Thursday, October 23, 2008

Munster Flood

I have been invited by the Munster Civic Foundation to assist them in coming up with a plan to distribute a fund of money that has been collected to people who were effected by the September flood in Munster. We had our first meeting last night and began laying out the general framework for persons to apply to recieve this money. Currently there is about $100,000 in the fund, not a lot when you consider that more that 1,100 households were effected by the flood. If anybody has some thoughts about how the money should be distributed, you can comment here or send me an e-mail.

In this mornings North-West Indiana Times (our local newspaper) there was an article describing the Munster Civic Foundation. I have attached it for your convenience.

Munster Civic Foundation
About the group: Formed in 1992. Supports the Town of Munster. Meets quarterly. Nonprofit organization.

Mission: Munster Civic Foundation strives to enrich the community through such efforts as beautification and education projects.

Special events: Munster Civic Foundation established a flood relief fund and 100 percent of all collections will go to affected residents. Checks should be made out to "Munster Civic Foundation" and can be dropped off at any People's Bank or the Town Hall; there are no administrative costs from MCF or the bank.
The foundation paid a portion of the cost for the brick parkway along Calumet Avenue and Ridge Road; contributed $300,000 toward the $1.2 million federal grant for the first 10 miles of the bike paths and pays for the town's fireworks display every year. The group pays for holiday decorations on the light posts in town, provides $20,000 sponsorship toward the Blues and Jazz Festival and, in the past, provided $10,000 in sponsorship for the winter festival. MCF made a substantial contribution to Munster Centennial Park and was responsible for the aerial demonstration and the Northwest Indiana Symphony Orchestra performance at the 100-year celebration. Munster Civic Foundation partnered with Munster Historical ociety for The Brass Tavern Cookbook that paired recipes and town history. The foundation encourages the display of public art through tax abatement of community properties and has the ongoing project of eplacing flags on street lights along 45th Avenue, Calumet Avenue and Ridge Road.

Advice: "There are absolutely no administrative costs associated with whatever giving is made to Munster Civic Foundation," said MCF secretary/treasurer Dave Shafer.

How to get involved: Donations for the flood relief fund can be dropped off at any People's Bank or the Town Hall or mailed to 1005 Ridge Road, Munster, IN 46321. For more information, call (219) 836-6945.

People might be surprised to know: "That it's (the foundation) around. We need to do more in the way of self-promotion," said Shafer.

Funds will continue to be collected until mid-late November.


Last Sunday, I preached a sermon about developing an attitude of gratitude. Through much research I have come to understand the physical benefits of an attitude of gratitude, but even more important are the spiritual benefits. When one is thankful for the blessings of life — for the blessing of life itself — it is amazing the way it changes our outlook.

The one thing that I challenged each of you to do is to start a gratitude journal. Every day, take a few minutes and write down some of the things that you are thankful for. I find that I am often writing down the same things, over and over again — and every time that I do, I think of them and think of how blessed I am. I am noticing a difference in me already.

Every day between now and Christmas take a few moments and write down the things that you are thankful for. If you are real creative, maybe you want to write a poem one day, or draw a picture, or . . . well, you get the idea. Every day, take a little time and say THANKS.
If you want to read my sermon (or listen to it), you can find it online at I hope that you will take some time to be thankful, and begin to develop and attitude of gratitude. Just think what the world would be like if we all had an attitude of gratitude instead of an attitude of "get out of my way".

It is not easy to slow down and smell the roses. If you are like me, you are always in a rush — too busy to see all the things we should be thankful for and too busy to recognize all the invisible blessings that surround us. One of my favorite poems is by Elizabeth Barrett Browning.
Earth’s crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God;
And only he who sees takes off his shoes—
The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries.
Take some time to see God in your everyday life — and see the blessings that are in your life as well.

Finally, I want to say thank you to each and every one of you. Thank you for being a part of my life, and thank you for letting me be a part of yours! I feel so blessed to be your pastor for these last eleven years. I have never lived this long in one place in my life — and I love it! I look forward to being in ministry with you for many, many more years to come. And most importantly, I look forward to taking off my shoes, and smelling the beautiful roses that God has put in our lives!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Chicago Marathon 2008

Nancy ran this morning in the 2008 Chicago Marathon. I wasn't sure what to expect since she has had tendinitis in her achilles for the last month or so. She just started running again a little over a week ago.

It was a beautiful day in Chicago to watch a marathon, a little warm to run one. But regardless she did great. Nancy ran the marathon in 3:58:08. I told her she was going to run 3:56:26 before the race and actually, until the last 10K she was an on 3:52 pace.

Running a sub 4:00 means she qualifies once again for Boston! I am not sure she is excited, but I am. My guess is we will go in 2010 and not in 2009 (your qualification is good for 2 years). This spring may be a little crazy with Jessica hopefully going to Australia for a semester.

I will try to get all the pictures from the marathon on my flickr site tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

The Navigator

I have read quite a few of Clive Cussler’s novels, and am a big fan of the Dirk Pitt series. I can’t say the same about any of his other series. The Navigator is in the Kurt Austin series.

The book opens with Austin on a ship in the North Atlantic hunting icebergs. They come to the rescue of a ship which is headed for a oil rig only to find that it has been hijacked by a group of pirates seeking a priceless Phoenician antiquity.

The story links Solomon and the Queen of Sheba with Thomas Jefferson and Merriwether Lewis. OK, it is a little ridiculous. The story is all about this statue that everyone seems to want, but it is feared that it’s true identity will cause world calamity.

Overall the book was predicable and at times just plain stupid. The jousting scenes made you want to put the book down and say DONE! This was one of the worst Cussler books I have ever read! Don’t waste your time.

Flood part 1

Who would have thought all that would go on the last month? Never in my wildest dreams did I anticipate what has taken place. Let me try to fill you in on what has happened since September 14th.

On September 13th, at 2:00 am Hurricane Ike came ashore at Galveston, Texas. We had been experiencing rain for the previous couple of days, but starting that weekend it rained, and rained and rained. I never realized that a hurricane could cause so much damage, so far away from where it came ashore. Sunday morning, we began getting flood warnings, and during the 11:00am worship service we received a cryptic note from the town saying that evacuations were taking place close to the Little Calumet River. Those of you who are from the region know that the Little Cal is hardly a river --- more like a dirty stream. But the rain had swollen the Little Cal to the point that it was flowing over the levee.

After Church was over, Nathan and I took a couple of women home because we had heard that there was a great deal of standing water on the roads in town. By the time I got home, close to 2pm, the rain had stopped, the sun was trying to get out --- and I was feeling guilty that I had decided to cancel Disciple Bible Study for the evening. I had no idea of the extent that the river had spilled its banks. Usually when we have a heavy rainfall my street always floods, not this time. It was very strange.

Monday morning, (my day off), I decided to head into the church, only to find that Nancy could not come in because the only exit from her neighborhood was underwater and closed. Nathan was dealing with water in his basement (seepage), and Kathy could not get across the Little Cal. from home. I spent some time trying to figure out what was going on, but really had no idea.

Tuesday, I started to really understand the impact that the flooding had. We began trying to locate all of the church families that were affected (12), and figure out what was going on in town. I went down to the Town Hall and in talking with the city officials I realized that nobody knew what the faith communities were doing. What I found out was --- neither did the faith communities. I took a phone book and began calling all of the faith communities in town, and invited them to a meeting at Ridge Church the following day. My objective was simple --- communicate what each group was doing and see what we needed to get organized. Not really a big deal.

Somehow my name ended up in the hands of the Indiana VOAD (Voluntary Organizations Assisting in Disasters). I received a call asking me to come the next day to an organizational meeting as the community planned a response to the disaster.

More to come . . .