Thursday, October 14, 2010

Mike Sweeney

It's been a long time since I've posted, but because of a few conversations and a few things I've seen lately, I thought it was time to start again. And what better way to start than with the story of Mike Sweeney.

mike sweeney Pictures, Images and Photos

I'm not going to retell the story of Mike Sweeney - Joe Posnanski does a terrific job of that in his latest essay. Go ahead and read that first…

Welcome back. Theologian Alister McGrath writes, "We are all on a journey, whether we like it or not. For some, that journey leads from birth to death and no further. For others, who have come to know God, that journey is more complex." Mike Sweeney is a devout believer, and his journey through over 1450 baseball games without playing in the post-season has been complex, but through all the trials of playing for losing teams, mostly the Kansas City Royals, Sweeney has found joy in playing baseball. His taking an undervalued contract to play in Kansas City is a model of trust in God that overcomes greed. His quiet enduring of fans who later forgot that he took less money than he could have to stay in Kansas City and booed him, is a model of Christlike patience. His thank you letter at the end of his Royals career, noting that "faith, hope, and love remain, but the greatest of these is love," offers a way of sharing your faith with the kind of class that results in a standing ovation (which he receive the next day before his first at bat of his final game). His building a baseball field in a part of Kansas City that used to be home to drug dealers is a model of using the resources God gives you to transform part of your world into the kingdom of God.

And now, for the first time, Mike Sweeney is playing post-season baseball. He got a hit in his one at bat against the Reds. Maybe he'll get a chance to pinch-hit in the NL Championship Series. Maybe he'll even get to play in the World Series, if the Phillies can make it there. It would be a delight if he were to have a game- or series-winning hit in one of those series. But even if he doesn't, his complex journey has been a light shining in a professional sports world that is too often full of darkness.

I hope Mike Sweeney gets to pinch-hit in an important moment of the post-season, and I hope he gets a winning hit. But even if he doesn't, he's made far more important hits.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

All Good Things...

I've got a little over seven hours left of my sabbatical... but who's counting?

The sabbatical has been wonderful. I've got new ideas, new insights, and new passion for ministry. The last week has been taken up with paying bills and doing all the chores that got left behind... plus cleaning up an ugly surprise!

We have a dehumidifier in the basement that runs quite frequently, and empties the water through a hose into a drain in the basement floor. That end of the basement has a carpet that runs up to the drain. Somehow, at some time when we weren't aware of it, the hose was dislodged from the drain and ended up on top of the carpet. We're not sure how long it was like that, but it was long enough to make the piece of carpet quite nasty. Someone has said that everything grows in Iowa -- and we saw some things growing that I've never seen before! Yeech!

Our two eldest children returned home from their summer sojourn in Medora, North Dakota, this afternoon. It's wonderful to have them back, even if it is for just a short time. Dan will be leaving for his freshman year at Northwestern College in Orange City, IA, on Thursday, and I'll be taking Emily to Milwaukee on the 25th so she can fly out for her semester in the Middle East, based in Cairo, Egypt. So we've got to enjoy our eldest children fast.

It has been a wonderful, whirlwind, refreshing, renewing, and even restful 9 weeks. I'm ready to get back to work. But this summer has been good for my soul. I'm grateful to God, to Pella I, and to the Lilly Endowment, for making it a reality.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Two-Thirds Home

Karin and I had an uneventful return to Pella on Saturday. All the connections worked, and we were home in time to review the mail, feed the cats, and do a little laundry.

This morning we attended worship in Des Moines, en route to Clear Lake, IA, where we met Karin's parents, who were bringing Ty and Sam back from St. Paul, and Karin's cousin and her family who live there. The worship was good for our souls. We enjoyed the time to visit together in Clear Lake, and happily brought the boys home -- two-thirds of us home together.

Now we have a week to decompress, to get through all the tasks and chores to get ready for school. Emily and Dan will be returning next Sunday, and during that week the three boys all start school (Dan at Northwestern College in Orange City, IA), and the following Tuesday Emily will be leaving for her semester of study in Egypt.

Whew! It's been a wonderful sabbatical, and after one more week to enjoy rest, I will be ready to hit the ground running as the Fall season starts up.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Rockies Game II

We finished our counseling at Quiet Waters Friday morning. It was excellent.

We enjoyed the chance to walk around downtown Denver, saw the Denver Capitol Building (right) and learned about the history of Colorado at the Colorado History Museum (left).

Our last big event in Denver was the Colorado Rockies game against the Chicago Cubs. As a Milwaukee Brewers fan, I was delighted when the Rockies trounced the Cubs, 6-2.
Saturday we fly back to Iowa, and on Sunday we will head to Clear Lake, IA, to visit Karin's cousin and to meet Karin's parents and pick up Tyler and Sam. It's been a great two weeks in Colorado.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Thursday's Golden

The intensive at Quiet Waters is drawing to a close, as is the sabbatical.
After our session this morning, we headed to Golden, CO, once again. We explored the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum. We both enjoyed the beautiful quilts.
We then headed up the Lookout Mountain Road, along the Lariat Loop, to the Buffalo Bill Cody Grave and Museum. The road had Karin a bit nervous again, but the view from Lookout Mountain was terrific. This trip completed our tour of the Lariat Loop
We then headed back to Denver for a class at REI on bicycle maintenance.

Tomorrow will be our last session with our counselor, and the Colorado Rockies baseball game against the Chicago Cubs in the evening. Saturday we'll be flying back to Iowa for the last week of the sabbatical.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Gonna Fly Now!

Once again this morning we had an excellent session with our counselor. Karin and I are learning a lot about ourselves, our marriage, and my ministry. The time at Quiet Waters has been worthwhile.

The surprise today was that I got to fly. No, it wasn't flying in the black, no-chrome Dodge Charger rental car we've been driving, although I feel like I could fly while I'm driving it.
I got to fly by going skydiving! Okay, I didn't actually jump out of an airplane, but I did go indoor skydiving. I've always wanted to skydive, but Karin doesn't want me to fall, so she compromised and signed me up to fly in the windmachine.

So, with helmet, pads, goggles, and jumpsuit ready, away I go...

Not exactly flying like an eagle, but better than falling like a rock! What a trip!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


The counseling sessions have been very good, revealing some important things about us. The Quiet Waters experience has been worthwhile.

After our session this morning, we headed to Boulder, CO, where we got a delightful experience of tea. We had lunch at the Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse. This teahouse was a gift from Boulder's sister city, Dushanbe, Tajikistan. Tajik teahouses are decorated with Persian art and are places for friends and family to meet and talk over a cup of tea. The teahouse was beautiful, the tea was excellent, and the food was delicious.
After the Dushanbe Teahouse, we headed to the Celestial Seasonings factory for a tour and free tasting of the tea. It was a very good tour, and the stop in the Mint Room was overwhelmingly wonderful. The Mint Room is the storage place for the peppermint and spearmint, and we were able to stand in the room and enjoy the aroma. Heavenly! (So, what do you think of the matching hair and beard nets I had to wear on the tour?)
We ended our time in Boulder with a trip to Chautauqua Park, where we took a short hike to enjoy the view of the wildflower meadow and the Flatirons rock formation. Unfortunately, it was evening when we were there, so it was hard to get a good shot of the view.
Tomorrow will be a special treat -- check back for the story.