward idolatry) in its consumer service to free-market economy. For some this is devastating and undermining; for others it is hopeful and constructive.

Wednesday, September 8, 2004

CAIRO, WEST VIRGINIA Bikehiking took me to little Cairo, West Virginia, an access point for a great rail trail. Mountain bike and road bike are both necessary to take in all the Mountain State has to offer bicycle enthusiasts.
JESUS: FAMILY MAN? Anyone who has a comment on this section of Scripture from Mark 3:31-34 (NIV), I'm interested: "Then Jesus' mother and brothers arrived. Standing outside, they sent someone in to call him. A crowd was sitting around him, and they told him, 'Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you.' 'Who are my mother and my brothers?' he asked. Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, 'Here are my mother and my brothers.'"

Also, Luke 14:26 (NIV): “Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple.” 'Splain it to me, Lucy.
HURRICANE IVAN. The trailer of Hurricane Frances is turning out to be quite a sequel. Like a wrecking ball, it's category 4 winds demolished concrete buildings in Granada (the only country Reagan's built-up military was able to vent its overwhelming capacities on during the 1980's). Ivan has his sites set on Jamaica (man!). And then, after a few days of picking up more steam in the Gulf of Mexico...who knows?

COOL CALCULATION? OR MONSTER? Of course all scientific-minded people know the course of a hurricane can be cooly calculated; it's just a matter of assessing counterveiling high pressure fronts impacted by degrees of wind shear, etc. But it's also easy to see why the inhabitants of the community that just got demolished may think more in terms of monster or finger of God.

With What We've Been Given

That we are privileged or blessed--or not privileged or blessed in ways apparent to the world--may or may not be a matter of our choice. What we do with our privilege or blessing, great or small, is always a matter of choice. This we call stewardship. And we would do well, it seems to me, to examine closely how Jesus spent--or invested--his privilege and blessing. I read somewhere that he emptied himself.

Tuesday, September 7, 2004


This is an original poem (copyright in effect; just let me know if you'd like to publish or copy it) that I worked on during my fascination with Hurricane Frances:

If you lived near a beach in the tropics
out of reach of a radio signal,
how would you know a hurricane was coming?

Would you note a disquieting calm
that spoke nothing of the future but
reminded you of some distinct past;
a heaven-sent day like this, all bright,
followed by howling, hellish torrents?

Would you see a sign on the horizon,
something you strain daily to see
yet hope never to set eyes on again,
some pattern, some hue, some glow,
some shadow emerging at the rim of your world?

Would you smell a hurricane
though it be hundreds of miles away,
an aroma wafted, perhaps from Cape Verde,
a wisp pushed ahead by a band of wind
flung far from the cyclone’s spiraling eye?

Would sea creatures or water fowl tip you
to the hurricane’s invisible approach?
How much sooner do their senses perceive
a change in the air and water that signal
a colossal disturbance and they flee?

Would there be washed-up debris that
gave away the storm’s stealthy intentions;
would unusual or distant gifts of the tide
alert you to the encroaching chaos--
foreign seaweed, fabric, a floatation device?

Or would there be no way of knowing--
no forewarning, no perceptible clue--
until a few ominous hours before landfall,
when the surf starts to pound and
winds begin to buffet all you have known?

Would you have to decide what to save,
what you could carry on your back, in your arms,
what, of a lifetime of labor and love,
was worth salvaging at all costs and
what would become fodder for the behemoth?

Would you then flee the sea for high ground,
taking cover; seeking shelter for your soul?
And would you pray as you retreated--
pray for mercy, pray for safety,
pray, at last, for life, at least, to be spared?

Okay, so I am now quite fascinated with the current hurricane season in general and with Hurricane Frances in particular. Watching this vast storm via internet satellite photos as it swirled through the western Atlantic toward America’s southeast coast at 10 miles per hour was awesome. It is as if it drew all elements within hundreds of miles into its vortex and spun them out with devastating fury. Awesome.

WHAT IF? When I was a child, our family vacationed in New Smyrna Beach, Florida for two weeks nearly every summer. We were never there during hurricane season, which begins in late summer and continues into Autumn. To my disappointment, hurricanes tended to affect other areas, not central Florida’s east coast. There was no local lore about the “big one” that hit back in the day. NSB was too safe, too tame. Still, my imagination would run wild with “what if” as I walked up and down the beach looking at beach houses, restaurants, and condominiums.

NOTHING IMAGINARY. It looks like my innocent childhood imagination became grim reality in Frances. Its track brought it ashore south of Cape Canaveral and Melbourne. Still, its 80-mile-wide swath of gale force winds, tide and powerful waves battered NSB’s beachfront and may will have rearrange fixed dwellings far inland. My parents’ NSB home withstood 90-mph winds from Charley with little damage a few weeks ago; I pray that when Frances finally exits Central Florida, it will have stood firm. They chose not to evacuate.

HURRICANE TRIVIA. Did you know hurricanes always rotate counterclockwise? That the eye of a hurricane is calm? That a tropical storm officially ranks as a hurricane when its sustained winds reach 74 miles per hour? That the worst hurricane is category 5, with sustained winds at 155 mph or higher? That Frances was a cat 4 storm with sustained winds at 145 mph on Thursday? That hurricane Ivan, already a cat 4 cyclone, has formed behind Frances out in the Atlantic and is heading toward the Caribbean?

OUT OF THIN AIR. I’ve visited numerous web sites trying to find the best animation of satellite photos, charts, updates and predictions. What is it about a watching a storm develop, grow, and move toward the continent that is so fascinating? Certainly it is because I have family in its path. Yes, because it is headed for places I have visited (will it swamp the Beach Variety Store or destroy Aunt Catfish’s restaurant?). More than these, it is its sheer and unstoppable power that emerges as if out of thin air. We can learn about tropical cyclones, try to understand how they behave and predict their course; but then all we can do is try to nail things down and get out of their way.
I'M BACK. I never left, really. Just stayed with my website with weekly postings under "Grace Notes" ( So, at the urging of a few friends, I'm back to this blog format. We'll see how it goes.