Friday, February 28, 2014

Collegiate T-Shirt Day

Okay, there was a choice between collegiate t-shirts, or vacation destinations too.  The Dr. Seuss reference was "Oh The Places You'll Go."  We assumed there'd be some Georgia t-shirts, and some Georgia Tech t-shirts as well.  That's why yesterday, we picked up for Madison a t-shirt from our current favorite university:  Monsters University!

More on this day in a bit.  Got home late after Friday Night Live episode, played some games with Madison, and we're pretty zonked right now.  Time for bed!

Tomorrow is the fourth annual National Platypus Day!  We've got a little display of stuff from the house, and some new gifts set up for Madison on the table down here in the kitchen.  Got to take the Platypus Day seriously...

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Oh no! Subtraction!

This was a fun worksheet that Daddy made for Madison to help with her subtraction problems. What's great is that I can easily adjust the numbers to make things more challenging.  Madison got this worksheet today after school, and wanted to get right to it.  She had a challenge with one of them, but is getting better.

Today was a great day at school, and a good day afterwards too.  Of course, there's ballet each Thursday.  We got there on time, and Madison enjoyed her preparations for the recital that's upcoming. May is looking like a busy month!

On the way back home, we hit on a now yearly tradition that takes place sometime shortly before St. Patrick's Day:  the Shamrock Shake.

Madison and Daddy stopped at McDonald's on the way home from ballet - Madison had about half of her cup, saving the rest for tomorrow.  Daddy drank all of his down, which was probably not a bright idea, considering he's developing some sort of weird reaction to milk-based products lately.  But I digress!  The tradition is firmly in place, and it was yummy!

We did a little homework, but no piano tonight.  Thursdays are a tight squeeze, so we settled down after doing a bit of homework, popping in the Lego Marvel game once more.  We met the Punisher in probably the funniest part of the game - he was very angry at the trucks spewing pollution out as they drove by.  So he wanted them punished.  He let us borrow his environmentally friendly armored truck so that we could punish them, running them off the road and destroying them.  

This, in essence, is how our government works on each side, with every issue.  Tonight, we went to bed a little later, but still made time for Bible and a comic.

Fun day!  Except, perhaps, the aftereffects of that shake... but it was fun while it lasted, right?

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Silly Sock Day

Or Wacky Sock Day.  Whatever it is, the day was a good one.  It's was also National Pistachio Nut Day - I don't think the two are related.  Still, we each had one pistachio nut this morning before embarking on the day.  The reason for this was because that is all that was left of the pistachio nuts.  We have this community bowl the three of us share, and it really doesn't take too long for the contents of the bowl to go away.

Which is somewhat like the box of thin mints I just got from Madison's cousin Hannah.  We got two boxes, but fairly soon that will be one box, I'm most sure.

Anyway, it was a good day today all the way through.  Wacky socks and all.  This is part of Dr. Seuss week, as each day has a different theme at school.  Tomorrow is "Red Fish, Blue Fish," so the kids are encouraged to wear either red or blue.  Madison will be set up for that tomorrow and... hold on... I need to seriously put this box of thin mints away before someone gets hurt....

...okay, I'm back.  Those things must have some sort of addictive substance in them.  It is impossible for me to eat just one of them.  I think I need help.

ANYWAY, school is going well, Dr. Seuss and all.  We've seemed to have mastered our subtraction of threes worksheets, although that practice will continue for a bit just to make sure she's got it down.  Today though, she did all of her exercises - about fifteen to twenty problems - and got them all right.  All of them were minus three, which oddly enough is supposed to something like the temperature tomorrow with the wind chill.  Like how I tied that in there?

It was a work day for Daddy, but he did come home around dinner time.  Mommy packed a great meal, so the trip home wasn't too eat, but to see the family.  It was a nice, happy time together.  Daddy finished that one comic book, which is what Madison is addicted to currently (like Daddy with those thin mints).

We didn't have time for much more, as it takes a little time just to get home.  But it was nice to see everyone regardless.  Madison and Mommy had just gotten back from tennis practice, where Madison had done really well.  In fact, she was very excited to tell me she had one the game of "popcorn," which I think may be like musical chairs, with tennis balls.  I think.  However it is played, out of the class, Madison was the winner, and she was quite pleased with herself in this.  Beyond that, her skills are improving.  This weekends forecast will warm up somewhat, so perhaps we'll head down to the courts soon to get some more practice in.  We'll see about that - things are getting busy, busy, busy at the church.  We'll have a new campus open in one week, the one in Gwinnett.  Also, we'll have the Espanol ministry on Sunday afternoons as well, which Daddy is promising to help with.  It's a full-scale Spanish service, along with a children's service in Spanish, which Daddy is doing his best to help with. It'll be fun, and maybe I'll finally master a bit more of Spanish than I currently do.  Maybe.

It was a busy day, as are most Wednesdays.  In fact, it's pretty much time to walk away from the kitchen here.  Must use self-control.  No more thin mints tonight.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Dr. Seuss Week

It's Dr. Seuss Week, so Madison wore her Cat in the Hat hat today, along with many other hat-wearing students.  Hat Day is such a huge holiday at the school.  I have no idea why this is - perhaps it is the very idea of something prohibited and strictly forbidden... suddenly available.  To fit in, we all wore ball caps on Hat Day.  Madison wore something from Cat in the Hat, which was to celebrate the week. She likes this hat, and it's her one big chance to wear it.  If Daddy could go back and change things, he'd wear a Viking helmet.  Or a large, red foam ten-gallon cowboy hat.  Or a cheesehead.  Such missed opportunities, but life is full of regrets.  If only, if only. Well, to settle things, I think I'll go get my cheesehead now and put it on!

Seriously though, Nana and Ye-Ye brought back this awesome hat from Ireland last spring, and that's the one Daddy has been going with lately.  It's approaching St. Patrick's Day, so we're getting into that spirit of things lately.  This Thursday, the plan is even to swing by McDonald's and get a Shamrock Shake.  That right there is what St. Patrick's Day is all about!  Yes, I know:  it isn't.  It makes as much sense as getting tanked though - I mean seriously, since when is a day named after a revered saint who brought salvation to much of Ireland all about going to a local pub and setting a few Guinness records? But I digress.  Our family will be spending time together this St. Patrick's Day, eating the traditional foods and listening to the music of Ireland up until then.  And yes, we'll be watching a few themed movies as well.  It's a neat season, and it's just getting started.

We saw the ISS again tonight, flying overhead one more time.  This time, however, we called up Nana and Ye-Ye, who also saw it.  And they called up Aunt Shain and her family as well.  So it was more of a mass-viewing, each of us from different locations.  There we were:  Mommy, Madison and Daddy, scanning the night skies when suddenly a star begins it's six-minute journey from NNW at 36 degrees, straight across the horizon.

We're working on subtraction lately with Madison.  This seems seems to be one of the first challenges that she is facing in school - that is to say, it's the first thing she's having to stop and think about before doing.  Subtracting three is the latest hurdle.  At least in this point of her math career, Mommy and Daddy are somewhat helpful!  Later on when there is calculus involved, things might be more of a struggle for we humble parents.

But like piano, Daddy is there learning too.  Today's piano class continued the climb towards something more advanced, as we were further up the scale, and doing some things with both hands as well.  But the kids were excited to learn what the Winter Wonderland event will be in a few weeks:  we were right about it being a magician.  The clues added up to that, although nobody knew for sure.  Mrs. Pam told the kids about the magician coming, and about there being stations at the Civic Center where the kids will learn how to do different magic tricks.  It sounds like fun - that's coming up in just a few short weeks.  In the meantime, we're still playing piano - and Madison is doing well there.  So far, so good.  Mommy admitted she's been left behind somewhat, but Daddy is keeping up with Madison.  The two of us will learn to play piano together.  Currently, there's a grand piano sitting in the lobby of the church, the last remnant of decoration from the ONE Marriage Conference.  Daddy snuck over there earlier today, and played a tiny tune with both hands, using chords on the left and a simple melody on the right.  It was simplistic, but at the same time part of the dream.  Imagine some day controlling a glorious instrument like that, walking up to it in a lobby and playing something nice.  The chords lately are unusual, a little different.  That's a good thing - it sounds great when Madison has been playing.

It was bath night, as Madison confessed to us that her feet stink.  She put her foot up to her face and went:  "PEW!"  So bath night it was!

But it was also Marvel night again.  That theme carried over:  first there was Lego Marvel, where we were having fun with new characters such as Trevor Slattery and Archangel.  The list of new characters continues to grow, and Madison is excited to get them all.  Just before before bed, we read a bit from the Bible - the beginning of the book of Acts.  But then it was Marvel again - this time, Madison wanted Daddy to read X-Men #30, where Jean Grey and Scott Summers get married.  We got about half-way through that one, before Daddy realized it was late - time for bed!  We said our prayers, and Madison was off and asleep rather quickly.

But Marvel night continued for Daddy and Mommy, who just got the movie "Thor:  The Dark World" today.  Also, we saw the Marvel One-shot:  "All Hail the King," which answered some questions from "Iron Man 3."  It was good, and this is the second mention of Trevor Slattery, who is a pretty unusual character in the Marvel Universe.  Hopefully he survives whatever comes next!

Next for us is something simple:  bedtime.  It was a full day, and tomorrow looks great as well:  it's Silly Sock Day.  Can't wait for that!

Monday, February 24, 2014

International Space Station

At 7:42 tonight, we saw it flying overhead - the International Space Station!

This was neat thing to do, and today's conditions made it perfect. This sort of fly-over happens frequently over time, and in fact tomorrow night's viewing will be about two minutes longer.  But tonight, we were close to the time when the idea came up:  Mommy told us in an hour or so, we'll be able to go outside and see it.  And we sure did.

Not that you can see anything that looks like a spaceship.  But it isn't a faint star that leaves you guessing if that's what you really saw or not.  It is a bright star that simply travels a determined path across the sky - no blinking lights or anything that tells you it is an airplane.  No, this is as bright as a star, and together we saw it pass overhead.

What a teachable moment!  It was late, but we still took time to watch a video on the International Space Station on the computer afterwards.  Madison was of course interested in the food and the bathrooms - and the sleeping arrangements too.  But Mommy and Daddy were pretty fascinated too.  The program we watched was pretty down to earth, a tour of the ISS by astronaut Suni Williams, who made it fun for Madison to watch.

It was Monday, but Daddy still managed to get some work done, as we're starting a new series on Wednesday nights called, "Don't Miss the Boat."

I even had someone make a graphic for this, as it's an idea we've wanted to do for a while.  Mommy and Daddy came up with the idea a few years back in Florida (where most of our ideas come from).  We developed at least seven different messages, and went from there.  On March 28, there is a movie about Noah that is being released:  the whole Noah story will be in the air for the next few weeks, as movie previews will be here or there, and speakers will be talking about the story itself.  SO, we're jumping on this opportunity - and I'm pretty happy about it!

Madison came home today from school - and cleaned her room.  It was a big mess after this weekend, and so we made her do this right away.  As most parents are, we're in a lifelong battle of teaching a child to clean up after themselves.  Madison is pretty good most of the time though, so it's not that much of an epic war.  In fact, for the most part, she went straight to it - although she spent a little time playing around up there too.  No worries though.

Afterwards, she and Daddy went to the piano to continue our practice.  It was a bit more than usual, as yesterday we were babysitting and had company for most of the day.  But Madison handled it well, and did great.  Her reward for finishing piano?  Yes, another power disc.  She got Mike's Car this time, a six-wheeled vehicle for Disney Infinity.  Mike Wazowski was in the garage, in the kiddie car, standing on the power disc - Madison found it right away when we said, "Someone's got a new car - wonder where it is?"

So we played that for a while, getting into a paintball war.  By the end of this game, the characters look like they've just went through a Hindu Holi Festival.  The game has so many different things to do, and is lots of fun for Madison and Daddy.

But right in the middle of playing, we heard the music:  yes, it was the ice cream truck!  You know summer is coming when you hear the ice cream truck's sweet music.  Madison and Daddy burst outside the door with our money, anxious for something sweet.  Madison took her time looking through the pictures on the truck's side, finally deciding on something super sour.  Daddy went with chocolate, of course.  As the ice cream truck drove off, Madison was doing ballet dances in the driveway - this sort of thing is that exciting.

We went to bed tonight, reading about Peter in the Bible - and then about Wolverine and Ka-Zar, protecting animals in a comic book.  It was a great day today, even with a lung doctor visit.  Everything is okay now, where my visit confirmed the obvious:  things are significantly better than they've been.  Daddy is not on the road to recovery:  he's pretty much arrived at that happy destination.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Goodbye, Sochi

These two Olympic Ceremonies were epic.  The imagery presented was fantastic, a flowing story of Russian history and culture - the portion above was our favorite, just after the fire was blown out by the big Sochi Bear.  These were nothing less than spectacular, once again setting the bar way up there.  It started with China in 2008, and now these ceremonies have a daunting task, each time being compared to the last ceremonies.  In this case, we were so impressed.  Sorry, Great Britain, but Russia outdid you this go-round.

Mommy and Daddy watched tonight, but Madison has school tomorrow, so she was in bed before it all started on television.  We promised to show her some clips online tomorrow - she was really wanting to watch some of it.

The time difference actually meant it was over some time this afternoon.  It's such a funny thing:  we were watching the gold medal ice hockey match at church this morning around 8:00 am or so (cheering on Sweden, of all countries - but they really got cheated two hours before the game even started).  Anyway, the time difference made it such that first thing in the morning, we're watching a live hockey game and passing along the scores to each other as we make those final service preparations.  One thing is certain:  we'll all be going to an ice hockey game together soon enough.  Everyone's sort of into hockey again, which I suppose is a good positive effect of the Winter Games.

Today we were babysitting for a few other friends, so Madison had herself a play date.  She's been excited about this, about having Matthew over for the afternoon to the house.  The two of them pretty much decimated the playroom upstairs, and then took the chaos into the great room downstairs.  About that time, Daddy started playing some movies on the television here, to sort of settle things down.  Foolish Daddy thought that at some point they'd actually want to nap or something, having slowed down so much.  No such luck - the only one napping was Daddy!

We had our church service this morning, and that went remarkably well.  It was simple enough, and nearly the end of our Excalibur series the second time around.  We had visitors who were as always impressed with what we do for the kids.  We really do go all-out.  Last night we stayed until 10:00 or 11:00 really, just trying to nail down the service details.  We did, and it all worked out well.

More on this day in a bit, but until then, here's probably our final Olympic-themed devotional entry:

“I am about to do something new. It is beginning to happen even now.” Isaiah 43:19 NIrV

Don’t be afraid to try something new. Case in point: Sage Kotsenburg. Being a champion wasn’t entirely his goal at the Olympics. He just wanted “to make snowboarding look cool and get kids stoked on it.”

He sure did that. On his last jump, he tried to do a new and exciting jump – just because he wanted to try something different. He’d never even tried it before, not even in practice! And here he is just doing it for fun. On his last run at the Olympics!

No pressure there! Sage had fun, and certainly got kids stoked for sure. And along the way, he found himself with a gold medal.

The lesson is obvious: don’t be afraid to try something new. There are risks with anything, and you want to be smart about things of course. But if you want to get to a level you’ve never gone to before, you’ve got to do some things you’ve never done before.

With God’s help, you can stomp some amazing tricks. And you can succeed – but along the way, don’t be afraid to try something new.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

The Claw!

This morning we slept in, big time.  This might be related to the Olympic binge we've experienced of late, which of course will wrap up on Sunday with the closing ceremonies.  We woke up in time to head over to Lowe's for the new project, which is what you see above - it's "The Claw!"

This is a little game that Madison was actually playing on-and-off today.  She hammered everything into place just right and did a great job putting it all together.  More and more, she's doing much of the labor involved in putting things together.  What's more is that she enjoys it:  in a few weeks, there is another project, a birdhouse.  Madison remembers building the one last year, and wants to build another.  She likes heading over there in the mornings to build stuff.  Plus, she gets another patch on her apron, which she can show off a bit.

Afterwards, we dropped by to pick up our Mary Poppins tickets, which will be just great to see.  The next night, the Governor will be in the theater - we opted for the night before because it will be a little less crowded and noisy, right?  Plus, our favorite seats were available, so that's a win.

The rest of the day, Daddy was working quite a bit.  We got back late in the evening - Josh spent the night in the bonus room, now known as the "Olympic Room" until tomorrow night, at least.  Then it's back to the "Agents of SHIELD" room for a season.

February is just zooming by, isn't it?  We did have that big snow storm, which sort of got us all trapped.  That was eventful.  Also, Valentine's Day was a nice day.  And yes, the Olympics have been great fun watching together.  So we've made the most of our time, I think.  But time is relentless, isn't it?  It marches on, despite our protests.  Madison has just a few months left of first grade - so hard to believe she's even this old right now.  The Olympic distance of four years really puts things in perspective:  she'll be eleven when the next Winter Games take place.  Of course, we'll all be four years older.  But the point is, it didn't seem that long ago that we were watching Yuna Kim skate in Vancouver.  Which is why it's so important to treasure every moment, and make sure no day is a complete waste.  Sure, there are days of rest.  But we try to make each one count, which is somewhat the purpose of this blog.

Before moving on the devotional, today was Aunt Linda's memorial service in Texas.  We couldn't attend, but Nana did go out.  She'll be returning with Great Grandma tomorrow, Sunday.  A whirlwind trip.  Everyone is safe in regards to travel, so that's good to hear.  We're praying for a safe return tomorrow as well.  We visited with Ye-Ye today, and he's doing fine - Mommy cooked him some lunch and dinner to reheat.  Ye-Ye hurt his back this week, so he's been doing some resting this weekend, which is good for him.

It was a long work day for Daddy, but he did check in from time to time with Madison and Mommy at home, who were both doing quite well.  Madison is back into her costumes again, dressing as Jasmine or Rapunzel in her wedding dress.

Here's our latest Olympic-themed devotional entry:

“But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength;they shall mount up with wings like eagles.” Isaiah 40:31 NKJV

With the ski jump, timing is everything. Olympians ski down the snow-covered ramp going faster than sixty miles per hour. Then, they jump off the ramp soaring through the air, coming back to earth well over three hundred feet later. Yes, that’s like jumping over the length of a football field.

Going the farthest is all about timing. Within a tenth of a second, jumpers leap forward and upward – and that’s where the gold medal is decided. If they jump too soon, the skis point down a bit and the jump is short. If they jump too late, the skis go higher, and a ski jumper loses control.

Sometimes we want to jump too soon, don’t we? We want to fly! We want to soar through the air and have everyone look at us and cheer us on, as we look down on all those problems and naysayers. But we’ve got to remember that timing if we want to win in life.

It’s a good thing God knows the best timing. He wants us to succeed too, and if we listen to Him, we’ll know when to jump, and when to take that leap of faith. If you’re feeling impatient when waiting on His perfect timing, just remember those ski jumpers who go too soon: they don’t win.

But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles. Wait upon the Lord, and His perfect timing. And get ready to soar!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Ups and downs

Friday - the start of another ONE Conference here at the church.  Couples from around the country are coming in to enjoy a retreat for couples.  There's a lot of set-up and a lot going on.  We're not quite as involved in the children's ministry as we were last year:  that was the "month of the circus," where we had Big Top going on down at KidPak to match the overall theme of the conference, and then the trip to the circus at the end.  We sort of overdid the circus theme a bit last year, so we're pulling back on visits to the circus this time around.  We did have plans to see a Chinese circus here - it was to be a Chinese New Year celebration of sorts, but the snow cancelled those plans.  No worries.

We did get tickets to the upcoming "Mary Poppins" show that the Gainesville Ballet Company is doing.  This is the ballet that Madison is involved with, so she got a little discount there.  We also got the same seats this time as we did for "The Nutcracker," right in front on the balcony - so Madison can see fine.

Tonight was Friday, of course, so when Daddy got home a little later, Madison and Mommy were still up.  Madison and Daddy even played some games late into the night, where we got a few more Lego characters open, including Drax and Ghost Rider.  Drax is a new one to Daddy, just one of the Guardians of the Galaxy.  That movie comes out later this year, although it might not be appropriate for Madison quite yet - the preview seems a little more edgy than other Marvel entries.  Still, we'll check it out - hopefully the Disney influence will keep it more in line with the other movies that they've been releasing lately.

We did have a bit of piano practice - doesn't this sound like a broken record sometimes?  It'll just go to show later on down the road how much Madison sat behind that keyboard, repeating certain songs over and over again.  She's getting better, and as said earlier, Daddy needs to practice more himself just to keep up!

Daddy has another deal with her for drawing too:  ten more drawings will get a prize of some sort.  I've got a stash somewhere, and there are still a few decent prizes left to reward her good behavior.  So we'll get her drawing more and more, and hopefully we'll see her skills increase there as well.  She really enjoys drawing - it comes naturally to her, and she wants to do it.  Sometimes she's in a hurry to do things, but other times she'll sit there and dedicate a whole lot of time to the small details of a fine drawing.

Yesterday morning, we got a call.  Madison's Great Aunt Linda passed away in the night, a victim of cancer.  It's been a two-year battle, one with ups and downs like many others.  Mommy faced this same battle not long ago, but in this case, it was time for my Aunt Linda to go.  It was a heartbreaking call, and we started the day with heavy spirits.  Nana and her mother (Madison's Great Grandmother) will be making the trip to Texas this weekend to attend a memorial service.  Our prayers are with them for the journey, and for a reconciliation of sorts.  Nana got to see her sister one last time a year ago, as she drove her mother out to see our ailing aunt.  Things did not seem as bad then, but that's just the way this battle can be.  Ups and downs.

How blessed we are to have Mommy here with us this day.  How lost I would be without her.  She survived the attack.  And this week, we'll be praying and grieving for our family members who are experiencing this profound loss.  Cancer isn't fair.  We despise it.  Some day, our society will conquer this beast.  I hope we see that in our lifetimes.

And so that was our day.  It ended as things have lately, with Mommy and Daddy watching some more of the Olympic games.  And along those lines, here is yet another devotional entry that follows the theme from Sochi.  This one is about biathletes.  We've been watching all kinds of sports lately - haven't missed a single one this time.  No penalty laps for us:

"A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.” Proverbs 25:28 NIrV
     You want to talk about self-control?  Imagine taking a shot at a gold medal – literally.  Your target is one hundred and sixty feet away.  How big is this target?  Sometimes smaller than five inches – other times smaller than two inches!  If you move the barrel of your gun even the slightest, you’ll miss your goal, and spend a lot of time going in circles doing penalty laps.
     This is the biathlon.  You race on your skis, and then you shoot.  Then you race on skis again.  When aiming your rifle, you’ve got to be perfectly still before taking your shot.  That can be tough because all biathletes have been skiing hard just to get to the rifle range. 

      Still, this intense self-control is not enough: a large percent of the problems come from battles in the mind.

      As Christians, we can completely relate with this.  Self-control is an issue that all of us have to deal with.  When it comes to taking care of our physical bodies, we have choices to make each day.

     Your mind has to be clear.  What thoughts are you allowing in?  What things are you dwelling on? In Philippians 4:8, Paul had a solution that was right on the mark.  He wrote, “Always think about what is true. Think about what is noble, right and pure. Think about what is lovely and worthy of respect. If anything is excellent or worthy of praise, think about those kinds of things.”  Though a battle may rage inside your mind, this one verse is the ammunition you need for getting self-control.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Thor's Day

Yes, Thursday got its name from one of the Avengers, the one and only Thor.  People say this or that about Norse Mythology, but it actually came from Marvel.  True story.

School was great for Madison again, although she had a run-in with her friend Paige.  They bumped heads at recess and she had a bloody nose.  But all was well in the end.  Letting kids bump is one of those things that is hard for a parent.

We had ballet afterwards, the opposite of "kids bumping," where Madison has been learning her recital positions.  Daddy asked her afterwards if she has a tennis recital, but she just squinted her eyes at me and then laughed.

We've been doing made-up stories lately again in the car.  The latest epic tale involves a snow avalanche, and a cluster of heroes outrunning it, and then trying to protect a village from becoming buried.  Rather noble pursuit - Madison keeps wanting to hear the next part, as Daddy struggles to think up what comes next!  Fortunately, Madison is there to help assist with story elements, such as this one:  did you know she has ice powers?  It's true:  she's using them to build an ice and snow wall, which should help do the job!

Getting home, there wasn't much time for anything else.  There was dinner, and a bath.  Had to take a bath tonight, as it's been a little while since we've done that.  Madison jumped in there, as she always does.  She loves bath time!

We read some stories from the Bible before going to bed - still in the New Testament, of course.  We also hit some Marvel comics as well:  we were reading about the origin of the superhero Cyclops.  I think there are a few other comics that are safe to read as well - Daddy is screening them before making them bedtime material.  None are that bad, of course - not like those Image comics, or for that matter, any of these modern comics nowadays.  We won't go down that road with commentary again.  Madison enjoys hearing bedtime stories, and though we don't always have the most time together on certain weekdays, we do make every moment count.

Speaking of which, here's the latest Olympic-themed devotional entry:

“Let us keep looking to Jesus. He is the author of faith. He also makes it perfect.” Hebrews 12:2 NIrV

Speed skaters zoom side by side down the ice, switching lanes as they both race down the track at amazing speeds. Our lives as Christians zoom by too – and if you want to be a winner, perhaps we can take a cue from those incredible speed skaters.

Firstly, all racers need to stay focused. Little distractions can cause major problems, and as Christians, the best way to avoid serious problems is to stay focused on Jesus, just like it says in the book of Hebrews.

A great way racers pick up speed is something called drafting, where they get behind another skater and let he or she cut through all the resistance in the air, making it easier to glide along that track.

As Christians, we ourselves need to get behind that person. He or she is a mentor for us, and our covering. They show us the way, and help us to break through resistance.

No matter what else we do, we’ve got to finish the race. The finish line is there, and that stand on the podium is waiting for us. Stay focused, try drafting, and finish that race – if you can do that, you can be a champion!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Warm Up

So the weather is approaching seventy degrees today.  Still, some snow is piled on the ground in the shadows in front of the house.  Emmett is reduced to this tiny little snowman, still the same shape but now just a small little guy.  Still, it's a tribute to the amount of snow we actually got last week that there's any left at all this far along - and certainly with the temperature warming up so much.

Today was a work day for Daddy, and one that lasted all day.  Madison returned to tennis, and a bit of that normal schedule we used to know before the winter months kicked in.  School went well, as the kids got to go outside and run around a bit for recess.

She also got to enjoy some Valentine's Day candy.  Here she is with a chronic case of "Fun Dip Mouth:"

She's in this phase right now where she just loves Fun Dip.  So it came to her as a great joy when she received from her friends a whole lot of Fun Dip.

Oh yes.  The Valentine's Day candy will last a long, long time.

We had a great Indiana Jones-themed service tonight, as we were going with the Excalibur theme.  The end of "The Last Crusade" had characters going after the Holy Grail, and the three traps at the end all had a Biblical significance.  Three traps, three points.  It made for an interesting night, although we had to do some pretty good editing to make things a bit less scary - for anyone who has seen the movies.

So it was a big day for all of us, just in different directions.  Madison starts the day out by telling me, "I'll miss you, Daddy."  Melts your heart.

Tonight, Daddy peeked in on her as he got home.  She was already sleeping, but as usual, I kissed her forehead - and then joined Mommy in front of the television again to watch the Olympics.

And speaking of which, here's our latest Olympic-themed devotional entry, based on one of the events we saw last night.

“Suppose you can be trusted with very little. Then you can be trusted with a lot.” Luke 16:10 NIrV

     At the Vancouver Winter Olympics, Alex Deibold was just happy to be there as a part of the snowboarding team.  His job wasn’t going out there on the snowboard though:  he was a wax technician, taking care of his teammate’s boards before each battle.  He was simply there to serve others.

     In our Bibles, a young guy named David was there at the battle lines, attending to his brothers.  He’d been serving all his life, taking care of his sheep and waiting on the sidelines.  That is, until one big moment arrived:  its name was Goliath.   After years of serving and training, it was time for David to prove himself – and did he ever!

    At the Sochi Olympic Games, Alex Deibold was ready.  After training and serving others for so long, it was time for he himself to shred the competition!  The Snowboard Cross Event is a wild race to the finish line, where six racers at a time bump and slide their way to the bottom in hopes of crossing that finish line first.  And though the other more qualified racers were wiping out left and right, who was it that wound up on the medal stand for the United States?  That’s right:  Alex Deibold, that guy who used to take care of everyone’s boards.

     Your time is coming too.  God said if you were faithful with the little things, He could trust you with the big ones too.  Just keep serving, training, and doing your best.  Your moment of glory is coming too!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Early Again

Oh boy.  6:00 am came early again this morning, partly because we were up late watching that ice dancing competition in Sochi.  But the other reason is that we haven't had to get up so early since last week, when Madison last had school.  But here we are again on another great day.

Today Madison got a lot of loot.  We covered half the kitchen table with all the Valentine's Day cards and candy and chocolate.  She got heart boxes with chocolate inside, and her favorite candy right now: fun dip.  She got lots of conversation hearts and of course all kinds of cards.  Her bounty was so great that it couldn't all fit inside her Valentine's Day castle that she made.  It was great to see her get so much, and really enjoy the holiday:  again!

We did have piano this afternoon, so it was a happy return to Winter Wonderland, where the clues to our upcoming event our getting us closer to the answer - we seem to have some magician's supplies as clues:  scarves, ropes, playing cards, a chest, and a ping-pong ball.  We have no idea exactly, but Winter Wonderland will be fun regardless.  As for piano, that all went well - particularly the one tune that Daddy learned to play.  Things looked a little challenging when you go up the scale past high do, but it was actually easy to play, even though the notes are unfamiliar-looking on the scale itself.  Madison did much with percussion, writing out notes, and of course playing chords as well.  She did well too - and was sure to hand Mrs. Pam a late Valentine's Day gift.  Blame that on the weather!

We're talking about the Sword and the Stone in a few weeks, and comparing it to young David, who was chosen over all his bigger, stronger brothers to be king.  The concept of the sword and the stone, we thought, had a familiar feel with Thor's hammer:  only the one who is worthy could pick up the hammer itself, right?  That's why we wrote a pretty quick video today, thinking it might be fun to integrate a bit of superhero Thor into the service, as the new movie will be out on Blu Ray that week.  Here's the general idea:

HOST:  “The mighty Thor is out of this world.  Literally, the guy is from another planet and has all kinds of crazy super powers.”


HOST’S VOICE:  “But he wasn’t always heroic.  In fact, to begin with, his heart just wasn’t right at all.”


HOST:  “That’s why his dad did something pretty serious.  He took away his powers, and sent him to earth to learn how to really be a hero.  Only once he was worthy, then he’d be able to pick up his famous hammer.”


HOST’S VOICE:  “Until that point, a lot of people tried to pull that thing out of the stone.  Big, strong guys came up to that hammer and just about pulled their backs out.  They even tried to use a truck.”

(This is the part where Stan Lee’s truck gets messed up)

HOST’S VOICE:  “That didn’t end well.  You see, it’s all because they weren’t worthy.  Their hearts weren’t right.”


HOST:  “Some time ago, there was a group of brothers in a similar situation.  The prophet Samuel was sent to their in order to pick out the next king.  (HOST straightens up, trying to present himself as bigger, and more noble)  Each of them looked the part, that’s for sure.  But just then, God told the prophet this:”

CUE SLIDE:  “1 Samuel 16:7”

HOST’S VOICE:  “Man looks at how someone appears on the outside. But I look at what is in the heart.”


HOST:  “And that’s when little scrawny David entered the scene - he was out taking care of his sheep.  But you know something – he had a good heart, didn't he?   That's why he was chosen the next king.”


HOST:  “Thor figured it out too – by the end of the movie, he started thinking of others first, and becoming a real hero.  That’s how he got his hammer – and his powers – back.  This guy is incredible!”


HOST:  “And that’s where you’ll find power as well.  You might not have a hammer like that, but you can be a real hero to God when you put others first, and have the right heart.”

Anyway, the point is, in order to write that, Daddy had to sort of look through the movie "Thor" itself to see if there were any brief clips that we could show in the service.  And that's when we thought the movie itself might be something Madison would want to watch.  And sure enough, she did!  So, for "research," we went to Asgard tonight, where Madison saw for the first time the mighty Thor and his companions, and the naughty Loki.  She really enjoyed the movie, completely focused, and frequently asking questions.  Fortunately, Daddy knows pretty much all of it!

We went to bed reading the Bible, and then comic books of course.  And then Mommy and Daddy watched some more of the Olympics.  We were tired, but we kept watching anyway.  Less than a week to go until it's all over, and we've been watching every single day together.

Here's our Olympic-themed devotion for the day, as the Sochi Games slide by:

“A cheerful heart makes you healthy.  But a broken spirit dries you up.” Proverbs 17:22 NIrV

     It’s bobsled time!  The Jamaican bobsled team always has the right attitude – laid back and fun in the sun, even when sliding down the ice.  This year’s team even has theme music, their very own “Bobsled Song,” a tune designed to sync with the actual track at the Sochi Winter Olympics.
     After all the trouble raising money just to get to Sochi, you’d think they would be down. After having so many problems with getting their equipment to Russia, you think they’d be frustrated.  And after coming in second-to-last place, you’d think their spirits would be broken. 
     But the Jamaicans let things slide, don’t they?  They’ve had cool runnings ever since 1988, and all these challenges weren’t going to slow them down.
     “There’s nothing easy in life,” driver Winston Watts said after the big race.  “We just look at this as an obstacle for us and what we do is try to jump across it… just like the River Jordan.”
     If there’s one thing we should learn from the Jamaican Bobsled Team, it’s this:  keep the right attitude.  It can be tough to do, sure.  But when we focus on God and the happy ending we’re all promised, we can go from a chilly heart to a sunny disposition faster than a bobsled zooming down the track, mon!