11:00 PM This is my final weblog entry of 2004. In one hour 2005 will begin. I’m looking forward to all that God has in store for us. Happy New Year to everyone! 10:53 PM The Prayer Party drew a large and enthusiastic crowd to the Upper Room tonight. The crowd was slow in arriving and it took a while for the Breakaway Band to get people involved. I think some folks expected a traditional church service. What they got was a bluegrass festival featuring some excellent music. People kept coming until the Upper Room was totally packed. Things warmed up when the band led a rousing version of “Do Lord” and “This Little Light of Mine.” Heads started nodding, people relaxed and started clapping. I saw Cliff Raad smiling as he sang, and Bob Berry was singing and waving his hands in time to the music. We had a moving time of prayer for all the Calvary-related folks in the military—around 60 different names. More music, a time of prayer for our missionaries, then Al and Phyllis Elliott led us in “Mansion Over the Hilltop,” Debbie Birkey sang “I’ll Fly Away” and everyone joined in on the chorus. Neil Bremer did a bang-up job on “This World is Not My Home.” By that time everyone was really into the music. A final time of prayer, the Amazing Grace and we were done. Folks stayed around to talk, laugh, and share refreshments together. The Upper Room is the perfect place for the service, and it was the perfect way to wrap up 2004 and get ready for 2005. 10:48 PM 3452 miles. That’s my final bike riding total of the year. Alan and I did 22 miles this afternoon. We rode the Prairie Path through Maywood and Melrose Park, through Hillside and into Elmhurst and finally to the Great Western Trail in Villa Park. It was unseasonably warm—mid-50s, a true late December heat wave in Chicago. We rode against a 20 mph wind from the west so it hard going on the outward leg, but when we turned around to come home, we flew back in no time. The return leg was, literally, a breeze. As I rode back, it hit me that I can’t remember the last Alan and I rode bikes together. Not in the 30 years I’ve been married, not during college or in high school and probably not in junior high (though I can’t be sure). But I remember we used to ride bikes through Woodland Hills, the subdivision where we lived in Russellville, Alabama. The last time was probably in 1963, when I was 11 and Alan was 10. It was a great time to ride with my brother. I would call it profoundly satisfying for reasons that I cannot quite put in words. And it seemed right that we should it on the last day of the year. We agreed we should do it at least once every 40 years, which will make me 92 and him 91. If we live that long, we’ll celebrate with another ride. But I don’t think we’ll wait that long to do it again. 9:16 AM I have just updated by travel/ministry schedule for 2005. 8:55 AM We leave for China in 13 days. 8:52 AM Here are two new entries in the Crosswalk weblog: A Note from Bruce Thorn “Lord, do things I’m not used to” 7:03 AM Don’t forget about the Prayer Party tonight in the Upper Room, 7-9 PM. Good food, great music by the Breakaway Band, lots of fun, and plenty of time to share stories of God’s blessings and to pray together as we wrap up 2004 and get ready for 2005. 7:01 AM 3431 miles. My brother Alan (who lives in Mississippi) is in town for a few days. He and I went bike riding last night and had a blast. In Tupelo he rides on country roads, but I told him there are no country roads anywhere near Oak Park. So we did my usual 11 mile route through Oak Park, River Forest and Forest Park. This afternoon we plan to ride the Prairie Path west at least to Elmhurst and maybe further.