Thursday, July 30, 2009

Google News

This just in from John Winder of The Cypress Times:

"The Cypress Times is now ranked in the top 2.6% of Worldwide Websites.

The Cypress Times is now ranked in the top 1.2% of all U.S. Websites

In addition to that great bit of news, here's another -

The Cypress Times has been accepted by Google News as a daily news source. In the next few weeks Google (#1 Website in the World) will begin using articles from The Cypress Times in "Google News"."

Congratulations to John and to all the other contributors at TCT.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A Win for My Brother

Last Tour-related post for this year. We've turned our TV off and it's quiet once again. Or what passes for quiet in our house.

We had a nice, teachable moment for DW this past weekend. Though he still can't figure out what all the fuss is about--he knows what "bicycle race" means: somebody wins, somebody loses, and at some point you get to ride fast.

We watched Frank and Andy Schleck race with the leaders this year. They're brothers from Luxembourg and are very close on and off the track. Though big brother Frank has worn the yellow jersey in past years, younger brother Andy was competing for this year's overall lead. Andy also wore the white jersey--best young rider. The Schleck brothers are expert climbers and excel at mountain stages. On the climb up the Col de la Colombiere, Frank paced Andy up the steep mountain. Frank set such a quick tempo they left almost everyone else behind. Andy stayed on Frank's wheel until the closing kilometers when he took over the lead to give Frank a rest. At the finish line, Andy let his brother pass him and cross the line in first place.

Andy let his brother win to thank him for all his hard work on the mountain. But they shared the victory.

The lessons weren't lost on big brother DW. Brothers work together. Brothers help each other. Brothers share. And it's good to step aside and let your brother win. Big brother Frank won the stage; little brother Andy kept his 2nd place overall lead and white jersey prize. At the finish line they both cheered. After the race--a big hug.

Thank you, Shleck brothers.

How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity! -- Psalm 133:1

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Mountaintop Finish, Mountaintop Beginning

We've reached that point in July where I've watched so much cycling that I start dreaming about cycling--with Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwin providing commentary. Long mountain stages lately, with me alongside the rider in the Polka Dot Jersey. Yep, me and Franco Pellizotti, the King of the Mountains. Franco doesn't have much to say.

As I'm writing this at midnight, it's early morning in France on the biggest mountain stage of the Tour--Mont Ventoux. For much of the tour the teams have worked together. Teammates have looked out for each other--whether pacing their leader up a climb or leading their fast man into the sprint at the finish. On Mont Ventoux many riders will have to face the mountain alone. Experienced riders, like Lance Armstrong and George Hincape, don't fear the mountain. They know what's coming. The new guys are a bit anxious. They all want to make it to the top, which is said to resemble the moon: barren and rocky, high altitudes robbing the air of oxygen.

It's difficult to climb to the top of the mountain.

There are 13 pages of results for "mountain" at Scripture compares God to a mighty mountain; the mountains bow to him; he can hurl a mountain into the sea. But I only found 1 mountaintop finish--Moses' death on Mt. Nebo.

Often the mountain is only a beginning:
Mt. Ararat
Mt. Sinai
The temptation of Jesus
The Mount of Transfiguration
The Great Commission

What's your mountain? Is it a difficult climb that drains your strength and leaves you breathless as you claw your way to the top? Or is it a challenge to grow closer to God who meets you on the mountain and reveals himself to you?

Shalom, y'all

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Y? Because we like you

Instead of a Wii, we joined the Y this summer. I needed to get us out of the sun for swim lessons and try to get our toddler into the pool as well. Little did I know how much I'd enjoy it.

They ran a sale on coupons to work with a personal trainer. So I bought a series and enrolled myself in my own "fitness camp."

Boy was I out of shape. You'd think with all the chasing, dressing, and playing with my boys that I'd be down a dress size.

They started a "Stars and Stripes Challenge" in early July. I signed up and received a paper flag, which is posted on the fitness center windows. For each 1/2 hour of cardio I receive a star. For each hour of strength training I receive a stripe. The goal is to fill in the flag by mid-August--50 stars and 13 stripes. You do the math.

So I've been trying some different classes this summer--finding ways to earn stars and stripes. Here's a tour.

Strength training with my trainer:
Good--I can lift heavier weights after a month; I look like I know what I'm doing (more or less)
Bad--She won't let me cheat

Cardio machines:
Good--I can go 20 minutes on the Arc Trainer; I can run on a treadmill for 2 minutes (that's 2 minutes more than last month)
Bad--Sweat; gallons of sweat; buckets of sweat

Light and Lively
Good--Aerobic exercise to oldies while burning lots of calories
Bad--Trying to keep up with women 20 years older than I am

Good--Tons of fun exercising to Latin music; dancing out all my stress
Bad--I have a serious craving for Cuban food when we're done

NIA (nee-ah)
Good--What's not to love? Non-Impact aerobics (nia) with a combination of dance, martial arts, and Yoga. It's the most fun of all the classes.
Bad--Getting over the "I look ridiculous" feeling while swimming around the room in kind of a modern dance/Isadora Duncan way. They put mats over the windows- otherwise we'd attract quite an audience

Best of all? While I'm doing this, my kids get 2 hours in the playroom, playing games and climbing through the tunnels. Maybe someday I'll be able to keep up.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Domestique: The Strong Servant

And speaking of the Tour de France....

A couple of years ago Versus did a feature on the domestiques, the men who spend the Tour supporting a fellow team member in his quest for glory. Although we usually only hear the names of individuals, this competition is a team sport and a strong (or weak) team makes a difference in whether or not the team leaders reach their goals. As talented as he is, even Lance Armstrong could not have won 7 tours without the help of his team.

I wrote this article for one of the FaithWriters challenges and just updated it for 2009. It's posted this week at The Cypress Times.

Domestique: The Strong Servant

(If you like it, please click on the green up arrow under "rate this article".)

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Vive le Tour

As temperatures begin to soar and the reality of summer sets in, my husband and I anticipate a three week celebration of cycling's premier event. We're talkin' Tour de France.

Several years ago (was it 7 or 8?) we tuned into a cycling race to see this fellow named Lance Armstrong compete with the US Postal team. Neither one of us are cyclists, but he likes racing and I like scenery. Within a few nights we were hooked. Maybe even a little nuts.

We haven't missed a year since then. For three weeks, we're couch potatoes, recording it on our DVR so we don't miss a thing. We even watch it on vacation. When he was a baby, we actually set DW's bedtime so that we could watch the Tour. I used to keep it on all day--Paul Sherwin and Phil Liggett's British accents providing a soothing backdrop to my fussy babies. We even experience a post-race letdown. After the excitement of July, August seems long, hot and boring.

So excuse me for a few weeks, I hear the road calling.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Happy Independence Day

Happy birthday, U.S.A. Have a safe and happy 4th of July.


Thursday, July 02, 2009

No Sweat?

While slogging my way through a 20 minute elliptical workout this week (gasp) I glanced up at the row of television monitors secured to the wall of the YMCA. Amongst the scrolling headlines endlessly detailing Michael Jackson's latest post-mortem madness (enough already) I spotted something even weirder.

A list of the "Sweatiest Cities in the U.S."

Tampa was ranked #9: apparently just a bit sweatier than Orlando (10), but not quite as sweaty as Miami (7). Phoenix was #1.

Yeah, no kidding.

Turns out the list (produced by Old Spice) is "a projection of the average amount of sweat a person would produce during the months of June, July, and August...based on the average temperature of a city."

So if you visit Florida this summer, be forewarned. The Secret's out and we're in need of some Dry Ideas of any Degree. We're Sure. It's anything but Arrid here.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Acting on Impulse

Vacation Bible School ran its high energy course through our church last week. It’s a big production with over 100 volunteers (including those who set up and take down). Attendance hovered around 250 singing, dancing, chattering children from age 3 through 5th grade. This year’s theme, Crocodile Dock, somehow combined down home Southern swamp fun with Moses and the Passover story.

We five crew leaders led our combined group of 27 primary grade children through the daily stations of Bible, snack, video lesson with Chadder Chipmunk, crafts, and games. Our main tasks: guide the way, answer questions, and keep the group together.

My crew included one child with, um, well let’s just call them problems with impulse control. Loose communion cup holder in the pew? Kick that baby right off there. Feel like wrestling? Take down in the chapel. See something you want? Go after it. He agonized over waiting even one minute for something he wanted right now. Since this is my 2nd year shepherding this particular child I knew that somewhere in the midst of his chaotic mind, the gospel was taking root. Praise God.

Throughout the Exodus story we see Moses and the Israelites acting on impulse. Lose your temper? Kill the Egyptian overseer. (Ex. 2:12) Lose patience? Make a golden calf. (Ex. 32) Angry with the people? Can’t wait for God? Strike the rock at Meribah. Twice for good measure. (Num. 20) Our curriculum didn’t cover these stories, but I was reminded of them as the week wore on. Our sinful human nature doesn’t want to wait. We want it and we want it now.

This week I’m reading through the book of Proverbs. It’s a 31-chapter book on controlling our impulsive nature.

Watch your temper.

Hold your tongue.

Seek wisdom.

Wait on God.

Be patient.

Be still.


True in Moses’ time. True in Solomon’s time. True today.

Shalom, y’all.